Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

With this lovely weather we are having, I am trying to BBQ as much as possible. I always feel there is less cleaning up, apart from the occasional horrendous job of giving the BBQ a thorough clean a few times a year!

But somehow it is usually meat that ends up on the BBQ and the vegetables get forgotten. This is such a shame when the smoky, intense heat, works so well with so many summer veg. My favourites are peppers, courgettes, red onions and tomatoes which all fit perfectly on a skewer, and makes them great for kebabs. Riverford have the most adorable, little sweet peppers at the moment, which are perfect!

Riverford Sweet Mixed Peppers

Add some Halloumi, and you have got yourself a meal. Think Kebab, and serve with chilli sauce and pitta or go all-out and add tzatziki and shredded salad.

Grilled Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

You want the thickness of all your vegetables and halloumi to be roughly the same. This way, they will all come in contact with the grill equally and cook evenly.

Mixed red, orange and yellow peppers

Halloumi cheese

Courgettes

Red onions

extra virgin olive oil

Cherry tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Chilli Sauce (such as Sriracha)

Flatbreads

Place some wooden skewers into a large roasting tray of cold water to soak – this will stop them from burning.

Cut the pepper in half, scoop out all of the seeds and white pith with a teaspoon, then cut into 2cm chunks. Cut the halloumi into 2cm chunks. Cut the courgettes into 2cm slices. Peel the onions and cut into thin wedges and place in the bowl. Remove the skewers from the tray, discard the water and wipe the tray dry. Thread all your ingredients onto the skewers, not too close together so that they have a chance to cook. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the skewers onto the BBQ (or griddle pan) and cook for around 8 minutes or until cooked through, turning every 2 minutes to get nice and golden on all sides. Drizzle with chilli sauce and serve with flatbreads.

Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Chilli Sauce

Baked Peppers Stuffed with Timman Z’affaran (Saffron Rice and Lamb)

Frying off the lamb for my Moussaka, reminded me of a recipe I made years ago for my blog, Timmam Z’affran, which is an Iranian dish of saffron rice with fried lamb. You fry off the lamb mince for a long time until all the fat has rendered out and it becomes crispy, a bit like you might do with bacon. Then you added lots of fried onions, spices and saffron rice. The result is delicious but a little on the dry side. Then I came up with the idea of stuffing the mix into halved peppers and baking them for a while.

Baked Peppers Stuffed with Timman Z'affaran (Saffron Rice and Lamb) 3

The peppers added not only another dimension, but were juicy enough to add the moisture that the recipe was somehow lacking. All in all, I was pretty happy and served alongside some nice salad leaves, it made a lovely dinner.

Baked Peppers Stuffed with Timman Z'affaran (Saffron Rice and Lamb) 1

Baked Peppers Stuffed with Timman Z’affaran (Saffron Rice and Lamb)

Serves 2 hungry or 3 not so hungry people

3 large peppers (which ever colour you like)

100g basmati grain rice

½ tsp salt

a pinch of saffron threads

4 cardamom pods

Flaked almonds or pine nuts

Soak the rice for 30 minutes in plenty of water, Drain, Put the rice in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cover with two inches of fresh water. Add the salt, saffron and cardamom pods. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cook for about 10 minutes until the rice is tender and most, if not all, of the water has evaporated. Drain if necessary. Remove the cardamon pods.

For the lamb

500g minced lamb

3 brown onions, quite finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp Ground Cumin or Baharat or Ras el Hanout

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sunflower oil

A handful of freshly chopped coriander

Fry the onion gently in some oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. When the onion starts to caramelise remove with a slotted spoon. Add the lamb and fry fast until it is brown all over and crispy. You will need to keep breaking up the meet and stirring to ensure even cooking. Cook it until all the fat has rendered out and then drain it in a colander lined with kitchen paper to remove the excess fat. Return the onions and the lamb to the saucepan with a little more oil, the garlic, salt, pepper and the spices. Fry for a few minutes more. Add the rice and the coriander. Stir well. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Cut the peppers in half lengthways and remove the seeds, keeping the stalk attached to hold the pepper together. Stuff the mixture inside the pepper halves and top with flaked almonds or pinenuts. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot to warm with salad

Baked Peppers Stuffed with Timman Z'affaran (Saffron Rice and Lamb) 4

Prawn Jalfrezi

This week I ordered a large veg box less roots. I knew this was the box I would be using for the SuperClub on Thursday, so I thought I would get some practice in. The box listed

carrots UK
fennel IT
wild garlic UK
flat beans ES
pointed cabbage ES
rocket IT
aubergines ES
vine tomatoes ES
portobello mushrooms UK
butternut squash

from which I planned to make

Thai Butternut Squash Soup
Fennel and Rocket Salad with Preserved Lemon and Cous Cous
Carrot and Pointed Cabbage Slaw with Peanut and Ginger Dressing
Wild Garlic and Mushroom Risotto
Aubergine and Chickpea Curry
Ingen no goma-ae – Green Beans in Sesame Dressing

Romano Peppers

But quite unexpectedly two red peppers turned up as well. This threw into a bit of a panic as I already had two in the fridge, but not for long. I remembered a long-standing family favourite – Prawn Jalfrazi. This is so much fresher and more vibrant than anything you will ever get in a Indian take-away and it is so quick and easy, you can make it is less time than it would take for one to arrive. I keep prawns in the freezer all the time so that I can rustle this up for dinner anytime. Organic chicken breast works super well too or you could just try a vegetarian version if you pleased and it would still be just as delicious.

prawn jalfrezi 2

Prawn Jalfrezi
If using chicken breast, instead of prawns, cut it into chunks, season and fry it off in the pan first. Remove it with a slotted spoon and then return it back in to the sauce when you add the cardamom. Just make sure it is hot and cooked through before serving.
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 Red peppers, seeds removed and sliced
2 Fresh green or red Chillies, seeds removed &finely chopped (more or less to taste)
6 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 teaspoons ground turmeric
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom seeds – try a good Asian shop
1 large knob of fresh ginger, grated
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (400g) tin whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
Small bunch of freshly chopped coriander

Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken which has been seasoned with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Fry, until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the onions to the pan. Cook for about 5 – 10 minutes until they begin to soften and then add the peppers. Cook for a further 10 minutes or so. Next add the garlic and ginger. Stir well and then add your spices apart from the cardamom. Fry for a few minutes more and add tinned tomatoes and some salt to taste. Allow to cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. The idea is to thicken the sauce and allow the spices to mellow and integrate. Next add the cardamom and the prawns and cook until the prawns are heated through and the spices have lost their harshness and become melodious. Add the fresh coriander. You can hold the curry like this for a few hours or even overnight. The flavours actually get better over time. Just make sure you reheat it thoroughly before serving. Serve with plenty of steaming basmati rice.

garlic, ginger and chillies

Turlu Turlu

Good to my word, I tried out a fresh tomato sauce, just to see how it turned out. As far as I know, there are two schools of tomato sauce. The Italian version which consists of no more than olive oil, garlic and tomatoes and maybe a little basil, or the French version which can contain pretty much anything. I believe that this is because the Italian version relies heavily on superb ingredients, including very good tinned Italian plum tomatoes, so I decided to opt for the French. I used some onion, celery and garlic in my base, sweated down with olive oil and I added some wild dried Oregano. The results where certainly good enough for this week’s recipe of Turlu Turlu. This is a sort of Turkish Ratatouille, and just the sort of recipe I love. It literally means hotchpotch and can incorporate any number of different vegetables mixed with chickpeas, tomato sauce and lots of herbs. It is a great use up dish and I had a whole array of vegetables in the bottom of my fridge, which all went in, including beetroot, parsnips, red onions, red peppers, courgettes, sweet potatoes, fennel and carrots and of course, the tomatoes. But you could have added potatoes, squash, green peppers, cauliflower, aubergine or any other vegetable you have to hand.

veg for Turlu Turlu

This recipe seems a little more complicated than it is, but only because I insist on separating the vegetables up which cook better on their own. They need a lot of room and different times and this way, all your vegetables are perfectly roasted. It is worth the effort.

As for my tomato sauce – I am not sure it was good enough to just serve on its own with pasta but I will keep working on it and let you know how I get on.

Turlu Turlu 2

Turlu Turlu
Serves 4
1 red onions, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded, and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 head fennel, cut into into 8 wedges through the root
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
A few beetroot, peeled and cut into large bit-sized chunks
3 courgettes, cut into 1cm slices, slightly on the diagonal
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste

For the sauce
6 Large ripe tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 small onions, finely sliced

1 tin chickpeas, drained
Freshly chopped coriander
Freshly chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Toss the red onion and red pepper with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the fennel with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, making sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. Combine the root vegetables – parsnips, beetroot and sweet potato. Toss with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray and put in the oven. Toss the courgettes with some coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Tip onto a tray, make sure as much surface area as possible is in contact with the tray and put in the oven. You will have to check your veg regularly, and rotate veg to ensure even cooking, When your veg are cooked and a little caramelised remove them. Each tray will slightly different time. Meanwhile make your sauce. Sauté the onion and celery slowly in plenty of olive oil, for a s long as possible. Meanwhile, put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Cut a small cross in the top of your tomatoes. Add them to the pan of boiling water and boil for 1-2 minutes, until the skins begin to come away. Remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. Remove the skins and roughly chop. Add the garlic to the onions and fry a minute more before adding the tomatoes. Cook down gently until the tomatoes have completely dissolved, Season with salt and pepper and oregano. Puree with a hand blender.

Just before your final tray of veg is ready, add the chickpeas and tomato sauce to the tray and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Then remove and add all your veg together. Stir gently to avoid mushing up the veg. Allow to cool slightly before adding your herbs. Serve warm or room temperature.

Turlu Turlu 3

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake with Lemon Mayonnaise

There was just a hint of Spring in my veg box this week. I got a medium box (less roots) and the courgettes, fennel and cime di rapa all reminded me of my allotment in a few months’ time. Along with the ramano peppers (which I could never hope to grow) and the sunny, but very cold morning, I could almost feel the promise of the warmer, longer days ahead.

I thought I would share a really quick and easy recipe this week. Often when I have been working all day (which for me of course means cooking) the last thing I feel like when I get home is prepping a whole lot of veg. But I am loathed to give the family processed food, especially when I have spent the day making sure someone else’s family eats well. This is a great recipe for using up lots of veg, which also keeps kids and adults happy alike and it is none other than “a bake”.

A “bake” really doesn’t conjure up a good image for me – vegetable bake, tuna bake, cheesy bake – just the names fill me with repulsion. But there is no reason why a bake should not be a beautiful thing and happily, it is always all cooked in one pan, which saves on washing up as well.

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake 3

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to it my kids, aged 9 and 11, they are happiest eating nothing more complicated that some meat or fish, some potatoes and some vegetables. But it is so important to keep it varied, interesting and full of flavour for the adults. So this first recipe is just very simply a selection of all your family’s favourite vegetables, baked all together with a lovely piece of fresh wild salmon.

Choose a selection of seasonal vegetables which compliment, rather than overpower the fish. This week’s selection of fennel, ramano peppers and courgettes, along with some cherry tomatoes and potatoes left over from last week’s box, were perfect. This dish also makes a great alternative to a roast at the week-end especially when entertaining. If you want to impress, make a lovely sauce to serve along side it. I made a simple lemon mayonnaise. Don’t be scared of mayonnaise, it is easier than you think. But I have given you a couple of other alternatives. Salsa Verde , Salmoriglio or a delicious Anchovy and Rosemary Sauce to drizzle over your fish, are a few of my other favourites from my River Café days.

I only eat wild salmon, when in season, as I find farmed salmon is too fatty for me. There seems to be a good supply of sustainable Alaskan Wild Salmon available, very reasonable and full of flavour. Obviously I would prefer to shop more locally than Alaska so If you are worried about your carbon footprint then at least make sure that the vegetables are locally sourced. One last tip about salmon: don’t overcook it. As soon as you see white liquid coming out of the salmon, that is albumin and it’s a protein, and is a sign you’re your salmon is done. Remove immediately from the oven and your fish should be still pink and juicy inside.

This bake works well with sausages as well and can take a heartier selection of veg. Think butternut squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, red onions, carrots or beetroot, along of course with the veg I used for the fish. It is a really good way of using up vegetables at the end of the week from your veg box. Come to think of it, if you have got a lot of veg to use up, you can always leave out the fish or meat and just have the baked veg. It is just delicious on its own.

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake with Lemon Mayonnaise
2 generous slices of wild salmon, with or without skin
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed of excess outer leaves, save fronds
2 courgettes, cut into ½ inch slices on the diagonal
Large handful of cherry tomatoes
Couple of handfuls of new potatoes, boiled in salted water until cooked
Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Cut the fennel into 4 or 6 pieces lengthways, depending on size. Cut the potatoes in half or if very small leave whole. In a large baking dish toss all of the vegetables with 3-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Make sure the tin is big enough. If the vegetables are too crowded they will sweat instead of bake. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Try and make sure that the potatoes are facing down and that the fennel and courgettes are also flat side down. The more surface area that comes into contact with the bottom of the pan, the easier the vegetables will brown. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove the pan from the oven and push the vegetables to one side. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place it in empty space you made in the baking dish. Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, based on thickness of the salmon. Scatter with the chopped fennel
fronds.

Lemon Mayonnaise

Lemon Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Zest of one lemon,
juice of half a lemon
100mls rapeseed oil
50 mls extra virgin olive oil

Place the egg yoke in a bowl and add the mustard, the lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon. Add a good pinch of sea salt. Whisk very well, using an electric whisk if you have one. Don’t worry if you don’t, you just have to work harder. Very slowly add the rapeseed oil, especially at the beginning. Keep whisking until all the oil is amalgamated and them slowly add the olive oil. Check seasoning.

(If your mayonnaise splits, add a tablespoon of boiling water in a large metal bowl. Very slowly whisk in your split mayonnaise. It should come back together. Then add your remaining oil just as normal.)

All sauce recipes below are adapted from The River Cafe.
Salsa Verde
I vary this recipe according to what I am serving it with. I prefer to go easy on the mint as it can end up tasting a bit toothpasty and instead I opt for basil, dill, chives or the fronds from the fennel tops. Just get a good tasting balance.
1 large bunch Flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 bunch Mint leaves
Very good extra-virgin olive oil
3 Garlic cloves
100g Capers
50g Anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Red-wine vinegar

In a food processor chop the garlic, capers and anchovies. Add the mustard and vinegar, season and add some olive oil and purée until well amalgamated. Add all the herbs and whiz and more olive oil to achieve desired consistency.

Salmoriglio
In a pestle and mortar, pound 4 level tablespoons fresh Thyme or preferable fresh Marjoram or a very good quality dried Oregano with 1 teaspoon sea salt until completely crushed. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour 8 tablespoons of very good, peppery extra virgin olive oil slowly into the mixture. Add a little freshly ground black pepper.

Anchovy and Rosemary Sauce
2 tbsp. fresh young rosemary leaves, very finely chopped
12 anchovy fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
150mls very good extra-virgin olive oil

Place rosemary leaves in a mortar and grind as finely as possible. Add anchovy fillets and grind to a paste. Add lemon juice, mix well, and then, stirring constantly, add oil, a few drops at a time. Transfer sauce to a small bowl.

Fillet of Wild Salmon and Vegetable Bake 4

Roast Courgette, Red Pepper and Tomato Stew.

I had no idea what I was going to cook this week when I got my veg box from Riverford. To tell you the truth I still had quite a few courgettes left from last week, which were playing on my mind. Courgettes can get a bit tiresome, when thinking up new dishes and that is why I decided that it is always best to stick with the classics. One of my favourite courgette dishes is Ratatouille and I had some peppers and onions but just no aubergine. In fact I had so much courgette and peppers that I decided that rather than bulk it out anymore, I would just leave the aubergine out.

As much as I love it, I never used to make Ratatouille much, first of all because it always seemed very time consuming, both in cooking and cleaning, and secondly because it always used so much olive oil, which was both costly and fattening. Then a few years back I had a revelation. Why not, instead of frying the vegetables, which is messy and also uses a huge amount of oil, try roasting them instead. Nowadays, I simply toss the vegetables in oil and chuck them in the oven. Same result, much less time and half the fat. So not really Ratatouille at all – here it is, my Roast Courgette, Red Pepper and Tomato Stew.

Ratatoiuille close up

Roast Courgette, Red Pepper and Tomato Stew.

4 large courgettes
2 red or yellow peppers
2 Small onions, red or brown, peeled and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 Tin plum tomatoes
Olive oil
Small bunch basil or dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
Cut off the courgettes ends, then across into 1cm slices. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and any white membrane, then cut each half into 3 pieces and chop into bite-size chunks. Toss the courgette with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay out on a baking tray and put in the oven. Toss the peppers in olive oil, salt and pepper, lay out on a roasting tray and add to the oven. Cook until golden brown. The courgettes will need turning half way through and the peppers stirring regularly to ensure even cooking. Meanwhile add some olive oil to a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook the onion for 5-10 mins until soft and beginning to caramelise. Add the garlic and fry for a further min. Add the tinned tomatoes and half a tin of water and stir well to break up. Add some salt and pepper and either the basil, finely shredded, or the oregano. Turn the heat right down and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid catching. If too thick, add a little water. Taste the sauce and season. When the vegetables are ready, add to the sauce and check the seasoning. Either serve hot or cold.

Courgettes 2

Rainbow Stir-Fry

Finally for this week, I needed to use up practically everything else in my veg box. I noticed that when my box arrived what a great array of colours the vegetables where at this time of year. I have been reading a bit about how eating all the different coloured vegetables, or eating a rainbow as it is called, is a really good way of making sure that our bodies get all the nutrients and vitamins that we need . It is almost like nature has highlighted the fruit and veg that we need by colour coding them.

With this in mind, I decided to make a Rainbow Stir-fry with what I had in my box. Red onions, carrots, sweetcorn, red peppers and mushrooms. Unfortunately I was missing purple, although I think the red onions might count, but if you like you could put some red cabbage in too. Anyway, most importantly it tasted great and looked pretty colourful too.

Rainbow stir-fry

Rainbow Stir-Fry
Serves 2
100g egg noodles
Sunflower oil
Large knob of fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic
1-2 fresh red chillies
2 small red onions
2 large carrots
½ a cabbage
1 red pepper
1 ear of sweetcorn
8 mushrooms
Sesame oil
Mirin
Soy sauce
Chinese cooking rice wine
Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Put a pan of water on to boil. 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. (A microplane in really good for this.) Cut the cabbage in half, remove the core and finely shred. Peel the carrots and cut into julienne or coarsely grate. Peel the onions, cut in half and finely slice. Cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds and membrane and cut into thin strips. Cut the mushrooms into slices. Cut the sweetcorn of the cob. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for 6 minutes or as instructed on the packet. Drain and dress with sesame oil to prevent sticking together. Heat a large wok. Add some sunflower oil and add the chopped chilli, garlic 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 sauces to taste. You want a balance of sweet and salty. Taste until you have it right. Add the noodles and maybe a little more sesame oil to taste. Add the freshly chopped coriander, stir well and serve straight away.

Removing corn kernals

Chorizo & Vegetable Paella

Finally moved in to my new house and my new kitchen is twice the size, so I can’t wait to get cooking. Finding the time however, with a long list of jobs to be done, is another thing – boxes to be unpacked, pictures to be hung, curtains put up and internet set up. I wander from room to room and the list grows, no one can find any of their possessions so the house rings out with cries of “Where is my swimming costume, rugby boots or Ballet shoes” and even simple everyday tasks seem to take twice as long.

Still, everybody still needs feeding and hopefully some warm, nourishing food will calm the fraying nerves. I opted for a Small veg box (less roots) with red spring onions, sweet potatoes, french beans, savoy cabbage, red pepper and sweetcorn and set about cooking some quick and easy meals to feed the whole family.

First up a Chorizo and Vegetable Paella which is a really adaptable recipe and can be vegetarian too if you leave out the chorizo but I have to say, I prefer mine with at least some meat or fish. It is lovely to throw in some mussels or prawns or some chicken, whatever takes your fancy but it is a great use up of vegetables too – onions, peppers, any beans, I used French but you could use runner beans, sugar snap peas or course the classic peas.

In my time-saving, quick and easy mentality that I am trying to adopt at present, I chose ready diced Iberico Chorizo which saved me loads of time. And I am not going to even pretend that I made chicken stock – for the time being stock cubes will do!

Paella Cooking

Chorizo & Vegetable Paella
Serves 3
Olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
120g chorizo, ready diced
2 red pepper, cut in half, deseeded and cut into thin slices widthways
2 cube chicken stock
2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 pinch of Saffron
200 g paella rice
100 g French beans, cut into 1” pieces
15 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon

Put a glug of oil into a large heavy bottomed shallow casserole or paella pan on a medium heat, add the onion and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly until completely soft. Add the chorizo and fry to release the oil. Next add the garlic and red peppers and fry for a further 5 minutes. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cubes in 1 litre of boiling water and add the saffron. Next add your rice to the peppers with a good pinch of salt and the smoked paprika. Pour in ¾ of the stock (you will probably need all of it, but just in case.) Let it bubble away gently, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking. Top up with more stock if it becomes dry and the rice is still raw. While the paella is cooking, boil the beans for a few minutes until cooked and then refresh. After 30 minutes, check the rice is tender and cook a little longer if needed. Season to perfection, stir in the beans and then chop the parsley leaves, scatter them over the paella, and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

Red Pepper

Kohl Rabi

This week I started with a medium vegbox less roots which contained wet garlic, bunched onions, broad beans, garden peas, swiss chard, mixed salad leaves, mini cucumbers, red pepper and the dreaded kohl rabi,

I decided to get to work straight away on the Kohl Rabi as it is one of those vegetables that no one really knows what to do with. Looking like an unwanted alien, it is of the cabbage family but with the smell of mild turnip. It actually doesn’t taste of anything much but it has a great texture. So many recipes seem to be merely an excuse to get rid of it, so I wanted to try embrace it but use gutsy enough flavours to hide the rather unappetizing smell – unless you are a turnip lover. On the plus side, kohl rabi is really good for you. Higher in vitamin C than oranges it is a powerful antioxidant and contains phytochemicals which appear to have an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

I have researched long and hard on your behalf and come up with three salads which most celebrate the Kohl Rabi.

Kohl Rabi Remoulade

Kohl Rabi Remoulade
Remoulade is usually made with raw celeriac and delicious with cold meats.
1 medium kohlrabi
A squeeze of lemon juice
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Grain mustard
4 tbsp. Mayonnaise

Peel the kohlrabi and cut it into matchsticks about 3mm thick, either by hand or using a mandolin. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Season well and mix in the kohlrabi.

Asian Coleslaw with Peanuts & Chilli

Asian Coleslaw with Peanuts & Chilli
½ large kohl rabi, peeled and finely grated
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
100g beansprouts (optional)
2 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
1 bunched onions, finely sliced
Small bunch coriander
For the dressing:
1 tbsp thai fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red chilli, finely diced

Whisk all of the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and set aside. Pick the leaves from the coriander. Mix together all the vegetables, add the coriander leaves and toss with the dressing. Pile on a serving plate. Sprinkle with the roasted peanuts.

Kohl Rabi and Fennel Salad with Dill

Kohl Rabi and Fennel Salad with Dill
Great with fish, especially fatty fish like salmon or mackerel as the sharpness of the lemon cuts the fattiness of the fish.
I head of Fennel, tough outer leaves, stalk and tops removed, very finely sliced preferably on a mandolin
½ Kohl Rabi, peeled and very finely sliced preferably on a mandolin
½ lemon, juiced
Very good extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Small bunch of dill, finely chopped

Mix the lemon juice with a good pinch of salt. Mix well and add the olive oil, about 3 times as much oil as lemon. Taste and adjust. Add the fennel and kohl rabi and most of the dill. Serve with a little more dill or fennel fronds sprinkled on top.

Kol Rabi

Shakshuka

Next this week I turned to the peppers. Peppers are one of those veg which sometimes seem to hang about in the bottom of the fridge until they are no longer looking their best.  No more – this is one of our favourite Brunch recipes and is especially good for a bit of a hangover, although it is not essential.

In Israel they eat it for breakfast and specialist restaurants serve nothing else. Originally from North Africa it is best eaten with chunks of really good bread to soak up the sauce. The vegetables can be cooked beforehand but the eggs must be done last minute to get your exact preference of perfection. I like mine yoks runny but the whites firmly set. If you have a glut of fresh tomatoes, it is great for using those up too along with your peppers, but if you have none to hand then you can use tinned.

Shakshuka in bowl

Shakshuka
Serves 2
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium brown or white onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, sliced
2 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 1 can (14 oz. each) good quality tinned tomato
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
Cayenne
Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 eggs
1/2 tbsp. fresh chopped coriander (optional, for garnish)

Heat a deep, large skillet or frying pan (one that can go in the oven) on a medium heat and the olive oil. Add chopped onion, sauté for a five minutes or until the onion begins to soften. (You can cover the pan to help it along.) Add garlic and continue to cook a minute more. Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened. Add spices and sugar, stir well. Add the tomatoes (if you are using tinned add ¼ tin of water too.) Stir and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes till it starts to reduce. Meanwhile pre heat oven to 170⁰C. Taste the mixture. Add seasoning and more chilli if necessary. It should be fairly hot. Make little holes in the sauce and crack the eggs, one at a time into each one. Pop in the oven until eggs are just set and the sauce has reduced. Sprinkle with Coriander and serve with fresh bread or Pitta.

Shakshuka with spoon