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)
- 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.
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)
- 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
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.
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)
- 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)
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.
The mix sounds a bit odd and way too healthy for pudding, but truth to be said, it was delicious… Not the kind of thing you would expect coming from pearl barley. The orange syrup complemented to perfection the sweetness of the barley and the sesame seeds just added a bit of complexity to it. A total foodie moment, I’d dare to add…
- ½ tbsp each white and black sesame seeds, toasted (or use 1 tbsp white)
- 1½ tbsp unrefined sugar
- 125g pearl barley, covered with cold water and soaked overnight
- 750ml whole milk
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- Finely grated zest of ½ lemon,
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 20g tahini paste
For the orange syrup
- 1 medium orange
- 40g caster sugar
- ¼ tsp orange blossom water
Start with the orange syrup. Shave off a long strip of orange peel, avoiding the pith, and put in a small pan. Trim off top and bottom of the orange, then cut down its sides to remove all the skin and pith. Working over a small bowl to catch any juice, cut out the segments by slicing between the membranes. Add the segments to the bowl and set aside.
Add the caster sugar to the pan with the peel and add 75ml water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves – this should take less than a minute. Set aside to cool, then add the orange segments and juices, and the orange blossom water.
Roughly crush the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of muscovado sugar, and set aside.
Drain and rinse the barley. Tip it into a medium saucepan with the remaining muscovado sugar, milk, vanilla pod and seeds, citrus zest and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is cooked but still has some byte: if it’s becomes very thick, add a little milk towards the end. Leave to cool for five minutes, then remove the vanilla pod and divide between four bowls. Dribble a teaspoon of tahini over each portion, spoon over the orange segments and syrup, sprinkle with sesame and serve.
Veni, vidi, vici: saw it on the Guardian on saturday, bought the ingredients on sunday and served it for Easter brunch on Monday. It was a spot on dish, very much in the spirit of the season. In case you wonder, it is an Yotam Ottolengi’s take on an Italian dish with lots of modifications to adapt it to what was left on the supermarket. I was getting a bit apprehensive as I kept replacing ingredients by similar thing, but, it all worked very well together… It was a process to do it, but it is a lovely dish, worthwhile the calories and the effort.
Torta pasqualina (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 500g Swiss chard, stalks removed and roughly chopped, leaves cut into 1cm slices
- 600g spinach leaves
- 6 sticks celery, trimmed and finely sliced
- 20g Bärlauch (wild garlic)
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 250g ricotta
- 100g grated Emmentaler and Gruyère cheese mix
- 9 eggs
- Salt and black pepper
- 500g all-butter puff pastry
- Plain flour, for dustin
Heat the oven to 180C.
Put a large sauté pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft and starting to colour. Add the chard stalks and celery, cover and cook for five minutes. Stir in the chard leaves and spinach. Cook for five minutes more, until the leaves have wilted and the stalks and celery have softened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.
Line a colander with a clean tea towel or muslin and pour in the contents of the pan. Draw the sides of the towel around the filling and squeeze out the juice: you want the mixture to be as dry as possible. Transfer the contents of the towel to a bowl and add the herbs, spices, cheeses, three eggs, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well and set aside.
In case you don’t have a prepared pastry, roll half of it out pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a 30cm square that’s 2.5mm thick. Transfer to a 20cm-wide spring-form cake tin with 7cm high sides. Press the pastry into the edges of the tin and trim off most of the overhang. Roll the remaining pastry into a 25cm square lid and set aside.
Tip the cheese and greens mixture into the cake tin and use a spoon to create five egg-sized holes. Break an egg into each hole, then lay the lid on top. Trim the edges, then pinch the lid and base together to make sure it’s secure.
Whisk the remaining egg, brush it over the lid, then prick a few times with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes, until cooked and golden brown. Leave to cool for half an hour, and serve warm or at room temperature.
In North Africa, it is called shakshuka – which literally mean mixture in Arabic. Basically, it is eggs poached in a mildly spicy sauce made from slow-cooked leek, bell peppers, garlic and tomatoes, spiced up with saffron, cumin and cayenne. It is a bit laborious, but you can prepare it well in advance and keep it in the fridge until the mobile calorie intake unit friends show up for duty. In any case, it is the perfect dish for a brunch, packed with flavours, sweet and savoury at the same time… Just serve with bread.
Note: the onions were replaced for leeks, as one of the mobile calorie intake unit is allergic to onions.
Poached eggs with pepper, tomato and saffron (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Olive oil to taste
- 2 large leeks
- 2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cut into 2cm strips
- 20g of unrefined sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
- 30 mls chopped parsley
- 30 mls chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
- 6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- a few thread of saffron
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
- up to 250ml water
- 8 free-range eggs
- salt and black pepper
In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on a high heat for 5-10 minutes to get a nice colour.
Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. Remember to taste and adjust the seasoning as you go.
Remove from the heat, remove the bay leafs and transfer to a a large bowl. Set aside. The vegetabe mix can be prepared well in advance, and kept in the fridge.
When you are ready to serve, put the pepper mix in a a frying pan large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place it on a medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the pepper mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with a lids. Cook on a very gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with coriander and serve
Smooth, creamy and with a warm spices note – Autumn doesn’t get any better than this. It was supposed to be eaten in small portions with savoury cookies, but soon spoons made an appearance. TEoU and I ended up having it as pumpkin purée for lunch…
Pumpkin and tahini spread (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)
- About 1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 70g tahini paste
- 120g Greek yoghurt
- 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Olive oil to drizzle
Heat the oven to 180C. Spread the pumpkin out on a medium-sized baking tray, pour over the olive oil and sprinkle on the cinnamon and salt. Mix well, cover the tray tightly with tinfoil and roast for 70 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Transfer the cooled pumpkin of the bowl of a food processor, along with the tahini, yoghurt and garlic. Roughly pulse so that everything is combined into a coarse paste
To serve, spread the butternut in a wavy pattern over a flat plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and a drizzle of syrup.