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Meatballs with broad beans & lemon

Delicious meatballs with a real summery feel. Use fresh broad beans if you can get them but frozen will work just as well. You can prepare this dish in advance and just reheat before serving.

Wine Suggestion: The trick with this dish is to make sure the wine is medium bodied so a lighter red with ripe (not dry) tannins would work a treat. An easy and uncomplicated shiraz cabernet blend from Australia or a nice Pinot Noir would work a treat. Alternately a medium bodied white like a good Verdicchio is a great option too. We drank the Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdicchio which matched the dish perfectly with good depth of fruit and a great minerality which  allowed the food and wine to shine equally.

Beef Meatballs with Broad Beans & Lemon – serves 4

  • 4½ tbsp olive oil
  • 350g broad beans, fresh or frozen
  • 4 whole thyme sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 8 spring onions, cut at an angle into 2cm lengths
  • 2½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • salt and black pepper

MEATBALLS:

  • 300g minced beef
  • 150g minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 120g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill and coriander; plus ½ tbsp extra of each to finish
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp baharat spice mix (apparently you can buy this or you can use the recipe below*)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp capers, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten

Put all the meatball ingredients into a large bowl. Add ¾ tsp of salt and lots of black pepper and mix well with your hands. Form into ping-pong sized balls (you should get about 20).

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a very large frying pan with a lid. Sear half the meatballs over a medium heat, turning until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Remove, add another ½ tbsp olive oil to the pan and cook the other batch of meatballs. Remove from the pan and wipe clean.

While the meatballs are cooking, put the broad beans into a pot of salted boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Remove the skins from half the broad beans.

Heat the rest of the olive oil in the pan you seared the meatballs in. Add the thyme, garlic and spring onion and sauté over a medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the unshelled broad beans, 1½ tbsp of the lemon juice, 80ml of the stock, ¼ tsp of salt and lots of black pepper. The beans should be almost covered with liquid. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pan. Add the rest of the stock, cover the pan and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is very runny you can remove the lid and reduce a bit. The meatballs will soak up a lot of the juice so make sure you have plenty of sauce left. You can leave the meatballs off the heat now until ready to serve.

Just before serving, reheat the meatballs and add a little water, if needed, to get enough sauce. Add the rest of the herbs and tablespoon of lemon juice, the shelled broad beans and stir very gently.

Serve with basmati rice.

*Baharat Spice Mix – 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 small cinnamon stick – roughly chopped, ½ tsp whole cloves, ½ tsp ground allspice, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1tsp cardamom pods, ½ a whole nutmeg grated. Blend all the spices in a grinder or pestle and mortar until you have a fine powder. Store in an airtight jar.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

Pistachio & Feta Dip

We have made this dip many times as we, and our friends, keep on devouring the lot before a photo can be taken. Not really problematic as we love it so much. We finally got  a photo :) but will keep on making the dip, which has become a firm favourite and works great as a starter to share with some barbecued flat breads.

Pistachio & Feta Dip – serves 8

  • 100g shelled pistachios
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 300g feta cheese
  • handful of dill, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 large tbsp Greek yogurt
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon
  • sea salt if needed

Blitz the pistachio nuts and oil in a food processor for 30 seconds.

Add the feta, herbs, crushed garlic, chilli, yogurt and lemon zest and juice and blitz for about 1 minute, or until the mixture has a rustic texture.

Taste and add salt if needed but bare in mind that feta is already quite salty.

Serve with barbecued flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)

 

Spinach & ricotta gnocchi

We’re not even sure if these can officially be called gnocchi but they’re easy and very tasty. They look pretty awful before they’re cooked and we were a bit worried that they would disintegrate altogether when they hit the water. All was well.

Wine Suggestion: These were a superb match with the Sartarelli  “Tralivio” Verdicchio we had open which was great. Sartarelli specialise solely in Verdicchio and it shows with a wine of great depth, personality and balance. There is a nuttiness to the aroma and taste which works with the earthy spinach and the balance of fruit complements the ricotta.

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi – serves 4

  • 200g young spinach
  • small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 140g ricotta
  • 85g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • olive oil and rocket to serve

Put the spinach into a large bowl and pour boiling water over it. Leave for a couple of minutes until wilted, then drain. Leave to cool, then wrap in a clean tea towel. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then finely chop.

Put the spinach, parsley, garlic, ricotta, flour, eggs, cheese and a generous grating of nutmeg into a large bowl and season. Stir with a fork until completely mixed. Use wet hands to make walnut-size balls. Put the gnocchi on a large plate and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to warm and bring a large pot of water to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and drop in batches of gnocchi, about 8-10 at a time. They will sink to the bottom at first and when they rise to the top you should cook for another minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm while you cook the rest.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan and some rocket.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds

A truly delicious salad from Yotam and Sami’s Jerusalem. The perfect start to any middle eastern inspired meal.

Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds – to serve 4

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 100g pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthways
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small pitas, about 100g, roughly torn in 4cm pieces
  • 75g whole unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 150g baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt

Put the vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and half the oil in a frying pan. Add the pita and almonds and cook on a medium heat for 4-6 minutes, stirring continually, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chilli and ¼ tsp of salt. Set aside to cool.

When ready to serve, toss the spinach with the pita and mix in a large bowl. Add the dates and onion, remaining oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning and serve.

(Original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem, Ebury Press, 2012.)

Mushroom risotto

 

A classic recipe from one of our reliable sources of inspiration; Leith’s.

Not terribly seasonal so you might like to keep this for the Autumn when the mushroom selection is better.

Mushroom Risotto – serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more to serve)
  • 300g risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
  • 15-20g dried wild mushrooms
  • 400g mixed wild mushrooms
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 1.5-2 litres chicken or vegetable stock

Add the dried wild mushrooms to the stock, bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. Strain the stock and return to the pan. Bring  back to a gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to as low as possible.

Meanwhile, sauté the soaked mushrooms with the mixed wild mushrooms in 50g of the butter over a medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until browned and any excess water has gone. Set aside and keep warm.

Melt another 50g of the butter in a large, shallow saucepan, add the onion and sweat over a low heat until completely soft but not coloured (about 10 minutes).

Add the rice to the pan and fry gently, stirring until coated in the butter. Add the wine and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until the wine has been absorbed.

Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring all the time, and making sure each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next. Keep going until the rice is just cooked, about 25 minutes. If you run out of stock use a little boiling water. Make sure the risotto is quite fluid at this stage as it will thicken on standing and you are aiming for a loose, almost sloppy texture.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the last 50g of butter, the grated Parmesan and the sautéed mushrooms. Season to taste and allow to stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving with extra Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Leith’s How to Cook, Quadrille, 2013.)

 

 

 

Roast Sweet Potatoes with lemon & paprika

This is a great accompaniment for roast chicken and we love the lemon wedges which add a wonderful freshness and impart a hint of caramelisation to the flavour mix.

Roast sweet potato with lemon, red onion & paprika – serves 6

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges and seeds removed
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 12 garlic cloves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp Spanish sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

Add the sweet potatoes to a saucepan of boiling water and parboil for a couple of minutes. Drain and transfer to a large roasting tin with the lemons, onions, unpeeled garlic cloves and bay leaves.

Mix the paprika, chilli powder, thyme, mustard and oil in a small bowl. Pour over the veg, season with salt and pepper and toss well to coat.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the sweet potato is tender and golden brown.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook, Quadrille, 2013.)

 

 

Haloumi & Lentil salad

This is a super simple dish that has a great balance and play between textures and flavours – salty halloumi, earthy lentils and sweet, juicy tomatoes.

Warm Puy lentil, cherry tomato and halloumi salad – serves 4

  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g Puy lentils
  • 250g halloumi, cut into big chunks
  • small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Toss the tomatoes, red onions, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl.

Cook the Puy lentils until just tender, then drain and add to the bowl. Season well and toss.

Grill or barbecue the halloumi until golden.

Stir the coriander through the lentils and serve with the grilled halloumi.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, May 2008.)

 

 

 

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