Posts tagged ‘spring’

April 25, 2013

Spring pickings

Finally (whisper it) it looks like spring has arrived. Time then, for a round-up of some of the better vegetarian recipes that have featured in recent weekend supplements and more.

Quinoa Salad with Mint and Mango

As soon as light nights come around I’m all for leaving aside the root vegetables and spicy stews of winter and marching into the warmer weather with a light supper. This ‘salad’ from Paul Rankin over at the BBC could work, I suppose, as an accompaniment to a heartier dish – Rankin suggests grilled halloumi – but on a warm evening, or at lunchtime, the mix of zingy flavours and protein from the quinoa would do just fine on its own. The recipe is here.

Chard open omelette

Feta and greens is a favourite combination over at ETP Towers, so this ‘open’ omelette from chef Bill Granger over at the Independent is a winner for us. It shouts ‘lunch’ of course, but some hushed sweet nothings could tempt me to turn this into a brunch dish, especially with a little drizzle of chilli sauce. The recipe is here.

Japanese asparagus and duck’s egg omelette

Also over at the Indy is this rolled up omelette that gives us all something different to do with asparagus this season – the sweet and nutty spears chopped finely with spring onion. Not everyone will find the Nanami Togarashi chilli flakes that chef Mark Hix suggests, but I’m sure your common or garden chilli flak will suffice. The recipe is here.

Asparagus with pastry wafers and butter sauce recipe

Sticking with asparagus, this recipe from Rose Prince at the Telegraph keeps it simple, highlighting that ‘Best of British’ asparagus, while adding a more substantial, even luxurious, touch to a light lunch. It’s rare I’ll eat puff pastry. It’s equally rare that I’d complain about having to. And here it is, a precious airy pillow on which those asparagus spears can rest. The recipe is here.

Vegetarian mezze

Have you noticed how cauliflower seems to be making a comeback? Regular readers of Earth to Plate will know we love it here, but it’s good to see this often overlooked vegetable getting tome respect. It features here as one of three ‘small-plate’ mezze dishes by Yotam Ottolenghi: Fried Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Capers and Chilli is followed by Honey Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yoghurt and Aubergine and Parsley Pesto. Just pass me some warmed pitta. The recipes are here.

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April 11, 2012

Today’s lunch: Broad bean, radish and parmesan salad

It hasn’t known whether it was winter, spring or summer today. Today’s delivery of a veg box, however, proclaimed that the sun must shine and brought us broad beans, a luscious lettuce and bright pink radishes among its many treats.

I fully admit that when we receive radishes in a veg box they often wilt for a week in the fridge and get thrown. I don’t know why, because a radish is a lovely little thing that can add a peppery bit of zip, crunch and warmth to many a plate of food. Rather than let them go to waste this week, I decided to use them straight away in a simple salad.

First, de-pod the broad beans and simmer them in a small pan for four minutes. Once drained, let them cool for a couple of minutes before slipping the bright green beans from their tougher outer skins and set aside.

Next, top and tail the radishes with a sharp knife and half them lengthways before giving them a quick rinse. Next, melt a little butter in a large frying pan and add the radishes, turning them once in a while until they just start to brown at the edges. Add the broad beans and cook for one more minute.

While the radishes are cooking, roughly chop some sturdy salad leaves (gem or rocket, for example, will both do fine) and dress them with a little olive oil and lemon vinaigrette. Place the leaves in the bottom of shallow bowls then add the radishes and beans. Top with shavings of a good parmesan or pecorino.

It almost feels like summer.

March 18, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: A warm purple sprouting broccoli, quinoa, chick pea, tomato and goat’s cheese salad

There are some of our favourite ingredients combined in a warm salad here, so, for us, what’s not to like? It’s a very simple thing that can define a mood, or short time of year (erm, March?) when winter is just about over and signs spring is about here – a time after the year’s first warmth from the sun but before the last frost. That’s the time when purple sprouting broccoli appears. Sometimes we have it in wintery stews, but here it almost nods to summer, in a just-warm, almost room-temperature salad, with fluffy grains of quinoa, oven-dried tomatoes and goat’s cheese that tell you summer is not far away.

The recipe is not much more than an assembly job. First, roast the tomatoes on a low heat for as long a time as you’ve got (around 45 minutes at least) – they should dry out a little rather than cook to mush. As they’re cooking, roughly chop and steam the spears of broccoli for 5 minutes or so and cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions in a light vegetable stock. Leave both to cool slightly. Scatter the quinoa into a wide salad bowl and stir in a tin of chick peas, then add the broccoli and, finally crumble in some goat’s cheese. C’est ca.

June 18, 2011

Recipe: Vegetable casserole with artichokes, fennel, peas, broad beans and leeks

It’s sunny outside but the weather over this last week has been gloriously British: sunny and warm one minute, rainy and cold the next. Indeed just as I typed that, the sun that was filtering in through the ETP window disappeared. It’s now so dark I might need to turn a light on.

Changeable weather alters what you want to it. Late spring ingredients are currently in abundance, but what to do when the weather becomes inclement and a salad of those delicate greens just won’t do? Well, you could do worse than make a casserole of them, as this fab idea in the Independent newspaper demonstrates. Artichokes, fennel, peas, leeks and broad beans are all here, but in a slightly less summer setting. Read it http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/recipes/vegetable-casserole-with-artichokes-fennel-peas-broad-beans-and-leeks-2297784.html.

Pouring down again, dammit. And thundering.

June 7, 2011

Sweet pea season

Fresh peas, picked from the garden, breaking open the pod, scraping out the peas, stuffing them in your mouth, chewing he sweet juice from the pod… nothing better.

Too often bagged supermarket fresh peas are old and bitter and, while they’re okay for Muttar Paneer, frozen peas just aren’t the same taste of early summer.

I don’t think many people would associate London-based chef and restaurateur Mark Hix with lovely spring veg – I mean, he might cook it, but only alongside the meaty surf and turf that he normally dishes up. And yet, there he is in the Independent with some rather lovely recipes for chilled pea and fennel soup, an amazing sounding deep-fried pea pods with minted pea mayonnaise, and a must-try pea and spinach curry. Go see here. And if you try it out, let us know how it goes.

May 11, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Spring vegetable paella

Friday 6 May

I think a lot of British people associate paella with being a seafoody dish, probably because of summer holidays on the Spanish coast. In fact it’s originally a regional dish from Valencia and, over time, has been made with almost anything that you can throw into a pot – snails, rats, pork, chicken and, yes, seafood, as well as a whole host of vegetables. Peppers, butter beans, artichokes and cauliflower are all popular additions to a paella. Ours tends to change with the seasons. In winter, a paella with cauliflower, peppers and butter beans is a fantastic thing. This spring, I threw the some of the contents of our seasonal veg box at it, plus a few other bits and pieces from the fridge. Not exactly traditional, perhaps, but then dishes like this can be varied ad infinitum.

A paella differs from a risotto in that, as the rice is cooking in its broth, you don’t stir it. There’s no sauciness to a paella, it’s a much drier dish than a risotto and so more closely resembles a biriani. Indeed, an authentic paella – especially one cooked outdoors over charcoal, will develop an almost crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pan. Oh, and you need to use either calasparra or bomba varieties of rice or it won’t work.

Our version this week? Sautee a finely sliced onion in olive oil in a wide, shallow pan until it is golden and soft. Add a thinly sliced bell pepper to the pan (seeds removed of course) plus a clove of garlic and cook for a further five minutes or so. Add the bomba or calasparra rice and coat in the olive oil. Add a generous glug of sherry or white wine, or a splash of sherry vinegar of white wine vinegar. Cook for three minutes. Now add a good pinch of saffron strands, a large teaspoon of paprika, a small teaspoon of smoked paprika and half a teaspoon of turmeric. Oh and a bay leaf. Stir in the spices to coat the grains of rice. Add hot water until it comes up a centimetre or so above the rice. Turn down the heat slightly and leave (really, don’t touch it!) until the broth has been absorbed. When it’s done the rice grains should have a pleasing sheen to them and be individual, separate, glistening grains and, while cooked, not puddingy. It will take about 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, lightly steam a few asparagus spears, refresh under cold water and set aside. Then blanche and shell some broad beans. As the rice nears the end of its cooking add the beans and some (tinned – they’ll be fine) artichoke hearts. Be careful not to move the rice around to much as you add the veg. They just need to be warmed through, that’s all.

When the rice is cooked add some quartered cherry tomatoes, wedges of lemon (squeeze them slightly into the dish) and place the asparagus spears on the top. Serve.

We always make too much of this and are quite happy to eat the remainder the following day. It works really well.

As for quantities, I’m going to talk about recipes and quantities soon, honest.

April 24, 2011

Recipe: Broad bean and herb salad

Funny old things, broad beans. And a little frustrating too. The discrepancy in volume between their fully podded selves and the individual, edible bean is huge. I’ve heard some people complain that they don’t like oranges because peeling them is too much effort. If you’re one of those people, then you’re going to miss out on the wonders of fresh, in-season broad beans. We love them. Of course, frozen, de-podded broad beans are available, but somehow the effort of removing the beans from the pods, blanching them in boiling water for a couple of minutes and then slipping the bright green beans from their skins can be all part of the pleasure.

In any case, when broad beans start turning up in recipes for salads in the weekend papers, then you know it’s definitely spring and almost the beginning of summer. This Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, here, adds pearl barley to a salad of broad beans and herbs – a nutty addition that also makes for a more substantial salad.

April 22, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Butter beans, leeks and asparagus

Thursday 21 April

Last night’s concoction came about after staring long and hard at the contents of our weekly delivery from Abel & Cole and then leafing through some of our recipe books. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall suggests a white bean and leek salad, and this is an adaptation. A very simple spring supper.

To begin, soften the leeks in a large pan with some butter and olive oil. (I think we used to call this ‘frying’, but no one seems to advise ‘fry’ in recipes any more. You can soften, wilt or cook, but you can’t fry.) Then add two cans of butter beans. Season and cook for ten minutes until the beans take on a little colour. You can then boil, steam or grill a bunch of asparagus – which makes a warm salad bed for the beens and leeks. For a little tang we drizzled the salad with a mustard dressing made from Dijon mustard, olive oil and a little white wine vinegar. That should really have been cider vinegar but we didn’t have any.

A taste of spring.

March 7, 2011

Spring greens

At ETP Towers we usually prefer the crinkles of a Savoy cabbage to the slightly drearier, flat old leaves of ‘spring greens’. But there is a lovely – somehow sweet and bitter – sharpness to their leaves. The Savoy is more earthy, don’t you think?

Anyway, while harvesting some greens recipes today I came across this old ‘East Seasonably’ website, which still provides an easy tip off for seasonally adjusted menus and places to eat locally etc. March really is all about spring greens. Think soups, stews, stir fries and, of course, bubble and squeak.

Eat Seasonably