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,

Sarah

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Quinoa Salad

My love affair with quinoa continues and it’s not just about the amino acids (it has them all – unheard of unless you’re talking animal/fish protein). No, the attraction lies in the texture (crunchy yet tender ), the nutty flavour, the versatility (it does everything cous cous can plus it’s not wheat) and of course the simplicity of the cooking (20 minutes, not much stirring or attention and it always works out). If you haven’t had it I urge you to give it a go. It can be hard to track down but a good deli or your local healthfood shop should have it or you can have it delivered with your veggies from Home Organics.

My latest favourite quinoa dish is a salad with slow-cooked leeks, toasted pumpkin seeds and feta with a lemon balsamic dressing which you can serve warm or at room temperature . It seems to go with everything – falafel, fish, meat especially lamb, tortilla, roasted veg, hummus, guacamole and of course any salad but it’s particularly good with a beetroot one I’ve been making recently with blood orange and toasted hazelnuts, ….. basically it has slotted right into easy midweek eating. I make double quantities of the recipe below, we have half for dinner then the rest is on standby for the next day’s lunch, dinner and general munchies.

Quinoa salad with caramelized leeks, toasted pumpkin seeds and feta cheese with a lemon balsamic dressing

You’ll need:

1 cup quinoa

1 bunch leeks (about 3 or 4 decent size ones) trimmed of roots and tougher dark green bits

100gr feta cheese

A handful pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:

The juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

5 tablespoons olive oil

Maldon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

I cook quinoa the same way I do cous cous – lightly toast it on a dry pan then add water and allow it to cook. The toasting adds flavour and colour. It takes longer to cook than cous cous – about 20 minutes or so but unlike cous cous you don’t really have to watch it so it kind of takes care of itself allowing you to get on with the rest of the meal.

Cooked quinoa

For this dish I like the leeks super- tender and almost at melting point and you’ll need about 20 minutes for this. Wash them carefully as they can be quite gritty – I usually cut down the centre a few inches then swish them around in cold water before I chop them in discs.

Chopped Leeks

So, first of all start toasting the quinoa on a dry pan over a medium heat. Within about 2 minutes the grains will start to change colour and take on a golden hue. When this happens, turn down the heat slightly and add 3 cups of hot but not boiling water and a generous pinch of salt. Stir everything then leave things gently bubbling while you get on with the rest.

Heat a generous glug olive oil on another pan and add the leeks. Toss so the leeks are all coated in oil adding a generous pinch of salt as you go.  Heatwise you want things hot enough for the leeks to cook and soften but not so hot that they start to darken and burn unless you are constantly stirring them.

With the leeks and quinoa cooking, take (yet another pan) and toast the pumpkin seeds til golden then set aside. Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar with some crushed Maldon together.

Quinoa salad dressing

When the quinoa is ready (tender with the little “tails” sprouted) take it off the heat and stir in the leeks. Allow things to cool a bit then add the pumpkin seeds and dressing. Taste then add more lemon juice/vinegar and/or salt along with a very generous grinding of coarsely ground black pepper. Crumble in the feta, mix once more and serve.

Marketwatch

It’s Seville orange season and we’ll be getting a delivery in next week. If you’d like to make marmalede or cake (that tang works so well with almonds and/or dark chocolate) be sure and give us a shout and we’ll you name on a few kilos. They’re €3.50 per kilo.

Quinoa salad with runner beans, feta, cherry vine tomatoes and pumpkin seeds

Quinoa. You’ve heard of it, mispronounced it even (next time say “keen-wah”). So just what  is it? Well, it’s a seed that you eat like a grain, sort of like cous cous or, indeed, rice. It’s texture is curiously tender yet crunchy and tastewise it’s  gorgeously nutty. The really big news though is that it is a nutritionist’s dream, with an almost perfect  balance of amino acids and a high protein content (12%) which makes it a brilliant food for vegetarians and vegans. The combination of manganese and copper make it a brilliant antioxidant (it makes you look younger!) plus it has tons of iron. I could go on but really the bottom line is that you need to get this into your weekly repetoire. As soon as.

Don’t panic about how to cook it – it’s quick and very easy (David Lynch in a wonderfully out there quinoa cooking class advises a glass of wine while “all the little quinoas” bubble away) plus you can make it in advance. I cook it in the same way I prepare cous cous  – I lightly toast it on the pan then add hot water and let it bubble way for about 15 minutes until tender. Each seed sprouts a little “tail” and when that happens it’s cooked.

For a very healthy yet surprisingly moreish lunch,  I often have a bowl with a couple of onions pan-fried in butter til golden and almost mushy stirred through then topped with a handful of  steamed broccoli florets with lots of black pepper and a generous pinch of Maldon.  Salads are another way to go and everything you can do with cous cous you can do here. Last night I took what were probably the last of this summer’s runner beans, cherry vine tomatoes, black Greek olives, some salty feta and a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds and put them together to make a very satisfying side to go with a courgette omelette. Today, I’ve just finished a bowl of the leftovers  for  lunch.

To keep things light I used a lemon dressing with a little balsamic thrown in for a depth. If you’re making this to have for lunch the next day you can dress it in advance but you might want to add a little extra lemon juice before you eat as the citrus bite tends to dissipate over night.

Quinoa salad with runner beans, cherry vine tomatoes, olives and feta topped with toasted pumpkin seeds

You’ll need:

1 cup quinoa

250gr runner beans – topped and tailed and cut into narrow (1.5cm) diagonal stripsChopped runner beans

300gr cherry vine tomatoes washed and quartered

A large handful black olives very roughly chopped

200gr feta cheese

A handful pumpkin seeds lightly toasted on a dry pan

For the dressing:

The juice of one lemon (slightly less if it’s a really big one)

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Begin with the quinoa – toast it on a pan over a lowish heat until it starts to change colour slightly. Add 3 cups of hot water, stir well adding a generous pinch of salt. Allow things to settle down to a simmer. Cook for about 12 minutes until the quinoa is almost tender and the aforementioned tails are starting to appear. Add the beans and cover for about 2 minutes to let them steam. At this stage the water should be completely absorbed, the quinoa grains light and  fluffy and the beans al dente. Let things cool down a bit while you put the dressing together. Mix the juice, balsamic and oil together and add a generous pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. To finish things off, add the tomatoes, olives and most of the pumpkin seeds to the quinoa and beans. Stir in the dressing and, finally crumble in the feta. Top with the rest of the pumpkin seeds and you’re ready to serve.

Can’t track it down?

You can get some with your next fruit and veg delivery if you’re having trouble finding quinoa locally. A 500gr pack costs €3.35. Just give us a shout .

Have a great week,

Sarah

Coriander may not be very common here in Ireland but because it’s used all over the South America, the Middle East , Asia and Africa it’s actually the world’s most popular herb. It’s quite pungent and people either love it or hate it (there’s actually an online community of haters!). When I first discovered it I really wasn’t that keen but using it in guacamoles and salsas, then in thai cooking got me hooked. Recently I’ve been eating it in a Quinoa salad which is my current favourite thing to eat (I am sooooo addicted). Totally moreish, this recipe is completely healthy and what’s more it’s vegan, a direction I’d like to go in more and more as all that Feta (and Parmesan and Stilton and Cashel Blue……..check out previous recipes for proof) might be delicious but there’s no denying that dairy is just not that good for us and having recently spent a week doing lots of yoga and eating practically no dairy I can totally attest to this. As someone who is 99% (okay, 90%) vegetarian, dairy is often a default protein source for me – it’s quick and it goes with nearly everything I cook.

For me, more vegan cooking will about finding dishes where dairy has no place rather than simply taking it out of dishes I already cook. I mean what’s the point of Eggplant parmesan without the parmesan?? South east Asian and Indian are the first obvious places. Last week’s warm Asian salad is one of my all-time favourite things to eat (it also went down very well with you so I’m clearly onto something) and it was a vegan recipe so this might be the start of something. I think I’m going to try and come up with/find  at least one completely vegan (look no feta!!) recipe a week for a while.

If you’re going to be a proper vegetarian or vegan you’ve got to know your seeds and grains. I use a lot of seeds but up until quite recently hadn’t done a whole lot with Quinoa (most people call it a grain but it’s actually a seed). It’s a funny one (and I mean that in a very very good way) – it’s both fluffy and crunchy at the same time and when it’s fully cooked it sprouts a tiny tail (yes really).  It’s fab in salads but can also be used in soups and you can even make porridge from it.. It’s veggies credentials are second to none due to the fact that it’s a complete protein. This week’s salad is an adaption of one from 101 Cookbooks and it is very good starting point if you’ve never had Quinoa as it is completely addictive….

Lemon Scented Quinoa Salad for (1 very greedy person’s lunch or enough for 2 civilised people sharing)

You’ll need:

1 Cup Quinoa

2 Cups Water

Salt

1 Can Chickpeas drained

1 Bunch Coriander chopped

1 small red Onion chopped

The dressing:

2 Tablespoons Tahini (you’ll get this in any good deli, middle eastern or healthfood shop

4-5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons Oil

3 Tablespoons Hot water

Salt

Begin by rinsing the Quinoa with a sieve then add the 2 cups of water and bring it the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until cooked ( ie all the water has been absorbed and the Quinoa is fluffy) – this should take about 15 minutes. The first time I cooked Quinoa I watched a video on youtube which was very useful as I didn’t know what to expect. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgOxhdHoAwc for a very simple 5 minute lesson that will make things foolproof.  Probably a lot less foolproof but way more fun is a video of David Lynch cooking it with Broccoli (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XliMny3AvnE) – it’s a complete joy.  When the Quinoa is cooked drain it and set aside.

While the Quinoa is cooking you can prepare the dressing by first mixing the Tahini with the hot water then whisking  in the other ingredients. To put the salad together toss the Quinoa with the Chickpeas, Coriander and Red Onion. Mix in half of the dressing and serve the rest on the side. This recipe is perfect for a pack lunch but in my case, sadly, it rarely makes it that far…..

This week’s  Baby Beetroot is perfect for roasting and that’s how I cooked it last night. I scrubbed the Beets, parboiled them for about 10 minutes, let them cool down a bit then halved or quartered each one. I roasted them with Coconut Oil  another super healthy thing I’ve been trying out recently. Beloved of nutritionists because it can withstand high temperatures (it’s basically reckoned to be the healthiest oil to cook with) and it’s also got less calories than other oils. I bought some recently from a man who sells a very high grade organic variety which is as pure as it comes. For roasting the veggies last night  I took a tablespoon of Oil (it’s hard so it’s more than a liquid tablespoon would be) let it melt in the oven then threw on the veg (I also did some  Carrots which I scrubbed, sliced into long chunks and parboiled but not with the Beets as I didn’t want the them to turn everything pink). I served them with a Cous Cous salad with Coriander and Chickpeas dressed with Lemon juice and Olive Oil and ……. a slab of roasted Feta (what can I say??? Lunch was vegan, I’ll have to ramp to this new completely vegan lifestyle).

The Cous Cous salad took all of 10 minutes to prepare so I started on that when the veggies started caramelizing (after about 40 minutes – enough time to drink a nice glass of wine and watch David tell his story while cooking the Quinoa)

Toasted CousCous salad with Coriander, Chickpeas and Cumin

You’ll need:

1 Cup Wholemeal Couscous

3-4 small Onions (red or white but red will give you a nicer colour)

1 Tin Chickpeas drained

1 Bunch Coriander

3 -4 Tablespoon of Sultanas soaked in warm water (plumps them up)

2 Teaspoons Cumin Seeds

Juice of 1 Lemon

Olive Oil

First of all chop up Onion and get it on the pan over a medium heat with plenty of Olive Oil. In another pan toast the CousCous grains and when they start to turn golden brown turn the heat right down and add about 2 cups of hot (not boiling) water. Stir like crazy until all the water is absorbed and the grains have expanded and are cooked through. If they are still hard after this add a little more water, turn up the heat and stir until the water is gone. Stir a generous glug of Olive Oil through the Cous Cous to separate the grains. At this stage the Onions should be starting to caramelize and you can add the Cumin Seeds. Turn down the heat so the seeds don’t burn and allow the cumin flavour to gently permeate the Onions and Olive Oil for a couple of minutes. To finish things off, add the Chickpeas, Coriander, Sultanas, Onions and Lemon juice to the Cous Cous along with some Salt. Check and correct your seasoning – you may want more Lemon juice, Olive Oil or Salt.

Baked Feta

You’ll need:

1 Slab of Feta (about 200gr)

Olive Oil

Red Chilli

Place the cheese on a piece of tinfoil and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with Chilli (take the seeds out if you don’t want things too hot). Bake in a medium oven (Gas mark 6) for 10 minutes

Variations: Oregano is always lovely as are Chopped Olives

Quinoa and Coconut Oil can be hard to track down so I have got some in and we can deliver it to you over the next couple of weeks.

The Quinoa (organic) costs  3.50E per 500gr

and the Coconut Oil cost 15E for 480ml (seems pricey but this will last you for ages and I don’t think you’ll get it cheaper anywhere else.

If you want either of these things with your next delivery just let us know sarah@homeorganics.ie

Hope you enjoy these recipes,

Have a great weekend,

Sarah