Summer salad

It might be windy. It might even be rainy. But it is officially summer here in Dublin and salad is back on the menu at ours. Yay!!!! So, without further ado (it’s been a long day especially without Claire in the office and there’s a barbecue that’s just been lit calling me) here’s my suggestion for this week’s lovely broad beans, tomatoes and that gorgeous lettuce…. a salad with giant croutons. The croutons make it a bit more substantial than your average summer salad aswell as giving the whole thing a lot more chew which I really like.

Now these aren’t those croutons you buy in bags with weird powder on them these guys are homemade and all the better for it. I made mine with stale ciabatta I stashed in the freezer a few weeks ago (I love it when a plan comes together!) and I laced them with sumac. Sumac, if you’re not familiar with it, is a dark red lemony spice found in middle Eastern cooking which you’ll find in good delis or middle Eastern shops. I also threw in some feta (predictable? moi?) . The dressing was pretty simple – lemon and olive oil with a splash of balsamic for richness but I also added some crushed garlic for bite. A chive and sour cream omelette on the side and that was lunch. Yum.

The first (of many) summer salad with broad beans, vine tomatoes and  feta with sumac croutons

You’ll need:

1 Little Gem lettuce washed, dried with the larger leaves torn

300gr (a large handful) cherry vine tomatoes halved or quartered depending on the size or 2 large vine tomatoes chopped

500gr broad beans

100gr feta cheese

2 thick slices ciabatta crusts removed

olive oil for frying

For the dressing

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice half lemon

1 fat clove garlic

Balsamic vinegar

Maldon sea salt

A pinch of sugar

Make the croutons first by cutting the bread into large chunks. Heat some olive oil on the pan and when it’s hot, add the bread and fry until golden adding a little more oil if things start to dry out too much. Take off the pan and drain on kitchen paper while you get everything else ready.

Make the dressing by first smashing then finely chopping the garlic. Whisk it with oil, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, a dash of balsamic and a pinch of crushed Maldon and set aside.

Pod the beans then steam for about 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water then pop each one out of it’s skin. Toss the lettuce, beans, tomatoes and feta together with the dressing.

To finish things off, sprinkle each crouton with a little sumac and place on top of the salad. Bring to garden, sit and hopefully don’t have all the napkins blow away like we did last night! Lee was very confused…………


Have a brilliant weekend,



Stuffed ramiro peppers

Another school run in the rain like this morning and I’ll be googling home schooling. Believe me I’m so not the type but enough is enough. There’s a little Gem lettuce in your bag but instead of summer salad I’m thinking about this recipe I saw in last Saturday’s Guardian. Where are you summer??????

Ramiro peppers are around again and I love them. Not quite as juicy as the bell variety they are brilliant for stuffing because they don’t get as water-logged in the oven. We have gorgeous cavelo nero kale from Denis Healy’s farm this week and I decided to use that as part of a stuffing for this week’s recipe. I pan-fried it with onion, garlic and coriander seeds. These days instead of the usual breadcrumbs or cous cous, I find myself reaching for quinoa more and more. As a topping it gets lovely and crunchy so it’s kind of like having nuts or seeds in the mix without actually having them there if you know what I mean. I offset the crunchiness by serving the peppers with some salted yogurt, one of my new favourite things (the others all involve sugar I’m afraid). It’s simply yogurt – with salt! Just a pinch will do then a spritz of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. I haven’t quite figured an exact recipe but so far it’s been great with things like lamb, falafel, carrot and cumin salads, beetroot salads etc etc.

Roasted ramiro pepper stuffed with quinoa, cavelo nero, cracked coriander seeds and feta.

You’ll need:

1 Ramiro pepper

1/2 cup quinoa (precooked)

1 small bunch cavelo nero kale shredded with any tough stalks removed.

1 smallish onion finely chopped

3 fat cloves garlic

2 teaspoons coriander seeds cracked and very roughly ground with a mortar and pestle

50gr feta cheese crumbled

Olive oil

If you haven’t cooked quinoa before, it’s a cinch so don’t panic. I pretty much follow the same steps I follow for cous cous – roast over a dry pan, add about 3 times the amount of hot water I did quinoa  plus a pinch of salt then cook over a moderate heat til done. For half a cup it’ll take about 12 minutes. Read this post if you’d like a bit more detail on how to proceed. When it’s done, stir in a little olive oil to stop it sticking then set it aside.

Heat some olive oil on the pan. Begin frying the onion with the coriander seed and as it begins to change colour add the garlic. Cook for another minute or two then throw in the kale. Fry everything until the kale has wilted and softened. Add the quinoa and feta and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Slit the pepper down the side and remove the seeds. Fill each half with the quinoa and kale mix. For this I find hands work best. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in the oven at gas mark 6 for 25 minutes. Serve warm with some salted yogurt.

And for dessert…….

Cherries of course!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (unless you’ve already snaffled them)

Have a brilliant weekend,


Runner bean salad w spinach, feta,chorizo and pine nuts

We are getting into that in-between time at the moment and this week brings the first of the autumn’s butternuts and the Healy’s lovely Setanta potatoes but before we give way completely to the autumn there are still plenty of summer varieties coming in including Marc Michel’s wonderful tomatoes (yay!).

Amazing runner beans (they are at their absolute height at the moment) in from Denis Healy’s farm this week were the starting point for this week’s recipe. Chorizo is the perfect partner for most beans so that was a bit of a given (I’m powerless to resist!!). Our new supplier, Deirdre O’Sullivan  brought us the most gorgeous spinach (more teen than baby but very, very tender) so I used that as the base. I love Feta with chorizo so added some of that and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts added a nice bit of extra texture…

With chorizo you need quite a sharp dressing so I like to use sherry or red wine vinegar to cut through the fattiness of the pork. A drizzle of your best olive oil is all you need besides that. Serve this straight-up for lunch with some crusty bread or alongside a Spanish potato omelette or, some grilled fish or chicken.

A  salad with baby spinach and runner beans tossed with pan-fried chorizo,feta and toasted pine nuts

You’ll need:

250gr runner beans

150gr chorizo sliced thinly into rounds

150gr young spinach leaves (or any other salad leaves you prefer), washed and dried.

100gr feta cheese

2 tablespoons pine nuts

3 scallions chopped

The dressing:

Olive oil

Sherry vinegar

Black pepper

Top and tail your beans and cut in half. Parboil until just tender then refresh in lots of cold water. Prepare your dressing by mixing 2 tablespoons oil with a tablespoon vinegar (I use less oil than normal because there’s all the oil from the chorizo that goes in too). Set aside the beans and dressing.

Heat a tiny drizzle of oil in a pan. Throw in the chorizo and fry over a medium heat until soft and beginning to crisp. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Heat another pan and toast the pine nuts til golden. To put the salad together, toss the leaves, beans and scallions together. Crumble in the feta  and add the chorizo along with about half the oil left in the pan. Dress and lightly toss. Taste and check for sharpness – I often add some more vinegar at the end. A grind of black pepper and you’re ready to serve.

Not sure what to do with this week’s butternut? Well, you could bulk out the salad above by cutting it into cubes, steaming or roasting it then throwing it in. I’d double the amount of dressing to balance things. It also makes brilliant soup – try it with Thai flavours (superfast and very easy) Parmesan and thyme (beyond moreish!) or roasted then topped with crispy chorizo and creme fraiche. (nuff said)

Have a great week,



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,


I’m really happy with this one. It’s a cous cous salad and, as you know, I make a lot of those. This one is different. No, really. Why? Instead of using plain old water to cook the grains I infused it with thyme and star anise and it rocked!!!! To be honest, I stole the idea from Dylan Mc Grath. I had an absolutely amazing dinner in Rustic Stone last week which included a whole sea bream they had on special. One of the things it came with was a kind of grain risotto. I asked what was in it and the waiter listed off about 10 things including thyme and star anise. These two struck me as the place to start (after all I don’t have 10 comis at my beck and call so simplicity tends to be key). All it took was sticking some thyme and a few star anise in the water I steamed the beans for the salad in then using that water to cook the cous cous. Genius.

Star anise, if you don’t know, it is a spice (that is actually star-shaped) that hails from China originally. Although they’re not related, it has the same flavour as anise due to the presence of something called anethole. It’s used all over Asia and is one of the spices in Chinese 5 spice which I’m a big fan of. I love it not least because it’s so pretty. In the past I’ve used it to decorate kitchen shelves, sticking it on with blu tack then leaving it to  send out random bursts of perfume (the state of my current kitchen and its shelves will not be mentioned this week but the end is in sight!!!!)

So, apart from all this spicy loveliness what else is in the salad? Well, first off there’s blood orange. It nearly the end of their season so I had to use them. Then we’ve got broad beans which I always think of as a high summer staple. The Spanish variety have been available for a while and I finally weakened and got some this week. I love broad beans. Some of my absolute favourite dishes are made with them. The root veg that we’ve had all winter are now on the wane and we’re at that crossover stage also known as “the hungry gap” . The Irish summer crops are still a way off (Marc Michel says a month or so for his stuff while we’ve already had the first of this year’s gorgeous baby leaves from the Healy’s) so we supplement our Irish stocks with some Spanish goodies. Finally there’s a generous measure of salty feta which just seems to set the whole thing off perfectly.

Star anise infused cous cous with broad beans, feta and blood oranges

You’ll need:                                                                                           

300gr broad beans shelled

3 star anise

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup whole meal cous cous 

100gr feta

1 blood orange peeled and cut into segments then sliced

Olive Oil

Peeled blood orange

Begin by podding the beans. I usually steam them and this time I added 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 3 star anise to the steaming water. The beans take about 2 minutes to steam then you add 2 cups of water to the liquid left over and gently heat it all up. Let the beans cool and while this is going on put the cous cous on a dry pan and begin toasting it over a medium heat until it turns golden. When the grains have changed colour, turn the heat down and add the liquid along with the star anise and thyme. Cook over a lowish heat until the liquid has been absorbed then turn off the heat. Continue stirring adding some olive oil so the grains don’t stick. Let the cous cous cool down while you prepare the other ingredients. Pop the beans out of their skins and then throw them into the cous cous along with the orange slices and the feta. Mix together and taste for seasoning. I didn’t add any salt because the feta seemed to give a big enough hit but you may want a little. We ate this sitting on the back door step in a blaze of sunshine. Roll on the summer!!!!!


April 6, 2009

Hi everyone,

This week our bags have lovely Spinach which is a great fast food. After a thorough wash (it can be very gritty), you destem the leaves then pack them in a pot and steam them in the water left clinging to the leaves. Cooking will take about 2-3 minutes then you can serve it straight up with a knob of Butter or a drizzle of Olive Oil. For a really delicious sidedish sauté a few chopped cloves of Garlic in Butter then throw on the Spinach, mix everything together well and serve. For a maincourse add some cream and Parmesan and you’ve got a very quick pasta sauce. This week’s recipe is a pasta dish but without the cream as I’m sure that we’d all like to hit the beach at some stage this year…………..



Pasta with Spinach, Garlic and Black Olives (for 3-4 people)

You’ll need:

250-300gr Spinach (about what you have in your bag this week)
5 Cloves Garlic
Olive oil
Handful of stoned Black Olives roughly chopped
Pasta (whatever you like)
Parmesan Cheese

First of all stick on the kettle for the pasta (this dish is fast) Wash and destem your spinach then roughly shred it. Stem the leaves as described above then wring out any water with your hands as soon as it cools down.
While the Spinach is cooling stick on the pasta.
Chop the Garlic then gently sauté it in a large knob of Butter and some Olive Oil. When the Garlic has softened (don’t let it change colour as it’ll start to burn very quickly after that) add the Spinach and toss well to make sure it all gets coated in Butter and Garlic. When the pasta is cooked drain it and mix into the pasta adding some more Butter and Olive Oil aswell as a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan and the Olives.
Season with Salt and Pepper and serve immediately.

Spinach is, of course, fab in all kinds of salads and sambos.Try it with sundried Tomatoes, toasted Pinenuts and Goat’s Cheese or with Walnuts and Feta. Dress with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and serve with a simple Omelette or some fish.

Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great week,

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.