Entries in tomatoes (55)


red pepper shakshuka


to blog or not to blog? that is the question which has been buzzing around in my head for months. since moving to frankfurt just over two years ago, my blogging has been intermittent at best and stalled at worst. 2016 has been spectacularly bad but i so want to keep blogging so here i am.

given i’m starting again, let’s start with a breakfast option - shakshuka. to be fair though, this tomato and egg dish is equally delicious for lunch or supper.

this is a dish that can be adapted endlessly and which can be found in many cuisines - mexican huevos rancheros, greek avga me domates, italian uova al pomodoro, middle eastern jazmaz, or turkish menemen.  at its simplest, it is eggs in a lightly spiced tomato sauce (this moro recipe is a good version) but after you have made it a few times you’ll quickly get a sense of how to adapt it to the ingredients you have to hand. 

i was intrigued by this recipe from london restaurant the palomar (which i loved when i visited it earlier this year) in which red peppers have a starring role. 6 red peppers –3 bell peppers and 3 romano peppers – for a dish that served four.

i was a little nervous as i’m not a big fan of sauces made just from red peppers but here the flavours added by the tomatoes and spices balance things fantastically well. i made the sauce the evening before which meant this was a relatively quick breakfast option on a lazy sunday.

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harissa chickpeas with feta, on toast

this has been my favourite lunch in recent weeks – a slice of buttery toast topped with a spicy chickpea salad, feta and a creamy herb dressing. it’s based on a fernandez & wells recipe i tore out of a magazine and is a nice homemade alternative to “beans on toast”, not least as it is so easy to assemble.

the chickpeas are dressed with harissa, lemon and garlic then mixed with thinly sliced red onion; the dressing is a mix of yoghurt, mint and coriander. the result, when cherry tomatoes and feta is added, is a healthy flavour-packed dish that is a nice alternative to more traditional winter flavours, particularly on those days when you yearn for blue skies and a hint of spring.

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a new trick

adding a slice or two of lemon when you are making a tomato sauce is something i picked up from honey & co’s food from the middle east. it is part of their recipe for vegetarian moussaka and it, plus the cinnamon stick that was also used in the sauce recipe, gave the tomato sauce the most amazingly delicious smell when it was cooking.

so, when i was making a tomato sauce last night for eating with pasta, i decided to try it again, this time without the cinnamon. most of the centre of the piece of the lemon disappears into the sauce and i removed the outer circle of pith and peel (you can eat this, if you’re so inclined or even finely chop it and stir it back in).

the lemon gave the sauce a hint of freshness that balanced the rest of the flavours – garlic, chilli and a mix of fresh and tinned tomatoes – really nicely; it’s more subtle than adding herbs. i will definitely be using this trick again – i think it would work really well in a tomato sauce for a light summery lasagne or for serving with herb-and-lemon-zest-flecked meatballs.


summer stew with borlotti beans and courgette

i found fresh borlotti beans in the local turkish supermarket earlier this week and wanted to find a way to make the most of their deliciousness. given the hot weather frankfurt has been having in recent weeks (temperatures 35-40c haven’t been uncommon), it perhaps surprising hat i chose to make a stew but once we had a cooler day and given its vegan character it was light to eat it was a nice change  from salad.

the recipe is from amy chaplin’s at home in the whole food kitchen, a book i was sent to review and which i’m really enjoying. it’s vegetarian and mostly vegan and gluten-free, with a good introductory section about ingredients, stocking your kitchen (for this sort of cooking) and some basic recipes and guidance of preparing ingredients.  the rest of the book has a broad range of recipes that will take you from breakfast through to the evening, with snacks and treats along the (healthy) way. everything seems to be put together in a quiet thoughtful way, rather than being full of big brash flavours and combinations and i’ve found it really encouraging when it comes to using ingredients which you might be less than familiar with – cooking with coconut oil, trying tempah and considering making my own nut milks are all new to me.

having said that, there are aspects of the book which i know some people will dislike – for example, all the recipes tell you to use filtered water and at the relevant point, to compost items such as bay leaves which are being discarded from the finished dish; i read a wonderfully raging review about this aspect of the book.  

regardless of this, which i find easy to ignore, the recipes i have tried have been good and it’s easy enough to skip over some of the time-consuming techniques and use your own shortcuts. this stew was delicious – the broth was light and full of flavour and i really liked the intensity of the flavour of the roasted courgette; i wasn’t keen on the pistou as an accompaniment as i thought it overwhelmed the delicacy of the vegetable flavours.

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lamb meatballs with peppers and feta

this was a bit of a random meal – i knew that i wanted to make meatballs and i had a plan to serve them with pitta breads, hummus, salad and pickles, but when i went shopping i got distracted and completely forgot about my plan.

so, a change of direction. a tomato and red pepper sauce flavoured with cumin and coriander, which the meatballs were cooked in after i’d grilled them for 10 minutes (turning regularly) to brown them. the meatballs were flavoured with preserved lemon, harissa, some smoked garlic and parsley and i added an egg to help bind everything together. feta scattered over the dish before it went into the oven for half an hour – covered in foil for half the time and open for the remaining 15 minutes – and all served with some lemony couscous.

the dish is based on this recipe, but much scaled back to make it quicker to pull together.