Fresh Borlotti Bean, Red Onion and Tomato Salad with Anchovy and Rosemary Dressing

It is always exciting when fresh Borlotti beans are around but their availability time is really short so make sure you order yours straight away. It is always such a pleasure to cook fresh beans – no need to soak overnight and cooked in about 30 minutes as opposed to hours. I also feel that they always absorb other flavours better so be sure to add plenty of rosemary and garlic when cooking yours.

Borlotti Beans 2

This is a simple salad of Borlotti Beans, Red Onion and Tomatoes with Anchovy and Rosemary Dressing. They are just flavours which go so well together, it is simple but delicious. Serve alongside roast lamb or a piece of grilled fish for a spectacular Bank holiday lunch.

Borlotti Bean, Red Onion and Tomato Salad with Anchovy and Rosemary Dressing 1

Fresh Borlotti Bean, Red Onion and Tomato Salad with Anchovy and Rosemary Dressing

1 small red onion

Red wine vinegar

Fresh Borlotti Beans (shelled)

Cherry or vine Tomatoes

Couple of cloves of garlic, peeled

Small bunch of rosemary

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the red onion as thinly as possible and macerate in a little red wine vinegar. Cover your beans with plenty of cold water in a saucepan. Add the garlic cloves. Tie the rosemary up with some string or even an elastic band. You want to stop the spikes coming off your rosemary bundle, because they are not very nice to eat and you just want the flavour to infuse whilst cooking. Add to the beans and cook for about 30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, make your dressing (below) and cut your tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on size.

When your beans are cooked, drain off the water and mash the garlic cloves into the beans. Allow to cool for a while. Remove the rosemary. Season well with salt and pepper.  Drain the onions of excess vinegar and add to the tomatoes and beans and toss with plenty of dressing.

Borlotti Bean, Red Onion and Tomato Salad with Anchovy and Rosemary Dressing

Anchovy and Rosemary Sauce

1 tbsp. fresh young rosemary leaves, very finely chopped

6 anchovy fillets

Juice of ½  lemon

75mls 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.

Borlotti beans in shell

Kachumber Salad

I go through strange fazes and my latest is Tandoori Chicken! I sort of come across recipes and get stuck on them and then a month later I have forgotten them again for another year or so and I move on to something else. Anyway, I always serve this delicious Kachumber Salad alongside my chicken with some Raita to cut the heat.

But you don’t have to make Tandoori chicken to eat this salad. It works alongside any number of Indian dishes and is great at barbeques. However, here is a link to my famous Tandoori Chicken if you would like to give it a go.

Kachumber Salad 1

Kachumber Salad

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced or a bunch of spring onions, very finely chopped

1 cucumber

1 fresh red chilli, very finely chopped

4 large tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp roasted cumin powder

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil or Onion Oil

Salt to taste

Handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Nigella Seeds

Take your cucumber and cut in half lengthways, remove seeds with a spoon, half again lengthways and then cut into quarter moons.

Add all the rest of the vegetables together. Make a dressing by mixing the lemon juice with the oil.  Season well with salt and mix together with all the rest of the vegetables and coriander.  Do a taste test to see if the seasoning is right for you. Sprinkle with Nigella Seeds.

Tandoori Chicken

Tacos with Re-fried Black Beans, Roast Butternut Squash and Feta

I seem to be writing a “100 easy recipes with butternut squash” blog at the moment.

I also seem to be finding it increasingly difficult to come up with ideas for family meals. My children are finally of the age when we can have a family supper all together in the evening, after years of cooking separate meals for us and the kids. This does however limit what we can eat, as pleasing everyone seems almost unachievable. I am always trying to think up new and enticing ways of presenting vegetables to persuade the kids to eat them. This week I bought some Tacos which always go down well. I offered a little shredded, left over chicken for my daughter, who does not do “spicy” and knocked up some guacamole for my son, who doesn’t like meat. If you offer a selection of different filling, it is almost possible to keep the whole family happy, as least for a while.

Tacos with Re-fried Black Beans, Roast Butternut Squash and Feta

Tacos with Re-fried Black Beans, Roast Butternut Squash and Feta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, very finely grated

Large knob of ginger, very finely grated

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 Chipotle chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried marjoram or handful of fresh oregano

1 tablespoon tomato puree

2 tins black beans

1 packet corn tacos

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced

Small bunch of coriander, leaves picked

Shredded lettuce

A little feta, crumbled

Guacamole (see link)

Whatever else you might like to add – sour cream, tomato salsa, grated cheese,  shredded cooked chicken or sweetcorn

Heat oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat; add onion and celery. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook about 1 minute more. Add chilli, the salt, the herbs, spices and tomato puree. Stir and cook 1 minute more. Stir in beans with a little of their juice and cook for 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Meanwhile roast your butternut squash. Cut into quite small dice, toss with some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a baking tray in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 30 minutes until soft and beginning to caramelise.

Make up your tacos as you like, but I like to  first add some re-fried beans, tops with some shredded lettuce and coriander leaves, scatter on some butternut squash, add a big dollop of guacamole and finish with a little crumbled feta.

Roast Butternut Squash 1

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free)

I am particularly pleased with my next recipe. I was planning to make a butternut squash lasagne, as I seem to have acquired a small collection of them in my veg drawer and off course I was going to layer up the usual tomato sauce, béchamel and roast butternut squash with the customary sheets of lasagne when I had a brain wave. Why not cut the butternut squash into thin slices and use them instead of the lasagne sheet, and create a gluten free lasagne?

Everyone these days seems to be making spaghetti with vegetables. In my experience, there is however one major flaw. As soon as your vegetable spaghetti is actually cooked enough to be palatable, it dissolves. Not surprising really, as it has to gluten to keep in together. But this is where my butternut squash lasagne comes into its own. It does not have to stay together and therefore can bake away until totally delicious. The whole family was really very pleasantly surprised.

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free).jpg 5

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free)

Serves 4

You can only use the top of the butternut squash for this recipe as it makes nice “lasagne sheets”, so you will need quite a lot. Use the rest of the squash for another recipe.

1 large butternut squash olive oil

For the tomato sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

400g can plum tomatoes

Finely chopped fresh rosemary

Large head of chard

2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

For the bechamel sauce

50g plain flour (use gluten-free flour for Celiacs)

50g butter

500mls milk

100g cheddar cheese or parmesan

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the butternut just where it begins to bulge so that you have a nice even cylinder shape.  Peel the butternut squash and cut with a mandolin into nice thin sheets.

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free) 3

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. In a pan, soften the onion in the oil for 5 mins, then add the celery and garlic and cook for 5 min more. Add the tomatoes, rinse out the tin with a little water and add that too. Add the rosemary. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and leave to simmer, uncovered for 30 mins. Stir from time to time. You should be left with a thick purée. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, if the chard has a large stalk (this is not usually the case early in the season) separate the chard stalks from the leaves and chop both leaves and stalks roughly, keeping them separate. Add the stalks to a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 2–3 minutes, until tender. Remove the stalks with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the leaves to the boiling water and blanch briefly. Remove and spread out on a dry tea towel to cool. When cool use the tea towel to squeeze out as much water as possible. Cut the wet garlic or garlic into very thin slithers. Heat a little more olive oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic until just turning light golden brown. Add the Chard and season with salt and mix well. Fry briefly and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile make your béchamel. Begin by melting the butter gently – don’t over-heat it or let it brown, as this will affect the colour and flavour of the sauce. As soon as the butter melts, remove from the heat and add the flour. Stir well and return to medium heat and cook until your mixture resembles sand. Now add the milk and whisk. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and add your grated cheese. Season to taste with salt.

Assemble the lasagne. Put a thin layer of béchamel in your gratin dish and top with a layer of butternut squash sheets, Top with a layer of tomato sauce and some chard. Keep going finishing with a layer of butternut squash topped with béchamel. Bake for 30-40 mins, or until the lasagne is golden and bubbling.

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagne (Pasta-less and Gluten-free)

Imam Bayildi

Aubergines are known as “poor man’s meat”, but as in the words of Yotam Ottolenghi, “I prefer to think of them as vegetarian’s rich treat”. It is great to give them center stage, as in this renowned Ottoman recipe – Imam Bayildi, literally meaning “the Imam fainted.”

The story goes that the Imam fainted when his wife told him she’d used up all the olive oil in making this dish. Aubergine is a like sponge; it loves to soak it up. You can omit the frying and just bake the aubergine in the oven instead, but will not be as authentic or as tasty.

Imam Bayildi

Imam Bayildi

2 medium onions, chopped

A lot of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 small fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

4 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium eggplants

Small bunch coriander

Saute the onions in a little oil.  Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, salt, and pepper and fry for a minute more. Add the fresh tomato and oregano and cook until it comes together as a very thick stew (no liquid). Stir in the freshly chopped coriander. Check seasoning.

Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise. Cut into the flesh in a criss-cross fashion as in the photo. Season well with salt, especially into the cracks. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the aubergines, cut side down, and fry gently, until dark golden-brown on cut side. Turn over and fry on skin side a couple more minutes. Remove from oil (most of it will have been absorbed) and place on paper towels to drain for at least 15 minutes. Hold the slits apart and spoon the vegetable mixture on to the aubergines. Arrange eggplants in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender.

Fried Aubergines

Ribollita

Veg boxes are a bit like allotments, in that one always seems to be lacking in something one month only to have a glut of it the next. I was lamenting the lack of greens over January but I am now inundated with Chard, Cime di Rapa, Cavalo Nero and Spinach and Spring Greens. One of my favourite soups sprang to mind, a fantastic peasant soup, cheap and wholesome and packed with nutritious greens.  If you had fresh tomatoes in your box this week, you could use them instead of tinned. Make sure you use proper rustic bread, preferably a bit stale, otherwise it will just dissolve. Also, invest in a good, peppery Tuscan olive oil. Riverford do a good one.

Ribollita literally means re-boiled or re-cooked in Italian and is meant to be re-heated. It tastes even better the next day!

Ribollita

Ribollita
2 red onions, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
3 sticks celery, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Good Tuscan extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch ground fennel seeds
1 pinch dried red chilli
400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes
2 tins cannellini beans
300 g cavolo nero or chard, leaves, striped weight from the stalks
2 large handfuls good-quality sour-dough stale bread, torn into chunks
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Heat a saucepan with a splash of olive oil and add the vegetables to the pan with the ground fennel seeds and chilli. Sweat very slowly on a low heat with the lid just ajar for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.

Add the beans with a little of the water from the tin and bring back to the boil. Shred your cavalo nero and chard and stir in to the soup (it will look like loads, but don’t worry as it will cook down.) Season well with sea salt and pepper. When the greens have cooked into the soup add the bread. The soup should be thick but not dry, so add a little more water if you need to loosen it. Add plenty of olive oil – you want to achieve a silky, thick soup. Check seasoning.

Chard

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

Spring Green, Chickpea, Tomato & Coconut Curry

When you go through the years of training as a chef, you often are given pieces of advice which you hold on to for years, without really questioning why. One of those pearls of wisdom, which was passed on to me, was to never use fresh tomatoes in sauces or stews. Tinned plum tomatoes, I was told, where always much superior. There is much truth in this for much of the year, when tomatoes are out of season. It has to be said that some years English tomatoes fail to deliver even in the summer, due to the lack of warmth and sun, but when the tomatoes are in season in our boxes, albeit from Spain, it seems a shame to open a tin, when you have a lovely, fresh ones ready to use.

Tomatoes 2

Obviously, it depends what you are cooking, and a curry really does not require a strong tomato flavour. I think the fresh tomato was subtler and more authentic, and really helped lift this curry to a new level. Yes, they have to be blanched first to remove the skins which is a bit time consuming but once the tomatoes have cooked down they are instantly ready and unlike tinned ones, do not have to simmer for ages to remove the metallic taste usually present in even the best canned tomatoes.

Blanching tomatoes

I might even try a fresh tomato sauce next!

Spring Green, Chickpea, Tomato & Coconut Curry

Spring Green, Chickpea, Tomato & Coconut Curry
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, grated
Large knob of ginger, scraped and grated
6 large, very red, ripe tomatoes (650g)
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
I fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped or a pinch chilli flakes
½ 400g tin coconut milk
400g can chickpeas, drained
1 large head of spring greens
Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Heat a heavy bottomed large saucepan and add the coconut oil. Add the onion and cook gently for 10 minutes of so until sort and very lightly coloured.

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. Next put your spring greens in the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove and leave to drain, well spared out, in a large colander or on a clean tea towel to drain and quickly cool.

Meanwhile, add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the onion. Add the spices, salt and pepper and fry for a minute or two. Next add the fresh tomato, turn down the heat, add the drained chick peas and gently cook until the tomato is collapsed and quite dry. Add the coconut milk and then the spring greens. Heat through but do not boil at this stage. Check seasoning. Stir though the fresh coriander.

Spring Greens 1

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

Cherry Tomato & Caramelised Onion Tart with Pesto

I am always a little dubious of tomatoes in January so I was really pleased to see how vibrant red and delicious Riverford’s cherry tomatoes are at the moment. Obviously the weather in Spain is somewhat warmer than ours.

Cherry Tomatoes Riverford

I am a great fan of ready-made, ready rolled all butter puff pastry. I am a stickler for checking ingredients on any ready-made food and I am always checking labels, Find one which only contains flour and butter and you know that you have saved yourself a whole lot of time, because making puff pastry is no easy feat. I topped mine with some ready-made pesto (once again, check the ingredients or make your own), caramelised onions and the cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of balsamic at the end. I was worried that the tomatoes would make my pasty soggy but blind cooking it first prevents this. I think you could just as easily serve this for a starter at a dinner party as a delicious, quick lunch. Either way, it is a welcome taste of Summer!

Tomato & Onion Tart with Pesto 3

Cherry Tomato & Caramelised Onion Tart with Pesto
Serves 4 as a main with salad or 8 as a starter
Extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
375g (1 sheet) ready rolled all butter puff pastry
2 tbsp. pesto
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
Heat some oil in a pan and cook the onions with a little salt and pepper until soft and deep gold – about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further few minutes. Check seasoning, Set aside.

Gently unroll the pastry. Place on a baking sheet, still on the grease-proof it comes with. Put in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Flip the pastry over and bake on the other side until also golden brown. If the pastry has puffed up, just gently press it down to flatten it. Remove from the oven and spread a thin layer of pesto, leaving a small rim round the edge. On top of this spread the onion mixture evenly. Then top with the halved tomatoes. Sprinkle over salt and pepper and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, then bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so until the tomatoes begin to colour. Serve warm.

Tomtoe tart 2