Pasta with a cream sauce and vegetables

Cream sauce is a classic, but I usually only make this recipe when I have lots of vegetables in the garden, over the summer. This year I grew red orache, and it turned the whole dish a lovely pink colour. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25g butter (use vegetable oil for a vegan version)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 300ml cream (use soya cream for a vegan version)
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • Approx 700g fresh vegetables – a mixture of orache, shelled broad beans, mange tout, asparagus tips, carrots, etcetera
  • 400g pasta (best with fusilli)
  • A good squeeze of lemon juice
  • Herb garnish (chervil, or parsley, or chive flowers)

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a small to medium saucepan, and add gently cook the onion for around 10 minutes until tender.
  • Add the garlic, cook for a couple more minutes, and then add the cream. Leave to simmer gently so that the mixture thickens, around 10 minutes.
  • Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and set aside until it is required. 
  • Prepare the vegetables; cut the asparagus into 2 cm lengths, peel and cut the carrots into similar sized pieces, cut the orache or spinach to large shreds. 
  • Steam the beans, asparagus and carrots for around 5 minutes, then add the other vegetables for another 3 minutes or so. 
  • Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, around 10 minutes. 
  • Add the vegetables to the cream sauce and bring to a simmer, check the seasoning and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Do not forget this step because it is a bit dull without it. 
  • Add the sauce to the drained pasta, and serve on warmed plates, garnished with herbs. 

Asparagus Risotto

This is a beautiful summer risotto. We made it because there was asparagus that had been reduced in the co-op, and added some fresh vegetables from the garden. I added mange tout peas, broad beans, and chive flowers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g broad beans
  • 100g asparagus, chopped into 2cm lengths
  • 100g mange tout peas (or about 300g total green vegetables)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh sage
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • a handful of chive flowers

METHOD:

  • Gently fry the onion in half of the butter, until it is soft, about five minutes.
  • Add the rice and give it a good stir, heating it through. 
  • Add the glass of wine, and bring the mixture back to a simmer. 
  • Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, bringing the risotto back to a simmer each time, and waiting for the stock to be absorbed into the rice. 
  • About half-way through, add the sage, asparagus, beans and peas. Continue adding the stock as before. 
  • When the rice is just about done, take the risotto from the heat, stir in the parmesan and the chive flowers and the rest of the butter. Season with pepper, and a bit of salt if required. Leave the risotto to rest. 
  • Transfer to a warmed platter to serve. 

This can be garnished with toasted sage leaves, or other chopped herbs. 

Vegetarian French Onion Soup

It is raining this morning, so I am looking out the soup recipes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium to large onions, peeled and thinly sliced into rings. 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1.2 litres of hot stock 
  • 300ml white wine
  • 2 tbsp brandy 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 250g Emmental cheese, grated.

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C gas 4
  • Mix 1 tbsp olive oil with one clove of crushed garlic, and put into an oven-proof tray or baking sheet.
  • Slice the baguette into thin slanting slices, and mix with the olive oil and garlic. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes. 
  • In a large saucepan or casserole dish, on a high heat, melt 50g of butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil, and when this is very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, and keep turning and stirring until the onions are getting quite dark around the edges. 
  • Reduce the heat right down, and cook very slowly for another 30 minutes or so. 
  • Pour in the stock and wine, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and then cook very gently for about an hour. Don’t cover with a lid. 
  • Just before serving, put the grill on.
  • Transfer the soup into a tureen or serving bowls. Put the toasted baguette onto the soup, cover with the grated cheese and put everything under the grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling. 
  • Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. The bowls will be very hot, so be careful. 

 

Celeriac and celery soup

This has its roots in Delia Smith’s vegetarian cook book. Some of the recipes have lasted with me, and it is a book I dip back to regularly. It is a good way to use all of the celery that gets left from other recipes that only use one or two stalks. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g approx of celery stalks
  • 550g approx of celeriac, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1.5 litres of marigold stock
  • 3 bayleaves
  • salt and pepper
  • creme fraiche or greek yoghurt, chopped herbs to serve. 

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 140C gas mark 1
  • Use a peeler or sharp knife to remove any stringy sections from the outside of the celery stalks. Cut into large chunks.
  • Peel and chop the celeriac, and cut the onion into large wedges.
  • Put all of the ingredients into a large casserole dish with the stock, bayleaves, salt and pepper. Bring it to a simmer on the hob, cover, and transfer to the oven. 
  • Leave to cook in the oven for three hours. 
  • Remove the bayleaves, and blend using a soup wand, 
  • Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche, and chopped herbs. Parsley or chopped celery leaves work well, so do chive flowers, the colour contrast is so beautiful. 

 

Butternut squash and chickpea stew

A visitor to my house made this, and then referred me to the Kitchenist website. The stew was delicious. I’m not going to type it out, because the Kitchenist has already done that and you can just click on the link. Instead, here are my top tips for making this. 

First of all, I made Barbari Naan to go with it, but haven’t perfected the techniques for that yet, so you’ll need to wait for the recipe. Nan or pitta bread should be good. I also served this with home-made labneh, which was delicious. Recipe for that coming soon. A Greek salad with lots of feta cheese in is also good. 

I also found that the recipe needs a bit of salt and pepper, just my own taste, I suspect. 

There’s a bit in the recipe that calls for garlic, ginger and lemongrass to be mashed together. I have a small coffee/spice grinder attachment for my bamix blender that I use just for this sort of thing, small and quick. There are a few similar products on the market, really worth while for this sort of cooking. 

 

 

Beans, garlic, dill and eggs

I can hardly wait to tell you about this recipe, or to eat it again. It is delicious, and dangerously garlicky, so I think I will be in trouble at work tomorrow. I made it with tinned beans, but the original recipe starts from scratch. I got the recipe from the remarkable book, Nightingales and Roses. These are recipes from all over Iran, organised by seasonal availability of ingredients. Where she wins over my other current favourite book, Jerusalem, is her serving suggestions. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of cannellini or borlotti beans
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small bulb of garlic, with the cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tsp of dill seed, or 5 tsp dried dill weed, or 30g fresh dill, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 eggs

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a medium lidded frying pan, add the oil and then the chopped garlic, and fry until the garlic is turning golden. 
  • Add the turmeric, pepper, dill, and salt, and then add the can of beans including the water they are in. 
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook, until the mixture is getting drier and thicker. 
  • Make 4 wells in the bean mixture, and into each well, break an egg. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat until the eggs are cooked to your liking. 

The book suggests serving this with a little rice, with side dishes of olives, chopped radishes, smoked fish. We were not so dainty, and served this with a side salad with herbs and some bread, olives and labneh

Frittata

I think I got this recipe from Nadine Abensur’s new Cranks’ recipe book, which I gave to someone. We are in peak egg season at the moment, I have been given so many boxes of eggs. Combine that with summer potatoes, and the sweet burn of fresh garlic from the garden. Who knew that the Hebrides could be so lush. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • New potatoes, around 4 medium sized, or more if they are smaller
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Lots of olive oil
  • tomatoes, peppers or other vegetable, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 eggs

METHOD:

  • Slice the potatoes thickly, and slice the onions finely. Chop the garlic. 
  • Heat some olive oil in a large deep frying pan. Turn the heat to low and then add the potatoes, onions and garlic. Cook on a low low heat until the potatoes are cooked. Stir so that nothing burns. 
  • Meanwhile, beat the eggs with salt and pepper. 
  • Add the fried potatoes to the eggs
  • Put the onions or other vegetables with a little oil in the pan, and then, over a medium heat, add the eggs and potatoes. 
  • Once the edges and bottom of the frittata appear to be cooked, put the pan under a hot grill for 4-5 minutes

Serve in slices with salad and wine. 

Penne with wild orache, pine nuts and parmesan

I put seaweed on my soft fruit plants this year, and as a result, I think I imported a load of orache seeds. If you don’t know, orache is a weed that grows on the upper shore at this time of year, and it is delicious. I’ve got more than I can eat at the moment, the most successful vegetable in my garden at the moment. I also had some left-over wholewheat pasta courtesy of my super-healthy children, so I used that too. Plain pasta is good too. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g pasta
  • salt
  • enough orache to feed four people (no idea of weight, it just looked OK)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped, not crushed
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a squeeze of orange juice
  • 50g pine-nuts, toasted
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Fill a large pan with water, bring to the boil and then add the pasta along with a good spoonful of salt, and bring the water back to the boil. Let the pasta cook as long as the pack says (8 minutes for plain pasta, 11 minutes for wholewheat is the usual thing)
  • A couple of minutes before the pasta is done, stir-fry the orache and garlic in a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes, until the orache has wilted. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice
  • Drain the cooked pasta and the put it back in the warm pan. Add the orache and the pine nuts and parmesan. Give it all a quick stir, check the seasoning, and serve. 

Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini

This is another recipe from Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi. It fits well with my lifestyle in summer; food that can be put in the oven, and then served hot or cold, straight away or for the next meal, part of a large meal or just as a light lunch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Large butternut squash. 
  • 3 red onions
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp light tahini paste (available locally!)
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp za’atar (from Seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 240C gas mark 9
  • Cut the onions and butternut squash into wedges. I peeled and cut each onion into 6-8 wedges. I cut the squash into 3 equal bits across the way, and then cut each bit into 6-8 wedges, measuring around 2cm by 6cm. Remove the seeds.
  • Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, and add 3 tbsp of olive oil, stir to coat, and then add 1 tsp salt, black pepper and mix well. 
  • Spread the onions and squash onto a baking tray, and turn the squash skin-side down. 
  • Roast in the hot oven for 30 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, use a small bowl and a fork to mix the tahini with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp water, crushed garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt. The mixture should be runny, like honey. 
  • Pour a little olive oil into a pan, and toast the pine nuts over a medium heat with a pinch of salt. Stir, keeping a close eye, until the pine nuts are toasty brown. Transfer to a small bowl. 
  • Put the roast vegetables onto a serving platter, drizzle over with the tahini dressing, sprinkle over with the toasted pine-nuts in oil, and then sprinkle over the za’atar and chopped parsley. 

I enjoyed this better when cooled down to a warm dish, rather than hot. Also good cold the next day. 

 

New potatoes with green beans, celeriac and halloumi

I’ve been playing with this recipe for about a month, which means we have been eating various versions of it every few days. It is quite delicious, and it is easy to adapt to what you have available. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400 to 500g new potatoes, chopped into bite-size chunks (Jersey Royals work well, one bag full)
  • 5 cloves garlic, skin-on, lightly squished
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, and ground black pepper to taste
  • 200g green beans, halved (one pack is usually between 140 and 250g – one pack will do)
  • 1/2 celeriac, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (optional)
  • 225g halloumi, cut into 2cm cubes (one pack)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (equally delicious with lime juice)
  • 1 tsp cumin or caraway seed (optional)

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
  • Put the potatoes and celeriac in a large roasting tray with the garlic, add the olive oil, salt and pepper, the cumin or caraway seed, and mix well. Cook for 30 minutes in the oven.
  • Remove from the oven, add the beans and halloumi and toss to combine. Return the tray to the oven for 15 mins until the beans are tender and the cheese is starting to caramelise.
  • Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and toss everything again, then transfer to a serving dish. 

This is really good cold the next day as well. You could serve it as a side-dish, a starter or as a light lunch.