Lima Beans Baked with Spinach and Feta

I am a sucker for great Greek and Italian dishes, but abhor dishes that have lots of different processes with an associated mountain of pots and pans to wash. However, this 6-process dish is worth the effort. Allow enough time to cook the dish – you need soaking time for the beans plus cooking time of 3.5 hours. Perhaps it is a Sunday dish.

The flavours are beautiful. Soft, creamy butter beans with intense spinach flavour, salty feta and crispy breadcrumbs. I have to be honest, it is not the most instagram-ready dish when cooked, but despair not! You will melt over the flavours, and ask for a second helping.

Don’t avoid the kneading of the spinach. I have seen versions of this recipe where the spinach is blanched or steamed before cooking with the beans, to avoid the kneading. What we are looking for here is an intensity of flavour, and cooking the spinach beforehand diminishes that flavour. You will be quite surprised what the salting and kneading does to the spinach – it is broken down and quite edible at that point. And the flavour that it adds to the finished dish is a surprising intensity.

The recipe comes from The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas. It is a beautiful collection of regional and rural Greek dishes.

Similar dishes include Baked Lima Beans with Celery, Rustic Spicy Baked Butter Beans, and Florentine Beans.

Browse all of our Lima Bean recipes, and all of our Greek dishes. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Baked Okra in Dukkah

Are you looking for a TV snack – something to eat while you are curled up binge watching the latest series, or watching Eurovision, or Tour de France, or Master Chef, or The Voice, or any other favourite program?

Well here it is. Forget the bag of crisps or corn chips. Go for okra rolled in dukkah and baked. A few minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook, and you are right for the evening. You can make your own dukkah beforehand, or purchase from any providore or shop that sells Middle Eastern ingredients.

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Australian Quick and Easy Date or Raisin Slice

When we think of Australian food, I am talking the vegetarian kind, the sort of food commonly found on home dining tables, we think immediately of sweet, baked dishes. Biscuits, cakes and slices. They were certainly routine in the kitchens of my Mother, Grandmothers and Aunties as I was growing up, and every communal meal contained more varieties of these sweet delights than they did main courses or vegetable dishes.

In our house, my Mother who was the Queen of bulk cooking and making things that lasted forever, would spend DAYS baking in a wood fired oven in our back enclosed verandah. Honey biscuits and Ginger biscuits were her favourites. They would start soft and yielding and delicious, and end up, some many months later, hard as bitumen and only suitable for dipping in your cuppa. Not that we complained, they were still delicious.

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Gratin Dauphinois | Potato Gratin with Cream

As Winter marches on, we want dishes that we can cook in the oven, to add another source of heat to warm the kitchen. Baked dishes are also usually hearty, so they warm and nourish the body in a way that we only seek in Winter. And therefore, gratin dishes are so perfect, ticking every box. We are bringing this one back, we have posted it before. But it is such a Mid Winter Winner that we wanted to highlight it for you again.

This dish layers potatoes with cheese, covers them with milk and cream, and bakes them until bubbling and golden. Delicious! It is more potato luxury from France, where potatoes, butter and cream have a natural affinity. From memory,  my daughter’s French teacher gave me this recipe, years ago.

Are you looking for similar dishes? Try Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini, and Gratineed Sweet Potatoes.

You can browse our Potato Bakes, all of our Gratin dishes and all of our Potato recipes. Or you might like to browse French recipes. Or simply explore all of our Early Winter dishes.

This recipe is one of our vegetarian recipes from our first blog that was in existence from 1995 – 2006; you can find them in our Retro Recipes series.

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Baked Ziti with Feta

I had recently made Jamie Oliver’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella, when I came across this similar recipe by Ottolenghi. The concept is the same – cheesey pasta in tomato sauce, baked until melty – the execution is different, with different pastas, different spices, cheeses and cooking methods. They are both great left-over-pasta-and-tomato-sauce dishes – layer with cheese and bake or grill – and hence they would make fabulous Sunday night supper meals.

I think Jamie’s recipe is a winner – easy to make and packed with flavour, and it has an honesty about its simplicity which shines through in the finished dish. Ottolenghi’s version layers the flavours with herbs and spices and uses the bite of feta and the umami of aged cheese and parmesan to add depth to the dish. It is different to Jamie’s in that the pasta is the focus and it is baked until the top layer is crispy and the cheese is golden brown. Delicious. Jamie’s recipe is pasta bathed in tomato sauce, Ottolenghi’s is pasta with a little tomato sauce.

I always preferred my father’s pasta the next day, when he’d put it in a hot oven with heaps of extra cheese. It would emerge slightly burned and very crisp on top.

This recipe serves a heap of people, up to 10, depending on how hungry the mob is. So don’t be afraid to halve it for a smaller family meal. Just note that the baking dish must be big enough to hold the pasta in a shallow layer. Or bake in separate dishes as I did.

I also have to mention that Ottolenghi grills this dish but I baked it. Partly because that is easier in our kitchen, but mostly because the recipe asks that the tomato sauce sits aside while the pasta is cooked, so it has lost heat. Baking heats the dish again beautifully.

As already mentioned, 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 dishes include Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella, Pasta Bake with Cabbage and Cheese, and Pasta Sauce with Aubergine, Red Peppers and Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Pasta dishes, our Baked dishes and our Italian recipes. 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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Baked Millet with Ginger, Pumpkin and Daikon

Millet at last is getting the recognition that it deserves, its wonderful healthy properties exposed for all to see. Mind you, most natural foods are super foods in their own right – our current fascination with super foods is simply because the particular trend of the moment is to discover a new’ish ingredient from another cuisine and recognise its health properties. Turmeric. Moringa. Goji berries. Cranberries. And now, millet. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we also discovered the health benefits of, say, turnips, parsley and pepper – those things that are right here under our noses and on our kitchen benches. I love how we widen our choice of kitchen staples through learning about the essentials of other cuisines – but I do get a bit tired of food fashions. Sigh. But back to millet…

There are lots of different millet varieties, but the common one, Pearl Millet is the one that is used in this dish. Certainly, try it with others – foxtail millet, barnyard millet, finger millet. The result will be different, as they cook up differently, but just might be wonderful too. Do try it and let me know. Pearl Millet has different names in the different areas of India: Kambu (Tamil), Bajra (Hindi, Bengali, Odia and Punjabi), Sajje (Kannada), Bajri (Gujarati and Marathi) and Sajja (Telugu). This dish has Japanese style flavourings, but imagine one that subs out those flavours for Indian flavours. Stay tuned, I may just do that.

Brown rice and other whole grains such as millet, barley, oats, quinoa, spelt, rye, and teff are considered by macrobiotics to be the foods in which yin and yang are closest to being in balance, and many macrobiotic dishes are built around these grains.

This recipe has its genesis in the macrobiotic movement. Macrobiotics is not as popular any more, and its yin/yang approach to food is avoided by the mainstream cooks – they are also packed full of less common ingredients such as Chinese toasted sesame oil, seaweeds, umeboshi and tamari. But I love them – they are rustic and homely in style with flavours that are sort of Japanese, but not quite. It is a recipe that comes via a scribbled note in my pile of collected recipes.

Do try this recipe – like tray-baked meals, this one cooks away in a low oven for an hour and a half, without you having to lift a finger. Pure heaven. You don’t have to be on a macrobiotic diet to enjoy it. The millet is cooked with the mentioned macrobiotic flavours, and with daikon (white radish) and pumpkin. I always use Butternut or Jap pumpkin – they are our favourites – but any pumpkin and most squashes will work.

Similar recipes include Salad of Butternut Tataki with Udon Noodles, Barnyard Millet Kitchari, Barnyard Millet with Yoghurt, Escarole Salad with Millet, and Daikon and Pumpkin Curry.

Browse all of our Millet dishes, our Pumpkin Dishes, and all of our Daikon recipes. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Jamie’s Pasta al Forno con Pomodori e Mozzarella | Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

During a delightful week at my daughter’s place, running wild with the two kids, we had an informal Sunday lunch with friends and made this baked pasta dish from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy. Jamie describes it as a wonderful dish which is simple to make, and he is right on both points.

He first fell in love with this dish in Italy, then tried to reproduce it in his school’s program for 37p per serve. He tells how he fell out of love with it because he had to use cheap pasta and cheap cheese. Back in Italy, he realised that the Italian government mandates organic pasta for schools, the mozzarella was always local and fresh and the tomatoes the best available. It makes all the difference! He says that this was the recipe that was made for 1,000 kids at the Italian school he visited.

The dish is very common in Italy, and can be eaten hot, warm and room temperature. Use the best ingredients that you can, and make two – you won’t regret it.

Similar recipes include Baked Ziti with Feta, Orecchiette with Broad Beans, Pasta Bake with Cabbage and Cheese, and Pasta Sauce with Aubergine, Red Peppers and Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Pasta dishes, our Baked dishes and our Italian recipes. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Mushrooms in Terracotta

Mushrooms! They are at their best baked in the oven, especially when the weather is still cold in the evenings – there is something about their earthiness that is filling, warming and comforting. Our most favourite baked mushrooms are with vine leaves, but this recipe comes a close second, and is perfect for Autumn and early Winter, when fresh vine leaves are no longer available.

Use a mix of mushrooms, or field mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, button mushrooms or Swiss brown mushrooms. They are tossed with rosemary, garlic, butter and oil, and baked in a terracotta dish which is the most perfect way to cook mushrooms.

Similar recipes include Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice, Mushrooms, Garlic and Shallots with Lemon Ricotta, Mushrooms Baked in Vine Leaves, Caramelised King Oyster Mushrooms, Pearl Mushrooms with Thyme, and the perfect Shiitake Mushroom Sauce.

Browse all of our Mushroom recipes and all of our Baked dishes. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Farinata, Socca, Pudla, Cheela – Making Chickpea Flour Pancakes

Many parts of the world have pancakes, fritters, or thicker, baked “pan” cakes that are made from chickpea flour and water. In these variations, an infinite array of flavourings are added to the base – spices and herbs; thinly sliced vegetables such as onion, tomatoes, and zucchini, beans sprouts; coriander leaves to give a fresh crisp punch; basil or parsley oil is a terrific addition.

The various versions of the chickpea pancake – farinata in Italy, socca in France, pudla or cheela in India – are often found in the streets of cities and at roadside stalls in the rural areas. They are served on parchment paper or piece of banana leaf, and devoured hot on the spot.

The batter can be made several days before using, so plan ahead and use spare moments to mix the batter, ready for a quick snack or a mezze dish.  Mix up a double amount, and make pancakes one day, and baked chickpea pizza a day or two later. Divine.

See below for a range of pancake recipes made from chickpea flour batter. Or browse all of our Farinata and Pudla. Alternatively, explore our other Late Autumn dishes.

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Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

Are you in the same boat as me – have never before jumped on the Kale Chip bandwagon? Phew! Glad we are friends. But at some time we have to try them, and when we do, we wonder why we ever waited so long.

Fresh from making Garlic Chilli Curly Kale, there was half a bunch of Curly Kale sitting sadly in the fridge. So late one afternoon, they became our afternoon snack. There are as many recipes as there are people in the world, but this one has the wonderful salt-vinegar combo that is quite mouth watering.

Similar recipes include Asian Kale with Sesame and Crispy Shallots, Burnt Spring Onion Dip with Chilli-Garlic Kale, Fava Bean Falafel, Crispy Fried Okra, and Cauliflower Pakora.

Browse all of our Kale recipes and all of our Snacks. Or browse our Mid Autumn dishes.

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