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Posts Tagged ‘Basil’

A simple fish dish for weeknights, and something a bit lighter before the feasting starts.

Wine Suggestion: A delight with a light, playful Riesling like Korrell’s Slice of Paradise from the Nahe in Germany, or Pikes Traditionale from the Clare Valley.

Grilled trout with Asian dressing – serves 2

  • 300g Charlotte potatoes
  • 2 skinless trout fillets
  • Thai basil or regular basil, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, remove the woody outer leaves and finely chop
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

Boil the potatoes in salty water until tender, then drain and slice thickly, lengthways.

Season the trout, then grill for 3-4 minutes.

Arrange the potatoes onto plates and top with the trout. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and spoon over the top, then garnish with basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, November 2014.)

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We loved this dish! Bursting with flavour and the perfect wintery side salad. The leftovers were also good the next day. You can use capers instead of anchovies if you prefer.

Wine suggestion: This dish works really well with a good, dry Chenin Blanc. Our current favourite is Bernard Fouquet’s Domaine Aubuissieres Vouvray Silex Sec. Dry and full of yellow apple fruits and layers of texture, while remaining discrete enough to allow the sprouts and parmesan to come through.

Brussels sprout and Parmesan salad with lemon dressing – serves 4

  • 700g small brussels sprouts, trimmed, leave 500g whole and thinly shave the rest
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 anchovies in oil, drained and roughly chopped
  • 60g Parmesan, 20g roughly grated and the rest cut into shards – a veg peeler will do this nicely
  • 120g kale leaves, discard the stems and thinly shred the leaves
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 20g basil leaves
  • 70g blanched hazelnuts, well toasted and roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 220C fan.

Line a tray with baking paper and add the whole sprouts, 2 tbsp of oil, ½ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper, toss to combine. Roast for 18 minutes, stirring halfway, until well browned and cooked through, then leave to cool.

Meanwhile, put the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, anchovies, grated Parmesan, 3 tbsp of oil, ¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper into the small bowl of a food processor and whizz until smooth.

Put the kale, the shaved sprouts, the dressing, ¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper into a large bowl and toss with your hands, massaging the leaves gently. Leave to soften and wilt for about 10 minutes.

Add the onion, basil, chopped hazelnuts, Parmesan shards and roasted sprouts to the bowl and mix to combine. Turn out onto a platter to serve.

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

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A simple fish supper for two, but with plenty of flavour; both delicate, fresh and rich.

Wine Suggestion: The higher acidity, fuller body and citrus-minerality of a good Albariño make this a match worth trying. Tonight Quinta Soalheiro’s Primeiras Vinhas Alvarinho from their oldest vineyards and partially made in oak really makes a statement. A velvety texture, deep and soulful, long, serious and elegant in the same breath. This wine makes a case for this grape to be considered “noble” and makes a good partner to the fattier fish and vibrant asian acidity, umami flavours.

Grilled trout with Asian Dressing – serves 2

  • 300g Charlotte potatoes
  • 2 skinless fillets of trout
  • a few basil leaves, Thai would be nice but regular will do

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, remove the woody outer leaves and finely chop
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped

Boil the potatoes in salty water until tender, then drain and slice thickly, lengthways.

Season the trout, then grill for a few minutes.

Arrange the potatoes over two plates, then top each with a piece of fish.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and sppon over the fish, and finish with a few basil leaves.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe, Olive Magazine, November 2014.)

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This version has fresh pesto stirred through the béchamel sauce which is a variation we’d not come across before, and it’s very good indeed. So good we may add any leftover pesto to dishes like this in the future; it brings a burst of Spring to a rich dish.

Wine Suggestion: We were uncertain what to open alongside this dish given the many components, but felt we needed to stick to an Italian. Freshness to balance the béchamel, depth for the layered richness, but a lightness of being to complement the basil pesto. We had a bottle of Pira Langhe Nebbiolo on the shelf and we’re happy to report it was a good match.

Lasagne with pesto – serves 6 to 8

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 700ml passata
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 12 fresh lasagne sheets

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 100g freshly grated Parmesan

FOR THE PESTO

  • 40g basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, carrot and celery for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the beef mince and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon until browned all over. Season and leave to cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine, stir well and buble for about 3 minutes, then add the passata and tomato purée, lower the heat and continue to cook for an hour, uncovered, until you have a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning after 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pesto by putting the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor. Pour in the oil and blitz until smooth, then transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the cold milk, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes, whisking constantly. When the béchamel is thickened, stir in half the Parmesan, the nutmeg and the pesto. Season and set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4.

To assemble, spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of a deep ovenproof dish. You can use your lasagne sheets to get the right sized dish, you need to make 3 layers of lasagne sheets. Lay a third of the lasagne sheets over the béchamel, then spread over half the meat sauce and top with another thin layer of béchamel.

Lay another third of the lasagne sheets on top and cover with the rest of the meat sauce. Add the final layer of lasagne and spread the remaining béchamel on top, completely covering the lasagne sheets. Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan and grind some black pepper over the top.

Cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, then move to the middle shelf and increase the temperature to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook for another 15 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

Remove the lasagne from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

(Original recipe from Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

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Sometimes the simplest of recipes turn out the best. This one is absolutely delicous and depends on the ingredients being good as there is nowhere to hide.

Wine Suggestion: Find an easy mediterrranean dry white with a touch of sappy, minerality and you’ll have a good match. We had no Greek white’s to hand but had the La Piuma Pecorino from the Abruzzo so we enjoyed the light melon, pear and citrus flavours and light herbal, camomile and green almond touch on the fiinish.

Fennel with Peas & Halloumi – serves 2

  • 300g fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g halloumi, sliced

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 250g frozen peas, defrosted in a colander under cold running water and drained
  • 30g basil leaves
  • 20g mint leaves
  • 150ml olive oil

Warm the 3 tbsp of oil in a very big frying pan. Place the fennel in the pan in a single layer and season lightly. Cook until the fennel is browned on one side, then turn and continue to cook until soft.

Place the halloumi in the pan, tucking it in wherever you can so it browns on the pan. Allow to turn golden on both sides.

To make the dressing tip the peas, basil, mint and olive oil into a food processor and whizz until almost smooth, the texture should be slightly smooth. Spoon over the fennel and cheese and serve.

(Original recipe from Greenfeast: autumn, winter by Nigel Slater, 4th Estate, 2019.)

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Yummy sauce for using up leftover pesto and perfect for mid-week.

Green Spaghetti Sauce – serrves 4

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 140g frozen peas
  • a small bunch of basil, leaves picked
  • 3 tbsp green pesto
  • 150ml single cream
  • 50g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

Cook the spaghetti in lots of salty water for the time stated on the packet.

Meanwhile, put the spinach and peas in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave for 3 minutes, or until the peas are tender, then drain well.

Tip the peas and spinach into a food processor, then add the basil, pesto, cream and Parmesan. Whizz to make a smooth sauce.

Drain the pasta, but reserve a mugful of the cooking water, then return to the pan. Pour over the green sauce and place over a low heat to cook for a few minutes, you want the sauce to cling to the spaghetti. Add a little pasta water if it looks dry, season to taste and serve with extra Parmesan.

(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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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’re getting very impatient for spring veg. Ideally this would be made with locally grown asparagus and freshly podded peas and broad beans. In reality we had to settle for purple sprouting broccoli and frozen peas and beans. Still a delicious spring dish. This makes enough to serve 6 for lunch or a generous side dish. Cook the veg at the last minute if you can as it nice served slightly warm. 

Spring Panzanella – serves 6

  • 350g ciabatta, torn into bite-size chunks
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil,
  • 300g fresh pea or frozen peas
  • 300g fresh broad beans (podded weight) or use frozen broad beans
  • 400g asparagus, trimmed (we used purple sprouting broccoli)
  • leaves from a large bunch of basil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 35ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (ideally white balsamic)
  • 75g Pecorino or Parmesan, shaved

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Toss the bread in a roasting tin with the shallot, seasoning and oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.

Cook the peas and broad beans in salted boiling water in separate pans, then drain. Slip the skins from the broad beans. 

Meanwhile, cook the asparagus in salted water for 3-4 minute or until tender. Drain in a sieve and refresh briefly under cold water, just long enough to stop cooking but not cool down completely. 

Put the crunchy bread into a large, shallow bowl. Add the asparagus, peas, broad beans, basil & garlic. Season well. Pour on the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add the cheese. Toss gently and serve.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2012.)

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This is so simple and definitely better than a take away. While we’re not massive fans of baby corn it provides a crunch and texture that would be missing from the dish if not there. Made for Jono’s birthday on a Monday after a weekend of extensive birthday cooking; great flavours and quick for a work day celebration.

Wine Suggestion: We’d opened a Dermot Sugrue Cuvée Dr Brendan O’Regan, a profound, complex and rewarding English Sparkling for Jono’s birthday and had a leftover glass with this dish. We discovered Dermot’s wines a few years ago and have loved them ever since and it was a super match, standing up to the Asian flavours exceptionally well. We know this particlar wine may be hard to find but look for a good crisp sparkling that has been left on lees for a while or a good Champagne – sparkling should be so much more than a celebratory glass and they make great food matches.

Thai Chicken Stir-fry with Cashews & Chilli Sauce – serves 4

  • 100g baby corn
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, thickly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, cut into thick pieces
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 50g roasted cashews
  • Thai basil or regular basil and steamed rice, to serve

FOR THE CHILLI SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp Thai chilli paste/jam (nam prik)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp oyster sauce

Make the chilli sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, then set aside.

Blanch the baby corn in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold water and drain again.

Heat a large wok until hot and add ½ tbsp vegetable oil. Brown the chicken in batches. If you leave them for 2-3 minutes on one side initially they will get a nice colour, then stir-fry for another minute or until golden on all sides. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat another ½ tbsp oil of oil in the wok over a medium heat, then add the garlic and chilli and stir-fry for a minute. Add the peppers, onions, cashews and baby corn and heat for 1 minute. Pour in the chilli sauce and add the chicken. Stir-fry until heated through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve with steamed rice and basil sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, 2018.)

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This is very rich and luxurious, and needs a sharp salad to go along with it. Nigel Slater’s addition of basil sauce is a great idea and makes a super tasty dish.

Wine Suggestion: We suspect a good Nebbiolo would work with this but in the absence one in our rack tonight we chose Domaine Jamet’s Cotes du Rhone. Made from 100% Syrah in the Northern Rhone it still has a hint of richness and spice as if it has a Gigondas influence but also the earthy, leather spice of the North. 

Mushroom lasagne with basil and cream – serves 6

  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 small cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • a thick slice of butter
  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 750g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • a good handful of chopped parsley
  • 5 tbsp of freshly grated Parmesan, plus an extra 3 tbsp for the top
  • 150ml double cream
  • 750ml béchamel sauce (Nigel suggests you can use ready-made for this but if you want to make your own we’ve included a recipe below – a pint should be plenty).
  • 350g fresh lasagne sheets (dried can be used either)

FOR THE BASIL SAUCE

  • 60g pine nuts
  • 50g basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan

To make a pint of béchamel sauce, melt 2oz of butter in a medium-sized saucepan, then stir in 2oz of plain flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add a pint of full-fat milk, stirring continuously and only adding a bit more when the previous bit has been absorbed. Keep stirring until all of the milk has been added and the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan, then add the onions and garlic and cook gently for about 20 minutes, or until softened and translucent.

Meanwhile, cover the dried porcini with warm water – no more than 100ml – and leave to soak.

To make the basil sauce, whizz the pine nuts, basil, garlic, some olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor. You need enough oil to form a sloppy paste. Alternatively you can crush the garlic with a little salt in a mortar, then mash in the basil, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil.

Stir the sliced mushrooms into the onions and partially cover with a lid. Leave to colour and soften, then add the dried mushrooms with their soaking liquid, the parsley, 5 tbsp of Parmesan and the cream. Season well with salt and black pepper, then simmer until the mixture has reduced and thickened a bit.

To assemble the lasagne, take a large casserole dish and spread a few tbsp of the béchamel over the bottom. Cover with a layer of pasta, then half the mushroom filling. Add another layer of pasta, then a second layer of mushrooms. Top with a final layer of pasta, then spread over the basil sauce. Cover the top completely with the rest of the béchamel and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 180C/Gas 4 for 50 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

(Original recipe from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2005.)

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We tried this to use up some Thai basil leftover from the weekend. Leftover ingredients are so often our inspiration for trying new things and sometimes the results are great, as was the case with this. Prep all the ingredients before you start cooking and it will be ready to eat in a flash.

Wine Suggestion: The Kilikanoon Mort’s Block Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia was both suitably dry but full of fruit and freshly aromatic to sit alongside the strong and aromatic flavours here. We suggest something similar when you make this.

Thai pork with basil & chillies – serves 3

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700g pork fillet, cut into strips (you can use chicken breasts instead)
  • 1 Thai green chilli, finely chopped (deseed if you wish)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, shredded
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced into 8mm pieces
  • 3 scallions, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1 tsp freshly roasted and ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 7g Thai basil, shredded (you can use regular basil if you can’t find the Thai version)
  • rice or noodles, to serve
  • a handful of chopped coriander, to serve

Heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat, and toss in the pork. Add the chilli and garlic and stir-fry until coloured, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with some sesame oil, then remove and set aside. Put another tbsp of vegetable oil into the wok, then add the red pepper, scallions, ground coriander and sugar. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then return the meat to the wok and mix through.

Mix the cornflour with the fish sauce and soy sauce until smooth, pour this into the pan and stir continuously for a minutes or so, until the juice thickens slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining sesame oil, add the shredded basil, season to taste, then remove from the heat.

Serve straight away over sticky rice or cooked noodles. Sprinkle the chopped coriander over the top.

(Original recipe from Grow Cook Nourish by Darina Allen, Kyle Books, 2017.)

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Tuna cooked in lentils

This really is the perfect dish by Joe Trivelli. Chunky pieces of tuna, earthy lentils and sweet tomatoes. We really recommend this one.

Wine Suggestion: Chill down a Grignolino, a red from Piedmont, and you’ve got a joyful  match. A friend brings in Olim Bauda’s version which is excellent, but we’re conscious this is a hard grape to find so if you can’t find one try a chilled, youthful Beaujolais or a Dolcetto.

Tuna Cooked in Lentils – serves 4

  • 200g dried lentils
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 350g thick tuna steak, cut into 3 cm chunks
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • small bunch of basil leaves
  • 40g butter
  • 1 lemon
  • best extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the lentils and cook in water until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain.

Season the flour with salt and stir in the crushed coriander seeds. Lightly dust the tuna in the flour mixture.

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the garlic until golden. Remove the garlic from the pan and add the tuna. Turn quickly, then add the tomatoes and basil, followed by the lentils. Toss a few times, then turn off the heat. Put the butter on top and leave in the pan for 8 minutes, basting the tuna with the lentils. Squeeze over some lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

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

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Caprese pasta salad

We regularly have a caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella & basil) for lunch in the summer months. This pasta version is a good one and makes it a bit more substantial.

Caprese pasta salad – serves 4

  • 200g orecchiette, cooked and rinsed under cold water, then drained again
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 150g baby plum or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 150g bocconcini (mini mozzarella) or a ball of mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • a bunch of basil, shredded

Put the cooked pasta into a serving bowl with the olive oil, red wine vinegar and tomatoes, then season and toss.

Add the avocado, bocconcini and basil. Toss again gently and serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, July 2018.)

 

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BBQ Lamb with Courgettes, Mangetout & Feta Salad

We love this time of year when all the local produce arrives in dribs and drabs. Last week our local farm shop had little courgettes and mangetout – the excitement!

Wine Suggestion: a lighter, youthful red with medium, dry tannins and freshness for the lamb. A young Sangiovese from a good vineyard or good cru Beaujolais come to mind straight away.

BBQ lamb with courgettes, mangetout & feta salad – serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 small lamb chops or cutlets
  • 2 small courgettes, sliced into rounds, about 1cm thick
  • 200g mangetout
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • small handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • small handful basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 25g feta, crumbled

Season the lamb chops all over with black pepper and fine sea salt. Mix a tbsp of the olive oil with the chopped thyme and brush over the lamb.

Heat the barbecue and cook the chops for a few minutes on each side, we don’t mind them rare in the middle but we like them to be well-seared and crispy on the outside. Remove to a plate, and leave to rest, covered in foil.

Brush the courgette with a little oil and season. Cook these on the barbecue (if you have a griddle pan you can set it on the barbecue and cook them on this so they don’t fall through the bars). You might need a couple of batches.

Meanwhile, cook the mangetout for a couple of minutes in boiling salty water, then drain and tip into a large bowl with the courgettes.

Mix the vinegar, mustard, chilli flakes, mint & basil together to make a dressing. Toss the veg in the dressing and crumble over the feta to serve. Pile onto plates with the lamb chops.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Classic Basil Pesto

Basil has come into season and is plentiful so we had to make a pesto. There’s likely to be a second batch next week too! We make pesto in a pestle and mortar but you could also use a food processor.

Pesto – enough to serve 4 with pasta

  • 50g pine nuts
  • 50g basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 25g Parmesan

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly coloured, then remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Pound the basil in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt, some coarse ground black pepper and the garlic. When the basil has broken down, add the pine nuts and pound until finely crushed. Stir in the oil and Parmesan, then season to taste. Cover with a layer of oil and store in the fridge.

(Original recipe from the Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017).

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Risotto Primavera

This risotto isn’t laden with cheese and butter like so many other recipes and so a good option for a weeknight and full of Spring flavours. We left out the chives and rocket as we didn’t have them but we’ve kept them in the recipe as they would make nice additions.

Wine Suggestion: this was delightful with a young white Muscadet from Domaine de la Chauviniere, but we can see it working with youthful Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner as well.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 350g asparagus, snap of the woody ends and cut into 5cm lengths on the diagonal
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 175g frozen peas
  • 250g frozen broad beans
  • 2 tbsp shredded basil
  • 2 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1.7 litres vegetable stock (we used Marigold vegetable bouillon)
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • 25g rocket leaves, to garnish

Heat half the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Stir-fry the asparagus over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until browned all over. Add the scallions and fry for another minute or two until browned. Remove these with a slotted spoon, season with pepper, and set aside.

Cook the peas and broad beans in separate pans of boiling water for a few minutes, then drain. Pop the broad beans out of their skins and set both aside.

Mix the basil, chives, mint and lemon zest together in a small bowl and season with pepper.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep over a very low heat.

Pour the rest of the oil into the pan that you used to cook the asparagus. Add the shallots and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two over a medium-high heat or until it starts to sizzle.

Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Now start gradually adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep adding stock for about 20 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Season with pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add an extra ladle of stock, then scatter over the vegetables, some pepper, half the herb & lemon mixture and half the cheese. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes. Gently stir to combine, then serve in warmed bowls some rocket and the rest of the herbs and cheese sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Radiatori with Sausage & Saffron

We’re getting a new kitchen and currently trying to clear the cupboards of as many ingredients as possible to save us having to pack them away. I don’t know why we bought a bag of radiatori pasta, maybe we just liked the look of it, but a quick flick of the books turned up the perfect recipe. Do find Italian sausages if you can (we used luganega but you can often find good pork and fennel ones too) as they’re a lot denser than our traditional sausages. Gone are the days when we used to beg Italian restaurants to sell us some!

Wine suggestion: the saffron gives this dish a refinement and character a little different to some other Italian / pasta recipes and we think that the newly classic wines of the Tuscan coast, specifically Bolgheri and northern Maremma suit the dish really well. For sheer value we’d open a bottle Argentiera’s Poggio ai Ginepri which is Cabernet Sauvignon led. However, if you can stretch further then the Cabernet Franc led wines of Biserno, like their il Pino would make this dish feel like a proper event – as all Friday night dishes should be!

Radiatori with Sausage & Saffron – serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • a large onion, roughly chopped
  • 500g Italian sausages, remove the skins and break up the meat with your hands
  • ¼ tsp of saffron threads
  • 600ml passata
  • 500g radiatori pasta
  • basil & grated pecorino (to serve)

Warm the oil in a heavy casserole. Add the onion with a pinch of sea salt and cook over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Turn the heat up, then add the sausagemeat, keep breaking it up with your spoon if needed, and stir until it loses its raw appearance, then add the saffron and passata. Bring to a bubble and turn the heat down low and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

Place a lid on the casserole and turn off the heat, then cook the pasta in lots of boiling, salty water for the time on the packet. Reserve a few ladlefuls of pasta water before you drain it.

Tip the pasta into the sauce and toss together, adding a bit of pasta water to help it come together if needed. Serve sprinkled with basil and pecorino.

(Original  recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2017.)

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Spaghetti with Ricotta & Toasted Pine Nuts

Mondays are all about leftovers in our house and we’re determined to use all bits and pieces hanging around after the weekend. This pasta dish helped us out with the remains of a jar of sundried tomatoes and some ricotta cheese. Also great to use the chives that have recently sprouted up in the garden – a positive sign of things to come.

Wine Suggestion: Look for a good Verdicchio with a fuller body, but still fresh and balanced. Tonight an old favourite, the Sartarelli Tralivio.

Spaghetti with Ricotta Cheese & Toasted Pine Nuts – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 6 tbsp pine nuts
  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 100g sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced into thin strips
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 500g spaghetti

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until golden brown, then set aside.

Put the ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes, chives, nutmeg, pine nuts and basil into a large bowl. Pour over the oil and hot water, season with salt and pepper, and mix together. Leave to rest at room temperature while you cook the pasta.

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salty water until al dente. Drain and tip into the bowl with the ricotta mixture (don’t be too particular when draining as a little water will help to loosen the sauce). Gently fold everything together for 30 seconds to combine. Serve with the extra basil.

(Original recipe from Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

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Chicken with tomatoes, mozzarella & basilWe love easy ideas like this for adding extra interest to some chicken fillets mid-week. Serve with warm crusty bread and green salad.

Wine Suggestion: your choice of youthful, lighter Italian red; our choice tonight was the refined and under-rated Poggio ai Ginepri Bolgheri Rosso, but almost chose a Chianti. Both would be good.

Chicken breasts with tomatoes, mozzarella & basil – serves 4

  • 4 chicken skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins cherry tomatoes
  • 10 basil leaves, plus a few extra to garnish
  • 3 x 125 mozzarella balls, drained and sliced (don’t use buffalo mozzarella for this)

Slash each of the the chicken breasts four times with a sharp knife, cutting to the middle.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the garlic and chicken for 2 minutes on each side or until golden all over.

Tip in the cherry tomatoes with the basil and season with salt and pepper.

Cook, uncovered, over a medium heat for 12 minutes, turning the chicken breasts over halfway through.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to its highest setting.

Take the pan off the heat and put the mozzarella slices on top of the chicken breasts. Grind over some black pepper and put the pan under the grill for a minute or until the cheese starts to melt.

Pour some sauce onto each plate, top with a piece of chicken and garnish with the extra basil.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

 

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