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Vegetable-related

Shakshuka with tahini and olives

This is the most wonderful brunch or lunch, oozing with flavor and goodness.

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Serves 2 – 4 (but can easily be augmented)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large organic, pasture-raised eggs
3 medium tomatoes – roughly chopped
1/2 medium onion-diced
5 cloves garlic-roughly chopped
2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1&1/4 tsp harissa
1 handful green olives – pitted and roughly chopped for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

For the tahini mixture;
2 tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic-finely grated
2 tbsp lemon juice
Approx 1/4 cup water
pinch of sea salt

In a bowl, whisk together the tahini, garlic and lemon juice. The mixture will be clumpy. Keep whisking and slowly add 1 tbsp water at a time until the tahini loosens and can loosely coat the back of a spoon. Season with a pinch of salt- set aside

Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the oil, onions and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes until soft.
Season the onion mixture with the smoked paprika and sauté for 60 seconds- stir constantly to prevent burning.

Add the tomatoes and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir, lower the heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the Harissa.
NOTE- If the tomato mixture dries out during the cooking, add 1-2 tbsp water.

Remove the lid and crack the eggs into the sauce one at a time.
TIP- Use a spatula to create a small “well” in the sauce and add the egg into the well so that the eggs cook in the sauce rather than over the top of it.

Cover with a lid and cook until the whites have hardened but the yolks are runny; approx 6 to 8 minutes.
For firmer yolks, cook for a bit longer.
Remove from the heat, drizzle with the tahini and garnish with the olives

 

Baked porcini mushrooms and potatoes

Rich, earthy, woody and fabulous to have with roasted or grilled meats and a salad. This recipe is from the River Cafe in London.

Serves 6

5oz dried porcini mushrooms. (See below for soaking instructions)
3lbs medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
5 oz Ghee, clarified butter or butter
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked from the stalks and washed

Preheat the oven to 400F

Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and into quarters lengthways if they are too big. Wash and pat dry.
Soak the porcini mushrooms in 2 pints (1 liter) boiled water for 20 minutes, then strain, retaining the liquid.
Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Rinse the porcini mushrooms under running cold water to get rid of any remaining grit. Dry well on paper towels.

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter/ghee over medium/low. When the butter starts to foam, add the garlic and soften for a minute of two before adding the porcini.
Cook, stirring to prevent sticking, for a few minutes before adding the strained porcini liquid.
There will be a lot of liquid, which needs to reduce and thicken for about 7-8 mins.

Now add the potatoes. Coat them in the juices the gently stir and cook for around 15 to 20 minutes.
The potatoes should begin to take on the color of the porcini juices.

Remove the pan and tip everything into roasting trays.
Season with salt, pepper and the fresh thyme, stir gently and bake for another 30 mins.

Test the potatoes with a skewer to make sure they are tender.

Oven-roasted eggplant with caramelized miso

I often choose versions of this dish in Japanese restaurants and have wanted to make this for a long time. This recipe comes from the food blog “I’m a flood blog” and is delicious.

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serves 2-4
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake
2 tbsp shiro miso (white miso)
2 tbsp sugar
2 Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 tsp sesame oil (preferably toasted)
toasted sesame seeds
sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the mirin and sake in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the miso and stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar, and reduce to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while you broil the eggplants.
Brush the cut sides of the eggplants with the sesame oil. Put the eggplants cut-side down on a baking sheet and place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on eggplant size, until they just start to shrivel. The flesh should be fork tender. Remove from the oven and turn them over.
Top the eggplants with all of the miso sauce and put them under the broiler until the sauce bubbles up and starts to caramelize, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, rest for 5 minutes and enjoy with sesame seeds and green onions!

Beet and feta burgers

You can double the ingredients easily to make 8 burgers or freeze 4 of them for another time, wrapping them in cling film and foil. Cook from frozen in the oven at 350 F until piping hot.

These are very tasty burgers and well worth trying for a change.

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1lb raw beets, peeled and coarsely grated
A small bunch (about 6 to 8) green onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A small bunch fresh mint, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp plain flour
1 large egg
7 oz Greek feta cheese, crumbled
5 tbsp olive oil
8 oz mixed salad leaves
4 burger buns

Working over the sink, wrap the beets in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. In a large bowl, mix the beets, green onions, garlic, mint, lemon zest, half the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of the flour and the egg along with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
When well combined, stir in the feta cheese.
Form the mixture into 4 burger-shaped patties and coat with the remaining flour.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat with 3 tbsp olive oil and fry the patties for 4 – 5 minutes on each side until crisp on the outside and cooked through.
Mix the remaining oil and lemon juice with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss with the salad leaves.
Serve the burgers in buns with the salad.

Spinach, mushroom and lemon pilaf

We love this, it’s easy, tasty, interesting and light and complements any meal

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Serves 4 to 6

8 oz fresh spinach, washed and roughly chopped
1 lemon,zested and juiced. (You may not need to use all the lemon juice, so try a little less)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 oz butter
8 oz Basmati rice
6 oz chestnut mushrooms, sliced I have made this recipe without the mushrooms, and it’s just as good.)
2 onions, finely sliced
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
4 bruised green cardamon pods

Cook the mushrooms in 2oz of the butter until they soften start to brown. Remove them from the pan and set aside, add a little more butter to the pan and add the onion and garlic and saute until soft and golden. Add back the mushrooms in the last 2 minutes and stir well.
Add the spices and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the rice, lemon zest and broth.
Cover and cook on a gentle heat for about 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.
Stir through the spinach and about 3/4 of the lemon juice, cover for 2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Taste for seasoning and if you think it can take more lemon juice, add the rest.

Broccoli-Quinoa salad with buttermilk dressing

This is a lovely recipe from Bon Appetite magazine with a clean, refreshing buttermilk dressing poured over the broccoli, herbs and quinoa.

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Serves 4

Buttermilk Dressing
¾ cup buttermilk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp (or more) fine sea salt

Salad
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 small heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
Kosher salt
1 cup white, red, or black quinoa
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
¼ cup coarsely chopped tarragon
¼ cup coarsely chopped pistachios

Whisk the buttermilk, olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rice vinegar, pepper, and 1 tsp. sea salt in a medium bowl. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
Do Ahead: The dressing can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

The final salad

Stir together the shallot and 2 Tbsp of the buttermilk dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
Cook the broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, or about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and place on a kitchen towel–lined baking sheet.
Meanwhile, return the water in the pot to a boil and cook the quinoa until slightly al dente, about 12 minutes, and drain. Toss the quinoa and 2 Tbsp the buttermilk dressing in a large bowl to coat; season with salt. Let cool.
Add the dressed shallot, broccoli, parsley, tarragon, pistachios, and 2 Tbsp. buttermilk dressing to the quinoa and toss to combine. Season with more salt if needed.

Easy vegetable and bacon slice

I love these savory throw-together brunch recipes that are wonderful served hot or at room temperature. They’re great to take on a picnic too.

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6 large eggs
2 zucchini, grated
2 carrots grated
1 onion finely diced
1 cup grated mature cheddar cheese
10 oz thinly sliced bacon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Beat the eggs in a large bowl then add the freshly grated nutmeg, salt, pepper and baking powder. Softly stir all ingredients together.
Place in lined or well greased baking tin, sprinkle some extra cheese over the top. Bake for 25mins or until the top is lightly browned and the eggs are set.

Onion and parmesan gratin

This is a very economical dish high in flavor, which is a great accompaniment to strong flavored dishes. It goes really well with red or white wine and the cloves bring an unexpected wonderful flavor to the dish

 

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Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds yellow onions, peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoon freshly ground whole cloves
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Fine sea salt, to taste
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Slice the onions in half lengthwise. Place, cut side down, on a cutting board and slice crosswise into very thin slices, and set aside.
In a large, nonstick skillet, combine the butter, cloves, onions, thyme and salt. Cover and cook over very low heat until the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Transfer the onion mixture to a gratin dish and smooth it with the back of a spoon. The recipe can be prepared several hours in advance up to this point. Cover and store at room temperature.

Preheat the broiler. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and cream and whisk together well. Stir in the cheese. Pour the mixture over the onions in the baking dish. Place the baking dish under the broiler about 2 inches from the heat. Broil until the top is sizzling and golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately as a vegetable course or as an accompaniment to meat dishes.

Cumin, avocado and corn salsa

This is delicious served with rice crackers or tortilla chips as an appetizer and also gorgeous on a dinner plate with a piece of sauteed salmon sitting on it. I like to roast my cumin, then grind it myself, as the oils are released and the smokiness of the roasting really adds something to the flavor. You can also add a can of drained and rinsed black beans to the salsa for extra protein.

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Makes about 3 cups and serves 6

3 ears corn, husks and silks removed. (I have been known to use the equivalent in drained, tinned corn, when pushed)
1 good sized Hass avocado
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno chili pepper
1/2 to 3/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the kernels off the corn cobs by using a sharp knife and transfer the kernels to a large bowl.
Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the flesh and cut the avocado into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to the bowl with the corn.
Add the cherry tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, chives, cilantro, jalapeno and cumin to the bowl, and toss together gently so as not to mash the avocado. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate the salsa for about 30 minutes and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Weekend soup (using whatever you have left in the fridge)

When the weeks are cooler, I tend to open the fridge doors and haul out any vegetables that could go into a soup. You will be surprised what wonderful concoctions you can come up with and how much soup you can make from very little.
Don’t overthink it and definitely don’t measure anything as soups are one of the most forgiving and inventive things you can make.

This week my ingredients are;

4 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 large turnip, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 head of celery, including leaves, peeled of stringy stuff
1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed, tossed in olive oil and seasoning and roasted at 350 degrees for 45 mins
1 whole cauliflower, broken into florets
about 12 asparagus spears, snapping off the tough ends and chopping into 1 inch lengths
5 zucchini, halved then quartered lengthways and chopped across into 3/4″ pieces
3 heads of broccoli including stems chopped
1 whole bunch fresh parsley stalks and all
french green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1″ lengths

4 to 6 (32 oz) containers chicken broth. (You can use vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian, but I think chicken broth adds far more flavor.

I put about 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 3 tbsp butter into the bottom of a very large soup stock pot, then in goes the onions, turnip, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and everything else, stirring as I go so everything mixes together.
After about 15 minutes of this, add the broth, stirring and it should cover the vegetables with an extra level of about 1 to 2 inches, so the soup isn’t too thick.

Let the soup bubble away, stirring it every 20 mins, for about 45 mins at least, until all the vegetables are soft. Taste the juice and season with salt and pepper, but not too much as this is something you can do after you have pureed it.
When it’s cooked, take it off the heat and leave aside for about 1 hour until it’s not so hot. Puree the soup in a blender and at this stage you can add a little cream for a more velvety texture, some soft goat cheese for a really lovely flavor and even some grated mature cheddar or Parmesan cheese, returning it back to a large saucepan after it’s pureed.
Put back on the heat, taste and season until it tastes perfect.

Just remember, play with it, even adding some chopped pancetta or bacon when you fry the vegetables and know that this huge pot of flavorful goodness will feed you for quite a long time and cost nothing more!

The "haul" for the rest of the week

The “haul” for the rest of the week

* Some other great vegetables to use are;
spinach
potatoes
sweet potatoes
tomatoes
Jerusalem artichokes (the knobbly ones)
celeriac (celery root)
fennel
kale
frozen peas, thawed
Swiss chard

Remember, whatever vegetables you put in the soup, there are certain ones that will naturally thicken the soup, like
asparagus
butternut squash
potatoes
sweet potatoes
parsnips
carrots
Cannellini or other tinned beans
cauliflower