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Archive for the ‘Vegan’ Category

This is a lovely side dish and it was hard not to eat all the roasted Romanesco before it got to the plate. Then you add garlicky tahini sauce and pomegranate seeds … delicious!

We just love the fractal patterened shape of these too. We’ve recently discovered that pomegranate seeds freeze well. Dry them well and spread them over a tray lined with paper, transfer to a bag or tub when frozen.

Roast Romanesco Cauliflower with Tahini and Pomegranates – serves 4

  • 2 heads of Romanesco cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 4 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 75g tahini
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed

Heat the oven to 200C/180C/Gas 6.

Spread the florets out over a large baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the cumin and allspice. Season with plenty of salt and pepper then toss well to coat.

Roast for 20-30 minutes in the hot oven until tender but firm, give them a toss half way through, then remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.

To make the tahini sauce mix the tahini, lemon juice and garlic with 100ml of water in a bowl, until smooth and runny.

Put the tahini onto a serving platter, drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds.

(Original recipe from Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2018.)

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We adore spinach and dishes that are full of it, like this spinach, tomato & chickpea curry. Great served with rice or naan breads and some yoghurt. Couldn’t be easier!

Wine Suggestion: A dish like this loves medium weight Grenache based wines like Roc des Anges, l’Effet de Papillon rouge. A velvety, juicy, damson and raspberry flavoured glass with hints of spice.

Chana Saag – Spinach, tomato & chickpea curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500g baby spinach, washed

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for a minute, then add the chopped onions.

Fry for 10 to 12 minutes or until starting to caramelise, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, crushing them with you hand as they go in. Fill the tin a third full with water and add to the pan.

Cook for 10 minutes or until quite dry and paste-like, then add the chickpeas. Warm through for a few minutes, then add the coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Stir well to combine, then add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until the spinach is cooked. Serve with naan bread or basmati rice and some yoghurt.

(Original recipe from Fresh India by Meeera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2016.)

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A nice salad using raw beetroot. It tastes really fresh and good for you. 

Beetroot with walnuts and cumin – serves 4

  • 75g walnuts
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • about 400g beetroot
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil

Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and gently toast the walnuts for a few minutes, until toasted and starting to colour. Remove from the pan and add the cumin seeds. Toast these for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant, then tip onto a plate. 

Peel the beetroot and grate it coarsely into a bowl. Add the parsley, orange juice and a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and salt and pepper. Mix and season again to taste. Leave for 20 minutes or so to marinate and soften. 

Spread the beetroot over a serving dish. Bash the toasted walnuts roughly and scatter over the beetroot. Bash the toasted cumin seeds too, then scatter over the salad. 

Finish with another drizzle of oil. 

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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We’re having a little Korean-inspired moment in the kitchen. So many of the dishes are super simple and really tasty. We had these soy-seasoned mushrooms with a glass of sherry for a starter but they’re a side dish really. A few ingredients that were made for each other and brought together quickly and easily!

Wine Suggestion: An umami-rich dish like this thrives with sherry and the La Gitana Manzanilla with it’s seaside freshness and bone-dry texture did not disappoint. Easy to see this dish in a tapas bar in Cadiz, despite the Korean origins.

Soy-seasoned mushrooms – bo-seot namool – serves 4 as a side dish or nibble with drinks

  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g wild mushrooms (we used a mixture of baby shitake and oyster mushrooms), sliced into ½ cm strips
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a wide pan over a high heat.

Add the mushrooms to the hot pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the soy sauce and garlic. Stir-fry for another minute.

Add the sesame oil and keep going for another minute, keep it moving so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the toasted sesame seeds, then leave to cool a bit so the flavours come together. You can serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from My Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015.)

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We’ve been looking for recipes that use fresh turmeric but you can also use ground turmeric for this dish. This cauliflower curry is really nice and also uses the cauliflower leaves, genius! Serve with rice. 

Wine Suggestion: This dish cries out for a white from warmer or sunnier climates where there are hints of tropical fruits in the flavours. Tonight’s choice was the superlative Kilikanoon Pierce Road Semillon; an oak aged semillon from the Clare Valley. Rich and layered with buttery, toasty hints of the barrel fermentation carried through with a wonderful, lemony, citrus backbone of acidity. Youthful but poised and balanced.

Cauliflower and yellow split pea curry – serves 4

  • 1 large cauliflower, with leaves, cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and the cut the leaves across the spine into 1cm-thick strips
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 180g yellow split peas, rinsed
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk

FOR THE CURRY BASE:

  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 4cm piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated (or you can use 1 tbsp ground turmeric)
  • 1 green chilli, finely diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a bunch of coriander, chop the stalks finely and the leaves roughly

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C/gas 7.

Toss the cauliflower pieces in the vegetable oil and season generously with salt. Place in a roasting tray and roast for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden. Toss them halfway through. 

Meanwhile, put the crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cumin, coriander and mustard seeds in a medium saucepan. Put over a medium heat and toast until fragrant. Add the vegetable oil, then the rest of curry base ingredients, including the coriander stalks but not the leaves. Season well with salt and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the split peas and 700ml warm water. Stir, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes, stirring often and adding a little more water if needed. Add the coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes. 

Add the cauliflower and the cauliflower leaves, then cover and cook for a few minutes until the leaves have wilted. Remove from the heat and garnish with the chopped coriander. 

Serve with rice and anything else you like with you curry. 

(Original recipe from Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019.)

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Jono acquired five trays of figs from one of his customers, much to the approbation of Jules who said he had to find something to do with them! This fig jam used most of them and there was a smaller batch of rather good chutney. A good call too, as we’ve had repeat requests for jam from friends who’ve been given a jar. It is easily scalable, so while the recipe is for 1kg of figs, we used 4kg to make just over 5kg of jam.

Jono now believes he is allowed to get loads of figs when there is a glut again next year.

Fig Jam – makes roughly 1.3kg of jam

  • 1kg figs, remove the stalks at the top and roughly chop
  • 2 fig leaves, cleaned (we took two from a neighbour’s garden – with permission)
  • 500g jam sugar (with pectin)

Put the ingredients into a large saucepan and stir well to combine. Put the pan over a low heat and let the sugar dissolve, then increase the heat slightly and bring to a gentle simmer. 

When the liquid starts to be released from the figs, turn the heat up a little again and stir often to stop the jam sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer rapidly until the jam reaches 105°C (You will need a jam thermometer to check this. If you don’t have one the other option is to put a few saucers in the freezer. To check if the jam is ready, put a tiny spoonful onto the cold plate and see if it runs. If it doesn’t, it’s ready. If it does try again using another cold plate in a few minutes). 

Remove the fig leaves and pour the jam into sterilised jars. Cover immediately with the lids. The jam will now keep for up to a year, but it’s highly unlikely to last that long!

(Original recipe from Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollins Publishing, 2019.)

 

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Green Hummus

Really fresh and tasty. A lovely recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour (our new favourite thing!). We served with toasted pittas. Leftovers great for lunch the next day.

Green hummus – serves 6 to 8

  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and reserve ¾ of the brine from 1 of the tins
  • juice of ½ a lemon, you might need a bit more
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 30g of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 30g of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 15g of tarragon, leaves picked, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • warm pitta bread, to serve

Put the chickpeas, reserved brine, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, coriander, tarragon, tahini, some sea salt and black pepper, in a food processor and whizz until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, you might like to add more lemon juice. Serve in a bowl garnished with the nigella seeds and with some of your best olive oil drizzled over.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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BBQ Padron's

We’ve been picking up bags of padrón peppers at our local farm shop. We’ve usually cook these in a frying pan, or wok,  on the stove but have been throwing them onto the barbecue instead.

Thread the peppers onto two metal skewers, one at each end of the pepper, making sure there is a tiny gap between each to form sort of a raft. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil then put over hot coals until done or wrinkled and starting to blister. The raft helps turn them over.

Push them off the skewers into a bowl, toss with little Maldon Salt and serve with a glass of Txakoli or something similar.

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Courgette Trifolate

We can’t be the only people living on courgettes at the minute. Not that we’re complaining, we love looking out for different things to do with them which is how we came across this little side dish by Jacob Kennedy. The cooking method is a bit different but the result is delicious, the lesser cooked bits taste really strongly of courgettes and you also get some browned pieces with a deeper flavour.

Courgettes with Parsley – serves 4 as a side

  • 600g courgettes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • a tiny pinch of crushed dried chilli flakes
  • about 20g of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Thinly slice the courgettes, 3-5mm.

Get out a large, wide frying pan.  It needs to be big enough to hold the courgettes no more than 2-3 layers deep.

Heat the pan until really smoking or at least very, very hot. Add all of the courgettes and shake the pan to settle them, leave for 30 seconds.

Drizzle over the oil and sprinkle with salt but don’t stir yet. Continue to cook for another 30 seconds, then add the garlic, chilli and some black pepper. Toss once, so the courgettes on the bottom are pretty much on the top and the garlic and chilli underneath. Leave for 15 seconds, then shake the pan and cook for another 15 seconds. Sprinkle with parsley and toss a few times to mix, then remove from the heat. Leave in the pan for a further minute to finish cooking, then serve hot or at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kennedy, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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Georgian Kidney Bean Salad

We try so many recipes but it’s rare that we find one that’s like nothing we’ve had before. This is different and definitely recommended by us.

Georgian kidney bean salad – serves 2

  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • ½ a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of dill, chopped

Toast the fenugreek, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and crush with a pinch of sea salt.

Heat 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for 10-15 minutes or until soft and browned. Add the beans and warm through.

Mix 1 tbsp sunflower oil, the sherry vinegar, sugar, crushed spices, herbs and salt and pepper, together in a bowl. Stir through the beans and serve warm or cold.

(Original recipe from Mamushka by Olia Hercules, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

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Sweet Beetroot Pickle

This is so simple and far superior to the jars you buy in supermarkets (though we do like them too). The flavour of the earthy beetroot really shines through.

A good thing about pickling your own beetroot is that you can source/grow different types and they’ll all have their own character; this one was less red in colour and a touch more peppery than the usual supermarket variety. We’re on the lookout for golden beetroot next to see what happens there too.

Sweet pickle beetroot – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 4-6 beetroots (about 300g)
  • 90g light brown sugar
  • 125ml red wine vinegar
  • 125ml water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 220C/180 fan/Gas 6.

Sprinkle the salt into the bottom of a roasting tin and place the whole beetroots on top. Bake for 30 minutes, then pierce with a sharp knife to see if they’re tender all the way through. Keep cooking until your knife goes through easily. It could take 15 minutes more or longer depending on the size of your beetroots.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then trim the ends and peel off the skin – you will need gloves. Cut each beetroot into 8-10 wedges and put into an airtight container.

Heat the remaining ingredients together and bring to the boil. Pour over the beetroots, including all the spices, and seal the container. Leave to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge.

You can eat the beetroots the following day or leave them longer for the flavour to develop. They should be good for a month if you don’t open the container. Once opened you need to eat within 2 weeks which should not be a problem!

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Saltyard Books, 2014)

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Courgettes with Broad Beans and Walnuts

We can’t resist all the courgettes at this time of year, and even less so if they’re multi-coloured. This is a really tasty side dish that we make with frozen broad beans but of course use the fresh version if you have them. A great side to bring a bit of sunshine to any meal.

Courgettes with broad beans & walnuts – serves 4

  • 8 baby courgettes, sliced on the diagonal into 4 or 5 pieces (you can also use medium courgettes but cut them in 4 lengthways, then slice)
  • 200g podded broad beans, (about 1kg unpodded weight)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 walnut halves, roughly chopped

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 50ml olive oil

Make the vinaigrette by whisking the vinegar and olive oil together with some seasoning.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the broad beans and cook for 2-3 minutes (if you are using frozen baby broad beans they will only need a minute). Drain and run under cold water, then remove the skins.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the courgettes and cook over a medium heat until golden on all sides – about 5-8 minutes.

Add the broad beans, season with salt and pepper and warm through for 30 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vinaigrette. Sprinkle over the chopped walnuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Aubergine and Cherry Tomato Curry

This is delicious and so simple. A perfect summer curry. Serve with yoghurt and naan bread. It’s versatile too as it is lovely on its own with some rice, or as a side, or part of a larger feast.

Wine Suggestion: a light grenache red is our pick, either a simple Spanish bottle such as Bodegas Monfil in Cariñena or something more sophisticated like Domaine Cébène’s ex Arena from Faugeres.

Aubergine & cherry tomato curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 4cm ginger, finely grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 large aubergine, quartered, then cut into ½ cm thick slices
  • coriander leaves, to garnish

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan with a lid.

Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until soft. Add the chilli, ginger and garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add the cherry tomatoes, then cover with the lid and leave over a low heat for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have softened.

Stir in the salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, tomato purée and sugar. Mix well, then add 150ml warm water, then the aubergine. Stir to coat the aubergines in the tomatoes, then cover again.

Cook for 15-20 minutes over a medium heat or until the aubergine is tender and soft enough to cut with a wooden spoon.

Season to taste and garnish with coriander leaves.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

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Aubergine, Chickpea & Tomato Bake

Absolute deliciousness from Sami Tamami and Tara Wigley. You could definitely eat a plate of this as it is, but we had it tonight with a barbecued leg of lamb. You can prep it in advance and cook when needed.

Aubergine, chickpea & tomato bake – serves 4 to 6

  • 5 medium aubergines (about 1.25kg), trim off the tops, use a peeler to peel of strips of skin so you have stripy aubergines, then cut into 2cm thick slices
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp tomato purée
  • 2 green peppers, cut in to 3cm chunks
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp caster sugar
  • 15g coriander, roughly chopped, plus an extra 5g to serve
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced into 1½ cm rounds

Preheat the oven to 220C fan.

Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Put the aubergine slices into a large bowl and toss with 75ml of the olive oil, 1 tsp of salt and lots of black pepper. Spread the slices over the baking trays and bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes. They should be completely softened and lightly browned.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180C fan.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large sauté pan, then cook the onion for about 7 minutes or until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic, chilli flakes, cumin, cinnamon and tomato purée and cook for another minutes. Add the peppers, chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, sugar, 200ml of water, 1¼ tsp salt and and plenty of black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes, or until the peppers have cooked through. Stir in the coriander and remove from the heat.

Spread half the tomato slices and half the aubergine over the base of a large baking dish. Pour over the sauce, then top with the remaining aubergine and tomato slices. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle over the remaining coriander to serve.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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Spicy Roasted New Potatoes with Lemon & Herbs

This dish bursts with flavour. We’ve been entertaining in our garden (in small groups and at a distance) and it’s been so nice to cook dishes to feed more than 2! Another triumph from Falastin and great with some grilled meat; this will be done many atime again we suspect. You can prep up to the point before you put the potatoes in the oven. Cook and dress when you’re ready to eat.

Spicy roasted new potatoes with lemon & herbs  – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 7 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 750g baby new potatoes, quartered
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 1 large lemon, finely grate the zest to get 2 tsp and juice to get 2 tbsp
  • 10g coriander, roughly chopped
  • 5g dill, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C fan.

Lightly crush the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar.

Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seed and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or until it starts to colour.

Add the chilli and tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until the tomatoes start to soften. Add the potatoes, sugar, 1 tsp of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir and transfer to a large baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Roast for 40 minutes, tossing once, until the potatoes are crispy and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before adding the lemon zest & juice, coriander & dill. Toss gently & serve.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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Falastin Chopped Salad

I’ve been trying to suppress my cookbook habit in lockdown; there’s really no room left on the bookshelves. However, Jono recognised that I could not be without Falastin and it arrived this week. It’s everything we love and know to expect from Tami & Tara. The pages are splattered with tahini and sumac already! We chopped everything a couple of hours in advance, as it takes a while, and then assembled and tossed just before serving.

Chopped Salad (tahini version) – serves 4

  • 4 small Lebanese cucumbers (or 1 normal cucumber), quartered lengthways, seeds removed and cut into ½ cm dice
  • 420g ripe tomatoes, cut into ½ cm dice
  • 1 red pepper, cut into ½ cm dice
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 scallions, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g parsley, very finely chopped
  • 15g mint leaves, finely shredded
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 lemons: finely grate the zest to get 2 tsp and juice to get 3 tbsp
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • plenty of black pepper
  • 80g tahini
  • 1 tbsp sumac

Prep everything and keep them separate. When ready to eat place all of the ingredients, except the sumac, in a large bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle over the sumac.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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Couscous, Cherry Tomato & Herb Salad

We made this couscous salad from Ottolenghi Simple for the first time this week and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Serve it at all your summer barbecues (provided local restrictions allow) and expect very happy guests.

Couscous, cherry tomato and herb salad – serves 4

  • 250g couscous
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 onions, sliced into thin rings
  • 30g golden raisins or sultanas
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 50g roasted and salted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 15g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 15g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, finely grate to get 1 tsp of zest and squeeze to get 1 tbsp of juice

Put the couscous into a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle over 2 tbsp of oil, sprinkle with 1 tsp of the ras el hanout, ¾ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Pour over 400ml boiling water, then seal well with tin foil and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and fluff the couscous with a fork, then set aside to cool.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the tomatoes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until they start to brown and split. Remove the tomatoes from the pan and sprinkle them with salt.

Add the remaining 3 tbsp of oil to the same pan. Add the onions, the other tsp of ras el hanout and an a pinch of salt. Fry over a medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until dark golden-brown and soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins and leave to cool.

When the couscous has cooked a bit, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the onions and raisin mixture and stir, then add the cumin seeds, almonds, herbs, lemon zest & juice, ¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Mix gently to combine.

Serve on a platter with the tomatoes on the top.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Asparagus soup

Asparagus has arrived in a bit of a glut and has suddenly became very cheap. This needs plenty so a bit of a luxury at the start of the season when prices are high. A lovely lunch two days in a row and still some left in the freezer. The recipe is by Jamie Oliver and he recommends serving with toasted ciabatta and poached eggs.

If you have a stand blender you’ll be able to get this smoother, but it tastes just as nice blended with a stick blender like we did.

Creamy Asparagus Soup – serves 8

  • 800g asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard, chop the pretty tips off and set aside, roughly chop the stalks
  • 2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 litres of good-quality chicken or veg stock

Heat a couple of tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Gently fry the onions, celery and leeks for about 10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Add the chopped asparagus stalks and the stock, then simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on.

Remove from the heat and whizz with your choice of implement. Season generously, then return the pan to the heat and stir in the reserved asparagus tips. Simmer for a few minutes or until the tips have softened.

We had some crème fraîche in the fridge and served with a spoon on top but it’s also nice without.

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

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Guacamole

We have a stash of chilli in the freezer which makes for perfect Friday night food. We like our chilli with a ridiculous number of extras including grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh coriander, lime wedges, tortilla chips, rice or jacket potatoes and a big bowl of guacamole. Do not feel limited to serving this with a chilli either as we’ll spread this on toast, have with jacket potatoes or tortillas, or whenever the notion takes us.

Guacamole – serves 4

  • ¼ white onion, chopped
  • 25g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 big green chilli, chopped, leave in the seeds
  • 4 small avocados, roughly chopped
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • juice of ½ lime

Put the onion, most of the coriander and the chilli in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt and grind to a paste.

Add the avocados to the pestle and mortar with the rest of the coriander, the oregano and the lime juice. Pound until mixed and chunky, then season to taste with some more salt or lime.

Serve with chilli or on top of toast.

(Original recipe from Where the Wild Cooks Go by Cerys Matthews, Penguin Books, 2019.)

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Curried Squash, Lentil & Coconut Soup

It seems like there’s a storm every weekend in Ireland at the minute. Stuck indoors again it’s an opportunity to make some soup. This is the soup we made for Storm Jorge.

Curried squash, lentil & coconut soup – serves 6

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 200g carrots, diced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 100g red lentils
  • 700ml veg stock
  • a tin of reduced-fat coconut milk
  • coriander and naan bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pot, then add the squash and carrots and toss around for a minute before stirring in the curry powder and cooking for a minute more. Add the lentils, the vegetable stock, coconut milk and some seasoning, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Blitz the soup with a hand blender or food processor. Check the seasoning and serve with the coriander over the top and some naan bread on the side.

(Original recipe by BBC Good Food).

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