Tag Archives: peas

Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint and Feta

22 Apr

Primavera Orzo Salad

Spring has definitely sprung. The wild flowers are wafting their sweet fragrance in the mornings where I run with the dog so my thoughts turn away from steaming hot soups and comforting stews towards lighter flavours and all things fresh and green.

Spring Flowers

I bought some fresh peas in their pods from the farmers’ market on Sunday. There is nothing more spring-like than peas, except for maybe asparagus. This recipe has both. In fact it has all my favourite spring flavours in one dish. There’s also fresh mint, dill, lemon, spring onions, spring garlic and feta. Is it singing to you yet?

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Orzo, in case you don’t know, is a rice shaped pasta. If you can’t find it (I got mine in Eroski, believe it or not, in the Moroccan section) you could use any small-ish pasta shapes or even cooked rice. The good thing about orzo is that it doesn’t go all flabby and stick together when it is cooked so it is perfect for salads.

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You toss all the ingredients and the dressing over the cooked orzo while it is still hot so all the flavours get absorbed and start to mingle. Leave it to cool to room temperature then you can store it in the fridge. The feta and fresh herbs are best stirred through just before serving. This is an ideal lunch that would be easy to take to work or for a weekend picnic.

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Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint & Feta Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian.

  • 300 g uncooked orzo (or other pasta shapes)
  • 2 or 3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 baby leek (or more spring onion), finely chopped
  • 1 spring garlic/green garlic/ajete, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 100 gr shelled fresh peas (or frozen)
  • a handful of fresh chopped dill
  • 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 100 g Greek feta
  • toasted pine nuts (optional)

Cook the orzo in lots of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes until al dente and drain.

Meanwhile, cook the spring onions, baby leek and spring garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt some black pepper, the thyme, oregano and chilli flakes until softened. Mix this with the drained cooked pasta in large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt & black pepper. Leave to cool.

Trim or snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces. Shell the peas. Cook the peas & asparagus in boiling salted water for 3 minutes then drain and add to the orzo, Stir everything together well.

Leave to cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge from this point. When ready to serve stir through the crumbled or cubed feta and the chopped herbs. Taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice if required.

Serve topped with some tiny mint leaves, dill fronds and toasted pine nuts, if using. I forgot to put mine on for the photos, duh…

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Say hello to spring even if it is raining where you are!

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Have a lovely week whatever the weather.

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Farro “Risotto” with Broad Beans, Wild Asparagus and Poached Egg

18 Jan

Farro Risotto with Poached Egg

Farro is barley from spelt rather than wheat. This is whole Farro (or spelt).  You can also buy it pearled or semi-pearled apparently but I haven’t found it here yet. Pearling removes some of the outer husks, this means it cooks more quickly but you will also be missing out on some of the fibrey wholeness.

Farro

I bought half a kilo of broad beans at the market this weekend because they screamed “Spring” at me from behind a pile of cabbages and cauliflowers. I love cabbage and cauliflower but it’s nice when new things start to appear.

Broad Beans

I also bought a bunch of wild asparagus, trigueros in Spanish. It is a very fine type of asparagus that grows wild in fields and at the side of the road underneath spiky bushes (very clever). There are sometimes rather scruffy looking men selling big bunches of it at roundabouts at this time of year.  They are probably so scruffy because they have been scrabbling around underneath spiky bushes looking for the asparagus. They are the epitome of “being dragged through a hedge backwards.”

Farro Asparagus Risotto

Revueltos de Esparragos Trigurerosis a classic Spanish dish where the wild asparagus is sautéed in pan until just tender then you add some beaten eggs and cook it all together. Scrambled eggs with asparagus basically. This is what inspired me to top this risotto with a poached egg. It’s lovely because if your egg is perfectly runny when you stick your knife in it the yolk runs into the risotto giving it a rich creaminess that works really well in this dish.

 The flavour or the trigueros is slightly more bitter than the thicker asparagus and you still have to trim off quite a lot of the woody ends or the twiggy bits get stuck in your teeth I found, not attractive.

Broad Bean Farro Risotto

I cooked the farro using the risotto method, adding a ladleful of warm stock, waiting for it to be absorbed, then adding another ladleful and so on. It took a long time to cook, about 40 minutes in total I think. If you are using whole spelt/farro like me then I would probably suggest that you cook it according to the instructions on the packet (mine didn’t have any). Cooking it normally, in water or stock, will probably shorten the cooking time, you still want it to be nutty and have some bite so don’t overdo it.

You can then add your broad beans, asparagus etc at the end of cooking and heat it all up together. If you are using normal asparagus you will need to blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes before adding it to the risotto at the end.

Farro Risotto with Asparagus

Farro Risotto with Broad Beans, Asparagus & Poached Egg

Serves 3, vegetarian

  • 300 g Farro (spelt barley) I used whole but pearled or semi-pearled cook quicker
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 30 g ( a handful) of grated manchego/parmesan, plus shaved to garnish
  • 500 g broad beans still in their pod chambers (as in the picture above)
  • 1 bunch of wild (or not) asparagus, woody ends trimmed off, cut into 1- 2 inch pieces
  • 100 g frozen peas, left to defrost
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • about 15 basil leaves
  • toasted pine nuts
  • 1 egg per person
  • white vinegar

Remove the broad beans from their chambers, then put them in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, rinse under the cold tap, then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale jade cases. Discard the cases. If using normal asparagus cook this in boiling, salted  water for about 3 minutes until just tender, drain and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking, set aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for about 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and chilli flakes and cook for another 2 minutes.

At this point you can either:

1) Add in the uncooked farro, stirring to coat for a minute. Heat the veg stock in a small pan until hot but not boiling. Add two ladles of the hot stock to the farro and cook until absorbed then add another two ladles of stock, repeating until the farro is tender but still with a nutty bite. If you need more liquid add some boiling water from the kettle. Season with salt & black pepper.

Or…

2) Add the uncooked farro and the veg stock, bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered until the farro is cooked, tender but still with a nutty bite. Season with salt & black pepper.

Then, when ready to serve stir the peas, broad beans and chopped asparagus into the farro stirring to heat through for a few minutes until cooked. Then stir in the cheese and most of the fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning

For the poached eggs:

Meanwhile, using a pan big enough to hold all the eggs, fill it 2/3 full with water and bring to the boil. Crack the eggs into separate teacups or ramekins.

When the water is boiling, squeeze in about a teaspoon of vinegar and some salt. Remove the pan from the heat, stir it with a wooden spoon very fast to create a little whirlpool then, quickly but gently, slide the eggs into the water, one at a time. Put on a lid and leave for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes.

When the white is cooked, carefully lift the eggs out, one at a time with a slotted spoon onto a double sheet of kitchen paper to drain, cover the tops with another sheet of kitchen paper.

Serve the farro “risotto” in warmed bowls and carefully use the paper and spoon to move the poached egg on top of the farro. Season the egg with a little salt & black pepper and garnish the dish with some shaved manchego/parmesan, the rest of the herbs and the toasted pine nuts.

Farro Risotto with a Poached Egg

Have a Great Weekend Everyone!!

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Mixed Vegetable Paella and Stuffed Peppers

6 May

 

This is one of my favourite recipes. It was one of the first recipes I posted on this blog when I started it last September. I have decided to reblog it for those of you who haven’t seen it because it is really versatile and delicious. I make it at least once a week. It is a great way to use up any leftover odd bits of veg you have lying around.

I use whole grain (brown) rice which takes bit longer to cook but you can use any short grain or risotto rice. For me the essential ingredients are saffron, peppers, tomatoes, peas, rosemary, paprika, parsley and lemon juice. Any veg you want to use is fine just make sure you have red and green in there to stand out against the beautiful saffron gold.

The best thing about making paella is the leftovers. I always make sure I make too much so I have some left for lunch the next day. You can always just reheat it but using it to stuff a pepper is such a quick and easy way to make it a bit more special. Go on spoil yourself. Just slice the pepper in half if it is large (as below) or slice the top off a smaller pepper, take out the seeds and membrane and pile in the paella. Drizzle with some extra virgin and bake for about 25 minutes. You can even grate over some Manchego cheese before it goes in the oven for extra flavour.

Just serve with a simple salad dressed with lemon juice & olive oil and a wedge of lemon to spritz over the paella pepper.

Another way to use up the leftovers is to make paella cakes. You just form the cold paella into little patties and shallow fry or bake them until crispy. The crispy bits are the best. You can see my full instructions for the paella cakes here. Or try stuffing tomatoes with the paella rather than peppers.

Mixed Vegetable Paella Recipe

serves 2 with leftovers, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 small green peppers (the long thin ones) sliced
  • 1/2 big red pepper, chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 squirt of tomato paste (tomate frito)
  • 4 handfuls of short wholegrain rice(you can use risotto rice)
  • 1 big pinch of saffron (or an envelope of powdered saffron)
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  •  a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 stalk of rosemary leaves removed & chopped finely, about 1 tsp
  • salt & black pepper
  • a good splash of Spanish sherry(or madeira or wine)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • some grated Manchego cheese (optional)
  • 1 lemon, half squeezed, half cut into wedges

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion & leek  with a pinch of salt until translucent (about 3 – 4 minutes)  then add the garlic and cook for another 2 mins.

Add in all the vegetables, stir and cook for 2 or 3 mins. Add in the rice, stir to coat in the oil, then add the herbs (except the parsley) and spices, stir again until well combined. Add in the splash of sherry/wine and the tomato paste, stir to incorporate.

Add the veg stock, season well with salt & black pepper, and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium low, put the lid on and cook for 20 – 25 mins (stirring occasionally) until all the liquid has gone and the rice is cooked. Don’t worry if it sticks to the bottom of the pan the crispy bits taste good. Squeeze over the juice of half the lemon and stir in most of the chopped parsley. Taste for seasoning.

Serve sprinkled with grated Manchego cheese (if using), some more chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.

Paella Stuffed Peppers Recipe

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • leftover paella (see above)
  • 1 large red pepper (or 2 small)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • manchego cheese (optional)
  • mixed salad leaves
  • cherry tomatoes
  • lemon juice
  • salt & black pepper
  • lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cut your large red pepper in half, or cut the top off of two small red peppers. Remove all seeds and membrane. Stuff the paella in to the peppers and press down. Place on a lined baking sheet. You may have to cut a little bit off the bottom of the small peppers to make them stand up straight. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the peppers are softened and starting to collapse.

Serve with a simple salad of mixed leaves and cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt & black pepper.

Buen Provecho! I hope you enjoy this easy weeknight supper as much as we do. You get two meals for the price of one which is always a bonus!!

Battered Halloumi with Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce and Spicy Lemon Pickle

6 Mar

 This recipe came from a new book The Washer Up bought for me called Terre A Terre. Terre A Terre is a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton and the book has some amazingly creative, unusual recipes for dishes that you will have never seen anywhere else. Their aim is to challenge the image of vegetarian food and push the boundaries of conventional perceptions by creating gourmet vegetarian cuisine.

This recipe caught my eye mainly because of the Halloumi cheese. In case you didn’t know I love Halloumi. Halloumi is a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese that is special because it cooks rather than melts. Because of this you can grill it or fry it and it doesn’t lose it’s shape. I usually cook my Halloumi slices in a dry pan and then marinade them in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs & spices. You can see the full recipe here.

This recipe is a vegetarian play on the traditional English Friday night take-away dish: Battered Fish with Mushy Peas & Tartare Sauce you would get from the local fish & chip shop.  They had me at battered Halloumi, but the addition of minty mushy peas really sealed it for me. The tartare sauce recipe is mine. I don’t like capers or gherkins (cornichons) so I substituted them for pickled onions, which I love, and it worked! I also added some coriander as well as parsley. The result is better than any tartare sauce you’ve ever tried, I promise. The addition of the nori seaweed is from the book and is, I have to say, genius. Nori seaweed is what you use make sushi rolls and the flavour of the sea it gives to the sauce is so spot on, once you’ve tried it you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.

The “mashy peas” came about by happy accident. I halved the recipe for the minty pea puree from the book which was for 6 people but forgot to halve the butter. This resulted in a very buttery puree (above). To resolve this (I didn’t have any more peas to add) I decided to add some mashed potato to the puree. I had seen Jamie Oliver do something similar with broccoli and peas in mash. Any excuse to include mash really.

The spicy lemon pickle (they call it “Yemeni Lemony Pickle” which is such a cool name) is just the right mix of sweet, spicy and sour and is a fabulous alternate dip for the Halloumi with the creamy tartare sauce. You could always just serve this with a wedge of lemon instead if you’re not up for making the pickle as well. I made it because I had a large fruit bowl full of lemons and was making some preserved lemons as well. I will post the recipe for the preserved lemons when they are ready.

The original dish in the book also serves pickled quail’s eggs and vodka grape tomatoes with this. As fantastic as they sound it would be a lot of work if you were to make everything. I was really happy with it as it was but am intrigued about the pickled quail’s eggs!  This book makes you appreciate and understand how much work goes into each component part of each dish at this restaurant and definitely makes me want to go the next time I am in Brighton.

Each recipe has 4 or 5 different elements to it but you can pick and choose as to how many you do, like I did. It is really inspiring and aspirational.

The Halloumi is soaked in buttermilk for several hours or overnight so do this in the morning or the night before.

Battered Halloumi with Minty Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce & Yemeni Lemony Pickle Recipe

Serves 2 -3, vegetarian.  Adapted from Terre A Terre by Amanda Powley & Phillip Naylor

For the Halloumi

  • 1 pack 250 gr Halloumi cheese
  • 250 ml buttermilk or 125 ml yoghurt mixed with 125 ml milk
  • plain flour for coating
  • sunflower oil to deep fry

For the Batter

  • 75 gr plain flour
  •  35 gr self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 120 ml cold water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt & black pepper

Cut the Halloumi in to thin slices (less than 1/2 cm) then cut them into triangles (See photo above). Cut the triangles with the natural break of the Halloumi. Put the buttermilk or yoghurt/milk mixture in to a dish (I used an empty1 litre ice cream tub) and submerge the Halloumi in the liquid to soak, overnight or, for several hours in the fridge.

To make the batter whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl to make a batter the consistency of double cream. Adjust water/flour if necessary. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook the Halloumi.

Just before serving heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer to hot (180 C).  Put some plain flour in a shallow dish and remove the Halloumi & batter from the fridge. Lift the Halloumi pieces, one at a time, out of the buttermilk and let it drip off slightly. Put it in the flour and flip it to coat, then put it in the batter. Open a window unless you want your whole house to smell of deep-frying. When the oil has reached temperature, lift the Halloumi out of the batter and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Fry two triangles at a time. It should puff up and start to turn golden straight away. If not your oil is not hot enough. Turn the halloumi with a slotted spoon to cook on both sides. This should only take a minute or two to be crisp & golden on both sides. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

For the Mashy Peas

  • 200 gr frozen peas
  • a big handful of mint, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • a big handful of parsley, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
  • 50 gr unsalted butter
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered and put in a pan of cold salted water
  • salt & black pepper

Bring the pan of salted water with the peeled quartered potatoes to the boil, turn down slightly and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender all the way through.

Meanwhile, in a small pan of boiling, salted water, cook the peas with the herb stalks until tender (about 3 minutes).  Drain the cooked peas and throw away the stalks. Blend the peas with the butter and chopped herbs, season with salt & pepper and taste.

Drain the potatoes and mash them well in the pan. Heat up the pea puree and add this to the mashed potatoes, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add more salt & pepper & taste again. Just heat through in a pan when ready to serve.

For the Tartare Sauce

  • 1 nori seaweed sheet
  • a handful of coriander & parsley, chopped
  • about 4 heaped tbsp good mayonnaise
  •  1 or 2 pickled onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice about 2 tbsp
  • salt & black pepper

Put the nori sheet under the grill for a few seconds on each side to crisp up. Keep an eye on it, it burns! Crumble or chop the nori into the processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated but still a bit chunky. Season with a little salt (the seaweed is salty) and pepper stir in and taste. You may want to add more lemon juice or pickled onion. It’s up to your taste buds. Store in the fridge.

For the Yemeni Chilli Paste (for the lemon pickle)

makes 1 small jar

  • 4 red chillis, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • a big handful of fresh coriander, leaves & stalks
  • salt
  • olive oil

Blend all the ingredients together, drizzling in olive oil until a paste consistency is reached. Pour into a clean jar and cover the top with olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for at least a month.

For the Lemon Pickle (makes 1 jar)

  • 4 lemons, segmented
  • 100 ml fresh lemon juice
  • peel from 3 preserved lemons (I didn’t have any but I have made some now)!
  • 150 gr caster sugar
  • 3 or 4 tsp yemen paste, recipe above, or more if you dare
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

Segment the lemons by cutting off the peel & white pith, from top to bottom all the way around (See photo above). Then cut out the lemon segments in between each membrane. Put the lemon segments from 3 of the lemons into a blender and reserve the segments of the fourth for later. Add the lemon juice, peel from preserved lemons if using, to the blender and liquidize until smooth. Put this in a small pan with the sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly for two minutes then stir in your Yemeni chilli paste. Put in the fridge to cool. When cool stir in the reserved lemon segments and chopped mint. This is now ready to serve. Store in the fridge. This would be a great sauce or baste for grilled fish or chicken as well.

 To serve, warm your plates and put your lemon pickle (or lemon wedge if you are going for the easier option) and tartare sauce in their dishes on the plate ready. Heat the frying oil. Heat the mashy peas over a low heat with a little veg stock to loosen if necessary. Keep an eye on it while you fry off the Halloumi. Drain the halloumi on kitchen paper and pile them on the plates with a big spoon (or quinelle) of the mashy peas.

This may sound like a lot of work  but it’s so worth it. Soaking the Halloumi really brings out the flavour and softens the texture. The mashy peas are to die for and the lemony pickle is perfect if you can be bothered. The Washer Up said the Halloumi was better than battered fish! I will definitely be trying some more recipes from this book in the future and would recommend it to any creative, confident cooks out there who are looking for something different, delicious, challenging and inspiring. I’m going to have a go at the pickled quail’s eggs next time, I promise!!

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