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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Recipes with olive oil

14Apr 12

Spinach and Bell Pepper Potato Salad

Spinach and bell pepper potato saladFull of colour, slightly spicy and a bit tangy, this spinach and bell pepper potato salad makes for a great side salad to go with your main course, or can easily be set up on some Melba toast as a unique hors d’oeuvre for your next party.  In fact, I did just that for a party at my house a few months ago, and the verdict was a unanimous thumbs up from all my guests!  (For a lighter side without potatoes, try this roasted pepper and goat’s cheese salad.)

The original recipe also called for two hard-boiled eggs, but I’ve never really been a fan and decided to leave them out in my version.  However, if you prefer, you can go ahead and crumble some into the mix.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 600g potatoes
  • 75g fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 65ml olive oil
  • 1tbsp small capers

 

What you have to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 245ºC.
  2.  Wash the bell peppers, cut in half and trim the white part and seeds.
  3.  Place the pepper halves on a baking sheet with the cut sides down.
  4.  Peel the onion, cut in half, and place on the baking sheet with the cut sides down.
  5. Bake the vegetables 20 minutes in the oven until the skin on the peppers blisters. Let the peppers stand briefly, then peel, and cut into strips. Also cut the onion into thin strips.
  6. While the vegetables are cooking, wash the potatoes, and cook covered over medium heat 20-30 minutes in a little water. Don’t let them get too tender.
  7. Drain, wait until they’re cool enough to handle, peel, and dice.
  8. Trim the spinach well and wash thoroughly in cold water. Allow to drain very thoroughly or spin dry.
  9. Wash the basil and break the leaves into smaller pieces.
  10.  Combine the lemon juice with the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Vigorously beat in the oil.
  11.  Combine the potatoes, bell pepper strips, onion strips, dressing, and basil. Add seasoning if necessary. Lay out the spinach leaves on a serving dish or four plates. Arrange the potato salad on top, sprinkle with capers, and serve.

 

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Medium

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06Apr 12

Crepes Stuffed with Ricotta and Courgette

Crepes stuffed with ricotta and courgetteThey’re cheesy, chewy and delicious, and you’re going to love them.  What more can I say?! Prefer fruit over vegetables? Try these crepes suzette with oranges.

What you’re going to need:

For the crepes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 100g flour

For the filling:

  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium-sized courgettes, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
  • 25g butter
  • 25g flour
  • 300ml milk, heated with 1 bay leaf, 1/2tsp ground nutmeg and 3tbsp diced onion
  • 2tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 200g Ricotta cheese
  • 50g Parmesan cheese
  • 300ml vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter to grease the  baking dish

What you have to do:

For the crepes:

  1. Beat together the eggs and milk with an electric blender for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the flour and continue mixing for about a minute or until the mixture is smooth and thick.
  3. Let set for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat a bit of butter or oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  5. Drop about two tablespoons of batter onto the frying pan and fry for 1 minute, flip over and fry 1 minute more.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the batter.  You should end up with around 10 crepes.

For the filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the courgette and garlic for a few minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.
  3. Drain off any excess oil with kitchen towel and set aside.
  4. Heat the butter in a saucepot over low heat, add the flour and stir well to form a smooth paste.
  5. Add about a third of the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly until the sauce is nice and smooth.
  6. Add the rest of the milk mixture while continuing to stir; keep at it until smooth.
  7. Bring to the boil and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
  8. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  9. Add the courgette and garlic to the sauce along with the ricotta and half the Parmesan.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Fill the crepes with the filling, using a spoon.
  11. Roll them up and lay them out on a buttered baking sheet/dish.
  12. Pour the vegetable broth over the top and sprinkle on the rest of the Parmesan.
  13. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes.
  14. Serve hot.

Preparation Time:  30 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty: Hard

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01Apr 12

Spanish Potato Omelette

Spanish OmeletteI learned how to make this delicious Spanish Potato Omelette many years ago when living with some Spaniards in North London. The difficult part about this omelette is the flip. It may take you a few tries to get it right, but the result is well worth the effort!

For desserts you could try one of my favourite Spanish treats – a turrón mousse, inspired by the typical Spanish dessert served only at the holidays.

What you’re going to need:

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs, well beaten

What you have to do:

  1. Heat 6 tbsp of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is nice and hot, but before it starts to smoke, add the potatoes, onions and salt.
  3. Fry for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the potatoes and onions are golden.
  4. Remove from heat and drain off the oil in a colander.
  5. Wipe the frying pan with a paper towel to remove the used oil and put back on medium heat with new olive oil (2 tbsp).
  6. In a large bowl, mix the beaten eggs with a pinch of salt; add the potato and onions and mix well.
  7. When the oil is hot but not smoking, pour in the egg, potato and onion mixture.
  8. Move the pan over the burner in a circular fashion so that the omelette rotates in the pan and doesn’t stick.
  9. When the egg on the bottom starts to set, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  10. Keep cooking for about 3 more minutes (4 minutes total).
  11. Now for the hard part, flipping the omelette:
    1. Place a large plate (at least a little bit bigger than the frying pan) upside down over the top of the frying pan.
    2. Lift the pan upwards and flip it over at the same time so that the omelette falls onto the plate.
    3. Put the frying pan back onto the burner and slide the omelette back in with the uncooked side facing down.
  12. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for another 3-4 minutes.
  13. When the omelette is ready, it should be golden brown on both sides, and the egg in the centre should still be just a little bit runny.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 2-4

Difficulty: Medium

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28Mar 12

Cheesy Chilli Sin Carne

Cheesy Chilli Sin CarneI’ve loved Chilli Con Carne ever since I was a little girl; in fact, I think it’s probably the first “exotic” dish I acquired a taste for.  It was also the first dish I learned how to make when I became a vegetarian. Initially, I just used a packaged mix from the health food store, but I soon realised it was so much better to make it yourself and really not very difficult at all.  I try new variations of Cheesy Chilli Sin Carne every year or so, and this is my most recent version of the dish.

As for the name, everyone knows the standard Chilli Con Carne, which literally means “Chilli with Meat” in Spanish.  I like to call the vegetarian version “Chilli Sin Carne”, which of course means “Chilli without Meat”.  Enjoy!

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 x 400 g tins red kidney beans
  • 1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 200 g tin sweet corn
  • 200 g strong cheddar, cut in 1cm cubes
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper (standard size), chopped
  • 250 g TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsps fresh chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

What you have to do:

  1. Prepare the TVP by rehydrating with 200 ml of boiling water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions and red peppers and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.
  4. Set aside the onions and peppers and sauté the garlic, paprika, cumin and black pepper for about a minute, taking care not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add the onions and peppers back into the pot and mix well with the spices and garlic.
  6. Add the rehydrated TVP and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly to avoid sticking or burning.
  7. Add the canned tomatoes, kidney beans, sweet corn and salt and reduce heat to low.  Mix well.
  8. Add the cheddar cheese and keep cooking and stirring for 2-4 minutes or until the cheese is about 50% melted.
  9. Remove from heat and mix in the coriander.
  10. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and you’re done.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty: Easy

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26Mar 12

Broccoli Feta Rice

Broccoli Feta RicePerfect for when you need a quick and easy, but still tasty and healthy, meal for unexpected dinner guests. This Broccoli and Feta Rice dish is a family favourite that’s sure to please even the pickiest of palettes.  I came up with this one summer evening a few years back when we organized a spur of the moment dinner party with some friends we’d invited over for drinks, only to realise that purple sprouting broccoli, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese were quite literally the only things I had in the fridge!  After a quick inspection of the cupboards I found a bit of Basmati Rice and inspiration struck!  Not much more than 20 minutes later and we were happily stuffing our bellies with this tangy, cheesy delight.

Ever since that day, this has been my “go to” dish for any last-minute meal requirements.  As an alternative you can replace the cherry tomatoes with sun-dried tomatoes, preferably the kind that come in a jar with olive oil.  If you have the loose, dry kind, be sure to rehydrate them in hot water with a little olive oil before adding them to the mix.  Also bear in mind that sun-dried tomatoes are notoriously salty, and when combined with the salty feta cheese it can be a bit much, so don’t add any more salt until the end and always test it first!

What you’re going to need

  • 1 medium head of broccoli, chopped, about 2 cups
  • 1 200g package of feta cheese, chopped in cubes
  • 1 pack cherry tomatoes (approx. 25 units)
  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 3 cups water with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you have to do

  1. Steam the broccoli for about 10 minutes, or until it is tender, but still a little al dente.  Set aside.
  2. Cook the rice in the salted water with the bay leaf until it’s tender but not mushy (about 25 minutes).
  3. Drain the rice and place it in a large serving bowl.
  4. Add the broccoli and feta cheese to the rice, along with the herbs, salt and pepper.
  5. Stir the mixture well, adding more salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve warm or cold.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

 

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14Feb 12

Hearty Seitan Stew

Hearty Seitan StewOne of my favourite meals when I was growing up was a beef and potato stew my mother used to make for us, especially in the winter.  It was just the perfect thing for warming your belly and bones after a long day of playing outside in the cold.  Naturally, when I became a vegetarian this was one of the first recipes I just had to emulate in a meatless version.  Hearty Seitan Stew is the result of a few months of trial and error to get the mix just right.  The thick broth, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and deliciously chewy wheat gluten (seitan) make for a wonderfully filling and satisfying dish that even my unrepentant meat-eating brother can’t help but admit to loving.  In fact, even my mother has said she prefers it over her original beef version, although to be honest even I’m not sure I’d go that far!

What you’re going to need

  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g ball of seitan (wheat gluten)
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, washed but not peeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 litres of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you have to do

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is nice and hot, add the diced onion and fry until it turns translucent.
  3. Chop the potatoes and carrots into medium sized chunks and add to the onions.
  4. Keep frying for a minute or two, stirring continuously.
  5. Cut the seitan into 2cm chunks and add to the mix along with the frozen peas, the vegetable stock cube and the herbs and spices and keep stirring for 1 more minute.
  6. Add the water, cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender, approximately 45 minutes.
  8. In a small bowl or cup, mix the corn-starch with just enough water to form a dense but runny paste.
  9. Bring the stew up to a boil and add the corn-starch paste, stirring continuously, in order to thicken the broth.  Add more as necessary until desired consistency is reached.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Difficulty: Easy

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14Feb 12

Moroccan Hummus

Moroccan HummusThis classical Arab dish, originally from Beirut, Libya, is a favourite the world over with vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.  Hummus is incredibly quick and easy to make and once you’ve learned how to do it and I guarantee it will soon become one of your most useful recipes, and a real crowd pleaser too.

Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C, and the chickpeas provide a great source of dietary fibre.  When eaten with bread (the standard method), it provides a complete protein serving due to the mixing of grains and pulses and is therefore a very useful addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.

I usually serve this as a dip, with some kind of flatbread such as Pita or Naan for scooping up the Hummus, but it’s also great with chopped fresh veggies such as carrot or celery sticks, broccoli, red-peppers or even asparagus sticks.  As another interesting variation you can try adding half a red bell pepper to the blended ingredients, or even a jalapeño if you like it spicy or are feeling a bit daring.

Whatever you decide to do, one serving probably won’t be enough, so be sure to have enough ingredients on hand to make a second (or even third  and fourth) batch when your guests start clamouring for it, as I guarantee they will!

What you’re going to need:

  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt (plain yoghurt will do if you don’t have Greek to hand)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds and/or 1 tsp paprika (for garnish)

What you have to do:

  1. Put all the ingredients except the paprika and cumin seeds into an electric blender and blend until a smooth paste is formed.  Make sure the garlic gets blended well too.
  2. If the mixture is too runny, add a little more tahini and chick peas until the desired consistency is reached.  If it’s too thick, add a little water and blend again.
  3. Pour the mixture out onto a deep plate or shallow bowl and pat down with a spoon.
  4. Splash a little olive on top and garnish with the cumin seeds and/or paprika.
  5. Serve with pitta-bread, or slices of French bread, or crisps or crackers, or whatever you have on hand to dip with.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time: n/a

Serves:  2-4

Difficulty: easy

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