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Posts Tagged ‘Spinach’

We adore spinach and dishes that are full of it, like this spinach, tomato & chickpea curry. Great served with rice or naan breads and some yoghurt. Couldn’t be easier!

Wine Suggestion: A dish like this loves medium weight Grenache based wines like Roc des Anges, l’Effet de Papillon rouge. A velvety, juicy, damson and raspberry flavoured glass with hints of spice.

Chana Saag – Spinach, tomato & chickpea curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500g baby spinach, washed

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir for a minute, then add the chopped onions.

Fry for 10 to 12 minutes or until starting to caramelise, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, crushing them with you hand as they go in. Fill the tin a third full with water and add to the pan.

Cook for 10 minutes or until quite dry and paste-like, then add the chickpeas. Warm through for a few minutes, then add the coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Stir well to combine, then add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until the spinach is cooked. Serve with naan bread or basmati rice and some yoghurt.

(Original recipe from Fresh India by Meeera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2016.)

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This is a delicious Persian accompaniment that goes with almost anything. We know that as we initially served it as a starter with pitta breads, then proceeded to have it on the side with the main course, and for lunch the following day with something else. It’s hard to describe how good it is. 

Spinach & yoghurt with walnuts – Maast-o-esfenaj – serves 6 to 8

  • 250g spinach leaves (cut off any chunky stalks)
  • 500g thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 big handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp sumac, plus a bit extra to garnish
  • best olive oil, for drizzling
  • flatbread, to serve

Simmer the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Drain and immediately transfer to a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. When cooled, drain well and chop finely. 

Put the spinach into a large bowl with the yoghurt, garlic and walnuts (keep a few for decorating), sumac, a small drizzle of olive oil and plenty of sea salt and black pepper. Mix well. 

Serve the mixture on a flat plate, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle over some extra sumac and the reserved walnuts. 

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

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Cheesy Ham Hock, Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne

This is a nice crowd pleaser and kept us entertained for a while on a miserable day in Dublin. You can buy shredded ham hock in supermarkets now which makes this a great prep-ahead lunch for friends.

Wine Suggestion: Tonights choice to match the dish was provided by a friend, the Chateau La Bienveillance Sémillon 2019, a delightful and easy white which had a little texture and freshness to balance the cheese, plus a little earthiness which went well with spinach. If you can’t find Semillon then Chenin Blanc will work as well.

Cheesy ham hock, spinach & ricotta lasagne – serves 6

  • 70g butter
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 80g grated Parmesan or Gruyère (we had both in the fridge so used a mixture)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 600g spinach (the big-leafed stuff works best here)
  • 250g ricotta
  • a grating of nutmeg
  • 300g shredded ham hock (if you can’t find ham hock you can use shred thick-cut ham)
  • 12 dried lasagne sheets
  • 50g grated mozzarella

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk (you can use a whisk if you want but I prefer to use a wooden spoon). Add the bay leaf then put back over the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened. Take off the heat again and stir in 50g of the Parmesan/Gruyère, the mustard and the cayenne pepper. Season.

Put the spinach into a large pan with a small amount of boiling water, about 100ml. Cover with a lid and simmer for a few minutes until wilted, careful it doesn’t boil dry. Drain in a colander, then leave to cool. When cool enough to handle put the spinach into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the water. Tip the spinach into a food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add the ricotta and pulse again to combine. Grate in a little nutmeg and season.

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

Spoon a layer of the cheese sauce into the bottom of a lasagne dish (roughly 24x28cm). Remove the bay leaf when you come across it. Top with a third of the spinach and ricotta mixture, then a third of the ham hock. Cover with a single layer of lasagne sheets, snapping them to make them fit if necessary. Repeat the layers with the rest of the ingredients and finish with a layer of lasagne sheets and cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan/Gruyère and the grated mozzarella. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until browned and bubbling (keep an eye on it and if it is browning too much you can cover with foil).

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spicy Asparagus & Chorizo Baked Egg

We had this for breakfast on Easter Sunday but you could also have it for a handy lunch or dinner.

Spicy asparagus & chorizo baked egg – serves 2

  • 250g asparagus, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 40g diced chorizo
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 150g frozen spinach
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 2 large eggs
  • flatbreads or toast, to serve

Heat a medium frying pan over a medium heat, add the asparagus and chorizo and cook for about 8 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook for a further minute.

Add the frozen spinach and cook for about 5 minutes or until it has completely wilted. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper.

Make two space in the mixture for the eggs and gently slide them in. We find it easier to break them into mugs first. Cover the pan with a lid and leave for 5 minutes or until just set.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Smoked Haddock & Hollandaise Bake with Dill & Caper Fried Potatoes

We love hollandaise but very rarely make it. This is going to change now we know how to do this cheat’s version. It can be adapted very easily for Béarnaise sauce for steak by adding some fresh tarragon. It’s a revelation!

Wine Suggestion: matching milder haddock and the creamy hollandaise requires a delicate touch and we’d suggest a white with a touch of oak, but not too much. The easiest choice is a Chardonnay which we duly went for; a Château de Beauregard Saint-Véran. Medium bodied, this is made partially in stainless steel and the other half in oak and has a lovely apple, citrus and brioche flavour and a mineral freshness to balance.

Smoked haddock & hollandaise bake with dill & caper fried potatoes – serves 2

  • 150g baby spinach
  • 2 x 140g smoked haddock fillets (boycott the artificially dyed orange stuff)

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 100ml double cream, plus a bit extra in case you need to rescue the hollandaise
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar

FOR THE POTATOES:

  • 500g floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3cm chunks
  • knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus a bit extra
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • small handful of dill, leaves picked
  • 1 lemon, zested, then cut into wedges to serve

Put the potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then season with salt, cover with a lid, and simmer for 7-8 minutes or until tender but not falling apart. Drain and leave in the pot to steam dry.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a frying pan. Add the shallots and fry for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the potatoes and fry for 15 minutes or until crusty and browned.

To make the hollandaise you need to put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk in the cornflour until smooth. Add the cream and the vinegar, and season well. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and cook over a very low heat, whisking continuously, until it resembles a hollandaise sauce (like thin custard). If the sauce looks like it’s going to split or it’s getting too hot, just add another splash of cream and keep whisking. Check the seasoning and add a bit more salt or vinegar if needed.

Heat the grill to medium-high.

Heat a splash of oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted, season with salt and black pepper. Turn the heat off and spread the spinach across the base of the frying pan. Lay the haddock fillets on top of the spinach, then pour over the hollandaise sauce. Put the pan under the grill for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked (it should flake easily) and the sauce is browned.

Toss the capers, dill and lemon zest over the cooked potatoes. Serve the potatoes with the fish and put the lemon wedges on the plates to squeeze over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spinach Rarebit with Poached Eggs

We sporadically try and make an effort with breakfast on the weekends though more often than not we fall back to poached eggs on toast – not that there is anything wrong with that. This rarebit was nice for a change and we’ll definitely be skipping lunch!

Spinach rarebit with poached eggs – serves 2

  • 100g baby spinach
  • 125g mature cheddar, grated
  • ½ english mustard – we used Dijon
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg yolk, plus 2 eggs for poaching
  • 4 small slices of sourdough
  • rocket dressed with lemon juice to serve

Put the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water, then leave to cool. Squeeze out as much water as you can then chop.

Put the cheddar, mustard, scallions, worcestershire sauce, egg yolk and spinach in a bowl, season and stir to combine.

Poach the eggs in a small pan of simmering water.

Heat the grill to high. Toast the bread on both sides then spread the rarebit mixture over the slices. Grill until golden and bubbling, then top with an egg, plenty of black pepper and some dressed rocket on the side.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, December 2019)

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Chicken & Ham Lasagne

This is a good crowd pleaser and you can also freeze it so if you are fewer in number make two lasagnes in smaller dishes and save one for later.

Wine Suggestion: Rich and savoury; this goes really well with southern Rhône whites and our favourite, value option is the Chateau Pesquié Terrasses Blanc, a blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Clairette & Grenache Blanc. With floral hints, layers of citrus and a backbone of stonefruit flavours this is round, rich and fresh in equal measures; just what this dish needs.

Chicken & Ham Lasagne – serves 8

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ a medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200ml white wine
  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 500ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 140g sliced smoked ham, cut into strips
  • 200g young spinach leaves
  • no pre-cook dried lasagne sheets
  • 200g ready-grated mozzarella
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated

Put the chicken in a medium saucepan with the onion, bay leaves and wine. Pour over just enough water to cover, about 200ml. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a gentle simmer, then poach gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked. Lift the chicken out onto a board and strain the liquid into a jug.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook for a minute. Gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring well between each addition to keep the sauce smooth. When all the milk has been added, continue with the chicken cooking liquid. When all the liquid is added, continue to cook and stir for a few minutes or until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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

Cut the chicken into small chunks and stir into the sauce. Add the ham and spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted. Spoon a third of the mixture into the bottom of a 3-litre lasagne dish. Top with lasagne sheets, then repeat the layers twice more, ending with lasagne. Scatter over the mozzarella and Parmesan and season with black pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the lasagne is soft and the topping well browned.

TO FREEZE: Assemble the dish but don’t bake it. Leave to cool and cover with a double layer of foil, then freeze for up to 2 months.

TO COOK AFTER FREEZING: Remove the foil and cover with cling film. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Remove the cling film, cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10 or until browned and bubbling.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This veggie pasta dish uses shop-bought ravioli and the whole thing cooks in one pan in the oven. Couldn’t be simpler and really tasty on a night when time is short (which is every night for us at the minute).

Wine Suggestion: a lemony, fresh white like the Umani Ronchi Ca’Sal di Serra Verdicchio which is crisp and pure with lovely vibrant fruit. It tastes of summer which we’ve had a reprise of these last few days.

Creamy Lemon & Spinach Ravioli – serves 2

  • 250g pack spinach & ricotta ravioli (or another flavour if you prefer)
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100g baby spinach, chopped
  • 200ml hot vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp soft cheese, we used Philadelphia
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 50g Parmesan, grated

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

Spread the ravioli over a baking dish and scatter over the peas and spinach.

Whisk the hot stock, soft cheese, lemon zest and juice and half the Parmesan together in a jug. Season well, then pour over the ravioli. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil, scatter over the rest of the cheese, then bake for another 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, September 2019)

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Spinach & Gorgonzola-stuffed Jacket Potatoes

These would make a great side for a barbecue or you can have them on their own with some salad. Seriously good spuds.

Wine Suggestion: the Sartarelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Tralivio was our choice and it combines freshness, texture and a great balance between full-body and an easy vibrancy.

Spinach and Gorgonzola-stuffed jacket potatoes – serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 2 large baking potatoes (about 700g)
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • 60g Gorgonzola
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 20g walnut halves, lightly toasted and broken into 1cm pieces

Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.

Prick the potatoes with a fork and put onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for an hour (or until completely soft). Slice the cooked potatoes in half, lengthways, and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Set the skins back onto the tray. Roughly mash the potatoes with 20g of the butter, the cream, Gorgonzola, ½ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper.

Divide the remaining 5g of butter between the potato skins. Sprinkle generously with salt and put back in the oven for 8 minutes, until crispy.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil, then add the spinach and wilt for just 10 to 15 seconds before draining. Squeeze as much water as possible out of the spinach, then stir into the potato mixture. Check the seasoning then pile the mixture into the potato skins. Bake for 15 minutes until crisp and browned. Sprinkle with the walnuts and serve.

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

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Spinach with Sumac

This simple Syrian side dish has fantastic flavour. We ate it with some spiced fish but it would complement many things. Also great on its own with some plain yoghurt and flatbreads.

Spinach with Sumac (Spanekh wa Sumac) – serves 4

  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • oil, for frying
  • 350g baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • a squeeze of lemon

Fry the onion over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes or until softened and almost caramelised. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the sumac, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

(Original recipe from Syria: Recipes from Home by Itab Azzam & Dina Mousawi, Trapeze 2017.)

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Aash-e reshte

This soup, from Yasmin Khan’s Saffron Tales, is delicious and also very filling – perfect for lunch on a cold day and a lesson in how to use dried herbs.

Aash-e reshte – serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 150g green lentils, rinsed
  • ½ tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp dried coriander
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
  • 500ml water
  • 1 litre good chicken stock or veg stock
  • 100g spaghetti, broken in half
  • 200g spinach, roughly chopped
  • 25g bunch chives, finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the toppings:

  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced into half-moons
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp dried mint

Heat the sunflower oil in a large heavy-based pan with a lid. Add the onion and fry over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. When softened, add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, beans, lentils, turmeric, dried herbs and water. Stir, cover with a lid, and leave to simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally and add another cup of water if it shows signs of sticking.

Add the stock and spaghetti to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the fried onion topping. Dust the sliced onion with the flour and salt. Heat the oil in a frying pan until sizzling, then add the onion and fry over a medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on some kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little more salt.

Add the spinach, chives, lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper to the soup. Leave to simmer for another 10 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve with a spoonful of yoghurt, the crispy onions and a sprinkling of dried mint.

(Original recipe from The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

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Creamed Spinach

This is creamed spinach, not that bizarre idea of serving spinach with runny cream, and it truly is the best accompaniment to a barbecued ribeye steak. Our dinner for two on New Year’s Eve.

Creamed spinach – serves 2

  • 300ml whole milk
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, bashed
  • 2 bay leaves, torn
  • 500g main crop spinach
  • 50g butter, plus a bit extra
  • 40g plain flour
  • nutmeg, for grating
  • a large handful of coarse white breadcrumbs
  • a large handful of finely grated Cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 6.

Pour the milk into a medium-sized saucepan and put over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaves and bring to a gentle simmer. Take the pan off the heat and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, drop the spinach into a large pan of boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, until wilted. Drain and cool until you can squeeze the excess liquid out with your hands. Roughly chop and set aside.

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter. When it starts to bubble, add the flour and cook and stir for 1 minute before pouring in the infused milk (strain it through a sieve first and discard the onion and herbs). Whisk for 1-2 minutes to make a thick white sauce. Season well with salt and pepper and a good grating of nutmeg, then remove from the heat and fold in the chopped spinach. Spoon the mixture into a small ovenproof dish.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese and scatter over the dish. Dot with a little butter and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp, golden and bubbling.

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

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Chickpea and spinach curry

We don’t know about you lot but our bellies are crying out for a rest and we haven’t even got to New Year’s yet. This is a lightweight curry suitable for veggies and vegans (if you don’t serve with yoghurt) and it’s also substantial enough to serve as it is without any rice. The spices are very gentle as confirmed by our 5 year old who has developed a recent aversion to anything ‘too spicy!!’.

Chickpea & spinach curry – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 6cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 2 long green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp natural yoghurt (optional to serve)
  • Sprigs of coriander (to serve)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over a high heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until starting to brown, add a splash of water if they stick.

Add the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and salt and stir for a minute, then add the tomato purée and cook for another minute.

Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and chickpeas, then bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

When ready to serve, stir through the spinach and cook briefly until just wilted.

Divide between bowls (on top of some steamed rice if you like) and top with a spoon of yoghurt and some coriander.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight for Good by Tom Kerridge, Absolute Press, 2017.)

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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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Spinach & Courgette Lasagne

We loved this easy veggie lasagne that celebrates courgettes – one of our favourite summer vegetables. An excellent family dish for mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: We had a Bergerac blanc from Le Tap at hand from our recent holidays. It was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and a touch of Muscadelle and had the right kind of freshness and body.

Spinach & Courgette Lasagne – serves 6

  • 400g spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 100g Parmesan, grated
  • 9 lasagne sheets
  • 100ml double cream
  • 3 large courgettes, sliced lengthways

Put the spinach into a colander and pour over boiling water to wilt it. Leave until cool enough to touch, then squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and soften for a minute. Add the nutmeg and cook for another minute before adding the mascarpone, spinach, half the cream and half the Parmesan. Mix together and season well, then set aside.

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

Spread a third of the filling over the base of a 20 x 30 cm baking dish, cover with 3 lasagne sheets, then add a layer of courgettes. Repeat two more times. Pour the remaining cream over and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the pasta is cooked. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Prawn & Spinach Curry

An easy weeknight curry and perfect for using up that bag of frozen prawns in the freezer. Serve with steamed rice.

Wine Suggestion: As it was a hot night and we needed cooling down, a bottle of beer (Peroni to be precise) from the fridge hit the spot with this. Refreshing and we just like beer with curry.

Prawn & Spinach Curry – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp hot curry paste (we like Patak’s Madras)
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 200g carton creamed coconut
  • 400g raw peeled tiger prawns, defrosted
  • 250g baby spinach leaves
  • large handful of frozen peas
  • bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions for about 5 minutes to soften, then stir in the curry paste and fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes, stock, sugar, and coconut cream, then season. Cook gently for 15 minutes until thickened.

Add the prawns and spinach, then cook for a few minutes. Stir in the peas and heat for another few minutes. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with steamed rice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine, July, 2005)

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Pepper crusted Salmon with garlic chickpeasWe really liked this simple fish dish and the garlic chickpeas are delicious! Nice and easy for a Friday night.

Wine Suggestion: We opened a Muscadet, as it was in the fridge and they typically work with fish and seafood. That said we weren’t sure it would hold up to the stronger salmon, pepper and spices but were refreshingly surprised at how it more than held it’s own.

Pepper-crusted salmon with garlic & chickpeas – serves 4

  • 4 skinless salmon fillets, about 150g
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

FOR THE CHICKPEAS:

  • 2 x 400g tins chickpeas
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 130g bag baby spinach

Heat oven to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas 5.

Put the salmon into a shallow ovenproof dish in a single layer. Roughly crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar, then mix with the paprika, lime zest and some sea salt.

Brush the salmon lightly with oil, then sprinkle over the pepper mix. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked.

Meanwhile, drain the chickpeas and rinse well under cold water, then drain. Heat the oil in a pan, then add the garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes without browning. Add the chickpeas and stock and warm gently. Crush the chickpeas lightly with a potato masher, then add the spinach and stir well until the leaves are wilted. Add the lime juice and some salt and pepper, then heat through before serving with the salmon. Serve a lime wedge on the side if you like.

(Original recipe by Dhruv Baker in BBC Good Food Magazine, December 2008.)

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Plaice with warm tartare butter sauce

We loved this piquant sauce with the delicate fish and served on top of heaps of spinach – delish!

Wine Suggestion: This was a tricky match because of the iron-y spinach, piquant caper/cornichon combo and elegant plaice. We tossed up between light reds and Alsace whites but ended up with the Ch Hureau “Argile” Saumur blanc, a wine that balances both fruit and a textural, challenging stoniness without overwhelming the fish.

Plaice with Tartare Butter Sauce – serves 2

  • 2 large or 4 small plaice fillets
  • 3 tbsp plain flour, well seasoned
  • 200g spinach

TARTARE BUTTER SAUCE:

  • 40g butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 50ml white wine
  • 50ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cornichons
  • 1 tbsp baby capers
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Start by making the sauce. Heat half the butter in a small pan and cook the shallots until softened. Add the wine and stock, and boil until reduced by half. Stir in the cornichons, capers and the rest of the butter, then remove from the heat.

Dust the fish in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Heat a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the fish fillets over a medium heat for about 3 minutes or until a good golden colour underneath. Flip them over and cook for a minute on the other side.

Wilt the spinach with a knob of butter and some seasoning in a small pan.

Reheat the sauce and stir in the parsley. Divide the spinach between warmed plates, top with the fish and spoon over the sauce.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, October 2017.)

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Blue cheese gnocchi

We’ve been seeing more good quality pre-prepared fresh gnocchi around and it’s really handy for a quick dinner. Here’s how to make it tasty with some blue cheese and spinach.

Wine Suggestion: this was a little tricky given blue cheese’s affinity for sweet wine, and we didn’t want this with our meal. A glass of Oloroso sherry was considered but we ended up with a Puglian Primitivo-Nero do Troia blend from Michele Biancardi which is both savoury and fruity. The fruity, plummy sweetness was the foil for the cheese and the savoury tannins played a dance with the gnocchi and spinach.

Blue Cheese Gnocchi – serves 4

  • 500g fresh gnocchi
  • 250g bag baby spinach
  • 100ml/3½ fl oz crème fraîche
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 100g blue cheese – a soft variety would be good but use whatever you have

Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the timings on the pack. Stir the spinach into the pan with the gnocchi, then immediately drain in a colander and shake well to get rid of the water.

Put the crème fraîche and grated Parmesan into a small ovenproof dish. Add the hot, drained gnocchi and spinach and stir. Crumble the blue cheese over and season with black pepper.

Put the dish under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Gilaki herb stew

This sour herb stew is unusual, and perhaps not to everybody’s taste, but we loved it! Served with some saffron rice it felt like a big dish of healthy goodness. It would also work as a side dish, or as they serve it in Iran with smoked fish.

Gilaki Herb Stew (Torsh-e tareh) – serves 4

  • 300g spinach
  • 65g fresh coriander
  • 65g fresh parsley
  • 40g fresh dill
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 400ml water
  • 1½ tbsp cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 tbsp water
  • juice of ½ a lemon (plus a bit extra)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 10g butter

Finely chop the spinach and herbs (use a food processor if you’ve got one). Put the chopped greens into a saucepan and add the garlic, turmeric and water. Stir well, then cover and cook for 15 minutes over a low heat.

Add the cornflour paste, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Turn up the heat and cook for 5 minutes, without the lid, until the sauce thickens.

Crack the eggs into the greens and allow to cook for a minute before touching them. Run a wooden spoon through each of the egg yolks twice (horizontally then vertically) so they are just broken. Don’t be tempted to mix them around as you want the chunks of cooked egg, rather than scramble.

Cover with the lid again until the eggs are cooked. Remove from the heat and stir through the butter. Season to taste. Serve with some extra lemon if you like it sour.

(Original recipe from The Saffron Tales by Jasmine Khan, Bloomsbury, 2016.)

 

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