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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Recipes with flat-leaf parsley

29Jul 12

Fennel and Parsley Salad

Fennel and Parsley SaladAn often forgotten vegetable in many homes, fennel has got to be one of my personal favourite comfort-foods, and this fennel and parsley salad is no exception!  The slight licorice aroma of the fennel bulbs is a truly delightful sensation for the taste buds and stomach alike.  Fennel is known for its soothing effects on the stomach, so I find it’s the perfect thing when you’re not feeling 100%, whether that be due to the flu or an overly excessive night on the town.

If you are looking for a more subtle fennel flavour, try this mushroom risotto recipe.

Some people suggest that fennel should be cooked just until it’s al dente, but I personally strongly disagree with this.  I believe it should be nice and tender, as this is when its true flavour really shines through.  I like to serve this salad on a bed of rocket and topped with some Parmesan cheese shavings, as suggested in the recipe, but you can go ahead and leave this out if you prefer, or substitute it for any other lettuce and cheese combination.  As usual, let your taste-buds be your guide!


Fennel and Parsley Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, sprigs and leaves
  • 1tsp minced lemon zest
  • 1tsp minced tangerine zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1tbsp fresh tangerine juice
  • 100g rocket lettuce
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, shaved
  1. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise, cut out the cores and remove any bruised outer leaves.
  2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the fennel halves crosswise, as thin as you can.
  3. Transfer the fennel to a medium-sized bowl and toss with the parsley, lemon zest, tangerine zest, ¼ teaspoon of salt, a pinch of pepper and the olive oil.
  4. Add the lemon juice and the tangerine juice and toss again.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Arrange a bed of rocket lettuce on each plate and nestle the salad on top.
  7. Place a few shavings of Parmesan cheese on top and serve.


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26Jul 12

Couscous Salad

Couscous saladAnother Middle-Eastern inspired dish, this couscous salad is a light yet satisfying little treat.  Let the subtle blend of flavours contained in every mouthful transport you in your imagination to the star-filled sky of the Sahara desert or the shores of the Mediterranean sea. (Also try this rice salad with spinach and avocado.)

The recipe itself is deceptively simple. The only thing you need to be careful about is the roasting of the pine nuts – just one second of distraction, and it can all go wrong before you realise what’s happened!  The recipe suggests toasting the nuts in a pan on the stove-top, but alternatively this can be done in the oven.  Just spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment, bake at around 190ºc for about 5 minutes, shake the tray, and bake another few minutes until they smell nice and nutty.  You still have to be very careful not to burn them though, so don’t let your guard down!

Couscous Salad
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 180g instant couscous
  • 1tsp minced lemon zest
  • 250ml water
  • 2tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1tbsp Champagne vinegar
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • ¾tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 3tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  1. Pour the instant couscous into a small baking dish.
  2. Combine the water, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Pour the liquid over the couscous and stir lightly.
  4. Cover the dish and set aside for 20 minutes.
  5. Heat a small, heavy-bottomed frying pan over low heat.
  6. When the pan is good and hot, add the pine nuts and toast until they start to smell intensely nutty, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  7. Shake the pan frequently while toasting, and be very careful not to burn the nuts, as they will go from perfect to burnt and ruined in a heartbeat.
  8. When they're ready, transfer immediately to a dish to cool.
  9. When the couscous is ready, fluff it up gently with a fork to separate the grains.
  10. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with the lemon zest and the rest of the ingredients.


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19Jul 12

Ful Medammis

Ful MedammisFul medammis is a very typical Egyptian dish made with green fava beans.  In fact, it’s so common that it’s often referred to as the national dish of Egypt.

Although it’s quite simple to make, it does take a bit of time, mostly due to the soaking and cooking of the dried fava beans.  If time is an issue, you can go ahead and use the canned variety; it won’t be quite as yummy or authentic, but it’s more than good enough in a pinch.

The fun thing about this dish is that rather than completely finishing the preparation yourself, you put the different garnishes on the table and let your guests garnish their own however they wish.  This also makes it a lot more fun for kids and a perk for eating their veggies.  Of course, if you prefer, you can mix in the garnishes yourself before serving.


What you’re going to need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 450g dried fava beans
  • 50g lentils
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 60g fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


What you have to do:


  1. Soak the fava beans and lentils overnight in abundant water with a pinch of salt.
  2. Place the beans in a large saucepan and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, or until the beans are nice and tender.  Drain the leftover water.
  3. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.
  4. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Drain the excess water from the saucepan and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool.
  7. Peel the cooked eggs, cut them into halves, and set aside.
  8. Serve beans in individual bowls.
  9. Place the eggs, garlic, parsley, lemons, tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and pepper on table and allow diners to garnish and season as they like.


Preparation Time:  20 minutes plus overnight soaking of the beans

Cooking Time: 1-2 hours

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

Note: The main focus of this dish is the fava beans, but the lentils add a nice touch. For more lentil recipes, try this tangy red daal.

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18May 12

Baked Fennel with Tomato Gratin

Baked Fennel with Tomato GratinThere’s something very comforting about au gratin dishes; somehow the melted cheese and breadcrumbs seem to make all your troubles just fade away while you’re eating them!  This baked fennel with tomato gratin is no exception, and the Italian cheeses and whole-wheat bread crumbs seem to hit that special place in your belly that warms your body and soul.   (Fennel also goes well with bell peppers in this pancetta, fennel and sweet pepper tart.)

Fennel is one of my favourite veggies, and its subtle anise flavour makes the perfect bed for the gratin, especially after the baking brings out its natural sweetness.


What you’re going to need:

  • 4 young fennel bulbs
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 110g Ricotta cheese, crumbled
  • 85g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 65g whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

What you have to do:              

  1. Preheat the oven to 205ºC.
  2. Trim the fennel and quarter lengthwise.
  3. Cut the core out of each piece without removing the leaves.
  4. Chop up the tender leaves and set aside.
  5. Bring 2 litres of water with 1/2tsp of salt to the boil.
  6. Add the fennel quarters to the boiling water and blanch for 6 minutes, then submerge in cold water and drain thoroughly.
  7. Remove the cores from the tomatoes.
  8. Plunge the cored tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds and then transfer to cold water to loosen the peels. Remove the peels, cut into quarters and dice finely.
  9. Wash the parsley and finely chop the leaves.
  10. Trim the green onions, then wash thoroughly and cut into fine rings, including the tender green part.
  11. Peel the garlic and mince.
  12. Combine the Ricotta cheese with the tomatoes, flat-leaf parsley, fennel leaves, garlic, green onions, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and olive oil and mix thoroughly.
  13. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
  14. Place the fennel quarters in a baking dish.
  15. Spread the tomato gratin over the top.
  16. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the gratin is nicely browned.
  17. Serve hot.


Preparation Time:  35 minutes

Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

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01May 12

Feta Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

Feta Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes


It’s funny how life is. I remember when I was a kid, I used to absolutely loathe baked tomatoes, to the point where I would actually get so angry with my mother when she prepared them that I wouldn’t speak to her for days afterwords!  Nowadays I just can’t seem to get enough of them. Sorry about all that trouble, Mum!

These feta cheese stuffed tomatoes are a real pleasure to make and even more of a pleasure to eat.  I’m a huge fan of feta cheese anyway; it’s the best thing the Greeks ever invented, well, aside from philosophy, astronomy and all of that, of course!  I particularly love the way the baked tomato and cheese just melts in your mouth when you bite into it.

It’s very important to use the ripest tomatoes you can find; they should be a nice deep red colour, not orange or green. If your tomatoes aren’t ripe enough yet, put them in a paper bag in a dark place like a cupboard for a day or two, and they should ripen up quite quickly.

Tomatoes have all types of sizes and flavours. If you prefer bite-sized treats to serve at a party, I recommend these pesto filled cherry tomatoes.

What you’re going to need:

  • 4 medium-sized, very ripe red tomatoes
  • 2tbsp finely chopped scallions
  • 2tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 125g finely crumbled feta cheese
  • 65g bread crumbs
  • 3tbsp olive oil


What you have to do:


  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. Carefully cut the tops off of the tomatoes.  Use a very sharp knife; if not, you’ll probably end up destroying the tomatoes.
  3. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the pulp and the seeds.
  4. Save the pulp and throw the seeds away.
  5. Coarsely chop the tomato pulp.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the tomato pulp with the scallions, flat-leaf parsley, feta cheese, bread crumbs and olive oil. Mix well.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out tomatoes, filling them until the filling is level with the top of the tomato.
  8. Place the tomatoes right side up in a 20cm square baking dish and bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven.
  9. Serve the stuffed tomatoes steaming hot.


Preparation Time:  35 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

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10Apr 12

Asparagus and Cheese Pudding

Asparagus and Cheese PuddingThis creamy and savoury asparagus and cheese pudding is a great way to make use of yesterday’s leftover bread and impress even the most demanding gourmands at the same time.  I usually use ciabatta, but any rustic style bread will work just as well. (Also try this Asparagus Risotto.)

What you’re going to need:

  • 450g ciabatta bread, at least a day old, cut into 1cm thick slices
  • 375ml milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp pepper
  • 450g asparagus, tough stems removed, cut into 5cm sticks
  • 250g grated Manchego cheese
  • 250g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


What you have to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Lay the bread along the bottom of a large shallow dish and cover with the milk.
  3. Set aside and let the bread absorb the milk, about 30 minutes.
  4. Bring 3 litres of salted water to the boil in a large pot.
  5. While you wait for the water to boil, butter a 2 litre baking dish and set aside.
  6. Combine the double cream, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.
  7. Place the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it just turns tender.
  8. Drain and rinse under cold water then set aside to drain again.
  9. Combine the cheeses in a small bowl.
  10. Place a third of the milk-soaked bread on the bottom of the buttered baking dish.
  11. Lay half of the asparagus over the bread, sprinkle with a third of the cheese mixture and half of the herbs.
  12. Lay another third of the bread on top, cover with more asparagus, herbs and half of the remaining cheese.
  13. Cover with the rest of the bread and the cheese, placing the remaining asparagus on top.
  14. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the top.
  15. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.
  16. Use a knife to check if it’s done.  The egg and cream mixture should be set and the knife should come out clean when inserted into the centre of the pudding.
  17. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Preparation Time:  35 minutes

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty: Difficult

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