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Posts Tagged ‘Feta’

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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Easy Spanakopita

Inspired by Spanakopita, this is a simple recipe that’s easy to throw together when time is short and requires very little shopping.

Easy Spinach & Feta Pie (Cheat’s Spanakopita) – to serve 4

  • 1kg frozen whole-leaf spinach
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin, fennel or caraway seeds (use what you have)
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g feta or soft goats cheese, broken into small chunks
  • 35g pine nuts, toasted or roughly chopped cashew nuts (we used a mix of both)
  • 375g all-butter, ready-rolled puff pastry

Heat the oven to 200°C /Gas Mark 6.

Put the frozen spinach into a saucepan with a splash of water. Cover and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until totally defrosted. Drain in a sieve, pressing with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spice seeds and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and sauté until soft and golden. Add the thyme.

When the spinach has cooled a bit, squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can with your hands, then roughly chop. Mix with the onion, a squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of seasoning. Keep a few tablespoons of the egg for glazing and stir the rest into the spinach and onion mixture.

Spoon half the spinach mixture into an ovenproof dish (around 25 x 20 cm). Scatter over the cheese and pine nuts or cashews, and top with the remaining spinach. Brush a little beaten egg around the rim of the dish.

Lay the pastry over the dish and trim. Press the edge down on the rim of the dish so that it sticks. Brush with the rest of the beaten egg and bake for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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We’ve eaten this as a side salad, and on it’s own with crusty bread –  a summery meal in its own right! As always the quality of the tomatoes will really make this dish sing.

You should assemble most of this dish a bit in advance to allow the flavours to develop, then add the herbs and feta cheese just before serving.

Wine Suggestion: Try to find a youthful Italian red that echo’s the sunshine of this dish. We drank a Dolcetto d’Alba from Pira Luigi that had a joy and vitality, but reds from the Marche, Abruzzo and other central Italian regions should be a delight too. If you’re pushing the boat out go for a Rosso di Montalcino.

Summer Chickpea Salad – to serve 4

  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1-2 small red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls of ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 lemons
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 x 410g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • a handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • a handful of  basil, finely torn
  • 200g feta cheese

Mix the tomatoes (including any juice) with the onion and chillies in a large bowl. Dress with the juice of 1½ lemons and lots of good olive oil. Season to taste.

Heat the chickpeas in a pan, then add almost all of them to the bowl. Mush up the remaining chickpeas before adding them as well. Allow to marinate for a while at room temperature.

Add the herbs and check the seasoning just before serving – you can add a bit more lemon juice if necessary. Put the salad in a serving dish and crumble the feta cheese over the top.

(Original recipe from Jamie’s Dinners by Jamie Oliver, Penguin Books, 2004.)

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Simple to make which makes it a perfect dish after a long day at work, plus it is packed full of flavour and deliciousness. We used Beluga lentils, which are really just a variation on Puy lentils, that hold a lovely black colour, glisten well when served and retain a good firmness when cooked; ordinary Puy lentils will work just as well.

Lentils with squash and feta – to serve 2

  • 100g Beluga lentils
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • 200g butternut squash, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 50g feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 small bunch parsley, chopped

Cook the lentils in the stock for 15-20 minutes or until tender, then drain. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the squash and some seasoning then cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and chilli and cook for another 5 minutes or so or until the squash is golden and tender. Add the cumin and stir through. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Stir in the parsley then divide between two plates and scatter with the crumbled feta.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Wine suggestion: the earthiness of the ingredients pair well with medium bodied, earthy wines – a classic match would be a pinot noir for a red, or a sylvaner in a white.

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This was supposed to be Thursday night’s dinner but we were seduced by some Minervois and French food in La Cave instead. Thankfully it works just as well on a Friday night! The spicy sweet potatoes make this a main meal salad but you could also serve it as a side to some barbecued meat or even a starter.

Sweet potato salad – to serve 8 (we adjusted quantities to serve 2)

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 3 dried chillies, crumbled 0r some chilli flakes
  • 4 scallions
  • 400g vine tomatoes
  • a small bunch of basil leaves
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 100g watercress
  • 200g feta cheese
  • a handful of mixed seeds, toasted (we used pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds)

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Roughly chop the sweet potatoes into large chunks then toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, the crushed cumin and chillies until well coated. Put on a baking tray and roast for about 25 minutes or until they are soft inside and crispy outside. Let them cool a bit.

Roughly chop the scallions and tomatoes and add to a bowl with the basil leaves. Dress with a good splash of balsamic vinegar and twice as much good quality olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Squidge the sweet potato on to a big platter and top with the dressed onions and tomatoes. Pile the watercress on top and crumble over the feta. Drizzle some more olive oil over and sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Delicious!

(Original recipe by Jamie Oliver for Sainsbury’s magazine, August 2009)

 Wine suggestion: try a white wine with good food ability and fresh fruit flavours. We chose a white Bordeaux, G de Guiraud, the dry white wine made by famous Sauternes producer Chateau Guiraud. The Semillon gives it a great food friendliness and structure to stand up to the many flavours in the salad, while the Sauvignon Blanc brings a fruitiness which balances the spicy chilli flavours.

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Tiromezes

This is so simple to make and was an excellent way to start a Greek meal (see main course below). The saltiness of the feta becomes imperceptible with grilling, and it balances perfectly with the sweetness of the tomato and mild heat of the chilli. We’ll definitely do this again!

Tiromezes: easy cheese appetizer – serves 4

  • 4 square, thick slices feta cheese
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 rounds
  • 1 long green chilli, thinly sliced
  • pinch of dry oregano
  • pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling

Preheat the grill. Put the cheese slices side by side in a shallow flameproof dish. Put a tomato slice on top of each feta square and top with the slices of chilli. Sprinkle with oregano and pepper and drizzle with a little bit of oil. Grill for 6-8 minutes, until the tomato and chilli are lightly browned. Serve immediately with a glass of ouzo if you have some (we didn’t 😦 maybe next time).

(Original recipe from Vefa’s Kitchen)

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We came across this while searching for inspiration on how to use some courgettes and feta cheese that had been lurking in the fridge since the weekend. It was really tasty, very quick and cheap to make (even if you don’t happen to have any courgettes and feta in the fridge). All we had to buy today was some salad leaves and ciabatta bread to go with it. Perfect summer fare for a weeknight.

Courgette & bean bake with feta – to serve 4 (easy to half)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 courgettes, halved lengthways and sliced into half moons
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp chopped oregano
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 x 410g tins cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 200g pack feta
  • crusty bread and salad to serve
  1. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the courgettes for 5 minutes or until golden. Stir in the garlic and half of the oregano and cook for 30 seconds before gently folding in the tomatoes and beans. Heat through for about 4 minutes. Season to taste, then heat the grill to medium.
  2. Transfer to an ovenproof serving dish. Crumble over the feta, drizzle with the remaining oil, then grill for 5 minutes until the cheese has turned golden brown. Sprinkle with the rest of the oregano and serve with crusty bread and salad.
Wine Suggestion: Stick to the summer theme with a glass of rosé – we recommend the 2010 Chateau de L’Engarran from the Languedoc (€13.95 from Mitchell & Son). Perfectly dry and fresh; a great accompaniment to food.
(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, June 2009).

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