French Green Beans and Baby Tomatoes with Tapenade (4)

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French green beans or haricots verts as they are known in France are a thinner version of the traditional green beans found in the US and UK and I much prefer them. In France haricots verts and tomatoes are often combined, whether it be in a salad or a hot dish such as this. I have added tapenade – a traditional Mediterranean appetizer often served on toasted bread in a similar way to bruschetta or used as a dip for crudites – and stirred it in with the vegetables. Tapenade at its most basic combines black olives, capers and olive oil. My version also includes anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. If you don’t want to make it yourself you may be able to find it in your local supermarket. Goes well with lamb or firm white fish.

8 oz thin green beans – topped, tailed and cut in half

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 oz cherry tomatoes – cut in half

1 tbsp. tapenade (or more if you want)

Boil the green beans for just a few minutes until ‘al dente’, then drain.

At the same time put 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft and browned on both sides.

Add the beans and 1 tbsp. of tapenade to the pan with the tomatoes and the juices and toss well together.

TAPENADE (makes approx. 1 cup – which is more than you need for this recipe)

1 x cup pitted black olives

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped tbsp. curly parsley

1 tbsp. capers – drained

1 large clove garlic – cut into small pieces

4 anchovies

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend to your desired consistency.

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Red Peppers Stuffed with a Tomato Mixture and Topped with Griddled Halloumi Cheese (4)

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Rather a mouthful of a title but an apt description of the recipe. The red peppers are roasted in the oven and during that time the tomato mixture is cooked on the top of the stove in a skillet and the halloumi cheese is prepared, if possible, on a ridged frying pan which gives the cheese a nice striped look. When all three components are ready it is time to assemble the dish. Spoon the tomato sauce into the red pepper half and top with the griddled halloumi cheese (I can tolerate sheep’s halloumi cheese, if you can’t then omit). Can be a side dish or a vegetarian main.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 red peppers – halved lengthways, de-seeded and de-membraned, brushed inside and out with olive oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound of ripe tomatoes – skinned

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 tbsp. fresh basil – finely chopped

1 tbsp. fresh oregano – finely chopped

4 slices of Halloumi cheese

Place the red peppers in the oven on a baking tray for 3/4 hour until tender .

While peppers are cooking, boil kettle of water and pour over the tomatoes. Leave for a minute and slit skin with a knife (it should curl up and then you know it is ready to peel).

When peeled, dice the tomatoes.

Ten minutes before the peppers are done place seasoned oil in a skillet and when nicely hot add the garlic and cook just until you can smell the garlic.

Add tomatoes and herbs and let simmer until peppers come out of the oven.

At the same time place the slices of halloumi cheese on a hot griddled pan and cook for a short time on each side until you have nice brown griddle marks.

Divide tomato mixture up between the four pepper halves and top with a slice of halloumi.

Serve immediately.

Edamame Beans with Roasted Tomatoes, Olives and Anchovies (4)

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Restaurants have been serving edamame beans still in their pod as an appetizer. This recipe combines them with a variety of flavors and they can be served hot or cold as a side dish or salad. Edamame beans are healthy and a good source of protein. If you aren’t familiar with them they are actually young soybeans and you will most likely find them in the freezer section of your supermarket – buy the shelled variety if possible as they are less tough.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 dry pint of cherry tomatoes

12 oz. shelled edamame beans

2 large cloves of garlic – finely grated

2 tbsp. chives – finely chopped

12  pitted black olives – cut into quarters

4 anchovies – finely chopped

Place tomatoes in a roasting tin and toss in 1 tbsp. of seasoned olive oil (reserve the other 1/2 tbsp. for later) then place in the oven for 45 minutes giving them a good shake every 15 minutes by which time the skins should be bursting. Remove from oven and squash gently with a potato masher so that juices are released.

Pour boiling water over the edamame beans, bring to boil and simmer to 3 minutes or so until cooked, then drain.

Heat 1/2 tbsp of seasoned oil in a skillet and when sizzling add the garlic and cook for a minute or two before adding the chives, olives and anchovies. Saute for a few more minutes until mixture is cooked through.

Into a serving dish, place the tomatoes and their juices, the edamame beans and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well together and serve.

 

 

A Greek Way with Lamb Chops (4)

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Imagine gathering the flavors that to me conjure up Greek food – lamb, black olives, tomatoes, potatoes, lemon, oregano, feta cheese – and tossing them all together then cooking them in the oven in a large baking dish until the meat is tender and juicy, the potatoes a little crisp, the tomatoes bursting with juice. Dinner party worthy.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

4 x loin lamb chops

1 large onion – sliced

2 large cloves garlic – roughly chopped

8 oz. baby tomatoes – halved

2 oz. black olives – pitted and cut in half

12 oz. new potatoes – cut into 1 inch chunks

1 tbsp. each of fresh oregano, thyme, parsley – finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon

3 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 oz. feta cheese – cut into small cubes (optional – I can eat this as it is made from sheep’s milk. I can’t tolerate cow’s milk)

Place the lamb chops in a large baking tray.

Put the tomatoes, olives, potatoes and herbs in a large bowl.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the vegetables. Stir well, cover and leave to marinate for half and hour.

Place vegetables around the lamb chops and cook for an hour – check every so often and give veg.  astir.

Add feta cheese (optional) and serve.

Spinach Roulade with a Tomato, Red Pepper Filling (4)

 

IMG_0073A roulade, savory or sweet, always seems impressive – actually it is very easy to make (but don’t tell your guests that!). The secret to the easy rolling of up a roulade is lining the baking tray with parchment paper brushed with oil. The filling is a mixture of  roasted baby tomatoes, red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. As the filling takes more time to prepare, start off making the tomato mixture. This dish is equally good hot or cold.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 baking tray with edges about 12 inches by 9 inches lined with oiled parchment paper

10 oz. baby spinach – cooked and chopped

4 large eggs – separated

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the spinach in a small amount of water, drain, wrap in a clean T-towel and wring till spinach is dry. Then chop finely.

Take the 4 egg yolks, whisk and mix with the spinach in a large bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold into the spinach mixture, taking a large spoonful at a time (there should be enough of the egg whites to make about four spoonfuls).

Spread mixture in a rectangle on the oiled parchment paper. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes check if roulade is firm to the touch, if not return to the oven but keep a close eye on it.

TOMATO AND RED PEPPER SAUCE

1 tbsp. olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion – finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic – chopped

1 dry pint baby tomatoes

4 oz. roasted red peppers from a jar – chopped

4 pieces of sun dried tomato

Place oil in an oven-proof dish, add onion, garlic and baby tomatoes. Toss well together. Cook in oven for 45 minutes.

Put tomato mixture, red peppers and sun-dried tomato pieces in a food processor and process until nice and smooth.

Spread mixture on the spinach base taking care not to go too near each end (otherwise sauce will leak out). Roll up carefully and serve immediately.

 

 

Chickpea, Spinach and Harissa Stew (4)

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Harissa paste is a staple of Tunisian cooking and and adds a zing to soups and stews.  This is a vegetarian/vegan dish but can also be served alongside roast chicken or other meats.

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium sized onion – finely chopped

1 large garlic clove – grated

1 tbsp. harissa paste

1 and 1/2 cups passata

1 cup chicken/vegetable broth (add more broth at the end of cooking if you want a thinner sauce)

4 oz. baby/grape tomatoes

1 x 15 oz can of chickpeas

5 oz baby spinach

Heat seasoned olive oil in a skillet and when sizzling add onion and let soften and brown, then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add harissa paste, passata, broth, tomatoes, chickpeas and spinach. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for some 20 minutes until tomatoes are bursting their skins. Season with salat and freshly ground black pepper if required