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Smokey black bean & roast tomato soup

This is a tasty soup, but the sweetcorn salsa makes it extra special and looks great. Hearty enough to serve as a main course.

Wine Suggestion: a juicy, fruity red was the match here with the Cline Lodi Zinfandel as our choice this evening to great effect.

Smoky Black Bean & Roast Tomato Soup – serves 4

FOR THE SALSA

  • 1 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 100g sweetcorn kernels
  • 1 red chilli
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • small bunch of coriander, leaves picked

FOR THE SOUP

  • 6 tomatoes, halved across the middle
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 700g cooked black beans
  • 750ml veg stock
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • sour cream, to serve

First roast the tomatoes. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Put the tomatoes in a single layer, cut-side up, on a baking tray. Drizzle lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt, then roast for 30 minutes.

Next make the salsa. Cook the red onion in the sunflower oil for 5 minutes until soft and starting to colour. Turn up the heat, then add the sweetcorn and chilli, stirring until the corn is toasted at the edges. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lime juice.

To make the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently cook the onions until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, chipotle paste, oregano & cumin seeds. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the cumin is fragrant.

Add the roasted tomatoes, the cooked beans and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice, then liquidise until smooth. Check again for seasoning. Stir the coriander leaves through the salsa.

Serve the soup in warm bowls and a spoon of sour cream and salsa on the top.

(Original recipe by Alice Hart in BBC Good Food Magazine, July 2011.)

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Olive oil braised runner beans with tomatoesWe loved these slow-cooked runner beans by Anna Jones in the Guardian. A delicious late summer side or lunch dish. Anna serves with feta, crusty bread and salad. We served as a side with roast chicken which was also great.

Olive-oil Braised Runner Beans with Tomatoes – serves 4

  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 200g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 400g runner beans, destringed and sliced at an angle into 2 cm lengths
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes, green beans, oregano and a good pinch of salt. The beans must be covered so if they are not add a little water.

Turn the heat to low and cook the beans for 45-60 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure they’re not dry and add more water as needed.

The beans are ready when soft and with no squeak, but not falling apart. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon and season with black pepper. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper and lemon to taste.

Serve at room temperature.

(Original recipe by Anna Jones in The Guardian, Friday 27th August 2018.)

Crispy Parma ham w avocado and hot tomato dressing

A really nice dish to serve as a starter in late summer when the tomatoes are at their best.

Wine Suggestion: We love serving slightly-chilled, young, light reds with salads like this. Given the Parma ham we chose the Colterenzio Pinot Nero from the Alto Adige, but it could have easily been a Joven Tempranillo, Beaujolais or Cheverny rouge. Young, lighter bodied, fruity and with a fresh acidity; perfect.

Crispy Parma Ham with Avocado & Hot Tomato Dressing – serves 4

  • 5 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra
  • 85g Parma ham, roughly torn
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, quartered, seeded and cut into thin slivers
  • 15g basil, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 100-120g mixed salad leaves
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add half the Parma ham pieces, add some freshly ground black pepper and fry for one minute per side until crisp. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you repeat with the rest of the ham.

Wipe any excess fat out of the pan and return to a low heat. Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil, then add the tomatoes, basil and lemon juice. Season with freshly ground black pepper and gently heat through for about 30 seconds.

Arrange the salad leaves on 4 plates. Top with the avocado slices, then pile on the crispy ham and spoon over the hot dressing. Serve immediately with a little extra salt if needed and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

(Original recipe by Lesley Waters in BBC Good Food Magazine, September 2001)

Thai red curry with prawns

An easy prawn curry with lots of veg.

Wine Suggestion: we’d actually suggest a red wine to match this dish, despite it being seafood. Our choice is a young, fruity reds with lower tannin like the Paria Grenache made by Domaine Ventenac from the Languedoc, or a lightly chilled Paco Garcia Rioja Seis. A hint of tannin and joyful fruit and juiciness with a lighter body … not too much weight for this dish even if the wines have good length.

Easy Thai Red Curry with Prawns – serves 6

  • 4 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 300g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 150g green beans
  • 12 button mushrooms, halved
  • 400g raw peeled prawns
  • fish sauce
  • coriander and steamed jasmine rice to serve

Heat a splash of oil in a large pan and fry the curry paste for a minute or until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk and milk and bring to a simmer.

Add the potato and squash cubes and cook until almost tender, then add the green beans and mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the prawns, simmer until cooked through and season with the fish sauce.

Serve with steamed rice and some chopped coriander.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, November 2011.)

Couscous and mograbiah with oven-dried tomatoes

Mograbiah is a large variety of couscous that we were unable to find for this recipe but Italian fregola worked well. We also started this too late to make our own labneh but a soft goat’s cheese log rolled in dried mint and black pepper made a good substitute. We hope the guys at Ottolenghi wouldn’t be too horrified. Serve this for lunch or as a side dish for roast or barbecued meat.

Couscous and mograbiah with oven-dried tomatoes – serves 6 to 8

  • 16 large, ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthways
  • 2 tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 250g mograbiah (or fregola)
  • 400ml chicken stock/veg stock
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • 250g couscous
  • 1 tbsp picked tarragon leaves
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds
  • 100g labneh (we used a soft goat’s cheese log rolled in dried mint and freshly ground black pepper)

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2.

Put the halved tomatoes on a baking tray, with skins down, and sprinkle with the sugar, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, plus the balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper. Bake for 2 hours or until the tomatoes have lost their moisture.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions in 4 tbsp of the olive oil over a high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until dark golden.

Cook the mograbiah or fregola in a large pan of salted boiling water (follow the instructions on the pack but cook until soft but with a little bite). Drain well and rinse under cold water.

Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan with the saffron threads and a pinch of salt. Put the couscous into a large bowl and add 3 tbsp  of the olive oil  and the boiling stock. Cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes, fork the couscous to get rid of any lumps. Add the cooked mograbiah, the tomatoes and any juice, the onions and their oil, plus the tarragon and nigella seeds. Taste and adjust the seasoning and oil if needed – it will likely require a good dose of salt.

Serve the dish at room temperature with the labneh (or goat’s cheese) on top, drizzle with the rest of the oil and finish with the remaining nigella seeds.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi: the cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamami, Ebury Press, 2008.)

Roasted Feta

Roasted Feta

This is a bit of a cheat’s starter that uses a block of feta cheese and packs of chargrilled vegetable antipasti. Delicious served warm from the oven with pitta bread.

Wine Suggestion: If you can find it, open a Greek white, our favourite being made with the Assyrtiko grape from the island of Santorini. The best are bone-dry, in-your-face, crisp, mineral-laden, high-acid wonders.

Roasted Feta – serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 x 185g pack chargrilled vegetable antipasti (we used jars of roasted artichokes, olives & mixed peppers which worked well – a roughly similar weight will be fine)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 200g feta
  • pittas or mini pittas to serve

Tip the antipasti and its oil into a roasting tin, squeeze over the lemon juice and put the block of feta in the middle of the tin. Season with black pepper and drizzle over an extra bit of olive oil.

Bake in the oven at 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 for about 25 minutes.

Toast the pittas for a minute or two until warmed through. Scatter the lemon zest over the feta and serve with the warm pitta bread.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Blistered peppers, pomodorini, mozzarella & pesto

Flavours of late summer and something different to use up fresh pesto. We loved this dish, so light but really tasty. Serve with salad and bread.

Wine Suggestion: We’d suggest a juicy Tempranillo with a touch of oak, like the Paco Garcia Rioja Seis; a modern style that doesn’t need food unlike some other Rioja wines. Very happily served alongside a dish like this.

Blistered peppers, pomodorini, torn mozzarella & pesto – serves 2

  • 2 large red peppers
  • 12 pomodorini or baby plum tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1  ball of buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks
  • 4 tbsp fresh pesto

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

Cut the peppers in half lengthways, remove the seeds and rub all over with a little olive oil and seasoning.

Toss the tomatoes with some olive oil, seasoning and the garlic .

Heat a heavy oven-proof pan until hot. Put the peppers, cut-side down, into the pan and sear until blackened along the edges. Turn them over and add the tomatoes to the pan, then roast in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Put the tomatoes inside the peppers along with the chunks of mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, then return to the oven until the mozzarella has started to melt. Put a tablespoon of pesto on each stuffed pepper before serving.

Serve with salad and bread.

(Original recipe by Alastair Hendy in Olive Magazine, August 2014.)