Chilli Beans

Years ago I used to make a chilli dish – the recipe comes from a dear friend who lives in the Grampians. It was a chilli that is often called “Mexican” although it is not, and includes coffee, chocolate and red wine. I gave up making it when I adopted a vegetarian diet. It was only recently that another friend reminded me that chilli without meat is possible – and also delicious.

Elwyn’s Chilli Beans was such a no-fuss recipe – a few essential ingredients cooked at the barely simmering heat level for hours until all was infused with chocolate, coffee, wine and chilli.

The success of a Bean Chilli, with our without meat, is the deep, dark richness of the sauce. I took Elwyn’s recipe and added favourite spices to deepen the flavours, a variety of vegetables to enrich the dish, and some walnuts – I made enough to feed our street! Luckily it freezes very well. It is quite a “meaty” dish with the walnuts adding a great texture.

Because this dish requires long and slow cooking, it can also be cooked at a low-moderate temperature in the oven.

Similar recipes include Borlotti Bean and Garlic Soup, Persian Stew with Winter Vegetables, Barley and Root Vegetable Stew, and Black Barley with Mushrooms.

Browse all of our Kidney Bean recipes, Borlotti Bean dishes, and all of our Stews. Or explore our Mid Winter dishes.

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Lentils and Eggplant with Pomegranate and Crispy Onions | Rummaniyeh

Eggplant and dark lentils are such a paring! We loved them here – this is an extraordinary dish – and we love them in this recipe. When the eggplant is cooked with the lentils it becomes very silky and simply melts into them. This is the joy of Rummaniyeh.

Pomegranates also feature strongly in Rummaniyeh. In fact, Rumman means pomegranate, so this dish’s name, Rummaniyeh, means pomegranatey. Pomegranates are cherished in Palestine – they are an integral part of Palestinian eating, and are regarded as a symbol of abundance and prosperity.  The cheap and easy recipe uses rich, sweet-tart pomegranate molasses and pomegranate kernels (when in season), for a tangy stew in which the eggplants melt into the lentils as they gently simmer. Crispy onions, fried garlic, zingy lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, hot chilli and generous amounts of olive oil are added, to create layers of flavour and transform the primary ingredients.

Today’s recipe had its genesis in the one in Falastin by Tamini. I made some adjustments to make it simpler, with more lentils, and also to get that simmered silkiness of the eggplants.

Eat warm or at room temperature with pitta or tafoon (Middle Eastern flatbread) and a chopped salad. I like a bowl of spiced yoghurt with it. You can serve Rummaniyeh at any time, but it is especially good for breakfast!

Similar recipes include Lentil Stew with Eggplants, Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, and Walnut and Pomegranate Dip.

Browse all of our recipes from Falastin, and all Eggplant dishes.

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Collapsed Beetroot Greens (or any Greens or Cabbage) with Mustard Seeds and Vinegar

One of my online friends calls this technique hypercooked vegetables – long cooking so familiar in the traditional Italian and Greek cuisines. The result is a surprising lusciousness, intensity of flavour, and an almost stickiness. They are deeply flavoured and a little tart. I have made this dish with cabbage and with beetroot greens, but I am sure it would work with any leafy greens that do not collapse immediately on heat (eg most of the salad greens would be unsuitable).

You will find it difficult to stop diving into the cooking pot once these have collapsed down into their jammy texture. But if you do leave some, serve as a side dish, or over rice or any other grain, lentil or bean (freekeh, couscous, white beans, burghul, red rice, etc), turn into a soup with a handful of the one of the tiniest soup pastas, orzo pasta or rice, or just ladle it over thick slices of toast with a drizzle of olive oil. I have also cooked turnips, diced, and added to these beetroot greens. I sometimes add sultanas to counterpoint the tartness.

The mustard seeds and cumin that I added this time are purely optional.

Do try on a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you have time to let the greens collapse and intensify.

Similar recipes include Greek Village Salad, Parsley Braised with Tomatoes and Olive Oil, and Green Beans with Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Beetroot Greens dishes and all of our Greek recipes.

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Capsicums Cooked in Tomatoes and Garlic

These might look like a mess to you, but to me the pics make my mouth water. It is one of the best ways to cook capsicums that I know – the flavours in this simple dish are truly amazing. The capsicums are slowly simmered in tomatoes, garlic and olive oil until collapsed and tender. Some of the capsicums melt into the sauce. It is sweet and delicious. Eaten with just feta, crusty bread and perhaps a green salad, it evokes the rustic cooking of Greece. Add wine to your meal if you wish. It is a great Summer dish – imagine eating it under the grape vines outside with a dozen friends.

I have long said that Diane Kochilas is my favourite Greek cookbook author, and I’ve had her huge bible of Greek cooking for decades. (Follow her on Instagram.) Recently I fell in love with two more of her books – Country Greek Cooking and Ikaria. This dish is adapted from one in Ikaria. If you love Greek food you should get this book.

Similar dishes include Greek Village Salad, Sweet Capsicum Salad with Tomato Dressing, Capsicum, Tomato and Pistachio Dip, and Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Red Capsicum.

Browse all of our Greek dishes and all of our Capsicum recipes . Or browse our Mid Summer dishes.

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Puy, Beluga or Horse Gram Lentil Stew with Eggplant

For this divine Wintery lentil stew, an earthy, dark lentil is called for. Puy lentils are a common choice, and the dark Beluga is excellent. I also love to make it with either Horse Gram or Matki lentils – brown, earthy and delicious lentils that you can get from your Indian shop. How good these are.

Despite the very familiar ingredients, the result is a bit magic and unexpected. It is an O. M. G. dish. The texture of the lentils with the silkiness of the eggplant. The pop of the tomato flavour, the way the sour cream enhances the dish, the heat of the chilli and the Greekness of the oregano.

Serve as it is, for a light meal, or bulk it up by spooning on top of rice, on slices of grilled or toasted sourdough. You can serve the stew either as a hearty starter or a side, or as a main served with any grain you like. It can be made up to three days ahead and kept in the fridge–just warm through then add the creme fraiche, oil, chilli flakes and oregano before serving. It’s at its best served warm, but is also very good at room temperature.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe – or at least it was until I, naturally, played with it a little. The key change was in the lentil used, but if you like you can check the original recipe. We always feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, or to massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Horse Gram and Pomegranate Salad, Puy Lentils with Sage and Roasted Pumpkin, Beluga Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, Citrusy Beetroot with Puy Lentils, and Horse Gram Dal.

Read more about Horse Gram (aks Kulthi Bean). It is easily purchased in Indian shops.

Browse our Horse Gram, Puy, Beluga and Aubergine recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Autumn recipes.

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Leeks with Quinces | Praso Lathro me Kydonia

I always associated Quinces with English food, for some reason, but in my quest for Quince recipes (thanks to buckets of them from a friend), I find the best ones in Middle Eastern and Greek cuisines.

This one is a Greek recipe, from Macedonia and Thrace. It simmers leeks with tomatoes and quinces for an excellent wintery side dish. It can be cooked in the oven too, should you wish to warm the kitchen as the dish bakes. It is a variation on another local dish which cooks leeks with prunes and tomatoes.

Similar recipes include Quince and Split Pea Stew, Spiced Quinces, and Quince Pickle.

Browse all of our Quince recipes, and our Leek dishes. Our Greek recipes are here. Or enjoy browsing our Late Winter collection of dishes.

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Black Barley with Mushrooms and Roti-Style Yoghurt Flatbreads

Black barley is a terrific find, it is nutty and dark in flavour and cooks easily in 35 – 45 minutes. I came across it at Goodies and Grains in Adelaide Central Market while I was stocking up with a few items. It is an African barley just becoming available more locally. It is excellent in soups, salads, vegetarian “stews” (let’s call it a ragout) like our recipe today, and even with tostadas and such like. As a base for other ingredients, it is excellent – try Black Barley with this Charred Okra dish.

Today we are using it to replace pearl barley (you can do that in any recipe). Ottolenghi has a recipe for Barley and Mushrooms in his book Plenty. We first made this around 2011, when my daughter and her family came back from London. There was much celebration. Barley and mushroom is a soothing combination – it is well known in Italy where a type of risotto, orzotto, is made from barley and mushrooms. The delight of the dish is mainly a textural thing, with the barley both gently breaking and enhancing the mushroomy gloopiness. This recipe uses 3 types of mushrooms, and today we used porcini, shiitake and pearl mushrooms, as I had pearl mushrooms left over from making a Soba Noodle and Mushroom dish.

Ottolenghi’s recipe also has some roti-like flatbreads made from wholewheat flour and mixed with yoghurt. These are rolled out and cooked on a tawa, flat griddle or frying pan. They are super easy to make and go with any dish similar to this one. You can also use any Mexican or Middle Eastern flatbread to compliment the barley if you are out of time to make your own. Or some frozen roti from your Indian Grocery.

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.

It is a very wintery dish – perfect for brisk Autumn days through to Winter.

Similar recipes include Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice, Charred Okra with Barley, Barley and Porcini Risotto, and Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms.

Browse our Black Barley recipes, all of our Barley dishes and our Mushroom recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through his Plenty More book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes. Continue reading “Black Barley with Mushrooms and Roti-Style Yoghurt Flatbreads”

Persian Stew with Winter Vegetables

I remember when the Ottolenghi books first came out, there was some excitement (at least in this household) about the dried Iranian limes. They were difficult to find, but finally I tracked some down. I can’t recall where I found them at last, probably at a shop that had an extensive rack of spices.

These days, they are much more common (thank you, Ottolenghi), and I discovered that there are both black dried limes and the lighter coloured, beige dried limes. The dried limes impart a citrusy, smoky flavour with a slight tang to food, lifting them from ordinariness to something spicy and tangy. The flavour is bright and limey while also being earthy, funky and grounding. The black limes are slightly more smoky in flavour than the lighter coloured ones.

One of the recipes I would look at longingly in those days was the Iranian Stew, and yet, all these years later, I had not made it. Until today. And it is quite amazing. The vegetables are simmered in a broth of tomatoes, onions, herbs and dried limes, before being baked with barberries in the oven. It produces an amazing plate of vegetables with a thickened sauce and an amazing, bright, citrusy flavour.

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 this case, track down those dried limes in Middle Eastern shops or purchase online if your local providore does not stock them.

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 Sautéed Butternut and Spinach with Roasted Mushrooms and Roasted Garlic, Braised Tomatoes with Herbs, Sesame Potatoes, Vegetables with Indian Flavours, Dried Lime Tea, and Persian Tea with Rose Flowers, Lime and Persian Borage.

Browse all of our Stews and all of our Dried Lime 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.

Continue reading “Persian Stew with Winter Vegetables”

Braised Broad Beans, Peas and Lettuce with Parmesan Rice

A couple of years ago we made a lovely French dish with our home grown broad beans – they are briefly simmered in stock and wine with peas and lettuce. It is such a gorgeously gentle, green and fresh dish.

Ottolenghi, in his book Plenty More, has a similar recipe, sans the wine, and where the ingredients are cooked for substantially longer than our dish. He serves it with gorgeous, buttery, parmesan rice, a delicious accompaniment.

I feel that the cooking times in Ottolenghi’s recipe are far too long, and have reduced them accordingly. I have also added a little verjuice to the dish, as I miss the tang of the wine in the French recipe. But the play of the vegetables against the buttery parmesan rice is quite amazing. Usually I recommend reducing the quantities of Ottolenghi’s recipes, they are always ample, but this one makes enough for 4 people – however, if you think you might want seconds (and you will), make a larger quantity.

It is Ottolenghi Cook the Books 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 – 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 dishes include Pea Croquettes with Mint Sauce, French Braised Lettuce, Broad Beans and Peas, Leeks and Carrots a la Grecque, and Green Beans Braised in Tomatoes and Olive Oil.

Browse all of our Broad Bean recipes and all of our Pea dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Braised Fennel with Capers, Olives and Ricotta

Ah fennel – the vegetable that says Summer to me, yet grows in Winter. It goes so well in crisp, light, lively salads, the sort that don’t seem to pair well with the cold, short, dark days of Winter. The trick of course, is to apply heat to the bulb, braising or sauteeing it into dishes suitable for Winter. We have a few ready to be posted over the next few Wintery months, so stay tuned.

This dish braises the fennel with salty capers and black olives, splashing it with verjuice before serving it with a little creamy feta and tangy lemon zest. It is an Ottolenghi dish – who else would put those flavours together? It is a pleasure to add this dish to our heat-applied fennel dishes.

Just in case you are wondering, the 15 garlic cloves isn’t a typo – once scorched, they add a mellowing sweetness to an otherwise piercingly sharp dressing. Keep the ricotta in the dish if you can, it helps balance the acidity of the verjuice and other ingredients.

This Ottolenghi dish is 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. As I said, 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  Baked Fennel with a Creamy Sauce, Fennel with Garlic and Orange, Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli, Garlic and Orange, Fennel and Fig Salad with Vin Cotto, and Fennel, Tomato and Potato Salad.

Browse all of our Fennel recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

Continue reading “Braised Fennel with Capers, Olives and Ricotta”