Tag Archives: feta

Pumpkin, Feta and Spinach Wholemeal Calzones

6 Dec

Calzones are folded pizzas with the filling inside, like Italian pasties really. You can fill them with whatever you like but I love the autumn wintery feeling that you get from pumpkin or squash. Tomato and mozzarella feels a bit too summery for me at the moment.

The idea for this filling came from Rufus (not my dog, silly). This Rufus is actually called Greg (Rufus is his middle name) and the recipe was made by his wife, Katherine. Confused?

Continue reading

Savoury Feta and Pomegranate Cheesecake with Pistachio, Mint and Parsley (and a Winner!!)

29 Oct

Having seen Beth Michelle’s beautiful pure white sweet cheesecake bed topped with a generous pile of glistening ruby pomegranate jewels, I knew that I was going to make a cheesecake with the pomegranates that I am now seeing all over the trees here at the moment.

At the restaurant we used to serve a savoury cheesecake with an apricot chutney. It wasn’t baked and I think it was goat’s cheese. Anyway I was thinking of going down a Greek/Middle Eastern road because of the pomegranate, and feta was the obvious cheese choice. Continue reading

Tyrokafteri – A Greek Chilli Cheese Dip with Homemade Goat’s Cheese

24 Aug

I’ve made Middle Eastern yoghurt cheese (labneh) before by straining Greek yoghurt in the fridge overnight but I’d never gone one step back and actually made the yoghurt as well.

I read about it at Chica Andaluza. She made yoghurt from cow’s milk and then drained it for longer to make a soft cheese. I really wanted to try this with goat’s milk to see if I could make my own soft goat’s cheese.

It took a little longer than expected to “turn” which may have had something to do with the unseasonably cloudy weather we had as soon as I decided I wanted to put my milk out in the sun, but it worked. I made soft goat’s cheese from goat’s milk and it was easy.

A litre carton of goat’s milk made about 250 gr goat’s cheese spread, which is the size of a tub of Philadelphia, it’s that sort of texture too.

Now I could get on with making a Greek chilli cheese dip called Tyrokafteri that had been wanting to try for a while. The original recipe is a mixture of feta cheese and ricotta blended with chillis, lemon juice and olive oil. I just replaced those with my soft goat’s cheese.

Tyrokafteri Chilli Cheese Dip/Sauce Recipe

Makes about 300 ml, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Epicurious

  • 4 red & 4 green chillis, I used birds eye chillis (use 20 gr if using the larger mild chillies)
  • 250 gr soft goat’s cheese (or 165 gr feta & 85 gr ricotta)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 35 ml extra virgen olive oil
  • salt & black pepper

Wash the chillis, remove the stalks, cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds and membrane. Wear gloves or your hands will sting for ages and don’t touch your eyes.

Boil them in a small pan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and peel off the skin (if using larger chillies) using gloves. If you used small chillies no need to peel. Boiling them takes away some of the heat but not the flavour.

Put the rest of the ingredients and  in a blender/processor and blend together well. I added my chillies two at a time because I was worried about it being too hot, and blended again. Taste and add more chillies until you are happy with the heat. I added all eight in the end and it was perfect. Blend until smooth and season with salt & black pepper. If  you are using feta you may not need any salt.

Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate until using. It tastes even better the next day.

Serve with toasted pita bread or crudites for dipping or drizzle over roasted or chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables. It’s addictive. I served mine with some baked zucchini fries and I will be posting the recipe tomorrow…

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

I love these flowers, they look like a multi-layered gerbera…..

The bees seem pretty taken with them too….

Hasta Manana!

Fig and Feta Sambousek with Homemade Harissa Sauce

6 Aug

The second wave of figs (higos) are just starting to ripen here now. This means that we have lots of figs.

We actually have a huge carrier bag full of them in the freezer that was given to us by our friend Leigh, thanks Leigh! Fig chutney was one of the first (in fact the second) recipe that I posted when I first started this blog last September. I’ve just made some more, it tastes great, really aromatic and spicy and it is amazing on a cheese sandwich.

We have just found a Lebanese restaurant in Alhaurin de la Torre called Beirut. It’s been there for ages and I don’t know why we haven’t been before because it has a huge amount of vegetarian dishes to choose from. We popped in for lunch on the way to the Viveros Guzman (an amazing garden centre) and ordered a vegetarian mezze called Katastroph to share.

Each little dish that they brought out was delicious. The hummus was the creamiest and the baba ghanoush was the smokiest that I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot. This was followed by a tabouleh, which was really fresh and was mainly fresh parsley (not a lot of bulgur) which is a good thing. The falafel were light and flavourful. All too often falafel can be heavy, dense and bland. Not these, there was an ingredient in there that I couldn’t recognise but was really familiar, something like fennel seeds, but not. All this was served with a really soft, light arab bread.

Then they brought out the thing that was, for me, the highlight. Sambusik (or sambousek) are little mini pasties, like samosas, but smaller. They seemed to be made out of the same dough as the bread and were stuffed with feta and onion or spinach and lemon. TO. DIE. FOR. Especially the feta and onion, like a mini cheese and onion pasty but softer. By the way I am not getting paid for this review, nor do they know that I am writing it. It is just something I had to share.

I researched it and found this recipe for the dough. It is not as soft and bread-like as theirs but it is really easy to work with, I added some fennel seeds to the dough for extra flavour too.

The fig chutney and feta combination was just born out of the fact that I have so much fig chutney and wanted to use it. It’s spicy sweetness contrasts really well with the salty, creamy feta. It would make a fabulous tart filling too. Just spread some on a puff pastry circle and crumble over the feta, cook at 220 C for about 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden and sprinkle over some fresh parsley to serve.

You could also use fresh figs as the base if you don’t want to bother making the chutney.

Those were the step by step pictures, in case you were wondering. This is the finished product.

I decided to make my own harissa sauce to go with this because, as you know, I have a mountain of chillis and it may be the only chilli sauce I haven’t made yet!

This sauce is hot so I mixed it with some greek yoghurt to serve with the sambousek.

Fig & Feta Sambousek with Homemade Harissa Sauce

For the harissa sauce:

Makes about 250 ml, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Taste Food

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tin/jar (200 gr) roasted red peppers, and any juice (I used piquillo peppers), roughly chopped
  • 3 red chillies, stemmed and finely chopped with seeds
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or more)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (tomate frito)
  • 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Toast the seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, but do not burn. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grid to a fine powder.

Put the peppers, chillis, garlic, ground seeds, tomato puree, olive oil and parsley in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding more oil or tomato puree, if necessary, to get the desired consistency. Season with the salt & black pepper and taste (a tiny amount). You may want to add more salt or a pinch of sugar. Pour into a sterilised bottle/jar, seal and keep in the fridge until needed.

For the Fig & Feta Sambousek:

Makes about 16 small pastries, vegetarian

  • 225 gr (1 1/2 cups) flour (I use Atta wholemeal), plus extra for dusting
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fennel or cumin seeds
  • 110 ml (1/2 cup) warm, not hot water
  • fig chutney, see my recipe here
  • 100-150 gr greek feta, cut into small cubes
  • fresh parsley leaves
  • sumac (optional)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • harissa sauce (see above)
  • greek yoghurt

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl, then stir in the seeds. Add the olive oil, stir it around then make a well in the middle and pour in the tepid water. Fold the flour into the water, turning the bowl as you go until it forms a sticky dough.

Flour the work surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky about 2 minutes. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll out the dough to about 3mm thick. Cut out small circles (I used a water-glass) about 3 inches diameter. Lift the excess pastry away from the circles, re-roll it and cut out more circles, you should get about 16 in total.

Spread the circles on your work surface and put a teaspoon of fig chutney in the centre of each one. Top this with a small cube of feta, a parsley leaf and a small pinch of sumac.

Lift up two opposite edges and seal them around the filling. Seal the two other ends, pinching them together to create a four-cornered sambousek (see pictures above). They can be refrigerated at this point.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Brush the baking paper with olive oil and place the sambousek on the tray, you may need two trays. Brush them with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Mix some harissa paste and greek yoghurt together, tasting until you get the right balance for you. Top with some fresh parsley leaves.

Serve the hot/warm sambousek with the harissa yoghurt sauce and sprinkle over some more fresh parsley.

Persian Spiced Lentil and Herb Soup with spinach and noodles

4 Feb

I love this weather we’re having here at the moment. It’s cold but sunny. Clear blue skies and you can see the snow on the mountains in the distance. It’s great for walking because you don’t get too hot and the views are spectacular…

You’ve got the snow on the Sierra de las Nieves on one side and the view down to the sea on the other…….

 And a lot of fragrant pines in between…

When I get back from walking I want something hearty, healthy and delicious for lunch. I have been meaning to try this soup for a while, it has all my favourite things in one dish. Lentils, Middle Eastern spices and loads of fresh herbs and greens. I’ve reworked a Persian recipe I found for Aashe Reshteh. Aashe (soup) Reshteh (noodle) is made with Sabzi (fresh greens) which can include parsley, coriander, mint, spinach, spring onions, dill and whatever else green you have. I used lentils and kidney beans but you could use chickpeas, white beans or whatever you have. The original recipe I found cooked this for 3-4 hours, I have no idea why it was ready as soon as the pasta was cooked. It took about half an hour in total and the greens are still fresh and delicious…

Persian Lentil & Herb Soup with Spinach & Noodles

serves 4 vegetarian

  • 175 gr (1 cup) brown lentils (uncooked)
  • 1-1 1/2 litres veg stock 
  • 200 gr cooked kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 leek, rinsed & sliced
  •  2 stalks celery & leaves chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or 1 garlic shoot
  • 1/2 head cabbage, cored & shredded
  • a big pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sumac (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp  Ras al Hanout (a Middle eastern spice mix)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • a bag of spinach (300 gr) I used frozen chopped spinach which comes in portions I used about 6 squares.
  • a big handful of parsley, chopped
  • a big handful coriander chopped
  • 2 or 3 spring onions, chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 100 gr dried noodles (I used wholemeal spaghetti broken but you can use fine vermicelli, like you would for a minestrone)
  • 4 tsp greek yoghurt or sour cream

In a small pan cook the lentils in 600 ml (3 cups) liquid (I used 400 veg stock 200 water). Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a big pot over a medium heat. Cook the onions, leeks & celery for about 8 minutes until they start to soften then add the garlic and cook for another minute. If it gets dry at any time add a splash of veg stock. Add in the spices and dried herbs then pour in the lentils and their cooking liquid. It doesn’t matter if the lentils aren’t cooked they will carry on cooking in the soup. Add in about a litre of stock, the cabbage, frozen spinach(if you are using fresh leave it till later) and the cooked beans. Bring to the boil add in the broken pasta/ noodles, lower the heat and simmer until the pasta is cooked (about 10 -15 minutes). About 5 minutes before you want to serve the soup add in the fresh spinach & half of the fresh herbs and spring onions.

Ladle the hot soup into warmed bowls and garnish with a dollop of Greek yoghurt/sour cream and the rest of the chopped fresh herbs and spring onions…..

I served this delicious soup with some Halloumi Cheese & Garlic Pull- Apart Bread (which tastes as amazing as it sounds) and I will be posting the recipe tomorrow……… Hasta Manana!!

 

    

Spinach and Feta Fatayers with pine nuts and sultanas

31 Dec

I got the original recipe for Spinach Fatayers from Taste of Beirut. She makes little ones kind of canape style with  a special pastry rolled out really thinly. I had some puff pastry defrosted in the fridge to use up so I decided to go with that. I made them a lot bigger too so they were a main course or lunch portion size each. I added feta cheese to the filling because I love it with spinach, and sultanas to go with the pine nuts. I also added dried mint & nutmeg.  Taste of Beirut always inspires and delivers on flavour, I’m addicted…

Spinach & Feta Fatayers

makes 4 or 5, vegetarian

  • 1 block/ sheet puff pastry defrosted in the fridge overnight (See the original pastry recipe here)
  • 300 gr frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 120 gr Greek Feta cheese
  • 50 gr sultanas
  • 50 gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 tsp sumac (a crushed dried berry used in Middle Eastern cooking it has a smokey lemony flavour)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  •  1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten for glazing pastry

Defrost the spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (you can do this in a clean tea towel but don’t use your new favourite one!). Make sure all the water is out of the spinach and that it is really dry. Mix the onions, spices, salt & pepper in a bowl then add the spinach, crumbled feta, pine nuts & sultanas. Whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice and pour it over the spinach mixture, stirring everything well to combine. Put this mixture in the fridge while you roll out the pastry. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees.

Flour your work surface & rolling-pin and roll out the pastry as thinly as possible (about 1 – 2mm). Cut out 4 or 5 circles 6 inches(15 cm) diameter, spoon about 2 heaped tbsp of the mixture into the centre of each circle and spread it out evenly (leave about a 1 cm border clear).

Brush the border with beaten egg, pick up the circle, pinch 2 sides together to from an open cone/triangle. Pinch the edges together so they are sealed.

Then close up the third edge, making a pyramid, pinching the edges together to seal them. It doesn’t matter if there is an opening in the middle.

Brush the tops with beaten egg and place on a baking sheet lined with oiled parchment paper.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until puffed & golden. Leave to cool slightly before eating. These are best eaten warm or at room temperature.

Serve with a simple cucumber salad dressed with olive oil & lemon juice for lunch or with some spice roasted new potatoes and a cucumber, yoghurt & mint raita for dinner… Enjoy!

“Your Best Recipe” is a monthly round-up of the Food Blogging community’s best recipes hosted by Nancy at Spicie Foodie.  As we come to the end of 2010 people are sharing their best recipes of the year. Click on the badge above to see some fabulous recipes and photos from the last year of cooking and food blogging… Thanks Nancy and Happy New Year to Everyone!!

Shakshuka – eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce

20 Dec

Shakshuka is an Israeli dish perfect for a spicy Sunday Brunch. It is all cooked in one pan so less washing up and you don’t have to worry about poaching the eggs because they cook in the tomato sauce. This dish is really simple and shouldn’t be as delicious as it is…

Shakshuka Recipe

serves 2 vegetarian

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chilli chopped
  •  1/2 red onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2- 3/4 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 75 ml veg stock or water
  •  salt & black pepper
  •  4 eggs
  • 5o gr feta cheese
  •  a handful of chopped coriander or parsley plus some leaves for garnish
  • warm bread (I used a rustic baguette but pita or flatbread would be nice)

Heat the oil in a large- ish frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onions & chilli for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until softened. Add the garlic, cumin & paprika and cook & stir for 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and stock/water, reduce the heat slightly and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced.(About 8 – 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

Crack the eggs into the sauce, try to do one in each corner. Put the lid on and cook for about 5 – 6 minutes until the yolks are just set. Baste the whites with the tomato mixture but don’t break the yolks. Replace the lid for another minute if you need to cook  the whites more. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and crumble over the feta cheese.

 If you’re really lazy you can eat it straight out of the pan with some crusty bread. If not serve it on warmed plates with extra coriander leaves and the bread on the side.

I think this brunch could be the perfect  “hangover cure” for the holiday season. Bloody Mary anyone?!!

Moroccan Butternut Squash and Barley “Tagine”

19 Dec
 

 

 

This my version of a Moroccan Vegetable Tagine which would generally be served with couscous not barley but barley gives me a Winter warmer feeling and couscous reminds me of Summer for some reason. Tagine is the name of the dish that the casserole or stew is cooked in. Usually earthenware/terracotta with a conical lid to let the steam circulate while the dish cooks.

I don’t have a Tagine which is unbelievable since the restaurant we owned here was decorated in a Moroccan style and I went to Tangiers with my dad to buy the lights, lanterns, fabrics and ashtrays.  That was a long day, we left the house at about 5.30 am to drive down the coast to Algeciras to catch the ferry to Tangiers. When we finally arrived at the port of Tangier and disembarked we were surrounded by about 30 guides all offering their services. They wouldn’t take no for an answer so we ended up being escorted through the souk to a shop owned by the guide’s cousin.

It really would be a shopper’s paradise if you were left alone to browse through the beautiful lanterns, slippers and fabrics, but no, out come the kelims, hundreds of them, hand-woven in silk by virgins in the mountains. They are beautiful but we were on a very tight budget given to us by the Washer Up and were under strict instructions not to deviate and we didn’t need any rugs!! My dad doesn’t “do” budgets and can’t resist beautiful things so I had my work cut out. We also had the shop owner plying us with mint tea and pastries, which gave me a huge sugar rush, I had to take control so I told them all to leave us alone or we wouldn’t by anything… It worked!

We ended up buying everything we needed in budget and surprisingly didn’t miss the last boat home. Probably because it sat in the port not moving for 2 hours while we were waiting for it to leave! This meant that we didn’t get home until 1am the next day. A successful trip but not one to be repeated in a hurry.

The ashtrays we bought for the tables were mini decorated tagines which were really popular and were always being stolen or people wanted to buy them. I think this probably explains why I don’t own a Tagine, I spent nearly 10 years emptying & cleaning them so I would be quite happy never to see one ever again….

This recipe is very flexible you can use whatever vegetables & beans you have in the house. The red beans could be replaced with chickpeas, the squash replaced with sweet potato, the possibilities are endless…

 

Moroccan Butternut Squash & Barley “Tagine”

 

serves 4 Vegetarian
 
 

 

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 leek washed & sliced
  • 1 kilo squash or pumpkin, peeled & cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  •  1 carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery sliced (reserve some leaves for garnish)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree not paste)
  •  7 or 8 dates, stoned & chopped
  •  200 gr cooked red beans(about 1/2 a jar/tin) drained and rinsed
  • 100 gr barley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  •  1/2 tsp harissa paste (or any chilli paste or cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 /4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ras-al Hanout (a Moroccan spice mix) optional
  • 1 tsp sumac (a crushed dried berry which has a smokey lemony flavour) optional
  • 750 ml veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • the juice of 1 mandarin
  • toasted almonds chopped
  • a handful of mint, coriander & parsley chopped and the reserved celery leaves
  • some feta crumbled or greek yoghurt

 

 

 

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion, celery, leek & carrots with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes until softened. Then add the garlic cook for another minute and start adding the spices. You can moisten the pan with some lemon juice if its drying out. Add the chopped tomatoes & tomato puree, cook for 2 a minute then add the squash cubes and dates. Stir the squash to coat it in the tomatoey spices then add the veg stock and season generously with salt & black pepper. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium low and cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes add the barley, stir to combine, replace the lid and cook for a further 10 – 12 minutes. By this time the squash and the barley should be cooked, if not give it a bit longer. Stir in the mandarin juice and the beans and give it a couple of minutes more. Taste for seasoning.

Serve garnished with the chopped almonds, crumbled feta (or yoghurt)  and the fresh herbs……
 

This is one of the those dishes I will cook again and again it is so flavourful and comforting and the colours are beautiful as well.

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 

 

Another Fine Mezze….

29 Nov

 “The weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful…” 

These cute little pastries were another part of the Thanksgiving mezze I served on Friday night to our friends Caroline & Jean and that song could have been written for us. As the rain continuously lashed down outside, we were inside enjoying a glass of pink cava by the roaring fireplace. So roaring, in fact, that the glass door of the fire broke about 10 minutes before they arrived and smoked out the whole house! The Washer Up wasn’t amused- we had to let all the smoke (and heat) out by opening the doors. But alls well that ends well, it didn’t take long to heat back up again. We definitely all had a rosy glow. Whether that was from the fire or the cava I couldn’t say but we had a fantastic evening. It’s so lovely to spend time with friends, sharing food and stories around the dinner table, giving thanks for all the beautiful things in life…

These little Muhammara Cigars are another recipe I found on www.tasteofbeirut.com. Muhammara is a dip made from walnuts & hot red pepper paste.  Its addictive taste is one I remember serving at the restaurant on a Lebanese Evening and then wanting to serve it with everything. It is great as a dip for raw veggies or with flatbreads or crackers. In fact it is good on just about anything. The idea of mixing it with feta cheese and then rolling it in filo pastry before baking them into hot crispy, cheesy nibbles is one I could not resist. Some things are just meant to be…

Apparently everyone has their own personal recipe for Muhammara using different nuts and different amounts of the other ingredients. This is mine, why not discover yours…. 

Muhammara Cigars

adapted from a Taste of Beirut recipe

makes about 12- 15, vegetarian

For the muhammara

  • 1oo gr walnuts
  • 100 gr almonds
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  •  the juice of 1/2 a pomegranate (or a tbsp pomegranate molasses)
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste (or any hot chilli paste)
  • 150-200 gr jar roasted peppers
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • about 75 ml olive oil
  • salt

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until smooth but still with some texture. Taste for seasoning you may need more salt or chilli paste, maybe some lemon juice…

You will only be using about 1/2 of this mixture for the cigars, just store the rest in the fridge and serve as a dip, a pasta sauce, on a baked potato or even as a sauce for meat or fish.

For the Cigars

  • 1 packet frozen filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 2oo gr Greek Feta cheese
  • 100 gr grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or manchego are good)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 egg white
  • white pepper
  • melted butter or olive oil to brush on the filo
  • sesame seeds

Leave about half of the Muhammara in the bowl and store the rest in the fridge. Crumble in the Feta, add the grated cheese, chopped onion, white pepper & egg white and blitz again until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Lay a long piece of foil on your worksurface and brush it with oil or melted butter. Lay the filo out flat, cut into two squares then cut each square diagonally into quarters so you end up with eight triangles. There should be about 8 layers of the filo pastry, take 3 or 4 layers off of the top of one of the triangles and use these as the wrapping of your first cigar.

Lay the triangle with the long side facing you on the buttered foil. Brush the 3 corners with butter then place heaped tablespoon of the mixture a little way in from the long edge and start to roll it up like a spring roll. Brush with more butter on top of the rolled cigar and fold in the edges to seal them. Don’t worry if they are a bit of a mess, mine were, just stick them together with the butter or oil and hope for the best!!

Continue rolling all your cigars, you should get 16 triangles but filo can break easily sometimes, I only managed 12. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Place all the cigars on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush the tops with a bit more butter/oil then sprinkle over some sesame seeds. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until browned and serve immediately….

I served these with a Tahini Yoghurt & Mint sauce made with the wild mint we picked by the side of the river.

Tahini, Yoghurt & Mint Sauce

Vegetarian served 4 -6 as a sauce

  • 2 pots greek yoghurt about 250 ml
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tsp tahini paste
  • a handful of chopped fresh mint
  • salt & black pepper

Mix the lemon juice in with the tahini until smooth then add all the other ingredients and stir until well combined. Taste for seasoning.

This sauce is great to serve as part of a mezze. It goes really well as a sauce for falafels or my recipe for Honey Spiced Aubergines here. It would also be fantastic with lamb kebabs. You can add some toasted cumin seeds for more flavour, some minced garlic or even some grated cucumber would be lovely……

Lebanese Lentil Salad with Pomegranate and Feta

21 Nov

I love the colour of pomegranates, I want a pomegranate wall in our office. Either pomegranate or tomato I can’t decide. These pomegranates were given to me by my friend Margarita, the one with the olive trees, she has pomegranates too…

This lentil salad is part of a mezze I made on Friday. The inspiration came from a blog I follow called Kalyn’s Kitchen which I found through a site called Vegolicious. As the name suggests, Vegolicious is a site where people share their vegetarian photos & recipes. I use it a lot for inspiration and I have also posted some of my recipes there.

The recipe was for Lebanese Lentil Salad with Garlic, Cumin, Mint & Parsley which was exactly the base I was looking for. All I had to do was add the sweet pomegranate jewels, some red onion and the sharp & creamy white feta to create the dish that was in my head.  The perfect backdrop from which the beautiful pomegranates could sparkle..

Lebanese Lentil & Herb Salad with Pomegranate & Feta

Serves 4 – 6 as part of a mezze. Vegetarian

  • 1 cup uncooked brown lentils (about 175 gr)
  • 3 cups water (about 6oo ml)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 7 or 8 cloves garlic very finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • a big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a big handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  •  1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  •  about 100 gr Greek feta

Rinse the lentils under the tap then put them in a small pan with the water, bring to the boil, then simmer gently until lentils are cooked (about 25 – 30 mins). They should be tender inside but still holding their shape.

Meanwhile, mince the garlic cloves & chop the onion very finely. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion & garlic and cook over a very low heat until well softened but not coloured, about 10 – 12 minutes. Then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, finely chop the mint & parsley. Whisk together the lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, cumin, cinnamon & nutmeg. Cut the pomegranate in half horizontally (not through the crown), hold it in your palm, seeds facing down, into a large bowl and tap it quite forcefully, on the back, with a wooden spoon. The seeds should fall out into the bowl. Keep tapping until you have all the seeds and pick any white bits out of the bowl.

When lentils are tender, drain well, rinse under cold water then return to the pan.(Not on the heat). Turn the heat back on the garlic & onion pan, add the lemon dressing mixture and heat for about a minute. Pour this over the lentils and gently stir to make sure the lentils are well coated in the dressing.

Stir in the fresh herbs and season well with salt & black pepper. You can serve this salad warm or at room temperature. When you are ready to serve the salad sprinkle it with the pomegranate seeds, crumble over the feta and finish it off with a few more chopped herbs.

This salad can be kept in the fridge, just bring it up to room temperature and add the feta & pomegranate as you serve it.  The combination of the salty, sharp feta & the sweet, crunchy pomegranate with the garlicky lentils and fresh herbs is just spectacular. You have to try it..

Tomorrow I’ll be posting another delicious mezze dish Butternut Hummus! All the addictiveness of Hummus with the extra colour & sweetness of  butternut squash, yum…..

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