Plantains are delicious, a variety of banana that is eaten while green. India uses them a lot, far more than Western cuisines which tend to ignore them completely. Enjoy these spicy dishes and snacks.
From the moment that pineapple hits the shops in late Spring or Summer, it is a regular feature in our kitchen. Salads of course, or just wedges to suck at. But then there are curries, grilled when BBQing, and endless cooling juices.
Peas have been part our diet for hundreds of years and are used all over the world. Strictly speaking, green peas are not vegetables. They are part of the legume family, which consists of plants that produce pods with seeds inside. Lentils, chickpeas, beans and peanuts are also legumes. There are many varieties of peas, but here we are focusing on the humble, oft overlooked Green Pea.
Pears are as ubiquitous in Autumn and Winter as stone fruits are in Summer. They are my afternoon snack in these months, and my preference is the brown beurre bosc. The yellow pears of my childhood are no longer the same – mushy when ripe instead of gorgeously juicy with a touch of crispness. I do miss them. But there is now a wide variety of pears from which to choose – red, green, yellow, and brown. Nachi, William Bartlett, Packam, Corella, Anjou, Asian and more.
Summer means Peaches, the loved stone fruit above all others. The gentleness of the white peach and the juiciness of the yellow peach. The joy of eating them as they are! They are suitable not only for sweet temptations but also for salads, salsas, chutneys and drinks.
I haven’t cooked Farinata for so long, years in fact – so long that I have forgotten how good it is. So it is back on the menu, with cauliflower, onions and parmesan. Farinata tastes a little like an omelette, and cooked right, it will slide right out of the pan. Served in wedges or squares with a salad (and some Celeriac Chips!), it makes a lovely lunch or light evening meal.
The idea for this farinata came from Ottolenghi’s recipe for Cauliflower Cake in Plenty More. That recipe uses eggs and I wanted to make something with similar flavours. So this recipe for farinata was created.
Ottolenghi says that cauliflower needs more attention. He says that it’s one of the most magnificent of all vegetables and is as versatile as potato. I reckon he is right.
One of the dishes that I grew up with is tomatoes, halved, and seared in a frying pan, cut side down, until soft and caramelised. Is it an Australian thing? or maybe a rural Australian thing? These were served as a side dish or with a breakfast spread. They are really great with baked beans, for example.
Today I love them just as they are. Great tomatoes, good olive oil, some crunchy bread and a little salt. Perfection. They are also great on flatbread type bases – use wraps, tortillas, socca or pudla. Squish them, or not, and use on toast, in salads, on nachos type dishes and pizzas, or spread a puree and top with these yummy tomatoes. They can also be squished into a pasta sauce, or normal sauce, or Indian style chutney. Which ever way, scatter with lots of chopped herbs and spring onions (scalliions).
The flavour of this dish belies its simplicity.
This dish is also an excellent one for the BBQ.
Orange and hazelnut go wonderfully well together. The pairing offers a good balance of freshness and earthiness and the flavours are subtle enough to complement green beans without overpowering them.
In this recipe we use the orange slices that we dehydrated some time ago. Several slices are whizzed in a spice grinder until almost powdered. If you don’t have dried orange slices, use pieces of orange zest that have been sliced thinly.
This is based on a recipe from Ottolenghi’s first book, Ottolenghi. We like to play wild and free with his recipes, so you can check the original one here.
I have been in love with pears in more savoury applications since last century’s fascination with putting them in salads, soups and baked dishes. Today we bring pears and apples together in a salad with a creamy yoghurt and cucumber dressing. A crunchy salad that will brighten anybody’s day.
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.