Falafel

These herb packed falafel come out crispy on the outside and moist and light on the inside. The baking powder keeps these light. Resting the mixture helps it bind and lets the flavour deepen. The secret to keeping your falafel from falling apart when frying is not cooking the chickpeas before hand; the chickpeas will cook long enough when fried. You can use a food processor instead of a mortar and pestle. Just be sure to leave it a bit chunky.

You can see the YouTube video here.

250 g dried chickpeas
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 scallions, white parts only, finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons water

Soak chickpeas overnight.

Drain chickpeas. Grind with mortar and pestle in batches. Leave a bit chunky.

Transfer chickpeas to a bowl. Add garlic, scallions, cumin, coriander, parsley, cilantro, salt, and baking powder. Mix. Add flour and water. Stir together. Test to make sure mixture will stick together in a ball. Rest at least one hour, refrigerated.

Roll mixture into small balls.

Heat 2″/5cm of vegetable oil in a wide deep pan. Fry falafel balls, in batches, turning over when brown. Remove to drain on paper towel as you finish the balls.

Serve with tzatziki sauce, pita bread, pickled red onions, and salad.

Greens and Herb Pie in a Potato Crust

A mixture of greens and a riot of herbs make this a tasty vegetarian option. This pie is labor intensive, but worth the effort. It is delicious and attractive. Most of your time will be frying the potatoes for the crust. If you want to avoid this, you could do the same filling in a filo pastry. You can substitute a combination of white onions and scallions for the spring onions.

Our video walks you through this recipe (including how to make the crust).

Ingredients:
olive oil
3 large spring onions, whites and greens separated and finely sliced
1 bunch chard, stems and greens separated and finely chopped
1 bunch spinach, leaves only
2 cups of assorted fresh herbs, finely chopped (cilantro, parsley, dill, and mint are a good mix)
3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced ⅛” thick
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup feta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
zest of one small lemon
salt and pepper

Continue reading “Greens and Herb Pie in a Potato Crust”

Wild Mushroom Stroganoff

Wild mushrooms are a delicious vegetarian substitution for the typical beef stroganoff. This recipe is based on the Brazilian version of stroganoff with the addition of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. There is vegan Worcestershire sauce if you want to avoid the anchovies. This can be made with dried noodles too; just parboil the noodles until they are a couple of minutes from being done before adding them to finish in the sauce. If you want to serve this with rice instead, boil down the sauce a few minutes to thicken it. I used white wine because it was handy, but if you prefer you can use the more traditional brandy. Making a slurry with the stock and flour keeps it from lumping.

4 Tbsp butter
½ onion, chopped
454 g/ 1 lb assorted mushrooms
5 Tbsp white wine
1 cup beef stock or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp flour
½ cup crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp paprika
½ Tbsp dijon mustard
½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
sprinkle of cayenne (optional)
½ cup creme fraiche
250 g/ 8 oz fresh egg noodles
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add onions. Cook until softened. Add mushrooms. Cook until just softened. Push mushrooms to side and add white wine. Boil until syrupy. Mix stock and flour and add slurry to pan. Add crushed tomatoes, ketchup, paprika, mustard, Worcestershire,and cayenne. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until thickened. Add creme fraiche and stir. Add noodles and stir. Add more liquid if necessary. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 3 minutes. Serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

There’s also a video of this recipe.

Zucchini and Rice Filo Pie

Zucchini, rice, and a mixture of herbs encased in filo pastry makes a light summer pie. This recipe is inspired by Nigel Slater’s River Cottage Veg. It is a great book of vegetable dishes that you really should have. Add a salad for a great summer meal.

Ingredients:
1 lb/ 500 g zucchini, grated
⅓ cup/ 75 g long grain rice
½ red onion, chopped
2 ½ oz/ 75 g hard cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 Tbsp finely chopped mixed herbs (thyme, parsley, dill, basil)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 oz/ 250 g filo pastry
6 Tbsp/ 100 g butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375F/ 190C.
Continue reading “Zucchini and Rice Filo Pie”

Orecchiette Pasta and White Beans with Romesco Sauce

There are quite a few dishes in Porto that combine beans and pasta. At the moment I am a little obsessed with the white beans here, which usually tend to be navy beans. Some of the best dishes are the humble bean dishes. Several times in large spreads of tapas, it’s the bean dishes that stand out. We’ve even tried our first tripe mixed with a bean stew.

Along with the pasta and beans combination, this dish adds romesco sauce, a delicious uncooked sauce made with bread and almonds from Catalonia, which also goes great with seafood. I do not have a food processor at the moment so I am illustrating how to make this sauce simply, without one, but if you have one by all means use it. The technique is the same; mix your ingredients, leaving the olive oil to blend at the end. I used pre-ground almonds, but you can use blanched almonds ground in a food processor. If you do buy ground almonds (also called almond flour) store the leftover in the freezer. It can be used in many desserts, such as Bakewell tarts.

I used homemade beans with this recipe, but you can always use canned. Just rinse them off before heating them and tossing them in.

I used tomato juice from a can of whole tomatoes. I tend to always have some of this leftover in my fridge. If you prefer you can puree some tomatoes and strain out the seeds.

If you have time, let the romesco sauce sit a bit so the garlic mellows.

I like the ratio of this dish to be more pasta than beans, but you can switch that around if you prefer. You can also leave the feta out to make a vegan dish; it’s delicious without it.

Ingredients:

Image of Ingredients for Orecchiette Pasta and White Beans with Romesco Sauce
Ingredients for Orecchiette Pasta and White Beans with Romesco Sauce

1 jarred bell pepper, finely chopped

¼ cup juice from canned tomatoes)

¼ cup ground almonds (or blanched almonds ground in a food processor)

¼ cup white bread, cubed

Continue reading “Orecchiette Pasta and White Beans with Romesco Sauce”