Tag Archives: mediterranean

Mediterranean Roasted Veg with Basil Bean Puree and Toasted Pine Nuts

15 Apr

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!!

Mediterroccan Tapas Mezze

6 Apr

This is a bit of a mish mash of different mezze & tapas dishes that I wanted to try. I bought a tin of whole roasted peppers after seeing Jamie Oliver stuff them with ground almonds, Manchego cheese and breadcrumbs for one of his 30 Minute Meals. This is a tin of Pimientos del Piquillo.

This is taken from Iberia Nature “Pimientos del piquillo (piquillo peppers) come from Navarra. These small red peppers are charred over wood charcoal or old vines, then peeled by hand, marinated in olive oil with herbs, and eventually eaten either alone, in a salad or stuffed. The flavour of canned or jarred piquillo peppers is so extraordinary Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Ferran Adrià and many other famous chefs use them. Indeed 99% of Spain’s cooks (amateurs or pros) use canned or jarred piquillos. In general, I’d never recommend a canned product over a fresh one, but in this instance I will.  In the case of piquillos, the essential flavour may actually be enhanced by the preservation, and the texture is definitely improved”.

Here in Andalucia one of the most popular ingredients used for stuffing the peppers is Bacalao, (salt cod) mixed with a kind of bechamel sauce. I have been caught out before in tapas bars when we first came here thinking the stuffing was mashed potato because that is what it looks like. Also when you ask most Spanish people if something is vegetarian they say yes even if it contains fish. I have always wanted to make a my own version of this dish as it looks so appealing.  I used some leftover mashed potato mixed with Jamie’s ground almonds, Manchego cheese, breadcrumbs and sherry (Jerez) vinegar to create the stuffing and used a piping bag to fill them. Much easier than trying to do it with a spoon.

Another recipe I’ve been wanting to try for a while is Foul Mdammas. A Middle Eastern dish made with fava beans/broad beans, tomatoes, lemon juice herbs & spices it is a fresh & seasonal salad. The recipe came from the beautiful Orange Blossom Water . I used frozen broad beans for this recipe which I peeled after cooking but you don’t have to. I just prefer the bright green colour and don’t really like the texture of the outer skins. I topped my Foul with some crumbled Feta because I couldn’t resist.

I haven’t made Hummus for a long time which is strange because it used to be my favourite thing. I think I may have OD’d on it slightly. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it was all that I ate for a long time when we had the restaurant. I didn’t have time to eat properly so I would just grab some crackers and hummus. I, not surprisingly, got sick of it and never wanted to see it again. I think I am now ready to rediscover it’s charms as a delicious, nutritious snack high in protein, fibre and iron.

Of course you need some sort of bread on a mezze / tapas plate. Something to use as a vehicle for all the delicious goodies. A scoop or shovel, if you like, to carry the food to your mouth. I bought some Atta the other day which is a soft wholemeal flour used for making chapattis. This was the perfect excuse to debut the new purchase.

I followed the recipe on the back of the flour packet and added in the flavours from my Leek & Fennel Seed Flatbreads to spice them up a bit. So there you have it, my justification for the fabulous  fusion of flavours on one plate. I’ve said it before, the southern coast of Spain is only eight miles from Morocco at the narrowest point across the Atlantic. Well that’s my excuse anyway….

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers Recipe

serves 2 or 3 as a tapa, vegetarian, adapted from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals

  • 1 jar/tin pimientos del piquillo or whole roasted peppers there are 8 in a 450 gr tin
  • some cold mashed potato (about 2 potatoes worth)
  • about 50 gr Manchego cheese, grated
  • 50 gr ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary plus extra for topping
  • 1/2 tsp sherry (Jerez) vinegar (or balsamic)
  • salt & black pepper
  • wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Put the cold mash, manchego, almonds, chopped rosemary, Jerez vinegar, salt & pepper into a processor or bowl and blend until incorporated. Taste for seasoning.

 Put the mixture into a piping bag (or freezer bag with a corner cut off) and pipe the mixture into the peppers until full. Put in an ovenproof roasting dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, some chopped rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

Foul Mdammas Recipe

serves 2 or 3 as part of a mezze, vegetarian. Adapted from Orange Blossom Water

  • 200 gr frozen broad beans
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely minced
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp preserved lemon peel, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • parsley leaves and Feta (optional) for garnish

Cook the beans according to the instructions on the pack, drain under cold water and peel when cool enough to handle. You don’t have to peel them but I think it tastes much fresher. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the garnish and mix well. Check seasoning and serve garnished with extra parsley leaves & some crumbled Feta if you like.

My Hummus Recipe

makes about 5oo gr, vegan

  • 1 tin/ jar cooked chickpeas, drained, rinsed & dried
  • 2 or 3 tbsp tahini paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1  or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp yemeni lemon pickle (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  • sesame seeds
  • chilli oil

Put everything (except sesame seeds & chilli oil) in a food processor or bowl and blend until smooth.  Taste and add more salt/lemon juice/tahini/olive oil if required. Hummus is such a personal thing you need to tailor it to your taste. Blend again and store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to serve, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and a little chilli oil (or olive oil).

Leek & Fennel Seed Wholemeal Chapattis Recipe

makes 4, vegetarian

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 leeks, cut in half lengthways, rinsed and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 300 gr wholemeal chapatti Atta (or wholemeal bread flour)
  • cold water

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the fennel seeds and when they start to pop add in the leeks, chilli flakes a pinch of salt and black pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes until the leeks are cooked and slightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Put the flour into a large bowl with 1/2 tsp salt and mix. When cooled stir the leeks through the flour to distribute evenly. Add cold water bit by bit until you have a stiff dough and it stays together in a ball. Knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Divide the dough into four balls and roll each ball out on a floured surface to about 2 or 3 mm thick. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the chapattis turning frequently until golden brown. Rub with a little oil or ghee and keep warm under a clean tea towel (or warm oven) while you cook the rest. Serve immediately.

Buen Provecho! 

    
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