During my last pregnancy, my very thoughtful husband would look for recipes that firstly I could eat (I can’t tell you how hard it was to abstain from pate and blue cheese for nine months), but secondly that he knew I would find highly comforting and satisfying. I will be the first to admit that I had a quite an appetite on me, come to think of it, nothing much has changed (apart from not being pregnant anymore).

Whilst watching Jamie Oliver’s ’30 Minute Meals’ series on television, we saw him prepare a dinner that he presented as his wife’s favourite pasta dish – something she would often like to get stuck into while she was expecting. We purchased the accompanying book and jumped on it straight away. It’s since become a meal that we return to again and again. It’s also fairly easy on the purse strings, plus can be thrown together in around half an hour (as the title of the show suggests). The full ingredients list and cooking method can be found in the book or online on the Channel 4 website here.

To make our version you will need (serves four):
– Six sausages (skinned)
– Two tablespoons of EV olive oil
– Four spring onions (chopped)
– One carrot (peeled/chopped into cubes)
– One heaped teaspoon of fennel seeds
– One teaspoon of dried oregano
– 500g of dried conchiglie pasta
– Four cloves of garlic (peeled)
– Four tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
– One tin of chopped tomatoes
– Salt and black pepper

– Place the chopped spring onions, carrots and garlic in a food processor and blitz until fully broken down.
– Add the skinned sausages, fennel seeds and oregano. Keep pulsing until well combined.
– Heat a good lug of EV olive oil in a frying pan and add the mixture, breaking it up and stirring continuously.
– Meanwhile bring a pan of salted water to the boil on the stove and cook the pasta for 9-11 minutes.
– When the meat has browned, stir in the balsamic vinegar and tinned tomatoes (adding some of the pasta water to loosen if needed). Cook until reduced to your taste.
– Drain off the pasta (reserving a cup full of the cooking water) then add to the sauce, incorporating the water as needed to achieve a silky consistency.
– Season to taste and serve immediately.

There are a couple of fresh chillies chucked in with Jamie’s original recipe, but we have always left these out to keep the children happy. It tastes just as good without, and you get a pleasing sweetness from the carrot, plus a bite from the vinegary balsamic. It’s actually a very cunning way of incorporating vegetables and general goodness into the kid’s diet!

We served our with a nice shaving of decent parmesan on top, but cheddar would also do the trick. A meaty, veggie, fulfilling bowl of loveliness.