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In our house almost anything will be eaten if it’s mixed with noodles (though not mushrooms sadly … but we’re working on it). Any leftovers of this will make a popular lunchbox too.

Chicken & soba noodle stiry-fry – serves 4

  • 800ml chicken stock
  • 400g chicken breasts
  • 200g dried soba noodles
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
  • 150g green beans, trimmed
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • a small handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a pot, then add the chicken breasts and cook for 20 minutes. Make sure they are completely submerged in the stock. Remove the chicken breasts, shred with two forks and set aside.

Add the noodles to the chicken stock and cook according to the pack instructions. Remove the noodles from the stock with tongs and set aside, reserve the stock.

Heat the oil in a wok, then stir-fry the ginger, chilli and garlic for 30 seconds. Add the onion, carrot, green beans and mushrooms and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes.

Add the shredded chicken, the noodles, 50ml of the reserved stock, the soy sauce and the sesame oil. Toss to combine and heat through. You can add a little more stock for moisture if you need.

Divide between warm bowls and scatter the coriander over the top.

(Original recipe by Nadine Brown in Olive Magazine, May 2021.)

This roast is relatively simple because all the effort is at the start. Choose some handy sides, like some roasted carrots and potatoes which can cook while the meat rests.

Wine Suggestion: A classic match with Bordeaux, or similar from around the world. Tonight a very youthful Château Puygueraud, from the Côtes de Francs which we pulled from our cellar (under the bed) to check progress. Many years ahead of it, but tonight was a joy nonetheless.

Rolled leg of lamb with salsa verde stuffing – serves 4

  • 1.5kg leg of lamb, bone removed and butterflied (ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 200ml white wine
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 cloves of garlic, bashed
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 50ml olive oil, plus 2 tbsp extra
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 400g broad beans, double podded (blanch for 2 minutes in boiling water and they will easily pop out of their skins)
  • a handful of watercress, to serve

FOR THE STUFFING:

  • a large bunch of flat-leaf parsley, including stalks
  • a small bunch of mint, leaves picked
  • 6 brown anchovies
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 long shallots, finely chopped
  • 25g panko breadcrumbs

Put the lamb, skin-side down, on a chopping board. Make slashes all over the meat with a sharp knife but be careful not to cut the whole way through. Season all over.

Transfer the lamb to a large sealable food bag or container, scored-side down. Pour over the wine, then add the rosemary, garlic, onion, bay and 50ml of olive oil. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat. Chill for 24 hours but bring out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking.

Make the stuffing while the meat is coming up to room temperature.

Put the parsley, mint, anchovies and capers into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (you can also do this by hand), then tip into a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and juice, the vinegar and shallots. Season well. Spoon 3 tbsp of the salsa verde into a small bowl. Add the panko breadcrumbs to the larger bowl of salsa verde and stir 2 tbsp of olive oil into the smaller one – set the smaller one aside to serve later.

Take the lamb out of the marinade, then add about 50ml of the marinade to the large bowl of stuffing to soak into the breadcrumbs and bind the mixture (you might not need as much as 50ml). Keep any remaining marinade for later.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Pat the lamb dry with kitchen paper and lay on a chopping board, skin-side down. Spread the stuffing over the meat in an even layer. Start from one of the short sides and fold the meat over the stuffing, rolling and tucking it in to seal. Tie in about 6 places with kitchen string to hold it together. Transfer to a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 1 hour – 1 hour and 20 minutes or until 60-65C on a meat thermometer for medium or 70C for well done. If you don’t have a meat thermometer insert a metal skewer into the centre and if it comes out hot, the meat is ready. Cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

Put the reserved marinade into a saucepan with the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard any rosemary, garlic, onion and bay, then add the broad beans and simmer for 4-6 minutes or until the stock has reduced. Transfer the beans and juice to a warm serving platter and serve along with the lamb, the reserved salsa verde and some watercress.

(Original recipe by Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, April 2022.)

Try this simple lunch with some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: A good, salty Pazo de Señoráns Albariño which plays a delightful dance of balancing a lightness and elegance with surprising depth, concentration and complexity.

Hot-smoked salmon salad with chive buttermilk dressing – serves 2

  • 2 Little Gem lettuces, cut into chunky pieces
  • 50g sugar snap peas, halved
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 150g hot-smoked salmon
  • crusty bread, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING

  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • a bunch of chives, finely chopped

Put the buttermilk, white wine vinegar and caster sugar into a small jug, season with salt and pepper and whisk together. Add the chives.

Put the lettuce, sugar snap peas, red onion and capers into a large bowl and toss together gently. Add half the dressing and toss again. Flake over the hot-smoked salmon and gently toss again, then drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

(Original recipe in Olive Magazine, April 2020.)

If you use a vegan curry paste you can easily make this a vegan dish. Lots of bright colours and great flavours in this one, and it’s quick to make.

Wine Suggestion: We think a minerally, just off-dry Riesling like Pikes Hills & Valleys from the Clare Valley is the ticket here with the limey fruit characters lifting the flavours of the dish and then the hint of residual sugar to balance the chillies.

Thai Green Veggie Curry – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash (800g), cut into small cubes
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • a handful of sugar snap peas
  • a handful of asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard
  • a handful of green beans
  • a handful of frozen edamame beans
  • 1 lime, cut into wedge, to serve
  • a handful of coriander leaves, to serve
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced, to serve
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced, to serve
  • jasmine rice, to serve

FOR THE CURRY BASE

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bash with a rolling pin to bruise it
  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 2 x 400ml coconut milk

Toss the cubes of butternut squash with the light soy sauce in a bowl. Heat 1 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a wok, then add the squash and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until softened and browned, stirring often.

To make the curry base, heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a large frying pan, then add the lemongrass stalk and curry paste and cook over a high heat for a minute.

Stir in the coconut milk, then reduce the heat a bit and simmer for 8 minues.

Discard the lemongrass, then add the sugar snap peas, asparagus, green beans and edamame beans to the sauce and cook for 4-5 minutes or until just tender.

Ladle the curry sauce into bowls and top with the squash, a squeeze of lime, some coriander, red chilli and scallion. Serve with jasmine rice.

(Original recipe by Katy Beskow in Olive Magazine, April 2018.)

We recently bought Ammu by Asma Khan, a book full of Indian home-cooking recipes interlaced with lovely stories about Asma’s family life. Today was its first outing and we cooked these kebabs on the barbecue because the sun was shining, and our friend Michael keeps gifting us huge jars of pickled onions that he got for a bargain price in M&S (true). Asma recommends serving with a black-eyed bean salad called Lobia – and we agree.

Wine Suggestion: Find an easy, juicy barbecue red that isn’t too heavy and you’ll be happy here.

Murgh Seekh Kabab – serves 6

  • 900g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 5cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 300g well-drained pickled onions or shallots
  • 6 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ¾ tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

Ideally you should marinade the chicken and leave in the fridge for about 4 hours. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together, then add the chicken and toss to coat, then cover and put into the fridge.

Get your barbecue going, we prefer charcoal but whatever you’ve got will do.

Thread the chicken pieces, thinly sliced ginger and pickled onions onto metal kebab sticks (you can use the wooden ones but you need to soak them in cold water for about 20 minutes first to stop them burning). Grill the kebabs for about 5 minutes on each side, basting with the ghee or vegetable oil.

(Original recipe from Ammu by Asma Khan, Ebury Press, 2022.)

This is an Indian side dish and a great salad that we plan to serve with many Indian meals. This time we had it with Murgh Seekh Kababs cooked on the barbecue. Asma prefers dried beans (and we’re sure she is right) but we cheated this time and used a tin of black-eyed beans instead.

Lobia – serves 4

  • 200g dried black-eyed beans (we used a 400g tin)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ a small red onion, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 red tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

If using dried beans you need to soak them in cold water overnight.

The next day, drain the beans and put into a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about an hour, or until soft. Drain and leave to cool.

If you are using a tin of beans, you can skip all of the above and just drain and rinse them in cold water.

Put the beans into a bowl, add the garlic, onion, chilli and tomato and mix together gently. Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper together, pour into the bowl with the beans and mix together.

(Original recipe from Ammu by Asma Khan, Ebury Press, 2022).

We’ve been meaning to try veggie burgers on the barbecue for a while now. These sweet potato and black bean ones have lots of spice and cooking the sweet potatoes in the coals gives them a great smoky flavour. These take a while to prepare and you do need a charcoal barbecue. And while they’re a lot softer than a traditional burger the flavours still make it a good choice if you feel like something different or if you don’t like meat.

Sweet potato and black bean burgers – serves 6

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (600g in total)
  • 2 x 400g tins black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 75g panko breadcrumbs
  • 80g roasted cashew nuts, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

FOR THE CHIPOTLE LIME MAYO

  • 140g mayonnaise
  • 30g chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • juice of ½ a lime

TO SERVE

  • 6 burger buns
  • 6 slices of cheddar or Gruyère cheese
  • 2 avocados
  • pickled jalapeno chillies
  • lettuce

You need a charcoal barbecue for this. Wait until the embers have turned white, then wrap the potatoes in tin foil and nestle them into the coals. Cook for about 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until soft.

Tip the black beans into a large bowl and roughly mash with a fork.

When the potatoes are cooked, unwrap them and leave them to cool slightly. Then scoop out the insides and add to the black beans. Add the breadcrumbs, cashew nuts, spices and some salt and pepper. Mix well, then divide into 6 burgers. Put onto a tray, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to firm them up.

Heat the barbecue up again and mix all of the mayo ingredients together and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large cast-iron frying pan on the barbecue. Add the burgers and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. When you turn them over, toast the burger buns and set aside. Lay the cheese slices on top of the burgers, add a little water to the pan and cover with a lid – the steam helps to melt the cheese.

Spread some mayo on the bottom half of the toasted buns. Add a burger, some avocado and a few jalapaenos. Serve with some lettuce or salad leaves on the side.

(Original recipe from Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2021.)

This is so simple but looks impressive and is perfect for a Friday night when you want a weekend dish but don’t have lots of time. You will need some crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices. Serve with buttered orzo or new potatoes.

Wine Suggestion: From the Burrier family of the superb Château de Beauregard in Pouilly-Fuissé is Domaine de la Rochette Mâcon-Bussières an excellent example of what this southern Burgundian region can do so well. Lovely ripe stonefruit and apple flavours under-pinned with a savoury minerality and fresh, layered mouthfeel which allows the cod to shine, counter-balances the Parma’s meaty saltiness and sings along with the olives and tomatoes.

Cod with cherry tomatoes and green olives – serves 6

  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 750g cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 even sized pieces of cod loin, about 125g each
  • 6 slices of Parma ham
  • 18 nocellara green olives
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped (to serve)
  • crusty bread

Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.

Put the onions and tomatoes into a shallow baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and add the olive oil, toss together and put into the oven for 15 minutes.

Season the cod then wrap each piece in a slice of Parma ham. Add the olives to the baking tray with the tomatoes, then gently set the cod pieces on top. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the ham is crispy. Scatter with the chopped parsley and serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, April 2016.)

This is a great dish for using up bits of leftover veg and antipasti things. Keep the base of onions, garlic, rice and veg stock but after that you can use up whatever you’ve got – we’ve given what we used below as an example.

Wine Suggestion: This Spanish inspired dish encouraged us to have a glass of a Spanish Garnacha Blanca, the Edetària via Terra Blanca which we find unprepossessing and charming, plus with the right textures and flavours to match this paella. We dare say their equivalent via Terra Tinto (Garnacha Negra) would also be a good match too if you fancied a glass of red instead.

Baked veggie paella – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • half a red pepper, sliced
  • half a yellow pepper, sliced
  • half a green pepper, sliced
  • 1 courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomato purée
  • 300g bomba paella rice
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • 100g chargrilled artichokes in olive oil, halved if big
  • 75g mixed olives
  • 75g Sunblush tomatoes
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Heat the olive oil in a shallow casserole and cook the onions, peppers and courgettes with some salt for about 10 minutes or until softened and starting to caramelise.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomato purée and rice and stir until the grains are coated.

Add the stock, artichokes, olives and Sunblush tomatoes, then season and mix well. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Scatter over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Jules’ parents often give us yellow peppers as they prefer green ones, and for some reason they can only buy peppers locally (NI) in multi-coloured packs of three. Perhaps another Brexit effect. No matter as we’ve found the perfect use for them in this simple pasta sauce by Joe Trivelli. We didn’t have enough rigatoni so added some penne that got stuck in all the rigatoni tubes. We had good fun sucking them out.

Wine Suggestion: This is excellent with oaked Sauvignon Blanc, especially white Bordeaux, where the oak mellows out the grassy characteristics and adds a creamy, buttery layer with extra citrus fruits. We recognise these are harder to find and higher in price, so more affordably we successfully opened an Umani Ronchi Ca’Sal di Serra Verdicchio which carries over the cut grass and citrus characters and adds an almondy twist.

Rigatoni with yellow peppers – serves 4

  • 1 large yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ dried chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 40ml double cream
  • 400g rigatoni – Joe sugests whole-wheat but we had the regular stuff so just used that
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • salted ricotta if you have some – we used Parmesan which works too

Put a medium frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Fry the pepper for 3 minutes, then add the garlic with a pinch of salt. Crumble in the chilli, cover and cook over a low heat, stirring now and then. You want the pepper to soften completely which could take around 30 minutes so be patient.

Add the cream and bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, then purée the sauce in a food processer and return to the pan.

Cook the pasta in lots of salty water until al dente. Scoop out a mugful of the pasta cooking water before draining, then add the pasta to the pepper mixture. Toss the pasta and sauce over a low heat, adding the basil leaves and some pasta water if needed to make the sauce creamy.

Serve on warm plates with some grated cheese.

(Original recipe from The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli, Seven Dials, 2018.)

This vegan dish is a must for mushroom lovers and the leftovers make great lunchboxes. Full of flavours that we wouldn’t usually put together, that’s the joy of recipes from the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen.

Wine Suggestion: We’re suckers for matching mushrooms with either Pinot Noir, or, like here, with Nebbiolo. Luigi Pira’s Langhe Nebbiolo was our choice as it is so authentically nebbiolo without breaking the bank and opening a Barolo, or Barbaresco. Cherries, rose petals and rich iron with an earthy, mushroomy aroma carrying it through; elegance and power all at once.

Mushroom & rice pilaf – serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side

  • 1-2 dried ancho chillies, stems removed – we used dried chipotle chillies as that’s what we had in the cupboard
  • 30g dried porcini mushroom
  • 500ml vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you prefer)
  • 500g oyster mushrooms
  • 500g large portobello mushrooms, stems discarded, and roughly broken by hand into 6 pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved and cut into ½ cm thick slices
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 150g soft dried apricots, quartered
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 350g basmati rice, washed until the water runs clear and drained well
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced at a angle
  • 5g picked parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 220C fan.

Put the dried chillies into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 20 minutes, then drain and roughly chop the chillies, including the seeds.

Meanwhile, put the dried mushrooms, stock, 350ml of water, 1¼ tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper into a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then set aside.

Put the oyster mushrooms and portobello mushrooms, onion, garlic, chopped chillies, whole spices, apricots, 120ml of oil, 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper into a large roasting tin. Stir it all together, then bake for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Remove from the oven and transfer half the mixture to a medium bowl. Stir the rice into the remaining mixture in the tin.

Bring the porcini and stock mixture back to a simmer, then pour over the rice and without stirring, cover the tin tightly with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then leave to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and mix gently.

Add the scallions, parsley and final 2 tbsp of olive oil to the reserved mushroom mixture and stir together. Sppon over the rice and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Shelf Love by Noor Murad & Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2021.)

This is good to serve with drinks for a crowd. You will need some flatbreads or pitta for dipping.

Wine Suggestion: An aperitivo type of drink; Negroni’s if you like, or for us Jérémie Huchet’s Muscadet Les Montys le Parc. A special “lieu-dit”, a vineyard recognised as something special and unique that allows a longer growing season than surrounding vineyards due to the aspect and soils. More depth and roundness than their classic Muscadet, but still with a lovely minerailty and mouthfeel and great length. Serious, and yet still with a sense of playful fun.

Spiced beetroot yoghurt – serves 6

  • 500g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp ground coriander
  • 20g mint, leaves finely chopped
  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • olive oil, for drizzling

Drain any juice off the beetroot, then whizz with a hand-blender to get a coarse-textured purée. Add the ground coriander, lots of salt and pepper and the mint (keep a little to garnish) and mix together well. Stir in the Greek yoghurt.

Season again to taste, then serve sprinkled with nigella seeds, the rest of the chopped mint and a drizzle of good olive oil. Serve with pitta, flatbreads or toast.

(Original recipe from Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2016.)

We recently discovered the ‘Theo’s’ brand of filo pastry in one of our local shops; definitely better than most others we’ve used. It’s usefully a touch larger per sheet, and very easy to work with. Combined with a light, crispy finish we’ll definitely be putting some in our freezer for whenever the mood strikes.

This is a rich and substantial dish, but you can divide it all between two pie dishes and freeze one for later if you like. Serve with a green salad with bacon bits and lemony dressing.

Wine Suggestion: This is worth splashing out on a good Chardonnay that has both body and a nutty, mineral freshness. An old favourite of ours would be something from the Jura, but given their scarcity opened an Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc “les Sétilles”, a cuvée from Puligny and Meursault vineyards that while inexpensive has some serious chops behind it. All citrussy, deep and bubbling with energy.

Smoked haddock, cheese & leek pie – serves 6 to 8

  • 600ml full fat milk
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 650g smoked haddock fillets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 75g butter, plus extra for frying
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2 large leeks, halved and finely sliced
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp English mustard powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 175g strong cheddar, diced

FOR THE FILO CRUST:

  • 140g butter
  • 6 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 400g filo pastry, preferably Theo’s brand
  • large bunch of chives, finely snipped

Bring the milk, bay and peppercorns to a simmer in a large shallow pan. Add the smoked haddock fillets, then remove from the heat and cover with a lid. Leave for 30 minutes. Remove the haddock from the liquid onto a plate, then strain the milk into a jug.

Remove any skin and bones from the haddock and break into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Heat the oil and a small knob of butter in a pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 15 minutes, or until softened. Add the leeks and cook for 2 minutes, then set aside to cool (drain in a colander if there is liquid).

In the same pan, melt the 75g butter, then stir in the flour to make a paste. Cook for a few minutes, then slowly add the warm milk, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth sauce. Stir in the mustard powder, lemon juice and some seasoning, then pass through a fine sieve.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Put the leeks into the base of a 1.6 litre pie dish and top with a third of the sauce. Next add the smoked haddock and another third of the sauce. Finally, scatter over the cheese and top with the remaining sauce, making sure the filling is completely covered.

For the filo pastry, melt the butter in a small pan, then add the galric and heat gently for about 5 minutes. Lay a sheet of filo pastry on a wooden board and brush all over with the garlic butter, then sprinkle with chives and some black pepper. Put another sheet of pastry on top, at a slight angle and repeat. Continue until all of the pastry is used, you will end up with a sort of pastry circle. Lay this over the pie dish, trim the edges with scissors or a sharp knife, but still leave an overhang. Brush with a final layer of butter, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and bake for 40 minutes or until crisp.

(Original recipe by Tom Kerridge in BBC Good Food Magazine, March 2015.)

Tinned fish seems to be having a moment, which is fine with us because we love it. We especially like Shines of Killybegs who do great sardines in sunflower oil, amongst lots of other delicious fishy things.

Wine Suggestion: An Italian white with a nutty twist at the end like Sartarelli’s Tralivio, a verdicchio from low yielding old vines that epitomises the very best of this grape and a perfect match to the umami saltiness of this dish.

Spaghetti with chilli, sardines & oregano – serves 2

  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 75g rough breadcrumbs, made from stale bread
  • 200g dried spaghetti
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 x 120g tin good-quality sardines in oil, drained
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 50g rocket

Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add a good glug of olive oil and when it’s hot add the breadcrumbs and half the garlic. Cook for a few minutes until golden and toasted, then season with salt and pepper and toss well. Drain on kitchen paper if needed.

Cook the pasta according the pack timings in lots of very salty water.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add a little oil, then add the remaining garlic and the chilli for 1-2 minutes. Flake the sardines into small pieces, then toss in the pan with the garlic and chilli.

Lift the cooked pasta out of the cooking water with tongs and add straight to the frying pan with the sardines. Toss to mix well, then add the oregano and season to taste.

Stir in the rocket and divide between two plates. Garnish with the garlicky breadcrumbs.

(Original recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course,

A recipe by Rachel Roddy; simple and filling. Keep your Parmesan rinds in the freezer for adding to soups like this.

Pasta & Chickpea Soup – serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
  • a Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 225g short tubular pasta e.g. tubetti or ditalini or broken tagliatelle

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, then add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, then cook gently until soft and fragrant.

Add the tomato purée and sprig of rosemary, stir and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the chickpeas. Add 1 litre of hot water, a pinch of salt and the Parmesan rind, then stir again. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove half the soup and pass through a food mill or blend with a stick blender until smooth, then return to the pan. Season to taste with salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender, the pack timings should work but do check as you go and keep stirring. You add a bit more boiling water if needed. Season again to taste then serve garnished with your favourite olive oil.

(Original recipe from Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome by Rachel Roddy, Salt Yard Book Co., 2015.)

This takes a long time so the trick is to poach the chicken the day beforehand and store the torn chicken and stock separately in the fridge. Everything else is fairly easy to put together on the day. A feast!

Celebration Rice – serves 8

  • 1 small chicken, about 1.4kg
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 bulb of garlic, skin on and halved widthways
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 5g parsley leaves, roughly chopped

FOR THE RICE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300g lamb mince
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 400g basmati rice, washed, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour and then drained

FOR THE GARLIC YOGHURT:

  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 clove of garlic, crushed

FOR THE GARNISH:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 30g blanched almonds
  • 30g pine nuts
  • ¾ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes or ½ tsp regular chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Put the chicken into a large saucepan with the cinnamon sticks, onion, garlic, 2 litres of water and 2 tsp of salt. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 70 minutes, or until cooked through. Lift the chicken out and tear into large bite-size chunks when cool enough to handle. Put the chicken into a bowl with the ground cumin and cinnamon and set aside. Strain the stock through a sieve and discard the solids. Measure out 850ml of the stock and keep warm (keep the rest for something else). If you are doing this part a day ahead you will need to reheat the stock and put the spices on the chicken when ready to cook.

For the rice, put the oil and half the butter into a large saucepan, and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 7 minutes, stirring, until lightly golden. Add the lamb, garlic and spices and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until the lamb has lost its pinkness. Add the rice, 700ml of the warm stock, 1 ¾ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to sit, covered, for another 15 minutes. Add the remaining butter and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the yoghurt sauce by whisking the yoghurt, garlic, ¾ tsp of salt and the remaining 150ml of warm stock in a medium bowl.

Put 2 tbsp of oil in to a large sauté pan on a medim-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minute, to warm through. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley, then set aside.

Make the garnish by putting the butter into a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until lightly coloured. Add the pine nuts and cook for another 2 minutes, until golden. Remove from the heat and add the chilli flakes.

Spread the rice over a large serving platter. Top with the chicken, then pour over half the garlic yoghurt. Finish with the nuts and butter, followed by the parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds. Serve the rest of the yoghurt alongside.

(Original recipe by Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad & Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2021.)

These are delicious and perfect with some crusty bread or flatbreads for scooping. Do buy the fancy butter beans in a glass jar if you can. You can make this up to a day ahead and the flavours will improve.

Wine Suggestion: We really like this dish with a nice, chilled Vermentino. Tonight’s choice, the Poggio ai Ginepri Bianco from Tenuta Argentiera in Bolgheri. Long and vibrant with a rich citrus and pear flavour and layers of texture and wild sage to finish.

  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 mild red chillies, finely chopped, including the seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 3 preserved lemons (80g), inner parts discarded and skin finely sliced
  • 1 ½ tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 170ml olive oil
  • 1 jar of butter beans (700g)
  • 2 large vine tomatoes, roughly grated and skins discarded

Put the garlic, chillies, coriander, preserved lemon, thyme, rosemary, tomato purée, olive oil and 1¼ tsp of flaked salt into a medium sauté pan on a medium-low heat and stir together. Heat gently for 25 minutes, or until very fragrant but not browned at all. Turn the heat to low if the oil gets to hot.

Stir in the butter beans, then turn the heat up to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour, or longer if you can.

Meanwhile, mix the grated tomato with tsp of flaked sea salt and plenty of black pepper.

Spoon the butter beans into a shallow bowl and spoon over the grated tomato, mixing it in in places. Then serve with crusty bread or flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad & Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press, 2021.)

These are really good and the trick is to set them in the baking tray in rows with the skin-side down. You can use Cajun seasoning if you have it and if not make up the seasoning below – you’ll have more than you need for more wedges another time.

Crispy potato wedges – serves 4

FOR THE SEASONING:

  • 1½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ tbsp paprika
  • ½ tbsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 675g large potatoes (buy a variety that makes good chips)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp of the seasoning above

Preheat the oven to 200C fan.

Scrub the potatoes and cut in half, then cut each half into 6 wedges. Put the wedges into a pan of boiling salty water and cook for 2-3 minutes, then drain.

Put the olive oil into a large roasting tin with the seasoning. Add the wedges and toss to coat, then arrange in rows sitting upright on their skins. Bake for 35-40 minute, until soft and golden.

A nice treat for two and ready in minutes.

Wine Suggestion: Something red from Italy’s Adriatic coast, but nothing too big or complex as this is a fun, casual dish! For us Umani Ronchi’s Rosso Conero Serrano, a Montepulciano – Sangiovese blend that has a medium body, fresh and bright cherry fruits and a gentle, earthy tannins was the ticket.

Prawn spaghetti with tomato, chilli & basil – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 150g baby plum tomatoes
  • 150ml white wine
  • 200g spaghetti
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • 225g raw peeled prawns
  • a generous knob of butter

Warm the oil in a large frying pan, then add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then add the white wine and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions in lots of very salty water, then drain but reserve a cup of the cooking water.

Add the basil and prawns to the tomatoes, season well, and cook until the prawns turn pink. Stir in the butter and spaghetti and a splash of pasta cooking water if you need to loosen the sauce a bit. Toss it all together and serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, March 2020.)

This makes a delicious weeknight dinner. Serve with some greens on the side.

Wine Suggestion: really nice with a dry, artisan cider like the Cockagee keeved cider from Slane. This retains a natural sweetness when first brewed but when aged and because of the apples used it ends up being full bodied and dry with a great bittersweet twist. A cider for food like some of the Breton ciders we’ve tried in France in past years

Baked pork & parsnips – serves 4

  • 4 large parsnips (about 500g), peeeled and cut lengthways into 6
  • 2 red onions, each cut into 8 wedge through the root
  • 2 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ wholegrain mustard
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 ½ clear honey
  • small handful of sage leaves

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Put the veg into a large roasting tin, season and toss with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1 tbsp of the mustard. Roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a high heat. Season the pork chops and rub with the last ½ tbsp of oil. Fry for 30 seconds on each side or until just browned – turn onto the sides too to brown any fat.

Stir the veg, then put the chops on top and rub with the rest of the mustard. Roast for another 15 minutes, then drizzle with the honey and scatter over the sage. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, then serve with the pan juices.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food).