Mushrooms, Garlic and Shallots with Lemon Ricotta

Tray-Baked seems to be the catch phrase of the moment, and has me wondering whether I need to update all of my baked dishes to reflect current fashions. I have a lot of them, they warm the kitchen in Winter and provide needed comfort as well as nourishment in the cold weather. And right now, I think I will stick to the term baked.

Ottolenghi is in on it too, with recipes that are tray baked, but not this one. I have noticed that Yotham will often cook dishes on the stove top when I might throw them in the oven. It gives him more control, I suspect, whereas I am happy to have dishes bubble away in the oven, intensifying flavours, and then pull them out when they smell right. There is something about smell in the kitchen that we don’t often talk about, but it is there, just like sound is a cue to what needs to happen for stove-cooked dishes. It needs stirring, or it is running out of liquid or it needs a drop more oil, or it sounds cooked. All of these things can be identified without looking. We are such smart creatures.

So this recipe is not tray-baked, but it could be. Cook it on the stove top the first time, then make your adjustments and tray bake it next time.

If you are not put off by peeling lots of shallots and garlic cloves, you’re in for a winter treat with this hearty, oniony mushroom stew topped with ricotta. You don’t need much more, though a chunk of sourdough would not go amiss. To help with the peeling, soak the shallots and garlic in water for half an hour.

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.

The recipe takes an awful lot of small shallots and garlic, but the end result is definitely worth the effort. They are cooked with mushrooms, herbs, spices and PERNOD. There are a number of recipes in Plenty More that use Pernod, so we have overcome our reluctance to purchase it  and now have a bottle sitting proudly in our kitchen cupboard.

Sadly, we don’t get the really small shallots in Australia – our shallots are large and hefty. Halve the quantity, or take even 1/3 of the amount, depending on your shallots.

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. We are running behind our schedule, so you are on the receiving end of a score of wonderful dishes.

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 Udon and Shimiji in Mushroom-Miso Broth, Red Onion and Green Chilli Bhaji, Onion Jam, and Grilled Mushroom and Red Onion Salad.

Browse all of our Onion dishes and all of our Mushroom 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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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 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.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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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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Pasta alla Crudaiola | Pasta with a Raw Tomato Sauce

Yay for simple pasta dishes. We have a few recipes for such dishes, and most of them feature tomatoes in some form. Tomatoes are so easy to chop and add to pasta with some olive oil, garlic and basil. A bit of parmesan. And a tasty dish is born.

While the base ingredients are almost the same in the simple dishes, the way they are treated will vary, and that changes the dish. This recipe uses those base ingredients but they are chopped finely to make a sort of uncooked sauce. It is mixed with ricotta and left for an hour for the flavours to develop. Easy. Good.

This dish goes well with any pasta, really. Use short ones, curly ones or long strands. Spaghetti and bucatini are particularly good, and I love it with Penne. It is best made in Summer, or early Autumn, when our Australian tomatoes are at their best.

Are you looking for other Pasta dishes? Try Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes, Fettuccine with Cheese and Pepper, Pasta with a Cauliflower Sauce, and Pasta with Chilli and Olive Oil.

And why not make your own Pasta? How to Make Eggless Pasta.

You can browse all of our Pasta dishes, our many Tomato dishes, and all of our Italian recipes. Or simply browse our Early Autumn dishes.

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Cucumber Salad with Capers and Ricotta

Cucumber Salads never fail to remind me of the British and their cucumber sandwiches. There is something elegant, simple, yet refined and luxurious about cucumbers. The taste is subtle and it is their water content that provides the perception of being cooling and wonderful.

Featuring them in salads is tough, given that subtlety. They can easily be overwhelmed by the ingredients that you pair them with. One of the ways to circumvent this is to use something creamy – feta, ricotta, avocado, for example, and then highlight the flavours with a contrasting tang from an ingredient or the dressing.

That is exactly what this salad does. It relies solely on the quality of the olive oil (must have an excellent taste), the cucumbers (not late seasons, make this in early or mid Summer) and the ricotta (to maximise the creaminess). I do hope that you enjoy it.

Are you looking for other Cucumber Salads? Try Yoghurt with Cucumber and Mint, Cucumber, Feta, Mint and Dill Salad, Cucumber and Tomato Sunday Salad, Cucumber and Avocado Salad, Translucent Cucumber Salad, and my Mother’s German Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Creamy Dressing.

All of our Cucumber Salads are here, and all of the Cucumber Recipes are worth browsing. Otherwise, perhaps browse our Mid Summer recipes.

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