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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Recipes with olive oil

13Aug 12

Scrambled Breakfast Tofu

Scrambled Breakfast Tofu
What better way to start your day than with a protein-filled serving of delicious scrambled  tofu?!  It’s just as filling and flavourful as eggs, but without the fat or cholesterol.

You’ll notice that the recipe says to freeze the tofu and then thaw it before use.  This is a trick I learnt recently, and it adds a whole new dimension  to the tofu.  Due to the freezing process, the texture of the tofu changes; it becomes more crumbly and somewhat similar in appearance to minced beef.  This same method also works great for making vegetarian bolognese sauce or chilli, or anything that would typically call for minced beef.

This is my most basic version of the recipe, but tofu is so great at absorbing different flavours that I strongly encourage you to go ahead and try different variations of seasoning. Basically anything you might have used with scrambled eggs should work just fine.  You could also add some spinach or other veggies to the mix if you like.

I usually eat this for breakfast alongside toast smothered in apricot jam. But you can of course eat it at any time of the day you prefer!

If you like this idea, you will probably also like menemen – Turkish scrambled eggs.

 

Scrambled Breakfast Tofu
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 350-400g firm tofu, frozen then thawed, then crumbled
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½tsp paprika
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Sauté the onion in the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two, taking care that it doesn't brown or burn.
  3. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the frying pan, and add the paprika to the empty side.
  4. Fry the paprika for about 30 seconds, stirring and mixing into the oil.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add more oil if necessary.
  7. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve immediately with a few slices of toast.

 

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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
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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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23Jul 12

Spinach and Warm Veggie Salad

Spinach and Warm Veggie SaladThis spinach and warm veggie salad recipe, smothered in a delicious creamy mustard sauce, makes a great starter or side dish for any occasion.  The warm vegetables make a welcome change to a typical cold salad and provide the perfect contrast to the bed of tender fresh spinach leaves.

If you have more of an appetite, you could also try this pita bread with fried vegetables, coriander and ricotta cheese. The extra carbs will give you an energy boost.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 medium-sized red onions
  • 100g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 110g fresh tender spinach  leaves
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 65ml vegetable stock
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tsp grainy mustard
  • 2tbsp crème fraîche
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of ground coriander

What you have to do:

 

  1. Chop the red onions.
  2. Trim the fennel, wash and cut into eighths lengthwise.
  3. Wash and trim the spinach. Remove the thick stems, and wash thoroughly in cold standing water. Allow to drain thoroughly and transfer to plates.
  4. Wash the lemon with hot water, remove a thin layer of zest, and chop finely. Squeeze out the juice and set aside.
  5. Wash the parsley and finely chop the leaves.
  6. Sprinkle the lemon zest and parsley leaves over top of the spinach.
  7. Soak the bread in the vegetable stock.
  8.  In a blender, finely purée the bread with the extra virgin olive oil.
  9. Mix in the grainy mustard and crème fraîche and season to taste with 1.5 tablespoons of the lemon juice, along with the salt, pepper, and coriander.
  10. In a wide pot, bring about 5cm of salted water to the boil for the vegetables.
  11. Cover and cook the vegetables 5 minutes, or until they are tender and crisp.
  12. Drain the excess water from the vegetables and arrange them on top of the spinach leaves.
  13. Pour the mustard cream over the salad or mix it all together so that the entire dish is coated with the dressing.
  14. Serve immediately.

 

Preparation Time:  20

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

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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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08Jul 12

Grilled Veggie Shish Kebabs

Grilled Veggie Shish KebabsThese grilled veggie shish kebabs make for a great starter for a party or buffet, and they are very quick to prepare as long as you remember to put the veggies in the marinade beforehand, as this is longest part of the preparation.  In fact, the longer they marinate, the better, so you could even get started on that the night before.

Another thing I love about them is that they also turn out great on a barbecue, so I finally have something aside from veggie burgers and sausages to take when I get invited to a barbecue at a meat-eater’s house.  Don’t get me wrong – I love my veggie burgers and all, but it’s nice to have something more for a change.

The recipe uses a Turkish-style marinade, but if you prefer, you can use your favourite marinade of choice.

 

What you’re going to need:

For the marinade:

  • 250ml olive oil
  • 65ml plain yoghurt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tbsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Shish Kebabs:

  • 8 wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • 500 to 800g of any combination of the following ingredients, cut into bite-sized pieces:
    • cauliflower florets
    • cherry tomatoes
    • aubergine
    • firm tofu
    • green, red, or yellow bell peppers
    • mushrooms
    • new potatoes
    • red onion
    • yellow squash
    • courgette

 

What you have to do:

 

  1. Prepare the marinade by combining all ingredients and mixing well to blend. Set aside while you prepare the veggies.
  2. Thread the desired grilling ingredients onto the skewers.
  3. Place the skewers in a long shallow dish and pour the marinade over the top, cover, and marinate for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature.
  4. Preheat the oven to “broil.”
  5. Remove the skewers from the marinade and let any excess liquid drip off.
  6. Broil the skewers for 6 – 12 minutes, turning every few minutes, until lightly charred and cooked through.
  7. Watch carefully, as different ingredients may take different amounts of time to cook.
  8. Remove the skewers from the oven and place them on a serving platter.
  9. Pour any extra marinade over the skewers.
  10. Serve hot.

 

Preparation Time:  30 minutes plus 1-2 hours marinating

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

Note: One of my favourite side dishes at a barbecue is a fancy potato salad like these minty jersey royals with chives and lemon butter. It goes nicely with burgers – both veggie and otherwise!

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29Jun 12

Falafel with Tomato Sauce

Chickpea meatballs with tomato sauceI remember loving the meatballs in tomato sauce that my mother used to make when I was growing up, so the other day I decided to try and make a vegetarian version.  This chickpea falafel with tomato sauce recipe was the result.  The texture is, of course, slightly different than the lamb-based or peri-peri meatballs my mother specialised in, but the lemon, garlic and Italian parsley give them a subtle flavour that  is offset nicely by the tomato and thyme sauce.  Enjoy!

What you’re going to need:

For the falafel:

  • 400g cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley
  • 1tsp grated lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

  • 500g tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1tbsp pine nuts
  • 170ml crème fraîche
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you have to do:

 

  1. Drain the chickpeas well.
  2. Peel and mince the onion and the garlic.
  3. Wash the parsley and finely chop the leaves.
  4. Place the chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, and lemon zest in a food processor and blend to a paste.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Let the mixture stand for about 30 minutes.
  7. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls.
  8. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat.
  9. Add the falafel and sauté for 10 minutes, shaking the pan at regular intervals so that they brown evenly.
  10. Remove the falafel from the pan and keep them warm in the oven at the lowest setting.
  11. While the falafel is frying, prepare the tomatoes for the sauce by removing the cores.
  12. Submerge the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds, then transfer to a bowl of cold water to loosen the skin.
  13. Remove the skin, cut into quarters, and chop finely.
  14. Wash the thyme and strip the leaves from the stems.
  15. Add the remaining oil to the pan.
  16. Add the pine nuts and thyme and sauté for 20 seconds.
  17. Add the tomatoes and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  18. Mix in the crème fraîche and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  19. Arrange the falafel on 4 plates. Pour the sauce over them and serve.

 

Preparation Time:  15 minutes + 30 minutes setting

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

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19Jun 12

Spinach and Chickpeas

Spinach and ChickpeasThis spinach and chickpeas recipe makes for a great starter or can even be served as a main course if you accompany it with some oven-warmed French bread and a bit of salad. (If you want to stick with the chickpea theme, try this carrot, chickpea and orange salad.)  As always, I suggest using dried pulses and rehydrating them overnight, but if you don’t have time, you can go ahead and use the precooked canned or bottled ones.

What you’re going to need:

  • 300g chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 slice white bread
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4tsp paprika
  • 450g fresh spinach
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

What you have to do:

  1. Drain the chickpeas and place them in a pot with enough water to cover them completely.
  2. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes over high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 1 hour or until the chickpeas are tender.
  4. Remove from heat and drain off the water.
  5. Heat 30ml of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the slice of bread until it’s golden brown.
  6. Set the fried bread aside on a plate.
  7. Sauté the onion in 15ml of olive oil over low heat until it’s translucent.
  8. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking over low heat for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are dissolved.
  9. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  10. Add the paprika and sauté for 30 seconds.
  11. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until the spinach is tender.
  12. Add the mixture of tomatoes and onions to the spinach, mix well and add the chickpeas.
  13. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Put the fried bread and the garlic in a blender and mix to form a smooth paste.
  15. Add the bread and garlic paste to the spinach and chickpeas.
  16. Add 170ml of cold water and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  Add more water if necessary as you cook.
  17. Serve hot.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes + 8 hours soaking the chickpeas

Cooking Time: 55 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

 

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16Jun 12

Tomato and Cabbage Soup

Tomato and Cabbage SoupI had an awful cold the other week, and it dawned on me that one of the worst things about being a vegetarian is not being able to eat chicken noodle soup.  It may not really be a cure for the common cold, but it certainly has proven to make you feel a bit better, at least while you’re eating it.  In any case, this tomato and cabbage soup recipe is my first attempt to make a vegetarian-friendly, feel-good soup for those pesky winter colds.

The young garlic, ginger, cinnamon and chilli help to clear your sinuses, and the fennel seeds and honey help to sooth a sore throat.  To be honest, it tastes nothing like standard chicken noodle, but it definitely did make me feel a bit better, and the effect lasted for a few hours after I ate it too!

What you’re going to need:

  • 3 medium tomatoes, washed and diced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded or chopped
  • 400ml cabbage, cut into 1cm x 3cm strips
  • 1 leek, washed and chopped
  • 1 young garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 250ml rice
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 2tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tsp honey
  • ½ a cinnamon stick
  • 1/2tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2tsp black pepper
  • 3 litres water
  • 3tbsp olive oil

What you have to do:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until it’s hot but not smoking.
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the leek and young garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cabbage, carrot and tomato and continue sautéing for 3 more minutes with the heat on full.  Stir continuously to avoid burning.
  5. Add the honey, stock cube, chilli powder, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves and fennel seeds.  Sauté for 30 seconds to bring out the aroma of the spices.
  6. Add the water and the rice to the pot and bring to the boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a fast simmer and cook for another 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  8. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Note: If you like your soups a bit cheesy, try this Cauliflower and Emmental Soup recipe.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  Easy

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13Jun 12

Bean and Red peppers Burritos

Bean and red pepper burritosI love Mexican food, and it’s so easy to make it vegetarian!  These bean and red peppers burritos are my take on the classic Mexican burrito.  Even if you’re normally not a fan of beans and pulses, I think this dish will get your taste buds smiling. They’re fun to make and even more fun to eat! If you want to make it even more entertaining for your guests, place the bean mix in the centre of the table along with the garnishing and let them heap their own burritos!

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 x 400g tins red kidney beans, drained and mashed. (You can also use black beans.)
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 100g tomato purée
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pack of 8 flour or corn tortillas
  • 200g mature cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
  • 150ml sour cream (optional)
  • Diced tomatoes, sliced Jalapeños or Mexican salsa (for garnish)

What you have to do:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until it’s hot but not smoking.
  2. Add the onions and red pepper and sauté until the onions turn translucent (approx. 4 minutes).
  3. Remove the onions and peppers and set aside.
  4. Sauté the onions, cumin, black pepper and paprika for about 1 minute, stirring constantly to avoid burning.
  5. Add the onions and peppers back into the mix along with the tomato paste and salt and mix well with the spices.
  6. Add the mashed kidney beans and mix well.  The mixture should be thick, not runny.  If it’s runny, cook a little longer to evaporate any excess water and add a tablespoon of  cornflour  to help thicken.
  7. Remove from heat and set aside.
  8. Remove the tortillas from their packaging and heat in the microwave on medium power for 1 minute to soften.
  9. Place two tablespoons of the bean mix on each tortilla, in a line a little off-centre to the left and running from the top to about 4 cm from the bottom.
  10. Place a slice of cheddar cheese, a spoonful of sour cream and a few jalapeños (if desired) on top.
  11. Wrap the burritos by first folding up the bottom, then the left-hand side and then the right-hand side to make a kind of envelope.
  12. Serve warm.
  13. If you really want to add to the “bean theme,” try serving this borlotti bean, celery and tomato salad on the side.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time:  20 minutes

Serves:  3-4

Difficulty:  Medium

 

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