Midterm break means…….bedlum really. A new recipe? Completely out of the question I’m afraid so I’ve done a quick trawl of things I reckon might be nice for long weekend. Here goes……

Blood orange season is nearly over so enjoy them before they go.  caramelized-blood-orangesSkye Gyngell’s recipe for caramelized blood oranges is a lovely one.  All you need is a little ice-cream and maybe a slice of toasted panettone and you’ve got a simple, elegant desert. Or how about an intensely chocolately roulade with a blood orange salad for Easter Sunday?  Or there’s a cake with almonds and a vanilla mascarpone topping  that always goes down a storm.

If you’re planning a big meal for Easter this week’s fennel makes a fantastic gratin which goes with any roast. We’ve also got some early courgettes which I think I’ll use to make a soup with Parmesan. Right, I think that’s it. I hear Lee bawling downstairs, gotta go. Have a fantastic weekend xx

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Courgette and parmesan soup  with a crunchy pepper salsa

Unless there’s an Indian summer on the horizon it looks like we’ve had our lot. I don’t normally make soup with summer varieties but this week it feels like the only way to go. I unearthed a couple of Parmesan rinds in the fridge the other day and decided to use them with this week’s courgettes. Those rock hard rinds should never be thrown away because they are brilliant for soups. When they sit in liquid they release a goergeous salty savouryness that adds loads of flavour. There doesn’t seem to be any use by date to this so always keep them.

The soup I made was simple – courgettes, spud, onions, garlic and a little marjoram. The Parmesan rind brings it all together and gives the dish a lovely depth.  To add a bit more punch and texture I made a crunchy salsa with Ramiro pepper, garlic scented breadcrumbs and a little balsamic to serve on top. This recipe makes enough for 2 but if you have more courgettes I’d recommend making a double quantity.

A summer soup with courgette and Parmesan with a crispy Ramiro pepper salsa

You’ll need:

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, roughlychopped

A pinch dried marjoram (or oregano)

1 bay leaf

300gr courgettes sliced and quartered

200gr potato peeled and diced

A piece of Parmesan rind about 3cm x 3cm

750ml vegetable stock (as always I go for Marigold)

For the crispy salsa

1/2 Ramiro pepper very finely chopped

1/2 small onion very finely chopped

1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped

2 cloves garlic finely minced

A small piece fresh chilli

2 heaped tablespoons breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

Balsamic vinegar

Begin by heating a generous glug olive oil in a pot over a medium heat. Throw in the onions and toss for a few minutes until soft then add the garlic, marjoram, bay leaf and a pinch of fine salt. Saute for another minute then add the courgettes and potatoes. Continue cooking for another five minutes. Throw in the Parmesan rind followed by the stock. Bring everything to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes while you get go with the salsa….

Fiinely chopped peppers

Heat a tablespoon olive oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic, toss for about 30 seconds until it has softened but not changed colour then add the breadcrumbs. Toss with the garlic then add the pepper, chilli onion and parsley. Saute everything for about a minute then turn up the heat a little and add a dash of balsamic. Allow it to burn off, stirring all the while then turn off the heat. Add a tiny pinch of salt and a good grinding black pepper.

To finish the soup, remove the bay leaf and Parmesan from the pot then blast til smooth with your hand blender. Check your seasoning and consistency (you may like to add a little more water or stock) then serve topped with the crispy salsa. As I finish writing this the sun is now blasting into the kitchen. Indian summer!? Let’s hope so. This soup tastes even better in a sunny garden.

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

 

Courgette fritters and beetroot salad

After a tough few weeks fighting my way through endless amounts of amazing wine, goat’s cheese and almond croissants in France I’m back. For the first part of last week it was all rice and noodles (there was talk of juicing but I didn’t quite make it that far). I thought I’d never eat cheese again I’d gone so overboard. Of course I soon got over that as this week’s recipe shows.

The simplicity of a lot of the food we ate really hammered home the whole quality produce argument. You don’t actually have to eat as many pastries and cheese as we did (no, really you don’t) and the natives wouldn’t dream of it. It’s really all about fresh seasonal produce at its best so yes you eat the odd amazing pastry but really there’s a lot of salad going on most of the time. When we were there the peaches and melons were hitting their peak and both nothing short of spectacular. The melon in particular really stood out for me. We had it in several places with some cured ham and a handful of lightly dressed leaves and it  made the most exquisite starter, a far, far cry from the anemic varieties we’ve all had in this country that just makes the dish seem so pointless. this is just one example, I’ll do a few recipes inspired by the trip over the next few weeks to give you a flavour.

At this time of year in Ireland we mightn’t have peaches and melons but we’re spoilt for choice with veggies. This week brings a welcome return of baby beetroot from the Healys. It comes with leaves attached and these are even more nutritious than the actual beets so be sure and use them. You’ll have to be quick as they’re fragile and won’t last. One simple idea would be to roast up the beets finishing them off with some balsamic then serve them with a handful of walnuts with the leaves. Make a nice mustardy honey dressing for this like the one below and serve with some goat’s cheese and crusty bread and you’ve got a brilliant light lunch or starter.

I decided to use my beets to make a very simple salad that is amazingly moreish and way more than the sum of its (2) parts. It’s a recipe from my friend Helen and I think it’s Polish originally. Basically you grate the beetroot and dress it in lemon juice and ……..that’s it but it really works.

Summer is all about courgettes and they will be coming thick and fast til at least the end of September so I thought that a courgette recipe might be in order in this week in case of you are suffering from what we call “courgette fatigue” at Home Organics. Some of you have the very pale ones that are known as the white variety that you can see in the photo.  Don’t panic as Claire did when she saw them arrive this morning – they’re the same as the kind you’re used to just a different colour .

I made fritters with feta and a little mint from the garden which I served on a bed of the beetroot leaves with a honey mustard dressing alongside the beet salad with a dollop of greek yogurt. It makes great lunch for two or a starter for 4. I know it sounds like this dish has lots going on but I promise you can make it from scratch in less than half an hour.

 

Courgettes fritters with feta, fresh mint and cumin

You’ll need:

250gr courgette

1 medium onion chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

olive oil

80gr feta cheese crumbled

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 tablepoons breadcrumbs ideally the Japanese Panko kind which are extra dry so great for absorbing any excess courgette moisture. You’ll get these in any Asian supermarket and they can be kept in the freeezer.

10 – 15 mint leaves shredded plus a couple extra to garnish

Salt and pepper

The beetroot salad                                                                   

You’ll need:

4-5 smallish heads beetroot

Lemon juice

The green salad

You’ll need:

The leaves attached to the beetroot washed, dried and torn into bitesize pieces

For the dressing:

4 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 level teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1 generous teaspoon runny honey

Courgettes are full of water so begin by coarsely grating them onto a cloth. Leave for about 20 minutes to allow some of the excess water out. You can even get them into a ball in the cloth and wring them out if you feel that they’re still quite soggy after the 20 minutes.

While the courgettes are sitting,  heat some olive oil in a pan and begin sautéing the onions with the cumin. You want them a deep golden brown and starting to caramelize and this will take about 20 minutes over a low to medium heat. Be sure and stir them around every five minutes and  add a pinch of fine salt halfway through.

With the onions and courgettes on the way, get on with the beetroot. Remove the leaves and set aside then coarsely grate each bulb and dress the lot in lemon juice to taste then set aside.

Grated Beetroot

Prepare the salad dressing by whisking all the ingredients together then set aside til the fritters are done then simple toss with the leaves.

When the onions are ready let them cool a little then combine with the courgettes, feta, flour and mint. Add a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Heat some oil on the pan the gently add about 1 tablespoon of the courgette mixture for each fritter. Gently flatten each one out with the back of a spatula then fry til golden. Turn over carefully and fry the other side. Remove from the pan and serve on top of the beetroot leaves with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a serving of beetroot salad on the side. Heaven.

Like everyone, we’ve all been sickened and very saddened by the images reaching us from East Africa at the moment. This week we will be donating all the takings (not just the profits) from any new orders to Oxfam so if you know anyone who’s been talking about giving us a try please let them know.

Have a great week,

Sarah

It’s officially summer but the weather says different. This week I’ve got the first of Marc Michel’s gorgeous lettuce and courgettes to cook with and I had thought a salad with the courgettes was going to be on the menu but somehow the oven got switched on…. I baked them with a rich, gutsy tomato sauce and goat’s cheese. As usual I was under pressure timewise so I kept in very simple.The sauce was nothing more than a tin of tomatoes and olive oil (along with a little salt and sugar of course) cooked down for about 25 minutes over a medium heat. I sliced the courgettes quite finely and griddled them  to add more flavour then layered up everything and baked for 25 minutes.  Marc’s  lettuce went alongside tossed with a handful of broken walnuts then dressed in olive oil and balsamic.

Baked Courgettes with Tomato and Goat’s cheese

You’ll need:

400gr Courgettes

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Sugar

Salt

100gr Goat’s Cheese crumbled

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

Begin with the sauce. Empty the tomatoes into a small pan along with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and sugar. Cook over a medium heat for about 25 minutes while you get on with everything else.

Cut the courgettes in half so you have pieces about 7 cm long. Slice each half lengthways so you have long slices about 2 mm thick. Heat a griddle pan. Add the courgettes and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes or until you get those snazzy black lines. When they are all done set aside.   To put the dish together take a small oven dish and smear the bottom with a little of the tomato sauce. Add a layer of courgettes, a couple of dollops of the sauce and about a quarter of the cheese. Continue layering ending with goat’s cheese. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs then bake at Gas mark 5 for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Hi everyone,

Courgettes, as you know, are a summer staple; not even all the wind and rain can hold them back. Nice as they are, at this time of year “Courgette fatigue” starts to set in. There are only so many Courgette pastas you can eat…. Salads are the way forward especially with vinegar as it brings up their flavour so well. Then to bulk things out and make a larger meal you can add Herbs, Cheese (Goat’s and Feta are especially good), Pinenuts, Tomatoes and Cous Cous. Below are a few of the many salads we’ve eaten over the summer months and for those of you fed up pretending it’s summer right at the end there’s a gratin and pasta recipe.

For one of the best Courgette salads just chargrill or griddle Courgette rounds (see below for details) then add a dressing of Olive Oil and Red Wine vinegar (4:1) along with a little Salt and Sugar. Add some torn Basil or Mint leaves if you have them and set aside for at least 20 minutes so all the flavours have a chance to soften and mingle. Serve with Cheeses, Hummus, Cous Cous, Green Salad and Olives for lunch or as part of a main course with grilled fish.

If you want something a little more filling try an extended version of this by adding Lettuce (or any salad leaves you have) Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and Black Olives. Because the Courgettes are cooked, this salad feels like a meal and really needs nothing more than good bread for a perfect lunch……..

Chargrilled Courgette Salad with Lettuce, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Olives

You’ll need:

  • 2 Medium Courgettes
  • 1/2 Head Lettuce
  • 300gr Cherry Tomatoes
  • A handful Black Olives
  • 100gr Feta
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar

Begin by preparing your Courgettes. Either cut them into rounds about 1/2 cm thick or slice them into lengths (about 5 cms is perfect) of the same thickness. Heat your grill or griddle pan and when it’s ready place the Courgettes on it then cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes until the slices start to char (if you’re using a griddle pan you’ll get those snazzy stripes). When they’re done take them off the pan and put them in a bowl. Cover with a plate so the heat from the Courgettes generates some steam which continues the cooking process and leaves them lovely and tender.

While the Courgettes are steaming, wash and quarter about 300gr Cherry Vine Tomatoes (or chop 2- 3 regular sized ones) and make a dressing using 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar and 4 of Olive Oil, a little pinch of Sugar (takes any bitterness out of the Courgettes) and a pinch of Salt.
Mix the Tomatoes, Courgettes and dressing together and and leave aside for at least 20 minutes. If you’re preparing in advance this could be done up to 6 hours before.
To put the salad together, wash and dry half a head of Lettuce then tear the leaves into manageable sized pieces with your fingers. In a salad bowl, mix the Courgettes, Tomatoes, Lettuce Leaves, Feta Cheese (crumbled) and the Olives. Toss together, check the seasoning adding more vinegar if necessary and serve.

Another Very Simple Courgette Salad

You’ll need:

  • 2 Medium Courgettes
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Basil Leaves

Slice your Courgettes and gently sauté in Olive Oil. Just before they start to change colour add 3 or 4 finely chopped cloves Garlic and continue to sauté until the Garlic has softened and the Courgettes are golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool before dressing with Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar (about 4:1 should be fine but you may need to adjust) mixed with pinches of Sugar and Salt. Add some torn Basil leaves and leave for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to soften and mingle. Serve with cheeses or perhaps a simple omelette and a green salad.

Warm Courgette salad with Pine Nuts and Goat’s Cheese (for 2)

You’ll need:

  • 2 Medium Courgettes
  • A handful Pinenuts
  • 1/2 Head Lettuce (or enough Rocket for 2)
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 150gr Soft Goat’s Cheese (Chevre rounds are ideal)

Once again, slice and sauté the Courgettes until golden brown but this time leave out the Garlic. When done, allow to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

Begin by toasting a handful Pinenuts. To do this, place them on a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat until they start to change colour.

Wash and dry about 1/2 Lettuce.

Make a dressing by mixing Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar (again about 4:1 should do it) with pinches of Salt and Sugar.

To put everything together, toss the Lettuce leaves (tear them first if they’re too big) and Pinenuts with the dressing and put on a plate or platter. Scatter the Courgette slices and small rounds of Goat’s Cheese (Ricotta would also be lovely) on the Lettuce leaves and serve.

And if you fancy something more substantial try…

Courgette Gratin with Tomato and Parmesan (for 2)

You’ll need:

  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • 3 Medium Courgettes
  • 80gr freshly grated Parmesan
  • Basil Leaves

Make a Tomato sauce by sautéing a medium Onion in Olive Oil over a lowish heat until soft and beginning to change colour (this will take about 15 minutes). Add a 3-4 roughly chopped cloves Garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes until the Garlic has softened. Add a tin of chopped Tomatoes, a teaspoon Sugar and a generous pinch Salt. Continue cooking over a low to medium heat until the Tomato has reduced by at least half. Check your seasoning adding more Salt if necessary and a little more Sugar if the sauce seems bitter. Cook for a further 5 minutes then remove from heat.
While the Tomatoes are cooking, slice and sauté the Courgettes till golden brown.

To finish the dish, put a little Tomato Sauce on the base of a small ceramic gratin dish followed by a layer of Courgettes, some grated Parmesan and a few torn Basil Leaves if you have them. Continue layering the Courgettes, Tomato and Parmesan until everything has been used ending with a layer of Parmesan. Grill until golden and eat hot, warm or cold.

Pasta with Garlic, Courgettes and Chilli (for 2)

You’ll need:

  • 2 Medium Courgettes
  • 1/2 Fresh Red Chilli
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic
  • freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Enough Pasta for 2


Slice and begin frying your Courgettes along with 1/2 fresh Chilli in a generous dash of Olive Oil. While the Courgettes are cooking put on enough pasta for 2 (any kind works fine). When the Courgettes start to change colour add 2-3 cloves Garlic finely chopped. Be sure to keep moving the Courgettes and Garlic on the pan so the Garlic doesn’t burn.

When the pasta and Courgettes are ready mix together adding plenty of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Black Pepper and a little more oil if necessary. Serve immediately.

Variation: Instead of the Chilli you could throw in a handful of Capers at the end.