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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Aubergine, potato, tomato

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Some dishes I chose because they read well and/or have a good combination of flavours. Others, because the story they have attached to it. This is one I picked after reading Yotam’s editorial. It just explained so well what brunch should be about: “It’s a long meal that takes up a large chunk of the middle of the day, a proper celebration of food, but without the fanfare and worries that come with a full-blown dinner party“. Never better said… Every now and again, we get together for brunch, who tends to end up into a several hours long marathons, usually ending when the host runs out of bubbly. Or coffee. Or both…. Happy memories – and hopefully many more to come.

As usual, it was a  super dish. A bit laborious, but nevertheless worthwhile the effort. This was served with (fried/baked) eggs to order. Still feel a bit insecure to venture into poached eggs, as the original recipe called for.

Aubergine, potato, tomato (adapted from  Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes cut into 1cm dices
  • 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp hot savoury chilli sauce (Yotam recommends Sriracha, I used piri piri)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 aubergines, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 250ml olive oil
  • About 300ml sunflower oil
  • 600g  waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm-thick slices
  • 80g tahini paste
  • 2½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped

(1 onion was omitted for humanitarian reasons. A. is extremely allergic to them)

Method

Put the peeled, diced tomatoes in a colander for half an hour to drain. Transfer to a medium bowl and add  vinegar, parsley, hot sauce  and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix gently and set aside.

Mix the aubergine with a teaspoon and a half of salt, place in a colander and set over a bowl for half an hour, to drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and pat dry.

In a 26cm sauté pan, put 200mL of olive oil and as much sunflower oil as you need to bring it 1cm up the sides of the pan. Place on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the aubergine in batches and fry for three to four minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of the aubergine. Remove the left over oil and wipe down the pan.

Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the potatoes and cook for three minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside to dry. Add two tablespoons of fresh olive oil to the skillet and place on a medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and fry for 10 minutes with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a crack of black pepper, until cooked through and golden brown; turn them over from time to time. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Put the tahini, 60mL of water, a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to a thick, pourable consistency. Spoon half the sauce over the potatoes and spread the aubergine on top. Follow this with the remaining tahini, then the tomatoes. Poach the eggs just before you are ready to serve and lay them on top of the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of the remaining oil, a sprinkle  with sumac and coriander, and the last of the lemon juice. Bring to the table in the pan.

 

 


Savoury cookies with parlsey and tahini spread

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B. was wondering what to do with a bottle of tahini he had sitting on his fridge. “What is this used for?”, he asked. “Oh, well, plenty of stuff like humus… and errrr… humus…. or even maybe carrot hummus, if you will“, I answered a bit mortified by the lack of options. Seriously, is tahini used just  for hummus? After googling for a few minutes, it seems it also very popular in vegan cuisine, including lebanese inspired brownies (add beetroot for extra touch of healthiness), it is fundamental for baba ghanoush and  the hero in all sorts of  yoghurty-garlicky-herb-y dips. Like for example, this one  I found in Jerusalem (but of course…). As a bonus, these savoury biscuits, a favourite of Yotam’s father. Totally addictive…

Savoury cookies with parsley and tahini spread  (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi‘Jerusalem)

Ingredients 

Cookies

  • 500g of plain flour sifted
  • 100mL of sunflower oil
  • 100 unsalted butter diced and left to soften
  • 1 teaspoon of fast action dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds toasted and very lightly crushed
  • App 100mL of water
  • 1 medium egg, whisked
  • 2 teaspoon white (and black) sesame seeds

Dipping sauce

  • 35g flat leaf parsley (stems and leaves)
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 25g light tahini paste
  • 125g Greek  yoghurt (drained)
  • 25mL lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Cookies

Preheat the oven to 200 oC. Place the sifted flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the oil into the well, add the butter, yeast, baking power, sugar, salt and the spices and stir together until the dough is formed. Add the water gradually while stirring until the dough is smooth. Knead for a couple of minutes.

Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the dough into small bowls, about 25g each. On a clean surface, roll the balls into long snakes, around 1cm thick and 12-15cm long. Make a closed out of each snake dough, and put on the parchment paper leaving a 2 cm distance between each of them. Brush each ring with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Leave to prove for 30min.

Bake the biscuits in the oven for 22min, until golden brown. Allow to cool before storing. They will keep for 10days.

Dipping sauce

Blitz all the ingredients together to get a smooth, uniform green sauce you can use to coat the cookies. Add a bit more water if necessary.


Grilled aubergine with tahini dressing

A  super easy and quick dish, perfect for a hot Summer day: grilled aubergine finished with a creamy tahini dressing, by the great Gordon Ramsay . It looks a pale shadow of the sabih, tahini sauce and zhoug dish I tried earlier this Summer, but on its simplicity it is an elegant (and) delicious dish that goes well as a salad, entrée or put on the side.

Grilled aubergine with tahini dressing

Ingredients 

Grilled aubergines 

  • 1 large aubergine trimmed
  • olive oil enough to brush and drizzle
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • few rosemary springs, plus extra to garnish
  • 3 bay leaves, plus extra to garmish
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Tahini dressing

  • 1 tablespoon tahini paste
  • 2 tablespoos of natural yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely crushed

Method

Cut the aubergine into 1 cm thick slices. Generously brush with olive oil on both sides and tub all over with salt and pepper. Toss with the rosemary and the bay leaves

Heat a griddle pan, then add the aubergine slices with the herbs. Griddle for 4-5min on each side until cooked. Transfer to a serving bowl and while still warm, drizzle over some more olive oil and the lemon juice. Toss well to coat and set aside to cool.

For the tahini dressing, mix all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of hot water to loosen the dressing until it is of the consistency of double cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle the dressing over the grilled aubergine and garnish with a few fresh bay leaves and rosemary springs.Serve with some warm flat bread on the side.


Sabih, tahini sauce, zhoug and salad

An Israeli chef gives his interpretation of an Iraqi dish, topped with an Yemenite green chilli sauce. And, a pretty damn good it was, just ideal for this sort of weather…. The recipe was brought to the Guardian (here), by the hand of Yotam Ottonleghi. You know the drill: kilometric list of ingredients and several elements to put together at the end. But, it is worthwhile the effort – the combination of flavors and textures is delicate and at the same time exciting. Each one has its place and none is over-powering. It can be cooked in large batches and stored in the fridge to be eaten ad hoc.

Sabih, tahini sauce, zhoug and salad

Ingredients

For the sabih

  • 2 large aubergines
  • About 300ml sunflower oil
  • 4 slices rustic white bread, toasted
  • 4 free-range eggs, hard-boiled and cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • Salt and black pepper

For the tahini sauce

  • 100g tahini paste
  • 80ml water
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed

For the salad

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice
  • 2 mini cucumbers, cut into 1cm dice
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1½ tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil

For the  zhoug

  • For the zhoug
  • 35g coriander
  • 20g parsley
  • 2 green chillies
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ⅛ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water

Method

Using a vegetable peeler, peel off strips of aubergine skin from top to bottom, so they end up like a zebra, with alternating black-and-white stripes. Cut both aubergines widthways into 2.5cm-thick slices.

Heat the sunflower oil in a wide pan. Carefully – the oil spits – fry the aubergine in batches until nice and dark, turning once, for six to eight minutes; add oil if needed as you cook the batches. When done, the aubergine should be completely tender in the centre. Remove from the pan, leave to drain on kitchen paper, then sprinkle with salt.

To make the zhoug, put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. For the tahini sauce, put the tahini paste, water, lemon juice, garlic and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix well, and add a little more water, if needed, so its consistency is slightly runnier than honey. Make the salad by mixing the tomato, cucumber, spring onion, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a slice of bread on each plate. Spoon a tablespoon of tahini sauce over each, then arrange overlapping slices of aubergine on top. Drizzle over some more tahini, without completely covering the aubergines. Season each egg slice, and lay on top of the aubergine. Drizzle more tahini on top and spoon over as much zhoug as you like – be careful, it’s hot! Serve the salad on the side; spoon a little on top of each sabih, too, if you like. Store any leftover zhoug in a sealed container in the fridge – it will keep for a week at least.