Tag Archives: Grana Padano

Smoked Salmon and Courgette Carbonara

Smoked Salmon & Courgette CarbonaraAs regular readers may know we’re rather partial to a carbonara in our house. In the main because we always have a steady supply of eggs, albeit a dwindling one these days as our ladies are getting quite frankly a bit old. The kids love it and it so happens to be one of the quickiest and tastiest dinners EVER. In essence Carbonara Rocks. And I do love a pasta dish that can be prepared in the time it takes the pasta to cook. We very rarely have the standard bacon and egg version, as ever feeling the compulsion to ‘veg’ things up somewhat. A popular permutation is my Sausage & Courgette Carbonara and in the Autumn a Roasted Pumpkin Carbonara, but for you today I have a pescatarian and seasonal Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara.

swallow-recipes-for-lifeWith Jacques’ adoration of all things smoked salmon and Francesca’s recent approval of it we’ve been eating this quite a bit lately. So when June’s Recipes for Life ingredients were announced to be Salmon, Pasta and Courgette I was delighted to be able to blog another Foti family favourite. To recap on my previous Recipes for Life posts, this is a challenge run by Vanesther of Bangers & Mash on behalf of the Somerset based charity SWALLOW. Each month three ingredients are picked and bloggers are invited to concoct wholesome, easy and tasty dishes that use them.

Simple and in SeasonAs courgettes are now gloriously in season I shall also be entering my recipe to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And since this is actually a pretty frugal dinner using smoked salmon trimmings to Credit Crunch Munch, co-hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Camila of Fab Food 4 All. And this month Anneli over at Delicieux is taking up the hosting.Credit-Crunch-Munch

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara

Great for: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Bigger Kids, Growns Ups, Family Dinners, Grown Up Dinners, Quickie Mid-Week Suppers, Carbonara Addicts, Smoked Salmon Fiends (like Jacques – smoked salmon is his new best thing)

Serves: A Family of 4

200g of dried pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 smallish courgettes, sliced lengthways then diced across into 2/3 mm slices

130g smoked salmon trimmings

3 free range eggs, medium

2 tablespoons finely grated Grana Padana or Parmesan cheese

black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Cook the pasta to packet instructions

2. While the pasta’s cooking heat the oil in a (lidded) saucepan and cook the garlic for a minute. Throw in the diced courgette and give everything a good stir. Place the lid on and allow the courgette to sweat for the time it takes your pasta to cook. Stir every now and again and add a splash of water if they’re looking a little dry.

3. While the courgettes and pasta are cooking, lightly whisk together the eggs, then stir in the cheese and a generous pinch of black pepper. Set aside.

4. Once your pasta’s cooked and drained and the courgettes are soft combine them both together and stir through the egg and cheese mix, together with the lemon juice. But don’t put the pan back on the heat or your eggs will scramble!. What you want is lovely glossy eggy coating.

5. Taste and season with more black pepper and/or lemon juice.

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara Recipe

You might also like:

Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

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Rosemary and Cannellini Bean Risotto…and a tale of Bugs in the Borlotti

Rosemary and Cannellini Bean Risotto

I’m a huge risotto fan and make them pretty often, but I have to say this is a particularly blindingly good one. Luxurious, decadent, dreamy, sumptuous, comforting, warming. And all without too many calories, much effort and minimal expenditure. And it’s here that I should really point out it wasn’t entirely my own recipe, but more on that later!. If you like your beans, rosemary and risotto then I urge you to make this, I’m confident you won’t be disappointed. The creaminess of the beans works wonderfully in a risotto, adding a luxurious depth of texture and flavour to an otherwise frugal dish. And whilst I’m on the subject of risotto I’d love to hear what your favourites are?

Now there’s a little story as to how I came to back this heavenly supper….so stay with me here, this blog’s a bit of a longie today! I’ve recently been perusing a new to me book, The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook by Joanna Farrow, a gift from the lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage, for winning November’s Herbs on Saturday Challenge (for my Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza blog).

Herb Cookbook

It’s a lovely book, full of really interesting and innovative herby recipes from soups and salads, baking and mains through to desserts and sweets with absolutely gorgeous photography throughout. Being a bit of a risotto fiend I was immediately struck by a recipe for Rosemary Risotto with Borlotti Beans, having never used beans in a risotto before and happening to have a huge tub of homegrown borlotti begging to be used.

Now the observant amongst you may be confused at my recipe for Cannellini Beans when I’m writing about Borlotti. On inspection of the borlotti, in readiness to soak and boil, I sadly discovered my tub to be jumping with nasty little mite type bugs. I even tried to wash and soak a few but the bugs had penetrated the skins and the bugs and borlotti had to be binned. And fed instead to my chickens. But not without cooking in a tasty little stew first. My chickens must be the fussiest chickens to strut the earth, they don’t do raw veggie or fruit peeling but will eagerly peck away at anything cooked. So every now and again I treat them to a pot of slow cooked peelings and chopped old veggies, cooked for free on the top of my woodburner, and this time it included the buggy borlotti. And they loved them! Though I wonder if their coop was unusually stinky that night? Does anyone else cook for their chickens, or is it only crazy little me?!

My Bugged Borlotti & Veggie Stew - a winter warmer for the chickens!

My Bugged Borlotti & Veggie Stew – a winter warmer for the chickens!

A few of my ladies tucking into their tasty warm stew

A few of my ladies tucking into their tasty warm stew

As well as switching the beans, I also strayed a little from the original recipe by using shallots instead of an onion since we still have a surplus of homegrowns to use and besides I virtually always use shallot in a risotto. I added a few sticks of my celery too as it’s still growing here, I say a few as my plants are smaller than shop boughts. I also substituted mascarpone for half fat creme fraiche as let’s just say I’m cutting back on the calories a little this month. I don’t do the ‘D’ word. Last, but possibly most importantly, I oomphed up the quantity of rosemary. By about four times! The original recipe, for four people, called for a teaspoon of rosemary. I halved the quantity to serve to two people and added a dessertspoon, which in my opinion was bang on the flavour.

I’m entering my blog to quite a number of challenges, so bare with me here! Firstly, of course, to Karen’s Lavender and Lovage Herbs on Saturday challenge, as without my previous win this recipe would never have entered my realm of culinary possibilities!

herbsonsaturday

Secondly to Bookmarked Recipes, an event held by Jacqueline over at Tinned Tomatoes and one I somehow as yet have never entered, so here’s my first ever entry!

bookmarked recipes new logo

Thirdly to Credit Crunch Munch, as I hope you’ll agree with is a pretty frugal munch, an event jointly hosted by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours.

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Fourthly (yes really!) to another new challenge I’ve just come across, Flavours of Italy, a European food event held by Simply Food, and this month hosted by Divya’s Culinary Journey,
and with the handy theme of Italy, home obviously of the wonderful dish that is Risotto.

Flavours of Italy logo (2)

And finally to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays as it so happens to be a Monday (not that I think that matters?!) and my risotto’s made from scratch.

Made with Love Mondays

 Phew, are you still with me? Now on with the recipe:

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Great for family or grown up dinners, dinner parties (it’s that good!), vegetarians, mid-week or weekend suppers

Serves 2

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

2 Shallots, finely diced

a stick of Celery, finely diced

a large clove of Garlic, finely chopped or crushed

140g of Risotto Rice

90ml of White Wine

450 to 500ml of hot Veggie Stock (I used my favourite Marigold)

2/3rds of a 400g tin of Cannellini or Borlotti Beans (drained and rinsed) or 85g of soaked and cooked beans (though I wouldn’t advise cooking this few beans on their own, I soaked and cooked a huge batch for several recipes – look out for them in subsequent blogs!)

2 tablespoons of half fat Creme Fraiche (or full fat or Mascarpone if you’re feeling more indulgent)

a dessert spoon of chopped fresh Rosemary

35g of Parmesan or Grana Padano Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the onion, celery and garlic for 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour in a ladleful of the hot stock. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one’s nearly all absorbed.

Meanwhile prep the beans. Blitz about two-thirds of the beans in a food processor or with a stick blender. Set the remainder aside.

Once the risotto rice is about three-quarters cooked, stir in the blitzed beans. Continue to cook the risotto, adding more stock as and when required.

When the rice is tender, but still has a tiny bit of ‘bite’, stir in the remaining whole beans, creme fraiche, Parmesan, rosemary and a generous pinch of black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to suit. Cover the pan and leave the risotto to rest for 5 minutes so that the risotto absorbs the flavours fully and the rice finishes cooking.

Serve, with extra Parmesan if you wish. And a glass of crisp white wine.

Here’s some of my other Risotto Recipes you might like to try:

Butternut squash risotto

Roast Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Spinach, Courgette and Pesto Risotto


Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

We do eat quite a few pizzas at Chez Foti, probably too many. Well about once a week if the truth be known. But in my defense they are always homemade. And I’m not being a ponsey foodie by saying that. Believe me I’ve absolutely nothing against good quality take away pizza, but we do live in distinctly rural SW France and without wanting to be too rude, the quality of the take away pizzas in these parts is considerably below par. Bordering inedible. Which is a shame as the only two fast food joints in a 25 km radius both happen to be pizza take aways!. And once or twice bitten I won’t be going back. Just don’t get me started on the supermarket offerings either. Think 80s Britain, say no more. Hence I’ve become a bit of geek at homemade pizza ….. and homemade Thai/Chinese/Indian to boot!. And we do happen to have an original bread oven in our lounge that bakes the most perfect pizzas.

I love playing around with inventing toppings and this recipe so happens to be one of my favourites of the moment. Think Puttanesca Sauce but on a pizza. Puttanesca, in case you didn’t know, is a tomato based sauce revved up with oodles of garlic, anchovies, capers, chilli and olives. And it’s sublime on a pizza with the addition of Mozzarella and a little Parmesan. Pizza simplicity at it’s best.

Pizza Puttanesca

Made with Love Mondays

I’m also delighted to be entering, for the first ever time, my Pizza Puttanesca to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays, a weekly series promoting, sharing and celebrating foods made entirely from scratch. Foods without any of the nasties and all the good stuff!.

Pizza Puttanesca

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I usually stick to this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

a Red Chili (or go wild with 2 if you like your heat), finely sliced

4 Anchovy Fillets in oil

a 400g can of good quality Chopped Tomatoes or 450g of ripe and flavoursome Fresh Tomatoes (I’m still using up my frozen stock from The Great Chez Foti Tomato Harvest!)

a very large pinch of Black Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

a dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

40g of stoned Black Olives, halved

80g of Mozzarella cheese, finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a few moments  until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a very generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

The sauce is ready when it’s considerably thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the puttanesca sauce evenly over the base. Place the halved olives and slices of mozzarella. Scatter over the parmesan or grana padano.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

Pizza Puttanesca

You might also like: 

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza            Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Jacques mushroom picking

 


Roast Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Butternut Risotto

We’ve still lots of lovely butternuts left from my autumn harvest, and thankfully they keep really well in a cool dark place for several months. They’re most definitely one of my very favourite veggies and so usefully versatile getting regularly thrown in many a Soup, Curry, Stir Fry or Stew and even in pasta dishes (think Carbonara or Mac ‘n Cheese). They even shine on a Tart or Pizza too. But a Butternut Risotto happens to be one of my favourite uses of this glorious veggie, and is a firm Chez Foti winter comfort food favourite.

This is actually a recipe I make with the littlies in mind and uses cream cheese, but if you want to make a  more grown up version replace the cream cheese with a goats cheese. I use plenty of fresh sage which I’m particularly partial to with squash or pumpkin and cheese, but if your kids are herb adverse then leave out. If making for very little littlies then omit the wine too and use ‘baby’ stock cubes available from most major chemists or supermarkets.

After watching Nigel Slater’s recent series I now always keep my Butternut Skin shavings and briefly roast them in the oven (which you’d be using anyway for this dish) in a little olive oil, salt & pepper and make some totally delish freebie Butternut Crisps. They’re wonderful served as a little crispy side to soups or risottos.

Cubes of Butternut

Since I’m using fresh sage in my recipe I’m entering my post, for the second time this month, to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanether at Bangers and Mash Chat. Please do go and check out all the entries, there’s sure to be something you fancy!

herbsonsaturday

Butternut squash risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Toddler and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Grown Up Dinners

Enough for a family of 4:

a largish butternut squash, peeled (keep the peelings if you want to make crisps!), seeds removed (these can also be deliciously roasted) and cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 tablespoons of olive oil plus a drizzle for the crisps if making

salt & pepper

3 shallots or a small onion, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

20g of butter

220g of risotto rice

a glass of white wine

a litre of chicken or veggie stock, piping hot

a dessertspoon of finely chopped fresh sage

75g of soft cheese or goats cheese

a heaped tablespoon of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Place the butternut cubes on a large baking tray and drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Ensure the cubes are equally coated and place in the hot oven to roast for about 35 minutes. They’re ready when they’ve taken on a little colour and are completely tender and soft.

During this cooking time place the peelings on a separate baking tray and drizzle with a wee bit of olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crisped up, checking regularly as they’re quick to burn. Once ready remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper until you’re ready to serve.

Now to make the risotto. Heat the butter and another tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots or onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the butter and oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour on a ladleful of hot stock together with the sage. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is nearly all absorbed.

When the rice is on the edge of being ready and tender stir in the roasted butternut cubes and cream cheese/goats cheese. Allow to bubble away for a few minutes more before finally stirring in the Parmesan or Grana Padano. Taste and season with black pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any additional salt as there’s plenty in the stock and cheese.

Serve the risotto with a few butternut skin crisps on the side. A word of warning, whilst the crisps look pretty served on top of the risotto (as per my pic) they quickly become soggy from the steam!.

Here’s some other Chez Foti risotto recipes: Spinach, Courgette &  Pesto Risotto, Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto


Happy New Year, and a Parsley Pesto to you!

Parsley Pesto

Well christmas was mayhem at Chez Foti. Lots of friends and family guests, way too much food and good wine, late nights, plenty of doggie walks in the glorious (and surprisingly mild) sunshine and a couple of days of sledging in the Pyrenees. A fabulous time. And now the house is quiet, well as quiet as it gets with a two and a four year old and two chaotic doggies. Here’s hoping you all had a fab festive time and wishing everyone the very best for 2013.

I have to admit to very little on the cooking front since New Years Day. After weeks of pre-christmas freezer-filling baking and cooking it’s been a welcome break to gorge on the leftovers and eat simple pasta suppers. But I have been making plenty of my own pesto, which is ridiculously quick and simple to make. I’ve been using parsley instead of basil, and almonds instead of pine kernels, with fabulous results. My basil finished weeks ago in the garden but the Parsley’s still in happy abundance. And you really can’t beat a bowl of pasta served plainly and simply with lashings of homemade pesto. Though if you want to veg things up a little, as I always do, it’s wonderful with a handful or two of steamed french beans or courgette strips running through the pasta too.

Being of largely herby composition I’m entering my pesto to Lavender and Lovage’s  Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash Chat. 

herbsonsaturday

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto

Parsley & Almond Pesto

Enough for 4 servings:

40g of parsley, thick stalks removed, washed

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

40g of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

60g of whole almonds

75ml of good quality extra virgin olive oil

a squeeze of lemon juice

salt & pepper

Simply place all the ingredients, bar the lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and whiz until you have a your desired pesto texture. I like mine fairly rustic with a few lumps and bumps. Or place all the ingredients in a bowl and blitz with a stick blender. Both work equally well. Taste and season with a little lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Et voila, you have super-quick super-tasty homemade pesto. Serve with pasta and/or veggies of your choice.

Bonne annnée everyone!

Parsley Pesto


Pumpkin Carbonara

I finally picked the rest of our pumpkins and squash yesterday. Frosts are on their way and I wanted to get them under cover sharpish. I have to admit most are looking more that a tad sorry for themselves and in need of some strong sun to finish ripening, and being a bit of a novice at these things I’m not really sure what to do! I grew lots of pumpkins last year in my first season of growing but they were all fully ripened and orange by now. Should I keep them inside and bring them out on sunny days? Or resurrect and put in the poly tunnel? Or should I just eat them as they are? Any pumpkin professionals out there willing to offer me some advice?

The last of the pumpkins & squash!

Luckily I’ve already picked lots of fully ripened radiantly orange pumpkins and so it’s pumpkin with everything these days at Chez Foti. And as usual I’m loving adding a seasonal touch of healthiness to our favourite family suppers. It was the turn of the carbonara this week. Much as I love carbonara made traditionally with just eggs, bacon and parmesan it’s not exactly nutrient rich and I’m reluctant to give it to my kids in its basic form. Whilst Mr F and I will happily eat a large leafy salad on the side the kids won’t, so I like to add some veggie goodness to the sauce. Pumpkin works wonderfully with both parmesan and bacon and so it’s a natural for carbonara, and I also like to add a little fresh sage which is the perfect paring for pumpkin and bacon.

The first pumpkin of the year

If you don’t have any flavoursome pumpkin to hand (and believe me it’s not nice to cook with if it isn’t!) you can happily use butternut instead.

Since my carbonara is flavoured with sage I’m entering the recipe (for the second time this month!) to Lavender and Lovage’s October Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

Pumpkin Carbonara

Enough for a hearty meal for a family of four:

500g of flavoursome pumpkin or butternut, peeled

a tablespoon of olive oil

salt & pepper

240g of dried pasta of your choice, or equivalent in fresh

200g of streaky bacon or lardons, cut into small strips

a heaped teaspoon of finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, finely slices

3 eggs, free range

3 heaped tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Start with roasting your pumpkin or butternut. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Dice into smallish 1 to 1.5cm cubes, toss in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place on a roasting tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and slightly browned, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

Cook your pasta to packet instructions. Try to time so your pasta is cooked and ready at the same time as the pumpkin roasted and bacon browned.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan on a medium heat and fry off the lardons or streaky bacon (in their own fat) with the sage and garlic. Drain off any excess fat. Fry until the bacon is a little browned.

While the bacon’s frying, whisk the eggs lightly and stir in the Parmesan and a generous pinch of black pepper (you shouldn’t need any further salt as there’s plenty in the bacon and parmesan).

As soon as the pumpkin, pasta and bacon are all cooked and still piping hot throw them all together in one pan and thoroughly stir in the egg and Parmesan mix. Don’t put the pan back on the heat or you’ll have pasta with scrambled eggs! What you want is a lovely glossy eggy coating. Taste and add further pepper if it needs it  (I do like lots of pepper on my food!).

Related Posts: 

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Pumpkin & Bacon Soup

Sausage & Courgette Carbonara

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese


Courgette Soup with Parsley & Parmesan

There’s certainly still plenty of courgettes and marrows to be getting through at Chez Foti and I’ve now turned to soup making to attempt a dent on the mountain. Without blowing my own trumpet, or courgette, this is the nicest courgette soup I’ve ever tasted. I’ve been making it with both courgettes and marrows or a mixture of the two, and all are equally as successful so just use whatever you have a surplus off. It’s a great recipe for gluts. And if you don’t have a glut, just go halves on the quantities and make a smaller amount.

It’s probably not entirely soup weather yet at Chez Foti, but there’s a definite Autumnal crispness in the air early mornings and evenings, which is pretty welcome after all the heat of July and August. And besides I’m trying to loose a stone by christmas (a ridiculously tall order me thinks but I’m going to give it a whirl anyways) so soups are most definitely on the menu for me these days. Barely a day’s gone by since returning from our jolidays last weekend that I haven’t been busily rustling up some sort of soup or other. And the kids always love them, whatever the weather. By including a fair whack of creme fraiche (albeit I do use a half fat version) and Parmesan (or Grana Padano it’s cheaper cousin) this admittedly is a considerably more indulgent soup than my usual, but is oh so good and worth it. Though if you’re serious about dropping calories it’s still very good without any dairy additions.

I’m entering my recipe to Karen at Lavendar and Lovage’s September Herbs on Saturday blog challenge. I’m feeling rather lucky after I won the August competition with my Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces recipes. My first ever bloggie win!.

Courgette Soup with Parsley & Parmesan

To make 8 servings:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 onions, diced

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 kilos of courgettes or marrows, diced

a litre of chicken or veggie stock

a heaped teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

25g of flat leaved parsley leaves and stalks, roughly chopped

2 heaped tablespoons of creme fraiche, half or full fat

75g of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, finely grated

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stockpot on a medium heat. Throw in the onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring at intervals. Add the garlic and cook for a moment or two more before tipping in the diced courgettes or marrows.  Cover and allow to sweat for a further 10 minutes, stirring every now and again.

Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes until all the veggies are perfectly tender and soft. Once cooked stir in the parsley and take off the heat.

Thoroughly whiz with a stick blender or in a liquidiser or processor; I personally prefer the former as there’s less washing up. Stir in the creme fraiche and Parmesan or Grana Padano. Et voila. Final taste check and you’re done. There shouldn’t be any need to add further salt as there’s plenty in the stock. This makes a pretty thick soup (which I happen to prefer) but can be thinned down to your desired consistency with more stock, milk or water.

How about trying some of my other soupy recipes? Cream of Veggie Super Soup, Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons or Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)


A Couple of Tomato Tarts

We’ve been having many a tart lately, which has made my husband a very happy man. He likes a nice tart (of the foodie variety obviously). And as it’s tomato season we’ve been using up oodles of cherry tommies on our tarts.

Not exact recipes here, but just throw it all on (in a couple of minutes tops), on bought ready rolled puff pastry (obviously you could make your own if you were so inclined and had more time than me) and bung in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. And voila you have a very tasty little tart for minimum effort. Great served as a main with a large leafy salad on the side, or a tasty wee nibble, appetiser or starter. Good party food too….and great for kids!

Cherry Tomato, Pesto & Goats Cheese Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Pesto  (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

About half a log of goats cheese

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out to size if using a block). Smear a fine layer of pesto over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Cut a few slices of goats cheese and place evenly. Grind over a generous amount of black pepper and drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella & Tapenade Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Tapenade (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

A ball of Mozzarella

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

A little finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out if using a block). Smear a fine layer of tapenade over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Slice the Mozzarella and place evenly. Sprinkle a fine layer of Grana Padano or Parmesan over and a generous grinding of black pepper, drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

If you like this, how about trying my Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta, Cherry Tomato & Mascarpone Tagliatelle, Leek & Goats Cheese Tart, Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta, Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese Pizza, Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza


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