my big fat greek baked beans (gigantes plaki)

I have always had a soft spot for these delicious Greek baked beans, they are easy to make, all plant based and excellent with warm flatbreads (check out my pizza dough recipe to make truly fresh flatbreads) and my creamy bean hummus (takes 5 minutes) with a crisp green salad. If you aren’t going down the vegan route then they are fantastic served with a big block of feta, some olives and warm flatbreads for a tasty mezze.

Recipe

450g of dried broad beans (butter beans) I get them from my local Middle Eastern supermarket or online

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 peeled clove of garlic

1/2 cup of good olive oil

1 large red onion finely chopped

a small bunch of parsley finely chopped

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/2 a stick of celery finely chopped or a pinch of celery salt

1 teaspoon of maple syrup (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

How

Firstly put the beans in a container of water, making sure they are all submerged and leave overnight. I topped the water up as they swelled up quite a bit.

The next day

Drain the beans and stick in a pan and cover with cold water and add a big pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and gently simmer for an hour or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180c /350f

In a deep baking dish or pan, put in the chopped onion, garlic clove and olive oil, and bake for 10 mins.

Now add the drained beans, parsley, celery or celery salt, salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir in the tinned tomatoes, half a cup of water and the oregano, cover in tin foil tightly and cook for an hour or until the beans are really tender and the sauce is thick and unctuous, you might have to add more water if they get too dry, and stir them occasionally. Check the seasoning and serve warm or at room temperature. Stores in the fridge for a few days.

caldeirada

This Portuguese smokey seafood stew is cooked all in one pot, so after you have prepped the ingredients, it’s only a matter of adding them in stages to the pot. It’s got potatoes and a delicious tomato and wine broth with saffron. I use defrosted frozen seafood for my recipe, except the mussels, which can be left out, but fresh seafood is great, obv,  and you can add any mixture of seafood you fancy. Traditionally it’s served with roasted garlic bread, or rice.

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braised squid in red wine with olives

This recipe is Turkish in origin and from a cookbook by Ghillie Basan. It’s the perfect winter stew as it has lots of spicy flavours and the red wine turns the squid a lovely dark aubergine colour. I have replaced the sugar with maple syrup so it’s a bit healthier. You can cook it in advance and reheat it later, if you want to do hassle free entertaining. I serve mine with roasted sourdough bread or basmati rice and a salad and pretend I’m on holiday.

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freekeh salad with roasted vegetables

Freekah is fast becoming the new superfood. It’s a baby green wheat which has been roasted which gives it a slightly smoky flavour and it’s much higher in protein and fibre than quinoa and has a much better texture and flavour. It can be added to stir fries and salads. If you google its health benefits they are endless. You can use it as you would quinoa and I buy it ready cooked from the supermarket in a bag made by Merchant Gourmet(or you can cook it from scratch) This healthy salad recipe is middle eastern in its style of flavours with cinnamon and smoked paprika. It’s perfect with other salads, roasts or humus and bread. It’s also a perfect lunch with a dollop of garlicky yogurt.

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spaghetti al nero with mushrooms and chilli

This spaghetti recipe is a traditional Italian recipe which is like a lot of Italian recipes, it’s really simple but nails it with its flavours. I bought my mushrooms at Morrison’s as they have a brilliant selection of veg, fruit and herbs. The spaghetti al nero I got from my local Italian deli, but it’s equally good with standard spaghetti. It’s essentially vegan except for the spaghetti al nero which is made with squid ink, so to get the same vibe you could use black rice noodles. For the Parmesan lovers like myself, you can add lots of freshly grated Parmesan. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can find a vegan parmesan in your local supermarket or health food shop.

It’s perfect for a dinner party served with a salad and some crusty bread or for a date night as it looks really beautiful.

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beetroot salad with pistachios

Apart from being very pretty, this beetroot salad tastes amazing. It’s from the fab cookbook Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros which is stuffed with brilliant recipes and pictures. I served this at a dinner party with other salads, fries and roast fish, but you could also serve it as part of a mezze. It’s fresh creamy sweet and crunchy, my favourite things.

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roasted cauliflower with chilli and anchovies

This recipe is Spanish and it’s a really tasty way to cook cauliflower. It’s got lots of garlic and chilli so it’s a fantastic side dish to cook with baked fish or with other salads. It’s also got healthy lemon and parsley so it’s packed with vitamins and also very low carb. It can be served hot or at room temperature.

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tuna ceviche with chilli mango and lime

This recipe by the chef Peter Gordon is quite simply one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It’s the perfect food to eat in the summer as it’s a Polynesian style sweet savoury raw fish salad that requires no cooking and is fresh and light. I sometimes add crispy onions on top that you can get in a tub from the salad dressing aisle in the supermarket which add a bit more crunch and flavour. It’s perfect as a date night dinner for two or as a starter for a dinner party.

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roasted japanese aubergines with fried ginger matchsticks

I love the way the Japanese cook aubergines and I wanted to create a recipe which reminds me of eating it in their restaurants. This recipe is a delicious way to cook them and has lovely textures and is a bit crunchy with the ginger matchsticks. They are packed with flavour so they would be great with baked fish, salads and rice. Perfect as a little starter or a side dish.

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