What’s on your plate: March

I love pasta. Whenever I get a new cook book, it is highly likely that the first thing I will make involves pasta. Usually the dishes are easy (with the exception of the cannelloni enchiladas), always tasty and use accessible ingredients. I recently got hold of Molly Baz’s first book Cook the Books, and yes, the first thing I made from it was a pasta dish, paccheri with pork and lentil ragù.

Well, I couldn’t get the pasta shape she suggested, so just went for rigatoni, which is at least a tube pasta of sorts. Then because of all the disruption to the supply chain thanks to Cyclone Gabrielle, pork mince was in short supply, but I did find some that already had added herbs which I figured wouldn’t matter (and it was from Woody’s Free Range).

The combination of lentils with the meat makes for a hearty dish, and is full of flavour with the anchovies adding that depth that I might have not thought of adding myself. After browning the mince, the anchovies are added along with garlic and tomato puree. Red lentils, water and seasoning are then added and the mixture allowed to simmer until cooked. When ready, the sauce is added to the pasta, along with some pasta water and Parmesan, giving a creamy, shiny sauce. A little lemon is added at the end.

So my version looked nothing like the picture, partly as I had more sauce and partly as the pasta was a very different shape. However, it got rave reviews from my other half, who went back for seconds. It was also even better on day two. We added more parmesan, and had some salad alongside.

I have bookmarked quite a few other things to try from this book. The recipes are accessible (and already translated into metric thank goodness) and nicely laid out. Throughout the book there are little QR codes which take you to little videos on technique. I tried the ‘how to season one’ and will definitely look at some of the others. I think this book would be excellent to give to the new cook, but it is also good for those of us who like to cook but sometimes lack technique (ie me). Some of the recipes can also be found on Molly Baz’s YouTube channel (really want to try the Pastrami Roast Chicken at some point).

Verdict: tasty, easy.

Do again? Definitely.

Footnote to this post: our beautiful little cat Charlie passed away on Tuesday morning after suffering a stroke. We managed to get him to our vet at least, so he died being looked after by people who cared for him. I’ll post more next week – right now my eyes get weepy just thinking about him!

This well be entered in the What’s on Your Plate blog challenge hosted by Canadian bloggers Widow Badass and Retirement Reflections. This goes live on the first Wednesday of each month and you can join in too with a food related post, just by adding yours to their linkup.

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis. If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com or lofgren@thistlesandkiwis.org


  1. Rest in peace, Charlie! My thoughts are with you both for there is an empty space where Charlie should be … I ‘saw’ our cat at the bottom of the stairs in the early mornings for years after she had gone. Pasta is comfort food – this particular dish sounds delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love pasta dishes too, but have never thought of adding lentils to a meat sauce – what a great idea! Hoping the anchovies just add depth of flavour in the background rather than take over – think I might have to give that recipe a try… PS So sorry to hear about Charlie… 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all let me say how sorry I am to hear about Charlie. It hurts so bad to lose them. My heart goes out to you. Your pasta looks amazing. I am reading this at 5:00 AM and I am already hungry for pasta. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So very sorry about Charlie! How we love our fur buddies and how we miss them when they pass. The house just doesn’t feel right without them. I get all teary eyed just thinking about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have often added lentils to meat dishes in order to bulk them out (particularly when feeding four hungry children!) but never thought about adding anchovies. I must give that a go. So sorry to hear about Charlie, He has been in the wars a bit these past months, was he an elderly cat? We had one who suffered several strokes and it was hard to see him unable to stand after the first one. Always a difficult decision to let them go. And always missed terribly.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They are special. My brother and his wife said goodbye to their old Harry cat this morning after 14 years together. Affectionately known as “Prince Harry”, he was an adopted rescue of unknown age, and was at least 15 years old at the time of his passing, possibly older. He had strange habits, and been on gabapentin for seizures for many years, possibly having suffered some sort of head trauma in his early youth. Harry’s kidneys finally gave out. He was taken in for evaluation this morning and the decision was made to euthanize him and end the suffering. “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. First, I am so sorry to read about the loss of your beloved cat. I hope you have many happy memories to sustain you.
    Second, that pasta dish looks very tasty and I never would have thought to put all those differing ingredients together either. Italians really know how to create delicious food.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry to read about Charlie, he looked so cute and peaceful in the last photo you put on your blog. A pet becomes one of the family and we still miss our sweet little dog, but….. such happy memories. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So sorry to hear about Charlie. I am glad to hear he had a peaceful passing; I have had to bring many of our doggies to the vet for their last day, and it really is the best place for them to move on.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh I’m so sorry you lost your cat. You must be absolutely heart broken. It’s so awful when we have to say goodbye to our fur babies. Sending virtual hugs xx
    PS the pasta dish sounds and looks amazing. I also love pasta

    Liked by 1 person

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