Tag: cherry tomatoes

A Mediterranean Sandwich with Zucchini, Pesto and Olives

Roasted Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Pesto Sandwich with Olives

The past few days have been a pleasant break from my daily duties, my mother came to visit! I decided to take some time off for the long walks through the city which both of us love so much. We started with a beautiful place called Clärchen’s Ballhaus which opened more than 100 years ago, in 1913. It’s a restaurant/ dancehall where people still meet for Sunday tea dance. When we entered the room the sound of Samba, Waltzes and Tangos filled the air and the faces of the dancing couples seemed lost in nostalgic escape, it felt like a different world!

There’s also a gorgeous mirrored ball room on the first floor which has quite a morbid charm, it doesn’t sparkle with its original glory anymore. The room was heavily damaged in the war and it was used to store coal until 2005. The mirrors are dull and broken, the decorations and chandeliers on the ceiling can’t hide the strains of the past years. It’s a forgotten place, a remnant of Berlin’s party days from a century ago. When we left the building and its faded light we stepped right into the bright afternoon, we felt like kids who found an abandoned house.

Our next stop was the Museum Island, a group of beautiful and renowned museums on a little island in the Spree river. One of my favourite Berlin buildings is the Bode-Museum, when I first visited it many years ago I instantly fell in love with it and with the little bridge that leads to its entrance. The round building is a classic beauty, majestic but not intimidating. It keeps a stunning collection of marble sculptures in a light-flooded room, the folds and faces cut into the white rock almost seem alive. Our walk ended in front of this museum, at a bar outside on the river bank. We sat down in deck chairs, enjoyed Prosecco with Aperol and witnessed another one of Berlin’s tea dance scenes. On an open stage, couples danced Tango under the blue sky, forgetting everything and everybody around them. People stopped to watch them and I’ll never forget the beauty of this moment!

So much outdoor activity meant little time for the kitchen, we focussed on salads, snacks and sandwiches. We took it easy this time, no extensive cooking sessions. Usually, when my mother visits, we spend lots of time together in my kitchen but I needed a little break. Yesterday, we had a big family dinner at a restaurant with crayfish and asparagus and today, there’ll be oysters on our culinary schedule. In between, we fit in this little sandwich beauty, pure Mediterranean deliciousness stuffed in a juicy focaccia bun. I sautéed very thinly sliced zucchini and piled them up with ripe tomatoes, basil pesto and green olives. It tastes like summer!

Roasted Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Pesto Sandwich with Olives

 A Mediterranean Sandwich with Zucchini, Pesto and Olives

For 2 sandwiches you need

focaccia buns, cut in half, 2
medium sized zucchini, cut into long, very thin slices, about 200g / 7oz
(this is best done with a cheese or vegetable slicer)
olive oil
salt
ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half, 6
green olives, cut in half, 6
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the pesto
fresh basil leaves 20g / 3/4oz plus a few small leaves for the topping
fresh mint leaves 2
pine nuts 1 tablespoon
parmesan, grated, 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon for the topping
olive oil 50ml / 1/4 cup
salt

Mix the ingredients for the pesto in a blender and season to taste.

In a large heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and sauté the sliced zucchini in batches, spread the slices out next to each other. Cook them on medium-high for 1 minute, turn and season them with salt and pepper and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side until soft and golden but not dark. Take them out of the pan and keep them on a plate. Continue cooking the remaining zucchini slices, always adding a little splash of olive oil between batches.

Lay the zucchini on the bottom half of each bun and spread the tomatoes and olives on top. Sprinkle with pesto, coarsely crushed pepper and basil leaves. Close the bun and enjoy!

Roasted Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Pesto Sandwich with Olives

 

Roasted Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Pesto Sandwich with Olives

 

Roasted Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Pesto Sandwich with Olives

 

zucchinitomatobasilpestosandwich8

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Ricotta and Lemon

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

A few days after we got home from our summer holidays, the two of us met in the kitchen late in the evening, not sure what to make for dinner. Usually, a night like this calls for pasta and a simple tomato sauce, but we were in the mood for more, we wanted some spices on our plates! A quick look in the fridge offered a bunch of cherry tomatoes, fresh ricotta and a jar full of my Moroccan preserved lemons. The parsley on the kitchen counter looked like it wouldn’t last much longer but the leaves were still crisp and green. We pulled out the mortar and the pan, heated up some olive oil and crushed a spoonful of black peppercorns and our Maltese fennel seeds. We cooked the spices with a pinch of cumin in the oil for just a minute to unfold their aromas. When their peppery smell filled the whole kitchen, we added the chopped lemons and cherry tomatoes. After 3 minutes it was all done, ready to be mixed with the spaghetti, some lumps of ricotta and the fresh parsley leaves.

It was great, spicy and fragrant, a delicious mixture of the Italian and Arabic cuisine. Unfortunately, we had forgotten about this dinner. It was quite late, we were tired and we went to bed straight after we savored this meal. Weeks later, I remembered our spontaneous cooking session but it took me a while to recapture the recipe. So here it is, we cooked it again and loved it just as much!

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

 

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Ricotta and Lemon

For 2 people you need

spaghetti 200g / 7 ounces
cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered, 400g / 14 ounces
ricotta 125g / 4.5 ounces
Moroccan preserved lemon, chopped, 1/4 or the zest of 1/2 lemon
black peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons (depending on the spiciness you want to achieve)
fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
cumin, a big pinch
salt
olive oil
parsley, the leaves of 1/2 small bunch

Cook the pasta al dente in lots of salted water.

In a large, heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and cook the spices on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the lemon (preserved or zest) and cook for a few seconds before you stir in the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for 1-2 minutes until they start to soften and take the pan off the heat. Season with salt, mix in the spaghetti and top with ricotta and parsley.

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon

 

Spicy Cumin Fennel Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Lemon