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

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

Roasted Ramiro Peppers

Ramiro peppers are fast becoming a favourite with me. Fantastically sweet to begin with, they really take on that great smokey flavour when roasted and this is what makes them such a great addition to any salad. If you’ve got the barbecue going that’s the obvious place to do them. Let the skin completely blacken then put them in a bag or a covered bowl for a couple of minutes. This generates some steam to lift off the skin making them easier to peel. Once you’ve got them peeled cut them into skinny strips or dice them up. You can of course roast them on an open flame on the hob or in the oven. I’ve been eating them with rice or cous cous making all kinds of salads with things like chargrilled courgettes, cherry vine tomatoes, feta, toasted pine nuts, capers, olives………….. whatever’s to hand really.

Ramiro Pepper Salad

Last night I made a very simple salad with this week’s gorgeous Wicklow baby spinach. I roasted the peppers on the hob and while they were doing I threw the spinach in a bowl along with a handful of those lovely wrinkled black olives and some thinly sliced red onion. I kept the dressing simple – our lovely organic olive oil and balsamic. Nothing fancy just very simple fresh ingredients that go well together – it’s what summer eating is all about….

Baby Spinach Salad with roasted Ramiro Pepper

You’ll need:

A couple of handfuls of baby spinach or any salad leaves you fancy

Black Olives – I used the wrinkly kind but it’s really up to you

1 roasted Ramiro Pepper

½ half red onion finely sliced.

Cut the pepper into strips and toss with the rest of the ingredients. Dress with olive oil, balsamic and the tiniest pinch of salt.

Ruth who packs all our veggies told me about a very simple carrot salad they make in Spain and I gave it a go. You grate carrots, pound some garlic with olive oil and um………. that’s it. Oh, I added a little red wine vinegar but that really was it. I resisted the temptation to use more than one clove of garlic and I was right. The result was lovely. The carrots were super sweet and the garlic gave the tiniest bit of bite which after a few hours just melted into the dressing. When we got home from the Stevie Wonder gig (amazing!!!!) later on we had it with hummus and crackers and I think it was even nicer.

Ruth’s Garlic Scented Carrot Salad

You’ll need:

Carrots – I used about 3 biggish ones which I suppose weighed about 500-600gr but it’s a salad so there’s no need to weigh

1 fat clove of garlic

A pinch of course salt

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

Grate the carrots. Smash the garlic and pound it with a pinch of salt and a little olive oil. A small morter and pestle is perfect if you have one or the back of a teaspoon will do fine. Add a generous glug of oil and a dash of vinegar. Dress the salad, taste then adjust the seasoning as you see fit. This salad keeps well but you might want to add a little more vinegar before you serve it.

We are off to the Sea Sessions festival in Bundorran tonight where Paul is playing on Sunday. If you’re there I’ll be the frazzled mom of two wondering what on earth I was thinking bringing Dan and Auggie with us. At least it’s on the beach… Chuck has a gig going on tomorrow night and has posted details on our facebook page. He’s a brilliant dj – you won’t be able to resist moving!

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

I was going to make soup with the carrots and leeks I got yesterday. Roast them up first to really get the flavours nice and sweet  then maybe some chilli and coconut milk  but then Margaret suggested using the roasted veggies for a risotto and I about-turned (am I that suggestible?) and made that instead. I didn’t regret it. After all the roasting then cooking with the rice and stock ,the leek just melted away adding lots of flavour to the dish while the carrots were beautifully caramelized and almost treacley. To offset the sweetness and give the dish some tang I added goat’s cheese. Remember that roast chicken I made during the snow? Well, I still had a batch of stock from it in the freezer and this really pulled the whole thing together. I didn’t quite have enough so I topped it up with Marigold. I didn’t add the usual glass of white to things but it certainly wouldn’t be out of place – just be sure you do it early on and turn up the heat for a minute to burn off the alcohol. As always I say – don’t be afraid of risotto. It’s not the work everyone goes on about. Yes, you do have to stir the stock as you add it in but  not every single minute. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to pour yourself a glass of wine……….

Caramelized Leek and Carrot Risotto with Goat’s Cheese (for 2)

You’ll need:

600gr Leeks

500gr Carrots

Olive Oil

Butter

200gr Risotto rice – I usually use Arborio

750ml stock – chicken or veg

75gr Hard Goat’s Cheese grated

A little Parmesan freshly grated

First of all prepare the veg for roasting. Trim down the leeks so you are left with the white bottoms and a little of the pale green. Cut these into lengths about 2 inches long then halve them. Peel the carrots, again cut them into 2 inch lengths then quarter each one. Place in an oiled roasting tin, sprinkle with a little fine salt, drizzle with a little olive oil, cover with tinfoil then roast at Gas Mark 5.  Give them a turn after about half an hour then after another half hour uncover and roast for a further 20 minutes . Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down a bit then chop up the leeks removing any hard or papery outside layers. Dice  the carrots and set aside separately (these go in later).

Heat a generous knob of butter on the pan, add the leeks and saute for about 2 minutes. While the leeks are starting ,heat up the stock in a pot so it’s ready to go. Add the rice to the leeks and cook for a couple of minutes stirring well so each grain gets coated in the butter and olive oil from the leeks. Now you are ready to start adding the stock. Make sure the pan is on a medium heat. Too hot and all the stock will vanish without actually doing its job which is to cook the rice. Too slow and it will sit there for ages and take forever to absorb. You want to keep things moving but not so fast you can’t turn away from the pan for a moment. Ok, so start with a cup, stir it in and as it disappears add another and so on. After a few cups of stock you can throw in the carrots. Continue on until the rice is cooked i.e. al dente but not hard. There should still be some liquid so turn off the heat even if  things are  a bit runny. The heat from the rice means that liquid will continue to evaporate and you should be left with a dish that is creamy but not runny. Plus bear in mind that the cheese will take some of the liquid. Stir that in, reserving the Parmesan for the table, along with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a little more salt if you think it needs it. Italians would add a ton of butter at this stage but I don’t think you have to. Before serving allow the risotto to sit for about 2 minutes then  eat from warm plates if possible.

We’ve got some of those amazing Ramiro Peppers this week. These guys are made for roasting and really take on a lovely smoky flavour.I’ll be eating mine in burrito or maybe as a salad with just a splash of red wine vinegar.

In case you were wondering……….

The leaves I have this week are called Purslane which is basically……… a weed but an extremely nutritious one. It’s got more Omega 3 than any other greens. Try it in a salad with some roasted ramiro pepper, a handful of toasted pinenuts and maybe some Parmesan shavings. Well, that’s tomorrow’s lunch sorted then..