Saturday, 7 August 2010

Spicy Pepperonata

Normally, a pepperonata isn't that spicy but I felt like adding some chopped chilli and it worked really well. If you don't like chillis, just leave it out. It's still a gorgeous dish.

5 large, pointed red peppers, halved lengthwise and sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, cut into slices
1/2 - 1 red chilli, finely chopped
freshly ground pepper
1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme.
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Gently heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add the garlic, chilli and pepper.

2. Cook over a medium heat for a few of minutes taking care not to brown the ingredients. Once the veggies are simmering, add the balsamic vinegar, thyme and season with pepper. (I do not add salt to give the sweetness of the peppers top billing.)

3. Cover and gently simmer until the veg are soft. Stir from time to time to make sure they're not sticking to the pan are gently cooking in their own juice.

Serve hot or cold.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

FastFeasts: Pasta with Broadbeans, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella

This is kind of a FastFeast. Getting the broadbeans ready takes a bit of time but they can be done in advance.

Serves 2

1 packet of broad beans
200-250 g of pasta
1 mozzarella, cut into cubes
200g cherry (plum) tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp of fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts (toast pine nuts in the oven at full wack for 5-10 mins until golden brown)
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
balsamic glaze

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta per packet instructions. When ready, drain and drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.

While the pasta is cooking:

1.Pepare the broadbeans.
1.1. Bring about 2-3 cm of water to the boil in a steamer. Meanwhile shell the broadbeans, then steam without seasoning them for 3-5 minutes. (I've found that shop bought broadbeans take longer, so taste one after 3 minutes.)
1.2. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then remove the outer skin to reveal the bright green beans.
1.3. Place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil.

2. Cut the tomatoes in halves, dice the mozzarella and and chop the basil.

3. Warm plates.

4. To assemble: Serve pasta and top with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and pine nuts. Season with more freshly ground black pepper if desired. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Serve immediately.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Chorizo casserole

2 onions, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 sweet peppers, cut into chunks
150 g chorizo, sliced
1 tin tomatoes, in rich tomato sauce (or use fresh tomatoes - skinned and diced - if you can get hold of really tasty, sweet ones)
100 ml red wine
freshly ground pepper
olive oil
optionally: Spanish paprika or smoked paprika (the latter has a really strong smokey flavour so be careful)

1. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions, garlic and chilli and fry for 3-4 minutes until soft.
2. Push the onions, etc. to the side of the pan. Add the sliced chorizo and peppers and keep frying over a low-medium heat until both are starting to brown, stirring regularly.
3. Add the wine and tomatoes, season with pepper and paprika (if used), then turn up the heat. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened, then move onto the smallest ring of your hob (or switch off the heat) and leave for at least another 15 minutes to allow the flavours to permeate the whole dish.

Serve hot with crusty bread, rice or potatoes.


Optionally add courgette, marrow (as in picture), sun dried/sun blush tomatoes etc. Sauté either with onions and garlic, or brown in a separate pan with a little olive oil and add with the tinned tomatoes.

For larger quantities, it's best to fry the chorizo separately in a non-stick pan without adding oil. Remove when brown leaving some of the oil that's cooked out of the chorizo in the pan to fry the peppers. Both are then added to the onion/chili/garlic mix. From here proceed with step 3.