Month: May 2014

Carrot and Herb ‘Tabbouleh’

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As the sunshine becomes more and more frequent, food choices generally sway towards healthy, fresh salads and light vegetable dishes.

I’ve been experimenting with salads and have found that they don’t always have to be lettuce, tomato and cucumber! Not that there is anything wrong with that, but every day it can get boring very quickly!

With loads of vitamins, great crunch and earthy sweetness, carrot is a brilliant vegetable. I actually prefer carrot raw to cooked. With this in mind I’ve created this recipe, which is quickly becoming my favourite lunch.

Tabbouleh is a middle eastern salad that makes use of beautiful fresh herbs and bulghar wheat. In my version, I’ve replaced the wheat with carrot to bring some freshness and crunch to it. I got the idea from Maria Elia who I saw cooking something similar on a Sunday morning cookery show.

Ingredients – Serves 4

4 large or 6 smaller carrots – around 500g – topped and tailed and blitzed in a food processor until tiny
2 bunches of parsley – finely chopped
1 bunch of mint – leaves picked and finely chopped
3 spring onions – finely chopped
1 pepper – finely diced
1 apple – finely diced

Dressing

Juice of one lemon
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt

Mix the vegetables together.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and test for seasoning. It should be slightly tart, slightly sweet and fragrant from the cumin.

Mix the salad and dressing together. Done!

I served this as a side to some smoked mackerel which was a fabulous combination. It also works well with any grilled meat or fish, or indeed, on its own as a lunch or light supper.

Feel free to add any other vegetables, seeds, nuts etc to this.

Enjoy!

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Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter

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This is what went down in our house 2 weekends ago…

Pasta machine

Yes that’s right. I made pasta. And not just any pasta. Ravioli. My first attempt.

To say it was ambitious is an understatement, but my word, did it work well?!

The trick with ravioli is getting the pasta really thin. You just keep going with the pasta machine, rolling, folding, rolling again until its silky smooth and beautifully thin. Go on, give it a go!

Ingredients – serves 2 as main or 4 as a starter

200g ’00’ flour
2 eggs – lightly beaten
1 Butternut Squash
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh sage leaves – half finely chopped, half left intact
50- 100g parmesan cheese (to taste) – finely grated
Grated Nutmeg – half tsp
50g butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

Tip the flour onto the work surface, sprinkle over a little salt and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and start to incorporate them into the flour, working from the centre outwards until it all comes together. Knead it together well for around 5-10 minutes, wrap in cling film and place into the fridge before rolling.

To make the filling, cut the squash in half lengthways, scrape out the seeds, place 2 cloves of garlic into the hole left in each and drizzle with oil and season well. Place into a hot oven – around 190 for 30-40 mins, until the squash is completely soft and the garlic lightly browned.

Scrape the flesh of the squash into a bowl, with the garlic, and mash well with a fork. Add the sage and nutmeg. Start to mix in the parmesan, tasting as you go. You may not want the full 100g in there, so do keep tasting it.

Let this cool while you roll the pasta.

Ensure your machine is well clamped to your bench (or dining table in my case!) start rolling the pasta out on its widest setting, fold it and roll again. Do this 3 times on setting 1 and then twice on each setting right down to the last one. You will be left with smooth silky pasta sheets. Make sure you have 2 that are roughly the same size.

Lay one pasta sheet onto the surface and place spoonfuls of the filling onto the pasta, leaving a good 2 inches between each pile. Using your fingers, dab water around each pile of squash and then lay the next sheet over the top. Smooth the pasta round the filling, pushing out any air bubbles as you go. Trim each ravioli to your desired shape and leave, covered by a tea towel until you are ready to cook them.

Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan and add the whole sage leaves. Cook this gently for around 3 minutes, then leave off the heat. Drop the ravioli into the water. After around 4 minutes they will be cooked. Using a slotted spoon remove the ravioli and add to the pan of sage butter, swirling them around to coat.

Serve with more grated parmesan.

Try it. Its so worth the effort!

Butternut Ravioli

Ravioli

Cod with Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew

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This is another one of those recipes that you will make again and again. Its ideal for both midweek suppers or dinner with friends, its delicious and very simple.

The Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew can be eaten on its own with some crusty bread, but I find the combination of moist, meaty cod and this spicy rich stew works really well. Feel free to experiment, it would also go really well with chicken or some grilled haloumi. As you can see, I served mine with some steamed purple sprouting broccoli.

I’ve listed the amount of chorizo as ‘to taste’ mainly because some people don’t love it as much as I do! I used a whole pack of cooking chorizo, but you can use as much or as little as you like.

Top Tip – Cooking fish doesn’t have to be scary. Its true that its very easy to overcook, but its also very easy to cook it well. Treat it with some love and attention and it will love you back! Give it a little poke. It will feel firm to the touch and begin to flake at the edges. If it’s overcooked it will be rubbery.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 large or 2 small cod fillets (if using one, cut it in half)
Chorizo – to taste (I used soft, cooking chorizo sausages and cut each into bite size chunks)
1 tin butter beans
1 red onion – chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red pepper – chopped
1 tin tomatoes
1 bunch fresh parsley – chopped, including stalks
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Method

Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and pepper. Sauté them for a few minutes until slightly softened. Add the chorizo and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add the tins of beans and tomatoes, smoked paprika and most of the parsley and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a high heat. Oil and season the fish and place into the pan. It will sizzle, that’s what you want, because this gives it a lovely caramelised finish. After about 4-5 minutes, turn it over. For the piece of cod in my photo, I cooked it around 4 mins on each side. How long you cook the fish depends on the size and type of fish. Then leave it to rest for about 2-3 mins.

Serve the cod placed on top of the stew, scatter with the rest of the parsley and enjoy!

Cod and Chorizo Stew