Archive for ‘Nuts’

May 29, 2013

Last Night’s Dinner: Asparagus with salsify and hazelnut ravioli

Asparagus with salsify and hazelnut ravioli LO RES

It’s still the season for British asparagus (and yes, I believe it’s running slightly late this year, along with much of nature). Today we used up some local asparagus spears to accompany a homemade ravioli filled with a mix of black salsify, hazelnuts and ricotta. It’s a variation on a theme by our old favourite Denis Cotter, with a few ingredients changed, and it was rather delicious. I’ll write up more about homemade pasta soon but in the meantime, here’s what we did for this dish.

Serves two.

First, the ravioli filling: preheat the oven to 180c. Peel and dice around 100g of black salsify and boil in a small saucepan until tender. Scatter the salsify on an oven tray and place it in the warm oven to ‘dry out’ a little for around 10 minutes (you don’t want a soggy filling in your ravioli). After removing it, mash it with a fork. Leave the oven on.

Blitz 25g of hazelnuts in a food processor and transfer to a bowl, mix in the salsify mash, a large dessert spoon of ricotta, a large pinch of grated or ground nutmeg, season with a little salt and pepper and combine well. Set aside.

Now for a little ‘sauce’: squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a small pan, add some strips of lemon peel and 50ml of white wine plus a pinch of saffron strands. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 3 minutes. Remove the strips of peel and add around 30g of unsalted butter. Stir until it melts. Keep this warm, but don’t let it boil.

Filling the pasta: a general way of making the ravioli is with two equal size sheets of thinly rolled pasta dough. Take the first and carefully place teaspoons of the filling on it, around 2.5cm apart. Brush the pasta with water or egg wash and place the other sheet on top. Press it down, making sure there are no air bubbles. Now use a ravioli cutter or knife to cut out square ravioli.

The asparagus: we used thick spears, woody ends snapped off, cut lengthways. Thinner ones can be left whole.

The tomatoes: slice a handful of cherry tomatoes in half and place them on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with a little salt and place in the oven.

Now bring it all together. First put the asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for around 5 minutes until just tender. As it’s cooking, cook the ravioli for around 4 minutes in a large pan of salted water. Drain, return to the pan and add the lemon butter. Stir.

To serve, place the ravioli in wide bowls, place the asparagus on top, pour over any remaining lemon butter, add the tomatoes and finish with a scattering of chopped hazelnuts.

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December 15, 2011

The perfect nut roast

…also in the Guardian newspaper this week, and with Christmas in mind, a fairly enlightening feature about the many variations of nut roast and recipe/serving suggestions. Time to revisit this old chestnut? Take a look here.

November 2, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Roast aubergine with tomato and pine nuts, Puy lentils and a yoghurt dressing

We’ve been mentioning chef Denis Cotter rather a lot recently, partly because we’re working our way through some of his recipes in his latest book. In it, at one point, he eulogises the aubergine and sets a challenge: take an aubergine or two, find some other ingredients lying around the fridge and store cupboard, and make a meal of them. That’s right, like an aubergine-based Ready Steady Cook from TV.

This was our first attempt. We had two aubergines, some cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, some herbs, lentils, a little yoghurt, a few other ingredients too… so, what to do? To make a hearty supper we decided to base the meal around Puy lentils, with a contrasting topping.

First get the lentils going, enough for each person in some vegetable stock. Simmer until tender but still slightly nutty (around 30 minutes?), drain and then add 2tbsp of red wine vinegar, stir through and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, top and tail the aubergine (you’ll need one per person) and slice it from top to bottom to get four lengths of equal thickness. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and roast for around 20 minutes until golden and softened. Alternatively, brush them with olive oil and griddle them for a nice charred effect.

Next, half a couple of handfulls of cherry tomatoes. Half them again lengthways to make little segments. Then scrape out the seeds and excess juice. Place in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper and a chopped red chilli (to your taste). Stir in and set aside.

Then toast a couple of tablespoons of pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes until slightly browned – take care not to burn them. Finally, in a small bowl, take 150ml of Greek yoghurt and add a little olive oil, the juice of a lemon, a clove of crushed garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir. If it isn’t the consistency of double cream, add a little milk or a little extra olive oil, or both.

When the aubergine is cooked and cooled slightly they can be stuffed. Add the pine nuts to the tomatoes and mix through. Now take a dessert spoonful of the mixture and place it on one end of an aubergine slice and roll up. Do the same for the rest. Place the lentil rolls into a medium oven to warm through.

Chop some fresh parsley, or a little coriander or mint, and stir it into the lentils and place back on a low heat.

When the lentils and aubergine are warmed, plate up: lentils on the bottom, aubergine rolls on top and a drizzle of yoghurt sauce all over. Smashing, smoky, tangy and wholesome, warming fresh and good. With a tiny chilli kick.

October 30, 2011

Snack tactics

Oh the dilemma! It’s a Saturday evening, 6ish, and you’re cooking dinner, hanging out in the kitchen and a bottle of Prosecco jumps out of the fridge and into your arms. Or perhaps it’s late aftrnoon in late summer and you are accosted by a bottle of pink, an icy but seductive fino or chilled Beaujolais. All of a sudden, somehow, the evening has begun.

Now, being a smart, erudite sort, but not one to deny simple pleasures, you catch yourself thinking that perhaps a snack would be good: you know, so that little glass doesn’t rush straight to one’s head. Of course, no host wants to desecrate the civil hopes of the food that is to come by offering a some factory-made snack. And yet, already cooking, taking on some extra culinary work at that point would take all the fizz out of the aperitif. Nuts to it, we say.

Take some plain, mixed nuts (cashews, pecans, Brazils, hazelnuts, almonds, say…) and toast them in a large frying pan for around 5 minutes, making sure they don’t burn. When they’re hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil, a couple of large piches of salt, a little ground back pepper, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon or so of paprika and maybe half a teaspoon of smoked paprika. (You can adjust these amounts as much as you want, depending on how many nuts you have and to your own personal preference). Mix the spices into the nuts, heat for 5 minutes more, leave to cool for 5 minutes and serve. Easy.

May 23, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Beetroot, Carrot, Walnut, Quinoa, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese Salad

Friday 13 May

Okay, are you ready? Here’s the recipe in simplified form.

Roast beetroot. Grate carrot. Marinate thinly sliced red onion in red wine vinegar. Toast and chop walnuts. Chop herbs of choice. Cook quinoa as per instructions. Crumble goats cheese. To quote a good friend, “a plate of sense”.

May 17, 2011

Recipe: Baby beetroot salad with spiced walnuts and goats’ cheese toast

A slightly primped (and yes that letter ‘r’ is intentional – I might have shared a sushi table with Westwood on a solitary occasion, but there be none of that yoof-speak here) version of a classic Beet, Walnut and Goat’s Cheese Salad from the BBC website. Like it. Recipe is here.