Avocados are the darling of Australian cafes and homes. Available all year round, there are peak seasons for the popular varieties. Salads, mashes, salsas and soups are the most popular uses, but smoothies, cakes and even warm and baked avo are all possible. (For the record, I am not sure about warm or hot avocado 🙅♀️🙅♀️🙅♀️)
In avocado season they pile our fruit bowl high – we are such lovers of them. Honestly we can eat them straight out of their shell. In Summer we make cold avocado soups, all year round we mash and spread them, and they pile into our seasonal salads.
Our snack today is a guacamole type mix with a spicy tomato salsa on the side, and some thick sour cream. We have some great bread from the local baker, and we crisped it in an oven that was still hot from roasting brussels sprouts! It is better than fresh bread for this mix, but you can also toast or grill the bread, or use crackers or corn chips. Whatever floats your boat.
There is so much good stuff in this “almost superfood” salad that it makes you feel very healthy and conscientious indeed. Served as it is, it can be a very substantial meal – just scatter a few roasted hazelnuts and/or chunks of creamy goat’s cheese over the top, and you need nothing else.
Did you know that I grew up calling beetroot, red beet? That name seems to have disappeared in Australia, although a quick search on google confirms that at least some people, in some parts of the world, retain that name. I wonder if it came from my mother, whose family contained many German immigrants. Perhaps it is a European thing.
The star of this dish is indeed the blanched then quick-pickled beetroot, and its contrast with the slightly bitter pea shoots. Rather than the hour-long boil or bake, eating beetroot raw or quickly sauteed or blanched is a healthy and very delicious alternative. The beetroot retains a bite or crunch that adds textural layers to a dish. Everything can be prepared in advance for this salad, kept in the fridge, and combined at the last moment.
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.
Only in Spring could you get away with having a dish this green!
And what a great crop of broad beans we have had this year – they have grown extraordinarily well and we have had enough to freeze as well as make all of our favourite broad bean dishes. In the early part of the season we pick them small and eat them whole, or podded without being peeled. As the season continues, we let them grow larger for a different more meatier taste. This way we can have them for 3 – 4 months without getting sick of them. Today I picked 2.5 kg of the large ones. Podded and peeled, we are making this Avocado Bean Mash with some, and the rest go in the freezer for Summer and Autumn.
Note that, because my broad beans are home grown, they are still tender at this stage. Beans bought from a green grocer are likely to be tougher if very large. Look for the smaller beans. With my home grown beans, I used around 850g unpodded beans to get 250g podded and peeled beans. Yours might be different. Perhaps buy around 1kg to have enough.
This is another recipe from Ottolenghi’s new book Simple. It’s the second one we have made from his new book, and love the lightness and simplicity of this dish. It is a great dip and spread – use it as a mezze plate, a snack in front of the TV, or as nibbles with a glass of wine and group of friends before you head out on the town. There is no garlic in it, so you’ll be right.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of 1 or 2 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. We’ve been a bit distracted by Simple. 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.
Browse all of our Broad Bean dishes and all of our Dips. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Simple are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
Polenta crisps and polenta chips are the modern way to cook polenta, and both are jolly good. The polenta is cooked to a thick mass which is spread out on trays to firm up. It is then cut to shape and fried. I can’t tell you how moreish they are, totally addictive. And when used to scoop up an avocado, yoghurt and lime dip they are even more so.
This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty More. In the scheme of Ottolenghi recipes, it is relatively easy, just needing time to let the polenta cool. We are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, but the only change we have made to this recipe is to add some chopped curry leaves into the polenta. You can leave them out if you wish.
Not using polenta very much? Grab that packet from the back of the cupboard; these polenta crisps should do the trick: they’re very easy to make and even easier to eat.
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.
Browse our Polenta dishes, our Dips, and our Avocado recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.
Avocado has been so popular for the past decade that it is almost passé. But here we love the out of favour but full of flavour recipes, so in the dying moments of the avocado obsession, we bring you a keeper recipe – avocado salsa with the flavours of lemon, chilli, tomato and coriander. Enjoy!
There are oodles of ways to use this salsa – on toast, with corn chips, to top a lentil salad, for example. We have included 2 ways – serve as a snack or appetiser with fried tortilla crisps, or atop a salad of new potatoes.
Today’s salad is Middle Eastern in style – fresh ingredients, simply sliced and served at every meal. It features feta – get some of the creamy feta from your Middle Eastern shop if you can. We have used fresh herbs from the garden, but feel free to use baby spinach, rocket and any soft herbs that you have at your disposal.
You can add some olives too, to make it more of a Greek Mezze salad.
Similar recipes include Goat’s Milk Feta with Pine Nuts and Preserved Lemon, Cucumber, Feta and Mint Salad, Broad Beans with Feta and Lemon, and Baked Eggplant with Feta.
Pomelo, that thick rinded Asian fruit as big as a soccer ball (well, almost) goes by a number of names – Chinese grapefruit, shaddock, pumelo, pommelo, pompelmous, Jabong, Lusho, Batabi-Nimbu and chakotra are just a few. Big it is, and its seeds could feed an army of ants for a life time. But once you are through that thick rind, and you have flicked the seeds out of the segments, and the membranes around the segments are removed, oh oh, the flavours! So very South East Asian in its flavours, it is like a mild grapefruit. They say that it is an ancient ancestor of today’s common grapefruit.
Peeling a pomelo is a business, as the skin can be as much as an inch thick. The best approach is to cut a slice off the top of the fruit, then score the skin deeply to divide it into four segments. Pull the skin back like the petals of a flower and tear out the ball of pomelo. Finally, peel off the tough membrane surrounding each segment.
Even Yotam Ottolenghi is a fan of pomelo: “What I love about them is that, unlike other citrus, they don’t go flabby in salads but retain all their juiciness. This firmness is brilliant in salsas and salads. I love making sugar syrup and marinating pomelo pieces in it with sweet spices such as star anise, cardamom or cinnamon.”
So today, we have a simple Pomelo Salad to celebrate this fruit and the health giving properties that it contains. You can make it with Ruby Grapefruit, too, or with Pomelo, Ruby Grapefruit and Oranges. Enjoy!
The person who served me at the Asian Grocery where I bought the Pomelo told me how Asian people treasure Pomelo for its health giving properties. Like bitter gourd, she says, it is good for a range of ailments and for normal health maintenance. She loves to eat it with chilli and salt, just like green mango.
Sometimes I prepare to post a recipe and realise that it is for an ingredient that does not feature often in our collection of recipes over 12 years of posting on this blog (including some recipes from our blog that ran from 1995 to 2006). It is a surprise to find an ingredient not covered much in all of that time.
We do use Indian-style sprouts in some recipes – that is, the type of sprouts that are only just sprouted, with small little tails. But Mung Sprouts with long tails, Chinese style, feature hardly at all! So today we begin to remedy that.
The recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More and takes long Mung Sprouts and pairs them with, of all things, Umeboshi puree, edamame beans and radishes!! It really works, and is a terrific combination. This recipe is part of our project to cook more dishes from our Ottolenghi collection of books, and we are beginning with Plenty More.
The salty-sour Umeboshi puree, made from pickled plums, can be found in the Japanese section of larger supermarkets, in Japanese groceries and in health shops. If you can’t find Umeboshi puree, substitute pomegranate molasses.
Make more of the dressing, if you want: it’s so tangy and good that you’ll be tempted to douse this salad; failing that, it’ll keep in the fridge for other dishes in the days ahead.
Have you tried Jicama yet? It’s crisp crunchy nature and apple-like taste makes it such a winner in salads. It is most easily found in Asian shops that have a large fruit and vegetables section. My local Asian grocery stocks them at most times. But if you haven’t any jicama, this salad is just as good with Radishes. In fact I really like the bite of the radishes with the sweetness of the mirin dressing.
This salad has a lovely Asian-influenced dressing of mirin and soy, and you can add wasabi for a heat hit if you wish. The flavours of the wasabi and mirin and soy are marvellous. I am sure that you will enjoy it.
Or are you after Radish Salads? Try Raw Vegetable Salad with Mustardy Mayo Dressing, Mung Sprout, Edamame and Radish Salad, Tofu Salad with Radishes, Wombok and Radish Salad with Peanut Dressing and Cucumber and Radish Slightly Pickled Salad.
Why not have a look at our Bittman Salads, or explore all of our Jicama Dishes and all of our Radish Recipes. All of our large collection of Salads are here. Or alternatively, check our Mid Autumn dishes.