Spicy Rice and Fermented Black Bean Salad with Zucchini

Here we go, the last of the 101 Salads of Bittman. Thank you to Mark B. for such a wonderful journey.

This salad takes some short grain rice and mixes it with a wild collection of ingredients, which somehow work together. Often when making Bittman’s salads, I have imagined him at his kitchen bench, going, “right, what is in the fridge today, what is in the pantry, what is left over from last night?”. And somehow and amazing salad comes into being.

For his rice salads, I use an Indian rice – idli rice, in fact. It is a hard rice and needs more water and longer cooking than other rices, but I love that this short grain rice retains its integrity when cooked. It doesn’t collapse or become mushy. I generally have this rice in my pantry – but no need to buy it specially – use the short grained rice that you have on hand.

Are you after similar recipes? Try Carrot Rice, Zucchini Rice, and Coconut Rice.

Or you can browse all of our Rice Salads, and in fact all of our Rice dishes. All of our Bittman recipes are here. Or take some time to explore our Early Winter dishes.

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Grilled Zucchini and Fennel with Saffron Crumbs

Grilled vegetables are commonly used in our kitchen to make simple and quick salads. Veggies are sliced thinly or cut into chunks and then grilled, usually on the BBQ, or inside on a ridged grill pan. Simply dressed with olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, they make a flavoursome salad or side dish.

So trust Ottolenghi to take grilled vegetables to the next level by adding “crumbs” or croutons that have been soaked in saffron water then fried with garlic. These are scattered over grilled vegetables for a salad that has visual impact and tastes delicious. The crumbs have many uses, so make them in bulk and use them often.

The vegetables that Ottolenghi uses in this dish are zucchini and fennel, but don’t restrict yourself to this combination. Also, try scattering the crumbs over roasted vegetables too. And onto soups in place of croutons. My goodness, they are good.

The fried saffron crumbs in this add colour and a luxurious crunch to an otherwise simple looking dish. Make more than you need, and omit the garlic – they’ll keep in an airtight jar for a week or so.

The recipe comes 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 Beautiful Fennel Puree, Marinated Zucchini, Zucchini in Oil with Mint, Chilli and Garlic, and Grilled Fennel with Fresh Mozzarella.

Browse all of our Zucchini dishes and 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 Early Winter recipes.

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

Continue reading “Grilled Zucchini and Fennel with Saffron Crumbs”

Yummy Zucchini Dip with Yoghurt Sauce and Buttery Chilli Pinenuts

Just when you had thought you had seen everything, charred/burnt zucchini crosses your path. In the same way that you would char eggplants for dishes like Babaganoush, zucchinis can be roasted and turned into delicious dips and spreads. After charring, the flesh is slippery, silky, smoky and delicious.

Then, in Middle Eastern Style, the mashed zucchini flesh is topped with a sauce made with yoghurt and Roquefort cheese. In the original of this Ottolenghi recipe, the sauce uses an egg to thicken it. As we do not cook with eggs, we use the age old trick of adding besan (chickpea flour) to the cheese-yoghurt mix, and let it cook out to produce the most beautiful sauce. It is tangy and intriguing, this sauce.

THEN, over the top of what already feels like a whole dish, chilli buttery pinenuts are drizzled, and that is scattered with za’atar. Divine. Inspired. Gorgeous. It challenges Baba Ganoush for deliciousness.

As mentioned (you could guess anyway, right?) 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 Orange and Pecan Cream Cheese, Babaganoush, Baingan Pora, and Smoky Aubergine with Tahini and Pomegranate.

Browse our Dips and our Spreads, and our Zucchini 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.

Continue reading “Yummy Zucchini Dip with Yoghurt Sauce and Buttery Chilli Pinenuts”

Slow Cooked Stuffed Zucchini

Old fashioned as they might be, there is a joy in stuffed vegetables, oozing with tomatoey rice or chickpea fillings, perhaps covered with cheese, melted and dripping down the sides. Nothing quite says cold weather more than stuffed vegetables. We love them. But then we were never one for fashion, especially in food.

This recipe is Turkish in origin, although many versions appear around the Middle East and gulf regions, from Israel to Afghanistan. We are stuffing our zucchini from the garden, the late ones that have grown slightly larger. We stuff them flat, that is, laying on their length, slit in half, and cooked with the stuffing in hollows left by the removal of their seeds and soft core. You can, of course, stuff them vertical – cutting into lengths without splitting down the middle, and using a manakra from your Middle Eastern store, to hollow out the middles – sort of like coring an apple.

We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe in Plenty More, but many similar recipes abound, using a range of grains to give substance to the filling. We are using Ottolenghi’s recipe because we have a little project at the moment, to cook through Plenty More, so it is a convenient way to add another dish to our project’s Cooked list.

The thing about many Zucchini dishes is that they are just as delightful served at room temperature as well as warm – this dish, for example, is divine. Today’s recipe is in the same class – serve it warmish, or at room temperature, with goat’s feta (Middle Eastern feta, beautifully creamy) and a salad of sliced onion, radish and tomato. Excellent. Make it a first course or a main dish.

Ottolenghi has changed the recipe for this dish over time, reducing the time taken to cook the stuffed zucchini from 2 hours to 40 mins. That raised a warning signal for us. We find that it all depends on your heat levels. I cooked mine with a heat diffuser to keep the heat low and it takes all of 2 hours to ensure the rice is cooked well. Higher heat levels will mean that cooking time is shorter.

Our suspicion is that the longer time might be more traditional, but less photogenic or visually pleasing. It is often the case with dishes from countries like Greece and Turkey, and neighbouring countries, that dishes are cooked longer than might be fashionable these days. Flavour goes through the roof but the visual appeal is lost. It’s a pity that we put so much store on visual presentation.

HOWEVER, we found that using Ottolenghi’s recipe, the zucchini was overcooked and the rice just a tad undercooked, even after 2 hours. After all, it is being steamed rather than boiled as is usual. Our recommendation is that the rice should be par-cooked before using in the stuffing, and that the cooking time is then reduced to 40 – 60 mins so that the rice is really soft. As it is, the recipe does not work. (See this Guardian article which also recommends precooking rice for stuffed courgettes in general.)

I am leaving the recipe as it appears in the book, in case I missed something or you have other insights and views. If so, let me know. It is unusual to have an Ottolenghi recipe that does not work.

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 – 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 Stuffed Tomatoes with Cheese, Peppers Stuffed with Cherry Tomatoes, and Okra Stuffed with Chilli Paste.

Browse all of our Stuffed recipes and all of our Zucchini dishes. 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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Vegetables with Indian Flavours

How quirky the British can be at times, especially when it comes to all things Indian. British Indian cuisine is a food genre all to itself, with little relationship to the food of India. The famous Chicken Tikka Masala, for example, is British, not Indian. Vindaloo is a term used for any hot curry in England, not the specific and terrifyingly hot pork curry of Goa on the coast of West India, with its roots in the Portuguese occupation.

And there is another dish – Indian Ratatouille. Yes, my friends, it is a thing. Throw a few spices at a ratatouille and you have Indian Ratatouille. The French food masters must be turning in their graves.

And then Ottolenghi takes this (perhaps somewhat arrogant) British invention and makes it even more Indian – throwing out some of the the traditional vegetables, adding potatoes and okra, beans and tomatoes, and incorporating Bengali spices, tamarind and curry leaves. Has he insulted the French, the Indians and the British? Probably not, because the result is divine – let the food speak for itself, despite its name.

“A great ratatouille is one in which the vegetables interact with each other, but are still discernible from each other. The trick is to cook them just right: not over, not under.”

I cannot bring myself to call this dish Indian Ratatouille, so for me it is Vegetables with Indian Flavours. Panch Phoran is an Indian whole seed mix – it is available at Indian groceries, or you can make it yourself by mixing equal amounts of fenugreek, fennel, black mustard, nigella and cumin.

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.

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 recipes include Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice, Caponata and Chargrilled Pumpkin Salad with Labneh and Walnut Salsa.

All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes. Browse all of our Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More. 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.

Continue reading “Vegetables with Indian Flavours”

Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices

Here is another Poritha Kootu – Mung Dal with vegetables – for a quick and delicious meal. This version is not spicy, very little spice is added, just chillies and cumin with coconut. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetables.

Sometimes Poritha Kootu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. It is a reasonable description, as it is thicker than Poritha Kuzhambu, and contains multiple vegetables rather than just one.

Are you after other Kootu recipes? Try Poritha Kootu with Snake Gourd, Spinach with a Peppery Coconut Gravy (Keerai Molag00tal), Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, and Poritha Kootu with Sambar Spices.

Or perhaps you prefer Mung Dal recipes. We recommend Amaranth Leaves Masiyal, Mung Dal with Cumin and Spinach, Gentle Mung Soup, and Mung Soup with Amaranth Greens.

You can find all of our Kootu recipes here, all of the Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes here, and all of our Mung recipes here. Our Indian Dishes are all here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Bucatini con Zucchini | Bucatini with Zucchini

Bucatini are the long hollow pasta noodles, like slightly thicker spaghetti but with a hole though the middle that helps it cook in reasonable time. They are really delicious. I grabbed some zucchini from the garden and char grilled them to make this simple but delicious pasta dish for a week day lunch with a friend. It is a simple recipe that allows the taste of the cheeses to shine through. Gorgeous.

Similar recipes include Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes, Bucatini with a Raw Tomato Sauce, Marinated Zucchini Gratin, and Pasta with Zucchini and Pesto.

Browse all of our pasta dishes and all of our Zucchini recipes. Our Italian dishes are here.  Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Salad

Our vegetable patch has been producing teeny zucchini, and they are just perfect for char grilling, for turning into the most delicious salads, including in veg patties and fritters, grating into pudla, and mixing with yoghurt for pachadis and raitas. Today is a salad, lemony and herby, just perfect for warm days and outdoor BBQs.

Similar recipes include Zucchini Dip with Chilli Pine Nuts, Grilled Zucchini with Saffron Crumbs, Marinated Zucchini and Tomato Salad, and Zucchini Salad with Bocconcini.

Browse all of our Zucchini Salads and all of our Zucchini recipes. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Salad”

Poritha Kootu

We have been posting some Poritha Kootu recipes recently and (at least for a while) this is our last recipe for a Poritha Kootu that does not include tamarind. In the future we will post a few recipes that do contain tamarind, but for now our focus has been with those that don’t, as it is the most common way to make this dish.

This version uses toor dal for a change. Our previous recipes have used mung dal, but Meenakshi Ammal recommends toor dal for this one as it is a better fit for the flavours used.

Are you after other Kootu recipes? Try Poritha Kootu with Tamarind, Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices and Poritha Kootu with Sambar Spices.

Are you after Sambar and Kuzhamu recipes? Try Moar Kuzhambu (with yoghurt), Fenugreek Kuzhambu, and Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu (Lentil Balls in Spicy Gravy). Try these Sambar recipes: Classic Seasoned Sambar Version 1, Version 2, Version 3 and Version 4. You can also try a Buttermilk/Yoghurt Sambar.

Browse all of our Kootu recipes, all of the Sambar and Kuzhambu recipes, and all of our Toor Dal recipes. Our Indian Dishes are all here and our Indian Essentials are here. Or simply explore our Early Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Poritha Kootu”

Yoghurt and Kaffir Lime Leaf Spread

We have always loved dips and spreads, despite the dodgy connotations of previous decades. In fact we hear that they are definitely in vogue again. They never went out of fashion in this household, and I have posted many on this site. Share with friends as a snack or mezze dish, and they are also the ultimate comfort food – eaten on the couch binge watching Netflix, with crackers, flat bread, or vegetable sticks. Dips spread easily on toast, or in sandwiches, wraps and tostadas or Quesadillas.

And we adore yoghurt based dips and spreads. What a way to begin a meal!

This Ottolenghi recipe is a take on tzatziki but it includes zucchini, is spiked up with lime juice and kaffir lime leaf, and uses mint or coriander rather than the traditional dill. It is gorgeous and delicious. It is from his book Plenty More.

In fact it is our 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.

Similar recipes include Zucchini Dip with Chilli Pine Nuts, Burnt Spring Onion Dip with Chilli-Garlic Kale, Yoghurt with Cucumber and Mint.

Browse all of our Dips and our Spreads. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

Continue reading “Yoghurt and Kaffir Lime Leaf Spread”