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Cover: A dish for all seasons

Recipes with pine nuts

10Jul 12

Spinach with bacon and pine nuts

Spinach with bacon and pine nutsA starter that brings four flavours and textures together:  It’s soft, salty, crunchy and sweet.  Go on, try it…

Spinach with bacon and pine nuts uses soft and subtle spinach, brought to life by the saltiness of the bacon, the crunch of the pine nuts, and the sweetness of the raisins.  If you can find a good cured Parma ham, or Spanish Serrano ham to cut into chunks to replace the bacon, they also work really well in this dish.  We often make this dish as a starter, or as a side dish to accompany lamb, beef or pork.  Spinach is in season in the spring.

If you like this combination, I would also recommend these mini-pancakes with mozzarella, spinach and pine nuts.

What you need:

  • 1 kg freshly washed baby spinach leaves
  • 100g small bacon cubes
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to season

What to do:

  1. Cover the raisins with water in a bowl to soak for a little while.
  2. Wash the spinach thoroughly under running water unless you have bought it prewashed and ready to use.  If you are washing it, pat it gently dry afterwards with kitchen paper.
  3. Heat 250ml water on the hob in a large pan, and when it reaches the boil, add the baby spinach leaves, season with salt, cover the pan, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  Alternatively steam the spinach.  It’s best to cook it for just enough time to soften it, but without overdoing it, so as to keep the nutrients it contains as alive and effective as possible.  When cooked, remove and drain the spinach and set it to one side.
  4. Drain the water off the raisins, and pat them dry on kitchen paper.
  5. Heat the oil in a shallow, heavy-based frying pan, and fry the bacon pieces on a medium to high heat for a few minutes, moving them about as they cook.  Add the pine nuts and keep stirring as you cook for another few minutes.  Now add the raisins and do the same for another couple of minutes.
  6. Add the cooked spinach to the pan, mixing all of the ingredients together.  Taste a little of the dish and add more salt if necessary, then grind over with a little black pepper.

10 minutes to prepare, 15-20 minutes to cook

Makes: 3-4 starters or side servings

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05Apr 12

Steamed Spring Vegetables with Toasted Pine Nuts

Steamed Spring Vegetables with Pine NutsAn incredibly fresh and healthy accompaniment to any meat or fish dish that you are preparing – steamed spring vegetables with toasted pine nuts are particularly delicious alongside herb crusted salmon with salsa rosso.  In fact, I sometimes eat a big bowl of this and nothing else for my supper, when my body is calling out for greens, greens and more greens, as it often does! 

Asparagus and broccoli are in season in the spring in the UK.  They are bursting with vitamins and minerals, as well as flavour, when you dress them up in a little tasty topping.  Also works well as a starter. You can add Parmesan cheese to top it off at the end, but that is up to you!

What you need:

  • Bunch of fresh asparagus tips
  • Large handful of pine nuts
  • 12 stems of broccoli
  • 30g snow peas
  • 2 generous pinches of Malden sea salt flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil to fry the nuts and to drizzle over the dish
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
  • A hearty drizzle of a good balsamic vinegar

What to do:

  1. Wash and prepare the asparagus.  Bend each stem, and if it is really fresh, it will break naturally to give you perfect tips.  Lay them to one side.  Wash the broccoli and trim off the ends. Rinse the snow peas.
  2. Prepare your steaming equipment and steam the prepared vegetables for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender but retain a slight crunch (if you like them al dente like me).
  3. Whilst the vegetables are steaming, toast the pine nuts in a little olive oil over a medium to high heat on the hob.  This should only take a few minutes.  Sprinkle them over with a pinch of the sea salt, remove them from the heat and leave them sitting in the pan to keep warm.
  4. Once the vegetables are cooked, drain them and then serve them into pretty bowls or side plates.  Top with the pine nuts, and then drizzle over a generous helping of olive oil and swirl over with the balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle all over with the fresh basil and season well with salt and pepper.  Cover the vegetables in the topping rather than just the centre.

Note: For a change, try substituting the balsamic vinegar for the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon.

10 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to cook

Makes: 2 generous servings

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