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Fennel & Roasted Tomato Lasagne 1

This is a great veggie dish that has had two outings in our house within a short space of time. It’s also one of the best recipes we’ve found for fennel which we sometimes find a bit uninspiring. We’ve made this in a larger tin, and thus thinner, and also in a deeper one. Both tasted great but we think the smaller diameter deeper dish works better.

Wine Suggestion: a classic match with Sangiovese especially from Chianti in Tuscany. Look out for wines with 100% Sangiovese in this case, even though there are some superb blends out there, as the nature of these wines complements the Fennel and Tomato more. We’ve tried both the Rocca delle Macie Sant’Alfonso Chianti Classico, which is unusally grown on thick clay, and the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina and both complemented the Lasagne excellently.

Fennel & Roast Tomato Lasagne – serves 4

  • 3 fennel bulbs, sliced
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 800g tomatoes on the vine
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 150ml double cream, plus a bit extra if needed
  • 100g Parmesan, grated
  • 250g dried lasagne sheets

Heat the oven to 160C Fan. Place the fennel in a large roasting tray, season well and drizzle with 2tbsp of the oil. Place the tomatoes in a separate roasting tray. Season and drizzle with the remaining oil and balsamic. Roast both trays for 30mins

Stir the cream into the fennel and return to the oven for a further 10mins. Meanwhile lightly mash the tomatoes with a fork. Remove the fennel from the oven, grate over most of the cheese and stir to melt – it should make a little sauce that clings to the fennel – add a bit more cream if you need to. Reduce oven temp to 140c fan.

Spoon a thin layer of tomatoes into an ovenproof dish. Top with a layer of pasta, followed by a layer of fennel, then another layer of pasta. Repeat, finishing with a layer of fennel. Scatter over remaining cheese and bake for 45mins until golden and the pasta is cooked. Serve with a green salad.

(Original recipe by Matt Follas in BBC Good Food Magazine, July 2010.)

Fennel & Roasted Tomato Lasagne 2

Wood Pigeon salad with blackberries and hazelnuts

Thank you to our friend Niall for supplying us with fresh Wood Pigeon breasts and double thanks to him for all the plucking and butchery which were done by the time we arrived home! So on a glorious summer evening we put together this little salad. This would work well with other berries and nuts too; walnuts especially come to mind.

Wine Suggestion: This works great with Pinot Noir, in this case we raided our cellar for a bottle of 2009 Clerget Vosne Romanee “les Violettes” which was superb; all velvety spices, juicy dark fruits and excellent length. Both the salad and wine were a treat.

Wood Pigeon Salad with Blackberries & Hazelnuts – serves 2

  • 2 pigeon breasts, skin removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Dijon  mustard
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 bunch chives, half snipped to short lengths and half finely chopped

For the salad:

  • handful of hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves
  • small handful of parsley leaves
  • 100g blackberries

Toss the pigeon in the olive oil and some black pepper, then set aside.

Mix the oil, mustard and vinegar with the finely chopped chives, a tiny splash of water and some seasoning.

Dry fry the hazelnuts, then set aside. Put the pan back on the heat and fry the pigeon breasts for 2-3 minutes on each side. Leave to rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

Toss the salad ingredients together with the sniped chives and a small amount of the dressing. Finely slice the pigeon breasts and arrange over the top. Drizzle some more dressing over the top and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Creamy chicken & green bean pesto pasta

Our garden is producing copious quantities of green beans, so we’re eating them with everything at the moment. This is also a great dish for using leftover roast chicken breasts – the legs, thighs and wings are more popular in our house!

Wine Suggestion: We really enjoyed a glass of the Domaine d’Albas Blanc with this dish, a less than usual combination of Vermentino, Viognier and Roussanne that really works; fresh and textured with nice stone fruit flavours and hints of exotic spice while remaining thirst quenching and moreish. From Minervois it is yet again another white from southern France that we’ve tasted recently showing how good white wines can be from this area – they’re often overlooked in favour of the reds. In good vineyards and with the right producer we’ve had a few crackers like this one, so we suggest keeping an eye out for more.

Creamy chicken & green beans pesto pasta – serves 4

  • 400g penne pasta
  • 250g green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely sliced
  • 2 large roast chicken breasts, shredded
  • 5 tbsp pesto
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • a handful of grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack and add the green beans 6 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Drain and reserve a few tablespoons of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions for a couple of minutes or until soft. Add the shredded chicken and warm through before stirring in the pesto and cream. Add the cooked pasta and beans to the chicken mixture and add a little of the cooking water to make a sauce. Season and serve with the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Broad bean & mozzarella salad

A real taste of summer and a smashing way to start a dinner party. Serve on a big wooden board with a glass of something bubbly.

Wine Suggestion: Go white, go Italian, go fresh and textured. We’d recommend a good Pecorino from Abruzzo or Marches or maybe a Gavi or Soave.

Smashed broad bean and mozzarella salad – serves 4

  • 300g podded broad beans (you need about 1kg in their pods to get this amount) or 300g frozen broad beans
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 100g pecorino, grated
  • handful of mint leaves
  • handful of basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • sourdough/country style bread, 8 slices toasted (we toasted ours on the barbecue), rubbed with garlic & drizzled with olive oil
  • 2 balls buffalo mozzarella

Blanch the podded broad beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and pop the green bean out of the papery skin.

Smash the double-podded broad beans with a good pinch of sea salt in a big pestle & mortar. Add the lemon juice, pecorino and herbs (keep a few leaves to garnish) and 4tbsp olive oil and mix together. Season well and pile onto the toast.

Tear the mozzarella into chunks and set on top of the broad bean mash, Finish with another drizzle of oil, some black pepper and a few herbs.

(Original recipe by Ben O’Donoghue for BBC Olive Magazine, August 2005.)

 

Pan fried king prawns

These are amazing!!!!! Pick up some prawns and make them tonight.

Pan-fried King Prawns (daeha jjiim) – serves 2 as a starter

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 150g king prawns, shelled
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp roasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

Combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seed oil and honey together to make a sauce.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over a high heat. When it’s very hot, add the prawns and cook for a minute, then turn them over. Add the sauce and cook for another minute until cooked through.

Serve immediately with the spring onion and pine nuts sprinkled over the top.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Regina Pyo, W&N, 2015.)

Iranian Pasta

This dish from Yotum Ottolenghi is very different from the Italian pasta dishes that we’re all familiar with. As Yotam points out, Italy totally dominates the pasta scene when in fact there are pasta recipes from all over the place. Try this if you’re up for something way more exotic than spag bol.

Wine Suggestion: We chilled down a Spanish red to go with this, the Jesus Romero Rubus, a vibrant blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Syrah from one of the highest vineyards in Spain. Unoaked this wine has a delicious purity and an excellent length with deep plum flavours, hints of pepper and spice.

Iranian-style Pasta – serves 4

  • 3 large aubergines (1.2 kg in total)
  • 140g crème fraîche mixed with 60g of Parmesan
  • 75ml of olive oil, plus a bit extra
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 150g Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 500g linguine pasta
  • ½ tsp saffron threads diluted with ½ tbsp of lukewarm water
  • 10g fresh mint, shredded

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/210ºC Fan/Gas Mark 8.

Pierce the aubergines a few times with a sharp knife, then place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and roast in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the flesh is totally soft. Set aside to cool a bit, then cut in half and scoop out the flesh into a colander. Leave to drain for at least 30 minutes and discard the skin.

Put the crème fraîche and Parmesan mixture into a small saucepan with 75ml of water. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, stir, then set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a medium sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cumin seeds and cook for 12 minutes or until soft. Add the aubergine flesh and garlic, along with 1 tsp of salt and some black pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes before adding the lime juice. Stir for a final minute, then remove from the heat.

Add the yoghurt to the crème fraîche mixture and heat over a low flame for 5 minutes. Watch the mixture carefully – stir regularly and don’t let the pan heat too much or the yoghurt may split.

Mix the dried mint with a tbsp of the oil and set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water according to the pack instructions or until al dente. Stir 2 tbsp of the oil through the cooked pasta and divide between shallow bowls or plates. Drizzle over the mint oil, followed by the aubergine. Top with the crème fraîche and yoghurt mixture, followed by the saffron water, fresh mint & a final drizzle of oil. Serve straight away.

(Original recipe from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2014.)

Cherry tomato & chipolata bake

Despite the simplicity of this dish it really showcases perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes; excellent when the garden is overflowing and you’re trying to think of recipes to use them all! One of our butchers does great, meaty and coarsely filled chipolata sausages which we used here, but Cumberland or coarse Italian ones work just as well. Leftovers make a great pasta sauce (see below).

It’s might be a bit early yet for Irish garden tomatoes but our friend Patty, who has just left Ireland to become the Garden Program Director at the University of the Pacific in Stockton California, has a huge tomato glut. So we promised a tomato recipe to help Patty, Michael, and the rest of the staff use up all the tomatoes.

Wine suggestion: Great with a robust and juicy red, don’t over complicate it and pick a moderately priced one. We’ve tried Southern Italian Primitivo’s, Barbera from the north, Cotes du Rhone, Spanish Tempranillo’s and Garnacha and a couple of juicy Aussie Shiraz’s. All work a treat. Californians won’t go wrong with a good Lodi Zin!

Sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake – serves 6

  • 2kg ripe cherry tomatoes, mixed colours if you have them
  • 2 sprigs each of thyme, rosemary & bay
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 12 good-quality sausages (see above)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5.

Put the tomatoes, herbs, oregano, garlic and sausages in a large roasting tray – big enough to take the tomatoes in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss together and make sure the sausages end up on the top, then bake for 30 minutes in the hot oven. Give the tin a good shake and turn the sausages over, then return to the oven for 15-30 minutes or until the sausages are at your desired level of stickiness (we like them pretty sticky!).

Lift the sausages out of the sauce, then put the tray on the hob and reduce the sauce to a nice thick consistency, before putting the sausages back in. Check the seasoning and serve with some warm bread and a green salad.

(Original recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home, Michael Joseph, 2007.)

Cherry tomato & sausage penne

As the bake makes loads just chop up the leftovers the next day and reheat to serve with penne or another chunky pasta like rigatoni or macaroni. Delicious altogether!

Cherry tomato & suasage penne

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