Tag Archives: tomatoes

Baby Leeks and Tomatoes with Oregano and Thyme

14 Aug

I can’t really call this a recipe. It’s just four ingredients cooked quickly in a pan with some olive oil. Which is about all the cooking I can manage in this heat.  I have also been working (in kitchens) for the past three weeks so I also have a slight aversion to being in one longer than absolutely necessary.

This goes someway towards explaining  my recent blogging absence too. We have been working as menu consultants at a beautiful yoga retreat hotel and restaurant called Shanti Som in Monda/Marbella. We have created a menu for them that compliments the style of the surroundings and the health and well-being ethos of the retreat. The new menu takes the best from the hotel’s Asian roots and Mediterranean heart ensuring that there is hopefully something for everyone to enjoy. Starting with fresh, seasonal and colourful salads…

Moving on to a Roasted Vegetable and Goats Cheese Tartlet with an olive oil spelt flour pastry case, Lebanese Lamb Burger with hummus, chargrilled aubergine, tabouli and tzatziki salad, Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce and Fresh Fish of the Day with an Asian or Mediterranean marinade.

We then moved on to cooking lunch in a private villa for a family of 14 people every day for two weeks. Now this may sound like a bit of a nightmare but luckily they were very open to our “world of flavours” which made our lives a lot easier and more fun. The family was Iranian living in London, Paris, Boston and Switzerland. They meet up once a year for a holiday together. They were lovely people and we really enjoyed cooking for the whole family, including the children, which could be a little challenging at times!!

We cooked from a different country every day but our favourite (and I’m sure theirs) was the Persian food that we made. We learnt a lot about Persian cuisine from the Aunties, the Grandma and the nieces which was fabulous. We served a fresh rocket and herb salad every day, they love fresh herbs and greens (sabzi is the Persian word for greens).

The Washer Up made a gorgeous Persian Roast Lamb marinated in lots of spices and served with an apricot, orange and date glaze. Pomegranates make everything look beautiful and burst like sweet jewels in your mouth.

Alongside the Lamb and Herb Salad we also served Shirazi, a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad with mint and lime juice, Tomatoes Stuffed with feta, apricot and almond couscous and Sabzi (fresh herb) rice. Persian is my new favourite food. I didn’t even like dill before, now I love it! It’s so good in rice and in a Tzatziki dip as well as the mint you should try it. They also add sultanas and chopped walnuts which takes it to another level completely.

So back to the non recipe. It’s all about quality and freshness of ingredients if you’re going to go this minimal. We bought some tiny little baby cherry tomatoes and baby leeks from the organic market this Sunday. There they were next to each other as I unpacked the bag. Sometimes it is that easy. Sometimes you are incapable of anything else. Occasionally it all works out perfectly. This was one of those times. We have fresh oregano and thyme growing on the roof so they went in as well.

I served them with a poached egg and spinach on brown toast. You could eat them with anything. The next evening we had them with some Italian white bean and rosemary cakes. They would be lovely with a steak or to toss with some freshly cooked pasta or on their own with a chunk of nice bread.

Baby Leeks & Tomatoes with Oregano & Thyme

Vegan, gluten-free. Serves 2 as a side dish

  • 2 tbsp good olive oil (Andalucian Extra Virgen if possible)
  • 250 g baby cherry tomatoes (the smaller the better for quick cooking)
  • 3 baby leeks, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed to get rid of any mud and finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed, chopped (about 1/2 tsp) or dried
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped oregano leaves or dried
  • salt & black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and saute the leeks with a pinch of salt for about a minute then add the tomatoes and herbs. Season well with salt & black pepper. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally for a few minutes until the tomatoes begin to split and soften. Serve with anything you like.

Buen Provecho!!

Roasted Tomato, Saffron and Mozzarella Risotto Layer Cake

20 Aug

I roasted off another batch of my favourite slow roasted tomatoes yesterday and wanted to use them in something lovely for dinner. I found a recipe for a grilled vegetable saffron risotto cake that fit the bill perfectly.

In the original version they layer it with grilled aubergine, courgette and roasted peppers which I will definitely try next time. But I had all these sweet roasted tomatoes hanging about and I was hungry, so I just used them. I also added some of my sundried tomatoes for extra tomato intensity.

Roasted Tomato, Saffron & Mozzarella Risotto Layer Cake

Serves 4-6, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from  Jane Baxter, The Guardian

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 big pinch saffron
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 big pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 20 slow roasted tomato halves, see recipe here
  • 2 or 3 tbsp finely chopped sundried tomatoes plus 8 strips for layers
  • 300 gr risotto rice (I used brown rice, it takes longer to cook and more stock)
  • salt & black pepper
  • a splash of white wine/vermouth
  • 1 – 1 1/2 litres veg stock
  • a bunch fresh basil leaves, 1/2 finely shredded 1/2 left whole
  • 125 gr ball mozzarella, sliced in 5mm thick ovals
  • a handful of finely grated Manchego/Parmesan
  • rocket, olive oil & balsamic vinegar to serve

Put the veg stock in small pan, over a medium-low heat to heat up while you are cooking.

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and saffron with a pinch of salt for 5 -6 minutes until softened. Then add the fennel seeds, garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a further 2 minutes. Now add 12 of the roasted tomato halves and any roasting juices, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and the rice. Cook at a fast simmer, stirring for about 2 minutes, season generously with salt & pepper & splash in the wine.

Add the hot stock to the rice a ladleful at a time over a medium heat, adding the next ladleful when the previous one has all been absorbed. Continue like this until most of the stock is used up (1 litre for risotto rice – 1 1/2 for brown rice), taste the rice and see if it is cooked. It should still have a bit of bite to it. Season again, add in the finely shredded basil, stir and taste. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. I didn’t leave it to cool very long, I was hungry.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line the base of a terrine or loaf tin with baking parchment and oil/butter the sides. Take 1/3 of the cooled rice and press it into the bottom of the mould evenly. Top with 4 of the remaining roasted tomatoes in a line along the centre of the rice then top those with a half of the mozzarella slices, the a line of sun-dried tomato strips, then with a line of basil leaves. Sprinkle over half the grated cheese.

Top with another 1/3 rice, press down evenly and add toppings as before. Then finish off with the final layer of rice and press down evenly. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown on top.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out onto a serving plate. Use a serrated bread knife to cut into generous slices and serve with a rocket salad dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.

This is equally good served hot or cold and would be perfect for a summer picnic or buffet table.

 I’m having this cold for my lunch now, have a great weekend!

 Happy Birthday Dad,

Love You xxx

Slow-Roast Tomato and Quinoa Caprese

25 Jul

These Roma tomatoes, also known as Plum tomatoes or, here in Spain, tomates Pera (pear tomatoes) are all beginning to ripen here now.

When I am out with Rufus in the morning I see the farmers and their wives with their straw hats and gloves on, picking them from row upon row of tomato plants and storing them in crates.

They are really cheap at the moment so you can buy a lot for very little money. One of my favourite things to do with these tomatoes is to slow-roast them. It intensifies the flavour, you can make a load and keep them covered in oil in the fridge.

All you have to do is cut them in half, put them on a lined baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt & pepper and put them in a low oven for 2 hours, or more if you like them more dried.

You can use them in salads, pasta dishes, serve them on burgers, in sandwiches, tortillas, quiches, pizzas or a quick bruschetta. They transform anything ordinary into something a bit special. And it’s so easy.

If you try making these once you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. They’re such a handy thing to have around. And so cheap at the moment, it would be rude not to really.

They’re great for picnics too.

Tomatoes and basil were made for each other. They are what summer is all about. The Caprese salad is one of my “go to” summer dishes because all the ingredients are at their best and it is really quick and easy to make.

Now feel free to just use these tomatoes in a “normal” Caprese with some soft, milky buffalo mozzarella and lots of  torn basil leaves if that is all you can manage in this heat. I wouldn’t blame you at all.

But I couldn’t really call that a recipe could I? I’d feel like I was cheating you somehow.

I used quinoa in this recipe but you could just as easily use cooked rice, couscous, orzo or even pasta as the base.

Quinoa is so good for you, an amazing source of protein if you are vegetarian or vegan and it’s gluten-free. If you’ve never tried cooking with it before you should give it a go. Don’t be scared, it’s easy to work with, really versatile and is nice to eat. It absorbs flavours really well too. I cook mine in veg stock rather than water which makes it even tastier.

Slow Roast Tomato & Quinoa Caprese Recipe

serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free

For the tomatoes:

  • 8 large , ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C and line a baking tray with baking paper.  Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthways and place them, cut side up on the tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt & pepper. Put in the oven for 2 hours, or longer until they have started to dry out.

Leave to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge with any juices until half an hour before you need them. Bring them back to room temperature before serving to get the most out of the flavour. If you want to store them for  longer than a few days, cover them with some olive oil. But I doubt they’ll last that long.

For the Quinoa Caprese:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 400 gr quinoa
  •  about 1 litre veg stock
  • 40gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • a big handful of basil leaves
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 or 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 200 gr mozzarella
  • 6-8 slow-roast tomato halves (see above)
  • salt & black pepper
  • chilli oil (optional)

Cook the quinoa by putting it into boiling veg stock, lower the heat slightly and simmer for 12 -14 minutes until you can see the curlicues in every grain and it has absorbed all, or most, of the stock. Add some boiling water if dries out. Drain, if necessary, and leave to cool.

Meanwhile  fry the onions in the olive oil over a medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes until softened and caramelised.

Fluff up the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains and stir through the onions and any oil from the pan. Tip in any tomato juices, the sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tear or finely julienne the basil and add half to the quinoa and season with salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can refrigerate it at this point, just bring it back to room temperature before serving.

To serve, pile the quinoa onto a large serving dish or into individual bowls and arrange the slow-roast tomatoes on top. Tear off  bite size pieces of mozzarella, scatter it around the tomatoes and top it off with the rest of the basil. Drizzle over some chilli oil or olive oil at the table.

Enjoy the taste of summer in a bowl!

Things That made Me Smile Today…..

Rufus cooling off in the spring…

Giving our plants on the terrace a quick shower…

Stay cool!!

Chana Saag – Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

25 Jun

Our chilli plant on the roof terrace has loads of green chillis on it all of a sudden. I’m sure it grows about 5 centimetres overnight. It’s been so hot here  so we have been watering it really well every evening when the sun goes down. It seems to be very happy there.

This is my cue now for putting chilli in everything. Not that I need another excuse. The Washer Up loves anything with chilli in it especially Indian food. Apparently eating chilli cools you down in hot weather too. Like having a cup of tea is supposed to. I don’t know about that but I’m willing to give it a try, this heat is unbearable.

Chana Masala (chickpeas in a spicy sauce) is one my favourite dishes. I always order it, along with Tarka Dal (spiced lentils), and Saag Aloo (potatoes with spinach) when we go out for Indian food. I borrowed this recipe from Dani at Moderate Oven which combines two of my favourite dishes. Chana Saag is spiced chickpeas with spinach. I’d never tried it before and couldn’t wait to debut our homegrown green chillis.

Chana Saag-  Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach Recipe

serves 2-3, adapted from Moderate Oven

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 300 gr frozen spinach (not defrosted)
  • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus some leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and cardamom pods and cook for a minute until they start to pop, don’t let them burn. Add the onion and cook for around 4 minutes. When the onion begins to soften & brown then add the ginger, garlic & green chillis and cook for another minute.

Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric & cayenne pepper until coating the onions then add the tinned tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring for 3 or 4 minutes. Add in the frozen spinach, stirring the tomatoes around and over it and simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the spinach until completely thawed.

Remove from the heat and use a stick blender or processor to (carefully) puree the spinach until smooth. Put the pan back on the heat with the spinach and add the rinsed chickpeas to it. Season with salt, pepper & garam masala and simmer, partially covered, for 8 -10 more minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Add boiling water if necessary.

Stir in the chopped coriander, squeeze over some lemon juice and check the seasoning. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon on the side.

That reminds me I must go and water the chilli plants, it has been another ridiculously hot day, they must be thirsty!

Things that made me smile today…..

I think it must be baby snail (caracolillos) season. They live on the wild fennel at the side of the road. You see people with buckets picking them off.

It looks like they like artichokes too. If I wasn’t  vegetarian I would make a Snail, Fennel & Artichoke Risotto. But I am, so I won’t. Don’t let me stop you though….

Buen Fin de Semana!

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!!

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?!!

Tasty Tomato Soup & Basil Oil Recipe

7 Oct

As it is the beginning of Autumn here now my thoughts start turning to soups and stews. Warming dishes that comfort & revitalize. With the weather being so gorgeous here and the tomatoes still growing everywhere I decided on an End of Summer Soup with all the flavour of beautifully ripe tomatoes & our homegrown basil. The basil has gone slightly woody so The Washer Up has decided to make a basil infused olive oil to use up all the leaves before they get too tough. This means that we get to keep the wonderful flavour of basil to add to salads, soups and roasted dishes for a lot longer.

Basil & Garlic Olive Oil

Basil & Garlic Infused Olive Oil Recipe

  • a big bunch of basil leaves roughly chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped in their skins
  • 500ml olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of sugar
  1. Put the the basil & garlic in a large pan with the olive oil, salt & sugar and cook on a low heat, mashing occassionally with a potato masher, to release the flavours. (It should be lightly bubbling not burning)
  2. After 20 mins turn off the heat and leave it to cool at room temperature.
  3. You can then pour the oil & basil & garlic pulp in to jug to decant into your chosen jar/oil bottle.

We had enough to pour most of the oil into an oil pourer and the rest of the oil and the pulp into a jar to use in cooking. This should be kept in an airtight jar in the fridge. The oil kept in the fridge will harden slightly with the cold but it is still easy to use.

Easy Tomato Soup Recipe

Serves 2 Vegan

 

Tomatoes Bubbling Away

  • 3 tbsp olive oil (basil oil if you have made it)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 5 large ish tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 or 4 tbsp of the basil & garlic oil pulp (or a big handful of chopped fresh basil leaves) Leave some for the garnish.
  • 750ml veg stock
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the (basil) oil in a large pan over a medium low heat, add the onions & peppers and cook for about 10 mins until tender.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil & garlic pulp(see recipe above) or fresh basil, veg stock, salt & pepper & stir well.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the heat & simmer, uncovered for about 30 mins.
  4. Blend the soup (carefully you don’t want hot red soup everywhere!) to the consistency you require – I like it to still have some texture to it, not too smooth. Taste for seasoning & add more basil pulp if you want.
  5. Ladle into warmed bowls, drizzle with basil oil, & serve with lots of crusty bread.

Tomato Soup with Basil Oil

This is a really tasty easy recipe that is good for you and will make you feel better, bring some sunshine into your life & it is also great if you’ve got a hangover.. Not that I’d know obviously!!

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