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.
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
One thing we haven’t seen much of in Portugal is teacakes. There are amazing pastries with lots of custard, but we sometimes want something less sweet. Based on a recipe from Nigel Slater’s Ripe (with a few modifications), this is technically a cake, not a teacake, since it uses baking powder, not yeast, but it accomplishes the same afternoon pick me up. It is great with tea or coffee. This cake is super moist; squeezing out the juice from the apples and zucchini is important. I was lucky enough to get moscatel (muscat) raisins to use, which are large, plump, and have a full fruity flavor. The cinnamon and lemon zest give it a lift, and the walnuts a pleasing crunch.
200 g/ 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
200 g/ 1 cup sugar
2 small zucchini, peeled
2 small apples, peeled and cored
200 g/ 1 ½ cups flour
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
sprinkle of cinnamon
60 g/ ½ cup walnuts, chopped
80 g/ ½ cup raisins
Zest of half a lemon
Preheat oven 180C/ 350F. Butter and line a 20cm by 12cm (8 inch by 5 inch) loaf pan with parchment paper down the horizontal length, going over the sides to easily remove the cake.
Cream butter and sugar until lightened and doubled in size. This can be done with a standing mixer. If you do not have one, mix the butter and sugar with a fork in a medium bowl. Then use a wooden spoon to push mixture against the sides of the bowl, rotate, and repeat.
Lightly beat eggs. Add half to the creamed butter, stir, and then stir in the remainder.
Grate zucchini and apples. With your hands squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Add to butter mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture in thirds, folding carefully after each addition. There should still be a few streaks of flour when you have finished.
Add walnuts, raisins, and lemon zest all at once, and stir lightly.
Pour into loaf pan, leveling surface as much as possible.
Bake for an hour until firm to the touch.
Allow to cool for half an hour in the pan before removing.