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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Lauki Melon with Tomato and Feta

Lauki, the humble vegetable of India, is lifted to new heights in this recipe. Melon slices are marinated in garlic and oil for half an hour, then pan fried until tender and golden brown. They are then drizzled with a tomato sauce and chilli oil, and topped with creamy feta. Delicious!

The genesis of this recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. He has a similar dish that uses marrow. When a recipe specifies marrow as an ingredient, confusion ensues. Unlike the UK, Australia does not have a generic marrow, or indeed a variety of marrows. The closest we get to marrow is large zucchinis, yet these are difficult to purchase as it is baby zucchinis that are all the rage now and shops stock only these.

India, however, has many melons, close enough, and they are available in Indian and Asian shops. For this recipe I used Long Melon (Lauki). It worked really well. A friend says that this is too, too much – lifting the humble Lauki to new heights! It does work very well. And with only a few soft seeds in the centre, there was no need to remove them before cooking.

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.

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 Eggplant and Zucchini Baked with Chickpeas, Gratin of Zucchini and Potatoes, and Zucchini Fry.

Browse our Lauki recipes and our Zucchini 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.

Continue reading “Lauki Melon with Tomato and Feta”

Pimento Peppers Stuffed with Tomatoes and Feta

On a recent trip to our Central Adelaide Market, these most gorgeous pimentos were available from the organic vegetable store.  They are the sweet capsicum variety that is used to stuff olives. You’ve seen pimento stuffed olives of course. Did you know that in the 1800s, chopped pimento was shot by hydraulic pump into end of each olive, inserting the pimento while, at the same time, ejecting the pit out of the other end. Now pimentos are pureed then formed into strips with a natural gum, for the easy mechanisation of olive stuffing.

Pimentos can be stuffed too, and we do them  in the traditional way – filling them with tomatoes and garlic and topping with feta. The skin of the pimento is quite thick, so we slow bake them to allow the tomatoes to soften down and the pimento to also become tender. We love stuffed vegetables and are glad that they are making inroads again into the fashionable food world.

We have a similar recipe for stuffing capsicums, one that drizzles the cooked capsicums with a delicious herb oil. Other similar recipes include Capsicums Stuffed with Kidney Beans and Feta, and Banana Chillies Stuffed with Tomatoes and Spices. Also try Lauki Melon with Tomato and Feta.

Browse all of our Stuffed recipes, and our Capsicum dishes.  We have a couple of Spanish dishes to check out. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

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Fennel and Feta Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate

Fennel is a capricious vegetable, pretending to be summery with that fresh, crisp taste that needs nothing more than some salt and olive oil before it lands on the table. But only sorry specimens of fennel are available through Summer, and at exorbitant prices. But as Autumn wanes and winter pikes its head around the corner, fennel appears with bulbs big and firm, and the prices plunge.

Before the cold weather hits, it is important to taste some of those minimal dishes with fennel. I promise, if you slice fennel thinly, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, your salad dish might not make it to the table. It becomes so more-ish that it can be completely polished off in the kitchen before the rest of the meal is finished.

And blessings continue in the late Autumn. All of a sudden pomegranates fill the green grocers’ shelves again. Those ruby red kernels that add sheer joy to any dish and look divine at the table. These kernels of happiness also speak of Summer, but it must be of Summer-gone, because Autumn and early winter is their real season.

Fennel and pomegranate, unsurprisingly, make a great match in the salad bowl. One crunchy and liquorishy, and the other slightly tart and juicy. Ottolenghi in his book Ottolenghi, pairs them with feta and sumac. This must bring four of Ottolenghi’s most loved ingredients together – he uses them a lot.

He recommends Greek feta for the bite that it gives, but I have fallen in love with a more Middle Eastern feta, one that I can get from the local Afghan grocery. It is creamier and gentler, and I adore it. In this recipe, use your favourite feta too.

Would you like more Fennel recipes? Try Braised Fennel with Capers, Olives and Ricotta, Fennel, Potato and Tomato Salad with Garlicky Mayonnaise, Grilled Fennel with Fresh Mozzarella, and Fennel a la Grecque.

Or some Pomegranate dishes? Try Pomegranate Molasses, Pomegranate Salad with Green Coriander and Lime, and Crab Apple and Pomegranate Jelly.

Browse all of our Fennel dishes, Pomegranate recipes and the Ottolenghi dishes that we have made. All of our Salads are here. Or explore our Late Autumn collection of recipes.

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Figs with Basil, Goat Curd and Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Late Summer and Early Autumn are peak time for figs. Any other time of the year, you will probably be getting fruit from great distances and, as figs don’t ripen after picking, this normally means that they are bland and dry. A great fig should look like it’s just about to burst its skin. When squeezed lightly it should give a little and not spring back. It must be almost unctuously sweet, soft and wet. Once you’ve managed to find a fig that meets all these criteria, I guarantee a heavenly experience.

The unctuous sweetness of a fresh fig, combined with its ripe-rich texture, is unbeatable. I have been picking figs from a local estate, to make jam, and can tell you that nothing beats them straight from a tree. This salad was made with the left over, over-ripe figs.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe, from Plenty. Relatively easy, for an Ottolenghi recipe, it can be made at the last minute. Phew! So many of his recipes take an hour or 3 to make.

Similar recipes include Fig and Halloumi Salad, Fennel and Fig Salad, Fig Salad with Almond Butter Dressing, and Fig Salad with Hazelnuts.

Browse all of our Fig Salads and all of our Fig recipes. Our Ottolenghi recipes are here (and just the ones from Plenty here). Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Watermelon Salad with Mint and Olives

Well, watermelon has this household hooked in the Summer hot weather – that luscious pink colour going looking so good in the heat, and the juices running down onto one’s plate (or down one’s chin). Eaten with a sucking noise, to extract every piece of juice, it cools and supplies a sugar energy boost at the same time.

It is so good to slice it, take it outside and eat with ones hands, the rind still on, gnawing at it to get the last of the pink bits. Or cut into cubes, more delicately eaten with a fork, popping ice-cold cubes into our mouths with regular automatic movements of fork to cube to mouth and back again.

Today we mix it with feta, such a good mix, some onion, mint and olives, for a quick salad. I have some creamy feta from the local Afghan shop, so creamy it can be spread onto flatbread for quick snacks. But today I managed to save some for the salad.

We have a collection of Watermelon Salads for you to explore – we brought together all our favourite salads in one post.

Similar recipes include Watermelon, Apple and Lemongrass Salad, Watermelon Juice with Ginger and Mint, Watermelon and Peach Salad with Basil, Apple and Grape Salad with Spices, and Haloumi and Watermelon Salad.

Also try Artichoke Hearts and Feta Salad with Tomatoes, and Du Puy Lentils with Feta and Tomato.

All of our Watermelon Salads are here, and all of our other Watermelon recipes are here. You could browse all of our many Salad recipes. Or take some time to browse our Mid Summer dishes.

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Cucumber, Feta, Mint and Dill Salad

Quick salads, they make my heart beat faster. Quick, tasty salads faster still. Salads with the creamy, beautiful feta from the local Afghan shop, that is almost a heart attack! Here is your 3 minute salad, plus one more minute to slice up the crusty bread or tear the tafftoon or Nan-i Afgani flatbreads into bits and set up your place under the tree outside for a perfect light lunch.

Similar recipes include Parsley and Barley Salad with Marinated Feta, Broad Beans with Feta and Preserved Lemon, and Artichoke Hearts and Feta Salad with Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Feta dishes and all of our Salads. Our Middle Eastern recipes are here. Or browse our Early Summer dishes.

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Penne con Fave e Ricotta | Penne with Broad Beans and Ricotta

What a delight Spring must be in Italy! I can only imagine. And tucked amongst the dishes served outside on South Italian hillside terraces is this dish that marries pasta, broad beans and ricotta. I also use the soft Persian style feta that I get locally from an Afghani grocery shop. It is divine.

Use Penne Rigate if you can find it, the ridges on it retain the pasta sauces really really well. For the broad beans, double peel them unless they are really, really young.

Similar recipes include French Braised Lettuce, Peas and Broad Beans, Orecchiette with Broad Beans, Broad Bean and Mint Dip, Spring Pasta with Broad Beans and Mint, and Pan Fried Broad Bean Salad.

Browse all of our Broad Bean recipes, and all of our Italian dishes. Our Pasta dishes are here. Or explore our Mid Spring collection of recipes.

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Broad Beans with Feta and Preserved Lemon

Oh the joy when Broad Beans come back into season. The first time that the silky smooth texture of the beans is tasted again is pure joy. It makes the effort of preparing them (double peeling) all the more worth it. This simple salad is perfect with the bite of the feta and the tang of the preserved lemon pairing well with the silky beans. I hope you enjoy it.

If you are lucky enough to have very young beans straight off of the bush, you can use the beans whole – pod and all. But you need the youngest of beans. You won’t be able to get these from a shop, but they are easy to grow at home.

Similar recipes include Red Radish and Broad Bean Salad, Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf with Broad Beans, Broad Beans with Parmesan, Basil and Garlic ChipsBroad Beans with Crispy Garlic, Broad Bean Salad with Tomato and Thyme, and Glorious Five Bean Salad.

Browse all of our Broad Bean dishes and all of our Salads. Or check out our collection of Early Spring recipes.

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Broad Beans Mezze | Salad of Broad Beans with Sea Salt and Black Pepper AND Broad Beans with Feta and Dill

Sometimes we forget that Simple is Better. I do say that a lot, because sometimes we forget. As I write Nigella Lawson is being savaged for her “too simple” new cookbook. It is difficult to understand – Jamie Oliver didn’t face the same criticism with his 30 Minute Meals, 15 Minute Meals, or meals with just 5 ingredients. But we really have become used to complicated food – Ottolenghi, for example. His beautiful food cannot be called simple. Master Chef dishes are mind bogglingly complex. We all want to be Iron Chefs.

I *love* to get back to basics. Simple food, simply cooked, banging with uncomplicated flavours where the ingredient shines. Grilled Peppers with Olive Oil. A plate of Olives. Crumbled Feta. Cucumbers with Rice Vinegar. Green Beans with Garlic. A plate of Spinach. Yoghurt with Cumin. Crusty Bread. Grilled Eggplants. Steamed Potatoes. The list goes on and on. So today, this is a reminder that salt and pepper is often all that is needed.

The recipe today is a Broad Bean Salad, simple style. We add a second salad that takes the minimalistic version and adds olive oil, lemon juice and feta. It too is delicious without being overly complicated.

Both are great additions to a tapas spread or a mezze plate. They even make a great afternoon snack.

Other Broad Bean dishes to try are Orecchiette with Broad Beans, Broad Beans with Feta and Preserved Lemon, Young Broad Bean Pod Puree, Broad Beans with Crispy Garlic, Broad Bean Salad with Tomato and Thyme, and Glorious Five Bean Salad.

Also try Broad Beans with Lemon and Coriander.

Browse all of our Broad Bean dishes. Our Salads are here. Or check our our collection of Early Spring recipes.

Continue reading “Broad Beans Mezze | Salad of Broad Beans with Sea Salt and Black Pepper AND Broad Beans with Feta and Dill”

Parsley and Barley Salad with Spiced Marinated Feta

A beautiful, fresh and light Salad

Oh how delightful this salad is! It feels healthy and green and very clarifying. It makes you feel so good as you are eating it. The recipe comes from Ottolenhi and Tamimi’s book Jerusalem.

Middle Eastern and Israeli dishes can be substantial and heavy and are accompanied by a sharp, fresh salad such as this one. The herbs and lemon juice cleanse the palate and give a certain sense of lightness. Serve it with other vegetable-based mezze dishes. I like to eat it on its own for lunch with some flatbread. This amount serves 4 – 5 as a side dish and 2 – 3 as a lunch with flatbread.

The flavours of garlic, olive oil, onion, lemon – flavour so familiar from the Middle East – are all there, accentuated by za’atar – and the flavours are carried by the beautiful green tastes of parsley and green capsicum. A delightful, balanced dish.

Are you looking for similar Barley recipes? Try this wonderful Mediterranean Barley Salad with Crispy Tofu, or  Farmhouse Barley and Vegetable Soup, Barley and Red Kidney Beans, and Adzuki Bean, Barley and Pumpkin Soup with Miso and Parsley.

Or try some Ottolenghi recipes – Roasted Eggplant with a Garlic Sauce, Du Puy Lentils with Tahini and Cumin, and Smashed Garlic and Cucumber Salad.

We even have Parsley recipes for you. Chickpea “Tabbouleh”, Greek style Salsa Verde and Parsley Braised with Tomatoes.

You might like to browse other Parsley recipes here and here, other Barley recipes and other Ottolenghi recipes. Try our Middle Eastern recipes here and here, or explore our collection of easy Spring dishes here and here.

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Artichoke Hearts and Feta Salad with Tomatoes

Artichokes are not something that appear in this house very often, except perhaps as decorations – they look so good, right? Truth be told, I am a bit too lazy to do the work to prepare and cook them. While the taste of fresh ones must be superior, I have turned to grilled hearts from the deli section of the supermarket for this salad. You can also use canned. Hearts are available in jars and cans in supermarkets. After all, we all turn to canned beans and lentils very occasionally, even though freshly soaked and cooked tastes infinitely better. So, today, against my preference for limiting processed foods, I am rebelliously Ok’ing that can or jar of artichoke hearts for this recipe if you can’t get the grilled ones from the deli section. Sometimes you can also find frozen ones, and you could grill them yourself.

Are you looking for other salads?  Can we suggest Artichoke and Potato Salad with Preserved Lemon Mayonnaise, Artichoke Hearts with Mozzarella and Candied Citrus, Easy White Bean Salad, Du Puy Lentils with Feta and Tomato, and Fennel Salad with Fresh Prunes?

You can browse all of our Salads here. Or just check the Bittman Salads. We have some Feta recipes. Or simply browse our easy Mid Summer recipes.

Continue reading “Artichoke Hearts and Feta Salad with Tomatoes”

Elegant Orzo Pasta with Wilted Spinach and Pine Nuts

A wonderful salad

A spinachy and great dish shared recently with a friend was a beautiful orzo salad. In this recipe, the orzo we are using is a Greek, rice-shaped pasta, similar to the Italian Risoni. Don’t confuse it with the Italian orzo, which is barley.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try  Pasta and Roasted Pepper Salad with Walnuts, Light Pasta Salads, Beautiful Buttered Orzo, and Rice and Orzo.

You might like to browse our other Salad recipes, and Spinach Salads. Our Pasta recipes are here. And explore the Spinach recipes. Alternatively take some time to enjoy our Late Summer dishes.

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Du Puy Lentils with Feta and Tomatoes

Such a bang of wonderful flavours

This is another Ottolenghi classic. Ottolenghi’s recipes have a reputation for being rather involved but I have also found that the reputation for his recipes being involved is, in the main, unjustified.

This is from my favourite of his set of books – Plenty. It is a relatively simple dish, and adapts easily to some precooking. The tomatoes can be roasted beforehand, for example. You can precook the lentils and onions too, and leave assembly to just before serving.

You might also want to try Lauki Melon with Tomato and Feta, Puy Lentils with Asparagus and Watercress, Du Puy Lentils with Witlof and Honeyed Walnuts, , Puy Lentils with Ragout of Mushrooms, Cyprian Grain Salad with Freekeh, Du Puy Lentil Soup, and Citrusy Beetroot with Puy Lentils.

Browse more of Ottolenghi’s recipes, and all du Puy Lentil recipes are here.  Or explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Baked Garlicky Eggplant with Feta

Perfect eggplants are a glory to look at. Shimmering purple, with a promise of so much under that sometimes tough outer purple layer. Then ther are the Thai globular eggplants, gorgeous again in their sheer perfection. It is rare that a week goes by without us slice or dicing, baking or grilling eggplants. Japanese cuisine, Indian dishes and Middle Eastern food are just rife with the best of ways to use eggplants.

Nigel Slater though, is generally purely British in his approach to food, and unashamedly so. He doesn’t like to steam eggplant, for example (one of my favourite ways with this vegetable. However I love his books and his one-eyed approach. At the moment I am finding Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries I and II very inspiring for evening supper-type meals. Quick to cook, open to adjustment, not too many steps or ingredients, his (vegetarian) food is my food at the moment. I am often home late-ish, so something quick and healthy is perfect for me.

And just to break the stereotype, this dish have overtones of, perhaps, a combination of Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern food.

Are you looking for other Eggplant dishes? Try Cheese and Eggplant Torte, Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Cheese and Tomatoes, and Roasted Eggplants with a Garlic Sauce, Pinenuts and Basil.

Our favourites are Brinjal Fry (Indian Deep Fried Eggplant) and a Persian Saffron and Rosewater Scented Eggplant. Or try Lauki Melon with Tomato and Feta.

You might like to browse all of our delicious eggplant recipes and other dishes from Nigel’s books. Or find inspiration in our Late Autumn recipes. Continue reading “Baked Garlicky Eggplant with Feta”