Brussels Sprout Risotto with Blue Cheese

A sprout risotto? You’d better believe it. Brussels Sprout are such a controversial vegetable – you either love them or hate them. We grew up with overcooked and soggy sprouts that had the colour and natural sweetness leached out of them and left the kitchen with a cabbage-y sprouts aroma. So in our kitchen they are either eaten raw, roasted, fried, or sauteed with a little garlic.

Unusual pairings with sprouts include pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses or maple syrup. Salty, sweet and sour flavours are great – try lemon juice and lime juice, preserved lemon, capers, parmesan, chilli, almonds, barberries, pistachios, even tiny toasted croutons, all work very very well.

Today’s recipe uses Brussels Sprouts in a risotto. It is an unusual recipe but you will love it. It is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More. It combines shredded sprouts and fried sprouts in the risotto with lemon, parmesan and the bite of Blue Cheese. How exciting! It is lemony, herby, cheesy, and of course, with the flavour of delicious sprouts.

In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Brussels Sprouts Salad, Gentle Vegetables cooked in Wine, Three Cheese Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto.

Browse all of our Risotto recipes and Brussels Sprouts recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Quinoa Salad with Apricots and Pecans

This is a lovely quinoa salad with apricots and nuts. You can make it with fresh fruit in summer or beautiful dried fruit (soaked) in Autumn and Winter. It is pretty glorious even if I do say so myself.

Finally, we are on the last leg of a three year journey to cook all of the 101 Salads of Mark Bittman. Just a couple more to go, less than I can count on 2 fingers. The first of the salads was posted in 2015, and first made perhaps 12 months before that, and it has taken all of this time to make, write up and then schedule, each recipe for posting. It took around 3 years of focused salad making to complete.

The first Summer, we probably made around 20 or 25 of the recipes, the second Summer, perhaps another 20. But the difference in the third Summer was twofold – I fell in love with this routine of salad making, and, well, I didn’t want to spend another 2 years on this project. So a very focused effort began in Autumn of 2017.

The funny thing was, making a salad almost every day – around 5 salads a week – changed food in our kitchen. We now look for our daily salad. We think about it and plan it. We enjoy our salad at different times of the day too – sometimes it makes a great snack mid morning or mid afternoon, sometimes it *is* lunch, sometimes a part of our dinner. Leftovers are eaten for supper, or packed for lunch the next day, or eaten for breakfast even (they are that delicious).

We are completing the 101 Salads in at the end of Early Winter of 2017, even though as you are reading this, it is probably well past that date. The salad posts have been scheduled over time so as not to overwhelm our feed with only salads. We were lucky, taking the salads through Autumn into Winter, as Bittman finishes his list with salads that are based on grains – quinoa, barley, couscous, wheat, rice. We loved these grainy ones in the colder weather of Winter.

We made every salad that we could, and converted many others. There were a few that we could not make – once the non-vegetarian items were removed, there was nothing left to make a salad from. Other salads featuring non-veg items, well, we just stripped them out and made the bones of the salad. We thought about tarting them up by substituting other ingredients, but actually we enjoyed the really pared down salads with killer dressings. We did. Simple is good. (Over the top complex is good too, hey Ottolenghi?)

Some salads we changed a little, due to availability of local ingredients, some we added a couple of items – white pepper, for example, to Asian style salads (my absolute love), or something we might have sitting on our kitchen bench that made a good addition. Pickled cumquats made it into a tart quinoa salad, and were divine. Some pickled jicama topped another salad, adding that delightful apple-flavoured crunch. But mostly, we left the original version alone.

And there you have it. Our long, multi-year journey of Salads with Bittman. I hope you like this one, #99 on his list. Please enjoy! Then browse all of our others.

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Steamed Tofu with Bok Choy and Sesame

Steamed tofu is the antithesis of the punchy, in-your-face flavours of my usual Indian cuisine. Almost bland, it is gloriously so, adding creamy texture to its accompaniments. In this case we use bok choi (pak choi) and a soy sauce-seasame-mirin dressing. You do have to be willing to enjoy the subtlety of flavours to appreciate this dish. It is not something that would do well on Master Chef, for example, however we love steamed tofu.

We also have a variation to this dish where shiitake and oyster mushrooms are quickly sauteed and added to the tofu. This is inspired by an incredible dish of steamed tofu and mushrooms at the Whole Earth restaurant in Chiang Mai –  Three Flavour Tofu Topped with Shiitake Mushrooms.

Similar recipes include Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu, Kaffir and Tamarind Tofu, and Tofu and Spinach Layers.

Browse all of our Tofu dishes and all of our Bok Choi recipes. Or be inspired by our other Late Winter dishes.

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Malabar Spinach Pakoda

Malabar Spinach is a thick spinach like leaf that grows on a vine – it is often confused with other greens, but look for leaves that are thick, a little mucilaginous, and are on twining stalks.  It may also have white or purple flowers and seeds on the vine. These leaves are common in India and throughout S. E. Asia. It has various names in India and may be called Basella Spinach, Poi leaf, Bacchalikura or Vasalakkirai.

Malabar Spinach is not really a spinach at all, but the taste is similar and it is better suited to summer growing than real spinach.

Similar dishes include Red Onion and Chilli Pakora, Bhajji, and Okra and Cauliflower Packora.

Browse all of our Malabar Spinach recipes and Pakora dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Coconut Rice and Peas Salad with Spinach

Rice makes great salads – cooked, cooled, tossed with other ingredients, a dressing added if necessary, and served at room temperature. It is a variation on the Indian and Middle Eastern Pilaf, and is just as good.

Rice Salads have moved away from the rice salads that my Mother used to make. They were bland, and depended on the play of colours of capsicums, tomatoes and cucumber for their appeal. Sorry Mum, it was the fashion of the time, I know, but I am glad we have moved on from these salads.

Today, we make rice salads in such a variety of ways. You will enjoy this one where the rice is cooked in coconut milk and tossed with peas, nuts and spinach.

Are you after similar recipes? Try Spicy Rice and Fermented Black Bean Salad, South Indian Coconut Rice, and Balinese Coconut Rice.

You can browse our Rice Salads, or all of our many many Salads. Our Pea recipes are here. Or explore our Early Winter recipes for inspiration.

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Vendakkai Poriyal | Stir Fried Okra

It’s been more than 18 months since I began a crush on okra, and developed a project to explore this incredible vegetable which is available here all year round via Asian and Middle Eastern shops. In that time, we’ve made 60 or more Okra dishes, and,totally fallen in love with the long tapered “fingers” known cutely in India as Lady’s Fingers. Many of those recipe posts are in the queue to be published over the coming months.

Okra has become an important part of our life, but perhaps it is time to release the obsession and cook it less often. Admittedly, there are still quite a few recipes in the okra pile to tinker with, so there might be more….

One of the greatest finds of this project has been the number of ways that the Middle Eastern countries and India uses Okra. We have boiled, steamed, fried, deep fried, sauteed, baked and dehydrated Okra. Each dish has been a revelation. We have pared, chopped, slit and diced okra. We have learned to control the sliminess. We have battered okra. We have hand dried dozens of the tapered Lady’s Fingers over the course of a year.

Today’s dish is a very simple, but gorgeous, South Indian treatment of Okra. It is a remarkable, fresh dish. Another stir fried recipe, just with a few simple spices. The wonder of Tamil cooking is how simple easy dishes can taste amazing. There are variation upon variation of stir fried okra dishes – see here and here – but each is different and delightful.

Similar recipes include Stuffed Okra, Crispy Okra in Yoghurt, Lady Finger Masala, and Bhindi Subzi.

Browse all of our Okra dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Juice It! | Home Made Apple-Based Juices

It is nearly Spring time, the garden is blooming (my first ever daffodils are flowering), and we have started juicing our own drinks again. We love to have home-made juices through Spring to Autumn.

While the apples are at their best, they are especially suited to late Winter and early Spring juices, providing a sweet base for many different combinations.

In the suggestions below, we don’t include quantities. My rule of thumb is – 2 large apples plus your combination fruit and vegetables will a little water to dilute the intensity of the flavours, will make 3 – 4 glasses. Enough for breakfast for a small – medium family.

In case you are wondering, I use Harom, a cold press juicer, but any juicer will make great drinks. I love cold press juicers because of the way that they extract the juice and the drinks are not as frothy as when you use a centrifugal juicer. It is also said that cold pressed juices are more nutrient dense than those produced with a centrifugal juicer. However the cold press ones do not handle greens or stringy vegetables such as celery as well as the centrifugal ones.

You can also make fruit juices in your High Speed Blender. I use a Vitamix. Simply blend the fruit for 2 or so minutes with a little water, then strain the juice as your pour it into a jug or into glasses. (I am not sponsored in any way by Vitamix or Harom.)

Enjoy the juice combinations below. Similar recipes include Zucchini Juice, Green Tea, Apple and Strawberry Juice, and Watermelon Juice with Mint and Ginger.

Browse all of our Juices and our Cooling Summer Drinks. Or browse all of our our Early Spring recipes.

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Grilled Corn on the Cob with Miso Tamarind Mayonnaise

As I write, sweetcorn is very cheap, so we have been indulging ourselves in sweetcorn dishes. Such a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, simmered, grilled, roasted and pureed. In particular, corn on the cob is a special snack, bringing back memories of childhood and eating corn fresh from the vegetable garden, the juicy corns as sweet as sweet can be.

For this recipe, the corn is blanched then char grilled before being smothered in a mayonnaise with tamarind and miso. It is delicious. I use an eggless mayo as we do not cook with eggs, but use the base mayo that you prefer. I will leave that to your choice. The tamarind and miso mayonnaise is utterly delicious!

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

In fact it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Roasted Sweetcorn and Avocado Salad, and Sweetcorn and Tomato Salad with Greens.

Browse all of our Sweetcorn recipes and our Miso dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Dakos | Tomato and Bread Salad from Crete

Dakos, the salad, is a loved salad of Crete, made with rock hard crisp breads and tomatoes, feta and olives. Ottolenghi has a version in his book Plenty More, born of his stay in Crete where he fell in love with it.

Dakos is alsothe name given to  oven-dried breads (often called rusks), which are made with barley to make them sweeter, nuttier and more crunchy than their wheat-only counterparts. Spread out on a plate and covered with the best ripest chopped tomatoes, good olive oil, some crumbled white cheese and black olives, they are seriously addictive. (Confusingly, both this dish and the unadorned rusks themselves are called Dakos!)

Cretan barley rusks aren’t easy to come by (try Greek grocers or online), but the salad Dakos is easy to make with any dried bread, e.g. the Italian Frese Integrali (aka friselle, freselle, frisedde, fresedde, frise) or the Swedish wholemeal Krisprolls, which are more commonly available in some supermarkets and many specialty stores. The tomato juices and vinegar seep into and soften the dry bread as they mix with the creamy cheese and olive oil, to create a timeless Greek experience.

However, if you don’t have access to Dakos or other rusks, try drizzling some medium thick slices of wheat bread with olive oil and baking for 10 – 15 mins in a 175C – 180C oven. They need to be hard, and the ingredients of the salad soak into the bread to soften it and make it addictively delicious.

The taste of any simple tomato-based salad is dependent on the quality of the tomatoes. There is a rich and beefy depth to end-of-season tomatoes that can exceed even those of high summer, but if yours are anything other than bursting with flavour, a pinch of sugar or a few drops of balsamic vinegar will help draw out their natural sweetness. And maybe mix your feta with some ricotta, to simulate the flavour of the sweet Cretan mizithra cheese, which is often served with dakos. (Thanks for this advice, Ottolenghi.)

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

In fact it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Simple Tomato Bread Salad, and Tapanade Bread Salad with Mozzarella.

Browse all of our Tomato Salads, and all of our Salads. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Broccolini with Sweet Tahini

A salad to convert even the biggest tahini-hater. It is a take on a Japanese favourite. Broccolini, or use sprouting broccoli, is mixed with other greens for a visually pleasing and refreshing blend of textures. The recipe can also be made with just broccoli, sprouting broccoli or broccolini, with just the dressing. Perfect. Even more perfect – the Broccolini can be char-grilled for the salad, should you so wish.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

Similar recipes include Smashed Chickpeas with Broccoli, and BBQ’d Broccoli.

Browse all of our Broccolini recipes and all of our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More. Dishes using Tahini are here. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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