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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Recipes with scallions

02Jul 12

Spinach and Potato Gratin

Spinach and Potato GratinCheddar cheese, potatoes, cream, spinach and pine nuts, grilled to perfection au gratin, this spinach and potato gratin dish has quite literally every single one of my favourite comfort foods, all rolled together into one, big, brilliant recipe!  I make absolutely no claims as to the healthiness of this creation, but sometimes you just want to forget all about that and just eat something that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This dish definitely fits that bill!

Personally, I leave the skins on the potatoes, and since they’re supposed to be the healthy part anyway, I don’t feel too guilty about stuffing my face with this every once in a while. (Also try this potato au gratin with pesto and salmon steaks. Just take out the salmon to make it vegetarian, or perhaps you could replace it with tofu!)


Spinach and Potato Au Gratin
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
  • 450g potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 150ml double cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 225g frozen spinach, thawed
  • 80g cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 25g pine nuts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven, on grill setting, to 200ºC. Or alternatively, use the grill, if you have one.
  2. Spread the potato slices out evenly along the bottom of a large, deep, non-stick frying pan.
  3. Sprinkle the minced garlic and the sliced scallions over the top of the potato slices.
  4. Pour the double cream and the milk over the top of the potatoes and onions.
  5. Place the frying pan over medium heat, bring to the boil and then cover and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Using your hands, wring out the spinach until it is as dry as possible.
  7. Add the spinach to the potato mixture and stir gently to mix them in.
  8. Cover the pot and cook for another 2 minutes.
  9. Season to taste with the salt and fresh black pepper.
  10. Spread the mixture evenly along the bottom of a deep, oven-safe dish.
  11. Sprinkle the grated cheddar over the top of the potato mixture.
  12. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the cheese.
  13. Place the dish on the top shelf of the oven or on the grill and bake for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the topping is golden and bubbling.
  14. Serve immediately.


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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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04Apr 12

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Spring RollsDelicious and healthy vegetarian Vietnamese spring rolls!  Goes great with peanut hoi sin dipping sauce, which I also posted on my blog. If you like Asian cooking, you should also try these Indian vegetable samosas.

What you’re going to need:

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 400g firm tofu, cut into 1cm thick slices, brushed with 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp pepper
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and sliced (about 70ml)
  • 1tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about 350ml)
  • ½ small jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about 350ml)
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into matchsticks (about 350ml)
  • 2 or 3 jalapeño chillies, seeded and thinly sliced (about 85ml)
  • 2 scallions, both green and white parts, sliced diagonally and very thin
  • 1/2tbsp hoi sin sauce
  • 16 Vietnamese rice spring roll wrappers
  • 2 heads Chinese leaf lettuce, separated and washed
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint, leaves only
  • 1 bunch of coriander, small sprigs only

What you have to do:

  1. Heat vegetable oil about 1.5cm deep in a frying pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
  2. Fry the tofu until crisp on the outside, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. Drain the tofu on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Let cool and then slice thinly.  Set aside.
  5. Put the frying pan over the heat again and fry the shallots until crisp and golden.
  6. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Slice thinly and set aside.
  7. Heat 1tsp vegetable oil in a sauté pan and add the carrots, jicama, peppers and 1/4tsp of salt and cook over high heat for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
  8. Add the chillies and a tablespoon of water to keep the veggies from sticking.
  9. Cook until the vegetables start to get tender, about 2 minutes.
  10. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and mix in the scallions, shallots and hoi sin sauce.
  11. Soak one rice wrapper in cold water until it starts to turn soft, no more than 8-10 seconds.
  12. Place the damp wrapper on a clean working surface and lay a lettuce leaf or two on top.
  13. Spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture across the centre, top with a few slices of tofu, a few mint leaves and a few coriander sprigs.
  14. Roll the wrapper gently but snugly over the filling, tucking in the ends as you go.
  15. Repeat for the rest of the wrappers.

Preparation Time:  30-40 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty: Hard

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