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Posts Tagged ‘Feta’

This pasta bake from the Falastin book would make a great party dish. We’re still a good way off holding a party in terms of restrictions but we’re very happy to have heaps of leftovers. It’s full of warm spices and the feta on the top makes it a bit different from the more familiar pasta bakes. If you make the ragu the day before it’s pretty straightforward to assemble and bake when you need it. If you do this, warm the ragu slowly first before adding the pasta.

Wine Suggestion: this goes great with a warmly, spiced southern French or Spanish red. Our choice tonight is a rarity, a wine from the Southern part of Aragon near the provincial city of Teruel. An ancient inland region of Spain that was de-populated during the civil war and is being rejuvinated by some young winemakers replanting the vineyard terraces of their grandparents. The Jesus Romero Rubus is a Garnacha Tempranillo organically grown and made without intervention, but with a lot of love and care to avoid any bacterial issues. Joyful red and black fruits, warm spices and refined tannins.

Spicy pasta bake – serves 6 generously

FOR THE RAGU:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 2 green peppers, roughly chopped
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500g beef mince (not too lean, about 20% fat if possible)
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 5-6 plum tomatoes, coarsely grate and discard the skins – if you have a mouli you could use this
  • 2 red peppers, cut into rough 3cm dice
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 20g parsley, roughly chopped, plus a bit extra to serve

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL:

  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 130g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 egg yolks

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

  • 350g macaroni pasta or similar
  • 180g feta, roughly crumbled
  • ¾ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes, to serve

First make the bolognese. Put the onion, celery and green peppers into a food processor and pulse briefly, until finely chopped.

Put the butter and oil into a large, heavy saucepan and put over a medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for 7 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic, tomato purée, oregano, spices and bay leaves and cook for a minute.

Add the beef mince and cook for a few minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until no pink bits remain.

Add the tinned and fresh tomatoes, red peppers, sugar, 100ml of water, 2¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to simmer very gently for 2½ hours, stirring roughly every 30 minutes, until the sauce is thick and rich. We took the lid off for the last half an hour as our ragu was very liquid. Discard the bay leaves, stir in the parsley and set aside until needed.

To make the béchamel, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, stir or whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking or stirring continuously. Reduce the heat to medium, add the nutmeg and 1 tsp of salt, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, then stir in the yoghurt and egg yolks until mixed in.

Heat the oven to 200C fan.

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente (use the minimum time on the pack). Reserve 3 tbsp of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the ragu with the reserved cooking water. Mix well then pour into a large baking dish (about 30 x 22cm and 8cm deep).

Pour the béchamel over the top and spread out evenly. Sprinkle over the feta and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with some extra parsley, the aleppo chilli and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

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

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We loved this deep-filled veggie pie and it looks so bright with the broken eggs on the top. Excellent for lunch or dinner or to pack up for a picnic. Leftovers are good too. Use a 23cm round baking tin. Serve with a salad.

Wine Suggestion: Pick a white you’d be happy having on a picnic; something with a bit of body and dry, minerality. For us it was an old vine Bourgogne Aligote from Domaine Gueguen in Chablis. Full and round with apricot and apple flavours and a saline, chalky twist at the end. Tasting this we wonder why Aligote isn’t more popular as it is delicious.

Spinach, egg and filo pie – serves 8

  • 70g butter
  • 1 small packet of filo pastry

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 50g butter
  • 500g spinach
  • 1 small bunch of dill, chopped
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and chopped (about 2 tsp)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 160g  cup yoghurt
  • 50g plain flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 50g finely grated pecorino
  • 50g feta

Melt the 50g portion of butter for the filling in a large saucepan. Add the spinach and cover, then cook for a few minutes until wilted. Drain in a colander to drain off the excess liquid. Transfer to a large bowl and add the dill, scallions, thyme, dried mint, salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix well. Add the yoghurt, flour, 4 of the eggs, the pecorino and feta, and mix well to combine.

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

Melt the 70g portion of butter for the pastry and take the filo sheets out of the packet. Brush the first sheet with the melted butter and lay another sheet on top. Lift these 2 sheets into the round baking tin, allowing a little overhang. Repeat this process and put another layer in the tin, slightly overlapping the first. Continue this way until the tin is fully lined with pastry, with pastry over hanging on all sides. You will probably need about 4 double sheets.

Fill the pastry lined tin with the spinach mixture, then fold the filo overhang to cover the edges of the filling but don’t cover the whole surface. Scrunch the pastry to form a crunchy rim and brush with a little more butter. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the tin from the oven and crack the remaining 4 eggs over the surface. Aim to have an egg yolk in each quarter and for the egg white to be evenly distributed. Use the tip of a sharp knife to swirl the yolk into the filling but don’t push it in too much. Put the pie back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until the spinach mixture and eggs are set and the pastry crispy.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co. At Home by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2018.)

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PSB is our veg saviour early in the year when winter is lingering and spring still seems too far away. We loved this roasted version with a tangy lemon dressing.

Roasted PSB with feta & preserved lemons – serves 4 to 6 as a side

  • 500g purple sprouting broccoli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 preserved lemon, flesh and rind chopped, plus 1 tbsp juice from the jar
  • 80g yoghurt
  • 1 garlic cloves, grated
  • 30g feta

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

Put the PSB into large roasting tin, add the olive oil and red chilli, season with salt and pepper, then toss with your hands.

Roast for 15 minutes, turning halfway, until tender and starting to char.

Meanwhile stir the preserved lemon, juice and garlic into the yoghurt.

Crumble the feta over the roasted broccoli and drizzle with yoghurt dressing and your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Mussels with green pepper, Pernod, tomatoes, feta and dill. This is an Albanian recipe that we found in Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein. We don’t agree with the seafood and cheese rule anyway and this dish proves that it can work. Serve with crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: Match with a white with a bit of body, but no oak. We chose an underrated Sylvaner by Sipp Mack in Alsace which was fresh with stone fruits and a racy minerality in the glass

Butrint Mussels – serves 2

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 small green pepper, sliced
  • 30ml of ouzo/Pastis (we used Pernod)
  • 600g mussels, scrubbed
  • 150ml passata
  • 75g feta cheese
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • a small handful of dill, chopped

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and sweat the onion, garlic and green pepper for 5 minutes.

Add the Pernod and the mussels, then cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mussels are starting to open.

Add the passata and feta and season with the chilli flakes, salt and some black pepper. Heat through for a minute or two, then serve scattered with the dill.

(Original recipe from Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein, BBC Books, 2015.)

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This soup is super simple but it’s really good with the toasted feta tortillas on the side for a weekday lunch.

Bean soup with feta tortillas – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp chipotle paste
  • 500g carton passata
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 200g feta
  • 4 large soft flour tortillas
  • a handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • sour cream or yoghurt to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until soft.

Add the chipotle paste, passata, stock and beans. Season, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble the feta over one half of each of the tortillas, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and season with black pepper. Fold the uncovered side over and press together. Heat a dry frying pan and cook the tortillas for a minute on each side or until crispy and the cheese has melted.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt if you have it and the feta tortillas on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Such a simple and foolproof way of cooking rice from Ottolgenghi Simple. This gives a lovely texture and the salsa is delicious. We served with pulled lamb shawarma but it would be great with all sorts of dishes. 

Baked mint rice with pomegranate and olive salsa – serves 6

  • 400g basmati rice
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 800ml boiling water
  • 50g mint (leave 40g on the springs and shred the leaves of the remaining 10g for the salsa)
  • 150g feta, crumbled into 1-2cm pieces

FOR THE SALSA:

  • 40g pitted green olives, thinly sliced
  • seeds from a small pomegranate
  • 50g walnut halves, lightly roasted and roughly broken
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed

Preheat the oven to 230C fan or as high as your oven goes. 

Put the rice into a high-sided roasting tin, about 20 x 30cm. Season with ¾ tsp of salt and plenty of pepper, then pour over the melted butter and boiling water. Top with the mint sprigs and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, until the rice is fluffy and the liquid absorbed. 

Meanwhile, mix all of the salad ingredients, except the mint leaves, together in a bowl with ¼ tsp of salt. Mix well and set aside. 

When the rice is ready, pull the leaves off the mint sprigs and scatter them over the rice, then sprinkle over the feta. Just before serving, stir the shredded mint into the salsa and spoon over the rice. 

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Simple, Ebury Press, 2018.)

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Marinated Tomato & Feta Salad

There are endless tomato salads for lunch at our house. We loved this marinated version with feta cheese and olives. Serve with warm pittas.

Marinated tomato & feta salad – serves 2

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 10 kalamata olives
  • a few mint leaves, torn
  • 2 pitta breads, warmed

Whisk the oil, vinegar and caster sugar together in a bowl, then add the onion and season.

Divide the tomato slices between two plates, then spoon over the onions and dressing. Leave to mingle for 10 minutes.

Scatter over the feta, olives and mint, then serve with the warm pittas.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, August 2016.)

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Tomatoes Stuffed with Cheese & Herbs

We made these for lunch when having a bit of a fridge clear out (story of our lives!). They work really well as a side with other interesting flavours on the plate. We had some cold leftover lamb, some pickled beetroot and a green tabule salad and it was altogether delicious! Vary the herbs according to what you have, we used fennel herb but basil would be good too.

Tomatoes stuffed with cheese & herbs – serves 4

  • 4 beef tomatoes or the biggest tomatoes you can find
  • 200g feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • sea salt flakes and black pepper

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

Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the insides with a spoon.

Mix the feta, dill, parsley and some sea salt flakes and black pepper together.

Spoon this mixture into the tomatoes and place on a lightly oiled baking tray.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and the cheese browned.

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

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Beetroot & feta samosas

These are so simple to make and you can stash them in the freezer and cook from frozen so great for a snack or starter with drinks.

Wine Suggestion: We’ve tried these with a few different wines and prefer them if the wine is chilled. Quite a few whites worked really well, but interestingly the best combination was a chilled red made from Grignolino from the Piedmont in norther Italy. Light bodied and yet dry with hints of (in balance) pippy bitterness and structured, light tannins. From a bottle a friend brought over and made by Olim Bauda; a nice discovery.

Beetroot & feta samosas – makes 18-24 samosas

  • 400g fresh beetroot
  • 200g feta cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 30g coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 x 270g packs of filo pastry
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • onion seeds (nigella seeds), to garnish

Boil the beetroot until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, this can take an hour or more depending on what size they are.

Trim the beetroot and peel off the skin (you might like to wear gloves), then roughly mash.

Put the mashed beetroot into a hot frying pan over a medium heat and heat for 5 minutes to remove excess moisture, then transfer to a bowl.

Stir in the feta, scallions, coriander, green chilli, garlic, chilli powder, cumin, garam masala and salt.

Lay a sheet of the filo pastry out with the long side towards you (cover the rest of the filo with a damp tea towel). Brush the left hand side of the pastry sheet lightly with the melted butter. Fold the right hand side of the sheet over the left so you have a double layer of pastry. Cut the pastry into 3 long strips with a sharp knife.

Place a heaped tbsp of the beetroot mixture at the bottom of a pastry strip, then fold the bottom right hand corner up over the filling to make a small triangle. Flip the triangle over as you move up the pastry strip, the filling will eventually be sealed inside. When you get to the end, brush the end of the pastry strip with a little melted butter and press to seal.

Continue like this until all of the beetroot mixture has been used, you might not need all of the filo pastry.

If you want to freeze the samosas at this stage you can set them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, then place in tray in the freezer. When the samosas are frozen you can transfer them to a bag.

If you want to cook the freshly made samosas, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush the samosas on both sides with melted butter and sprinkle a few onion seeds over the top. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

To cook from frozen. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush both sides with melted butter, sprinkle a few onion seeds over the top, and put onto a lightly greased baking tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

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

 

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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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Spiced Cauliflower Roast

We try to eat fairly light mid-week with an emphasis on veg and not too many carbs. It’s much easier in the summer when the nights are bright and we don’t crave comfort food the same way.

Today is the first Monday of June, it’s been grey and lashing with rain all day and it feels far from summery, but we live in hope. So there is loads going on in this roasted cauliflower dish – hot chilli, cooling yoghurt, sour pomegranate, fresh herbs and crispy chickpeas. Just what we needed.

Wine Suggestion: A great match is the mildly unfashionable, but very beloved by wine enthusiasts, Mosel Riesling. For simplicity the Dr Loosen Estate Riesling which balances a lighter body with a good depth and personality; light alcohol and body but a dancing, full flavour.

Spiced Cauliflower Roast – serves 4

  • 50g butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cauliflower (about 1kg)
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • small bunch of mint, chopped
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 200g cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted
  • pomegranate molasses

FOR THE FETA DRESSING:

  • 100g good-quality feta
  • 100g Greek yoghurt
  • juice of ½ lemon

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

Beat the butter and spices with a wooden spoon in a small bowl.

Trim the outer leaves of the cauliflower and remove the very bottom of the root but not all of it as it will help hold it together. Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil. Cook the cauliflower for 3-4 minutes to soften slightly, then gently remove from the water and onto a baking tray.

Scatter the chickpeas around the cauliflower. Rub the cauliflower with the spiced butter, dot a little butter over the chickpeas and season everything. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until the cauliflower is completely tender and the chickpeas crispy.

Meanwhile, make the feta dressing by whisking the feta and yoghurt together in a large bowl until creamy. Add the lemon juice and whisk again, then season. Chill in the fridge until needed.

Remove the cauliflower and chickpeas from the oven and transfer the cauliflower onto a plate. Mix the remaining ingredients except the pomegranate molasses, with the warm chickpeas on the tray. Arrange the chickpeas on a platter and put the whole cauliflower on top. Spoon over the feta dressing and drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses to serve.

(Original recipe from BBCGoodFood)

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Giant Butter Bean Stew

This Greek butter bean stew can be served on it’s own either as a starter or as a veggie main. The kitchen smells fab as it cooks and you can have it ready in advance and just reheat to serve. We like it served on the side of some barbecued lamb, spinach rice and radish tzatziki.

Wine Suggestion: This dish shines with light and fresh red wines with little or no oak. Good on it’s own with the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo, an unoaked and youthful wine. However, the other night we served it with lamb, as part of a larger meal so chose the vibrant Gulfi Cerasuolo, a Nero d’Avola and Frappato blend from Sicily. Bright red fruits, an earthy depth and fresh finish complimented the lamb to the dill and feta. I think we’ll be drinking more of this wine in future.

Giant Butter Bean Stew – serves 6 as a side

  • 2 x 400g tins good quality butter beans
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot, finely sliced
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • small pack flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • small pack dill, finely chopped
  • 100g feta, crumbled

Drain the butter beans and reserve 100ml of the liquid.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish and cook the onions, carrots and celery until tender and the onions are soft and transparent, but not coloured. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reserving half of the chopped herbs and feta, and season. Squeeze the tinned tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the dish to break them up.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Cook over a gentle heat for another 5 minutes, then add the reserved liquid. Cover the dish and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Check occasionally and add more water if the dish looks dry.

Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir through the reserved herbs, season to taste, then crumble over the remaining feta.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Spanakopita

We can’t get enough of this classic Greek dish and we especially like this herby version by Felicity Cloake. Serve with salad.

Wine Suggestion: we think this works best with crisp, herbal white wines. As we couldn’t find a Greek Assyrtiko we chose instead the Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Friulano and Chardonnay from north-eastern Italy.  White flowers, peaches, crisp yellow apple and citrus aromas and flavours are followed by a good texture, vitality and fresh acidity.

Spanakopita – serves 6

  • 1kg frozen whole leaf spinach, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion or leek, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 300g feta, crumbled
  • 25g dill, chopped
  • 20g mint, leaves removed and chopped
  • 3 sprigs of oregano, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • nutmeg
  • 250g filo pastry
  • oil, for brushing

Gently fry the onion or leek in the oil until softened, then remove from the heat and stir in the scallions. Tip into a large bowl with the feta and herbs.

Squeeze the spinach with your hands until all of the liquid has comes out, then stir into the cheese mix. Add the egg, lemon zest, a splash of oil and a good grating of nutmeg, then mix with your hands. Season lightly (not too much salt).

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/Gas 6.

Brush a 30cm x 25cm baking tin with olive oil, then line with half the filo, brushing each sheet with oil as you go and trying not to press down. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the sides.

Spoon the filling into the pastry lining, level the top, then put the lid on: repeat the layering process with the rest of the filo pastry. Fold the overhang inwards to form a rim and drizzle with more oil and cut into portions.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden and leave to cool slightly before serving.

(Original recipe by Felicity Cloake in The Guardian, Wed 22 Aug 2018)

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Orzo & tomato salad

A characterful and bright salad that tastes great with barbecued lamb. Easily halved.

Orzo & Tomato Salad with Capers & Kalamata Olives – serves 6 to 8

  • 350g orzo pasta
  • 2 x 290g deli packs of sunblush tomatoes, drained & cut into strips – reserve the oil
  • 400g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 200g pitted Kalamata olives, roughly halved
  • 50g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems finely chopped
  • 400g feta cheese, crumbled into small chunks
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 240g capers in brine, drained

Cook the orzo according to the pack. Rinse well in cold water and leave to drain in a sieve for 10 minutes.

Put the drained orzo into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp of oil from the tomatoes and mix well.

Cook the green beans in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, then drain and put into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking. Drain well.

Add the green beans to the orzo along with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add some more of the tomato oil and season generously with salt and black pepper.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

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Maroccan kale, chickpea and squash stew

So here we are in October which in our house means thoughts are turning towards Autumn veg, warm casseroles and roast dinners. Here’s a really delicious, but healthy, idea for your first butternut squash.

Wine Suggestion: A little tricky this match but we have two suggestions: a juicy and spicy, Californian Zinfandel – get a good one if you can, like Cline or Ridge; or the Altos de Torona Albariño, a richly fruited white with spices and textures to complement the spices in the dish.

Moroccan chickpea, squash & cavolo nero stew – serves 4

  • 4 tomatoes, halved
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g butternut squash, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 1 lemon, zested and cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted in a dry pan and lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 200g cavolo nero, shredded
  • a handful fresh coriander leaves, to serve

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

Put the tomatoes on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, drizzle over 2 tbsp olive oil, season well and roast in the oven about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 2 tbsp oil into a large saucepan and add the squash, thyme, garlic and onion. Season well and cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, bay leaf, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and harissa. Season and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30-35 minutes or  until the liquid has reduced.

Mix the feta with the last tbsp of olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl.

Add the ground coriander and cavolo nero to the stew and cook for a couple of minutes. Put the stew into bowls and top with feta, some coriander leaves and fennel seeds, and some seasoning. Serve with the lemon wedges.

(Original recipe by Romilly Newman for BBC Good Food)

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Greek salad

Perfect with many Greek dishes, but none mores than barbecued lamb cutlets or kebabs/souvlaki. You could also serve it as as starter with some crusty bread. A very popular salad in our house when the days get warmer. In fact, we blogged it here a few years ago and it’s still a firm favourite.

Greek Salad – serves 4

  • 450g ripe tomatoes
  • ½ a cucumber
  • 1 red onion (we only use half an onion)
  • 200g Greek feta cheese
  • 4½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ouzo/Pernod
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 20 small black olives
  • large pinch of dried oregano – Greek if you can find it

Cut the tomatoes into chunky pieces and cut the cucumber in half lengthways and then across into thick slices. Slice the red onion as thinly as possible (a mandolin is good for this if you have one). Crumble the feta into chunky pieces.

To make the dressing whisk the olive oil, ½ tsp salt, the red wine vinegar, ouzo/Pernod and some black pepper in a large salad bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber and onions and toss gently. Add the feta, dill and olives and mix briefly.

Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with the dried oregano and some coarsely ground black pepper.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Feta salad with spinach, crispbread, sumac & pinenuts

Another success from Sam & Sam Clark of Moro. Great textures and interesting flavours. Works as a starter or a side with grilled meat.

Feta salad with spinach, crispbread, sumac & pinenuts – serves 4

  • 500g young spinach, washed and dried (in a salad spinner ideally)
  • 200g good-quality feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 dessertspoon fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
  • 75g pinenuts, very lightly toasted
  • 25g butter
  • 2 pitta breads
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt
  • 1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

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

Melt the butter. Split the pitta in half lengthways and brush the melted butter on both sides. Put the pittas on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool.

Whisk the garlic, red wine vinegar, sumac, olive oil together to make a dressing. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Put the spinach, roughly broken crispbread, half the feta cheese, the oregano/marjoram and pinenuts into a large bowl. Pour over most of the dressing and toss together. Serve with the rest of the feta and dressing on top.

(Original recipe from Moro: the cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

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Spanakopita

The classic spinach & feta combination never gets tired. These savoury Greek pastries are delicious and very easy to make. We worked out a production line (thanks Tricia & Orla) and had them assembled in no time! Great as a starter or snack with drinks. Perfect entertaining food.

Wine Suggestion: If you can find an Assyrtiko,  a crisp and delicious Greek white, then you’ve got a great match. Unfortunately it can be hard to find good Greek wines so stick to the Mediterranean and search for a Fiano or Greco di Tufo from Italy. Failing this we’ve had crisp Touraine Sauvignon Blancs with this as well to great effect.

Spanakopita (Spinch, mint & feta pastries) – makes 18-20

  • 500g spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 100g Greek feta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp finely grated Greek kefalotiri cheese or Parmesan
  • a pinch of finely grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 250-275g pack of filo pastry (about 6 sheets)
  • 100g butter, melted

Wash and dry the spinach (remove the stalks if they look tough). Finely shred the leaves.

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook gently until soft but not browned. Gradually add the spinach, a handful at a time, until it has all wilted. Tip into a colander and drain, pressing out the liquid with a wooden spoon, then return to the pan with the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Leave to cool.

Crumble the feta into a large bowl and roughly mash with a fork – you can leave it a bit chunky. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan, the spinach mixture, nutmeg, mint and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Unroll the sheets of filo and cut the stack lengthways into strips about 7.5cm wide. Brush the top layer with melted butter. Put a heaped teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of one strip, at the end closest to you, and fold one bottom corner of the pastry diagonally over the filling, so that the corner touches the opposite side to make a triangle. Then fold over the filled triangular corner, and keep folding it along the whole strip in a triangular parcel. Repeat to make all the spanakopita.

Brush the undersides of each parcel with more butter and place on a lightly buttered baking tray. Brush the tops with butter and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

These are best served straight from the oven while the pastry is still crispy but they are also good at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Penne alla norma

We love Rick Stein’s recipes as everything seems to come from true inspiration and has been tested in a real world kitchen so it all works. This recipe is no exception and delivers in flavour and balance perfectly.

Pasta alla Norma is traditionally made with spaghetti but worked just as well penne pasta as a substitute.

Wine Suggestions: Aubergine tends to work with Southern Italian reds really well, but we had an unexpected burst of sunshine so opened a Provençal rosé, Chateau Vignelaure La Source, which is an old favourite. It worked a treat and  will definitely try it again with other aubergine dishes.

Pasta alla Norma – Pasta with Aubergines, Tomatoes, Chilli & Cheese – serves 4

  • 500g aubergines (2 large ones)
  • 500g well-flavoured tomatoes or top quality tinned plum tomatoes, drained (Italian brands are best)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ tsp crushed dried chillies
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 100g finely grated ricotta salata or crumbled feta cheese

Trim the aubergines and cut into two across the middle, then cut each piece lengthways into chip-sized sticks. Toss with 1 tsp of salt and set in a colander over a bowl to drain for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, if using fresh tomatoes, squeeze them over the sink to get rid of most of the juice and seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil (about 4.5 litres) and season generously with salt (about 8 teaspoons).

Pat the aubergines dry with kitchen paper to remove the salt and any liquid. Heat 4 tbsp of the frying pan, add half the aubergines and fry until lightly golden. Lift onto a plate lined with kitchen paper  and leave to drain while you fry the next batch. After removing the second batch of aubergine, leave the oil in the frying pan to cool.

Put the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to the packet or until al dente. 

Before the pasta is ready, add the remaining oil and the garlic to the cooled frying pan and return to the heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle gently, add the crushed chillies and the tomatoes and cook over a high heat for a few minutes or until they have broken down into a sauce. Season well and stir in the aubergines.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce with the torn basil and half the cheese, then toss well. Divide between warm bowls and serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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Pistachio & Feta Dip

We have made this dip many times as we, and our friends, keep on devouring the lot before a photo can be taken. Not really problematic as we love it so much. We finally got  a photo 🙂 but will keep on making the dip, which has become a firm favourite and works great as a starter to share with some barbecued flat breads.

Pistachio & Feta Dip – serves 8

  • 100g shelled pistachios
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 300g feta cheese
  • handful of dill, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 large tbsp Greek yogurt
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon
  • sea salt if needed

Blitz the pistachio nuts and oil in a food processor for 30 seconds.

Add the feta, herbs, crushed garlic, chilli, yogurt and lemon zest and juice and blitz for about 1 minute, or until the mixture has a rustic texture.

Taste and add salt if needed but bare in mind that feta is already quite salty.

Serve with barbecued flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)

 

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