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Posts Tagged ‘Easy’

Try this simple lunch with some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: A good, salty Pazo de Señoráns Albariño which plays a delightful dance of balancing a lightness and elegance with surprising depth, concentration and complexity.

Hot-smoked salmon salad with chive buttermilk dressing – serves 2

  • 2 Little Gem lettuces, cut into chunky pieces
  • 50g sugar snap peas, halved
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 150g hot-smoked salmon
  • crusty bread, to serve

FOR THE DRESSING

  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • a bunch of chives, finely chopped

Put the buttermilk, white wine vinegar and caster sugar into a small jug, season with salt and pepper and whisk together. Add the chives.

Put the lettuce, sugar snap peas, red onion and capers into a large bowl and toss together gently. Add half the dressing and toss again. Flake over the hot-smoked salmon and gently toss again, then drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

(Original recipe in Olive Magazine, April 2020.)

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If you use a vegan curry paste you can easily make this a vegan dish. Lots of bright colours and great flavours in this one, and it’s quick to make.

Wine Suggestion: We think a minerally, just off-dry Riesling like Pikes Hills & Valleys from the Clare Valley is the ticket here with the limey fruit characters lifting the flavours of the dish and then the hint of residual sugar to balance the chillies.

Thai Green Veggie Curry – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium butternut squash (800g), cut into small cubes
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • a handful of sugar snap peas
  • a handful of asparagus, snap off the woody ends and discard
  • a handful of green beans
  • a handful of frozen edamame beans
  • 1 lime, cut into wedge, to serve
  • a handful of coriander leaves, to serve
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced, to serve
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced, to serve
  • jasmine rice, to serve

FOR THE CURRY BASE

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, bash with a rolling pin to bruise it
  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 2 x 400ml coconut milk

Toss the cubes of butternut squash with the light soy sauce in a bowl. Heat 1 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a wok, then add the squash and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until softened and browned, stirring often.

To make the curry base, heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a large frying pan, then add the lemongrass stalk and curry paste and cook over a high heat for a minute.

Stir in the coconut milk, then reduce the heat a bit and simmer for 8 minues.

Discard the lemongrass, then add the sugar snap peas, asparagus, green beans and edamame beans to the sauce and cook for 4-5 minutes or until just tender.

Ladle the curry sauce into bowls and top with the squash, a squeeze of lime, some coriander, red chilli and scallion. Serve with jasmine rice.

(Original recipe by Katy Beskow in Olive Magazine, April 2018.)

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We recently bought Ammu by Asma Khan, a book full of Indian home-cooking recipes interlaced with lovely stories about Asma’s family life. Today was its first outing and we cooked these kebabs on the barbecue because the sun was shining, and our friend Michael keeps gifting us huge jars of pickled onions that he got for a bargain price in M&S (true). Asma recommends serving with a black-eyed bean salad called Lobia – and we agree.

Wine Suggestion: Find an easy, juicy barbecue red that isn’t too heavy and you’ll be happy here.

Murgh Seekh Kabab – serves 6

  • 900g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 5cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 300g well-drained pickled onions or shallots
  • 6 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ¾ tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

Ideally you should marinade the chicken and leave in the fridge for about 4 hours. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together, then add the chicken and toss to coat, then cover and put into the fridge.

Get your barbecue going, we prefer charcoal but whatever you’ve got will do.

Thread the chicken pieces, thinly sliced ginger and pickled onions onto metal kebab sticks (you can use the wooden ones but you need to soak them in cold water for about 20 minutes first to stop them burning). Grill the kebabs for about 5 minutes on each side, basting with the ghee or vegetable oil.

(Original recipe from Ammu by Asma Khan, Ebury Press, 2022.)

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This is an Indian side dish and a great salad that we plan to serve with many Indian meals. This time we had it with Murgh Seekh Kababs cooked on the barbecue. Asma prefers dried beans (and we’re sure she is right) but we cheated this time and used a tin of black-eyed beans instead.

Lobia – serves 4

  • 200g dried black-eyed beans (we used a 400g tin)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ½ a small red onion, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 red tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

If using dried beans you need to soak them in cold water overnight.

The next day, drain the beans and put into a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about an hour, or until soft. Drain and leave to cool.

If you are using a tin of beans, you can skip all of the above and just drain and rinse them in cold water.

Put the beans into a bowl, add the garlic, onion, chilli and tomato and mix together gently. Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper together, pour into the bowl with the beans and mix together.

(Original recipe from Ammu by Asma Khan, Ebury Press, 2022).

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This is a great dish for using up bits of leftover veg and antipasti things. Keep the base of onions, garlic, rice and veg stock but after that you can use up whatever you’ve got – we’ve given what we used below as an example.

Wine Suggestion: This Spanish inspired dish encouraged us to have a glass of a Spanish Garnacha Blanca, the Edetària via Terra Blanca which we find unprepossessing and charming, plus with the right textures and flavours to match this paella. We dare say their equivalent via Terra Tinto (Garnacha Negra) would also be a good match too if you fancied a glass of red instead.

Baked veggie paella – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • half a red pepper, sliced
  • half a yellow pepper, sliced
  • half a green pepper, sliced
  • 1 courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomato purée
  • 300g bomba paella rice
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • 100g chargrilled artichokes in olive oil, halved if big
  • 75g mixed olives
  • 75g Sunblush tomatoes
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve

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

Heat the olive oil in a shallow casserole and cook the onions, peppers and courgettes with some salt for about 10 minutes or until softened and starting to caramelise.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomato purée and rice and stir until the grains are coated.

Add the stock, artichokes, olives and Sunblush tomatoes, then season and mix well. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Scatter over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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Jules’ parents often give us yellow peppers as they prefer green ones, and for some reason they can only buy peppers locally (NI) in multi-coloured packs of three. Perhaps another Brexit effect. No matter as we’ve found the perfect use for them in this simple pasta sauce by Joe Trivelli. We didn’t have enough rigatoni so added some penne that got stuck in all the rigatoni tubes. We had good fun sucking them out.

Wine Suggestion: This is excellent with oaked Sauvignon Blanc, especially white Bordeaux, where the oak mellows out the grassy characteristics and adds a creamy, buttery layer with extra citrus fruits. We recognise these are harder to find and higher in price, so more affordably we successfully opened an Umani Ronchi Ca’Sal di Serra Verdicchio which carries over the cut grass and citrus characters and adds an almondy twist.

Rigatoni with yellow peppers – serves 4

  • 1 large yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ dried chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 40ml double cream
  • 400g rigatoni – Joe sugests whole-wheat but we had the regular stuff so just used that
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • salted ricotta if you have some – we used Parmesan which works too

Put a medium frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Fry the pepper for 3 minutes, then add the garlic with a pinch of salt. Crumble in the chilli, cover and cook over a low heat, stirring now and then. You want the pepper to soften completely which could take around 30 minutes so be patient.

Add the cream and bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, then purée the sauce in a food processer and return to the pan.

Cook the pasta in lots of salty water until al dente. Scoop out a mugful of the pasta cooking water before draining, then add the pasta to the pepper mixture. Toss the pasta and sauce over a low heat, adding the basil leaves and some pasta water if needed to make the sauce creamy.

Serve on warm plates with some grated cheese.

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

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This is good to serve with drinks for a crowd. You will need some flatbreads or pitta for dipping.

Wine Suggestion: An aperitivo type of drink; Negroni’s if you like, or for us Jérémie Huchet’s Muscadet Les Montys le Parc. A special “lieu-dit”, a vineyard recognised as something special and unique that allows a longer growing season than surrounding vineyards due to the aspect and soils. More depth and roundness than their classic Muscadet, but still with a lovely minerailty and mouthfeel and great length. Serious, and yet still with a sense of playful fun.

Spiced beetroot yoghurt – serves 6

  • 500g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp ground coriander
  • 20g mint, leaves finely chopped
  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • olive oil, for drizzling

Drain any juice off the beetroot, then whizz with a hand-blender to get a coarse-textured purée. Add the ground coriander, lots of salt and pepper and the mint (keep a little to garnish) and mix together well. Stir in the Greek yoghurt.

Season again to taste, then serve sprinkled with nigella seeds, the rest of the chopped mint and a drizzle of good olive oil. Serve with pitta, flatbreads or toast.

(Original recipe from Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2016.)

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Tinned fish seems to be having a moment, which is fine with us because we love it. We especially like Shines of Killybegs who do great sardines in sunflower oil, amongst lots of other delicious fishy things.

Wine Suggestion: An Italian white with a nutty twist at the end like Sartarelli’s Tralivio, a verdicchio from low yielding old vines that epitomises the very best of this grape and a perfect match to the umami saltiness of this dish.

Spaghetti with chilli, sardines & oregano – serves 2

  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 75g rough breadcrumbs, made from stale bread
  • 200g dried spaghetti
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 x 120g tin good-quality sardines in oil, drained
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 50g rocket

Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add a good glug of olive oil and when it’s hot add the breadcrumbs and half the garlic. Cook for a few minutes until golden and toasted, then season with salt and pepper and toss well. Drain on kitchen paper if needed.

Cook the pasta according the pack timings in lots of very salty water.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add a little oil, then add the remaining garlic and the chilli for 1-2 minutes. Flake the sardines into small pieces, then toss in the pan with the garlic and chilli.

Lift the cooked pasta out of the cooking water with tongs and add straight to the frying pan with the sardines. Toss to mix well, then add the oregano and season to taste.

Stir in the rocket and divide between two plates. Garnish with the garlicky breadcrumbs.

(Original recipe from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course,

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A recipe by Rachel Roddy; simple and filling. Keep your Parmesan rinds in the freezer for adding to soups like this.

Pasta & Chickpea Soup – serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
  • a Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 225g short tubular pasta e.g. tubetti or ditalini or broken tagliatelle

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, then add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, then cook gently until soft and fragrant.

Add the tomato purée and sprig of rosemary, stir and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the chickpeas. Add 1 litre of hot water, a pinch of salt and the Parmesan rind, then stir again. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove half the soup and pass through a food mill or blend with a stick blender until smooth, then return to the pan. Season to taste with salt. Add the pasta and cook until tender, the pack timings should work but do check as you go and keep stirring. You add a bit more boiling water if needed. Season again to taste then serve garnished with your favourite olive oil.

(Original recipe from Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome by Rachel Roddy, Salt Yard Book Co., 2015.)

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These are delicious and perfect with some crusty bread or flatbreads for scooping. Do buy the fancy butter beans in a glass jar if you can. You can make this up to a day ahead and the flavours will improve.

Wine Suggestion: We really like this dish with a nice, chilled Vermentino. Tonight’s choice, the Poggio ai Ginepri Bianco from Tenuta Argentiera in Bolgheri. Long and vibrant with a rich citrus and pear flavour and layers of texture and wild sage to finish.

  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 mild red chillies, finely chopped, including the seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 3 preserved lemons (80g), inner parts discarded and skin finely sliced
  • 1 ½ tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 170ml olive oil
  • 1 jar of butter beans (700g)
  • 2 large vine tomatoes, roughly grated and skins discarded

Put the garlic, chillies, coriander, preserved lemon, thyme, rosemary, tomato purée, olive oil and 1¼ tsp of flaked salt into a medium sauté pan on a medium-low heat and stir together. Heat gently for 25 minutes, or until very fragrant but not browned at all. Turn the heat to low if the oil gets to hot.

Stir in the butter beans, then turn the heat up to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour, or longer if you can.

Meanwhile, mix the grated tomato with tsp of flaked sea salt and plenty of black pepper.

Spoon the butter beans into a shallow bowl and spoon over the grated tomato, mixing it in in places. Then serve with crusty bread or flatbreads.

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

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These are really good and the trick is to set them in the baking tray in rows with the skin-side down. You can use Cajun seasoning if you have it and if not make up the seasoning below – you’ll have more than you need for more wedges another time.

Crispy potato wedges – serves 4

FOR THE SEASONING:

  • 1½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ tbsp paprika
  • ½ tbsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 675g large potatoes (buy a variety that makes good chips)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp of the seasoning above

Preheat the oven to 200C fan.

Scrub the potatoes and cut in half, then cut each half into 6 wedges. Put the wedges into a pan of boiling salty water and cook for 2-3 minutes, then drain.

Put the olive oil into a large roasting tin with the seasoning. Add the wedges and toss to coat, then arrange in rows sitting upright on their skins. Bake for 35-40 minute, until soft and golden.

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A nice treat for two and ready in minutes.

Wine Suggestion: Something red from Italy’s Adriatic coast, but nothing too big or complex as this is a fun, casual dish! For us Umani Ronchi’s Rosso Conero Serrano, a Montepulciano – Sangiovese blend that has a medium body, fresh and bright cherry fruits and a gentle, earthy tannins was the ticket.

Prawn spaghetti with tomato, chilli & basil – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 150g baby plum tomatoes
  • 150ml white wine
  • 200g spaghetti
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • 225g raw peeled prawns
  • a generous knob of butter

Warm the oil in a large frying pan, then add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then add the white wine and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions in lots of very salty water, then drain but reserve a cup of the cooking water.

Add the basil and prawns to the tomatoes, season well, and cook until the prawns turn pink. Stir in the butter and spaghetti and a splash of pasta cooking water if you need to loosen the sauce a bit. Toss it all together and serve.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, March 2020.)

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This makes a delicious weeknight dinner. Serve with some greens on the side.

Wine Suggestion: really nice with a dry, artisan cider like the Cockagee keeved cider from Slane. This retains a natural sweetness when first brewed but when aged and because of the apples used it ends up being full bodied and dry with a great bittersweet twist. A cider for food like some of the Breton ciders we’ve tried in France in past years

Baked pork & parsnips – serves 4

  • 4 large parsnips (about 500g), peeeled and cut lengthways into 6
  • 2 red onions, each cut into 8 wedge through the root
  • 2 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ wholegrain mustard
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 ½ clear honey
  • small handful of sage leaves

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Put the veg into a large roasting tin, season and toss with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1 tbsp of the mustard. Roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a high heat. Season the pork chops and rub with the last ½ tbsp of oil. Fry for 30 seconds on each side or until just browned – turn onto the sides too to brown any fat.

Stir the veg, then put the chops on top and rub with the rest of the mustard. Roast for another 15 minutes, then drizzle with the honey and scatter over the sage. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, then serve with the pan juices.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food).

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This will improve your veg intake for the day and puts frozen prawns to good use. A perfect curry for mid-week. Serve with naan breads or rice and lime wedges.

Prawn, spinach & coconut curry – serves 2-3

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g raw prawns, defrosted if frozen
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 chillies, deseeded
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2 tbsp curry paste, we like Patak’s Madras
  • 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 80g Tenderstem broccoli, cooked until tender
  • 100g baby spinach
  • lime wedges, to serve

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and chillies and fry for another 2 minutes, then addd the sliced pepper and cook for 3 minutes until softened.

Push the veg to one side and fry the curry paste for a couple of minutes to heat through, then add the coconut milk and mix well to combine. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until thickened, then add the prawns, broccoli and spinach. Stir well and simmer until the prawns are just cooked and the spinach wilted.

Serve with rice or naan breads and lime wedges for squeezing over.

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A truly delicious dip to serve as a starter with warm flatbreads or pitta. It was very difficult to stop ourselves eating the lot …and thereby spoiling our appetite for the main to follow.

Yellow split pea purée with buttered onions and caper salsa – serves 6

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 180g yellow split peas, rinsed well and drained
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

FOR THE SALSA:

  • 2 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
  • 5g parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 thin lemon slices, discard the pips and finely chop (including the rind)
  • 2 tbsp oil

Put the butter, 2 tbsp of oil, the onions and ¾ tsp of salt into a large sauté pan over a medium heat for 15-18 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and golden. Transfer half the onions, along with most of the oil and melted butter to a small bowl, and set aside.

Add the split peas, turmeric and 1.2 litres of water and ¾ tsp of salt to the pan with the remaining onions and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, uncovered. Cover with the lid and cook for another 40-45 minutes, or until the split peas are very soft and most of the liquid is evaporated. If not, you can remove the lid again and cook a little longer.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the salsa in a small bowl.

Whizz the warm split peas with the remaining cooking water and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a food processor until completely smooth.

Spoon into a shallow dish, creating a dip in the middle. Mix the buttery onions with the caper salsa, then spoon on to the dip. Serve warm.

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

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Do buy good quality tuna for this, packed in olive oil. We like Ortiz which is widely available and excellent quality. We’d also highly recommend Shines’ Wild Irish Tuna, one of our local companies based in Donegal. We have tried loads of their tinned and jarred fish and they are all top quality.

Wine Suggestion: We chose a lighter red to match this dish from the Marches in central Italy. The Umani Ronchi San Lorenzo Rosso Conero has style and panache and the medium body, morello cherry flavours, soft spices and silky tannins are a charming match.

Baked orzo puttanesca – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 anchovies in oil, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 30g preserved lemon, discard the flesh and thinly slice the skin into strips
  • 70g pitted Kalamata olives, roughly torn in half
  • 2 tins of good tuna in olive oil, drained and roughly flaked
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250g dried orzo
  • 1-2 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into half ½ cm thick rounds
  • 40g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 5g basil leaves, roughly torn

Preheat the oven to 200C fan.

Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan that has a lid. Add the onion and cook gently for about 8 minutes or until softed and browned. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and anchovies and cook for another minute, until fragrant.

Stir in the capers, half the preserved lemon strips, 45g of the olives, the tuna, tomato purée, tinned tomatoes, orzo, 450ml of water, 1 tsp of salt and lots of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover with the lid and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the orzo is cooked through.

Turn the oven up to 230C fan.

Remove the lid from the dish, top with the tomato slices and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake for a further 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle over the remaining olives, preserved lemon, basil and 1 tbsp of oil before serving.

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

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Delicious Indian comfort food. Serve with warm naan bread for mopping up the sauce.

Wine Suggestion: an oaked white of your choice we think. For us it was the Les Dissidents Préjugés by Domaine Ventenac in Carbadès in Southern France, a delightfully off-beat and thoughtful wine with a style that reflects great vineyards and an inventive winemaker.

Mattar Paneer – serves 4

  • sunflower oil
  • 400g paneer, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ – 1 tsp medium-hot chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 300g tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 200g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 100ml double cream or natural yoghurt
  • a handful of coriander, finely chopped
  • lemon wedges

Coat the base of a large non-stick frying pan with the oil and place over a medium-high heat. Add the paneer and fry for a couple of minutes on each side until starting to turn golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Add a bit more oil to the pan and cook the cumin seeds until they start to pop, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Stir in the ground spices, then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, or until thick. Add the paneer, peas and 200ml water. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the cream or yoghurt, then remove from the heat and rest, covered, for 10 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with the coriander and with a lemon wedge for squeezing over.

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics, by Claire Thompson, Hardie Grant: Quadrille, 2019.)

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If you have some truffle oil in the cupboard by all means use it to garnish this soup, but it is not essential. The soup tastes strongly of celeriac in a most pleasing way.

Cream of celeriac soup with truffle oil – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1.2kg celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 1.2 litres water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • 4 tbsp lemon thyme leaves, chopped
  • 100ml cream

TO GARNISH:

  • 2 tsp truffle oil or good extra virgin olive oil
  • finely chopped chives

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook gently for 10 minutes or until softened but not coloured.

Add the celeriac, water, bouillon powder and lemon thyme. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20 minutes or until very soft.

Whizz the soup until smooth, then return to a gentle heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the cream. Garnish with oil and chives to serve.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight For Good by Tom Kerridge, ABSOLUTE PRESS, 2017.)

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You can obviously use any dry cider for this but we highly recommend the Cockagee Keeved Cider from the Cider Mill in Slane. If you can get sorrel you can use this instead of spinach. Serve with plenty of crusty bread and a glass of cold cider.

Mussels with Cider – serves 4

  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned
  • 20g butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • a few thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100ml dry cider
  • 120ml double cream
  • a good handful of sorrel, coarsely chopped or 200g baby spinach

Melt the butter in a large pan with a lid. Add the garlic, scallions, thyme and bay leaves, then cook until softened.

Add the mussels and cider, turn up the heat, cover and leave to steam for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan now and then.

Add the cream and the chopped sorrel or baby spinach and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls with lots of crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein at Home, BBC Books, 2021.)

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A healthy version of chicken tikka masala with salad and saffron rice. You will be eating the rainbow for dinner with this one.

Wine Suggestion: A new find matched this well: Umani Ronchi’s Centovie, a rosé made from Montepulciano in Abruzzo. The cherry fruit flavours and savoury, dry finish were a good compliment to the food. If you can’t find a rosé made from this grape find a nice red and chill it a little instead.

Chicken tikka masala – serves 4

  • 1 large skinless chicken crown (about 1kg), get your butcher to do this for you

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • juice of half a lemon
  • 5cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, grated
  • 2 tbsp medium Madras curry powder
  • 2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 100g Greek yoghurt (you can use 0% if you wish)

FOR THE CURRY SAUCE:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 2.5cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml water
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • half a cucumber, diced
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 tsp chaat masala

TO SERVE:

  • coriander leaves, roughly torn
  • basmati rice, cooked with salt and a pinch of saffron strands (only if you have them)

Put the chicken into a large dish and slash the breasts with a sharp knife. Mix all of the ingredients together for the marinade, then spread over the chicken. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 120C fan.

Put the chicken into a roasting dish and spoon over any remaining marinade. Cook for 2 hours (this won’t cook it through).

Meanwhile, make the curry sauce. Heat the oil in a deep frying or sauté pan. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown, add a splash of water if they stick. Add the garlic and ginger with a splash of water, stir well and cook for 1 minute. Add the spices with some salt and pepper and cook for another minute.

Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a minute, then add the tinned tomatoes and the 300ml of water. Bring to the boil, then reduced the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped peppers and cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Remove the chicken from the oven and use a blowtorch over the surface to slightly blacken the marinade in places. If you don’t have a blowtorch just pop it under a hot grill. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Mix the salad ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Remove the chicken breasts from the bone and cut into bite-size chunks. Reheat the curry sauce, then add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the yoghurt and chopped coriander, then season to taste.

Serve with some coriander leaves, saffron rice and the salad on the side.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight for Good by Tom Kerridge, ABSOLUTE PRESS, 2017.)

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