This saffron orzo with smoked salmon and peas always reminds me of Sonia O Sullivan. She has been in the restaurant and cookery school a few times and on my TV show.

Sonia is a great cook and cooked this in the school. Our twins love this meal. Last time Sonia stayed she brought me some wonderful smoked salmon from Bevelly Smoke house in Cobh where Frank Hederman has been in business for many years and supplies nationwide.

Orzo is a lovely pasta, the shape of rice, and is great in soups. The orzo pasta takes on a wonderful yellow colour from the saffron.

A jar of grilled artichokes is a brilliant store cupboard stand-by, as they are full of flavour and even come with the oil that you need for a dish.

Simply Better have an excellent one produced in Italy. My mother loved Italian artichokes. If you like you could use peppers instead. I adore risotto and you could also add chicken or prawns to this recipe.

Happy Cooking,


Saffron Orzo with Smoked Salmon and Peas

Serves 4–6

2 large pinches of saffron threads or 1 tsp ground turmeric

350g (12oz) orzo pasta

225ml (8fl oz) cream

finely grated rind of 1 lemon

225g (8oz) frozen peas

2 × 200g (7oz) packets of smoked salmon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish

Handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)

To serve

1 Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil with the saffron or turmeric. Tip in the orzo pasta, stir once and cook for 10–12 minutes, until just al dente (tender but firm to the bite), or according to the packet instructions.

2 Reserve a small cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta well and rinse under cold running water.

3 Place the cream in a large pan with the lemon rind. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the cooked orzo and the peas and simmer for another 1–2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4 Season to taste with salt and pepper, then tear in the smoked salmon and add enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to make a silky-smooth sauce. Divide between plates and scatter over the basil (if using) to serve.

Smoky Sweetcorn Oven-Baked Risotto with Artichokes

Serves 4–6

1 × 290g (10¼oz) jar of grilled artichokes in olive oil

2 chorizo sausages, peeled and diced (about 175g (6oz) in total)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

good pinch of dried chilli flakes

500g (1lb 2oz) Arborio (risotto) rice

120ml (4fl oz) dry white wine

1 litre (1¾ pints) hot chicken or vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)

225g (8oz) frozen sweetcorn

50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Simply Better have 24 month matured Parmesan)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).

2 Drain the oil from the jar of artichokes and reserve, then place the artichoke pieces on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Set aside until needed.

3 Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil to a deep-sided ovenproof frying pan or casserole over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and sauté for 2–3 minutes, until well rendered and sizzling. Stir in the onion, celery and chilli flakes and cook for another 2–3 minutes, until soft. Tip the rice into the pan, stirring to coat, and cook for 1 minute. Pour over the wine and allow to bubble down for a few minutes, until absorbed. Pour in the hot stock, then gently fold in the artichokes and sweetcorn.

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