When I was a kid, one of my favourite dishes was my mum’s kidney and mushroom sauté. I’m sure it was probably one of her stand-by meals, but I loved it. Which makes it all the more surprising that I very rarely cook it for myself. So, when I found some forgotten lambs’ kidneys in my freezer a couple of days ago, it made me think of this childhood favourite.

I had some mushrooms in my fridge, and was all set to cook my mum’s sauté when I remembered that, years ago, I once cooked kidneys in a tomato and basil sauce. Now, given the option of a tomato-based sauce or a creamy sauce, I choose the tomato one every time. Not for health reasons, but purely because I adore cooked tomatoes.

So, I fried half an onion, sliced thinly, in some olive oil, along with a chopped clove of garlic. The kidneys were chopped up into fairly small pieces and added to the onion once it was soft. Some sliced chestnut mushrooms followed, then half a tin of tomatoes, a teaspoonful of my pul biber paste from Istanbul, and a little seasoning.

Once it had simmered for 5 minutes or so, I added a few chopped basil leaves, and – just because it was there and needed using up – a handful of chopped parsley.

My mum always served her kidney and mushroom sauté with rice, but I thought, with the tomato and basil, that pasta would be the thing to eat with my version – which it was!


I don’t know if it’s just that my tastebuds are finally coming back to life, but this simplest of dishes has been my favourite meal of the week. I was sitting on the bus heading home last night, pondering the bag of purple sprouting broccoli in my fridge, and trying to conjure up an interesting meal from it. Then, from the depths of my memory, I remembered an Italian dish I’d read about that involved this very vegetable, along with a combination of three ingredients I can never resist – anchovies, chillies and garlic.

While I steamed the broccoli, I gently fried the anchovies, garlic and chilli in a frying pan. When the broccoli was barely tender, I tossed it into the frying pan with the other ingredients. When all nicely combined, a squeeze of lemon gave it a nice sharp edge (plus, it brings out the vivid green colours), and piled it onto the cooked pasta. Dee-licious!

By the way, I used peri-peri chillies in this dish, which I’d bought last year in Portugal, as I thought they’d work well with the Mediterranean flavours.