Category Archives: Mediterranean Dishes

Celery and Butterbean Gratin.

The star of this dish is a versatile Mediterranean-style sauce …. using preserved lemons.

Gratin originated in French cuisine, and traditionally uses vegetables cooked in a cream sauce, and topped with crispy brown crust, which can be toasted under the grill.

A while ago I made a jar of preserved lemons, however, you can buy jars of preserved lemons in many supermarkets these days.

You could try a variety of vegetables using this sauce recipe, for example: potatoes with leeks, or asparagus and mushrooms.

I chose celery this time.  You know …. Celery …. often found limp and languishing at the back of the salad drawer in the fridge.  Forgotten, underused, and annoyingly stringy. 😦

So I thought I’d give celery a bit of a boost.  It does, after all, apparently have all sorts of super health benefits ( try googling it for more info.).

Having chosen celery, I then thought that big, fat, melty butterbeans would make an excellent contrast for the celery… and it is without doubt a good combination.  Definitely a keeper.

So, back to the sauce: this is my third try at a lemony gratin sauce, and now I think I’ve got it right, preserved lemons really are something to shout about!  This would make a fab. sauce for pasta too.  Preserved lemons have a beautifully soft lemon flavour, mellow and gentle …very different from using fresh lemons. Remember to remove the pulp and rinse the peel thoroughly.

Here’s my recipe to have a go at making preserved lemons yourself: (click image for link)

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CELERY AND BUTTERBEAN GRATIN

depending on how hungry you are and what you’re serving with this dish…

it will make 2-4 servings

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INGREDIENTS:   Continue reading Celery and Butterbean Gratin.

Spinach Roll – Italian Style!

This is  my variation on Calzone, a style of Italian Pie or Pasty, and it works because you get lots more filling and less pastry and it still holds together to make a great cold lunch to go.

I’ve concocted a spicy and rich, spinach and mushroom filling, with the addition of some tangy chopped green olives, but you can vary the ingredients…try kale instead of spinach or broad beans instead of sweetcorn.  Just make sure the mix isn’t too wet….it needs to hold together when in the oven.

Hope you like 🙂

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SPINACH ROLL

Makes 8-12 rolls.

Great for lunch to go, picnics or else straight from the oven….  

Cook’s note:   if you’re short of time, or just feeling lazy! …you can try using short-crust pastry instead of pizza dough for this recipe.  You’ll need 500gms. of ready-made pastry.

I’ve included these rolls in my ‘cooking for 1’ category, because I’m a great believer in cooking batches of things that will keep chilled for several days, and can be easily reheated!  Way to go 🙂

Pizza Dough

Ingredients:    Continue reading Spinach Roll – Italian Style!

Pasta in A Mushroom Sauce with Steamed Spiralised Courgette and Tender Stem Broccoli.

When my ‘to do’ list seems to grow every day (despite my best efforts to get it all done), instead of diminishing, I turn to pasta.

It’s so easy, so versatile … and well …so amenable.

And there’s such a fabulous variety of vegan, and sometimes gluten-free pasta easily available now….here’s the one I used today : gluten-free, green pea pasta, made in Italy.

What could be better?

There’s been a fuss in the UK media lately, because it’s been suggested that we increase our vegetable consumption from 5 portions a day, to 10.  For the sake of our health.  You’d think the sky had caved in the way some people have been talking.   Obviously, for vegans this doesn’t present a problem.  Because we couldn’t really manage without at least 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, could we?

So, back to the pasta.  I’ve really been loving how easy it is to make beautiful pasta sauces with vegetables.  I’ve done a few now.

Today, it’s the turn of mushrooms.

But before I go any further, I also want to mention that I’ve got myself a new gadget.  A spiraliser.   And despite my general suspicion of a lot of kitchen gadgets, I think I’m liking this one.

So here is a ‘5 portions of vegetables in one’ quick and easy recipe, that’s full of the joys of spring!

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Pea Pasta in a Mushroom Sauce on a bed of spiralised steamed Courgette served with steamed tender-stem Broccoli, fresh herbs and a handful of rocket.

For 2

Ingredients:   Continue reading Pasta in A Mushroom Sauce with Steamed Spiralised Courgette and Tender Stem Broccoli.

Middle-Eastern Mezze Buddha Bowl

I think I’m late to the Buddha Bowl Party!  In the unlikely event you didn’t know, a Buddha Bowl is simply a bowl full of really good, nutritious and delicious food, often with a sauce or dressing, all plant-based.  I think the nearest traditional idea is Mezze,  a style of serving food that is found wide-spread across the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

What’s great about all this…. Mezze … Buddha Bowl …  is that you can create a meal of components … some cooked, some raw, some hot, some cold … which complement each other …   and can be made in varying quantities …  and then stored … and eaten at your leisure … in different combinations  … and exactly to your liking.

How lovely is that?

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So, here we have marinaded and roasted root vegetables, steamed broccoli and broad beans, chickpea and cucumber salad, roasted vegetable and tahini sauce and toasted sunflower seeds.  Garnished with Sumac and Za’atar.

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The Mezze I’ve created below serves 4 … but it’s a really great way of cooking for 1 … just make a batch and store, chilled!

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MIDDLE-EASTERN BUDDHA BOWL

4 servings…one way or another !

INGREDIENTS AND PREPARATION:    Continue reading Middle-Eastern Mezze Buddha Bowl

Preserving Lemons and Limes. Moroccan Style.

There’s just a hint of spring in the air here in the UK, and my thoughts are already turning to fresh salads and light ‘spring-like’ food!

There are wonderful citrus fruit in the shops at the moment, and this recipe brings all the intensity of citrus flavours to the fore, while in the meantime gentling the sharpness that can sometimes be too overpowering.

Preserving lemons takes about a month, and then, stored in the refrigerator, they will last for months… which is great, because you don’t need much to bring a zing to any dish.

Typically preserved lemons are used in Moroccan dishes such as Tagine, and Couscous, but with just a little imagination I think there are many possibilities to introduce this gorgeous flavour : salads, pasta,  curries, marinades for tofu and tempeh, side dishes such as french beans, asparagus or carrots, as well as sauces, dressings and even desserts. As well as Mediterranean  dishes such as hummus or olive tapenade.

lemony lemonyness

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PRESERVED LEMONS

I litre jar : 8-10 lemons (and limes)

Cook’ notes: 

  • 1)The favoured choice of lemon for preserving is Meyer lemon, but other types of lemon work fine.  It’s important they’re unwaxed, as you will be eating the rind …. 
  • 2) I used Himalayan salt … which is the only salt I use in the kitchen these days.
  • The best jar to use is almost certainly a glass kilner jar with a good tight seal.  Don’t use metallic lids as they will react with the lemon juice.  

Ingredients:   Continue reading Preserving Lemons and Limes. Moroccan Style.

Pasta in an Avocado Sauce.

Pasta lends itself to simple ideas, and here’s one that’s so simple I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before 🙂

This superfoody dish takes minutes to prepare and, like all these sauces, is adaptable according to taste.

Try leaving out the spring onions and adding a chopped sweet green pepper.  Add herbs such as basil and parsley to the mix. Add more chillies for a real chilli hit….

pasta with an avocado sauce

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Avo Sauce for Pasta

For 2

Ingredients:    Continue reading Pasta in an Avocado Sauce.

Pasta in a cream pea sauce.

This is one of the quickest and simplest recipes anyone could wish for.

I often think that any meal, vegan or otherwise, is all about the sauce.

So here’s a recipe for a vegan pasta sauce that is very versatile and supremely adaptable.

I’ve used frozen peas, but try steamed broccoli, or sautéed mushrooms, carrots cooked in vegan butter or blanched spinach.  Just replace the peas with about 200 gms. of another vegetable, cooked appropriately, and blended with the cream.

Flavourings may vary too: basil… paprika…nutmeg …to name but a few.

You could also use something else instead of the mushrooms…e.g. steamed asparagus, baby broad beans or just a handful of pitted olives.

It really is that easy… use what you have to hand. Italian style.

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Today I’ve used some fancy, gluten-free and very delicious, red lentil pasta that I happened upon, but any pasta will do, particularly penne or fusilli …..

I’m also in love with ‘Oatly’ at the moment : cream, crême frâiche and of course, milk.

All available in some UK supermarkets now.  Which is fab.

For this recipe I use the oat cream, but unsweetened soy cream will do just as well.

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PASTA IN A CREAM PEA SAUCE

with sautéed mushrooms

Serves 2

Ingredients:    Continue reading Pasta in a cream pea sauce.

Andalusian Bean Stew

OK … I know … another bean stew … but there are just so many possibilities 🙂

This one is distinctly rustic in character … lots of rough chopping … and strong flavours.

Traditionally  it includes chorizo …which I don’t do … so instead I’ve added tempeh, marinaded in tomato puree and tamari, and lightly sautéed in olive oil.  It’s a hearty warming stew, and you can practically throw it together.  So not much faff!

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ANDALUSIAN BEAN STEW

Serves 4

Ingredients: Continue reading Andalusian Bean Stew

Gratin Dauphinoise – Potato and Patty Pan

Like many french dishes, Gratin Dauphinoise is simple, just a few perfectly matched ingredients.

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I grew some beautiful patty pan (summer squash) this year, which, like courgettes, arrive thick and fast…. and they just keep on coming🙃 .  Mine are white, and creamy and mellow in flavour.  There are however, all sorts of varieties of summer squash available in  good vegetable stores.

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I thought they’d be a delicious addition to a Potato Dauphinoise, vegan style.

And they are.  I’ve made this dish 3 times already  💕💕💕

I use oat cream here (infused with onion, garlic and herbs), which is of course much lighter than its cholesterol-laden dairy counterpart, but as far as I’m concerned, this dish is all the better for that.  The summer squash add a different and lovely creaminess to the dish.

It’s easy to prepare, needs to be cooked long and slow, (while keeping just an occasional eye on it), and it doesn’t re-heat particularly well. So you just have to eat it all at once …damn it 😉

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Hope you enjoy 💚

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POTATO AND PATTY PAN GRATIN DAUPHINOISE

for 4

Ingredients: Continue reading Gratin Dauphinoise – Potato and Patty Pan

Dolmades

Dolmades are the Greek version of stuffed vine leaves, a dish which is found widespread across the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  Inevitably there are many variations  and a variety of ingredients and flavourings.  This vegan recipe is fairly classic, using a stuffing of rice and black olives with Mediterranean herbs.

I have a grape vine growing over an arch at the bottom of my small garden.  The last couple of years it has grown madly, and regardless of how hard I cut it back, it always regrows with amazing vigour.  Even here in the UK, it produces bunches of very small but sweet and juicy grapes, which is a bonus, as I grow the vine mainly to create a canopy of dappled shade in the summer.

So, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while; making Dolmades from scratch, using freshly picked vine leaves.  However, you can find packs of vine leaves that have been preserved in brine, in certain stores, such as delicatessens.

There’s a bit of faff involved, but I think it’s worth it, particularly with the right flavourings.

The thing that surprised me….probably because I’d never really thought about it, is that Dolmades are made with uncooked rice, and the rice cooks once the Dolmades have been made, rather than stuffing the Dolmades with rice that has been pre-cooked…. so the rice really absorbs the flavours as it cooks….

and in this recipe, mint and lemon juice play leading roles.

btw.

Dolmades are just incredibly moreish…they really are  🙂

…and they transport me straight to a little taverna on a quiet beach in Greece…heavenly…

Hope you enjoy!

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DOLMADES

makes 22-24 individual Dolma

Ingredients: Continue reading Dolmades