Tag: parsley

Kalamata Olive and Cottage Cheese Sandwich

Kalamata Olive + Cottage Cheese Sandwich

Creamy cottage cheese mixed with dark purple Kalamata olives, garlic, herbs, Balsamico vinegar, that’s what I had in mind when I started my sandwich preparations. My plan changed abruptly as soon as I stirred the chopped olives into the crumbly cottage cheese, I stopped turning the spoon before the oily black mixture blended into the creamy white, the contrast looked so beautiful! I tried some of this puristic spread and I was so impressed by its intensity and simplicity that I dropped everything. This combination is too good, Kalamata olives (to me, they are the best black olives in the world!) plus cottage cheese, no distraction, no further addition, just a few slices of fresh baguette and one parsley leaf on top, that’s all it needs! This is the quickest and most simple recipe I’ve made so far for my Sandwich Wednesday and it’s already one of my favourite sandwiches!

If you’re looking for a quick snack, a picnic treat, an easy dinner or just a nibble with some crackers, pull out some cottage cheese (200g / 7 ounces) and mix briefly with 50g / 2 ounces (or more) of chopped Kalamata olives. You could use other black olives as well but the large Greek fruits from the Peloponnese region have a wonderful aroma, exactly what you need if you mix only two ingredients. I didn’t want to over mix it, I only stirred it twice before I spread the cheese on tiny slices of baguette. The green fleshy parsley leaves on top finished it off and added a fresh taste to this composition. I loved it so much that I ate one slice after the other, it was just enough for 2!

Kalamata Olive + Cottage Cheese Sandwich

 

Kalamata Olive + Cottage Cheese Sandwich

 

Kalamata Olive + Cottage Cheese Sandwich

 

Kalamata Olive + Cottage Cheese Sandwich

A warm Salad with Artichokes in Vermouth

Warm Salad with Artichokes in Vermouth

Artichokes seem to follow me in the past few weeks, even when I don’t buy them they end up in my kitchen. I got a bag full of beautiful purple baby artichokes as a gift, the tiniest I’ve ever seen. A friend of mine had bought too many and knowing that I use everything that finds its way into my space she was happy to pass them over to me. I had already made plans for dinner but the vegetables couldn’t wait a day longer. When I looked at them, a warm salad came to my mind, a little snack in between. I imagined them sautéed and deglazed with vermouth and some parsley on top, so I brought out my pan and started the cooker.

As a starter for 4 you need 6 small baby artichokes. Cut off the artichoke stem if it’s too woody and pluck the hard outer leaves. Cut the artichoke’s tip off (1/3 – 1/2 of the artichoke), quarter them and scoop out the hairy choke. Keep the prepared artichokes in a bowl of cold water and the juice of half a lemon while you’re finishing the rest.

Sautée the prepared artichokes in a large heavy pan in a dash of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter for about 5 minutes together with 1 thinly sliced clove of garlic. Deglaze with 75ml / 2.5 ounces of vermouth and season with salt and pepper. Add 75ml / 2.5 ounces of water and 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and let them simmer on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until al dente. Sprinkle with roughly chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Warm Salad with Artichokes in Vermouth

 

Warm Salad with Artichokes in Vermouth

 

Warm Salad with Artichokes in Vermouth

A Fried Egg and Bacon Sandwich with Tarragon and Parsley

Tarragon + Parsley Fried Egg + Bacon Sandwich

One morning we decided to “decorate” our fried eggs with fresh herbs and it became a morning classic in our kitchen. It looks really pretty and tastes even better. The variations are endless and change all the time depending on the herbs growing in our terracotta pots, and there are plenty at the moment! Usually the small plants don’t survive the cold winter, the roots aren’t really as protected as they should be. I tried to keep the herbs inside on my kitchen window sill during the cold season but they tend to suffer from bugs and mildew, so I gave up. I wish them the best of luck, protect them with some leaves and hope for the best. To my surprise, a fragile, skinny tarragon plant, an offshoot which I dug out of my mother’s herb garden managed to bear the cold and frost and it’s shining again in its recaptured bloom and beauty. I love its strong aroma which reminds me a bit of aniseed.

For my fried eggs, I picked a few of the tarragon’s long leaves, about 6 slim ones for each egg, and some crunchy parsley, the Italian one with big flat leaves. The combination works well, I just went easy on the parsley, 2-3 leaves per egg were enough as it can easily be too overpowering. I fried the eggs in a little butter on medium heat in a non-stick pan, put the herbs gently on top of the liquid egg whites and yolks and covered the pan with a big lid until the whites turned solid. I kept the egg yolk soft as I wanted it to soak into the hearty bread when I cut it open. To finish off my sandwich, I fried 3 slices of bacon golden brown and crisp and put a few slices of my dark spelt bread into the pan as well. When you roast the bread in the fatty juices, just in the end for a minute or two, it becomes a bit crunchy and is infused with the meaty aroma. I didn’t add any salt, just crushed black pepper, thanks to the strong bacon!

Tarragon + Parsley Fried Egg + Bacon Sandwich

 

Tarragon + Parsley Fried Egg + Bacon Sandwich

 

Tarragon + Parsley Fried Egg + Bacon Sandwich

 

Tarragon + Parsley Fried Egg + Bacon Sandwich

Sicilian Spaghetti with Bottarga di Tonno

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

Marzamemi! This is the name of a picturesque fishing village in southern Sicily in the Syracuse region. It’s right by the sea, with two churches – an old and a new one – both dedicated to the village’s patron San Franceso built around the historic piazza which is, as in every Mediterranean village, the lively centre especially at night.

Two years ago we spent an evening in Marzamemi, strolled through the narrow alleys, between the old limestone houses where  fishermen used to live. We passed a beautiful artisan market which was still open at night and enjoyed the sight of all the restaurants which had placed their long tables outside in the piazza where families already filled the air with laughter and the delicious smell of seafood. We couldn’t wait any longer to join them and went straight to the restaurant at the sea where our table was waiting for us, but as we wanted to sit down we spotted an old storehouse with a big, open gate and people walking in and out. Curiosity was still stronger than our appetite, so we took a look.

We went inside a huge hall piled high with fish products, mainly made of bluefin tuna but also anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and swordfish. I discovered food I had never seen before, tuna salami for example, I had to buy it! It tasted interesting, salty, something I would have to eat a few times and try out a few combinations to get used to it. They also sold the famous Bottarga di Tonno, the dried roe pouch of bluefin tuna. If it’s in one piece, you slice it thinly over spaghetti, grated you sprinkle it over a quick pasta dish. Its taste is distinct and salty, it comes from a fish with a strong flavour and you can taste it!

I haven’t eaten it since my last visit to Sicily so I was happy to finally open a jar of grated Bottarga di Tonno again and mix it with my pasta. I like to add some lemon (juice and zest), garlic, parsley and coarsely crushed black pepper.

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

Spaghetti with Bottarga di Tonno, Lemon and Parsley

For this meal I suggest you warm up the plates in the oven.

For 2 people you need
(the amounts are matched to taste, just play around and season to your own taste)

spaghetti 200g / 7 ounces
olive oil 6 tablespoons
garlic, cut in half, 2 cloves
grated Bottarga di Tonno 4-6 heaped teaspoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
lemon zest 2 teaspoon
parsley, chopped, 4 heaped tablespoons
salt and coarsely crushed black pepper

Cook the pasta in lots of salted water till al dente.

Heat up the oil in a sauce pan, add the garlic and take the pan off the heat, let it infuse the oil for a couple minutes and add the lemon juice.

After the pasta is mixed with the warm oil and divided between the plates, sprinkle with parsley, lemon zest, pepper and salt and add the bottarga di tonno to taste.

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

 

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

 

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

 

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

Broccoli Pesto with Spaghetti and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Broccoli Parsley Pesto + Spaghetti

Finally pesto! I love it, bunches of basil, parsley, chopped green or black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, anchovies mixed with olive oil, nuts or cheese. There are endless possibilities to bring one of the most satisfying meals onto the table, pasta with pesto. It’s so simple yet so special! When I make pesto I just follow my mood and appetite, picking what the kitchen herbs on my window sill offer and mixing it together with the Mediterranean fruits and vegetables preserved in salt or oil I keep in jars in my fridge. Sometimes I mix fresh vegetables in as well, like green asparagus or broccoli.

Today is a broccoli day! I cook it al dente, put some of it in a blender and mix it with parsley, ginger, garlic, anchovy, lemon juice and olive oil. Some of the water used to cook the broccoli stirred in makes the pesto nice and smooth, it’s lighter than using just olive oil. When the warm spaghetti has been mixed with the broccoli pesto, I sprinkle some broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and red chili on top. There are lots of different flavours in this pesto but they blend in perfectly and allow the broccoli to show its fresh side.

Broccoli Parsley Pesto + Spaghetti

Broccoli Pesto with Spaghetti and Sun-dried Tomatoes

For this meal it’s best to warm the plates in a 75°C / 165°F warm oven for a few minutes. I prepare them while the pasta is cooking.

For 4 people you need

spaghetti 400g / 14 ounces
broccoli, florets and the soft part of the stem, 450g / 16 ounces
water used to cook the broccoli 50ml
sun-dried tomatoes, cooked in a little water for 2 minutes to wash off the salt, dried and chopped, 1 1/2 tomatoes for topping
water used to cook the sun-dried tomatoes 3 tablespoons
parsley, chopped, 3 heaped tablespoons
garlic, crushed, 1 big clove
ginger, grated, 1/2 teaspoon
anchovy preserved in salt (optionally), rinsed and dried, 1 fillet
lemon juice 2 teaspoons
olive oil 3 tablespoons
salt and pepper
fresh red chili, chopped, 1 for topping

In a large pot, bring water to the boil, add some salt and cook the broccoli al dente. Keep 1/3 of the cooked florets, cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti al dente.

Put the rest of the broccoli (florets and stem cut into pieces) in a blender and mix together with some of the water used to cook the broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes. Add the parsley, garlic, ginger, anchovy, lemon juice, olive oil and mix well. Season the pesto with salt and pepper but keep in mind that the tomatoes used for the topping will add some saltiness as well.

Arrange the spaghetti and the pesto on big plates and sprinkle with the chopped tomatoes, pieces of broccoli, chili and some more black pepper.

Broccoli Parsley Pesto + Spaghetti

A Sandwich with Lemon Lentil Mousse and Roast Garlic

Lentil Mousse Garlic Sandwich

The legume section in my pantry is overflowing, it’s time to empty some lentil boxes! My plan is to make a smooth lentil mousse enhanced with parsley, lemon and garlic, to spread on sandwiches and to eat together with raw vegetable sticks. I prepare a big bowl as we’ll have my brother in law over for the next couple of days. When guests stay with us, I like to have some food ready in the fridge, easy nibbles and snacks that everyone can enjoy whenever they feel like, but first I’ll need the mousse for my Sandwich Wednesday.

Besides the lemon and parsley aromas, the garlic plays an important role. I don’t leave it plain and raw, I roast it, golden and sticky, almost sweet. I bake big, fleshy cloves in their skin and after 10 minutes in the oven they turn into a delicious paste. They taste so good that I throw a couple more into the oven, as an extra topping. Squeezed with a fork I lay the warm and juicy garlic on top of the lentil spread. This is such a great combination, the nuttiness of legumes together with the sourness of the lemon juice and zest, the aromatic parsley and the sweet and spicy garlic. I’ve made a few variations on this lentil mousse already, but this one is the freshest!

Lentil Mousse Garlic Sandwich

 Lemony Parsley Lentil Mousse and Roast Garlic on a Sandwich 

For the sandwiches you need white buns with a nice crust, crisp and crunchy. I made lots of mousse, it stays fresh for a few days. It’s also great as finger food for parties, on slices of bread or served together with vegetable sticks!

lentils 350g / 12.5 ounces
(I use a small type which doesn’t need to soak overnight)
bay leaf 1
parsley, chopped, the leaves of  a medium bunch plus more for topping
freshly squeezed lemon juice 5 tablespoons
lemon zest 3 teaspoons plus more for topping
olive oil 50ml
salt 2 1/2 teaspoons
black pepper
garlic, 12 big cloves in their skin
(6 for the mousse and the rest for topping)

Cook the lentils in 1 liter of water together with the bay leaf for 20 minutes or until they are done. Don’t season with salt yet or the lentils will stay hard. Take out the bay leaf and drain the lentils.

Set the oven to 220°C / 430°F (I used the Rotitherm roasting setting) and roast the cloves of garlic in their skin for 12 minutes or until they are soft. Peel the garlic and squeeze with a fork.

Mix the lentils in a blender to a smooth paste together with the parsley, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and half of the garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the sandwiches, cut the buns in half, spread the lentil mousse on one side and lay 1 or 2 squeezed, roast garlic on top. Sprinkle with some parsley and lemon zest and close the bun.

Lentil Mousse Garlic Sandwich

 

Lentil Mousse Garlic Sandwich

 

Lentil Mousse Garlic Sandwich

Homemade Sausage with Herbs and Spices and Baked Fennel with Parmesan

Maltese Sausage + Baked Fennel

Our last visitors from Malta brought some of my favourite sausages along, coarse Maltese pork sausage stuffed with lots of spices and garlic. The kind that you can use to spice up a whole pot of soup. When it comes to sausage that’s exactly what I like! When I’m in Malta I fry them for breakfast without their skin and cut in half, like a burger, some fried zucchini (qarabaghli in Maltese) on the side and and I’m prepared for a day on the beach.

The gift from Malta inspired me to make my own sausages, but without skin from the start. I make mine like burgers without egg and bread (apart from a tablespoon of breadcrumbs) and with pork and beef unlike the original. Most importantly they are enhanced with plenty of rosemary, parsley, coriander and fennel seeds (luckily I still have some left from Malta to keep it even more authentic) and my coarse sea salt from Mr. Cini’s salt pans in Gozo, Malta’s sister island. Spices and salt from other parts of the world will work as well, I just like to add the nice memories and to me, they taste best. As fennel already has such an importance in this meal I add the bulbs as well, baked in the oven with onions, garlic and parmesan. It’s the right addition to my Mediterranean sausages which I fry first before I deglaze them with a splash of white wine. This makes a thick sauce of juices, delicious together with the meat and the vegetable.

Maltese Sausage + Baked Fennel

Homemade Sausage with Herbs and Spices and Baked Fennel with Parmesan

This makes a dinner for 3-4.

For the sausage

minced beef 300g / 10.5 ounces
minced pork 300g / 10.5 ounces
breadcrumbs 1 tablespoon
parsley, chopped, a medium bunch
fresh rosemary, chopped roughly, 1 teaspoon
coriander seeds, ground in a mortar, 1 tablespoon
fennel seeds, ground in a mortar, 3/4 tablespoon
black pepper, ground in a mortar (coarsely), 1 tablespoon
garlic, crushed, 2 big cloves
coarse sea salt 1 1/2 teaspoons
white wine for deglazing
olive oil for frying

Mix the ingredients well and shape thick sausages. Heat some olive oil in a large cast iron (or heavy) pan and fry the sausages on medium heat until all sides are golden brown. Deglaze the sausages with a splash of wine  so that the bottom of your pan is covered, the liquid shouldn’t evaporate completely. Turn down the heat, scrape the juices off and close the pan with a lid for 1-2 minutes until the sausages are done inside.

 

For the baked fennel

big bulbs of fennel, quartered and blanched together with 1/2 lemon for 8 minutes, 2 bulbs
(keep the green of the fennel bulbs uncooked and chopped for topping)
medium onions, chopped, 2
garlic, crushed, 2 cloves
olive oil
fresh parmesan, grated, 3 tablespoons (you can add more if you like)
salt and black pepper

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F (I used the Rotitherm roasting setting) and brush a medium sized baking dish with olive oil.

Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil on medium heat until golden brown.

Put the fennel in the baking dish and sprinkle with olive oil and the green of the fennel. Season with salt and pepper, add the fried onions and garlic and cover with parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and crisp.

Maltese Sausage + Baked Fennel

 

Maltese Sausage + Baked Fennel

 

Maltese Sausage + Baked Fennel

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

It’s time for soup! The colder it gets the more I feel like food that is up-lefting and soul-warming. Something that makes me feel strong and prepares me for the cold, dark months ahead of me. Although I love winter, the snow, even the cold, when you get cosy inside, slow down and relax, it’s important to treat yourself to the right food to renew your body and mind.

I’m in the mood for a thick soup, smooth but light – like my Minestrone with big butter beans and fennel with some parsley and black olives sprinkled on top. The texture is velvety and it tastes a bit sweet. Today I add a piece of bacon to it as I feel like something deeper in taste. Usually I cook the vegetarian version, I don’t prefer one over the other, both are nice winter treats!

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

Keep in mind that you have to soak the dried beans in water overnight. I like to cook soups in bigger batches to store some in the freezer – great for busy days. This recipe is for 4 people, sometimes I even double the amount.

dried butter beans or Cannellini beans, soaked in cold water overnight, 250g / 9 ounces
fennel, rinsed, cut in thin slices, 300g / 10.5 ounces
celery stalk, cut in cubes, 1
onion, cut in cubes, 1
broth or water, around 1500 ml
optional: a piece of bacon, 40g / 1.5 ounces
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
bay leaf, 1
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
parsley, chopped, for topping, 2 tablespoons
black olives, chopped, for topping, 4
good olive oil for topping

Heat some oil in a large pot. Fry the onion, celery, garlic and bacon (left in one piece) for a few minutes. Add the fennel, take the beans out of the water and put them into the pot as well. Fill with broth, add the bay leaf and close with a lid. Don’t season with salt before the beans are done or they won’t become soft. Cook for 30 minutes or until the beans are soft. Depending on the bean’s texture it may take another 30 minutes. Mine needed 60 minutes today but I must admit that I found them in a dark corner of my shelf.

When the beans are done, take out half of the vegetables (cooked beans and fennel) and put them to the side. Mix the other half of the vegetables together with the liquid in a blender and season with salt and pepper. Put everything back into the pot together with the remaining vegetables. When you arrange the soup in soup bowls sprinkle with olives and parsley and drizzle your best olive oil on top.