Category Archives: A love of food

Baked pesto and tomato pasta

We ate this recipe for the first time on a chilly Spring day when a salad just wouldn’t cut it. This is a recipe by Anna Jones who describes it as a vegan version of Macaroni Cheese, which she calls ‘Mac and Greens’; but I don’t think that does it justice. It is a pasta bake with multi-layered flavours – tomato, basil, broccoli, plus the silky texture of butternut squash – that just happens not to be made with cheese sauce.

Serves 6 not so hungry people, or 4 hungry ones
1 large bunch of fresh basil
50g rolled oats
a head of broccoli
olive oil
300g cherry tomatoes
150g toasted blanched almonds
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
300g pasta of your choice [we used gluten-free which worked well]
one 400g piece of squash, deseeded and cut into thin slices [we used a butternut]

Preheat the oven to 200°C / fan 180°C / gas 6. Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil.

Put half the basil, oats, broccoli, a good glug of olive oil and the seasoning into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. It will be a bit damp, but that’s okay. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Rinse the food processor and add the tomatoes, almonds, remaining basil and 2 tbsp olive oil. Whizz to a nearly smooth paste, season and whizz again. Set aside. When the water is boiling, add your chosen pasta and sliced squash. Cook together for half the time this type of pasta usually takes, it should be fairly undercooked. Drain and reserve a mug of the pasta water.

Return the pasta to the saucepan, add the tomato mixture and stir. Add a little of the reserved pasta water at a time, stirring, until the sauce becomes the consistency of double cream. It needs to be a bit runny as the pasta will soak up the sauce during baking.

Transfer this mixture to a large baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle the green crumbs across the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is crunchy and golden. 

Remove from the oven and wait 10 minutes before serving.

What would I do differently next time:-
add a tablespoon of tomato puree to the tomato mixture
add one crushed garlic clove to the basil mixture

5 to remember
la textura sedosa – the silky texture
cuando el agua está hirviendo – when the water is boiling
la consistencia de – the consistency of
tiene que ser un poco chorreante – it needs to be a bit runny
machado – crushed

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Lentil and thyme casserole
A creamy coconut stew
A sweet creamy frittata

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Baked pesto and tomato pasta #Spain#Recipe by Anna Jones@we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2lh via @Spanish_Valley

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Tomato and coconut cassoulet

This is an easy-to-make cassoulet which can be prepared the night before and then thrown in the oven for a quick lunch. The creamy combination of coconut milk and tomato works, with a gentle background flavour of ginger and mild chilli. If you like your chillies hotter, then choose a smaller red variety. Mine was rather large! The one thing I wasn’t sure about was the addition of bread, I added one slice and wished I hadn’t as it soaked up sauce and was soggy. Next time, I will omit the bread.

Serves 4-6
Olive oil
1 leek, washed, trimmed and roughly sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
a 1cm thick piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
one 400g tin chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp coconut milk
one 400g tin haricot beans [I used butter beans]
500g vine or cherry tomatoes
a bunch of fresh basil
4 slices of sourdough bread

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Heat an ovenproof casserole on a medium heat on the hob, add a slosh of olive oil. Add the leeks, garlic, chilli and ginger, and a pinch of pepper. Turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes on low until the leeks are soft and sweet.

 

Next add the tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and beans. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat. Check the seasoning.

Scatter over the fresh tomatoes and basil, then tear the bread into chunks and tuck it into the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunk and sweetened.

 

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

 

 

5 to remember
un suave sabor de fondo – a gentle background flavour
una cazuela por horno – an ovenproof casserole
rasgar – to tear
los pedazos – the chunks
reducido/a – shrunken

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Very cheesy pie
Cheesy coleslaw: what’s not to like?
A creamy coconut stew

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Tomato and coconut cassoulet #Spain #Recipe by Anna Jones @we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2g3 via @Spanish_Valley

Crunchy tahini green salad

If you have a selection of green vegetables and a jar of tahini in the fridge, then make this salad. It is greater than the sum of its parts. It works in winter, slightly warm, or in summer, chilled. And it’s a great way of packing in your servings of healthy green vegetables. This time I included a few sorrel leaves from the garden. It can be a served as a side to a main dish. Or, if like us, you want to eat vegetarian, simply add a pack of lentil seeds. We like to include three types of vegetables, crinkly ones such as cavolo nero and broccoli work well as they hold the dressing well.

Serves 4
For the greens:-
4 tbsp seeds, such as pumpkin or sunflower
4 tbsp nuts, such as pistachios
1 tbsp maple syrup [optional]
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g mixed seasonal green vegetables [see below for suggested combinations]
For the dressing:-
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsps maple syrup
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Suggested vegetable combinations:-
Winter – purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero
Spring – purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, sugar snaps
Summer – green beans, broccoli, peas
Autumn – shredded Brussels sprouts, winter greens

First, prepare the seeds. We prefer to toast them lightly in a dry frying pan, this gives the taste but saves on sugar. If you prefer the maple syrup seeds, first preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put the seeds and nuts on a baking tray, pour over the maple syrup and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss so everything is coated in syrup, then roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the ingredients with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Next, prepare the greens for blanching in hot water. As a general rule, purple sprouting broccoli [40 seconds], kale [30 seconds], asparagus [60 seconds], green beans [40 seconds], broccoli [40 seconds], shredded sprouts [30 seconds], winter greens [30 seconds]. The aim is for the vegetables to be al dente. Blanch each vegetable in turn by plunging into boiling water. 

Once the greens are blanched, drain and place in a serving dish. Pour over the dressing lentil seeds and toss so everything is coated. Top with the roasted seeds and nuts, and, if using, the lentil seeds. 5 to remember
una selección de – a selection of
un tarro de tahini – a jar of tahini
una pizca de – a pinch of
al dente – al dente
blanqueado – blanched

This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
Asparagus and lemon risotto
Sweet carrot salad
Roasted cauliflower salad

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Crunchy tahini green salad #Spain#Recipe by Anna Jones@we_are_food https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2kF via @Spanish_Valley

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Light and fresh tabbouleh

This is a simple recipe for a very hot day when you’re not sure if you’re hungry but know you should eat something. Made with quinoa [which is gluten-free] this easy salad is a version of tabbouleh, traditionally made with bulgur wheat. If you like rice salads or couscous salads, try this. It is light and fresh and, depending on what you add, can be a cooling bland side dish to eat with a vibrant-flavoured barbecue, or a meal-in-a-bowl to eat with a spoon. I found the quinoa incredibly easy to cook, though I am still uncertain about the pronunciation. Is it ‘quin-oh-a’, or ‘keen-wa’? It is meant to be served cold but if you add the oil and tahini when the quinoa is still warm, it soaks up the flavours intensely.

Serves 4
390g quinoa
200g fresh coriander [I used parsley as I hate coriander, and I used a huge handful which made the flavour incredibly fresh]
8 large vine tomatoes
100g pine nuts [or substitute whatever nuts you have, if they are large then chop after toasting]
2 tbsp tahini
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper

First, the quinoa. Put it in a sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Place into a saucepan with 900ml boiling water. Bring to the boil for two minutes, then cover and turn down to a simmer for a further 10-15 minutes. Check after ten minutes. It is cooked when the water has evaporated and the quinoa is fluffy, not mushy. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, finely chop the herbs. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces, about the size used in a salsa. Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan.

Put the quinoa into a serving bowl and add the herbs, tomato, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and pine nuts. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste.

This keeps well in a sealed box in the fridge, and is excellent in picnics and packed lunches.

Options to try:-
Double the amount of lemon juice
Double the amount of tahini
Replace the coriander with other fresh herbs, either a single herb or a mixture
Add a tin of drained, rinsed chickpeas
Add chopped cucumber
Add chopped melon, preferably piel de sapo
Add a jar of drained tuna

If you like this,try:-
Sweet Carrot Salad
Trempó: a salad from Mallorca
A salad involving melons

5 to remember
la quinua – the quinoa
dependiendo de– depending on
enfriamiento – cooling
templado – bland
la pronunciación– the pronunciation

 

This recipe is from ‘Deliciously Ella’ by Ella Mills [UK: Yellow Kite]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Light and fresh tabbouleh #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2o7 via  @Spanish_Valley

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Mint, lime & lentil salad

This is one of those salads which is more than the sum of its parts. Trust me and try it. Season with a heavy hand and if, like us, you like a refreshing citrus flavour in your salads, feel free to increase the amount of lime or lemon juice you use. It looks very pretty with the courgette strips which only take a couple of moments to do. A large bowl of this salad is filling but when we are especially hungry we serve it with a side of roasted sweet potatoes. This is a recipe by Ella Mills who suggests adding various optional extras including roasted cashews, pomegranate seeds, bean sprouts or thinly sliced mushrooms.

Serves 4
100g green lentils
3 medium courgettes
2 handfuls fresh mint
2 avocados
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of 4 limes or 2 lemons
large handful sunflower seeds, toasted
cashew nuts, toasted [optional]
For the roasted sweet potatoes:-
4 sweet potatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary If you are eating this with roasted sweet potatoes, prepare these first. Preheat the oven to 200°C /fan 180°C. Peel the potatoes and cut into slivers and wedges, put onto a baking tray. Drizzle over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Chop the rosemary roughly and add to the potatoes, then toss so each potato is covered with oil. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking them and turning. Remove when they are tender when tested with a sharp knife.

To prepare the salad, first place the lentils in a saucepan with boiling water. Allow to boil for 10 minutes then turn down the heat and simmer for another 20-30 minutes until they are soft, not mushy. Drain, allow the lentils to cool.

Peel the courgettes into strips using a potato peeler. Pull the mint leaves off the stems and chop roughly. Slice the avocado into bite-sized chunks. When you are ready to serve, place the lentils, courgette, avocado and mint into a serving bowl. Add the seeds and nuts if using, and toss gently taking care not to break up the avocado. Drizzle over the oil and lime juice, and serve with the roasted sweet potatoes. If you like this,try:-
Potato, Tarragon and Cabbage Pie 
Brazil nut pesto pasta
Sticky tomato & onion bake

5 to remember
créeme – trust me
se ve muy bonito – it looks very pretty
extras opcionales – optional extras
asado – roasted
trozos del tamaño de un bocado – bite-sized chunks

 

‘Deliciously Ella’ by Ella Mills [UK: Yellow Kite]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Mint, lime & lentil salad #Recipe by @DeliciouslyElla #Spain https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2kX via @Spanish_Valley

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A courgette and halloumi feast

This is a vegetarian meal worthy of guests, a feast, a celebration. It explodes with flavours and textures. Nothing is shy. Mint. Garlic. Basil. Beetroot. Lemon. If I was served this in a vegetarian restaurant, I would be delighted. There are four separate elements to the meal, which alone means it is probably best served as a celebration dinner rather than a mid-week meal. My favourite element? I’m hard-pressed to choose between the courgette and halloumi mixture, and the hazelnut pesto. Sadly I can’t tell you the cook responsible for the recipe, other than that it was featured in The Times Magazine. I plucked it from a pile of torn-out recipes because I fancied making something with halloumi.

Serves 8
For the courgettes and halloumi:-
5 tbsp olive oil
juice and zest of 4 lemons
3 garlic cloves, peeled
8 courgettes, cut into 5mm slices
1.2kg halloumi, cut into 5mm slices
a bunch of mint, leaves roughly chopped at the last minute
freshly ground black pepper
For the beetroot:-
16 small raw beetroots, unpeeled, washed and leaves trimmed to 3cm [1.6kg total weight]
olive oil, for brushing
freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
For the hazelnut pesto:-
200 whole hazelnuts
100g basil leaves
100g parmesan, roughly grated
zest and juice of 2 lemons
400ml extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
For the chickpeas:-
4 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp olive oil, for roasting
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp garlic powder [optional, I did not use]
2 tbsp soft brown sugar [optional, I did not use]

Preheat the oven to 200°C / Gas 6. First, put the whole beetroots into a large roasting tin. Brush or roll them in olive oil so they are well covered. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until they are soft and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Once they are cooled, remove the skins using a sharp knife and fork. It is better not to touch them as beetroot juice can stain anything it touches. Cut away the root and stalks, then chop the beets into 5cm chunks. Set aside until ready to serve. This can be prepared the day before.

Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C / gas 5.

If you prefer to eat your nuts with skins, omit this next stage. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the skins have darkened and the nuts are golden underneath. Rub the nuts between clean tea towels to loosen the skins.

To assemble the pesto, put the nuts and other pesto ingredients into a food processor. Blitz to your preferred texture, I like some crunchiness. Put into a storage box and set aside until serving. This can be prepared the day before.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then dry between two layers of kitchen towel. Put them into a bowl and toss with olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients and stir so everything is coated. Tip the chickpeas onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until just starting to turn golden and crispy. Sprinkle with extra chopped rosemary, and set aside. This can be prepared the day before.

Prepare the flavoured oil for griddling the courgettes and halloumi. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat, add the lemon zest and garlic. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat and set aside so the flavours infuse into the oil.

When you are ready to griddle, remove the garlic and zest from the oil, add the lemon juice.

Preheat a griddle pan until really hot. Now griddle the slices of courgette and halloumi, brushing each first with the lemony oil. Do not put the oil into the griddle pan. Resist the temptation to move things around in the pan, otherwise the pieces will not gain the distinctive brown stripes. Each piece will need cooking for only about 2-3 minutes, until charred and tender. Sprinkle with fresh mint.

Serve the courgette and halloumi salad with the chickpeas, roasted beetroot and hazelnut pesto. What would I do differently next time:-
Griddle the courgettes and halloumi using plain olive oil, to save time
Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the griddled courgettes
Serve with a large amount of fresh mint leaves
Don’t worry about the size of the beetroots you use, large ones work just as well

Note: I have omitted sea salt from the ingredient lists as I find halloumi contributes enough salt to the overall combination of flavours.

5 to remember
una celebración– a celebration
explota – it explodes
carbonizado y tierno – charred and tender
para ganar tiempo – to save time
la combinación general de sabores – the overall combination of flavours

If you feel hungry, try these recipes:-
A fresh cherry cake
Harissa salmon salad
Sweet potatoes + coconut + ginger

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A courgette & halloumi feast #Spain #recipe https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2lw via @Spanish_Valley

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Easy gluten-free bread

This is my favourite gluten-free bread, much nicer than any shop-bought bread and with endless variations. I change the combination of seeds used, but always add pumpkin seeds as I enjoy the crunch. You can also add flavour by adding chopped fresh rosemary, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or Marmite. I can’t speak for the success of the latter as I detest the stuff. The flour used is gram or chickpea, harina de garbanzo, which the Spanish use for deep frying and is easily available.

A word on organisation. The bread freezes well. As I am the only person in our household eating it, I cut it into slices before freezing so it is easy to take out one slice and pop it in the toaster. It needs toasting longer than conventional bread in order to go brown. If you add flavourings, be sure to label your freezer bag: orange marmalade on rosemary bread might be a bit of a shock.

For a different, more intense flavour, make the mix the night before, cover and place in the fridge then bake the next day. This is exceptionally easy to make, no kneading, and takes strong flavours well.

Makes 1 loaf
1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g gram flour
100g ground almonds
50g linseeds, or milled linseeds
100g mixed seeds eg. Chia, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame
4 large eggs
Optional:-
3 tsp Marmite
4-5 sun-dried tomatoes
spring of fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 190degC/375degF/Gas 5. Line a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Fill a jug with 375ml lukewarm water, add the dried yeast and oil. Mix with a fork until combined and leave aside for five minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, almonds, all the seeds and a pinch of sea salt, and make a well in the middle. If adding additional flavours, chop your rosemary or sun-dried tomatoes now. Add to the flour mixture.

Crack the eggs in a small bowl and whisk. If you are using your own eggs, it’s best to break them separately into a bowl one at a time to check for freshness. If using Marmite, add it to the eggs and mix. Now pour the eggs into the yeast mixture and whisk.

Stir the liquid into the flour, gradually stirring in the flour from the outside of the bowl until it is all combined. You will have a batter-like mixture, not a dough. If you want to bake the bread later, set it aside now. Otherwise, pour into the prepared tin, give the tin a sharp tap on the worktop to eliminate bubbles. Place in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes or until risen, golden and cooked through.  Test with a skewer which should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

If you like this, try:-
Sweet and sticky tomato and onion bake
Blue cheese coleslaw
Portobello Mushrooms with double cheese topping 

5 to remember
la levadura– the yeast
la harina de garbanzo– the gram/chickpea flour
mucho mejor que – much nicer than
para eliminar – to eliminate
la masa– the dough

 

This recipe is from ‘Everyday Superfood’ by Jamie Oliver [Michael Joseph]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Easy gluten-free bread #Spain #Recipe by @JamieOliver https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2lT via @Spanish_Valley

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