Broad beans with bacon

This is a good dish to serve at room temperature along with a selection of salads, and other delicious things from the fridge. Fresh home-made bread is a good accompaniment. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g podded broad beans – Neillie’s has frozen broad beans that work well for this recipe
  • 150g rindless, smoked, dry cured streaky bacon
  • 50g butter
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs – try dill, mint, or parsley
  • Freshly grated black pepper and salt

METHOD:

  • Cut the bacon across the way into strips around 1cm wide. 
  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan and fry the onion over a low heat until softening, then add the finely chopped garlic
  • As the garlic begins to cook, add the bacon and turn up the heat a little, stirring until the bacon is cooked. 
  • Stir in the beans, heat and stir until warmed through. 
  • Cover the pan and simmer for around 7 minutes until the beans are cooked. 
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, pepper and herbs, and cover again to allow the flavours to infuse as the dish cools down to room temperature 

Broad beans with chard

This is one of my favourite dishes, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already shared it. It is very simple to make, and delicious. Clair, this is for you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 300g broad beans, podded (you can use frozen beans)
  • 300g chard, rinsed and sliced
  • 100g butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp chopped dill leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Separate and wash the chard leaves and stems, and slice them crosswise at 2cm intervals. 
  • Heat the butter in a large pan, medium heat, and melt the butter. As it begins to froth, add the onion, sauté for a minute and then add the beans. After another minute, add the chard and dill. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. 
  • Add the salt and around 50ml water, bring to a simmer, and then cover and cook over a low heat for around 15 minutes. 

 

Asparagus and pecorino

This is a fantastic quick side dish. The asparagus in the shops just now is great quality, thick and tasty British spears. 

INGREDIENTS

  • Asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino cheese
  • Lemon rind

METHOD:

  • Trim the asparagus
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan, and fry the asparagus over a medium to high heat. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated lemon rind. 
  • When the asparagus looks cooked, transfer to plates and grate pecorino over the top. 

 

Kale with mint, garlic, cumin and lime

I’m just getting to the end of the curly kale from last year. What a great vegetable to grow, it survives cabbage root fly, is edible through the winter and early spring, and Alex’s chickens will get a good feed off the old plants when I root them up. 

We’ve had a lot of stir-fried kale this winter, often with garlic and chilli flakes. If you haven’t enough kale, you can bulk it out with broccoli. This recipe comes from SIMPLE by Ottolenghi. He also sells a range of the ingredients from the book – cunning marketing. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g – 600g prepared kale tops or a mix of kale and broccoli
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 to 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 10g mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • salt

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When it boils, add the kale and cook for 90 seconds before draining and rinsing in cold water. You may need to do this in batches. Do the same for any broccoli
  • In a large wok or sauté pan, heat the oil and fry the garlic and cumin for a minute or two, until the garlic is browning. Fish the garlic out and set it aside. 
  • Add the kale and fry for around 3 minutes. Add half the chilli flakes, and a good pinch of salt, broccoli and keep cooking for another minute. 
  • Mix through the remaining chilli flakes, lime juice and mint, and garnish with the fried garlic slices. 

Muhammara – red pepper and walnut dip.

Sometimes, the co-op has some really good deals. Last week, they were selling lots of red peppers greatly reduced, so I made this. It is great as a dip along with hummus, and served with flat bread. It is a traditional dish, and there are loads of recipes online, twisting up the flavour in different ways. I’ve added a few suggestions of alternatives in brackets. The basic ingredients are red peppers, garlic and walnuts. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 red peppers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (you can increase this quite a bit, according to taste, use a mild pepper such as pul biber, or Aleppo chilli flakes))
  • (I have also made this by adding a couple of fresh hot chilli peppers to the roasting stage)
  • (You can add toasted breadcrumbs too)
  • (1 tsp cumin)
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • (you can use a pinch of powdered sumac instead of the vinegar or lemon juice)
  • (you could use pomegranate molasses and/or lemon juice instead of vinegar)
  • 60g walnuts (you can toast the walnuts first) 
  • salt

METHOD:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220C
  • Quarter the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds, and mix with the oil. Spread them out on a baking sheet, skin side up and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, spread the walnuts out on another baking sheet, and pop them in the oven for around 10 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
  • Once the peppers have been in for 15 minutes, add the garlic cloves and pop them back into the oven for another 15 minutes. The peppers should look charred, and the garlic should be soft. 
  • Put the peppers in a food processer with all of your other ingredients and blitz to form a rough paste. Adjust the seasoning to taste. 

You can make this as smooth as you like, I like it slightly rough. Some people remove the skin from the roasted peppers, and make a smoother paste. 

 

Italian stewed lentils

This recipe is a classic side dish, to be served with Cotechino or Zampone. I often add a side serving of mashed potato and cabbage as well. I have also made it with tinned brown lentils when I was in a hurry and it was still grand. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Approx. 300g brown lentils, such as Puy lentils
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • A sprig of fresh mint
  • A clove of garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp good olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Rinse the lentils in cold water. 
  • In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and then over a very low heat, cook the chopped onions, around 10 minutes, so they are soft. 
  • Add the lentils and then add a litre of hot water, and bring to a simmer
  • Add the mint and the whole clove of garlic, cover and cook on a low heat for around an hour and a half. Keep checking that the pan to make sure it isn’t burning. You can keep the lentils at a simmer in the oven as well. 
  • Once the lentils are tender, season with salt and pepper, and a drizzle of very good olive oil. 

Sweetcorn fritters

These are a childhood classic – we used to get these about once a week, often served with bacon. I’ve no idea whose idea it is, but I made them this afternoon for Cedar, who is three today. He helped me make them, mixing the egg in and stirring in the milk. He ate three and a half before he was full. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g self-raising flour (or 4 mounded tablespoons)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a pinch of salt
  • around 150ml milk
  • 1 small can of sweetcorn, drained. 

METHOD

  • Sieve the flour into a bowl, with the pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre and put the beaten egg in, mixing together. 
  • Stir the milk in gradually, until the batter is the consistency of cream. 
  • Add the sweetcorn, and mix again. 
  • Fry in an oiled pan over a medium heat. Drop in dessert-spoonfuls of batter, and when the bottom is cooked, you should be able to see bubbles setting on the surface of the batter. Turn them over and cook on the other side. 
  • Serve with bacon, and if you like it, tomato ketchup.

Teeny tiny potatoes

OK, so nobody admits to growing teeny tiny potatoes. I was given a bag of mixed potatoes by a friend, their first go at home-grown spuds. I think the plants had had a hot dry time of it, and were probably harvested too early as well. At the bottom of the bag was a selection of potatoes about the size of a marble. This is what I did with them. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Teeny tiny potatoes.
  • Butter
  • Garlic 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley

METHOD:

  • I boiled the teeny tiny potatoes in salted water for ten minutes, and then drained them. 
  • I melted the butter in the pan, and fried the garlic until it was golden, then added the tiny potatoes along with seasoning and continued to cook until the potato skins were beginning to colour and crisp up a bit. 
  • Then I added the chopped parsley, and served

I added some very fresh cooked carrots the second time I made this. 

 

 

Chickpeas and potatoes

I have no idea where I found this recipe, I think it dates back to student days in the 1980s. There are lots of notes and at least two totally different versions in my old recipe book. It works well with or without the potatoes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely chipped
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed, ground
  • 1 tsp cumin seed, ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tins of chickpeas (do not drain)
  • 1 tbsp amchoor or juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1cm cubes, and put into cold water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 fresh green chillies, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp grated ginger (or 1 tsp dried ginger)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat, until beginning to brown, around 10 minutes
  • Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and turmeric, stir, and reduce the heat
  • Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and then add the chickpeas with their liquid from the tin, and around 200ml water, and the amchoor, and paprika. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes. 
  • At this point, it may be wise to set the pan aside for a day or too, for the flavour to develop. 
  • To serve, drain and pat dry the potato cubes. Fry in oil for 10 minutes over a medium to high heat, stirring. 
  • Stir in the ginger and chillies, and then the fried potatoes, and serve. 

Leeks and carrots cooked in olive oil

This is a lovely lemony dish, good as a side-serving with sausages and mash. It could be served at room temperature with bread for a light lunch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g leeks, sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut in half lengthways then thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 240 ml hot water
  • 1 tsp sugar, or date syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a wide heavy frying-pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the onions and carrots for 3 minutes or so. Then add the leeks and rice, and stir to combine. 
  • Add the hot water, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper, and stir again. 
  • Cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for around 20 minutes. Set aside to cool with the lid on. 

This is good garnished with chopped parsley.