Tomato, Chard, Spinach, Lime, Mint, Almonds

Sorry about the wee hiatus – keep having many things to do. This is an astonishing mix of flavours and textures, and I was raving about it at work. Clair – this is the recipe I was talking about. It is from ‘Simple’ by Yotam Ottolenghi. Even better, it uses lots of ingredients from my garden. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g chard leaves – roughly shred the green leaves, and finely chop the stems
  • 150g spinach, roughly shredded
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 35g chopped mint
  • 35g chopped dill, or 3 tsp dried dill leaves. 
  • 8 spring onions, chopped into 1 cm pieces
  • salt

METHOD:

  • In a frying pan, put in half the oil, heat to medium, and then add the almonds and the paprika. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the almonds are golden brown. Remove them from the heat, and strain the oil from the almonds, which should be set aside in a bowl. 
  • In a large pan, heat the remaining oil over medium to high heat. When it is hot, add the crushed garlic and the caraway, and cook for a a couple of minutes until they start to sizzle and brown.
  • Add the tomatoes and chard, and 3/4 tsp salt, and stir. The pan will look very full. Cover the pan, and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring every so often. If you are using dried herbs, add them at this step.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the spinach, lime juice and zest, herbs and spring onions. 
  • Serve with the almonds sprinkled on to. 

I successfully reheated this the next day, although it did wilt the spinach a bit too much. I ate it with pitta bread and labneh.

 

 

Chickpea, herb and spinach soup – Ash-e Mast

I’ve bought a few new cookbooks this year, the theme seems to be about the middle east. This book of Persian recipes is called ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Hopelessly romantic title, but then again, I have a photograph of two Tehrani police officers outside our gate in northern Tehran, posing for my mother with bunches of roses and honeysuckle. 

I never had this soup, though, until today. It is easy and delicious. The recipe makes a large quantity, it says it serves four but only if you have two helpings each. It takes about an hour and a half to make. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1.5 litres boiling water
  • 50g arborio rice
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 pack of coriander leaf, chopped (around 40g)
  • 1 pack of flat leaf parsley, chopped (around 40g)
  • 1 tbsp dried summer savory (or substitute a mixture of thyme and mint)
  • 300g spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 250ml greek yoghurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Black pepper to garnish

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. When it is hot, add the chopped onions, and fry for 10-15 minutes until the onions are brown. Stir in the turmeric and mix. Set aside a tablespoonful of fried onions for a garnish at the end. 
  • Add the water and rice to the rest of the fried onions, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • Add the chickpeas, herbs and spinach, bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 minutes. 
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste, then beat in the yoghurt. Don’t boil once the yoghurt is added, because it will curdle. 
  • Garnish with extra yoghurt, the fried onions, and a grating of black pepper. 

For a vegan version, leave out the yoghurt, or use coconut yoghurt. For a meaty version, use beef stock instead of water and add small meatballs. 

Spinach and Feta Pie

Spinach grows well in the Uists, and it is also often available in the co-op.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg spinach
  • 1 small onion finely chopped, or six spring onions
  • 50g butter
  • 125g Feta Cheese
  • 1 dsp chopped fresh fennel or dill
  • 100ml cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • flaky pastry
  • Small grating of nutmeg

METHOD:

  • Gently fry the onion in the butter until soft, then add all the spinach, and cook until it has all wilted down
  • Mash the cream, herbs, and cheese together
  • Mix the cheese and the spinach together, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • Put the spinach and cheese mixture in a pie dish, and use the flaky pastry to cover
  • Bake in a medium hot oven for 30-45 minutes until the top is crisp and golden.

If you were going to be really authentic, this would be made with filo pastry to create little triangular packets. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQITqEJ-TvQ shows you the technique.

Spinach, potato and goat’s cheese tart

I make this to serve with flaky smoked salmon. I got it from Rachel Allen’s website, but it isn’t there any more.

INGREDIENTS:

For the shortcrust pastry:

  • 200 g plain flour
  • 100 g  chilled butter, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

  • 250 g baby or destalked large spinach leaves
  • 7 baby new potatoes (unpeeled)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 ml double cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 25g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 150g soft goat’s cheese (sliced from a goat’s cheese log)
  • 25cm diameter tart tin
METHOD:

  • Make the pastry:  place the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly, or rub together to bread-crumb consistency.
  • Add half the beaten egg and continue to mix. You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be moist enough to come together.
  • With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is 2cm thick then wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4). Line the tart tin and ‘bake blind’.
  • Wash and spin the spinach, removing any tough stalks and stems if using large spinach leaves. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the spinach in just the water that’s clinging to it over a low heat until it wilts. Drain in a colander or sieve and allow to cool a little, then squeeze most of the moisture out with your hands and chop roughly.
  • Meanwhile, steam or boil the potatoes until just cooked, and cool on a tray or board. When cool enough to handle, cut into 5mm (1/4 in) slices.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs and add the cream, salt and pepper, lemon zest, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and Parmesan. Whisk these ingredients together then add the spinach and mix through.
  • Season well; potatoes are very mild and need a good contrast.
  • Spread the potato slices over the base of the prepared tart, and dot with the goat’s cheese
  • Gently spoon over the spinach cream mixture as high as you can go. If you are concerned about spillage, carry the tart minus the last few spoons of filling over to the oven.
  • Place in the oven, spoon over the remaining filling and any remaining potato and cheese slices. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the tart is golden brown and just set in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Spinach with chickpeas

This recipe and the spices are from Seasoned Pioneers, who do a range of organic spices.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tsp Baharat spice mix
  • 1 can of organic chickpeas
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can organic chopped tomatoes
  • Around 500g spinach
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint.

METHOD:

  • Rinse the chickpeas, and set aside.
  • Chop the garlic, and fry for 1 minute in the olive oil.
  • Add the onions and fry for a further 5 minutes.
  • Add the spices and fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Mix in the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas and bring to a simmer, cook for around 5 minutes, until the chickpeas are hot through and the sauce is reducing down a little.
  • Meanwhile, bring some water to the boil, and cook the spinach for 5 minutes until wilted.
  • Mix the spinach into the tomato mixture, and put into a serving dish
  • Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and mint, and dribble over the top just before serving.

This was very tasty indeed.