Mediterranean Vegetables Roasted with Lemon, Yogurt, Tahini & Pomegranate

You may think you have heard and seen this recipe in many guises before but don’t judge a book by its cover. This is a really interesting version in a few ways. First of all, the use of whole lemon just chopped up and roast with the veg. I showed you how to make preserved lemons the other day but this is even more simple. Secondly the tahini dressing which I would have been tempted to drizzle on top of the veg, here is used as a base to the vegetables, more like polenta or mash. It turns a plate of roast veg into a proper lunch.

Finally, the fact that the chickpeas are used twice, once in the dressing but the bulk of them are roast with the veg and the resulting crispy morsels add great texture and interest to this dish.

Mediterranean Vegetables Roasted with Lemon, Yogurt, Tahini & Pomegranate

You can use any combination of veg you like. A combination of root vegetable would work well.

Serves 2

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 aubergine, diced

1 red onion, halved and cut into thin wedges

1 unwaxed lemon, ¼ chopped (skin and all), the rest juiced

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle (optional)

400g can chickpeas in water, drained

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp tahini

3 tbsp natural bio yogurt

seeds from ½ a pomegranate

fresh parsley or coriander, chopped

Heat oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 7. Put the vegetables and chopped lemon in a large flameproof roasting tin and drizzle with 1 tbsp oil. Massage into the veg so they are all well coated, and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then put the tin on the hob and fry, stirring, for 5 mins until starting to char. Stir in two handfuls of the chickpeas, sprinkle them with salt and roast the whole lot in the oven for 15 mins or so. Stir from time to time to ensure even roasting.

Put the rest of the chickpeas in a bowl with the garlic, tahini, yogurt and lemon juice and blitz with a stick blender until really smooth and thick adding a tablespoon or two of water to get it to the right consistency.

Spoon the yogurt tahini onto two plates and top with the roasted veg, pomegranate seeds and parsley or coriander. Drizzle of extra oil, if you like.

Peperonata

Peperonata is a Sicilian pepper stew and amazingly, for such a simple recipe, no two versions seem to be the same.  I add not only capers and basil but Balsamic vinegar to mine, just to really nail that sweet and sour kick, but I also leave out the tomato which is often present in other versions.  Use the best Balsamic you can, which not only means one obviously from Moderna, the home of  Balsamic vinegar but also one that has also been aged at least 12 years.  A decent one will set you back at least £12.00 for 250ml but it will be worth it.  You will not need very much and it’s mellow sweetness and integrated acidity will add an amazing depth and complexity to many sauces especially tomato based ones.

I love this pepper stew, not only on its own with a rocket salad but also with meat or fish, especially wild salmon or mackerel.  The acidity works really well to cut the oiliness of the fish.  All you need is a few boiled new potatoes and you have a little taste of much needed sunshine.

 Peperonata

6 peppers (red, yellow and orange are best)

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and sliced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 medium-sized bunch of basil, roughly chopped

A handful of baby capers

A splash of very good balsamic Vinegar (Aged 12 years at least)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by slicing the peppers in half, scooping out the seeds and slicing into one-inch strips lengthwise. Now place a medium-sized heavy- based pan over a gentle heat. Add a tablespoon of the olive oil and allow to warm through. When the oil is warm but not hot, add the onions, a pinch of salt and sweat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the garlic and sweat for a further 10 minutes – the onions should not have browned at all. Add the peppers and stir to combine. Cook until the peppers are soft and almost falling apart; this should take about 45 minutes. Give the capers a good squeeze to get rid of any excess vinegar and add to the peppers. Drizzle with balsamic and season with freshly ground black pepper and salt.  Cook until the vinegar has the right sweet and sour balance.   Add the basil and taste for seasoning. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

 

Chilli Con Carne with Roast Sweet Potato Chips

I have got obsessed about sweet potatoes, sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. It is more of a snack though, and not exactly a meal, so I decided to turn it into one.

Chilli Con Carne with Roast Sweet Potato Chips

Olive oil

1 large onion

1 red pepper or a few sweet baby peppers

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp spicy chipotle paste

1 tsp ground cumin

500g lean minced beef

400g can plum tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

410g can red kidney beans

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soured cream, to serve

Roast Sweet Potato Wedges

Prepare your vegetables. Chop 1 large onion into small dice. Cut the red pepper in half lengthways, remove stalk and seeds and then chop. Peel and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

Put a heavy based saucepan on the hob over a medium heat and add some oil and the beef.. Add the oil and the onions and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft, squidgy and slightly translucent. Tip in the garlic, red pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes or so. Add the ground cumin and chipotle sauce. Give it a good stir, then leave it to cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon. Rinse out the tin with half a tin of water and add that too. Drain the beans and add too with the oregano. Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Simmer it gently. Bring the whole thing to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on the pan. Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for an hour or two. (At this stage, you can tip the whole lot in a slow-cooker). You should check on the pan occasionally to stir it and make sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan or isn’t drying out. If it is, add a couple of tablespoons of water and make sure that the heat really is low enough. After simmering gently, the saucy mince mixture should look thick, moist and juicy.

Taste a bit of the chilli and season. It will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think. Now replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave your chilli to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with soured cream and sweet potato wedges. Or why not try as a filling for a baked sweet potato!

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

This is such a great use-up dish at the end of the week, when your fridge is still full of veg and you know your next veg box is coming. You can throw in whatever you like and haven’t even padded it out with noodle, it is just veg, veg and more veg and you can be sure you have got your 10 a day

Teriyaki Stir-fry with Cashew Nuts

Serves 2

Teriyaki sauce varies hugely. My favourite is Waitrose home-brand.

Large knob of fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1-2 fresh red chillies

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Handful of purple sprouting broccoli, sliced finely

Head o Bok, Choi shredded

Few sticks of celery and its leaves, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons

Sweet mixed peppers, sliced, seeds removed

Teriyaki (for gluten free a mixture of Mirin, gluten free soy and Chinese cooking rice wine)

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Chopped cashew nuts, toasted

Sea salt

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Cut the chilli in half, remove the seeds and finely chop. Scrape the ginger with a teaspoon to remove the outer layer and grate. Peel the garlic and grate it. Heat a large wok or saucepan and add some sesame oil, the  garlic, chilli and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add all the rest of the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or so. It is important to keep the veg moving all the time as the name stir fry implies. When the veg is well wilted, add the teriyaki to taste and a pinch of salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and add a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts and stir well and serve straight away.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

There seems to be a overwhelming number of variations on hummus these days. Sometimes in the supermarkets it is hard to even find the old-fashioned chickpea variety. Deliciously Ella has about 10 different types on her blog – Roasted Carrot, Sun-dried Tomato, Basil – I could go on. So  I decided to try out a few at home and was quite pleased with this Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus. I always seem to have half a butternut squash hanging around and I guess it add a few more vitamins to chickpeas alone and it went down well as half-term lunch, served up with crudités and pitta bread. It also works well with roast red peppers and a little cumin, so I am giving you that recipe too.

Smoked Butternut Squash Hummus

½ butternut squash

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven 200C. Put peppers on a tray and roast until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. Remove and place in a bowl covered with cling film, or in a sealed Tupperware, to allow them to steam. When cool enough to handle gently peel away the charred pepper skin and remove the stalk and seeds. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Roast Red Pepper Hummus with Cumin

2 whole red peppers

1 can chickpeas, drained

Juice from 1 large lemon

1-2 tbsp. tahini

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven 200C.  Roast the peppers in the oven until blackened on all sides. Turn regularly. This should take about 30 minutes. The blackening adds a smokiness to the flavour of the pepper and makes the skins easy to remove. Place the peppers in a bowl covered with cling film to steam a while. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds.  Add to a food processor with all the other ingredient except the lemon juice. Whizz until smooth and add lemon juice to taste. You may not need it all. Thin to the right consistency with water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

Grilled Leeks with Romesco Sauce

And so to my last leek recipe of the week. This recipe is actually for new season’s spring onions. In Catalan they have a festival in honour of their spring onions, called Calcots and the festival is literally called Calcotada. They grill their Calcots on fabulous charcoal fires and serve it with variations of this Romesco Sauce. It is funny I should think about this recipe now, because when I did some research into the festival, I discovered that it is celebrated this weekend! How is that for timing!

I have adapted the recipe for lovely fresh leeks. The secret to grilling perfect leeks is to boil them first until completely tender. Obviously that would be best grilled and lightly smoked, over a charcoal grill, but if not a griddle plate will have to do.

Romesco Sauce

2 red peppers

75g blanched almonds

75g walnuts

3 slices of wiale white sourdough bread

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tbsp. sherry wine vinegar

1 small dried chilli

1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly toasted

30g bunch of parsley

1 tbsp. tomato puree

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

For the leeks

4 leeks

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Put the peppers in a roasting dish and leave in the oven for 40 minutes, until they are charred all over. Remove and place in a bowl, covering with cling film to steam the peppers and help the skins slip off. When cool enough to handle, skin and deseed. Meanwhile, lightly toast the walnuts and almonds in a dry frying pan, stirring frequently. Add to a bowl with the tomatoes, bread, vinegar, garlic, paprika, chilli, tomato puree, parsley, fennel seeds, olive oil and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the peppers and pulse all the ingredients in a food processor or with a hand blender until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Check for seasoning.

Put a large, salted pan of water on to boil. Trim the leeks both ends and cut in half. Put the leeks in the boiling water and simmer for about 10 minutes until you can easily pierce all the way through the leek with a sharpish knife. It is imperative that your leeks are properly cooked. Remove and leave to drain in a colander. When cool. Carefully cut in half lengthways with a sharp knife. Brush both sides of either leek and grill on a really hot BBQ or griddle. Leave until griddle marks are clearly made on one side before flipping to the other side. Serve warm with your Romanesco Sauce.

Red Pepper Chilli Sauce

Finally, for this week, a really simple sauce or dip to liven up your leftover turkey. This is a middle eastern inspired chilli sauce, and can be used like a home-made harissa. Stir it in to chicken gravy, drizzle it over kebabs, spoon it into wraps, dollop it on your burgers. The possibilities are endless.

Red Pepper Chilli Sauce

2 Romero or any red peppers

1 fresh red chilli

2 red onions

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tsp. ground cumin

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Chilli flakes

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C. Cut the peppers and chilli in half and remove the seeds and stalks. Add the peeled and quartered onions and the garlic. Sprinkle with cumin and salt and pepper and drizzle with lots of olive oil. Cover with tinfoil and put in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the foil, stir well and return to the oven to roast for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip into a bowl. Using a hand-blender (or liquidizer) whizz up until a thick puree. Add more olive oil, salt and lemon juice to taste. It should be quite spicy. Add a pinch of chilli flakes if not hot enough

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Sweet Baby Pepper, Mushroom, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese and Olive Pizza

I make up batches of pizza dough and keep it in the freezer for a quick supper. You can top them with all sorts of vegetables. It is fun to think up new combinations. These sweet baby peppers which are in the boxes at the moment are particularly good!  If you can’t be bothered to make your own pizza dough then you can actually buy it ready made in the freezer section of Waitrose. They also do a ready baked pizza crust for those of you who are really pushed for time.

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Sweet Baby Pepper, Mushroom, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese and Olive Pizza

Pizza dough – follow link for my recipe

Tomato Pasata (I like Pizza Expresses)

Sweet baby peppers

A few mushrooms

1 red onion

200g of goat’s cheese, Chevre Blanc

Dried Oregano

A pinch of salt

Stoned black olives

Preheat the oven to 250C. Put a large baking sheet in the oven. Roll out the pizza dough as thin as possible, especially in the middle. Sprinkle some flour onto a completely flat baking sheet and place your dough on top. Shake to make sure it is not sticking. Spread some pasata on top. Go up to the edges but not over them. Slice the onion very finely with a mandolin. Slice the peppers through widthways. Slice the mushrooms very thinly. Scatter the onion, mushrooms and peppers all over the pasata. Be generous especially with the peppers. Top with a sprinkling of marjoram and salt. Top with slices of goat’s cheese and olives. Slide the whole pizza off the baking sheet, straight onto the hot baking sheet in the oven. Cook until golden brown. Serve straight away.

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Pepper’s Piedmontese

I can’t remember where this recipe first came from. Maybe Elizabeth David, but I remember serving it as a starter at the first restaurant I ever worked in, The Brackenbury in Hammersmith. In January and February, we did a set lunch with The Times, which was something ridiculous like £10 for three courses, so you can imagine, it was fabulously busy. Maybe up to 90 lunches a day in a little 50 seater restaurant with a tiny kitchen. It was hot, long hours and hard work and I made one hell of a lot of Pepper’s Piedmontese.

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Peppers Piedmontese

For vegetarians, remove the anchovy.

Serves 4 as a starer and  2 as a main.

6 ripe plum tomatoes

2 red peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

Small bunch of basil, shredded

4 good-quality anchovies in oil

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Cut your peepers in half through the stem. Then cut across the stem with a knife to remove the seeds but leave the stem attached. Chop your tomatoes into 8ths and toss in a bowl with plenty of olive oil, salt, pepper and the basil. Heat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Slice the garlic as thinly as you can (a mandolin is good for this.) Put some slithers of garlic into each half of the peppers. Next add an anchovy fillet into each one. Pile in the chopped tomatoes. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes. The flesh of the pepper should be soft but not falling apart, steaming just slightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, when the flavour of the peppers is at its very best. Before serving, drizzle over the olive oil and serve.

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Roast Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Red Pepper Salad

And finally for this week, another recipe full of sun-shine. Grilling your peppers may be a bit of a hassle but it is well worth it for the fabulously, smoky flavour that infuses with their natural sweetness.

Grilled Red Peppers

Add some spicy chorizo, roast sweet potato and coriander and you have a delicious salad which will brighten up any meal.

Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Red Pepper Salad

Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Red Pepper Salad

Serves 2

2 sweet potatoes, diced with skin on

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. of ground cumin

A pinch of cayenne pepper

200g chorizo, diced

2 red peppers

Small bunch coriander, freshly chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sherry Vinegar

Salad leaves, rocket, baby spinach or watercress

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp. oil and the spices and transfer to a baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, roast your peppers. You can do them on a griddle, under the grill, on a BBQ, in a very hot frying pan or even straight in the flame of the gas. You need to char all the sides until black. This give the pepper a delicious smoky taste and also makes it very easy to remove the skin. When charred put in a bowl covered with clingfilm or into a piece of sealed tupperware. This will make the peppers steam and makes removing the skins even easier. When cool enough to handle, slip of the skins and remove the stalk and skins. Tear into strips. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and fry the diced chorizo until cooked. Deglaze with a splash of sherry vinegar. Add a glug of good olive oil to make a dressing. Mix the chorizo with the cooked sweet potatoes, red peppers and coriander and gently stir through the salad leaves to dress. Check the seasoning and serve.

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