It has definitely decided to skip Spring here and go straight to Summer, at least for the moment. It always rains at Easter though, every year, without fail. Just as the re-enactment of the crucifixion gets going. Poor Jesus (a very honoured young man from the town) up on that cross in the pouring rain. It all adds to the dramatic effect, I suppose. I’ll be following the processions and documenting all that is Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Alhaurin next weekend. You’ll get to see some photos of the most important date in the town’s religious calendar and hopefully feel some of the atmosphere and theatre of it all. It really is not to be missed.
Anyway this pre- Easter heat wave has got me craving summery food and, to me, there is nothing that says Summer more than Mediterranean roasted vegetables. I love roasted veg, I don’t know why I don’t cook them more often. It is easy, packed full of flavour tastes like sunshine on a plate. You can roast them with whatever herbs and spices you like. I went for the classic garlic and rosemary because I have a rosemary plant on my terrace that is growing like mad at the moment. I added a pinch of dried chilli flakes too because I think it brings out all the other flavours but if you don’t like chilli, leave it out.
I went for the all time Top 3 (in my opinion) summer Mediterranean vegetables. Red pepper, aubergine and courgette with an onion (red would be nice) thrown in to bring it all together. I roasted them on 3 trays all at the same time. One for the pepper & onion, one for the courgette and one for the aubergine. They take about 30 – 35 minutes to get nicely browned. I put some whole unpeeled garlic cloves on the tray to roast as well for about 10 – 15 minutes. I love roasted garlic it’s sweet, mild and smoky and tastes amazing in my favourite butterbean mash.
I bought a big bunch of beautifully scented basil too. The smell of fresh basil screams summer to me and I had an idea to make a basil pesto bean mash without the cheese, cream or butter (because of the detox). What I ended up doing was a kind of deconstructed pesto. I blended the five roasted garlic cloves with a tin of butterbeans loads of sliced basil leaves some lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. I decided to leave the pine nuts out and use them toasted as a garnish to give an added crunch. Who knew pesto without the parmesan was so good? Because nobody told me. It’s a revelation, totally delicious and in no way lacking in flavour in the absence of cheese. If you don’t believe me try this recipe, it’s my new favourite thing. Pesto, no parmesan is my friend…
Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables
serves 2, vegan, gluten-free
- 1 large red pepper, deseeded & cut into wide strips
- 1 red onion, peeled & cut into wedges
- 1 large courgette, thinly sliced, lengthways
- 1 aubergine, thinly sliced lengthways
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 tbsp olive oil (or more)
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- 3 pinches of dried chilli flakes
- salt & black pepper
- 5 or 6 unpeeled cloves of garlic for the bean mash
Preheat oven to 200 C. Put the sliced veg on three lined baking trays. The pepper & onion on one, courgette on the second and aubergine on the third.
In a small bowl, combine the crushed cloves of garlic, chopped rosemary leaves, chilli flakes, olive oil, salt & black pepper. Brush a little of this mixture over each piece of veg, you may need to add more oil.
If you are making the roasted garlic for the bean mash put 5 or 6 cloves of unpeeled garlic on one of the trays and remove from the oven after about 15 minutes until softened.
Roast the veg in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until slightly charred and tender.
Roasted Garlic & Basil Pesto Butter Bean Puree with Toasted Pine Nuts
serves 2 vegan, gluten-free
- 5 or 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled, roasted (see above)
- 1 tin/jar 400 gr cooked butter beans (or any white bean), drained & rinsed
- the juice of half a lemon
- 3 or 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 15 – 20 large basil leaves, stacked, rolled up and finely sliced
- salt & black pepper
- a handful of pine nuts
- basil leaves, stacked, rolled and finely sliced for garnish
Put the rinsed & drained beans into a bowl or food processor. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins into the beans. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the pine nuts and blend to a smooth creamy puree.
If it is too thick add more olive oil or a splash or stock/water. Taste for seasoning, you may need more salt, lemon juice or basil.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan, shaking occasionally, until slightly browned. Keep your eye on them or they will burn. When you are ready to serve heat the bean puree in a saucepan.
If you want to make pesto, no parmesan replace the butterbeans with a handful of toasted pine nuts, blend and adjust seasoning to taste. It’s lovely on baby new potatoes…..
Serve a big spoonful of the deliciously creamy bean mash next to a twisted pile of the Mediterranean roasted veg. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and shredded basil leaves. Eat and remember, this is good for you. It tastes so good you’d think it was bad….
Red Peppers are super-rich in vitamin C and beta carotene, both powerful antioxidants with anticancer effects. The aubergines & courgettes are rich in potassium, which helps to balance fluid levels in the body.
Moment of Gratitude or “Things that made me smile today”….
A herd of goats blocking the road…
Buen Fin de Semana!!