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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Give these a go for a super tasty mid-week and meat-free meal. The aubergines and beans really fill you up and the extras are non-negotiable as they all come together to make these tacos taste great. If you have too many pickled onions they will keep in the fridge for a few days and are great on the side of all sorts of things or in toasted sandwiches.

Wine Suggestion: The pickles need to be matched with a touch of residual sugar in the wine, or else the vinegar gets accentuated. The aubergine and black beans also need a touch of rich, earthiness but not too much weight. We found our match in Finca Bacara’s Crazy Grapes, a Monastrell from Jumilla in Spain. Superbly balanced juicy fruits, all brambles, black plums and berries, with a hint of earthy tannins and so easy to drink.

Aubergine and Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Pickled Red Onions

FOR THE QUICK PICKLED ONIONS:

  • 1 large red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

FOR THE AUBERGINE & BLACK BEAN FILLING:

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • a pinch of dried oregano
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 x 400g tins black beans, 1 drained and rinsed
  • ½ lime, juiced, plus extra wedges to serve

TO SERVE:

  • 8 small tortillas, warmed
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ an iceberg lettuce, shredded

Start by making the pickled onions. Combine all of the ingredients with a generous sprinkle of sea salt flakes in a plastic container with a lid. Close the lid and shake hard for a couple of minutes or until the onions soften.

Next, you need to burn your aubergines. Prick them all over with a fork, then either place them directly over a gas flame, on the barbecue, or under a hot grill. Turn them until they are blackened and burnt all over and starting to collapse, then aside on a plate to cool.

When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and discard the blackened skins.

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

For the aubergine and black bean filling, you need to heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan with the bay leaf and cumin seeds. When they start sizzling, you can add the onions and garlic. Fry for about 5 minutes or until soft but not coloured, then stir in the tomato purée and cook for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and dried oregano and cook for another few minutes or until they have collapsed into the sauce. Add the aubergine flesh, chilli powder, chilli flakes and vinegar and stir for a minutes, then tip in the drained and undrained beans. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and cook for about 5 minutes until reduced, then transfer to the oven for 15-20 minutes until rich and thick.

Fill the warm tortillas with shredded lettuce and the aubergine and black bean filling. Top with feta, coriander, pickled onions and a squeeze of lime.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We know you don’t need to be told how to make a tomato salad, but this one was particularly nice so we thought we would share.

Tomato salad – serves 4 as a side

  • 700g mixed tomatoes, slice large ones into thick slices and halve tiny ones
  • a generous handful of basil leaves
  • a small handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped oregano
  • a handful of watercress
  • ½ a red onion, thinly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar
  • good olive oil
  • a ball of top quality buffalo mozzarella

Put the tomatoes into a large bowl with the herbs, watercress and onion. Drizzle over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Toss well together, then transfer to a platter.

Top with torn mozzarella and drizzle with a little more oil.

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This is the kind of weeknight dish we love, quick and esay but no compromise on flavour.

Wine Suggestion: Try a fun Italian white like a Pecorino or Falanghina, you won’t go far wrong.

Courgette, butter & basil gnocchi – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 courgette, trimmed and cubed (we used 2 small courgettes, a green and a yellow)
  • 250g pack of gnocchi from the fridge
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • a small bunch of basil, leaves torn, plus a few extra to serve
  • pecorino, finely grated, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-hight heat, then cook the courgettes until golden and soft.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the gnnocchi and cook until it floats to the top. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon as they rise to the surface. Keep a cupful of the cooking water.

While the gnocchi is cooking, add the garlic, capers and chilli flakes to the courgettes and cook for a minute. Add the lemon juice and stir to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the butter and sizzle for 30 seconds or until it smells nutty. Add the gnocchi and a splash of the reserved cooking liquid to make a glossy sauce that coats the gnocchi.

Stir in most of the basil, then serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with the pecorino and extra basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, August 2021.)

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Romanesco cauliflower is a vegetable that we can’t resist picking up when we see it. It’s flavour really shines in this simple pasta recipe. It is very important to cook the romanesco until completely soft (you will be crushing it later with your wooden spoon), there is no place for al dente in this recipe!

Wine Suggestion: This is best served with a joyful white, and while we initially thought about an Italian Pecorino from the Marches instead went for Domaine Ventenac’s Colombard Vermentino, which is quite simply summer in a glass.

Pasta and Romanesco – serves 4

  • 1 large head of romanesco cauliflower, discard the stalk and break into small florets
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed with the flat side of a knife and left whole
  • 1 red chilli or 1 dried red chilli, chopped, or a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 400g penne pasta (or similar)
  • 30g grated pecorino, plus extra to serve

Cook the romanesco in a very large pan of boiling salty water for 6-8 minutes or until completely soft. Scoop the florets out with a slotted spoon into a colandar.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and chilli and cook gently until golden, take care not to let it go brown or it will be bitter. Discard the garlic clove.

Cook the pasta in the water used to cook the romanesco.

While the pasta cooks, tip the romanesco into the olive oil and toss to coat in the oil. Season with salt, then crush the florets gently with a wooden spoon so they break up. Scoop the pasta out of the cooking water with a slotted spoon straight into the frying pan. Add the pecorino and stir to mix everything together.

Serve with extra pecorino.

(Original recipe from Five Quarters by Rachel Roddy, Saltyard Books, 2015.)

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This is like a cross between a lasagne and a parmigiana. If you have a gas barbecue it makes a very easy job of griddling the aubergines in big batches which attracted us to this dish in the first place as the barbecue was on a good run. Nice with some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: Light, crunchy red wines just seem to fall into place with lasagne, or aubergine and tomato. This was no different. Tonight to good effect, our favourite Loire red, the Chateau du Hureau Saumur Champigny Tuffe.

Aubergine Parmigiana Lasagne – serves 6

  • 3 large aubergines, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g mozzarella, drained and coarsely grated
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • a bunch of basil, leaves picked and roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
  • 8 dried egg lasagne sheets

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • ¼ tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

Make the sauce by warming the olive oil and garlic in a large pan for a minute or until golden, go gently or the garlic will brown and turn bitter. Add the sugar and red wine vinegar and allow to bubble up for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Season with salt and return to a simmer. Bubble gently for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a gas barbecue or a griddle pan to a medium-high heat. Brush the aubergine slices with oil on both sides and season with a little salt. Griddle or barbecue in batches until softened and slightly charred. Don’t let the heat get too high or they will char before they are softened.

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

Lay a third of the aubergine slices over the base of a large baking dish, then spoon over a third of the sauce. Scatter with a small handful of both cheeses (but not too much as you want most of it for the top) and half the basil, then top with 4 lasagne sheets. Repeat once more, then finish with a layer of aubergines topped with the rest of the sauce and scattered with the remaining cheese.

Place the dish in the hot oven and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes then serve with the rest of the basil sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We couldn’t find cougettes to plant this year so we haven’t been cooking them nearly as often. Definitely one of the vegetables we miss the most in the colder months. You can of course buy a good-quality fresh pesto if you don’t feel like making it, though there is something very satisfying about pounding your own.

Wine Suggestion: We looked for a wine with a herbal streak and remembered the Ch Vignelaure La Source white from Provence. Made mostly of Vermentino with a dash of Semillon for body and Sauvignon Blanc for a crisp grassiness, this has both the body to work with the food and freshness to remind us of summer. Grapefruit and peach flavours, hints of white blossoms and a southern French, sassy finish.

Courgette & broad bean risotto with pesto – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 350g courgettes, cut into small dice
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 750g warm vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 80g broad beans, podded and blanched for a minute, then skins removed
  • 20g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

FOR THE PESTO:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • a large handful of basil leaves, plus extra to garnish
  • a handful of mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan

If you are making the pesto, do that first. Crush the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar. Add the toasted pine nuts and pound to a coarse paste, then tear in the basil and mint, pound again to break them down. Stir in the oil and cheese and season to taste.

To make the risotto, warm the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the courgettes, chilli flakes and nutmeg and season. Fry for about 5 minutes or until the courgettes have softened and turned golden. Add the scallions and lemon zest and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until translucent and coated in fat.

Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated, then add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed. Keep adding stock for 20-30 minutes, stirring all the time, until the rice is tender.

Stir in the broad beans and warm through for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then swirl in about half of the pesto (keep the rest for something else).

Serve in warm bowls with basil leaves and extra cheese sprinkled on top.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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We’ve been serving this salad from Ottolenghi Flavour with just about everything this summer. We were surprised at the amount of lemon but it works perfectly and produces a really zingy and fresh salad.

Cucumber, za’atar and lemon salad – serves 4

  • 3 lemons
  • 4½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1¼ tsp dried mint
  • 1½ tsp za’atar
  • 1 banana shallot, halved lengthways and finely sliced
  • 1½ green chillies, finely sliced into strips
  • 1 large cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out, and cut at an angle into ½ cm thisk slices
  • 60g lamb’s lettuce
  • 10g dill, roughly chopped
  • 10g basil leaves
  • 5g mint leaves
  • salt

Squeeze 1-2 lemons to get 2½ tbsp of juice and put into a large salad bowl.

Cut 7 thin slices from another lemon. Discard the pips and pile the slices on top of each other. Remove and throw away half of the rind, then finely chop the slices inlcuding any remaining rind. Add this to the bowl along with the oil, dried mint, za’atar, shallots, green chillies, cucumber, and 1 tsp of salt.

Mix it all together really well, then add the lamb’s lettuce and all of the herbs, toss gently and serve.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, Ebury Press, 2020.)

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We like to have soup for lunch but tend to get out of the habit in the summer months. This one is suitably summery and really captures the flavour of courgette.

Courgette and mint soup – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 6 courgettes, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 750ml veg stock
  • 150ml crème fraîche, plus a bit extra to serve
  • a small bunch of mint leaeves, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then cook the onions withs ome salt for about 10 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook gently for a few minutes, then add the courgettes and cook gently for 20 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil for a few minutes. Whizz the soup until smooth, then stir in the crème fraîche and mint, then whizz again. Season.

Serve in warm bowls with some extra crème fraîche and mint leaves to garnish.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, June 2020.)

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A summer day of torrential rain showers, so we retreat inside and cook this comfort food instead. We love barbecues but a nice change for today.

Don’t be afraid to get a good char on the aubergines when frying them, it really helps to flavour the chilli. We like to serve this with all of usual chilli sides – rice, coriander, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips and grated cheddar cheese.

Wine Suggestion: A wet weather red wine with this … The Bee Side Grenache by Domaine of the Bee in Roussillon. Deeply coloured and full-bodied. This is, significantly, not heavy and has a real panache alongside refined, spicy tannins that suit this wet summer evening and our smoky aubergine chilli.

Smoky Aubergine Chilli – serves 4

  • 3 aubergines, diced (not too big)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp chipotle paste
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tins kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • a small bunch of coriander, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • sour cream or yoghurt
  • steamed rice

Toss the diced aubergines with 2 tbsp of the oil and plenty of salt in a large bowl.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the aubergine in batches for 4-5 minutes, it should be browned and charred. Scoop out onto a plate and set aside.

Add the other 2 tbsp of oil to the pan along with the onion and some salt, cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the peppers, spices and chipotle paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and a full tin of water.

Add the aubergines and beans, season well and simmer gently for 40 minutes until thickened.

Stir in the coriander and serve with lime wedges, yoghurt/sour cream, steamed rice and any of the other suggstions above.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, June 2021.)

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This is good with some spicy barbecued chicken, it’s a bit like the celery sticks and blue cheese sauce you get with chicken wings.

Blue Cheese Slaw – serves 4 as a side

  • 75g hard blue cheese
  • 100g sour cream
  • 50g mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 4-6 celery sticks, shredded
  • 1 green pepper, finely sliced
  • ½ a red onion, finely sliced
  • a few chives, finely chopped

Crumble the blue into a large bowl. Stir in the sour cream, mayonnaise and mustard.

Season and add a squeeze of lemon juice. You can whizz until smooth if you like at this stage but we didn’t bother.

Fold in the celery, pepper and onion and scatter over the chives to serve.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush and Anna Glover in Olive Magazine, June 2021.)

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We’ve been a bit quiet on here because we’ve been spending our evenings outside in the sunshine. This week looks less promising weather-wise so we should get all the recipes we’ve tried posted.

Wine Suggestion: We’d pair this with a current favourite, from Sartarelli’s side project, the Colline Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the rolling hills of Marches, Italy. Fresh and lightly floral, the green apple and pear flavours emphasise the lovely fresh broad beans and the hints of sage and green almonds match the cream and chilli.

Broad beans, mint & chilli pasta – serves 2

  • 200g podded broad beans (we use frozen)
  • 200g pasta e.g. penne
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, remove the seeds and finely slice
  • 1 lemon, zested, plus 1tbsp of juice
  • a knob of butter
  • 30g Parmesan or pecorino, finely grated, plus some extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche
  • a large handful of mint, roughly chopped

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the broad beans for 2-3 minutes, depending on their size. Scoop them out of the water with a slotted spoon, then rinse under cold water to cool. Pop the beans out of their skins and set aside.

Bring the water back to the boil again and add some more salt. Cook the pasta until al dente, skimming off any scum from the surface of the water.

Meanwhile, warm a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil, scallions, garlic, chilli, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes without colouring.

Add the butter and broad beans and season with black pepper. Stir to coat the beans in the sauce and crush a few of them with your spoon. Remove the cooked pasta from the water with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the beans. Add an extra couple of spoons of pasta cooking water if you need, then the Parmesan. Toss until the sauce is creamy and glossy, then pour in the cream, followed by the lemon juice and mint. Season to tate and serve in warm bowls with some extra cheese.

(Original recipe by Rosie Birkett in Olive Magazine, June 2021.)

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This recipe is from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. They have memories of cooking potatoes in bonfires as children and how delicious they tasted. They really are delicious and if you’ve made the effort to light your barbecue you may as well throw a few potatoes in the embers too.

Baked potatoes with charred spring onion sour cream – serves 4

  • 4 baking potatoes, about 250g each

FOR THE SOUR CREAM DRESSING:

  • 8-10 scallions
  • 300g sour cream
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • black pepper
  • zest and juice of half a lemon

Wrap each potato in tin foil and place in the embers of your barbecue or campfire. Leave there for about 45 minutes or until a metal skewer goes in easily, turn them over a couple of times as they cook.

Meanwhile, char half the scallions on the grill for a few minutes on each side or until charred. Remove from the heat and finely chop.

Finely slice the green parts of the remaining scallions and set aside to sprinkle over at the end. Cut the remaining white parts into small pieces and stir into the sour cream along with the charred scalllions and the rest of the ingredients.

Remove the cooked potatoes from the fire and remove the foil. Cut each one down the middle and sprinkle with the flaky sea salt and fill with the sour cream mixture. Spinkle over the green scallions and some black pepper before serving.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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This is perfect for mid-week – tasty, healthy and just a few ingredients.

Wine Suggestion: The hot and sour flavours pair well with dry Rieslings, like the exhuberant Domaine Bott-Geyl Les Elements. Apples, zesty lemon, a hint of apricot and a taut freshness.

Hot and sour aubergine with sticky rice – serves 2

  • 150g sushi rice
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 100g green beans, halved
  • 1 red chilli, shredded, plus extra to serve

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Fry the onion and aubergine in the oil in a wide shallow pan with a lid until golden and softened. Stir it every few minutes.

Mix the sugar and vinegar together, then add the soy sauce and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour and stir to dissolve.

Add the beans and red chilli to the pan and cook for 4 minutes with the lid on. Add the liquid mixture, stir and continue cooking for another 2 minutes with the lid on.

Serve with the rice and some extra soy sauce and chillies on the side.

(Original recipe by Kate Calder in Olive Magazine, June 2012.)

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We’ve done this a few times this week. It’s a great side for a barbecue and it looks after itself in the oven while you organise everything else. Make it while you can still get local asparagus.

Roasted balsamic asparagus & cherry tomatoes – serves 4 as a side

  • 350g asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard
  • 330g pack cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 50g feta, crumbled

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

Put the asparagus and cherry tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic. Season, then toss together. Bake for 15 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked through. Sprinkle over the feta to serve.

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This is a side dish really, but we had it mid-week as a main with some takeaway naan breads. Highly recommended! A halloumi version of the traditional paneer dish.

Wine Suggestion: An unoaked, dry Chardonnay like Domaine Ventenac’s Carole from Cabardès in southern France, which is light and fruit forward would be an ideal choice. Easy going but with layers of flavour and textures just like the dish itself.

Saag halloumi – serves 4 to 6 as a side (half to serve 2 as a main)

  • 500g spinach
  • ½ an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp garam masala, plus extra to serve
  • 2 blocks of halloumi, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200ml double cream
  • ½ lemon juiced

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spinach for 1 minute or until wilted. Drain well, leave to cool, squeeze out the liquid with your hands, then finely chop.

Put the onion, garlic and ginger into a blender with 1-2 tbsp of water and whizz until smooth.

Put the turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala and lots of seasoning onto a plate. Roll the pieces of halloumi in the spices to coat all over.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat, then fry the halloumi until crispy. Don’t be tempted to turn it until a nice crust has been formed, this will help prevent sticking. Remove to a plate.

Add the onion purée to the same pan, plus any spices remaining on the plate and some seasoning. Cook for 15 minutes until the raw smell has gone and they have started to colour. Add the spinach, halloumi and double cream, and cook for another 5 minutes to thicken and warm through. Season with the lemon juice and sprinkle with garam masala before serving.

(Original recipe by Adam Bush in Olive Magazine, May 2020.)

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We definitely have a bit of a thing for Asian-style greens and rice. And while it may seem like you need another dish on the side, you really don’t, it’s just a bowl of healthy, delicious things. Having said that, this would also be great on the side of some white fish.

Wine Suggestion: Anthony Girard’s La Clef du Recit Menetou Salon is a star here. A Sauvignon Blanc grown on Kimmergian clay-limestone, this has a depth, texture and body that belies the grape a little and a wine that we think gets better with a few years in the bottle … if you can wait that long. Don’t worry if you can’t though, it’s delicious from release too.

Asparagus with ginger & garlic – serves 2

  • 12-16 spears of asparagus, snap off the woody ends and slice on the diagonal into 4cm pieces
  • 2-3cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into very fine matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 80ml water
  • 1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put your wok over a medium-low heat and add the sunflower oil. When warm, add the ginger and cook briefly until fragrant.

Add the asparagus, garlic and chilli and toss, then pour in the water and turn the heat to high. Cook for a minute, then add the oyster sauce. Toss well to coat the asparagus and cook for about 30 seconds or until tender but with a bite.

Remove from the heat and season with some black pepper, you shouldn’t need salt.

Serve hot over rice.

(Original recipe from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille Publishing, 2008.)

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Try this if you’re in a bit of a lunch rut … or if like us you have bought an extra bag of spinach and have some miso lingering in the fridge. It takes 5 minutes and it’s delicious.

Miso spinach on sourdough toast – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 200g spinach
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • 2 large slices of toasted sourdough (to serve)

Mix the miso paste with the melted butter, then tip into a frying pan.

Add the spinach and cook over a medium heat until wilted, then add 2 tsp soy sauce. Divide between the toasts and sprinkle over the spinach & scallions.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This is delicious with a load of warm flatbreads for scooping up the baba ghanoush. To burn the aubergines place them directly onto gas rings turned up high, scorch for about 20 minutes, turning once. You will need to open all of the doors and windows but it is definitely worth it!

Wine Suggestion: A Spanish red was called for, but to be a little contrary we went to Roussillon: Roc des Anges’ Segna de Cor. A Grenache, Carignan and Syrah blend from the “young” vines of this estate which average only 40 years of age … they have some wonderful old vines in this part of the world and Marjorie Gallet has some of the best parcels scattered across the incredible landscape that is Catalan France. Exceptionally refined and smooth, with layers of spices, warm fruits and a core of salty stones and smokey earth. For an entry level wine this is truly exciting. Also a good match for the smokey aubergines, earthy lentils and tart pomegranate.

Smoky baba ganoush with roasted cauliflower, lentils & pomegranate – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300g Puy lentils (or similar lentils)
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach leaves
  • a small handful of coriander leaves
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds extracted
  • pomegranate mollasses

FOR THE BABA GANOUSH:

  • 4 large aubergines
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Coat the cauliflower in olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Spread over a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes.

To make the baba ganoush, put the aubergines directly over a gas flame on high, for about 20 minutes, turning once. When cool enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin and place the flesh into a large bowl. Break the aubergine flesh up with a fork, leaving it a bit chunky, then add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, yoghurt and olive oil. Mix with a fork until well combined and season well with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the lentils for 20-25 minutes until just tender, then drain.

Combine the roasted cauliflower, lentils, baby spinach, coriander, a drizzle of olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper. Serve with plenty of baba gaanoush on the side, scatter over the pomegranate seeds and drizzle with a few drops of the pomegranate molasses.

(Original recipe from Community by Hetty McKinnon, A Plum Book, 2014.)

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It just wouldn’t be spring without asparagus soup would it? Though the weather is far from spring-like in Dublin. This is from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, though I suspect Simon may not approve of our half-whizzed texture. You can of course whizz until smooth and pass through a fine sieve if you’re equally fussy.

Asparagus soup – serves 4

  • 100g butter
  • 4 small leeks, white parts only, trimmed and chopped
  • 750ml water
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 450g fresh asparagus, snap off the woody ends and peel the thicker ends a little
  • 250ml double cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then sweat the leeks until soft.

Add the water and potato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 15 minutes.

Chop the asparagus and add to the soup, then boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

Whizz the soup in a blender or food processor, then pass through a fine sieve (or if you’re lazy like us you can just roughly whizz with a stick blender).

(Original recipe from Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, Ebury Press, 1994.)

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We tend to be a bit suspicious of salads that claim to be a main course but we promise you won’t be hungry after this one.

Wine Suggestion: Naturally when eating asparagus we gravitate to Grüner Veltliner, but for this dish we felt drawn to Souther France and opened the Ch Vignelaure, La Source Blanc from Provence. Made mostly from Vermentino with a touch of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh and summery with citrus fruits and a gently herbal twist; full of energy and vitality.

Spring Salad – serves 4 as a main

  • 300g baby new potatoes, half any biggish ones
  • 1 spring of mint
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g asparagus, woody ends snapped off and saved
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 green apple, cored and finely chopped (we used a Granny Smith)
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Little Gem lettuce, leaves washed and dried, heart split in two
  • a few handfuls of soft herbs e.g. tarragon, parsley, mint, chives

FOR THE GARLIC CROUTONS:

  • 2 slices of sourdough or white baguette
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic

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

Drizzle the bread with some oil and season, then roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through. They should be crispy and golden.

Once baked, rub the bread with the raw garlic and cut into croutons.

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the potatoes, mint sprig and 1 tsp salt, then simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, no firmness should remain. Drain and discard the mint.

Meanwhile, bring another pan of water to the boil and add the eggs. Cook for 6 minutes and 30 seconds for firm whites and runny yolks, then drain under cold running water to cool and peel.

Bring another pan of salty water to the boil. Chop the asparagus spears into three and boil for 3-4 minutes or until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, then bring the water back to the boil and ad a pinch of sugar. Add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Toss the potatoes with 2 tbsp of the mayonnaise, apple, scallions and capers. Whisk the olive oil and white wine vinegar together, season, then dress the lettuce and soft herbs, the asparagus and peas. Spread the rest of the mayonnaise across a serving plat, top with the postates and dressed salad, halve the eggs and add more mayonnaise if you like. Garnish with the croutons and extra herbs.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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