It might be Spring!! It is definitely warmer and the clock is going forward this weekend so fingers crossed.. My recipe this week is perfect for this time of year. It’s a between-seasons salad – you don’t need a heat wave to enjoy it and if it rains that’s not the end of the world either…. I roasted up some of this week’s beetroot with honey and balsamic vinegar and put it with Puy lentils and Feta Cheese. The saltiness of the feta is just perfect with all that earthy sweetness you get from the honeyed beetroot. I finished things off with a topping of this week’s spinach which I shredded and this really made the whole thing look (and taste!) great….

Honey and Balsamic roasted Beetroot salad with Puy Lentils, Feta Cheese and Spinach

You’ll need:

600gr Beetroot (what you have in this week’s bag)

100gr Puy Lentils

1 sprig of thyme – not essential but nice

Olive Oil for roasting

Balsamic Vinegar

Honey

A handful of spinach finely shredded

100gr Feta cheese crumbled

The dressing:

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper

 Get started on the beetroot first – scrub it well then bring to the boil in plenty of water and cook until almost tender (about 30 minutes). Rinse the lentils and bring to the boil along with the thyme in 2 cups unsalted water then turn down the heat and continue cooking until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water then set aside for later.

When the beetroot is ready, drain it then allow to cool down before peeling the heads and cutting into segments (you’ll get about 6-8 out of each head depending on size).Toss in a roasting pan with olive oil, a generous dash of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey. Place in a hot oven (gas mark 6) and roast for 30 minutes.While the beetroot is cooking,  mix the dressing ingredients together. Stir this through the Lentils and set aside

When the beetroot is ready, let it cool a little then put the salad together by piling the beetroot onto the lentils and topping with the feta and a handful of the shredded spinach. To finish drizzle with your best olive oil.

Have a great weekend, my best friend is over from London and you will find us at my friend Chrissy’s sample sale in the Central Hotel (Check out www.mcleodagencies.com if you’re interested) and the flea market in Dublin 8.The weather can do what it likes!

Sarah

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Hi everyone,

It’s starting to look like summer and all those wintery bakey kind of things that seemed to hit the spot a couple of months/weeks ago are the last thing you want to eat. It’s time for lighter food and Frittata is one of those great summer dishes. Frittata is an Italian dish and is basically an open-faced omelette. Unlike other omelettes, it is not folded and it’s texture is firm and set (but never dry) rather then creamy or runny. Another difference is that it is cooked slowly over a low heat. In terms of fillings, it’s like the rest of Italian cuisine i.e. it tends to have only a few (sometimes just one or two) but very well-chosen ingredients as opposed to the fifteen you tend to get when ordering a vegetable/vegetarian omelette in many Irish restaurants.

Frittatas are served hot, warm or at room temperature. I think hot tends to kill some of the flavour and serving them from (or even putting them in) the fridge does something horrible to them so I’d favour warm or room temperature myself. They can be eaten alone or as part of a selection of antipasto style dishes and they make a great sandwich.

The basic technique for cooking a Frittata is the same for all the types below and is as follows: Beat 6 Organic (in a dish like this you can really taste the difference between organic and non) Eggs adding Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste. One thing though – never crack and beat eggs until you are ready to use them – if they sit around premixed before you start cooking something very strange happens to their flavour and texture. Melt Butter or Olive Oil on a 10 inch non-stick pan. When it heats up and in the case of butter, begins to foam pour in the egg mixture and turn the heat down low. When the Eggs have set and thickened and only the surface is runny you can either a) put it under a preheated grill taking it out when the top of the frittata has set (but not browned) or b) place a large plate or board on top of the pan and turn the pan over onto it, then slide the frittata back onto the pan (the top uncooked side will now be on the bottom) and cook for a few more minutes. This technique, also used for the Spanish style potato omelette, sounds trickier than it actually is and has the added advantage of impressing dinner guests no end. A whole other technique, which also works well, is to pour your egg mixture into a buttered baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes in a preheated oven or until the frittata is no longer runny.

Frittata with Courgettes

You’ll need:

1 small Onion (sliced very thinly)

Olive Oil 350-400gr.

Courgettes (about what you have in this week’s bag)

6 Organic Eggs 2 Tablespoons grated Pamesan Cheese

Torn Basil Leaves (if you have them)

Courgette and egg

Courgette and egg

Sauté the Onion in a dash of Olive Oil with a pinch of Salt until it softens and begins to brown. Wash the Courgette(s) and slice into 3mm discs. Add to the Onions with a pinch of Salt and cook until golden brown. Take the vegetables off the heat, drain them and allow to cool slightly. Make the Frittata as described above adding the vegetables and 2 Tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan along with some torn Basil leaves if you have them to the egg mixture first.

chopped Zucchini

chopped Zucchini

Variation: Instead of adding the Parmesan you could top off your Frittata with discs of Goat’s cheese and brown under the grill at the end. If you cook the Frittata in the oven the Goat’s cheese can go on at the beginning

Frittata with Onions

You’ll need:

2 medium sized Onions (finely sliced)

Olive Oil

6 Organic Eggs

2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese grated

Slowly sauté the Onions in about 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil and some Salt in a covered pan. When the Onions soften, uncover the pan and cook until they turn a rich golden brown. Drain and allow to cool slightly then add them to the eggs with a couple of tablespoons Parmesan (or do the Goat’s Cheese thing described above) then proceed as described above.

Frittata with Tomatoes, Feta cheese and basil

 

tomato and zucchini frittata

tomato and zucchini frittata

 

 

You’ll need:

2 medium sized tomatoes

6 Organic Eggs

125gr. crumbled Feta (or Goat’s Cheese)

10 torn Basil leaves.

Chop the Tomato and add to the beaten eggs along with the Feta and Basil leaves. Proceed as above.

The above are some of the more classic fillings (at least the first two are). If you want to try others, Asparagus and Artichokes make amazing Frittata fillers. Green Beans are also a classic. After that it’s really up to you. The only thing I’d caution against are Mushrooms, which, while they taste great, tend to turn the Frittata a rather disturbing murky brown colour so I’d leave them for a French style omelette. On a heavier note, the Italians also make Frittata with leftover Spaghetti (!!!). This has always struck me as a comedy type dish so having never tried it, I can’t vouch for it (If anyone decides to go for laughs of disbelief at their dinnertable I’d be very interested to know how you get on). For three eggs you need 220gr. Spaghetti (sauced with anything except clams or shellfish which would dry out. If you don’t have any leftover pasta you can make some and toss it in Butter, Parmesan and Chopped Parsley, then leave to cool a little before continuing), and 2 Tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan.

Our Fruit and Mediterranean selections all have Apricots this week which are probably good to go this weekend – Enjoy!

Hope you enjoy these recipes,

Have a great weekend,

Sarah ***********************************************************************************************************************************************

My recipe today is for a salad with this week’s  Beetroot. Beetroot is one of those varieties that a lot of people shy away from because it takes a while to cook but it’s worth remembering that it’s not cooking you have to stand over, you simply throw them in a pot or a roasting dish, leave them to their own devices and when you come back there’re done! So it’s not hard and adding things like Balsamic Vinegar and Honey will make them really special and of course there’s that beautiful colour……..
I think the best way to do them is to roast them after they’ve been boiled so the whole thing doesn’t take too long. This way they take about an hour and after that can be eaten stright up or used to make all kinds of wonderful salads with things like Cous Cous, Walnuts, Rocket leaves, Green Beans, Cheeses, Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds, Oranges, Bacon.. The following recipe combines them with this week’s Lamb’s Lettuce and is perfect for a Saturday lunch….

Honey and Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Salad with Walnuts.Lamb’s Lettuce and Feta Cheese

You’ll need:

600gr Beetroot (what you have in your bag this week)

Balsamic Vinegar

Honey

60gr Lamb’s Lettuce

A handful of Walnuts

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

120gr Feta Cheese
Get started on the Beetroot first – scrub the bulbs and bring to the boil in plenty of water and cook until almost tender (about 30 minutes).
When the Beetroot is ready, drain it and allow to cool down before peeling the heads and cutting into segments (each head will give you 4-6 depending on size) Toss in a roasting pan with Olive Oil, a generous dash of Balsamic Vinegar and a drizzle of Honey. Place in a hot oven (gas mark 6) and roast for about 30 minutes. While the Beetroot is roasting, wash and dry the Lamb’s Lettuce  and roughly chop the Walnuts. Combine the Beetroot and Walnuts place on top of the Lamb’s Lettuce and dress the lot in 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (some Walnut Oil would also be fab)and 2 of Red Wine Vinegar. Season with Salt and Pepper. Finally, top  with  crumbled Feta Cheese and a drizzle of your best Olive Oil.

Hope you enjoy this recipe,
Have a great weekend,
Sarah

Butternut Squash

October 24, 2008

Hi everyone,

This week sees the return of Butternut Squash  which can be used to make all kinds of wonderful soups, gratins and stews. It’s also great served on its own (roasted, boiled, steamed or fried)  then dressed  with a little Sea Salt, Olive Oil and the tiniest dash of Balsamic Vinegar. Flavourwise, it’s earthy and quite sweet (which makes it a great weaning food for babies) and goes very well with Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Potatoes, Chiles, Maple Syrup, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Parsley, Sage and Orange.
Most recipes call for just the flesh and getting the skin off does look daunting but it’s not really. I find the best way is to quarter it first and then peel. After that, take out the seeds and stringy bits and cut the flesh as required. And what a lot of people don’t know is if you roast your Butternut the skin ends up soft enough to eat which makes things even easier.
One of the simplest ways to cook Butternut comes from a friend who reckons she got the recipe in New Zealand.You basically cut your Butternut in half and stick in the oven so it really couldn’t be less labour intensive…..

Sweet roasted Butternut


Clean the skin and cut the Butternut in half, then roast it softside up for 20 minutes. Turn it over and smear the flesh with Butter,  Brown Sugar, a generous pinch of Sea Salt and either a pinch of Cinnamon or Chili. Return to the oven and roast for a further 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your Squash or until the flash has caramelised.
This is fantastic served with Lamb, Pork or some baked Feta Cheese with a cous cous salad dressed with Olive Oil, toasted Pinenuts and plenty of chopped Rocket or Flatleaf Parsley.

I hear it’s going to turn cold this weekend so soup is definitely going to be on the menu in our house. This week’s recipe is for one with Butternut, Parmesan and Thyme and it’s incredibly tasty, filling and guaranteed to warm……………

Butternut Soup with Parmesan and Thyme (for 2)


You’ll need:
500gr Peeled Butternut
60ml Olive Oil
1 small Onion chopped
4 Cloves Garlic finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme leaves or 1 Teaspoon dried Thyme Leaves
750ml Vegetable Stock (as usual I cheat and use Marigold)
2 Tablespoons Double Cream
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan and some Parmesan Shavings for garnish (make these with your veg peeler)
Sour Cream for garnishing at the end – not absolutely crucial and some regular Cream or Yogurt will also do fine

Heat the Olive Oil in a pot over a lowish heat then very gently sweat the Butternut for about 5 minutes before adding  the Onion, Garlic and Thyme. Continue cooking gently for another 10 minutes. Turn up the heat a little and add the vegetable stock  in 3 stages stirring well between each addition. Bring everything to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer, season with Salt and Pepper then cover and continue cooking for a further 25 minutes.
To finish the soup off add 2 Tablespoons of double Cream and 3 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Check and correct the seasoning if necessary then cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending until smooth adding a little more stock if necessary to get the consistency you want.
Before serving reheat and garnish with a drizzle of Sour Cream if you have it and some Parmesan Shavings.
Don’t forget that soup freezes really well so it’s worth making a double or triple quantity (use Spuds and/or Carrots to make up any shortfall on the Butternut front). Freeze in individual portions and then you’ll be able to bring it to work  where you’ll go straight to the top of the recession chic charts!

Roasted Butternut Squash is great in salads and this recipe is a meal in itself….

Warm Roasted Butternut Feta and and Cous Cous Salad (for 2)


You’ll need:
300gr of peeled Butternut per person cut into bitesized pieces
Olive Oil
200gr Cous Cous (I like the wholemeal kind as it has a lovely nutty flavour but it’s up to you)
1 small Onion finely chopped
A handful of Parsley (flatleaf if possible) roughly chopped
120gr Feta Cheese
1 Lemon
Balsamic Vinegar
Roasted Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds if you have them.

Put the Butternut on a roasting tray and with your hands smear about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil on them then roast in a hottish oven (Gas mark 6 or 200 degrees) for about 30 minutes or until the pieces are soft and starting to caramelise. If you’d like a bit of a kick you can add a little finely chopped dried Chili to the Butternut before roasting.
While the Butternut is roasting prepare the Cous Cous. Most recipes suggest steaming Cous Cous or sitting it boiling water but I learnt a technique from a chef in Barcelona which I reckon works better than anything. Basically you roast the grains on a dry pan as you would seeds and when they start to turn golden brown you turn down the heat, add hot water and stir like mad until the grains have softened and the water is absorbed. After that, turn off the heat and continue stirring so the grains don’t all clump together adding a little Olive Oil. As the Cous Cous starts to cool down you can stir it less and get on with preparing the rest of your ingredients. This recipe calls for 200gr Cous Cous which is about 1 1/4 cups and I’d reckon on adding about 2 cups of water but it’s not an exact science. If you find that the water has evaporated before the grains are cooked add a little more and if you find there’s still water in the pan and the grains are cooked turn up the heat and and stir everything so the excess water evaporates as quickly as possible.
When your Cous Cous is cooked add the Onion, freshly roasted Butternut, crumbled Feta Cheese and Parsley.
To make the dressing, mix 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil with the juice of half a Lemon and a dash of Balsamic Vinegar. Add this to the salad and then adjust (you may find it needs more Balsamic) as needed. Top with some Pumpkin seeds or roasted Sunflower seeds if you have them.

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great weekend,
Sarah