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Posts Tagged ‘Parsley’

Who doesn’t love meatballs. There’s at least one person in this house who would have them every week. This recipe by Olia Hercules makes heaps to help with that problem.

Wine Suggestion: great with a simple Sangiovese with bright and slightly crunchy fruits and a good wack of tannins. Rocca delle Macie’s Chianti Vernaiolo is our standby and doesn’t hide behind oak, rather celebrates the joy of fruit. The added joy is the smooth tannins this wine brings despite the potentially awkward Sangiovese grape; they have a great feel for getting the balance right even with a bouncingly youthful cuvee.

Olia’s Meatballs – Sugo Della Mamma – makes 30 meatballs

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 60g stale sourdough bread with crusts (or dry out 80g of fresh bread chunks in the oven)
  • 250ml hot whole milk
  • 20g parsley, very finely chopped
  • 400g beef mince
  • 400g pork mince
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 100g Pecorino/Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • ¼ nutmeg, finely grated

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • up to 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised but left whole
  • 800g tomato passata or 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • a couple of sprigs of basil
  • Tagliagelle, pappardelle or orecchiette, to serve

Put the bread into a bowl and pour over the hot milk. Leave for 5 mintues then press the bread down to make sure it’s all soaked. Cover and leave for 15 minutes.

Mix the mince, egg, bread and soaking milk, grated garlic, parsley, cheese and nutmeg together. Season well with 1 tbsp of sea salt and lots of black pepper. Use your hands to mix it all together really well.

Wet your hands and shape the mixture into about 30 golf-ball sixed meatballs.

Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil for the sauce. Fry the meatballs in batches until browned on a couple of sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

If you need more fat you can add the extra 2 tbsp of oil, then add the bruised garlic and cook for a few minutes to infuse the oil, then remove and discard.

Add the passata or tomatoes to the pan, then fill the jar or tin with 200ml water and add that with a generous pinch of salt. Cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Gently place the meatballs into the sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes at a gentle bubble. Add the basil sprigs for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

Cook the pasta, then roughy drain so a little water remains. Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in, ladle over the sauce and meatballs and gently stir to combine.

Serve with extra grated pecorino.

(Original recipe from Home Food by Olia Hercules, Bloomsbury, 2022.)

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This is a nice soupy-stew sort of thing. Perfect for cold nights but still with nice fresh flavours.

Wine Suggestion: We went a bit left-field for this dish and look for an aged white Rioja where you get the roundness and poise of an oaked chardonnay but with a slightly softer acidity. Graceful in age the Urbina Rioja Bianco Crianza 2014 was both youthful with melon and citrus fruits, and with a layer of aged, tertiary fennel, aniseed and peach. A joy to know this is the current release from an under the radar winery.

Chicken with leeks & orzo – serves 3

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large chicken thighs
  • 250g leeks, cut into short lengths, wash well to get rid of any grit and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • half a lemon, cut into 2 fat wedges
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 200g orzo
  • 150g frozen peas
  • a small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • a small handful of tarragon, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat the oil in a large, deep casserole dish. Fry the chicken thighs until well-browned on both sides, then remove and set aside.

Add the leeks to the chicken fat in the pan and cook over a medium-low heat, with the lid on, for 5 minutes, you want them softened but not browned.

Add the stock and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes to the boil, then add half the lemon, peppercorns and 1 tsp of salt. Scatter in the orzo and boil for 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, then cover and bake for 35 minutes.

Add the peas, then return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Add the tarragon and parsley and serve in warm bowls.

(Original recipe from A Cook’s Book by Nigel Slater, 4th Estate, 2021)

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We’ve made a salad like this before but this one is fresher and makes a great side dish for a crowd. We served it with some spicy baked salmon.

Georgian kidney bean salad – serves 6 to 8

  • 2 x 400g tins kidney beans (we used 300g dried kidney beans, rinse then soak in 3 times the volume of cold water for 5 hours. Drain and put into a saucepan covered by an inch with cold water, then boil hard for 30 minutes, stirring to prevent any sticking)
  • 50g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 heaped tsp dried mint
  • 2 banana shallots, very thinly sliced into rings
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp pul biber chilli flakes
  • Maldon salt & fresh ground black pepper

If you are using tinned beans, drain them rinse well under a cold tap to get rid of the briny liquid. Shake the beans dry, then tip into a large bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredints to the bowl and fold together gently, you don’t want to crush the beans. Season well with salt and pepper, stir again and leave at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Stir well again before serving.

(Original recipe from Persiana Everyday by Sabrina Ghayour, Aster, 2022.)

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Another recipe for using up leftover cooked lamb. It doesn’t take very long so you could try it mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: This is delicious with a red with a good amount of age, where the gentle, aged spices and characters meld with the food. This isn’t always easily to hand, so Domaine Gayda’s Grenache from the border of the Languedoc and Roussillon was a more than adequate substitute, with the peppery spices from the grape providing a natural warmth and a juicy red fruit.

Leftover lamb pilaf – serves 4-6

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 350g basmati rice
  • 700ml chicken stock or lamb stock
  • 50g dried barberries (or you could use dried cherries or cranberries)
  • 50g dried figs, quartered
  • 500g leftover cooked lamb, in chunks
  • 75g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley or mint
  • 35g toasted almonds, chopped (or pistachios)
  • seeds from ½ a pomegranate
  • Greek yoghurt to serve (optional)

Heat a splash of oil in a large heavy saucepan and cook the onion until soft and golden. Add the chilli, allspice and garlic and cook for another minute, then add the rice, stirring to coat in the oil. Add the stock and dried fruit and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Don’t be tempted to stir it! If the rice isn’t tender after 20 minutes, add a little boiling water, cover again and cook for another 4-5 minutes. If the stock isn’t completely absorbed, turn up the heat to quickly boil it off.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the lamb until warm and crispy. Season, then fork through the rice with the feta, herbs and nuts. Transfer to a large dish and scatter over the pomegranate seeds. Serve with some yoghurt on the side if you like.

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

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A delicious soup for leftover roast lamb and perfect for chilly weather.

Lamb & pearl barley broth – serves 6-8

  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a sprig of rosemary
  • 200g leftover cooked lamb, sliced or shredded
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 1.25 litres of chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Put the butter and oil into a large saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the onions, celery, bay leaf and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper, then turn the heat to low, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until softened.

Add the lamb, chopped parsnip and carrot, the pearl barley and the stock. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the barley and vegetables are tender.

Remove and discard the bay and rosemary. Stir in the chopped parsley, season to taste, and serve.

(Original recipe from Soup Broth Bread by Rachel Allen, Michael Joseph, 2021.)

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We love this side dish from the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen so much we’ve made it a few times over the past month and it’s been a hit every time. You can make the aïoli in advance and put it in the fridge which is useful.

Roast potatoes with aïoli and pine nut butter – serves 4

  • 750g baby new potatoes, halved lengthways
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5g parsley, roughly chopped

FOR THE AÏOLI

  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 75g Greek-style yoghurt

FOR THE PINE NUT BUTTER

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 20g pine nuts
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika

Our advice is to get the aïoli made first, it will keep fine in the fridge if you want to do it earlier in the day.

Put the garlic, Dijon, egg, egg yolk and a ¼ tsp of salt into the small bowl of a food processor. Whiss together for a few seconds, then gradually add both oils in a slow steady stream with the machine running the whole time. You should end up with a runny mayonnaise. Transfer this to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice and yoghurt. Cover and out in the fridge until needed.

Preheat the oven to 220C fan.

Put the potatoes into a saucepan with 2 tsp of salt and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes or until almost tender. Drain in a sieve and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Spread the potatoes over a parchment lined baking tray and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and some salt and black pepper. Roast these in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown, then toss with the parsley.

To make the pine nut the butter into a small frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the pine nuts and cook until golden, stir in the paprika and remove from the heat.

Spread the aïoli over a serving dish, top with the potatoes and drizzle over the butter.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi Text Kitchen: Shelf Love, Penguin Random House, 2021.)

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This is all you need with some fresh bread and butter. The simple things are the best.

Wine Suggestion: For a wine to work with this dish you need to balance a crisp, acidity to cut through the cream, body to match the depth of flavour and a minerally-savouriness to compliment the briny backbone of flavour from the mussels. If you look to a good Chablis producer or a top Muscadet then you’ll find your solution. We chose Jérémie Huchet’s lieu dit Les Montys le Parc from a very special vineyard in Muscadet that has that extra depth to match this rich, full flavoured dish.

Mussel, bacon and leek soup – serves 2

  • 750g mussels
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a small handful of parsley, leaves picked and chopped and stalks reserved
  • a knob of butter
  • 75g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 250ml fish stock (or veg stock)
  • 75ml double cream
  • a small handful of chives, finely snipped

Wash the mussels in cold water and remove any beards. Give any open mussels a hard tap and discard them if they don’t close.

Put 75ml of water into a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the parsley stalks and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, clamp on the lid, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Give the pan a good shake now and and then as they cook.

Tip the mussels into a colandar set over a bowl to catch all of the cooking juices, you will need the these later so don’t throw them away.

Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add a knob of butter, then gently fry the bacon until begining to crisp. Add the coriander seeds, garlic, and leek and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring now and then, until the leeks are nice and soft.

Add the mussel cooking liquid (watch out for the gritty bit at the bottom which you can discard) and the stock, then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pick the meat out of the mussels but leave about 12 in their shells to garnish.

Add the cream to the soup and bring back to a simmer. Add the mussel meat, chives and parsley and check the seasoning. Serve in warm bowls, garnished with the mussels in their shells and with bread and butter on the side.

(Original recipe from Outside by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2022)

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We love this fresh salad, the perfect side dish for so many summer dishes. You can crumble some feta over the top before serving if you like.

Fattoush – serves 4

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 2 flatbreads or pitta breads (about 120g in total)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 small Persian cucumbers or 1 small regular cucumber
  • 4 tomatoes (about 450g in total)
  • 75g Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 10g mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 20g parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 75g feta cheese (optional)

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/Gas 6.

Toss the pitta breads in the olive oil, then bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes or until very crisp. Leave to cool then snap into chunky pieces.

Cut the cumcumbers in half and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Chop into 1-2cm pieces and put into a salad bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds, chop the flesh into pieces the same size as the cucumber and add the bowl with the crispy pieces of bread. Add the lettuce and herbs.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad, then use your hands to toss everything together. Adjust the seasoning to taste, then crumble over some feta if you like.

(Original recipe from Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2018.)

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This is tomato pasta sauce but with some unusual additions that make it taste a bit special. We hightly recommend you try this.

Pasta with tomato sauce & brown caper butter – serves 4

  • 400g penne pasta
  • Parmesan
  • flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tsp runny honey

FOR THE BROWN CAPER BUTTER

  • 4 tbsp capers, drained
  • 75g butter

Fry the onion in a splash of olive oil over a lowish heat for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, rosemary and tomato purée and fry for another minute, then add the tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in lots of salty water until al denté.

Melt a small knob of the butter into a small frying pan, then add the capers and fry until they burst open, then tip into a small bowl. Add the rest of the butter to the frying pan and cook until it turns light brown and smells nutty, then pour over the capers.

Add the miso, honey and a little seasoning to the tomato sauce.

Drain the pasta but reserve a mug of the cooking water.

Mix the drained pasta with the tomato sauce and a splash of cooking water to loosen the sauce. Divide between warm bowls, then pour over the caper butter. Serve sprinkled with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley.

(Original recipe by Ylva Bergqvist in Olive Magazine, December 2018.)

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We know how to make parsley sauce but this version is definitely better. The milk is infused for an hour with grated carrot, onion, celery and bay – a game-changer!

Parsley Sauce

  • 1 carrot
  • ½ onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • lots of parsley – about 100g of leaves when stripped from the stalks, chopped

Grate the vegetables and put into a saucepan with the bay leaf and milk. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about an hour. Strain out the veg and bay leaf.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook gently for a couple of minutes, then gradually whisk in the milk until you have smooth sauce. Simmer very gently for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick you can thin with a little more hot milk.

Stir the parsley in just before serving and season to taste with salt and pepper.

(Original recipe from The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Collins, 2001.)

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This is so simple for mid-week and the colours are just fab! Healthy too and generous portions.

Roast onion, chickpea & halloumi salad – serves 2

  • 2 red onions, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 250g cooked Puy lentils – we used a tin but you can of course cook them yourself or buy one of those pouches
  • 100g roasted red peppers, cut into strips
  • a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 250g packet of halloumi, sliced
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas 7.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the onion wedges and chickpeas over the tray, then sprinkle with the ras el hanout and some salt and rub gently to coat, then drizzle with oil. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the chickpeas or golden and crunchy.

Meanwhile, mix the lentils, roast peppers, mint and half the chopped parsley in a bowl. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of oil and the pomegranate molasses and season well with salt and pepper. Mix well and divide between serving plates.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add a little oil, then fry the halloumi slices for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Spoon the onions and chickpeas over the lentils, then top with the halloumi and scatter over the pomegranate seeds and parsley to serve.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight & Get Fit by Tom Kerridge, Bloomsbury Absolute, 2019.)

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This is nice soup for Spring. It’s filling and definitely tastes better by the second or third day. Ham hocks are still cheap, despite becoming a bit trendy, and they make a great stock. 

Ham hock, pea & scallion soup – serves 6

  • 800g uncooked ham hock
  • 2 bay leaves, scrunched
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 200g frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)
  • 100g small pasta shapes, cooked as per timings on the pack
  • a knob of unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon (optional)

Put the ham into a large, deep saucepan and cover with enough cold water to just cover, then bring to the boil. Drain, then refill the pan with fresh water, adding the bay and peppercorns. Bring the pan up to the boil again, skim off any froth, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, or until the ham is tender the whole way through when pierced with a skewer. 

Remove the ham from the liquid and set aside. Add the peas to the stock and cook for a minute until tender (5 minutes if using fresh peas). Add the cooked pasta and leave on the heat. 

While the peas are cooking, heat the butter in a small pan over a medium heat and fry the scallions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add to the stock along with the parsley. 

Shred the cooked ham from the bone, removing any skin and excess fat, then add to the soup. Season generously with salt and pepper and add a spritz of lemon juice if you like. 

(Original recipe from Home Cookery Year by Claire Thompson, Quadrille, 2020.)

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Rachel Roddy is a great inspiration for us in the kitchen. Her recipes are so simple but just right. This spaghetti dish has no pepper or cheese and doesn’t need them, it’s delicious as it is and a treat at any time of year.

Wine Suggestion: We were inspired by the bright Spring day and this dish to open the Spiaggia Marche Bianco. A youthful Verdicchio from the Sartarelli family who live and breathe Verdicchio. Joyful and charming; everything we were hoping for.

Spaghetti aglio, olio al limone – serves 4

  • 2 large unwaxed lemons, zest grated
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley, very finely chopped
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 small dried chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 6 tbsp of olive oil

Mix the lemon zest and chopped parsley together and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add lots of salt, then stir in the spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, very gently warm the olive oil in a large frying pan with the chopped garlic and chilli. You want it to be fragrant but be very careful not to burn it.

Use tongs to lift the spaghetti out of the water and into the frying pan, you want a little of the residual cooking water. Stir the spaghetti to coat in the oil, then add the lemon zest and parsley and a pinch of salt. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like, we usually don’t feel it needs it. Divide between warm pasta bowls.

(Original recipe from Two Kitchens: Family Recipes from Sicily and Rome by Rachel Roddy, Headline Home, 2017.)

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For many years we didn’t buy Polpo by Russell Norman. It has a fancy binding and was always wrapped in plastic in the bookshop, so there was no way to have a flick. We can’t remember now what made us take the plunge, but we’re so glad we did. We’ve cooked many of the recipes and recently took this book off the shelf again and cooked a few more, finishing with this steak dish. You probably don’t need Italian roast potatoes with rosemary as a side but we couldn’t resist.

Wine Suggestion: A kind birthday gift from our friends Nicola and Dave was a wine we knew nothing about, the Iuli Umberta and opening it to try with this dish was a revelation. From the Monferrato hills east of Turin, this Barbera is so full of energy and layered with subtle flavours and gentle spice; so easy and refreshing.

Flank steak with portobello mushrooms – serves 4

  • 800g flank steak, about 5cm thick
  • 4 handfuls of rocket leaves
  • 8 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped

Season the meat with plenty of salt and pepper.

We cooked ours on a hot barbecue but if you prefer you can oil a griddle pan and heat until hot, then grill the steak on both sides. 10-12 minutes in total should give you a medium-cooked steak. Leave it to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, dress the rocket leaves in some good olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide the rocket between the serving plates or you can put it onto one large platter.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan with the garlic and most of the parsley. Add the mushrooms and fry until soft and glossy, then set aside. We like to season these a little too.

When the meat has rested, sliced it thinly. Lay the steak on top of the rocket, then scatter with the mushrooms and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and the rest of the parsley.

(Original recipe from Polpo by Russell Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

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We often end up with all sorts of odds and ends after cooking at the weekend. So a regular Monday night dinner for us is lots of veggie side dishes, all served together. It’s a bit like a roast dinner but you really don’t need the meat and you get to try lots of new dishes too. We served these with Cooleeney & tarragon cauliflower cheese, roasted parsnips and steamed sprouts. Don’t worry to much about the herbs, just use what you have, parsley on it’s own would be fine.

Sautéed potatoes with bacon lardons & persillade – serves 6 (easily halved)

  • 1kg potatoes, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 300g smoked bacon lardons (we used pancetta)
  • 25g unsalted butter

FOR THE PERSILLADE:

  • small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2tsp chopped chervil
  • 1 tarragon sprig, leaves chopped
  • 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Put the potatoes into a large saucepan, just cover with boiling water, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and leave to steam dry.

Mix all of the persillade ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the bacon or pancetta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly caramelised. Add the potatoes, then the butter.

Season with salt and black pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden brown all over. Stir in the persillade, then serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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A truly delicious veggie main. Perhaps best made by someone else if you would prefer not to see the amount of cream and butter involved. It’s cold outside, and we really didn’t feel like a salad tonight.

Wine Suggestion: A homely, oaked chardonnay is our choice. In our rack both the Rustenberg from Stellenbosch and the Domaine Ventenac in Cabardes are vying for attention. The latter won out tonight, but it could have gone either way. Nice to have choice.

Potato, leek & blue cheese pie – serves 6

FOR THE POTATO TOP:

  • 1kg large potatoes, peeled (use a variety good for mashing)
  • 175ml full-cream milk
  • 100g unsalted butter

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 4 leeks, sliced into 3cm rounds
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 50g plain flour
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 180ml double cream
  • 150 frozen peas
  • 100g blue cheese, crumbled into small chunks
  • a small handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

Start with the topping. Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces, not too small. Put into a large saucepan and just cover with cold water, season with salt. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes, then return to the warm saucepan and leave to steam for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the milk and butter together in a small pan until the butter has melted.

Start mashing the potatoes, then gradually add the hot milk and butter mixture. Keep mashing until well combined and smooth. It will seem like you have too much milk and butter but keep going. Season well with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Next make the filling. Put a large pan over a medium heat. Add the leeks, half the thyme leaves, 25g of the butter and the garlic. Add 100ml of water, season with salt and pepper, then cover with a lid and steam until just tender, about 8 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400 F/Gas 6.

Put a colander over a bowl, then drain the leeks in the colander and reserve the cooking liquid.

Rinse the pan and return it to a medium heat. Add the rest of the butter and when melted, stir in the flour and cook for a minute over a low heat. Add the leek and cooking liquid, plus the milk and double cream. Whisk the sauce well until it is thick and creamy, it’s ready when small bubbles are just starting to break on the surface.

Stir in the peas, leeks and half the blue cheese. Add the parsley and lots of salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into a dish and level it out. Heap the mash on top but don’t worry about being too neat. Dot the remaining cheese over the top, then sprinkle with the rest of the thyme leaves. Season the top with salt and pepper, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from Root Stem Leaf Flower by Gill Meller, Hardie Grant, Quadrille, 2020.)

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Leeks usually end up in a soup or supporting other ingredients in a pie or something, but they are the star of the show in this veggie main course dish by Gill Meller. Here they are cooked in olive oil with orzo pasta, lemon, rosemary, parsley and cheese and it is most certainly a “leek dish”. By all means serve as a side dish too if you like. 

Wine Suggestion: We chose a wine to lift the winter mood; with friendly fruit, a nutty and stony twist and hints of sunshine – the La Sonrisa de Tares. A Godello from Bierzo which brought a smile to our faces.

Leeks with Orzo, Lemon & Herbs – serves 4

  • 200ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 leeks, sliced into 1cm rounds
  • 250g orzo pasta
  • 100g pecorino (we used Parmesan), finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 125g mozzarella cheese

Heat the oven to 190C/170 fan/375 F/Gas 5.

Put a large, wide, heavy-based casserole over a low heat. Add the olive oil and when it has warmed, add the garlic and rosemary. Allow the garlic to sizzle for a minute or so, then add the leeks, orzo, half of the grated pecorino, the chopped parsley and the lemon zest. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir gently but try not to break the leeks up too much.

Pour over the vegetable stock, then stir again and use a wooden spoon to push the leeks down into the stock. Tear over the mozzarella cheese and scatter over the remaining pecorino. Season the top with some flaky salt and extra black pepper, then bake for 35-45 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed and the top is golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving with a bit more pecorino if you like.

(Original recipe from Root Stem Leaf Flower by Gill Meller, Hardie Grant: Quadrille, 2020.)

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If you like ham and parsley sauce, you will love this! May come in handy in a few weeks time.

Smoked ham, cheese & parsley toasts – serves 6

  • 30g butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • 225ml full-fat milk
  • 50g Cheddar cheese, grated, plus extra for grilling
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a small bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 thick slices of good-quality bread, buttered on both sides
  • 6 large slices of smoked ham (or regular ham if you like)

Heat the grill to medium.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, when it bubbles, add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for a minute or two , then gradually add the milk, stirring continually. Keep stirring until all the milk has been added, the sauce comes to the boil and starts to thicken. Add the cheese, mustard, chives and parsley. Stir for a few minutes, until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, then season well and set aside.

Lightly toast the buttered bread on both sides and then put under the grill. When lightly toasted on both sides divide the ham between the toasts, then spoon over the thick sauce and scatter with a handful of finely grated cheese. Return to the grill and cook until the sauce is bubbling and turning golden. Serve on hot plates.

(Original recipe from Time by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2018.)

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Green Hummus

Really fresh and tasty. A lovely recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour (our new favourite thing!). We served with toasted pittas. Leftovers great for lunch the next day.

Green hummus – serves 6 to 8

  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and reserve ¾ of the brine from 1 of the tins
  • juice of ½ a lemon, you might need a bit more
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 30g of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 30g of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 15g of tarragon, leaves picked, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • warm pitta bread, to serve

Put the chickpeas, reserved brine, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, coriander, tarragon, tahini, some sea salt and black pepper, in a food processor and whizz until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, you might like to add more lemon juice. Serve in a bowl garnished with the nigella seeds and with some of your best olive oil drizzled over.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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Chorizo, Orzo & Sweetcorn Stew

A colourful dish for midweek, just as flavoursome as the colours suggest.

Chorizo, orzo & sweetcorn stew – serves 2

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a bunch of scallions, sliced, keep the green and white parts separated
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 50g chorizo, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 75g orzo
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 200g tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 350ml chicken or veg stock
  • ½ small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the white parts of the scallions with the peppers and chorizo for about 8 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and the chorizo taking on some colour.

Stir in the garlic, orzo, paprika, sweetcorn and tomato and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring, until the orzo is tender.

Stir in the parsley, the green scallions and the lemon zest and juice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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