I love gnocchi, but only if they are pan-fried. I found boiled ones to be a bit heavy and sloppy. When I discovered pan-fried gnocchi (thanks to Nigella!), it was a game changer and since then I don’t do it any other way.
If I remember it right, I saw this recipe on one of the Sainsbury’s recipe cards, which you can pick up from the store. The recipe is so easy and adaptable, you can easily adjust it to your taste.
PAN-FRIED GNOCCHI WITH WATERCRESS PESTO & ROASTED TOMATOES
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
75ml olive oil, plus extra for frying
3 tbsp walnuts/pine nuts, toasted
1 x 110g bag watercress
1 x 500g pack fresh gnocchi
100g fine green beans, halved
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the halved tomatoes on the oiled roasting tray and roast until they are ready and caramelised on the edges.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, make the pesto by putting the garlic, olive oil, walnuts and the watercress in a food processor, blitz to combine. Check for seasoning.
- Heat a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil, add the gnocchi and toss gently over a medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden.
- Meanwhile, cook the beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until just tender, drain.
- To assemble, add the pesto to the gnocchi and toss together. Gently stir in the beans and tomatoes. Serve as a side dish or as a main with some salad.
I could’ t recommend this veggie version of shepherd’s pie enough. I first tried it when I had to prepare a dinner for a few vegetarians some time ago. Since then it became my choice of preference, even over meaty version. Addition of the red wine is a must!
VEGGIE SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH SWEET POTATO TOPPING
(adapted from BBC Good Food collection)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely cubed
2 celery sticks, finely cubed
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
200ml red wine
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 vegetable stock cubes
400g cooked green/puy lentils (alternatively 1x410g canned lentil)
About 1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
85g mature cheddar, grated
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then fry the onion until golden. Add the carrots, celery and thyme, continue to cook for a few more minutes. Then pour in the wine, 150ml of water and the tomatoes, sprinkle the stock cubes and simmer for 15 minutes. Tip in the lentils and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile boil the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes or until cooked, drain well and mash with the butter, season well to taste.
- Pile the lentil mixture into a pie oven-proof dish, spoon the mash on top, sprinkle over with the grated cheese and some extra thyme if you wish. At this stage, pie can be covered and chilled for 2 days, or frozen for up to a month.
- If you are cooking straight away, heat the oven up to 180C. Cook for 20 minutes if cooking straight away, or for 40 minutes from chilled. In both cases cook until golden on the top and hot and bubbly all the way through. Serve with green veggies of your choice.
It is one of the simplest but most comforting soups. There’s no waste with this soup. Use the whole broccoli head, including the stalk, to really make the most of this valuable vegetable. Top it up with crumbled blue cheese or a mature cheddar, or it is just as good on its on with crusty buttered bread.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 potato, diced
approx 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
1 big head of broccoli, finely chopped
100g any cheese you prefer, for serving (optional)
- Heat the oil and the butter in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Add a splash of water if the onions start to catch.
- Add the leek, carrot and potato. Allow to sweat for 5 minutes under the lid.
- Then pour in the stock and add any chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
- Now add the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve.
- Serve with any cheese on top or just as it is.
This salad combines all my favourite ingredients. It is perfect for this time of year, as the courgettes are at its best at the moment. You can also leave the vegetables to marinate for a couple of hours before serving, but always fry halloumi at the last minute, as it is best served warm.
CARROT, COURGETTE AND HALLOUMI SALAD
(adapted from Waitrose magazine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 large carrots
50g cashew nuts
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
250g halloumi, cut into 1cm slices
- To make a dressing whisk the oils, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and ginger together in a large bowl. Using a vegetable peeler or a spiraliser, peel ribbons of the courgettes and carrots into the bowl with the dressing, toss it all together, set aside to marinade while you prepare everything else.
- In a large non-stick frying pan toast the cashew nuts for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until golden, set aside. Next toast the sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes, set aside with the nuts.
- Fry halloumi for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
- Lift the vegetables from the dressing and put on a plate. Top with the halloumi and scatter over the nuts and seeds. Serve immediately while the cheese is still warm, spooning over a little extra dressing, if you like.
Beans are one of the staples of Mexican cuisine and they come in dozens of varieties. The simple recipe of cooking them gently with onion and an aromatic herb is, perhaps, the most common method of preparation for any beans.
BLACK BEAN SOUP (SOPA DE FRIJOL)
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
250 g black beans, soaked overnight
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
about 100 g cubes of Feta cheese
handful spring onion and parsley, chopped
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and peppers and cook until tender about 5-8 minutes. Stir in oregano and cumin, toss to coat vegetables. Pour in stock and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the beans are tender and cooked. Puree half of the soup in the blender until smooth and stir back into soup pot. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with garnishes.
This is my kind of bread! Although it is a yeast dough, as the title says, it doesn’t require kneading and it’s full of texture due to the amount of seeds in it. Good with soups and on it’s own, but even better with the daubing of soft goats cheese.
NO_KNEAD HONEY SEED BREAD
(Recipe taken from the book ‘Entertaining Vegetarians’
by Celia Brook)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons leenseeds
butter for greasing
milk, for brushing (optional)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (for sprinkling)
- Dissolve the honey in 1-1/4 cups hot (but not boiling) water in a small bowl or pitcher. Whisk in the yeast and let stand in a warm place for about 15 minutes until frothy.
- Combine the two flours in a mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the salt and the pumpkin, sunflower and leenseed. Gradually add the yeasty water and mix to a dough. As the dough draws together, put the spoon aside and start using the one hand to press the dough into a ball and the other hand to turn the bowl, incorporating everything into a soft, pliable mixture that leaves the sides of the bowl fairly clean. If the mixture is very sticky, sprinkle in a bit of flour to form a soft dough.
- Grease a cookie sheet. Please the dough on it and form into a tapered “eye” shape — or whatever shape you fancy. Dust with flour and over with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size. Preheat the over to 200C. Use kitchen scissors to make a decorative snips down the middle of the read. Brush all over with milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if desired. Bake the loaf in the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes, until golden, firm and hollow-sounding when tapped. Let cool on a wire rack.
This is one of the simplest and fastest Indian dishes you can do with homemade Paneer.
I will often vary the vegetables depending on what’s available and what we are in the mood for.
This recipe is versatile!
STIR-FRY WITH PANEER AND PEPPERS
5 tablespoons clarified butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seed, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon paprika
2 medium onions, finely diced or grated
1 fresh green chilli, chopped, with or without seeds
2 large yellow bell pepper, cut into cubes/thin strips
2 courgette, cut in halves
200g cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 tablespoon fenugreek powder (or fresh leaves, if you wish)
250g paneer, cut into cubes
Juice of 1-2 limes, to taste
- In a saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of ghee on medium heat. Add coriander seed and paprika. Stir and cook for thirty seconds.
- Add the onions and green chilli and fry for 5–6 minutes, or until the onions are just softening but not browned and still have a little crunch. Add the peppers, courgette, salt and fenugreek powder, and fry for a further 3–4 minutes.
- Lower the heat, add the paneer to the pan and gently stir everything together for about five minutes, then add the tomatoes and heat through. Stir in the lime juice, check seasoning and serve immediately.
The Lebanese believe that za’atar, a mixture of thyme, sumac and sesame seeds, gives strength and clears the mind.
I do believe that this spice turns simple two veg salad in something exciting for the palette .
Good snack or side to any meal. Cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and za’atar mix on top! Addictive!
Make the salad as big or as small as you like, the ratios are really not that important.
CUCUMBER & ZA’ATAR SALAD
- Slice cucumber and onions thinly. Drain off excess liquid from cucumber and arrange them on the plate, add onion slices on top.
- Sprinkle the za’atar over the cucumbers. Season with salt and pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.
This recipe is taken from my new favourite book ‘Honey & Co: The Baking Book’ which is written by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, two Israelis who have set up shop in London serving the food of their native country. This book is full of authentic recipes which are easy to reproduce. I was sold immediately by the amount of unusual (for me) flavour combinations, not spoiled by complicated techniques or expensive ingredients.
This cake falls into this category too. Blueberry & Hazenuts – who would’ve thought that it goes well together. And, of course, I’m a big believer in Ricotta, which keeps the cake extremely moist while hazelnuts bring flavour and texture, and it works very well with blueberries.
BLUEBERRY, HAZELNUT & RICOTTA CAKE
115g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
175g ground hazelnuts
250g ricotta cheese
1 x 150g punnet blueberries
75g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the bottom of the 23cm cake tin, line with baking parchment and butter the sides.
2. Cream the butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one. Add the salt, lemon zest and ground hazelnuts, mix until fully incorporated. Fold the ricotta and half the blueberries into the batter and scoop into the prepared tin. Top with the remaining blueberries and the roughly chopped hazelnuts, sprinkle with the demerara sugar.
3. Bake for about 55-65 minutes or until the cake has set. Allow to cool in the tin. Once cooled, place in the fridge to help it set so that you can transfer it to a serving plate.
4. The cake keeps well in the fridge up to 3-4 days, but it is best to bring it up to the room temperature before serving so you can enjoy all the flavours in full.
There was a program on TV this morning, explaining the origin of St. David’t Day and traditional Welsh food. They had laverbread (unfortunately, I’ve never tried it yet 😦 ), Glamorgam Sausages (which I’ve tried once and I loved it!), Cawl (it is a Welsh stew with lamb and leeks), Welsh cakes and many other delicious and authentic food. I thought I have to make something today at least remotely close to Welsh cuisine. As I had a nice looking couple of leeks in the fridge and recently saw a recipe for Potato and Leek soup on Andrea’s blog here, decision was made quickly 🙂 I also made dinner rolls, based on stout and honey, to go with the soup. Although, in her recipe Andrea uses Stilton, which I love but we had only Cheddar today and it paired well too. Also, I didn’t have cream and I could supplement with some milk but after blending I had a taste and it was perfect as it was.
CHEESY LEEK AND POTATO SOUP
(Based on Andrea’s recipe taken from her blog Ten More Bites)
2 tab spoons of butter
2 medium leeks or 1 huge one (in my case), sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed,
1 stalk celery, chopped
1.5 litres vegetables stock
salt & pepper to taste
grated Cheddar to serve
1. Heat the butter in a large pan and add the leeks. Cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften, add the potatoes and sauté for a few more minutes, after add vegetable stock, season well with salt and pepper.
2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, for about 20-25 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat, whizz with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth. Serve with grated Cheddar (or Stilton, or any other your favourite cheese) on top, with some fresh crusty bread.
Happy St. David’s Day! 🙂