Peas with Purslane (or Sorrel) and Mustard

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. It is a Pea dish today.

There is an ode to peas (especially frozen peas) in the Guardian as it introduces this dish from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. It goes something like this (with minor alterations):

“Is there a safer bet in the kitchen than that there will be a bag of peas in the freezer? Peas are unlikely to surprise or shock in any way, but they are delightfully reassuring. They will somehow always be there, and always taste as they have and should.

Sure, freshly podded peas have about them a certain romance  – they have, for example, that beautiful texture when thrown raw into a crunchy spring salad. But who has access to fresh peas that haven’t been sitting for far too long on the green grocer’s shelves? No wonder, frozen peas sit comfortably in almost all home freezers.

Peas are incredibly relaxed about whom they sit next to at dinner. Salty and tangy feta or parmesan, creamy yoghurt, nutty potatoes, sweet fresh mint, peppery watercress or bitter leaves: sweet peas will always bring out the best in their companion. Needing little more than a minute’s blanching to cook, followed by a brief drenching in cold water, peas are low-maintenance and offer instant gratification. They are hugely versatile in use, as good at being mashed, pureed, lightly stewed or blitzed as they are left whole and mixed through a salad or pasta, stirred through a risotto, or gently stuffed inside artichoke hearts ready for braising.”

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Baked Figs with Cheese and Honey

As Autumn arrives, even before, my Italian-owned green grocery is full of figs – green, black and in between. What a gorgeous time it is – the last of the summer stone fruits, grapes, plums – one of my 4 favourite seasons of the year!

I must admit to liking my fruit, any fruit, fresh. You will see that we don’t have a lot of fruit recipes in our collection because of that. But once in a while, we will bake, grill or roast, maybe poach, something sweet.

Figs are so wonderful in their natural state, and we have several salads that attest to that. They pair well with cheese, honey, and even almonds and pinenuts! Figs are simply gorgeous this way.

But roasting brings in another dimension. It is a different taste – just as fig jam tastes different to fresh figs. Roasted figs are soft, warm and sticky, and they shine with either savoury flavours, sweet flavours, or a mix of both. They can be mashed onto bruschetta and topped with pesto, without the honey they can be used with pasta, or top a green salad with them. Serve them for breakfast, lunch, dessert, a snack or supper.

Are you looking for Fig recipes? Try Figs with Rosewater and Almonds, Fig Salad with Almond Butter Dressing, and Figs with Pecorino.

Browse all of our Fig recipes here, all of our Italian recipes, and all of our Dessert recipes. Or take some time to browse our Late Summer dishes.

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Fennel and Fig Salad with Vin Cotto

It is fig season! And I am cozying up to my neighbour who has 2 huge fig trees. So far, no luck in getting those ripe goodies, but luckily my green grocers are carrying both green and black figs.

Symbols of Autumn, figs begin to ripen in late Summer, and they star as one of the great delicacies until late Autumn. They are so luscious, the first ones of the season must be eaten raw. As the season moves on, they can be baked, fried (yes!), roasted, grilled, poached, made into jam, cooked into tarts, or pickled. They are also wonderful in salads.

This salad is best for the darker figs. Green ones are so delicate in flavour they cannot carry the Vin Cotto. The combination of the sweet flavour and yielding texture of the figs with the aniseed crispness of the fennel is divine.

Figs really do make excellent salads, if there are any left over from eating them as they are, or perhaps from making fig jam. They pair so well with almonds that many salads feature that pairing. Try Fig Salad with Almond Dressing, Fig Snack with Gorgonzola, or Figs with Rosewater and Almonds.

Similar recipes include Baked Figs with Cheese and Honey, Figs Baked with Thyme, and Fig and Pecorino Salad.

This salad pairs the figs with Fennel. Are you looking for more fennel recipes? Try Fennel Salad with Fresh Prunes, Grilled Fennel with Mozzarella, or Fennel and Apple Salad.

All of our Fig recipes are here, and all of our Fennel dishes are here. Feel free to browse them. Or take some time to explore our large range of wonderful, tasty Salads. Or simply browse our Late Summer dishes.

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Preserved Sweet Chillies | A Sweet Chilli Jam

These sweet chillies are a variation on Sweet Chilli Sauce, – red chillies are simmered in a sugar solution until tender, and then stored in a glass jar. I will usually make small portions as it is an easy recipe, using a dozen or so ripe chillies from the garden. The preserve is then used over the next few days as an accompaniment to dishes. It is pretty delicious, especially with anything involving rice.

The syrup thickens like a jam or jelly, creating an interesting texture as well as flavour. The trick is to avoid over cooking otherwise you will have chilli toffee. The clearish jelly is strongly chilli flavoured, and the chilli pieces add texture and more heat. You will really enjoy this one. Today I used ripened chillies from the purple jalapeno chilli plant in the garden.

I love to serve this preserve on a cheese board (you have to be a chilli lover) and also mix it into creamy salad dressings.

Similar recipes include Green Chilli and Coriander Paste, Hot Sweet Chilli Jam, and Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Browse all of our Chilli dishes and all of our Preserves. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Tomates Fondues à l’huile d’olive | Confit Tomatoes | Tomatoes in Olive Oil

For me, tomatoes are at their very very best in Autumn This year (as I write), the summer has been cooler than normal (despite a few heat waves), so I am beginning the usual Autumn uses of tomatoes a little early. Do use them in all their shapes and forms at this time of year.

These are confit tomatoes, cooked slowly in beautiful olive oil which they tend to absorb while becoming wonderfully soft. You can do them on the stove top, but I find that the heat is better controlled in the oven. They need to cook slowly. As you can tell by the name, it is a French recipe.

These are even better if the tomatoes are straight from the garden. Serve them with baked dishes, or in a salad. They go wonderfully in risotto and with pasta1 Try them as a side dish with grilled polenta and a salad. Or on inch thick fresh bread with basil or tapenade, or simply in the middle of a large white plate to enjoy on their own.

I first made these in 2002, so long ago now, but they are a traditional part of autumn cooking for us. Use large tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. We consider this recipe as part of our Retro series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 2005 – 2006. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

Would you like other baked tomato recipes? Try Oven Baked Tomatoes, Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce and Tomatoes Stuffed with Cheese.

If you love confit recipes you will also like our dishes where food is cooked a la grecque.

You might also like our Tomato recipes. Or browse our French recipes. Check out our easy Early Autumn recipes.

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Herb and Garlic Marinated Zucchini Gratin

As I write this we have had a long weekend of record breaking temperatures in the 40C’s, maxing out at 44C. Then this week we are experiencing record breaking low temperatures for January. It’s the weather that demands turning the oven on and baking something.

This year the zucchini crop has done much better, fruiting constantly. How gorgeous they are, direct from the bush – tiny, tender, with flavours of summer. But today, in this cold weather, I am regressing to the 1970’s by marinating the zucchini in herbs and garlic, smothering them with cheese and baking them like a gratin. Perfect for very cool Summer weather.

Similar recipes include Potato Cheese Gratin, Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini, and Marinated Zucchini with Bocconcini.

Browse all of our Zucchini dishes and our Gratin dishes. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Bhindi Raita | Crispy Fried Okra in Yoghurt

Yoghurt is such an important part of the diet in many parts of India, and it is often a part of every lunch and dinner meal. Sometimes served as is, and often mixed with a vegetable, there are many ways to ensure yoghurt, spices and vegetables have an increased presence in the daily diet.

This recipe is terrific, with the combination of textures and flavours. It can be served as both a raita (yoghurt dish) or as a side dish – okra in a yoghurt sauce.

This dish is from the beautiful Yamuna Devi’s Lord Krishna’s Kitchen, a real bible of Indian dishes. She suggests that this dish is served with Spiced Potato and Pea Samosas with Sweet and Sour Tamarind Sauce, for a light lunch or snack, and with Toor Dal Kitchari with Mixed Vegetables for a more substantial meal. Delicious!

Are you after more Okra dishes? Try Spicy Dried Okra, Malaysian Lemak-Style Vegetables, and Moru Sambar with Okra.

Or do you want to try more Yamuna Devi recipes? Try Spicy Eggplant Rice, Golden Turmeric Rice, and Chickpea, Almond and Sesame Spread.

We have more Raita recipes. Try Carrot Raita, Spinach Raita, and Three Different Raitas.

Or browse all of our Okra dishes, all Raitas and all of Yamuna Devi dishes. All of our Indian dishes are here. Or simply explore our Late Autumn collection of recipes.

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Red Onion and Green Chilli Bhajji

Looking for quick and easy snacks? These Onion Bhaji are feather light and so more-ish – you had better make quite a few. Heat from the chilli, the beautiful citrusy warmth of the coriander seed and the chickpea flour coating make these a great go-to accompaniment to a strong cuppa Indian tea either morning or afternoon on a cool day.

This is a treasure of Bengal, north of India. The original recipe comes from Christine Mannfield in her collection of Indian recipes Tasting India. I adapted it a little. The beauty of this recipe is that the onions are not coated in a batter, but the chickpea flour is worked into the onions, using its own moisture, to form a delicious crispy light coating.

Have a look at this other style of Onion Bhaji and these Vegetable Bhaji. Or try this Greek-Indian Tomato Pakoras. Other Onion dishes you could try include Confit d’Oignon (Onion Jam), Onion Salad with Sesame Oil, and South Indian Onion Strings Slightly Pickled Salad.

Browse all of our Bhaji/Pakoras here, or have a look at our Indian Snacks. All of our Onion recipes are here, and Indian dishes are here. Or you might like to explore all of our easy Mid Autumn dishes.

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Plums, Apples, and/or Pears, Baked in Marsala or Port

One of the popular flavours of last century, around the ’70’s, was to bake fruit in Port or Marsala (a dark, sweet fortified dessert wine, produced in Sicily). The popularity of it has waned, though, to the extent that Marsala is now hard to find in stores and outlets.  However, I still like it, to the extent that once or twice a year, the bottle comes out and some fruit goes into the oven. See this delicious Pear dish.

Inevitably, cinnamon is paired with the Marsala, and it is a good combination, along with lemon and butter.

Today’s dish uses this combination in a bake of pears, apples and/or plums. At this time of year we are using plums on their own – it is Plum Season and my friend has gifted a bucket of home grown juicy fruit. They are baked and served with their juices along with cream, marscapone, or icecream, and can be added to pies and pastries, or included in icecreams, yoghurt deserts, and summery drinks (alcoholic or not).

Similar recipes include Pears Baked with Marsala, Baked Apples with Star Anise, and Rosemary Roasted Pears.

Browse all of our Desserts, and all of our Plum dishes. Our Apple recipes are here and Pear dishes here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Purslane Salad with Burrata

This is a herby salad with the tang of purslane, the bite of spinach, the crunch of nuts and the creaminess of burrata.

I have used Purslane, as we grow it exceptionally well in Summer. Rather than weed out all of this plant, I leave a little patch and water it well. It grows lusciously with long branches lifting up from the soil. It is easy to pick, and more important, easy to clean by rinsing a couple of times. The tart tang of purslane adds a lovely lift to salads. It is very easy to grow, and you may find it occasionally at your green grocers. You can always forage it, it is everywhere, but make sure it IS purslane and that it has not been sprayed.

I have to mention how lucky I am to have a green grocer owned by a Middle Eastern family. They stock the best Dill that I have ever seen. Very thankful. I need to mention that the inspiration for this recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More but we evolved the recipe over the years to use our common ingredients and make it egg-free. It is like a third cousin twice removed.

Similar recipes include Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad.

Browse all of our Purslane dishes, and all of our Salads. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Beetroot and Yoghurt Salad or Dip

The last of this crop of beetroot was picked to make a Chilled Beetroot Soup and a Beetroot and Yoghurt Salad/Dip. It is a heatwave right now, as I write this post – we are in Day 3 of a 4 Day heatwave with temperatures over 40C. Thankfully, the mornings are glorious, so there is time to do a little gardening and get some cold dishes ready for the day.

Can I tell you that I have fallen in love with beetroot this year? Ok, I have eaten it and cooked with it before, but beetroot straight from my garden has made me a lover of this vegetable. You can tell by the number of beet recipes posted from 2006 to mid 2016 (5), and after that date (25 published or scheduled).

Let me share some of those recipes with you. Try an Indian sautéed Beetroot Curry, another Chilled Beetroot Soup, and a Beetroot Risotto.

We have some other dips perfect for hot weather: the green coriander based Zhug, Moroccan Carrot Dip and Tomato and Chilli Jam.

Yoghurt makes a great base for yoghurt salads that can often also be used as dips. For example: Yoghurt and Cucumber, Yoghurt and Green Peppers, and Yoghurt Tahina Dip.

Please browse all of our Yoghurt dishes, all of our Dips, our Salads, and all of our Beetroot recipes. or simply find some time to explore our Mid Summer Recipes.

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Aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice

This rice dish, very delicious I must say, is cooked in the oven. This method is  very handy if you are cooking a large meal and want to leave the stove top for other dishes. The general method can be used without the addition of the aromatics. Ottolenghi has this recipe in his book Plenty More but I have tarted it up just a little. As much as I love Yotham and crew, they need to get a better handle on Indian ingredients (IMO), so I have added or changed out a couple of things in this dish.

Try to get hold of fresh curry leaves on the stem for this dish – they freeze or dry well, so don’t worry if you end up with a big bunch. One of the ways in which curry leaf flavour is layered into a dish is to use them in several different ways in the same dish. Flavour a broth with them, as Ottolenghi does, saute/fry them in ghee or some other oil because the flavour is most easily transported by oils, and add crushed leaves to the final dish. I have used the last two methods in my version of this dish.

Serve the dish with an Indian pickle and a vegetable or lentil curry.

We have several ways of cooking rice, and this oven method is one more. Also try Oven Finished Rice, Buttery Steamed Rice, and The Absorption Method.

Similar recipes include Turmeric Rice, Saffron, Date and Almond Rice, Carrot Rice, and Lemon Rice.

Browse all of our Rice dishes, and our Indian Recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here. All of the Ottolenghi dishes we have made are here. Or explore our Early Summer recipes.

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Chilli Soy Sauce and Dipping Sauce

Our garden features several well-bearing chilli bushes, and we do a number of things with them. Firstly, we freeze some, whole, for use during winter. We use them in our cooking of course, especially Indian dishes. Some red ones are dried for use as dried chillies in Indian food during the year. Chilli jams, sauces and pastes are made. And we pretty much use them in everything else.

Today’s recipe is a very simple, Asian condiment, which soaks fresh chillies in soy sauce, to be drizzled over, well, pretty much everything. I love a good stirfry and rice, and with abundant amounts of this condiment to drizzle and to dip. Imagine dipping some deep fried tofu in this sauce! Also good over noodle dishes and vegetables. Try it with samosas, or Chinese Scallion Pancakes.

Similar recipes include Preserved Sweet Chillies, Balinese Sambal Iris, Tomato and Chilli Jam, and Chilli Pastes. Also try Onion Jam, and Zhug.

Browse all of our Chilli dishes and all of our Sauces and Condiments. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Avocado and Black Bean Salad with Green Tomatoes

Black Beans are so good and great in Summer as they add a little more substance for cooler days without feeling heavy and too wintery. If you haven’t used them before, they are a good stock item in your pantry. We are not keen on too many cans in our pantry, but black beans have joined the tomatoes, coconut milk and chickpeas (for emergencies).

Here we pair black beans with avocado and feta for a creamy salad that zings with lime juice.

We also add green tomatoes. What??, I hear you ask. Green tomatoes are a magnificent slightly sour and very crunchy ingredient ideal for salads, especially those with Mexican or South East Asian overtones. They are used extensively in parts of the world but not much in the English-speaking world. You may have seen the film Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (or not), but the use of green tomatoes extends far beyond being crumbed and fried (as delicious as they are). Try them in Indian dishes too, as a replacement for, or along side, the usual souring agent in the dish (tamarind, lime or lemon juice, dried pomegranate seeds, kokum, golpar, sour grapes, verjuice, etc). There are parts of the world that use sour to great effect in their cuisines – Persia and India come to mind.

I hope you enjoy this salad, it is very very good.

You might enjoy some other Black Bean recipes. Have a look at Turtle Bean Soup, and Black Bean and Cabbage Salad with Orange Dressing.

Try some Bittman SaladsCucumber and Avocado Salad with Asian Dressing, Wombok and Radish Salad with Peanut Dressing and Artichoke Hearts with Feta Salad.

All of our Black Bean recipes are here, and our Avocado Recipes here. Salads are all here (there are a LOT), and Bittman Salads here. Or take some time to explore our easy Late Summer Recipes.

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Radicchio Risotto | Risotto al Radicchio

Oh goodness! The vibrant colour of the bitter leaves of radicchio! I love them in my kitchen, but they are not the cheapest of vegetables to buy so they are not a weekly visitor. However, radicchio is so versatile, and incredibly good.

Today we make a risotto with this glorious vegetable. It is added at the beginning of the cooking process, and thus becomes very tender during the 20 mins of stirring that makes a risotto.

Do be careful about the rice that you use for risotto. You will get the best results using a risotto rice. You can read more about that here. My favourite at the moment, and the one that I used for this dish, is Carnaroli.

Are you looking for Radicchio recipes? Read more about this incredible vegetable here. Try Grilled Radicchio with Shallots and Dill, and Red Rice Congee topped with Radicchio.

Try other risottos too – Beetroot Risotto, Caramelised Pumpkin Risotto, Mushroom Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto are some of our favourites. You can see how to make a basic risotto here.

Check out all of our Risotto recipes, and all of our Italian recipes. We have some other Radicchio recipes too – check them out here. You might like to browse our easy Late Summer recipes here.

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