Tag Archives: tomatoes

borlotti and tomatoes

I had this notion to make a tomato and mascarpone risotto. We had one last year amidst our bounty of delicious tomatoes and it’s an enjoyable memory. Memory didn’t help much though when it came to finding the recipe. I searched in my books then resorted to google – tomato, risotto, mascarpone – google came up with all sorts but not the recipe I remembered, then I thought River Cafe, tomato, risotto etc and hey presto there it was – Rosemary Risotto. Funny that. My predominate memory was tomato.

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I thought it would be delicious to eat this risotto with borlotti beans heaped on top.

We’ve an interesting harvest of beans in the garden, I’m particularly fond of the cannelini and borlotti beans which we grow in our tunnel. They are such a treat, the lovely velvet texture of these fresh beans are definitely a notch above dried beans in consistency and flavour.

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I have discovered a new way to cook them this year. First I heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, then gently cook a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and then add the beans. Give them a good bathe in the olive oil then add stock and cook for about twenty minutes.As soon as they are tender drain the beans, reserve the liquid to use as stock, and tip the beans back into the pot. Dress with a little olive oil, salt and black pepper.

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It’s my tastiest method yet. The beans can be used in anything- soups, salads, under grilled prawns,the possibilities are endless.
They were delicious on the tomato risotto with a drizzle of extra reserve balsamic snaking over the top.

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Gigantes Plaki – Holiday Memories

We’ve an interesting harvest of beans in the garden this summer.
I went a bit bean crazy in the spring – so confident was I that we were going to have another heatwave.
I had a collection of seed gathered from far and wide. Yin Yang beans, Cannnelini beans, Borlotti beans, French beans, Italian beans, Runner beans and Chickpeas. The results have been quite mixed but apart from the yin yang beans which have gone awol and the Italian beans which really couldn’t handle the climate everything else is having a go.
Any bean that has grown inside has flourished but the outside ones are having a rough ride. The French beans are so cold that instead of growing straight they are growing curly and the outside borlotti and cannelini are looking weatherworn and sad. Luckily the runner beans are super acclimatised to the Irish climate and we had some of all the above growing in the tunnel.
I’m excited about the chickpeas as little pods are finally appearing and the cannelini beans and borlotti beans, which are such a treat, are all harvested and almost eaten.

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So you could imagine we’ve been eating a lot of bean dinners.
Beans and pasta, Bombay beans, beans and courgettes, beans and tomato, beans in salads, and Gigantes Plaki.
I was wondering what to cook next when I remembered this dish. We had eaten it when we were in Syros, Greece. It was made with giant butterbeans and came bubbling in a terracotta casserole to the table with just melted feta on top. Delicious eaten in the sunshine and mopped up with a piece of bread and equally as delicious served with baby spuds at home.

I made ours with our home grown cannelini beans but butterbeans would be more authentic – whatever you fancy and if you don’t have good ripe fresh tomatoes, use a can. Use ewes milk feta if you have a choice, it is better in consistency and flavour.

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Greek Beans – Gigantes Plaki

600g cooked beans – butterbean or cannelini (2 cans)
approx 75mls olive oil
1 onion
2 stems celery
4 cloves garlic
4 big fatty tomatoes or 2 cans
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
150g feta cheese
chopped parsley

Peel the onion and chop finely. Heat a pan, add enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom and the chopped onion.
Cut the celery sticks into three or four lengthways then chop finely and stir into the onions. Season with a little salt,, and sweat on a medium-low heat for five minutes. Don’t let them brown.
Peel and chop the garlic and stir in, cook for two minutes then add the tomatoes, oregano and cinnamon. Bring to the boil then turn to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Give it the odd stir and keep the pot gently bubbling.
Pre heat the oven 190c
Drain the beans if you have cooked them yourself, or rinse and drain if you are using canned beans.
Tip the beans into a shallow oven-proof dish.
Taste the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper then pour over the beans. Give the dish a shake so that the sauce slips between the beans then bake for 40 mins. The sauce should be beginning to bubble around the edge. Take the dish out of the oven, crumble the feta into rough chunks over the top and bake for a further ten minutes.
Serve with chopped parsley scattered on top.


Sunday Evening Pasta Fest

This is one of our favourite lazy dinners and it’s the perfect home for our past the sell by date buffalo mozzarella which we bring home from the shop. It’s a kind of an owning  a food shop perk – eating all the food that’s past the sell by date. Past the sell by date is of course a different thing from being out of date  which could be dodgy. We marinated the mozzarella in olive oil with the very last of this years basil crop. It felt good to be eating our own basil in December.It’s quite amazing that it survived last weeks frosts.

It takes very little time and effort to prepare this dish and doesn’t require any fancy equipment. A large saucepan to cook the linguine and small saucepan for the sauce and you’re away.

The sauce is very simple to make, just olive oil, garlic, a few chilli flakes, anchovies and canned tomatoes. Don’t be put off trying this recipe by the mention of the anchovies as this isn’t a fishy dish.. In this instance the anchovies are acting as a flavour enhancer and once cooked in the sauce add an extra dimension – other than that they disappear completely

Here’s the recipe. It serves 4-5 people

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Linguine with Tomato and Mozzarella and Basil

2-3  fatty cloves of garlic

1-2 red chillies

50ml olive oil – about  2 overflowing tablespoons, plus a little for the mozzarella

5-6 anchovy fillets

2 balls of fresh mozzarella

2 cans tomatoes, chopped

500g linguine

A bunch of basil

Salt and black pepper

Peel and chop the garlic and chop the chilli.

Put a pan on the heat and add the olive oil, garlic and chilli. Don’t allow the oil to get too hot as garlic burns easily and will spoil the sauce.

Cook gently for a minute or so and then stir in the anchovies.

Mash the anchovies up with a wooden spoon then add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.

Bring the tomato sauce to the boil then turn down and simmer for twenty to thirty minutes. The oil will eventually come to the surface, which means the sauce is ready

Dice the buffalo mozzarella and chop the basil and put them into a bowl. Season with salt, black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Mix together gently and leave aside for the flavours to infuse.

Bring a big pot of water to the boil, add plenty of salt and cook the linguineaccording to the directions on the packet. Watch the clock!

Drain the linguine after the specified time and put it into a warm bowl. Pour the tomato sauce over and then scatter  the mozzarella on top.

Yum!