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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Recipes with tomatoes

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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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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11Jun 12

Tomato and Basil Pie

Tomato and Basil PiePizza is a standard classic in my home, especially spinach, fresh tomato and blue cheese pizza. This tomato and basil pie recipe is a sort of variation on the traditional pizza, using pastry rather than leavened pizza dough.  The ingredients are simple but the taste is wonderful.  Basil, cheese and tomatoes work so well together that you just don’t need anything else, as the Italians have obviously known for years.  If you’re in a rush or just too tired to make the pastry yourself, go ahead and use any store-bought variety.

What you’re going to need:

For the crust:

  • 160g sifted white flour
  • 1/4tsp fine salt
  • 110g butter, chilled and diced
  • 60ml ice water

For the filling:

  • 100g fresh mozzarella, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 175g Parmesan cheese
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 5 medium tomatoes, washed and sliced 5mm thick
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper

What you have to do:

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut into the butter using a pastry knife and add to the bowl. Do NOT use your hands.
  4. Stir in the ice water using a spoon, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms into a ball.
  5. Wrap the ball in plastic and chill for 4 hours.
  6. Roll out the ball into a flat crust about 30 cm in diameter.
  7. Press the crust firmly into the bottom and sides of a 26 cm pie dish.
  8. Using a fork, make some holes in the bottom of the crust.
  9. Cover the crust with parchment paper and fill with dry beans.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, leaving the heat on.
  12. Remove and discard the beans and parchment paper.

To make the filling:

  1. Varnish the crust with a little olive oil or butter.
  2. Cover the bottom with the the fresh Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over with half of the fresh basil.
  3. Lay the tomato slices and Mozzarella on top of the Parmesan and sprinkle on the rest of the fresh basil.
  4. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and olive oil.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.  If the cheese exudes a lot of liquid during baking, remove from the oven and drain the excess liquid in order to keep the crust from getting soggy.

Preparation Time:  1 hour + 4 hours setting

Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  Medium

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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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02Apr 12

Red Lentil and Potato Bake

Red Lentil and Potato BakeWith winter now in full swing, what better way to warm up after coming in from the cold than with a piping hot dish of red split lentils and potatoes, fresh out of the oven?! Although I also enjoy a hearty bowl of lentil soup, this Red Lentil and Potato Bake, seasoned with thyme and rosemary, is just the thing to warm your bones and satisfy your belly, all without putting too much of a dent in your pocketbook!

As with most recipes that use potatoes, you’ll notice that I suggest just washing them, not peeling.  This a trick I picked up from a Canadian friend who assures me that’s the only way to eat potatoes, and the truth is, I have to agree with her!  Not only do the potato skins add depth of flavour to the dish, they also contain lots of nutrients and help to keep the nutrients of the potatoes themselves from leaking out as they tend to do during cooking.

What you’re going to need:

  • 3 medium potatoes, washed, sliced or chopped
  • 500g dried split red lentils
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 litre of water

What you have to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and fry for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  4. Add the celery and continue frying and stirring for another minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper for 2 more minutes.
  6. Add the lentils and the water and bring to a boil.
  7. Cover the frying pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Place all the ingredients except for the potatoes in a 2 litre baking dish.
  9. Carefully lay the potatoes on top of the lentil mixture with their edges overlapping.
  10. Splash a little olive oil over the potatoes and sprinkle on a little thyme and salt.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven on the bottom shelf for 70 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4-6

Difficulty: Easy

 

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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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