Claudia Roden’s Sweet and Sour Minty Grilled Courgettes

Serves: 4

One of my favourite BBQ tricks is to toss sliced zucchini with oil, chilli and garlic and to grill alongside the chicken, pork, whatever.

It dials things up and shows a bit of effort.

This dish goes further and the addition of the ricotta is wonderful.

Nat absolutely loved the sweet and sour of the sauce and of course, it can all be prepared in advance.

Ingredients

3 courgettes (zucchini), cut lengthways into 1cm-thick slices
Olive or sunflower oil
100ml white wine vinegar
50gm sugar
1 tbsp dried mint
Salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Whipped ricotta

250gm smooth ricotta
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1/2 small lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. For the ricotta, whip the ricotta with the oil, lemon zest and season.
  2. Preheat a grill to high. Brush the courgettes with oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt. Grill on the BBQ or on a griddle pan for about 10 minutes until tender and lightly browned in places.
  3. Heat the vinegar and sugar with the dried mint and some pepper in a small pan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts, then simmer for 2 minutes to reduce it a little. Arrange the courgette slices side by side on a serving plates pour the vinegar dressing over them and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with the whipped ricotta.

Claudia Roden’s Spicy Roasted Carrot Salad

Serves: 6 – 8

This Moroccan starter is particularly delicious.

I served it as a side and wow, you could do a whole lot worse.

I only did half the carrots asked for in the recipe and so of course the spicy cooking sauce was doubled. Absolutely no regrets.

Serve it with some labneh and this would literally pair with anything.

Ingredients

1kg medium carrots, peeled
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 – 3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs honey
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon, to taste
Chilli pepper, to taste (optional)
Salt and black pepper
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, to serve
3 tbs roughly chopped coriander

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Cut the carrots in half, then cut them in half so that you have wide sticks.* Put them in a baking dish.
  3. In a bowl, put the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, olive oil, honey, lemon juice and chilli (if using). Season, mix very well and pour over the carrots, turning with your hands until they are coated all over.
  4. Bake for about 1 hour until the carrots are tender, turning them over once. Leave to cool.
  5. Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of coriander.

* I used baby carrots and so did not cut.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s best aubergine (eggplant) side

Serves: 6-8

Prepare yourself for the best eggplant dish you have ever had. A big call but a worthy one.

This is from Yotam’s book “Jerusalem”; it was the Jews who are said to have introduced the humble aubergine to the Arab culture, Europeans were quite suspicious of aubergine were and reluctant to use them thinking they were “mad apples” and helped induce insanity. With that being said – this dish is insane.

Ingredients

Roasted aubergine with fried onion and chopped lemon

2 large aubergines, halved lengthways with the stem on
150ml olive oil
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 green chillies
1 1/2tsp ground cumin
1tsp sumac
50g feta, broken into chunks
1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220C. Score the cut side of the aubergines with a criss-cross pattern, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking tray, cut-side up and roast for 45mins, until the flesh is golden brown and completely cooked.
  2. Add remaining oil to a heavy pan and cook the onions with 1/2tsp of salt, stirring often so that parts of the onion get really dark and crisp. About 15mins in total.
  3. De-seed the green chillies, keeping 1/3 of them seperate. Add 2/3 of the chillies, cumin, sumac to the onions and stir for a few mins. Add the feta and cook for a few mins before removing from the heat.
  4. Cut the flesh out of the lemon, ensuring you remove any seeds and chop the lemon flesh roughly. Add any juices, lemon flesh, the remaining green chilli and garlic to a small bowl.
  5. Assemble the dish by transferring the roasted aubergines to a serving dish, spoon over the lemon mixture and top with the warm onion and feta mixture.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Maunika Gowardhan’s Wholemeal Flatbreads

Makes: 12

These flatbreads – known as Phulkas – are a softer, smaller version of a classic Indian chapatti.

Going forward, they’re a must for any Indian feast we cook.

Though the real takeout is chapatti flour.

The texture of the Phulkas was just so on-point. Something I know (having done some reading at least) cannot be achieved with white or wholemeal flour.

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

250gm chapatti flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp ghee, plus extra to serve
Pinch of salt
3/4 c water

Method

  1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl with the ghee and salt. Now add the water a little at a time, mixing with a spoon or your fingers until it starts to come to together. Knead well (we used a Kitchenaid),to form a smooth dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (cling film) and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough int 12 equal size balls. Flatten each ball and dust with a little flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out each one as thinly as possible to around 12.5 cm.
  3. Heat a griddle pan or fry pan over a medium heat, until hot. Add one of the rolled flatbreads and cook for 30 seconds, then turn it on the other side cook for a further minute. As it begins to puff up, turn and cook the first side again for a further 30 seconds, pressing lightly with the back of a spatula.
  4. Remove from the heat and spread over the ghee. Cover with a clean tea towel and keep warm while you make the rest.

Spicy Stir-Fried Garlic Potatoes by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 4

If ever 3 words were meant to be together, it would be “spicy garlic potatoes”, stir fired.

Maunika writes that when she was a child growing up in Mumbai, the highlight of her day was lining up with her for these potatoes in the different markets and roadside stalls across the city.

Pretty easy to tell why.

As a side to an Indian feast, they’re just awesome. And simple enough to make the night before and reheat.

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

700gm floury potatoes, such as Roosters, boiled and cooled
8 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 – 12 curry leaves
3 green birds-eye chillies
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida (substitute garlic or onion powder)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sugar
Salt, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Chopped coriander, to garnish

Method

  1. Peel the boiled potatoes and roughly crush them. Set aside.
  2. Put the garlic, cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies in a mortar and pestle and pound the mix to a coarse, rough paste. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based, non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and spice paste along with the asafoetida and fry for a few seconds, stirring well. Reduce the heat to low and add the turmeric, sugar and crushed potatoes, mixing well.
  4. Season to taste, then cover and cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, squeeze over the lemon juice and garnish with fresh coriander.
  5. Serve with puris, dal and a pickle of your choice.

Spicy Sweetcorn with Ginger and Green Chilli by Maunika Gowardhan

Serves: 4

This vegetarian accompaniment is Indian simple, Indian quick and particularly Indian delicious.

We used canned sweetcorn kernels and it was tremendous. And wow, you won’t see the roasted peanuts and lime coming.

Hard to see how this will not sit aside every thali we serve going forward!

(Read about this dish as part of a grand thali we recently served.)

Ingredients

520gm tin of sweetcorn, drained
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida (substitute garlic or onion powder)
1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
Juice of 1/2 lime

For the chilli and ginger paste

1 green bird-eye chilli
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5cm ginger root, roughly chopped

Method

  1. First, make the chilli and ginger paste by placing all the ingredients into a blender, along with 3 tbsp of the sweetcorn, and blitz to a coarse paste. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the asafoetida and mustard seeds, and fry for a few seconds until they splutter.
  3. Add the prepared chilli and ginger paste and fry for 1 minute, stirring well. Add the turmeric and stir, then adding the sweetcorn and fry for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, season, and add the fresh coriander and crushed peanuts. Cover and cook for 1 more minute. Finish with the lime juice and serve warm.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s (All the) Herb Dumplings with Caremelised Onions

Serves: 4

A few weeks back, Nat pull together an absolutely wonderful three-part Yotam Ottolenghi dinner.

Every dish was just Yoman clever/unique/amazing as they always are.

Though these herb dumplings with caremalised onions were the evening’s winner. (They’re from his cookbook Ottolenghi Test Kitchen (OTK) Shelf Love, a cookbook I highly, highly recommend. An absolute delight to flick through, not a recipe you wouldn’t cook.)

Slightly Middle Eastern, it’s one part the herbs which really are earthy and deep. With the other part being the slow-cooked onions, with the butter, saffron and cardamom.

It would be a meal in itself, alongside a green salad.

Though as a side, it was just damn clever; and it would certainly indicate to your quests that a special meal was coming.

Ingredients

1kg onions (about 5 or 6), halved and sliced 1/2cm thick
10 cardamom pods, roughly bashed open with a mortar and pestle
60ml olive oil
110gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 garlic cloves, crushed
100gm fresh coriander, roughly chopped
100gm parsley, roughly chopped
70gm dill, roughly chopped
30gm tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
7 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed with a mortar and pestle
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
50gm whole-milk ricotta
100gm Greek feta, roughly crumbled
60gm Parmesan, finely grated
1 large egg
70gm plain flour
1/3 tsp saffron threads, roughly crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Put the onions, cardamom, half the oil, 40gm of butter and 1 tsp of salt into a medium baking dish and mix together to combine. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, stirring 4 – 5 times during, until softened and nicely caramelised.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a large, non-stick sauté pan on a medium heat. Add the herbs and spring onions and cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and turmeric and cook for 10 minutes more or until the herbs are deeply green and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  4. Beat together the ricotta, feta, 50gm of the Parmesan, the egg, 1 tsp of salt and plenty of pepper in a large bowl. Add the flour and the cooled herb mixture and mix well. Refrigerate to set, about 20 – 40 minutes. Use your hands to roll into 12 compact dumplings, about 45 – 50gm each.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn the heat down to a bare simmer on a medium heat. Drop in the dumplings and cook for 10 – 12 minutes, or until they rise to the surface and have cooked through the centre. Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer the dumplings to a tray lined with kitchen paper, to dry.
  6. When the onions are ready and hot from the oven, add the remaining 70gm of butter, the saffron and the lemon juice and mix everything to combine. Turn the oven temperature up to 200c fan.
  7. Top the onions with the dumplings, slightly spaced apart, then sprinkle over with the remaining Parmesan. Return to the oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until everything is bubbling and warmed through.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roast Cauliflower with Yoghurt and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce

Serves: 4

I start every Ottolenghi recipe with some statement about how they are all consistently great and I’m agraid I am going to have to do it again.

Because this dish – you could call it a salad – is layers upon layers of just incredibly complimentary flavours, with crunch and spice and the cooling yoghurt at the end.

Nat cooked it along side a medium-done, barbequed eye fillet and the pairing was magic.

Indeed, bring this salad to a barbeque and even a medium-rare, chargrilled tomahawk will struggle to knock the cauliflower off first stage.

Yum!

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower, trimmed, then cut into wedges (800gm net)
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 onion peeled, halved and cut into 1.2cm-thick slices
1 tbsp coriander seeds lighly toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 tsp caraway seeds, lightly toasted and roughly crushed in a mortar
1 1/2 tsp sumac
25gm mint leaves roughly chopped, plus 1 handful extra to serve
30gm pine nuts, toasted

For the yoghurt sauce

300gm Greek-style yoghurt
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 – 2 lemons)

For the red pepper sauce

70ml olive oil
2 tbsp mild Turkish pepper paste (or tomato paste)
1 tbsp red chilli flakes (or 1 1/2 tbsp if using tomato paste)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220c. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 3 tbsp of oil and 1/2 tsp of salt, then spread out on a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 22 – 25 minutes, until lightly charred though still with bite. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, put the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a medium saute pan on a medium heat, Once hot, add the onion and 1/8 tsp of salt and cook, stirring occassionally, for 15 – 18 minutes, until soft and browned. Tip the onions into the cauliflower bowl and wipe clean the pan.
  3. Put the oil for the pepper sauce in a saute pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the pepper paste and red chilli flakes and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Take off the heat, stir in a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper and transfer to a medium heatproof bowl.
  4. For the yoghurt sauce, mix the yoghurt, garlic, a tbsp of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper in a medium bowl and set aside.
  5. Stir the coriander, caraway, sumac, mint, half the pine nuts, the remaining 1 tbsp of lemon juice and a good grind of black pepper into the cauliflower bowl.
  6. To serve, spread the yoghurt sauce over a shallow platter and arrange the cauliflower mixture on top. Spoon over half the red pepper sauce, then top with the extra mint leaves and the remaining pine nuts. Serve with the rest of the pepper sauce in a bowl alongside.

Gretta Anna’s Potato Pancakes

Serves: 4 – 6

These potato pancakes are a wonderful invention.

Nat cooked them as part of an American Linnar (Lunch/Dinner which is now my new favourite meal) with ribs and a wholesome, creamy salad of greens.

It’s just comfort. Nothing complex. Just solidly good, satisfying food.

I’d have them for breakfast. As a hot dish with a cold buffet. As a finger food.

And definitely as a side to ribs or really any grilled meat.

Ingredients

2 – 3 rashers rindless bacon, chopped
25ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tbsp plain flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large potatoes, peeled and grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
50ml olive oil

Method

  1. Sauté the bacon in a frying pan with the vegetable oil over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until slightly crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
  2. Beat the eggs with the flour and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the bacon, egg mixture and grated potato in a bowl and add the chives. Leave the mixture until ready to cook, when it will be very watery.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Place tbsps of potato mixture in the oil and cook for about 5 minutes each side, until golden. Turn the heat up if necessary.
  5. Serve immediately, or keep in a 100c oven on a cake rack to ensure the pancakes remain fresh and crisp until needed.

David Leite’s Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts

Serves: 8 as a snack

My mother whipped these up as part of a long, grazing lunch of cured meats and focaccia.

In the same way we should all be making our own dips for special meals, the same is true of nuts.

So here you go.

Ingredients

Cooking spray
1 egg white
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried red-pepper flakes
2 cups mixed raw nuts of your choice

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 150c. Line a lipped baking sheet with foil and coat the foil lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk the egg white until very foamy. Add the sugar, salt, cumin and red-pepper flakes and whisk well. Stir in the nuts and coat completely.
  3. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until they’re deep golden brown about 25 – 30 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Remove the sheet from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool. Break up any nutty clumps. (The nuts can be made a week in advance, stored in an airtight container.)