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Green beans with lemon

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe that she recommends for Thanksgiving but we like it with roast chicken (and lots of other things) in the summer months. It’s easy to scale down for smaller numbers. We like our beans well-done – no squeaky, al-dente beans for us please.

Green Beans with Lemon – serves 8 to 10

  • 1kg fine green beans, topped and tailed (there’s always a debate in our house over whether or not to leave the curly tails on)
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon (to prepare cut a slice of each end, then cut downwards to remove the skin and pith, then slice)

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add plenty of salt to the boiling water, then add the beans and cook until tender (start checking after about 6 minutes).

Drain the beans and put the pot back over the heat with the butter and a few drops of olive oil. Add the lemon slices, and any juice on the board, to the butter. Stir well and add the beans.

Turn the beans over in the lemony butter. Add some sea salt and lots of freshly ground white pepper (black pepper will do fine if that’s what you have).

(Original recipe from Feast by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2004.)

 

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Broccoli, walnut & blue cheese penne

We almost always have a bit of leftover blue cheese in the fridge and much as we love a cheese board, we don’t tend to have them on weeknights. So here’s a simple weeknight pasta – broccoli, walnuts & blue cheese – yum!

Broccoli Walnut & Blue Cheese Pasta – serves 2

  • 200g penne pasta
  • 250g broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a handful of chopped walnuts
  • 100g blue cheese e.g. dolcelatte, cubed
  • 1 lemon

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salty water and add the broccoli 4 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and gently fry the walnuts for a minute.

Scoop 4tbsp of the pasta cooking water out and add to the walnuts before draining. Return the pasta to the pan and add the walnuts and blue cheese. Stir gently until the cheese melts. Squeeze over some lemon juice before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

BBQ roasted cherry tomatoesA revelation of a dish that we’ve been cooking all summer. Much tastier than expected and goes with pretty much anything you cook on the barbecue.

Roasted tomatoes & red onions – serves 6

  • 2 red onions, halved and sliced
  • 500g mixed small tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, bashed
  • 3 thyme sprigs

Put the onion in the middle of a large square of double thickness foil. Fold the sides of the foil up to form a baking tray (or you can use a foil tray like we did).

Scatter the tomatoes over the onions and drizzle with about 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add the bashed garlic cloves and thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Put the foil onto a rack on the barbecue and cook for about 15 minutes or until the onions and tomatoes are tender.

If the weather gods don’t shine you can put all the ingredients onto a roasting tray and bake in the oven at 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 for 20 minutes.

(Original idea from BBC Olive Magazine, June 2005.)

 

Tomato and sugar snap pea pasta salad

We’ve really embraced salads recently, especially as this Irish summer has been quite nice and sunny. This works as a main dish or as a side and will feed a large crowd. It’s nice to find a pasta salad that doesn’t rely on heaps of mayonnaise!

Tomato & Sugar Snap Pea Pasta Salad – serves 6

  • 9 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 x 5 cm strips of orange zest
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into tiny matchsticks
  • 600 g cherry tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 60 ml olive oil plus 2 tbsp (and a bit extra for drizzling at the end)
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt plus extra
  • 200 g scallions
  • 200 g sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved
  • 350 g pasta e.g. penne, casarecche or fusilli
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • a large bunch of basil, leaves picked and shredded
  • a large bunch of mint, leaves picked and shredded

Preheat the oven to 160ºC.

Put the garlic, thyme, orange zest, ginger, tomatoes, orange juice, 60 ml olive oil, brown sugar, salt and a pinch of black pepper into baking dish and toss with your hands. Place in the oven to roast for 50-60 minutes, tossing every 20 minutes or so. Discard the thyme and orange zest when the cooking time is up.

Separate the green and white parts of the scallions. Cut the green parts in half lengthwise and then across into 5 cm lengths. Slice the white parts into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the sugar snap peas and spread out into a single slayer. Cook, turning once, until charred on both sides, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Heat another 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan. Add the green and white parts of the scallions and spread out in a single layer. Cook these in the same way as the peas, until charred. Transfer to the bowl with the sugar snap peas and season with salt.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool. Toss it occasionally to prevent it sticking together.

Add the tomato mixture, the sugar snap peas and onion, the lemon juice, most of the basil and most of the mint, to the pasta. Toss gently with your hands to combine without breaking up the tomatoes too much. Season with salt and pepper and a bit more lemon juice if necessary.

Serve with the remaining herbs scattered over the top and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi on bon appétit.)

 

Chicken with olives & tomatoes

This one-pot dish is full of Mediterranean flavours and reminiscent of summer sun. A tasty treat for mid-week and freezes well too.

Wine suggestion: try a glass of a good, dry Provençal Rosé. We had one made by Chateau Vignelaure which matched the sunny nature of this dish perfectly.

Chicken, red pepper & olive cacciatore – serves 6

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 6 drumsticks
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 x 400g tin tomatoes
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, needles chopped
  • 300ml red wine
  • 120g pitted black olives,  halved
  • a large handful of basil leaves

Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.

Season the chicken pieces well with salt & pepper. Heat a splash of oil in a large shallow casserole and fry the chicken until the skin is golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes and is easier to do in  a few batches. Remove the chicken onto a plate.

Pour most of the fat off the pan, then add the onions and garlic and fry for  over a low heat for about 8 minutes or until very soft.

Add the tomatoes, peppers and rosemary and simmer for another 10 minutes, breaking the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Add the wine and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce is rich and thick.

Stir the olives into the sauce and nestle the chicken pieces back into the pan. If your pan is too small to take the chicken in a single layer you can transfer everything to a baking dish at this point. Cook in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and comes away easily from the bone.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, July 2016.)

Lemony Pea Risotto

Lemony pea risotto

A standby, reliable dish; something we make for weekend lunches that is simple, tasty and comforting. We’re always surprised at how good it is!

Wine Suggestion: a fresh, zesty white is our usual choice. Vermentino from  Tuscany like the Poggio ai Ginepri IGP Bianco works a treat, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Chablis would be great too.

Pea & Parmesan risotto – serves 4

  • 1.2 litres chicken stock/veg stock
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 225g arborio rice
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Put the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then keep over a low heat.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan, and the onion and garlic, then cook for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir over a low heat until translucent and starting to soften. Increase the heat to medium and begin adding the hot stock, a ladle at a time. Keep adding ladles of stock when the one before has been completely absorbed by the rice.

Continue like this for about 15-20 minutes or until the rice is al dente.

Tip the frozen peas into the risotto and stir. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes or until the peas have defrosted and the rice is bubbling. Finally, stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately with a few shards of Parmesan over the top.

(Original recipe by Tana Ramsey in BBC Good Food Magazine, July, 2007.)

Gilaki Herb Stew

Gilaki herb stew

This sour herb stew is unusual, and perhaps not to everybody’s taste, but we loved it! Served with some saffron rice it felt like a big dish of healthy goodness. It would also work as a side dish, or as they serve it in Iran with smoked fish.

Gilaki Herb Stew (Torsh-e tareh) – serves 4

  • 300g spinach
  • 65g fresh coriander
  • 65g fresh parsley
  • 40g fresh dill
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 400ml water
  • 1½ tbsp cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 tbsp water
  • juice of ½ a lemon (plus a bit extra)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 10g butter

Finely chop the spinach and herbs (use a food processor if you’ve got one). Put the chopped greens into a saucepan and add the garlic, turmeric and water. Stir well, then cover and cook for 15 minutes over a low heat.

Add the cornflour paste, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn up the heat and cook for 5 minutes, without the lid, until the sauce thickens.

Crack the eggs into the greens and allow to cook for a minute before touching them. Run a wooden spoon through each of the egg yolks twice (horizontally then vertically) so they are just broken. Don’t be tempted to mix them around as you want the chunks of cooked egg, rather than scramble.

Cover with the lid again until the eggs are cooked. Remove from the heat and stir through the butter. Season to taste. Serve with some extra lemon if you like it sour.

(Original recipe from The Saffron Tales by Jasmine Khan, Bloomsbury, 2016.)