Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Courgette, Chickpea and Spinach Soup

Yet another courgette recipe (we're seriously overrun here) and this one I'm really proud of. I'd forgetten how easy a good bowl of soup is to make and how satisfying. Taking inspiration from this 101Cookbooks recipe, this is a simple and fresh soup of courgette and spinach, I add chickpeas for extra thickness and just before blending threw in a load of mint and coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice to make it fresh and zingy. Finish off with a drizzle of good olive oil or a dollop of yoghurt.

Makes enough for 2 with leftovers.

1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 red chilli
2 medium courgettes
about 100g spinach (or spring greens)
all roughly chopped
25g butter
750ml vegetable stock (from bouillon powder is fine)
1 can chickpeas, drained
juice 1/2 lemon
small bunch each of coriander and mint

  • Heat the butter in a large saucepan, sweat the onion, garlic and chilli for 5 or so mins until softened.

  • Add the courgette and continue to cook for a few minutes until they take on some colour.

  • Pour in the hot stock and bring to the boil. Add the chickpeas, and if using spring greens, you want to add them here. cover and simmer for 10-15mins.

  • If using spinach, add now and cook until the spinach is wilted (it will only take about 30s).

  • Add the mint, coriander and lemon juice and blend immediately.


Saturday, 25 July 2009

Courgette, Tomato and Basil Fritatta

A colourful, summery fritatta making the most of the abundant supply of courgettes and sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes at the moment; finished off with a little cheese and a sprinkling of basil (from our overflowing window box). Low in carbs, packed full of veggies and nutrient rich eggs; this is superhealthy summer eating.

Perfect for brunch with bacon or sausages and toast (I would also have it with baked beans but that's probably just me...) or lunch with a green salad eaten in the sunshine.

As with most of my recipes, this is very relaxed. Use what you have; broad beans or spinach would work equally well here. Or maybe, continuing the italian theme, add a torn ball of mozzarella for oozy, stringy, cheesy goodness. Our vegetable boxes have been low on onions recently, but I imagine if I make this again, I'd add a little finely red onion for extra bite. You could also make this even easier by laying the cooked courgettes in the bottom of a small greased baking dish, topping with the tomatoes, basil, cheese and eggs and baking at 180C for about 20mins until puffed up and golden brown.


Serves 2

2 medium courgettes
handful basil, shredded
handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 eggs and a splash of milk
knob butter
approx 50g cheese, grated

  • Slice the courgettes thinly on the diagonal.
  • Heat a medium non-stick frying pan with a little oil. Fry the courgette slices in batches until blistered and brown. Try to refrain from adding too much oil to the pan otherwise you'll end up with a greasy frittata. Season once cooked.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and milk with plenty of salt and pepper.
  • Once cooked, return all the courgettes to the pan with the butter and spread out evenly, sprinkle the basil and tomatoes over the top.
  • Preheat the grill.
  • Carefully pour the egg mixture into the pan, making sure all the vegetables get covered and add the grated cheese. Turn the heat down and using a spatula, carefully scrape the cooked edges inwards, allowing the uncooked eggs to run into the rivulets.
  • Once the frittata is mostly cooked around the edges, but the middle is still fairly runny, pop under the grill until the top is completely set.
  • To serve, run a spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the frittata and cut into 4 wedges.


Thursday, 16 July 2009

Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Tart

Inspired by Hugh's Saturday column - I made this delicous beetroot and goat's cheese tart. Obviously I tweaked it a little to suit what I had (no wine or thyme unfortunately) but the essential idea was the same and boy, is it a good one. Buttery pastry, sweet roasted beetroot and sharp goats cheese - a trio made in heaven. All you need is a simple salad on the side or even better a potato salad slick with mayonnaise.

This is definitely a good way to eat beetroot as although I love it, I know it's not always the easiest thing to cook with, least of because of the stained fingers. This soup is another favourite, as is eating it raw in salads - it has a carrot-like sweetness and is wonderful in a grated carrot, apple and beetroot salad sprinkled with pine nuts.

This recipe makes enough to fill a standard 24cm tart tin. Hugh suggests using a loose-bottomed 20cm sandwcih tin for a deeper tart. As you can see, I used my new favourite rectangular tin and so made less of the filling.

1 tart case, baked blind
25g unsalted butter
3 red onions, halved and finely sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
500g small beetroot, boiled, peeled and sliced.
1 small bunch spring onions, finely sliced
280g goat's cheese log

  • Preheat the oven to 200C.
  • Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onions until soft.
  • Add the beetroot slices, balsamic vinegar and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the mix is glossy.
  • Cut the cheese into 1cm slices and lay a few on the base of the tart.
  • Tip in the beetroot mix and put the rest of the cheese on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
  • Sprinkle the spring onions on top to serve.


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Easy Flatbread Pizza

These pizzas are a great last minute dinner. So easy to make and a great (healthier) alternative to takeout pizza. You need to start with flatbreads rather than tortillas (try a turkish corner shop for the best) as they are sturdier and will hold up to the toppings better.

I often make an absurdly quick tomato by sizzling some garlic and chilli in olive oil, pouring in a can of chopped tomatoes and simmering for 15mins or so until thick and seaoning well. But you could just as easily use halved cherry tomatoes.

Top with whatever you like and bake for 10-15mins until the cheese is bubbling and golden. The key here is restraint - keep it simple and don't pile on the toppings if you want to keep your pizza crisp otherwise, and I'm speaking form experience here, you end up with a soggy mess.

Some ideas for toppings:

  • A thin layer of tomato, a little mozzarella and some pine nuts. Top with shredded basil when cooked.
  • Top with rocket and avocado
  • Goats cheese, walnuts and a few dollops of onion marmalade
  • Chargrilled aubergine and pine nuts (a little oregano would be good here)
  • Any combination of anchovies, capers and olives
  • Thinly sliced pear, gorgonzola and pine nuts, topped with some rocket or watercress.


Saturday, 4 July 2009

Easy Recipe Search

We get our veg box on a Friday and I like to spend a bit of time at the weekend thinking of what to make with our bounty. I also like to get ahead and make one or two things on Sunday for the week. Now that I'm trying to actually cook from the plethora of food mags I have, I start with my current issue of Olive and Waitrose Food Illustrated, then maybe consulting Nigella or Jamie.

To be honest, and I'm sure there are lots of you out there who do the same, more often than not, I just google the ingredient I have and wait for inspiration to strike. There are a few websites that I generally use:

101cookbooks - for beautiful pictures and generally unique and healthy recipes
BBCGoodFood - for sheer voume of recipes
Delicious - for more interesting recipes than BBCGoodFood
Jamie Oliver and Nigella - for food porn

So, in order to make my life easier, I've made a google custom search that only searches the websites above, giving preference to website I use often means I'm more likely to find recipes that I actually want to cook instead of trawling through pages of results. I've added it to the sidebar, I hope you find it useful! Let me know if there are other websites you use that would be helpful.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Cauliflower Pasta

A reworking of this Cauliflower Pasta recipe taking inspiration from this recipe on 101cookbooks. Instead of braising the cauliflower, I stirfried it in a large frying pan with some onion until golden and nutty. Add some pasta and spoonful or two of creme fraiche to finish. Some chopped parsley, basil or toasted pine nuts would be a welcome addition here.

This is a great way to cook cauliflower. The key is patience, you need to stand over the pan for a good 5mins, turning the cauliflower regularly as it browns and tuns golden on each side, this is the key to giving the cauliflower the nutty caramelised flavour.

Try this as a base to a simple cauliflower curry, frying the cauliflower in curry powder and ading chopped tomatoes at the end.