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Entries in tomatoes (53)


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.


chestnut & cavolo nero pasta with ricotta


i’ve not been feeling particularly creative in the kitchen recently, relying on old favourites, not least due to the arrival of autumnal favourites such as cavolo nero, crown prince pumpkins etc. however in an attempt to shake things up i decided to put a focus on using up some of the things that have been sitting for too many months, unloved, in my cupboards.

the starting point for this dish was a pack of cooked chestnuts and jacob kennedy’s recipe for chestnut and mushroom pasta. his recipe is much more involved, requiring homemade chestnut pasta, but given this was a mid-week supper i kept things simple. i also wanted to keep it vegetarian, so swapped the original pancetta for sundried tomatoes. the end result was a richly flavoured dish, with the chestnuts and ricotta adding a creamy earthy flavour that contrasted nicely with the slow-cooked cavolo nero and savoury tomato.

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stuffed courgettes

my oversupply of fennel was accompanied by an abundance of courgettes – i got over-excited and ordered three different types and then had to work out ways to use them up! i mostly relied on this courgette and double-tomato pasta recipe, which i’m a bit obsessed with this year. however, for the round courgettes i wanted to retain and make use of their shape. stuffing them seemed to be the obvious thing to do.

i decided to keep things (mostly) vegetarian and while the scooped-out courgettes were roasting (20 mins at 200c, having rubbed with oil and seasoned their insides) i fried some shallots and garlic with the courgette flesh, some finely diced aubergines (i was making a batch of this aubergine and lentil salad so kept the ends for my courgette dish) and some nduja (this is the non-veggie component but you could easily use harissa paste or fresh chillies).

once this had softened i added some diced sundried tomatoes, a handful of toasted pine nuts and torn basil leaves. i wanted to bulk everything up a bit more so rehydrated a handful of couscous and added this to the mix. this was used to stuff the partly cooked courgette cases, with a hidden surprise of smoked mozzarella in the middle; i also topped each courgette with a little extra mozzarella (omit this, as well as the nduja, if you want a vegan version). another 15 minutes in the oven and this was ready to serve.

we ate this with anna hansen’s lemongrass braised cherry tomatoes and warm ciabatta, to mop up the tomato juices.