Category Archives: One pot wonders

Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

I’m just about all ‘kaled’ out. We have eaten some amount of kale and spinach in the last six weeks and I am almost happy to see the plants bolt. We will miss them but the new baby salad leaves and rocket are much more exciting.

There’s not much else ready to pick in the garden at this time of the year unless you are lucky enough to have an asparagus patch. We don’t. I tried to grow asparagus some years back but eventually lost patience and pulled it all up. There never seemed to be enough for dinner, just the odd alien popping up here and there but not enough for a bunch.

Luckily there are successful asparagus growers in West Cork and now is the time to grab a bunch before it’s moment of glory passes and there’s another years wait.

This recipe is a kind of vegetable carbonara, a bit of an oxymoran as any self-respecting Italian will tell you that carbonara only has four ingredients – eggs, pancetta, pecorino or parmesan and spaghetti but as with all recipes tweaking can produce great results.

I have used asparagus and locally grown shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are feather light when fresh but become meaty and super tasty when cooked.  Any long wiggly pasta will work for this recipe. If you get your timing right this dish can be cooked in the time that it takes to cook your pasta

 

Tagliatelle with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

Serves 2

 

1 small onion

7-8 stems asparagus

100g shiitake mushrooms

50g butter

50mls olive oil

2egg yolks

4tbs cream

50g grated parmesan or pecorino

250g tagliatelle/spaghetti/linguine

salt and cracked black pepper

 

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil, ready to cook the pasta

Peel and finely chop the onion

Snap the tough end from the asparagus and discard or put aside to make soup. Chop the rest of the asparagus in 3-4cm pieces

Slice the shiitake mushrooms.

In a small bowl mix the egg yolks, cream and grated cheese.

The vegetables are going to take roughly eight minutes to cook so now is the moment to decide when to add your pasta to the boiling water. Read the packet, add a large spoonful of salt to the water and cook the pasta according to the instructions – the vegetables can spend a minute or two resting whilst the pasta finishes cooking if needed

Heat a large frying pan or skillet and add the olive oil. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and cook for three to four minutes stirring every now and again. Season with salt and cracked black pepper and put aside. Next melt the butter in the pan and add chopped onion and the shiitake , mushrooms, cook on a high heat for three or four minutes, season with salt and cracked black pepper then put the asparagus back in.

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Take the pan off the heat.

Before draining the pasta reserve a few spoonfuls of the cooking water.

Drain the pasta, add to the vegetables and the egg mix then toss together adding some of the reserved water to get a creamy dressing.

Eat immediately


Fatty Chickpeas

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I have had a packet of dried chickpeas in my pantry for months. A packet that i carried all the way home from Spain but never got around to cooking. Mostly because I forgot to soak them. They are big chickpeas – bigger than the ones we can buy in Ireland by far –  I’d say double in size and delicious when cooked. It may sound mad to get excited about chickpeas but soaked overnight and cooked for 30 minutes they are ready to go, unctuous and creamy, which is quite something. The one’s we buy locally  take three or four times as long  to cook and are like little bullets.

It’s still the holiday season here and we have been valiantly making our way through our veg box which together with the pre-cooked chickpeas offered numerous possibilities for dinner. The winning dish was also a lazy dish. It didn’t take very much effort, more the availability to give the odd stir.

Take time sautéing the veg, they will become sweet and more flavoursome.

 

Chickpea Supper Pot with Almond and Basil Picada

1 onion – peeled and chopped

100mls olive oil

1 carrot – peeled and diced

1 small bulb fennel- sliced into skinny wedges

2 stems celery – diced

3 cloves garlic- peeled and chopped

2 ripe fat tomatoes or 1 can tomatoes – chopped

1 glass white wine (optional)

200mls chickpea liquor or water

2 bay leaves

a handful of parsley

salt and pepper

 

Heat a frying pan or skillet. Add the olive oil and the chopped onions, give them a stir and when they are sizzling  season with a little salt. Stir in the fennel, celery, bay leaf and carrots, give a stir and when the veg are all sizzling season with a little salt then turn the heat to medium/low. Cook, stirring now and then, gently sizzling for ten minutes. Add the chopped garlic then continue cooking for five minutes.

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Add the chopped tomatoes and white wine, bring to the boil then turn to a simmer for ten minutes

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Stir in the chickpeas and cook for a further ten minutes. Add a little chickpea cooking liquor or water if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley

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We ate this with a little picada/pesto to drizzle over and crusty bread

Picada

1 small slice bread, crusts removed and cubed

olive oil

15-20 blanched almonds

1 clove garlic

small handful soft green herbs – I used basil but parsley or coriander would work too

salt

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Heat a small pan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom and the bread cubes, fry until they begin to go golden then add the almonds. Cook for another couple of minutes.

Putvthe bread/almond mix in a processor together with a clove of garlic then buzz to a crumb.

Add the herbs then drizzle in enough olive oil to make the cicada move. Season with a pinch of salt

 

 

 

 

 


Pumpkin, Kale and Mushroom Supper

 

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Hungry and home alone was when I leapt out of my chair and threw this dinner together.

We have magnificent pumpkin supply that we’re enjoying and diced up in this dish made a delicious combination. I was sitting down eating  within twenty minutes of leaving my chair.

Crozier blue is an Irish sheep cheese which may not be available to you but any soft blue cheese or even fresh goats cheese would work just as well. Of course if you would like a vegan version leave the cheese out

 

Pumpkin, Kale and Mushroom with Orzo and Crozier Blue

 

1 small onion

50mls olive oil

300g pumpkin

1 large field mushroom – cut in half then into segments

Kale, sliced thinly

2 fatty garlic

150g orzo

a little crozier blue to crumble

 

Put a pot of water to boil to cook the orzo

Heat a heavy pan, add the olive oil then the onion.

Peel and dice the pumpkin – approx 1cm cubes

Add to the onion. Season with salt and pepper, Cook on a medium heat for 5 mins.

Add the field mushroom – slightly increase the heat.

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Put salt in the boiling water then stir in the orzo. Cook for the time specified on the packet then drain into a colander.

When the mushrooms begin to brown increase the heat a little more then stir in the kale. When the kale melts down add the garlic.

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Continue cooking for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the drained orzo into the vegetables then crumble a little crozier blue on top

Yum!


Pasta Peas

On a recent holiday,  myself and my cycle buddy, travelled from South Tyrol, the land of Apfel Strudel and ice blue rivers, down to the sea.

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At the beginning, even though we were in Italy the language spoken was German, the trees and houses were alpine and the vegetables growing were small. As we travelled down toward the sea the language was Italian, the beautiful old cities oozed history and the vegetables increased in size enormously.

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Cycling is a great way to peep over fences and the vegetable gardens were a pretty picture. There were pristine rows of courgettes, peas, beans, salads and not a weed in sight – unlike our large unruly garden.

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I ate this month’s dish at a trattoria in Soave. It was on the lunch menu as ‘lasagnetti di piselli’ which I thought was going to be a little lasagne with peas. I got the pea bit right but the lasagnetti was in fact freshly made ribbon pasta. Totally simple but delicious.

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Now is the time to rush from the garden to the kitchen with freshly grown peas if you can find some. If you don’t have fresh peas, frozen ones are a brilliant substitute, they actually taste better than old pod   peas.

As there are so few ingredients involved in making this dish the quality is very important. Buy a good brand of pasta and use a tasty extra virgin olive oil.

Peas and Tagliatelle

1 small onion

75mls extra virgin olive oil

50g butter – diced

350g podded or frozen peas

1 glass white wine or water

100g grated Parmesan or Pecorino

300g tagliatelle – or gluten free pasta

 

Peel and chop the onion. Heat a pan and add a little olive oil and the chopped onion. Cook on a medium heat until the onion softens then add the peas, salt and pepper and a glass of white wine or water. Cook for 5 minutes if you’re using frozen peas, 8 minutes if the peas are fresh. Puree half the peas using a stick blender or food processor then put back in the pan with the peas.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan, with plenty of water and a big spoonful of salt, according to the instructions on the packet. Be careful not to overcook. Put a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water onto the peas then drain the pasta. I always drain my pasta over the serving bowl to heat it up, this way the past doesn’t cool too quickly, Reheat the peas, add the butter cubes and give it a swirl. Put the pasta and peas in the serving dish and toss together.

Serve with olive oil to drizzle over and plenty of grated Parmesan or pecorino.

Ready to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Revithnos from Sifnos

Sifnos is one of the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea, it’s about 25kms long and 15kms wide and very hilly. It takes bit of effort to get there which is  why this beautiful spot is not a mass tourist destination. The main town, Apollonia is in the centre of the island and the roads run down from there to little villages, fishing ports and deserted beaches.

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The island also has plenty of tracks linking everywhere together which formerly would have been used by donkeys. There aren’t many donkeys these days, they seem to have been replaced by Suzuki Jimneys and similar little vehicles which are the only way to get down to many of the hamlets.

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Sifnos tourism has a walking trail initiative, there are lots of way marked tracks to beautiful places. It’s mostly a case of what goes down, must come up – challenging trails with spectacular views.

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We walked out from the village that we stayed in crunching almonds underfoot and feasting on ripe pomegranates, figs and prickly pears. There are trees laden with lemons, olives and quince waiting to be harvested.

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The views are spectacular and with the glorious autumn weather, a very comfortable 25c-30c – it’s a great way to get an all over tan.

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The friendly people who are happy to have visitors are famous for their traditional Greek food, lots of vegetable mezze, grilled fish and meat. Bakeries  produce pastries of all sorts of shapes and sizes filled with different cheeses or cheese and spinach and these make great portable emergency rations.

Chickpeas are one of the crops grown on the island. It’s crop that doesn’t require watering which on an island where it mightn’t rain for eight months is a good thing. I now realise  why my chickpea growing experiment failed so miserably in Ireland,as not only is there a very high humidity  I watered them to boot. No wonder they weren’t happy!

The recipe that the island is most famous for is Revithnos – a chickpea soup – one of these ‘live to be one hundred’ recipes. It’s cooked slowly in the oven using just a few key ingredients – chickpeas, onion, olive oil, lemon and bay leaves. It’s traditionally served on a Sunday with bowl of olives and fresh bread. The chickpeas are soaked overnight on Friday then  rinsed and cooked in a ceramic pot  called a tsoukali. Formerly everyone took their pots to the bakers who loaded up the ovens and left  them overnight to be collected for lunch after church on Sunday. The slow cooking makes the chickpeas velvety soft in an emulsion of olive oil and onion which is brightened up with a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s another one of these dishes that isn’t going to win a beauty contest but will healthily sustain body and soul.

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Cooking something in the oven for 4-5 hours is probably off putting  for most of us and  we don’t have friendly bakers with wood fired ovens around here so it’s probably best to cook the chickpeas slowly on top in a heavy pot with a good lid then finish up for an hour or so in the oven. If you own an Aga or range you’re in business. Just pop the pot in the slow oven and go to bed!

Revithnos – Chickpea Soup

350g chickpeas

150mls olive oil

2 large onions

2-4 cloves garlic

1 -2 bay leaves

lemon juice

salt and pepper

water

a handful of parsley

 

Soak the chickpeas over night then drain well.

Peel the onions and garlic and chop finely.

Put the olive oil into a heavy pot and heat gently. Add the chopped onion and cook until the onions melt down but don’t let them brown. Stir in the chopped garlic and cook for a further two minutes then add the chickpeas and bay leaf. Stir everything together for a few minutes then add enough water to cover everything by 2-3cm. Bring to the boil, reduce to a low simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for one to one and a half hours or until the chickpeas are soft.

Stir in the juice of a lemon , add a little more water if it looks like it’s getting dry and season with a little salt. Pop the pot into a low oven , 150c, oven for an hour.

Serve with a little chopped parsley on top, lemon wedges and fresh bread and olives on the side.

A glass of red wine goes down well with this too!

 

 

 


Quinoa, Butternut and Cauliflower Pilaf with Almond Sauce

I’ve been reading about alkaline diets recently , and even though we think we eat quite healthily, mostly gluten-free and vegetarian, there always seems to be an extra step – another reason to improve our diets. I invited some alkaline friends to dinner and played around with  a pilaf using quinoa instead of rice or bulgur. I wanted  to make something that was as delicious as the  original recipe but using alkaline ingredients.

I was worried the quinoa would be pappy and wet so I fried it with onions and celery and then cooked it for only 10 minutes and left it to relax. It was served it with roasted cauliflower and butternut with almond sauce drizzled over. The pilaf was perfect, a very slight nuttiness to the quiona and the roasted almonds gave a bonus crunch.

The almond butter sauce was alkaline riff on tahini sauce.  Tahini doesn’t seem to be on the alkaline list but the almond butter was delicious and worked just as well.

Quinoa, Butternut and Cauliflower Pilaf with Almond Sauce

 

1 medium cauliflower

1 lemon

olive oil to drizzle

125g blanched almonds

1tsp cumin seeds

salt

 

about 500g butternut squash or pumpkin

half a cinnamon stick

olive oil to drizzle

salt

 

2 onions

2 stems celery

olive oil to cover bottom of pan

a pinch of saffron, soaked in warm water

300g quinoa

half tsp ground allspice

450mls water or veg stock including the saffron infused water

a handful chopped coriander

 

2 cloves garlic

juice 1 lemon

1 heaped tbs almond butter

salt

water to thin

 

Heat the oven 200c

 

Put the saffron into a small jug or glass and cover with hot water. Leave aside to infuse

 

Cut the butternut into 1cm slices, peel and cut each piece into 2 or 3.

Put into a large bowl, drizzle with oil oil, season with a little salt and toss well. Break the cinnamon stick into 2, lengthwise then toss with the pumpkin. Tip into a roasting tray and put in the oven.. Shake very 15 minutes until cooked, roughly 3 times

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Wash the cauliflower, shake dry and break into florets. The bigger florets will need dividing. Put them into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, Zest the lemon, finely, over the cauliflower. Season with a salt and toss everything well together. Drizzle over a little more olive oil if needed. Tip the cauliflower into a roasting tray and spread out evenly. Put the almonds into the bowl and toss them in the residue of the oil then scatter on top of the cauliflower. Put into the oven and roast for 30 mins. Shake after 15.

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Peel and chop the onions. Heat a large skillet with a lid or a saucepan. Add a little olive oil and the onions. Cook on medium heat.

Cut the celery into 3 or 4 lengthwise then dice into half cm pieces. Add to the onion. Season with a little salt. Increase the heat so it’s all sizzling and then cook for five minutes without letting them brown.

Stir in the quinoa and the ground allspice and cook for couple of minutes, stirring all the time. Add 450mls liquid. This needs to be the saffron infused water plus water or vegetable stock to bring it up to the 450ml mark. Bring to the boil, add a little salt if you used only water, cover with a lid and turn the lowest simmer for 10 minutes. Take off of the heat but do not open the lid. Very important, no peeking as the quinoa needs to relax and absorb the steam.

Leave fro 5-10 minutes. When the veg are cooked, stir in the cauliflower and arrange the butternut on top.

Sprinkle a little chopped coriander over the top.

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To make the Almond Sauce

Put the juice of one lemon, 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic and a big spoonful of almond butter into a bowl with a pich of salt and mix well. It will thickens as it mixes so have some cold water handy to thin it out. Thin with a little water at a time until you have a thick cream pouring consistency.

Serve alongside the pilaf to drizzle over.

Yum!

 

 

 


Spring Asparagus

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April and May, the garden shoots up. Everything that over wintered and that we have picked and enjoyed for so long is bolting. The spinach, chard and kales are shooting for the sky. They’ve done their job and are going to seed. We have baby stand-ins ready to take their place, they’ve been very shy about growing with the cold weather but as soon as there’s a bit of heat they will spring into action.

The baby salad leaves and rocket are shooting up too and being greedily enjoyed.

It’s also asparagus season, not that we have asparagus in our garden any more. We tried to grow it but never succeeded in growing more than enough for one persons dinner at a time. It would shoot up like an alien overnight and stand alone in the veg patch. We eventually dug it up in frustration.

However the West Cork asparagus is arriving, you’ll find it in the farmers markets. The short growing season and limited supply means a premium price but it is worth it and if you are lucky enough to buy some you’ll enjoy the flavour so much that you’ll never be impressed by the well-travelled version again.

Asparagus is best cooked simply.

One of our favourite ways to eat it is to trim the asparagus – I do this with a sharp knife, lightly running the blade across the asparagus spear until there is no resistance and the knife cuts through. Discard the tough end of the stems and toss the spears with olive oil, salt and black pepper. We then cook them on a hot grill pan, turning every couple of minutes until lightly charred. The same method would work under a grill.

Eat them as they are, with a mound of salad or dunked in butter, vinaigrette or hollandaise, it’s always a treat.

We came in from work last night, hungry and not keen to cook but there was a bunch of asparagus winking at me on the counter so I cooked up pasta with asparagus. It didn’t take too much effort and I shared a glass of wine whilst cooking – one for me, and one for the pot!

The result was delicious so here’s the recipe and another quick way to use asparagus.

Put a large pot of water to boil when you begin cooking this recipe so that you can co-ordinate cooking the pasta. Read the pasta package for the cooking time as this differs with the different varieties. We used a corn, quinoa and rice linguine – gluten free and very tasty – just don’t overcook it.

 

 

Asparagus with Linguine

Serves 2

 

1 bunch asparagus

1 small onion

20g butter

20mls olive oil

a small glass white wine

200mls cream

250g linguine – you could use spaghetti or tagliatelle

freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

 

Peel and finely chop the onion.

Heat a pan then add the butter, olive oil and onion. When the onions are sizzling season with a little salt then turn the heat to mediumWash the asparagus, shake off any excess water, and trim the ends of each spear by gently running a sharp knife across until there is no resistance and the knife cuts through. Do this to each spear and discard the tough bits. Chop the stems into 1cm pieces but keep roughly 10cm at the tip. Cook the 1cm pieces in with the onion for a few minutes then add the tips.

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Increase the heat and cook quickly for a minute or two but don’t allow it to burn. Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to bubble off then stir in the cream.

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Bring to the boil then cook without boiling over for a few minutes to thicken. Take off the heat and toss together with the pasta. If the sauce is ready before the pasta don’t keep cooking, just leave it aside until you are ready otherwise the asparagus will overcook.

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