Freekeh Pilaf with Herbs and Yoghurt Dressing

Such a wonderful earthy flavour, Freekeh, that strange sounding name (to Western ears) belonging to the nutty grain. Sold whole or cracked, it is easy to find at Middle Eastern stores, some providores and some bulk lentil and grain places. Freekeh actually means rubbed – the process of removing the grains from its husks.

Like quinoa, freekeh is full of protein, with a beautiful smokiness, and is dead easy to cook. It is Middle Eastern duram wheat that is picked while unripe then traditionally roasted over wood fires to burn off the husks – hence its wonderful smoky flavour. Surprisingly it is also a little sweet, so a squeeze of lemon or lime always does wonders to a freekeh dish.

Freekeh is so unusual as generally the grains we use have been allowed to mature and dry on the head.

This dish is a take on an Ottolenghi dish from his book, Plenty, but has some minor variations. It is beautifully cooked by simmering for 15 mins and then leaving covered, to steam until cooked. Then it is tossed with herbs and topped with garlicky lemon yoghurt before serving.

Similar recipes include Green Beans with Freekeh, Walnuts and Tahini, Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, and Rice and Cauliflower Pilaf.

Browse all of our Freekeh recipes and all of our Pilafs. Our Middle Eastern dishes are here. Or browse our Late Spring collection of recipes.

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Umbrian Sauce for a Cure | Salsa di Curata | Herby Mustard Sauce or Dressing

This Umbrian Sauce is an approximation of an old recipe for a sauce which is said to cure many maladies, using modern day ingredients. It keeps very well in the fridge, so if you are feeling under the weather, make a batch and drizzle it on everything. I do love it on a green salad. Since moving into this house with its excellent back yard, we are never without greens suitable for salads.

It is herby and mustardy. You can imagine why it has a reputation of being a cure-all.

Similar recipes include Roast Capsicum Sauce and Dressing, Almond Butter Dressing, and Umbrian Broad Bean Puree.

You might like to browse our Dressings here and Sauces here. Our Italian recipes are here. Or browse our Late Summer recipes.

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A New Juice for Summer – Zucchini Juice

How hot can Summer days get! Even the days before Summer officially begins can have a real bite. On those days you can reach for the coolness of white wine, of course, and in this house we make a range of lassi drinks, fruit juices and iced cordials.

One thing we love is to reach for the Zucchinis and make a healthy and refreshing juice, guaranteed to combat the heat without putting a wobble in your step.

Who knew that zucchini juice is so good? I discovered it one recent summer when my neighbour kept gifting me huge zucchinis from their organic farm. There are only so many zucchinis a girl can eat! They don’t really dehydrate well, and I had made enough zucchini pickles and preserves to last all winter. So I decided to try juicing them. It was a revelation.

I am here to tell you that zucchini juice is amazing! On its own or mixed with other fruits and vegetables, it is pure refreshment in a glass on a hot morning, afternoon or evening.

Similar recipes include Green Tea and Apple Juice Cooler, Strawberry Frappe, and Summer Cooling Drinks with Juices.

Browse all of our Zucchini recipes and all of our Juices. Our Cooling Drinks are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Grilled Pecorino Wrapped in Vine Leaves

Do you have a grape vine, or access to grape vine leaves? Then this is for you. A great tea time snack, they are definitely delightful.

Pecorino is wrapped in vine leaves and then grilled until the cheese melts and the leaves crisp a little. You can even cook these on a BBQ.

Grape leaves are best picked from grape vines in the Spring and Early Summer, while they are still tender. Select young whole, medium leaves. Make sure  that the leaves haven’t been sprayed.

Similar recipes include Mushrooms Baked in Grape Vine Leaves.

Browse our grape vine leaf recipes, our Italian dishes and our French recipes. Or take some time to explore our collection of Late Spring recipes.

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Saffron, Date and Almond Rice

Goodness, what a beautiful rice dish. Ottolenghi again creates magic with this Iranian recipe that he credits Claudia Roden’s classic A Book Of Middle Eastern Food. He believes that Irani people cook the best rice, and I have to say he might be right.

This recipe takes a bit more effort than banging some rice into the rice cooker, but for special occasions, and for weekends, it is definitely worth it. The rice grains are beautifully separated and soft. The dish has a sweet overtone from the dates, and conjures up beautiful Middle Eastern feasts on low tables in tents with thick rugs covering your legs.

This dish is cooked like a biryani, in layers. It needs a very low heat – raise the pot above your heat source a little if you can (eg place a roasting rack or heat diffuser over the heat source). It could also be cooked in a very low oven, but you’ll miss the crunchy rice that forms at the bottom.

Recently I needed to replace my saffron, so I ordered some from Saffron Only. It is the most beautiful saffron! Far better that what I had been using. If you love saffron, check her out on Instagram. (I only recommend products when they are excellent, and am not recompensed for my recommendations.)

Similar dishes include Kosheri, Green Mango and Coconut Rice, and Rice with Orzo.

Also try Saffron and Rose Scented Aubergine, Golden Saffron Spiced Tea, and Dates and Saffron Soaked in Spiced Ghee.

Browse all of our Rice dishes and all of our Ottolenghi recipes. Or take some time and explore our Mid Spring collection of dishes.

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Bamiya | Okra with Apricots and Lemon

This dish is an Armenian classic, one that brings sweetness through fruits into a dish with the softness of long-cooked okra. This recipe is a straightforward version of the dish – some recipes add tamarind and spices, but this one is quite an easy dish to cook while retaining the beautiful flavours of the cuisine. Tartness is added to the dish with lemons and tomato puree.

The okra are first sautéed and then cooked in the tomato puree with the apricots and lemon, for 40 mins or so, until meltingly soft. You will love it.

Are you after more Okra dishes? Try Okra with Chilli Spice Paste, Plain Kuzhambu with Okra, and Sambar with Okra.

Are you looking for more Armenian dishes? Try Green Peppers in Yoghurt and  Armenian Pickled Okra.

You can browse all of our Okra dishes, all Apricot recipes, and all of our Armenian dishes. Or simply explore our Late Autumn dishes.

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Simple Tomato Bread Salad

When life is busy, simple is necessary. Eating healthy but quickly means the freshest of ingredients, whatever is in the fridge, without too much thinking or cooking. We are in that space at the moment, life is busy, simple is the way we are eating. Simple but good. VERY good. It is important to remember that salads need not be complex or take time to make.

For this salad, toast some bread really well, and mix it with some tomatoes for an awesome salad. The success of the salad lies in great tomatoes and a very good, tasty, extra virgin olive oil.

Are you after other Tomato Salads? Try Red Pepper and Tomato Salad with Crispy Flatbread, Tomato and Pomegranate Salad, and Kachumber – Indian Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

You can browse all of our Bread Salads, Tomato Salads, or indeed all of our many many Salads. Or take some time to explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

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Green Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

I look forward to having green tomatoes from the garden – I love the tartness in salads, salsa, and topping other dishes (adding a real zing to them). Just occasionally my green grocer stocks them too.

This is a salad which is good with fresh mozzarella, either balls (big or small), plaits or long strings. We like to rip them open, roughly, spreading them over the plate, and topping with our other ingredients. Oh yum!

This recipes layers fresh mozzarella with green tomatoes and basil or other herbs. I know that you will enjoy it.

Are you looking for other Mozzarella dishes? Try Roast Red Pepper Salad with Mozzarella and White Beans, Mozzarella Salad with Crispy Tomato Crumbs, and Cheese and Eggplant Torte with Mozzarella.

What about other Green Tomato recipes? Try Marinated Zucchini with Tomatoes, and Green Tomato Salsa.

You can browse all Mozzarella dishes, and all Green Tomato dishes. All of our Tomato Salad recipes are here and our Salads in total are here. Or simply explore our Mid Summer dishes.

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Fresh Radish and Mint Chutney

This chutney was one of my first forays into the universe of Indian fresh chutneys, some many years ago. These days I make them a lot – not only are they wonderful in their own right and an important taste element in an Indian meal, they are also a great way to eat more vegetables, and a great way to use up any vegetable and herb that is sitting a little neglected in the fridge. They go great in sandwiches, toasties, and dolloped into soups too.

If you are trying to learn more about Indian cooking the importance of the Indian fresh chutneys is not immediately evident. They may not make sense to you – they appear in a separate section of cookbooks and it may not be evident how critical a part they play in any meal. It is only through diligent reading of many many blog posts or books, or a visit to India where you can eat in homes and local cafes, that the place of fresh chutneys in Indian meals slowly dawns.

Similar recipes include Andhra Spinach Chutney, Mint and Coriander Chutney, and Coriander and Coconut Chutney.

Don’t let a day go past without whizzing one up. Read about Indian Chutneys here. Browse our Indian Chutney recipes, our general Chutney recipes, and our pickle recipes. Or explore our Late Spring dishes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in the Retro Recipes series.

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Kiribath | Sri Lankan Coconut Rice

A celebration dish from Sri Lanka

Tropical countries around the globe have their own versions of coconut rice. This one is from Sri Lanka, and is different to our other Coconut Rice dishes in that the rice is allowed to over-cook and become very soft and tender. It can be served hot, but if allowed to cool it solidifies and can be cut into diamond shapes.

Sri Lanka has a beautiful red rice which is often used to make this dish. It is nutty in taste, but is much softer than brown rice. This coconut rice is an auspicious dish in Sri Lanka, being made on every important day, festivals, celebrations and on the first day of each month to mark to symbolise luck and happiness.

Similar dishes include Sri Lankan Ghee Rice, Yellow Rice with Yoghurt, Green Mango and Coconut Rice, and South Indian Coconut Rice.

Have a look at our other Coconut Rice dishes, and explore our Sri Lankan dishes. All of our Rice Recipes are here. Or simply browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Roast Capsicum Sauce or Salad Dressing

A salad dressing in a whizz – and much more…

So simple, how have I never thought of this before? With a surfeit of roasted peppers, due to roasting them on the BBQ after a Sunday lunch, I whizzed them into a perfect salad dressing.

The puree can also be used as a sauce – use with halloumi, for example, or some lentil balls. Drizzle over steamed or roasted vegetables. Mix with stir fried greens. Drizzle a little in wraps and sandwiches, or use it thick as a spread. It could be a dip. Mix with yoghurt for a wonderful sauce, dip or dressing. Use as a pasta sauce. Use as a base for a cold soup. Use for a dressing on a cold pasta salad. It is a pure delight!

Similar dishes include Grilled Pepper and Apple Relish, Sweet Onion Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, and Grilled Sweet Peppers and Eggplant Salad.

Have a look at our other Salad Dressings and Sauces. Or simple explore our Salads. You will enjoy our Late Spring recipes too.

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Sweet Pepper Salad | Roasted Red Capsicum Salad

The BBQ is lit to make a quick lunch, so afterwards I roast some red capsicums while we eat. These will make a super salad to go with dinner. There is definitely something about roasted capsicums, skin removed, flesh soft. It evokes summer nights with its colour and utter deliciousness.

This recipe is a quick version of the delicious Peperoni in Padella.

Similar recipes include Sweet Onions with Roasted Peppers, Roasted Red Pepper with Mozzarella and White Beans, and Sweet Red Pepper Salads.

Browse more of our salads and explore our Capsicum recipes. Or check out our BBQ recipes. Alternatively, explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Char Grilled Banana Chillies Stuffed with Tomatoes and Spices | Bharwan Mirch

Perfect for a light lunch.

While this dish can be cooked on the stove top or in the oven, it is the perfect dish for a weekend BBQ. Served with yoghurt and flatbread, it is a perfect light weekend lunch.

Use either hot or mild banana chillies. Hot Banana chillies contrast well with the more mild filling. Mild Banana chillies have a mild sweet flavour, despite their chilli-related name. They are not at all hot or spicy. And we temper the heat of the spices in the stuffing by using warming spices and only a little chilli, adjusted to your taste.

Bharwan means stuffed in Hindi. The stuffing is made from chickpea flour and spices, moistened with tomatoes. You can basically add any ingredient of your choice into the stuffing. The combination of the banana chillies and mild tangy stuffing is quite flavoursome and this dish makes a great light lunch or side dish. It is a recipe from Rajasthan in India.

Similar recipes include Stuffed Okra with Onions and Spices, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice.

Feel free to explore our Capsicum recipes, and our Indian recipes. Our Indian Essentials are here, and Late Spring recipes can be explored here.

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Mushrooms Baked in Grape Vine Leaves

Grape vine leaves add a subtle flavour to dishes that are cooked on them – even wood-fired BBQs using grape vine “wood” adds a subtle taste and aroma to foods cooked over that fire.

It is a wonder that we don’t use vine leaves more for baking foods. As well as the flavour, the leaves themselves can be eaten if you have baked in a low heat (otherwise, they go a little crispy).

Elizabeth David in her beautiful book An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, gives a recipe for baking mushrooms with vine leaves. She first saw the recipe in Edmond Ridhardin’s 1913 book L’Art du Bien Manger. It is as good today as it was a century ago.

Similar recipes include Grilled Pecorino in Vine Leaves, Grilled Mushroom Salad, French Slow Cooked Mushrooms, and Shiitake Mushroom Sauce.

You might like to explore other Elizabeth David recipes, or browse Mushroom recipes. This dish could also be cooked in a covered BBQ – have a look at other BBQ dishes also. Or simply scroll through all of our Mid Spring recipes.

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Poha Chaat

Poha Chat is an Indian spicy snack and street food loved by many. Poha is rice that has been steamed and flattened, and it comes in various sizes. For this recipe, thick poha will be needed. If using thinner poha, don’t soak for long in water – thin poha particularly will need a sprinkle of water only.

Similar recipes include Borlotti Bean Chaat, and Channa Chaat.

Other Poha dishes include Kanda Poha, Kolacha Poha, and Sweet and Crunchy Poha.

Browse all of our Poha recipes and our Chat dishes. Our Indian recipes are here, and Indian Essentials here. Or explore our Early Spring dishes.

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