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Posts Tagged ‘Starter’

Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za'atar

A divine vegetable dish from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s bookJerusalem’ – still one of our absolute favourites. We served this on a platter as a light starter but it would also work really well as a vegetarian/vegan main or as a side with other dishes. There were happy diners at our table!

Wine Suggestion: this worked excellently with Massaya’s le Colombier from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, a very Rhône blend with a touch of  Tempranillo which gives it hints of North African / Eastern spices.

Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za’atar – serves 4

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut into wedges (about 2cm x 6cm)
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 3½ tbsp light tahini paste
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 240C/220C fan/Gas 9.

Put the squash and onion wedges into a large mixing bowl and toss with 3 tbsp of oil, 1 tsp of sea salt flakes and some black pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet with the skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through and starting to crisp and brown at the edges, leave to cool.

Make the sauce by putting the tahini into a small bowl with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of water, the garlic & ¼ tsp of sea salt. Whisk until the sauce is “the consistency of honey”. You may need to add more water or tahini.

Pour the rest of the oil into a small frying pan and warm over a low-medium heat. Add the pine nuts with ½ tsp of sea salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until golden brown. Remove from the heat and pour the nuts and oil into a bowl so that they stop cooking.

Spread the vegetables out on a serving platter and drizzle over the tahini. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and their oil, the za’atar and parsley.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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Pomegranate, cucumber and pistachio yoghurt

We are always on the look out for cooling dips to serve with spicer dishes. This one would be good with any middle eastern-style meal that warrants something cool on the side. Or you could have it on its own with some toasted pittas. Another great recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour.

Pomegranate, cucumber & pistachio yoghurt – serves 6 to 8

  • 500ml thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large banana shallot or 2 small round shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into 1cm dice
  • 150g pomegranate seeds, rinsed to remove the juice
  • 100g pistachio nuts
  • 30g of mint, leaves stripped and roughly chopped
  • toasted pitta bread to serve

Pour the yoghurt into a large bowl and mix in the shallot. Add the cucumber, pomegranate seeds and pistachios (keep some of each to sprinkle over before serving). Add the mint, then fold everything gently through the yoghurt. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper.

To serve drizzle with some good olive oil and scatter over the reserved cucumber, pomegranate seeds and pistachios.

Serve as a dip with toasted pittas or as a cooling side dish.

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

 

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Smoked ham salad, with shaved Gruyere, Escarole & Walnuts

You know those fab salads that they serve in French bistros? Well this is one of those and it’s from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey – a book we never travel to France without.

Wine Suggestion: this wine reminded us of holidays in the Dordogne in France so we chose a white Bergerac from Chateau le Tap, a nearly even blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with a touch of Muscadelle thrown in.

Smoked ham salad with shaved Gruyère, escarole and walnuts – serves 4

  • 1 escarole lettuce or 2 English curly lettuces
  • 100g piece of Gruyère cheese
  • 400g of good quality smoked cooked ham – about 12 very thin slice
  • 10 walnuts in the shell
  • 1 small bunch of chives, chopped

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil (or use more olive oil if you haven’t got this)

Remove the outer lettuce leaves and discard, then break the rest into leaves. Wash and dry well in a salad spinner.

Cut the cheese into very thin strips using a cheese slicer or mandolin.

For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar. Add the crème fraîche, whisk until emulsified then gradually whisk in the olive and walnut oils. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the sliced ham, lettuce leaves and shaved cheese onto 4 plates and scatter over the shelled walnuts. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle with the chives.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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Marinated mushrooms with lemon

These mushrooms, from Claudia Roden’s fantastic book The Food of Spain, are served cold and make a great nibble to serve with drinks. Some bread and olives would be good too.

Wine Suggestion: Jono purchased a bottle of the delicious Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry from a friend and this was the perfect Tapas dish to go with it.

Champiñones marinados – serves 4

  • 500g button mushrooms
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • grated zest of ½ a lemon
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Wipe the mushrooms clean with some damp kitchen towel. Trim the stems and cut into halves or quarters.

Heat the mushrooms in a large, non-stick frying pan, over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring until they release their juices and the juices have evaporated.

Mix the lemon juice & zest with the oil and some salt and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. Add the hot mushrooms to the bowl and mix well.

Cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours (or you can make a day ahead). Serve at room temperature with the parsley sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

 

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Fig & Gorgonzolha Tartines

September is when you start to find some juicy figs. These easy tartines show them off perfectly.

Wine Suggestion: A young, fruity Pinot Noir often springs to mind when pairing with figs, but bringing in the Gorgonzola made us swing to a white variant of this grape: Pinot Gris. Our choice was from Forrest Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand and it was fresh and full of joyous fruit to match the mood of this dish.

Fig & Gorgonzola Tartines – serves 6

  • 6 thin slices sourdough
  • 2-3 tbsp of truffle or flower honey
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 6 slices gorgonzola
  • 5 ripe figs, sliced into 4

Toast the sourdough and spread each slice with a little of the honey and sprinkle with some thyme leaves. Lay a slice of gorgonzola on each and squash down a bit with knife so it reaches the edges of the toast.

Put the tartines under a hot grill for a few minutes until the cheese just starts to melt.

Arrange the fig slices on top, sprinkle with a little salt, some black pepper and more thyme, then grill again for a couple of minutes and drizzle with some more honey before serving.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes IN: Olive Magazine, September 2013.)

Figs

 

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Crispy Parma ham w avocado and hot tomato dressing

A really nice dish to serve as a starter in late summer when the tomatoes are at their best.

Wine Suggestion: We love serving slightly-chilled, young, light reds with salads like this. Given the Parma ham we chose the Colterenzio Pinot Nero from the Alto Adige, but it could have easily been a Joven Tempranillo, Beaujolais or Cheverny rouge. Young, lighter bodied, fruity and with a fresh acidity; perfect.

Crispy Parma Ham with Avocado & Hot Tomato Dressing – serves 4

  • 5 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra
  • 85g Parma ham, roughly torn
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, quartered, seeded and cut into thin slivers
  • 15g basil, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 100-120g mixed salad leaves
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add half the Parma ham pieces, add some freshly ground black pepper and fry for one minute per side until crisp. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you repeat with the rest of the ham.

Wipe any excess fat out of the pan and return to a low heat. Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil, then add the tomatoes, basil and lemon juice. Season with freshly ground black pepper and gently heat through for about 30 seconds.

Arrange the salad leaves on 4 plates. Top with the avocado slices, then pile on the crispy ham and spoon over the hot dressing. Serve immediately with a little extra salt if needed and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

(Original recipe by Lesley Waters in BBC Good Food Magazine, September 2001)

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Roasted Feta

This is a bit of a cheat’s starter that uses a block of feta cheese and packs of chargrilled vegetable antipasti. Delicious served warm from the oven with pitta bread.

Wine Suggestion: If you can find it, open a Greek white, our favourite being made with the Assyrtiko grape from the island of Santorini. The best are bone-dry, in-your-face, crisp, mineral-laden, high-acid wonders.

Roasted Feta – serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 x 185g pack chargrilled vegetable antipasti (we used jars of roasted artichokes, olives & mixed peppers which worked well – a roughly similar weight will be fine)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 200g feta
  • pittas or mini pittas to serve

Tip the antipasti and its oil into a roasting tin, squeeze over the lemon juice and put the block of feta in the middle of the tin. Season with black pepper and drizzle over an extra bit of olive oil.

Bake in the oven at 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 for about 25 minutes.

Toast the pittas for a minute or two until warmed through. Scatter the lemon zest over the feta and serve with the warm pitta bread.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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