To keep up with the asparagus season, an impromptu picnic by the lake presented itself as an ideal excuse to make this salad… An almost empty cupboard forced me to do a few wild tweaks to the original recipe, though. The feta cheese was replaced by soft goat cheese. Less salty, indeed, but it made the salad creamier with occasional bursts of flavour. The quinoa was first replaced by barley (really bad idea) and then by wheat (much more successful). All, in all, it was a perfect dish for the a perfect summer day by the lake…
Grilled asparagus, red pepper, creamy got cheese and wheat salad (adapted from the The 10 best asparagus recipes’ column on The Guardian)
- 250g wheat (Triticum turgidum)
- 900g green asparagus
- 2 tbsp olive oil, for drizzling
- 200g roasted, marinated red bell peppers, drained and cut in to bite-size pieces
- 200g soft goat cheese
- 100g fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley (reserve some leaves for garnishing)
For the dressing
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp roast cumin seeds, crushed with a mortar
Rinse the wheat and prepare it according to the instructions in the packet.
To prepare the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice. Gently crush the cumin seeds with a pestle and add to the dressing.
Rinse and pat the asparagus dry and place on a plate. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus and roll them until well coated. Season with salt. Arrange the asparagus in a hot griddle pan and cook, turning as needed, until nicely marked on all sides without being burned (it takes about 8 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, dressing, roasted peppers, cheese and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Add the grilled asparagus and gently combine. Serve at room temperature.
“So, Burntsugar…”, said B. “How do you make this soup?”. “Well, it is not too difficult.”, I answered. “You pick a spread recipe from last Ottolenghi’s book, then decide to use boiled beetroot instead of roasted and finally get a watery yoghurt instead of a drained one.” B. looked a bit worried, but proceeded to eat its portion and lick the bowl as this had been a perfectly executed dish. Truth to be said, what could have been a really bad day in the kitchen, ended up with a delicate and colourful dish much to the delight of my
mobile calorie intake units guests. On the next episode of beetrootgate…
- 500g cooked beetroot (pay attention not to pull the vinegary ones from the shelf)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small red chilli
- 250g yoghurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon maple sirup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- salt to taste
- 2 spring onions thinly sliced
- 15g toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed
- 60g of soft goats cheese, crumbled
Peel the beetroot and cut it in chunks
Place the beetroot, garlic, chill and yoghurt in a food processor. Blend it until you obtain a smooth paste.
Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in in the maple sirup, olive oil and za’atar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Transfer into small serving bowls (or glasses) and scatter the spring onion, hazelnut and cheese.
Serve at room temperature.
… And we are back to a quasi-Winter weather. While it was meant to brighten any Winter table, it ended up being yet another post of protest against this atrocious Spring.
In any case, after Christmas #beetrootgate , I actually didn’t gave up on cooking them… It sort of become an unavoidable ingredient. It is colourful and sweet and packed with earthy flavours… how could you not want to cook it? Specially when you bump into its 10 best recipes, one of them by the latest foodie TV stars, The Fabulous Baker Brothers? It was worthwhile taking the risk of tarte tatin – the dish was delicious.
Beetroot tarte tatin with goat cheese (adapted from a Fabulous Baker Brother’s recipes found in The Guardian’s The 10 best beetroot recipes)
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 40g butter
- A splash of sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 7 thyme sprigs
- 4 fresh beetroot, cooked
- 250g puff pastry
- 4 slices of goat’s cheese
- Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Place a smallish, heavy, oven-safe frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sugar to the pan and stir until it dissolves, then add a big pinch of salt, all the butter and a splash of sherry vinegar. Keep stirring until it has turned mahogany brown. It’s a good idea to use oven gloves to protect your hands. Take care not to let the sugar burn.
Add 1 tbsp honey to the pan. Pick the thyme leaves from 6 stalks and add them too. Remove from the heat and stir. Place a long sprig of thyme on top of the caramel for decoration.
Cut the cooked beetroot into nice fat slices and carefully (so you don’t burn your fingers) arrange all the slices on top of the caramel, working from the edge to the centre in a spiral pattern. Season with salt and pepper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry so it’s big enough to cover the beetroot, then place it on top, tucking the edges down into the pan. Put the whole lot into the oven for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Wearing oven gloves, place an upturned plate over the frying pan (it should be bigger than the pan) and, holding the two together, flip the lot over. Leave it for 30 seconds to let the caramel mostly fall from the pan on to the plate, then slowly lift the pan.
Serve by the wedge while still warm, with a disk of goat’s cheese on top and, if you fancy, a drizzle of honey.
I first saw the onion confit and and goat cheese tartelettes on Mafalda Pinto Leite’s website (here, in Portuguese). It looked easy enough, but things went South when ready-made caramelized onion the recipe called for was nowhere to be find in Zurich. The only solution was to embark on a quest for the perfect red onion confit recipe. Finally, it was C’est moi qui l’ai fait who offered the perfect method for a luscious red onion confit. And, since they had gone through all the trouble of doing their own jam from scratch, it was only fair to give it a go to their tartelette. It was a good call – the whole batch was gone in less than a sigh.
Red onion confit, fresh thyme and goat cheese tartelettes
- 1 roll of puf pastry
- 1 pot of red onion confit (recipe here)
- 1 fresh soft goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 yolk
- 1 tablespoon of milk
- Fresh thyme
Preheat the stove to 210oC
Spread a bit of flour all over the kitchen top, and lay the pastry roll. Mix the yolk with the milk, and brush it all over the pastry surface.
Cut it in squares (4cm side), and place them on the baking tray.
Drop a teaspoon of onion confit at the center of each square (the corners should be free, so they can puff). On top of the confit, put the equivalent of a small teaspoon of cheese. Sprinkle with fresh thyme.
It is now ready to put on the stove, for about 8min, or until the pastry is golden.
T. brought this warm apples, nuts, sage, goat cheese and autumn leaves salad last time she came home for dinner. “Did you know Mafalda Pinto Leite?”, she asked, while she took over the kitchen and put the salad together. “Mafalda who?” I answered. Clearly, I was missing out on something. The recipe is from the book Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo (in a very liberal translation from the Portuguese, Cooking for Those Who Have No Time)
Apple, sage and goat cheese salad
Ingredients (4 persons)
- 60g butter without salt
- 1 tablespoon of sage leafs (no chopping needed).
- 3 tablespoons of white vinegar (I used cherry vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (cane sugar will also work fine)
- 2 green apples without core and cut in quarters.
- Half mug of chopped nuts
- 100g de rucola or red spinach (I used a bag of autumn leaves)
- 150g of sliced goat cheese (the creamy one)
Put the butter, sage, vinegar and sugar in a frying pan (low heat). When the butter has melted, add the nuts and the apples and. Let cook for a few minutes or until the fruit is tender.
Make a bed of leafs in the dishes, and place the apples and the nuts on top. Reserve the juice that was left on the pan, and poor it over the nuts and apples. Finish with the sliced goat cheese.
Total time of cooking: 8 minutes-ish. Looking for the right ingredients in the cupboard: one eternity.
- 375g all-butter puff pastry
- 8 stalks fresh oregano, leaves picked and roughly chopped
- 100g goat’s cheese, crumbled
- 450g red, yellow or green tomatoes of various sizes, sliced 2mm thick
- 8 stalks fresh thyme
- Olive oil
For the sundried tomato paste
- 10 sun-dried tomatoes from a jar
- 1 fresh red chilli, sliced (I use a tea spoon of dried piri piri)
- 2 garlic cloves
- Half tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Preheat the oven to 200oC/gas mark 6. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick (Alternatively, if you have a large enough baking sheet, roll out the pastry into one circle, like a big pizza.) Transfer the pastry rectangles to a large baking sheet lined with baking paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sun-dried tomato paste. Put all the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and process to a rough paste; if necessary, add a little oil from the tomato jar to bring it together. If your food processor bowl is too large, you may need to do some of the chopping by hand.
Spread a thin layer of the tomato paste over the chilled pastry, leaving a border about 1cm from the edge. Sprinkle with the oregano and goat’s cheese, and arrange the tomatoes on top, slightly overlapping but not too precisely. Make sure the tomato paste is covered by fresh tomatoes because it tends to burn. Drop the thyme stalks over the tomatoes and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Bake for 15 minutes, until golden on top; check the base to make sure the pastry is brown and fully cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before drizzling over more olive oil and serving warm.
Roasted spring onions
- Spring onions, cut in half
- Salt, pepper
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200oC. Put the Spring onions on a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden on the top.