Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin

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Stop. Start. But, start with a tradition: a lentil dish on the menu for the first post of the year. Of course it had to be a Yotam Ottolengi’s .  Quick, easy and totally delicious, this is a hearty dish that will warm you to the soul in a cold winter day.

Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 200g puy lentils
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 medium tomatoes,  cut into 1cm dice
  • 25g coriander leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ½ small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the packet,until completely cooked. Then drain and set aside.

Put the butter and oil in a large frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes,

Add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up and you get a thick, porridge consistency. Serve warm with the hard-boiled eggs alongside.

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Pearl barley tabouleh with marinated feta

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A bit more nutritious and wholesome than regular tabouleh, but a very interesting spin on this dish. The kind of stuff that makes you look forward for your lunch box…

Pearl barley tabouleh with marinated feta (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients 

  • 40g pearl barley
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 80g parsley, leaves and stems
  • 4 spring onions (about 40g in total), finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 40g cashew nuts, lightly toasted and crushed roughly
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into 1cm dice
  • ½ teasponn ground allspice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 60ml olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

Put the pearl barley in a small saucepan, cover with water and boil for 30-35 minutes, until tender but still with a bite. Drain into a fine sieve, shake to remove all the water and transfer to a large bowl.

Break the feta into rough pieces about 2cm in size, and mix in a small bowl with the olive oil, za’atar, coriander seeds and cumin. Gently mix together and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Chop the parsley finely and place in a bowl with the spring onion, garlic, cashew nuts, green pepper, allspice, lemon juice, olive oil and cooked pearl barley. Mix well together and season to taste.


Chickpeas and feta cheese patties

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Super healthy, gluten-free and  protein packed. Also very tasty… The perfect thing  to have on stand by for a weekday meal or a snack.

Chickpeas and feta cheese patties (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog)

 Ingredients

  • 100g feta cheese
  • ½ grated onion (optional)
  • 1 small courgette grated
  • 2 small carrots peeled and grated
  • ½ teaspoon cumins, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon (or lume) zest
  • 2 400g chickpeas tin, drained and washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To serve

  • leafy salad
  • plain yoghurt

Method

Put the cheese, cumin, lemon zest, chickpeas, and the grated onion, carrots and courgette in a mixer. Mix until you have a coarse consistent puree, still with some chunks.

Make small patties with your hands.  Put in the fridge and let them cool until cooking time.

To fry, heat the olive oil until pipping hot and drop in a couple of  patties. Be careful not to add too many, otherwise they will boil. Sauté about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brow.

Serve with a leafy salad and plain yoghurt.


Barley, beetroot and feta salad

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It is the return of #beetrootgate…. It has been a while – maybe a bit too much. The recipe is from Mafalda Pinto Leite, who as of late has been working on a healthy recipes withe healthy ingredients and healthy cooking methods.  Sometimes, like this barley salad, with delicious results. A very good salad for the Summer, refreshing and comforting at the same time.

Barley, beetroot and feta salad (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog Dias com Mafalda)

Ingredients 

1 cup of barley
1/3 cups of toasted sun flower seeds
1 small beetroot
1 grated carrot
50g of grated feta cheese

Dressing
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of lemon
1/3 cup of lemon
¼ cup of  torn basil leaves

Method

Cook the barley according to the instructions on the packet, until it is tender. Cool down with cold water and drain. Reserve.

For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Alternatively, just put them all in closed bottle and shake.

To serve, put the barley in a salad bowl and mix with all the vegetables and cheese. Add the dressing, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

 


Brown lentils and rice with cinnamon and cumin

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Just to keep up with recently acquired superstitions, the first post of the year is a lentil dish. It may sound a bit too healthy, too sensible and maybe even bland, but it is far from it. The few spices it has, make it fragrant, flavourful and delicious… For bonus points, it has something bright red on it, for an extra bit of good luck.

Lebanese rice and lentils (adapted from Bill Granger‘s Easy)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 200g lentils
  • 100g of long grain rice
  • 800 mL vegetable stock
  • 2 tomatoes quartered
  • plain yoghurt mixed with ground cinnamon and cumin
  • vegetable sto
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan until it is pipping hot. Drop in the sliced onions and add salt and pepper. Cook for about 10min, until soft and golden. Add the garlic, the cinnamon and cumin. Cook for another 2min until fragrant.

Add the lentils and the rice. Mix until they are covered with the spices and the onion. Poor in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Let it simmer for about 30min until the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.

Serve with the quartered tomatoes and a dollop of yoghurt.


Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt, take 2

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It was one of the first posts of this blog,  long long time ago. Since then, an awful lot has happened: people have walked in and out of my life, some doors have shut and others have opened and Summer might have taken its time to arrive, but it alway did…  Yet, for whatever reason, I keep coming back to it, specially in the first days of Winter. Confort food doesn’t get much better than this… Seriously, it is quite easy to do. It requires minimum attention and preparation – just the odd bit of mixing suff here and there. Most of the ingredients are spices and the most sophisticated ones are actually optional.

Spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

For the lentils

  • 200g split red lentils
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 40g ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 mild green chilli
  • half teaspoon of black mustard seeds
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • half teaspoon ground turmeric
  • half teaspoon paprika
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 300g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • half teaspoon fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (optional)
  • Salt

For the cucumber yogurt

  • 150g Greek yogurt (I used regular lactose free yogurt)
  • 75g finely diced cucumber
  • half tablespoon of olive oil
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • lime juice

 Method

Wash the lentils in plenty of water, drain and soak in 350ml of fresh water for 30 minutes. Cut the coriander bunch somewhere around its centre to get a leafy top half and a stem/root bottom half. Roughly chop the leaves. Put the stem half in the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli – all roughly broken – and pulse a few times to chop up without turning into a paste.

Put the mustard seeds in a heavy-based pot and place over medium heat. When they begin to pop, add the onion mix and sunflower oil, stir and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the spices and curry leaves, and continue cooking and stirring for five minutes longer. Now add the lentils and their soaking water, the tomatoes, sugar, fenugreek, asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked.

Before serving, whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, oil and some salt. Stir into the lentils the butter, lime juice and chopped coriander leaves, taste and season generously with salt. Divide into bowls, spoon yogurt on top and garnish with coriander.


Beef and apple tajine

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After last Easter’s lamb tajine cook off, it seemed right to give it a try to a different kind of meat,  now that Winter is on its way. For the same price, Si and Dave, on their Hairy Bikers version,  also got an opportunity redeem themselves from the least favourite tajine of the cook off.  It is slow food at it very slowest food. But, the result is a pure comfort food, packed with different flavours and textures, with sweet and spice notes.  Perfect for a cold Winter day… A word of warning, though:  it is a very heavy and filling dish. Most likely, it is also a caloric bomb…

Beef and apple tajine  (adapted from a recipe by Hairy Bikers found in BBC Goodfood)

Ingredients

  • 750g of  braising steak
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium sweet potato (around 400g)
  • 2 large apples
  • 25g bunch fresh coriander
  • 75g no-soak dried prunes, halved
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the garnish
  • 1 large red-skinned  apple
  • 15g butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

Method

If not using a tajine, preheat the oven to 180oC.

Trim the beef of any hard fat and cut into roughly 3cm chunks. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the tagine (or in a large non-stick frying pan, you are not using the tajine). Fry the beef in three batches over a high heat until lightly browned on all sides, adding a little more oil to the pan when needed.  Reserve or transfer each batch to a large flameproof casserole once browned.

Reduce the heat and add two tablespoons more oil to the tajine (or the frying pan). Fry the onions for five minutes, or until softened and lightly coloured, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and sprinkle with the cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Put the brown meat back to the tajine (or tip the onions and spices into the casserole with the beef). Add about 50ml of cold water to the tagine and mix well to lift the sediment from the bottom. In case you are not using the tajine, add 150mL of water to the frying pan and stir until the sediment is gone. Pour the water into the casserole.

Add about 150mL of water, the tomatoes and chickpeas to the casserole and stir in the honey. Crumble the stock cube over the top, add the cinnamon stick and stir well. Bring to a simmer on the hob, stirring a couple of times. Cover with the tajine and let cook for about 1½ hours. In case you are not using a tajine, you will have to use a bit more water (about 350mL), let it boil. Then cover the dish with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.

Ten minutes before the time is up, peel the sweet potato and cut into roughly 2.5cm chunks. Peel the apples, cut into quarters and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 2cm chunks. Trim the coriander and roughly chop half of the leaves.

If you are not using the tajine, carefully take the casserole out of the oven and remove the lid. Stir in the sweet potato, apples, prunes and chopped coriander. Cover once more and return to the oven. If you are using a tajine, just add the remaining ingredients and give it a good stir. In both cases,  cook for a further 45-60 minutes, or until the beef is very tender.

To make the garnish, cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each apple quarter lengthways into five. Season with ground black pepper. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the apple slices over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Remove from the heat, drizzle with the honey and toss lightly.

Scatter the fried apples over the tajine in the casserole, scatter with roughly chopped coriander and serve.