food

"I'm a chef and food influencer. Here are my 5 most requested recipes."

A little over a year ago, I quit my job in social media to work part-time and spend my days off building my side hustle, a recipe Instagram account called Into The Sauce.

At 29 years old, I felt perfectly poised to start sharing my favourite and best recipes with the world, as though all my life decisions had led me to this moment.

Side note: Don't use the microwave when reheating these five foods. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

At 19, I moved from Adelaide to Sydney to study cooking at Le Cordon Bleu. Since graduating, I have worked at some of Sydney’s top restaurants, run my own catering business and farmer’s market stall, got a degree in nutrition, worked in operations at Uber Eats, and then social media in the beauty industry. 

This blend of cooking and social media experience meant the stars had truly aligned for my recipe sharing Instagram. 

My 'gram is all about step-by-step, easy to master recipes, chic tablescaping and server ware accents. But most of all, it’s about great recipes.

I love sharing content and recipes and I’m so happy I get to do this for work. 

I obsessively test my recipes and I’m always really confident when they go live; I treat my testing process with the psychotic level of perfectionism I’d employ if I were writing a cookbook.

The positive feedback is the best; I screenshot every lovely piece of feedback I receive from my followers.

So, I’m excited to share with you my five most coveted recipes, the ones my followers never fail to share or DM me after trying.

Rosé Pasta.

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I’m not even joking when I say writing about my rosé pasta recipe makes me smile. It’s so good, easy, cures a hangover, cures a bad week, makes a good week even better, and wins over the hearts of many. Just try it, you’ll understand.

Difficulty level: Easy

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 100g unsmoked pancetta (or bacon), thinly sliced into 1.5cm pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced, chopped or grated
  • 200g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 80g double concentrate tomato paste
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 300g short pasta, such as fusilli, orechiette or rigatoni
  • 1 bunch broccolini, sliced in 2cm pieces
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
  • Parmesan, to serve

Method:

1. Prepare a pot of salted, boiling water for your pasta.

2. Heat a large fry pan over medium heat for the sauce.

3. Fry pancetta (or bacon) in the pan until golden and crispy, then use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove into a bowl (leave the rendered pancetta fat in the pan).

4. Add olive oil and unsalted butter to pan.

5. Once butter has melted, add chilli flakes, shallots and garlic (with a big pinch of salt) and sauté until translucent.

6. Add mushrooms and sauté until brown and softened.

7. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until colour has deepened (about 2 mins).

8. Add cream and stir until combined.

9. Add pancetta and chives to sauce, and continue to simmer on very low.

10. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. In the last two minutes of cooking, add broccolini. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

11. Strain pasta and broccolini, add to the sauce and stir to combine.

12. Loosen the sauce up with some reserved pasta water.

13. Taste and season.

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14. Serve with Parmesan and go to heaven.

Chicken Tagine.

I know this might sound weird to some but this has a whole lemon chopped up in it. 

It’s zesty, it’s vibrant, it pops. Does anything beat buttery couscous? The answer is yes. It’s buttery couscous served next to this chicken tagine.

Difficulty level: Easy

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 800g chicken thighs, trimmed and sliced into 4 pieces per thigh
  • Olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50g capers
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 lemon, finely chopped
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • Couscous, to serve

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200°c.

2. Cut eggplants into 3cm pieces and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle generously with olive oil (each piece of eggplant should have a little oil on), sprinkle with salt and roast until golden brown (around 20 minutes).

3. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and add garlic, onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until golden brown.

4. Remove garlic and onions to a bowl, turn the heat up and add chicken pieces, browning on each side.

5. Once chicken is golden brown, add back onions and garlic, along with ground coriander, chilli flakes, cinnamon stick, thyme, bay leaves, capers, tomatoes, chicken stock, lemon, and roasted eggplant, and stir.

6. Simmer on low-medium with the lid on for around 45 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

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7. Serve topped with coriander leaves, on a bed of buttery couscous.

Beef Ragu.

I worked on this for ages because; I gotta say, it’s tricky to get the perfect tomato ragu. 

It has to be rich and not watery. 

I didn’t like the soffrito (carrots, celery and onion) being chunky in the sauce and I needed to find the perfect meat that doesn’t require you to place a special order through your butcher. 

This is ideally a weekend job, because you want to cook it for eight hours, but the ingredients and method are, like all my recipes, highly accessible, and I promise you won’t believe the results.

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (57g) butter
  • ½ cup (120g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 400ml full bodied red wine, such as shiraz or cabernet sauvignon
  • 1.2kg - 1.5kg short ribs
  • 700g tomato passata
  • 2L beef stock
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked or sprigs tied together with cooking twine
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • Pasta, to serve (I recommend pappardelle, rigatoni or casarecce)

Method:

*Total cooking time is typically 7+ hours

1. Heat butter and half the olive oil (¼ cup) in a large pan over medium heat.

2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season well with salt and cracked black pepper.

3. Sauté vegetables until softened and onion is translucent (around 15 minutes).

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4. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the colour deepens.

5. Add red wine and simmer until wine is reduced by two thirds.

6. Pour vegetable mix into a bowl and set aside to cool down slightly.

7. Once cool, transfer vegetable mix (add the passata if you want to speed this up and cool the mix down) to a blender and blend vegetables until very smooth. You can also use a stick blender.

8. Meanwhile, in your now empty pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat and fry off short ribs (pre seasoned with salt and pepper) until each side is golden and caramelised (about 2 mins each side).

9. Turn off the heat, remove beef ribs to a plate and pour out any excess oil.

10. Add to the pot your vegetable mix, tomato passata, beef stock, chilli flakes (optional), bay leaves, thyme and a Parmesan rind if you have one. Stir until incorporated, then add ribs.

11. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 6-8 hours (with lid off or ajar - I go lid off, with a splatter guard over the top), until meat is falling off the bone.

12. Remove meat to a tray and allow to cool.

13. While meat is cooling, remove and discard thyme sprigs, Parmesan rind and bay leaves.

14. Pick meat off bones, removing any fatty or gristly bits, then return meat pieces to the sauce and stir to combine. Taste and season.

15. When you’re ready to serve, cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

16. Drain pasta, then add it back to the pot you cooked it in. Spoon in your desired amount of ragu and a knob of butter and bring to a simmer, stirring. If the sauce is too thick, stir in pasta water tbsp by tbsp until the consistency is perfect.

Eggplant Stuffed Conchiglioni.

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The other day my friend was talking about the first time she made this for her husband (who expects dinner to involve meat). 

She didn’t mention to him that there was no meat in it and asked him if he liked it at the end of dinner. 

He loved it (I'm yet to meet someone that doesn’t) and was totally surprised it was vegetarian as it packs a punch from the eggplant and bechamel stuffing. 

I love this so much as Sunday comfort food and the leftovers make an enviable work lunch.

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 250g conchiglioni (large pasta shells - sold at Coles)
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated

For the tomato sauce:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ bunch basil, leaves picked
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins whole tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt flakes
  • For the eggplant stuffing:
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • ½ bunch oregano, leaves picked
  • 1 eggplant, finely diced
  • 100g baby spinach, chopped

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 60g flour
  • 600ml whole milk
  • Pinch finely grated nutmeg
  • 50g Parmesan, finely grated

Method:

Prepare your tomato sauce.

1. Heat olive oil over low heat in a large pan.

2. Add garlic and 5 large basil leaves and slowly simmer until garlic is very lightly golden (around 10 minutes).

3. Remove garlic and basil from oil, reserve.

4. Add onions to oil and sweat, still on low heat, until translucent (around 5 minutes).

5. Add tinned tomatoes, sugar, chilli flakes (optional), salt, a few fresh basil leaves, and the garlic and basil from earlier.

6. Cook on low for 45 minutes - 1 hour, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. It’s ready when the sauce has thickened, and tomatoes have broken down into the sauce.

Prepare your eggplant stuffing.

7. Heat olive oil over low heat in a large pan.

8. Add onions and oregano to oil and sweat, until onions are translucent (around 5 minutes).

9. Add finely diced eggplant and sauté, stirring, until soft (5-10 minutes).

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10. Turn off the heat and stir through baby spinach.

Prepare béchamel sauce.

11. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then whisk in the flour and cook a little until it is a sandy colour and smells biscuity.

12. Slowly add milk, whisking vigorously to ensure the sauce is smooth.

13. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for around 5 more minutes, stirring throughout, until the sauce has thickened.

14. Stir through nutmeg and Parmesan, and season to taste.

15. Roughly incorporate half of béchamel sauce and eggplant stuffing.

16. Cover remaining sauce with a lid to prevent a skin forming.

For the pasta and assembly.

17. Preheat oven to 185°c.

18. Cook pasta in salty water until very al dente (minus about 3 minutes from the packet instructions cooking time).

19. Spoon a thick layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

20. Spoon eggplant stuffing into each conchiglioni shell, then layer on top of tomato sauce.

21. Cover with more tomato sauce, then bechamel sauce, then top with Parmesan.

22. Cook in oven for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the Parmesan is golden.

23. Serve topped with fresh basil.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

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Thank God Brussel’s sprouts are back in vogue, and I’d like to apologise to them for an entire childhood of hate. 

The difference between boiling these vegetables vs. roasting them tossed in olive oil is unbelievable. 

Layer them on labneh with pancetta, parsley and balsamic and you’ve just met your favourite simple side dish.

Difficulty level: Easy

Serves 6 as a starter or side

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g brussels sprouts, washed, bottoms trimmed and halved
  • Salt flakes and cracked black pepper
  • 150g unsmoked pancetta around 1.5cm thick, cut into pieces ½ cm wide
  • 150g labne
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°c fan-forced.

2. In a mixing bowl, add brussels sprouts and drizzle over 5 tbsp olive oil.

3. Season generously with salt and cracked black pepper and toss so brussels sprouts are evenly coated.

4. Pour brussels sprouts onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake until browned, around 15-25 minutes. If you notice they aren’t roasting evenly in the oven, quickly remove the tray every 5 minutes to turn and reposition them with tongs to ensure even cooking.

5. Whilst brussels sprouts cook, heat remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and pancetta in a fry pan over medium heat and cook until the fat is rendering out, and pancetta is golden and crispy, then use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove into a bowl to cool.

6. Once brussels sprouts and pancetta are cooked, set aside until ready to serve.

7. To serve, toss brussels sprouts, pancetta, parsley, and balsamic vinegar in a mixing bowl. Taste and season.

8. Spread labne evenly on a serving plate or bowl, and top with brussels sprouts mixture.

9. Serve! Delicious at room temperature, making it an ideal dinner party side or starter.

Tori Falzon is a trained chef and nutritionist turned recipe developer and social media manager. Under her brand ‘Into The Sauce’, Tori shares her obsessively tried and tested recipes, providing inspiration for everything from weeknight meals to entertaining. Tori’s other skills include finding hacks and efficiency in life and the kitchen, fashion and style, and finding amazing products at the best price. You can follow her on Instagram  @intothesauce.

Feature Image: Instagram / @intothesauce.

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