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Posts Tagged ‘Pine nuts’

We are cooking our way through Persian Everyday by Sabrina Ghayour. We struggle like everyone to eat well on busy days but this book is perfect for just that.

Wine Suggestion: White, lemony and medium bodied. Maybe a youthful Verdicchio, or our current fave, Zuani’s Ribolla Gialla Sodevo, from Collio in North East Italy. A grape that was so higly regarded by the Romans they implemented laws to protect it from adulteration … possibly the world’s first appellation laws …we’ll need to investigate further.

Pasta with sage butter, feta & pine nuts – serves 2

  • 200g pasta shells
  • 75g butter
  • 20 sage leaves
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 2 pinches of pul biber chilli flakes

Cook the pasta in lots of very salty water according to the timings on the packet.

When the pasta is almost cooked, put a large frying pan over a gentle heat. Add the butter and sage and allow the butter to melt gently but don’t let it sizzle much. Keep stirring so the sage flavours the butter.

Roughly drain the pasta (you want a little bit of water still on the pasta) and add to the pan with the butter and sage. Turn up the heat and season very generousy with black pepper and a little sea salt. Add the pine nuts and toss everything together, then add the feta and stir until melting and starting to coat the pasta.

Serve spinkled with extra black pepper and a pinch of pul biber.

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

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This is a totally different barbecue recipe from Geniveive Taylor’s fantastic new barbecue book – Seared. The buttermilk makes the chicken super tender, so it’s worth marinating it the day before if you can.

Wine Suggestion: A round, fresh white was in order here with a bit of body to stand up to the barbecued flavours, so we chose an oaked Rioja for something a bit different. A bargain in any language, the Urbina Blanco Crianza 2014, yes that is correct … 8 years old, is released when ready and despite its age is fresh and vibrant, with layers of tertiary development, butter, toast and nuttiness alongside the melon, cirtus and jasmine flavours. It reminded us of a complex white Burgundy.

Barbecued buttermilk chicken, charred broccoli, mozzarella, tomato, basil & pine nuts – serves 4-6

  • 800g chicken thigh fillets
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • 250g cherry vine tomatoes
  • a big bunch of basil, roughly chopped
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 250g mozzarella, torn

Slash the chicken thighs with a sharp knife taking care not to cut the whole way through. Place in a shallow dish in a single layer.

Mix the buttermilk, garlic, mustard and sugar together with plenty of salt and black pepper. Pour over the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Light your barbecue for direct and indirect cooking (half with coals and half without).

While the barbecue is getting hot, blanch the broccoli in lots of boiling salty water for a couple of minutes. Drain well and toss with the olive oil and some seasoning. Set aside.

Cook the chicken thighs over indirect heat for about 30 minutes or until they reach 60-65C inside, turning regularly. Move them a little closer to the fire and keep cooking until they reach 74C.

When the chicken is almost cooked, grill the tomatoes and the broccoli for about 10 minutes over the fire, turning until nicely charred on all sides.

Transfer the chicken, broccoli and tomatoes to a heavy roasting tin. Add the basil and gently toss to mix. Sprinkle over the Parmesan, breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Top with mozzarella adn drizzle over a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. Set the tin directly over the fire for 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

Serve with crusty bread or some baby roasted potatoes.

(Original recipe from Seared by Genevieve Taylor, Quadrille, 2022.)

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A nice pasta with unusual flavours. Use good-quality Italian sausages for this if you can find them.

Wine Suggestion: As this dish is full-flavoured we’d suggest a full flavoured white like Cline Cellars Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, which has a wonderful Californian ripeness combined with a core of fresh minerality and zing from the cooling breezes and fog coming through the Petaluma Gap each day. The subtle oak gives a lovely texture which helps matching this dish too.

Pasta with fennel, sausage and courgette – serves 4

  • 3 good-quality pork sausages (we like Italian sausages)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ small fennel bulb, trim off any green bits and chop finey, reserve any fronds to garnish
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 big cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g rigatoni pasta
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 100g mascarpone
  • 1 medium-large courgete, grated
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • grated Parmesan (to serve)

Take the skins off the sausages and crumble them into small chunks. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the sausages until browned and crispy, breaking the lumps up with a wooden spoon. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the fennel, onion and garlic to the sausage fat in the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. You can add a splash of water if it starts to stick.

Bring a large pan of salty water to the boil, add the pasta and cook according to the timings on the pack. Drain but reserve a mugful of the cooking water.

Return the frying pan to the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, grated courgette and a splash of pasta cooking water. Bubble for 2 minutes, then stir in the cooked pasta and sausages. Season, then serve garnished with fennel fronds, pine nuts and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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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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Today was a sunny Sunday so we grilled aubergine slices on the barbecue, made this delicious veggie bake, and ate it outside. Happy days! Serve with garlic or crusty bread and salad.

Wine Suggestion: We think youthful, fruity reds are a joy with this dish and can’t pass up a chance to open a good Beaujolais. For this dish Domaine Rochette’s Régnié, a cru that is often overlooked and unfairly so. Bright and almost crunchy fruit that shouts just as much of sunshine as the Parmigiana.

Melanzane Parmigiana – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing over the aubergines
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 8 large sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp golden caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • 6 large aubergines, sliced very thinly, lengthways
  • 100g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 85g white breadcrumbs
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 2 x 125g mozzarella balls, torn into small pieces
  • a handful of basil leaves

Get the sauce on first. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or a wide saucepan, then add the garlic, thyme and sage and cook for a few minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, and simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, light your barbecue – a gas barbecue is particularly good for this as it’s easier to control the heat, you don’t want the aubergine to char before it’s softened. If you don’t have a barbecue (or if it’s not barbecuing weather) you can use a griddle pan instead.

Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, then barbecue in batches until softened and lightly charred.

Mix 25g of the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts, and set aside.

Spread a little of the tomato sauce over the base of a large baking tray or lasagne dish. Top with a layer of aubergine slices, then season well. Spoon over some more sauce, then scatter over some mozzarella, Parmesan and bssil leaves.

Repeat the layers and finish with a layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle over the cheesey breadcrumbs. You can bake the dish now or stick it in the fridge for up to 24 hours and bake when you’re ready.

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

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden and the tomato sauce bubbling. Rest for 10 minutes, then serve with salad and bread.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food).

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This takes a long time so the trick is to poach the chicken the day beforehand and store the torn chicken and stock separately in the fridge. Everything else is fairly easy to put together on the day. A feast!

Celebration Rice – serves 8

  • 1 small chicken, about 1.4kg
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 bulb of garlic, skin on and halved widthways
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 5g parsley leaves, roughly chopped

FOR THE RICE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300g lamb mince
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 400g basmati rice, washed, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour and then drained

FOR THE GARLIC YOGHURT:

  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 2 clove of garlic, crushed

FOR THE GARNISH:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 30g blanched almonds
  • 30g pine nuts
  • ¾ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes or ½ tsp regular chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Put the chicken into a large saucepan with the cinnamon sticks, onion, garlic, 2 litres of water and 2 tsp of salt. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 70 minutes, or until cooked through. Lift the chicken out and tear into large bite-size chunks when cool enough to handle. Put the chicken into a bowl with the ground cumin and cinnamon and set aside. Strain the stock through a sieve and discard the solids. Measure out 850ml of the stock and keep warm (keep the rest for something else). If you are doing this part a day ahead you will need to reheat the stock and put the spices on the chicken when ready to cook.

For the rice, put the oil and half the butter into a large saucepan, and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 7 minutes, stirring, until lightly golden. Add the lamb, garlic and spices and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until the lamb has lost its pinkness. Add the rice, 700ml of the warm stock, 1 ¾ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to sit, covered, for another 15 minutes. Add the remaining butter and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the yoghurt sauce by whisking the yoghurt, garlic, ¾ tsp of salt and the remaining 150ml of warm stock in a medium bowl.

Put 2 tbsp of oil in to a large sauté pan on a medim-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minute, to warm through. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley, then set aside.

Make the garnish by putting the butter into a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until lightly coloured. Add the pine nuts and cook for another 2 minutes, until golden. Remove from the heat and add the chilli flakes.

Spread the rice over a large serving platter. Top with the chicken, then pour over half the garlic yoghurt. Finish with the nuts and butter, followed by the parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds. Serve the rest of the yoghurt alongside.

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

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

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

Lasagne with pesto – serves 6 to 8

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

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

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

FOR THE PESTO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We came across this Joe Trivelli recipe at the weekend when trying to find a lunch dish that would use up half a tub of ricotta. It’s definitely worth buying a tub of ricotta for too.

Wine Suggestion: This dish needs a wine that has a bit of acidity and freshness, so taking inspiration from the grated Pecorino on top we went for the similarly named Pecorino grape from the Marche. The crunchy, characterful Vellodoro Pecorino from Umani Ronchi well met the mark and reminded us of summer too, which was a bonus.

Pasta with pine nuts and ricotta – serves 4

  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 300g tomatoes, peeled and chopped (Joe recommends yellow tomatoes but we had red)
  • 3 sprigs of basil
  • 400g short pasta, we used fusilli
  • 200g ricotta
  • 50g grated pecorino
  • extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic into a wide pan with 3 tablespoons of oil and place over a medium heat. When the garlic starts to turn golden, add the chilli. Turn the heat down low, remove the garlic and add the pine nuts. Allow them to colour but watch carefully or they could burn.

Add the tomatoes and basil sprigs and season. When the sauce starts to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in lots of boiling salty water until al dente. Scoop out a mug of cooking water before draining.

Toss the pasta with the tomatoes and pine nuts, then add the ricotta, half the pecornio and a few spoons of cooking water. Keep turning the pasta over until you have a nice consistency, adding more water if it looks dry. Serve in warm bowls with the rest of the cheese and a drizzle of your best olive oil.

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

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Given it’s sharp-sour character it can sometimes be tricky to think of what to do with sorrel – so this is a quick and easy recipe for sorrel butter. Delicious with pasta or on fish or chicken. You can make the butter and stash it in the freezer if you happen to have some leftover sorrel from another dish.

Wine Suggestion: This works really well with the Gulfi Valcanzjria. A blend of Chardonnay and Carricante from the slopes of Mt Etna, this fresh and Spring-like as well as having the stuffing to work with the sharp/sour sorrel.

Tagliatelle with sorrel butter & pine nuts – serves 4

  • 2 large handfuls of sorrel leaves, remove the stalks and roughly chop
  • 100g butter, softened
  • ½ a lemon, juiced
  • 300g tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
  • 75g toasted pine nuts, to serve
  • Parmesan, shaved or grated to serve

Tip the sorrel into a food processor with the butter and lemon juice, then whizz to a paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Scrape the butter out onto a piece of cling film then roll into a log and chill in the fridge. It will be fine there for a few days or you can freeze for a month.

Cook the pasta in very salty water until al dente.

Meanwhile, melt the sorrel butter in a large frying pan. Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta from the cooking water into the frying pan with the butter. Toss the pasta in the butter, then add most of the pine nuts and mix well.

Divide the buttery pasta and pine nuts between warm bowls and scatter with Parmesan and extra pine nuts to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Oregano pesto

Our Oregano plants have gone mad, so we thought it a shame not to use them more. Taking inspiration from the Classic Basil Pesto and with a little adjustment this is of course good on pasta. It also really comes into it’s own on top of roast chicken: simply roast some chicken thighs and drumsticks and top with this when cooked.

Oregano Pesto – enough to serve 2 with pasta

  • 25g pine nuts
  • 25g oregano leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 15g Parmesan

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

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

 

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Classic Basil Pesto

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

Pesto – enough to serve 4 with pasta

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

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

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

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

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We’re back from our holidays and sadly no longer living on a diet of bread, cheese & wine (bread, cheese & ice cream for Orlaith – age 5). This is a nice simple pasta dish for a Friday night.

Wine Suggestion: our choice is a fresh Chenin blanc, the Chateau Hureau Argile which has a crisp freshness as well as great depth matching the creamy chicken.

Chicken, Rocket & Pine Nut Pasta – serves 4 to 6

  • 450g penne pasta
  • 6 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 large chicken breast fillets, sliced into thin strips
  • 4 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 100g rocket or watercress, remove any tough stalks
  • Parmesan shavings, to serve

Cook the pasta in lots of boiling salty water until al dente.

Heat a frying pan and lightly toast the pine nuts, then set aside.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and sauté the onion, garlic & thyme for a few minutes, then tip into a bowl and set aside.

Add another tbsp of oil to the pan and cook the chicken strips for 2-3 minutes and season lightly, then turn and cook for another few minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Return the onion mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the crème fraíche and mustard, then bring to a gentle simmer but don’t let it boil.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan, then pour in the creamy chicken and add the rocket or watercress. Toss lightly to combine and season.

Divide between warm bowls and garnish with the toasted pine nuts and some Parmesan shavings.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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Spaghetti with Ricotta & Toasted Pine Nuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Italian seared beef

So this is a bit of a treat and yet has very few ingredients and takes very little time to prepare. Hail to that.

Wine Suggestion: fresher and bit more rustic than Bordeaux is Bergerac, into the Dordogne River to the east. The best vineyards are in the Pecharmant AC and have Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot as the dominant varieties. We found some unoaked wines on our last trip from Domaine des Costes, Cuvée Tradition which, while simple, had a joy and juiciness that perfectly complemented the beef, pesto and rocket.

Italian Seared Beef – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 250g rump steak
  • 2 heaped teaspoons pesto
  • 40g rocket
  • 15g Parmesan cheese

Put a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Cut the fat of the steak, finely chop the fat and put into the hot pan to crisp up. Cut the sinew off the rump and season with salt and black pepper. Put the steak between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin until it is an even thickness of about 1 cm. Scoop out the crispy fat and set aside, then sear the steak in the hot pan for 1 minute per side or until golden but still pink in the middle (as per photo). Remove the steak to a board to rest.

Spread the pesto over a serving plate. Thinly slice the steak at an angle and scatter over the plate. Pile the rocket on top, then scatter over the pine nuts and crispy fat (you don’t have to eat the fat if you would rather not –  we’ll have it!). Mix the resting juices with a tbsp of good olive oil and drizzle over. Shave the Parmesan over to serve.

(Original recipe from 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2017.)

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Golden Couscous

Plain buttered couscous is perfect with tagine and middle eastern stews. Occasionally though it’s nice to add a few extras to make it taste a bit special.

Golden Couscous – serves 3 to 4 as a side (easy to double)

  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 150g couscous
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 175ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 75g pine nuts, toasted

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then tip in the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes or until softened and golden. Stir in the turmeric, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the couscous into a bowl and rub in the olive oil with your fingertips.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then pour over the couscous, cover with clingfilm and allow to steam for 5-6 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed.

Stir in the onions, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts and season to taste.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, HarperCollins, 2013.)

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Pears poached in bay and balsamic

The classic combination of sweet pears and salty ham. This makes a nice winter starter for entertaining guests and you can poach the pears in advance so there’s not too much to do when they arrive.

Wine Suggestion: with the combination of fruity/sweet pear and the salty ham this choice wasn’t immediately obvious, but an inspired guess lead us to Sparkling Moscato. We had a bottle of the Quady Electra, a Moscato from California that danced with this dish but you may find it easier to get a Moscato d’Asti (the most famous region for this style) or a local equivalent. The Moscato is low alcohol, and refreshingly fruity so perfect to start off a lengthy meal.

Pears poached in bay & balsamic with serrano ham – serves 4 as a starter

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 80ml balsamic vinegar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 pears
  • 4 large slices of Serrano ham
  • 2 large handfuls of salad leaves
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Put 600ml of water into a saucepan over a medium heat with the sugar, vinegar and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the sugar has dissolved.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan but keep a careful eye on them as they turn from golden to blackened in the blink of an eye.

Peel the pears and try to leave the stalks intact. Trim the bases a little so they stand up nicely. Add the pears to the liquid and simmer until tender, turning them over in the liquid now and then. This can take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes (depending on the size and ripeness of your pears) so you will need to keep a watchful eye. Remove from the liquid and allow to cool, then wrap each one in a slice of ham.

Season the liquid with salt and plenty of black pepper, then boil until it becomes a thick syrup.

Arrange the salad leaves on 4 serving plates. Put a pear on top of each and scatter over the toasted pine nuts. Mix the balsamic syrup with the tablespoon of olive oil and drizzle over the top.

(Original recipe from Herbs by Judith Hann, Watkins Media Ltd., 2017.)

 

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Roasted broccoli

Roasted broccoli is a bit different and retains a satisfying crunch. Careful not to over-roast the pine nuts!

Roasted broccoli – serves 4 as a side dish

  • 200g broccoli, cut into florets including the stalk
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 25g pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 240C/Gas 9.

Put the broccoli in a bowl and toss with the garlic and olive oil, then season well with salt and black pepper.

Tip into a roasting tin and put into the oven. After 10 minutes sprinkle over the pine nuts and cook for another 5 minutes or until the broccoli is starting to soften and the pine nuts are golden.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, HarperCollins, 2013.)

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Piquillo pepper crostini

These are very simple to assemble and make delicious canapés. We highly recommend that you seek out Spanish canned piquillo peppers, they have much more flavour than regular jarred roasted peppers. They will cost you a bit more but we reckon it’s worth it in this instance.

Bayonne ham with pine nuts and piquillo peppers – makes 10

  • 50g pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 slices of baguette
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 10 canned piquillo peppers
  • 5 thin slices of Bayonne (or other dry-cured ham), halved

Dry fry the pine nuts in a small frying pan , stirring often, for about 2 minutes or until golden, then transfer to a plate.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the slices of baguette, in batches, and fry on both sides until golden. Sprinkle with half the coriander leaves.

Stuff the piquillo peppers with the pine nuts and the remaining coriander.

Put a piquillo pepper onto each slice of fried bread, cover with half a slice of ham and sprinkle with the remaining coriander.

(Original recipe from Pork & Sons by Stéphane Reynaud, Phaidon, 2007.)

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Pork with lemon and pinenuts

This was easy to whip up and a really tasty midweek meal.

Wine Suggestion: We’d suggest a crisp light white wine to go with this dish and thought the Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand worked exceptionally well. The Dog Point has a  great depth of flavour while maintaining a real elegance and layers of fine minerality, unlike quite a few other wines from this region which we find unsubtle so we highly suggest seeking out a good example. Other wines that would work would be good Sancerre or Cheverny blanc from the Loire.

Pork with Pine Nuts, Parsley & Lemon – serves 4

  • 500g pork fillet
  • large handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • seasoned flour
  • 25g pine nuts
  • grated zest of ½ lemon and juice of a whole lemon
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

Cut the pork into 2cm thick slices. Toss in seasoned flour to coat very lightly and shake of the excess.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the pork in a single layer for a few minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the pine nuts until lightly browned. Stir in the lemon zest, juice and honey. Bubble and stir briefly to make a sauce.

Return the pork to the pan and add the parsley. Continue to cook for another few minutes to heat through.

Serve with buttered papperdelle or tagliatelle.

(Original recipe by Mary Cadogan in BBC Good Food Magazine, April 2001.)

 

 

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Our kitchen window was bursting with basil plants and sort of like “the Day of the Triffids” as they were out of control and growing like mad despite the neglect after being away for a week. So if like us you have some basil on your windowsill then make pesto – those leaves aren’t going to last forever! This makes about 250ml and will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. You can expect some pesto recipes from us to follow.

Pesto – about 250ml

  • 50g pine nuts
  • large bunch basil
  • 50g parmesan
  • 150ml olive oil, plus a bit extra for storing
  • 2 garlic cloves
Heat a small frying pan over a low heat. Cook the pine nuts until golden, shaking the pan. Keep an eye on them as they burn easily and very quickly.Put the toasted pine nuts into a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth, then taste and season.

Pour into a jar and cover with a little bit of extra oil and store in the fridge. Keeps for around 2 weeks – ready for instant dinners like the one below.

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