Spinach filo pie

fresh spinach

My vegetable beds are looking deliciously green at the moment, helped along in their lushness by this abundant rain, interspersed with bright sunshine. I have the most spinach and swiss chard I’ve ever succeeded in growing and this recipe is a incredibly easy and tasty way of using several large bowlfuls of it. I’ve adapted it from a traditional pita recipe created by Nina from Bosnia and Herzegovina at Nina’s Kitchen

We’re avoiding cow’s milk at the moment, so I made this with goat’s yoghurt and ewe’s milk feta, but you can experiment with any combination of yoghurt and cheese, including cottage cheese. 

This pie was so popular in our house that we didn’t have any leftovers but if you’re lucky enough to have some remaining the next day then it’s great cold too, in lunchboxes or for a picnic. 

Ingredients

4 eggs

500ml yoghurt

Large pinch of salt

6 sheets of filo pastry

Olive oil for brushing

500g spinach or swiss chard, washed and dried

150g feta cheese

1 tsp of nigella or sesame seeds

Serves 6

Method

Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan, gas mark 6).

Beat the eggs and mix with the yoghurt and salt.

yogurt and egg

Brush the bottom of an oven dish (I used one 40 cm by 20 cm) with the oil.

Place 1 sheet of filo on the bottom of the dish and brush with oil, before adding another and brushing with oil.

oiling filo in dish

Then spread out half the spinach, dot with half the feta cheese and spoon over half the yoghurt and egg mix.

spinach and feta uncooked

Add another layer of filo, brush with oil, then add another, also brushing with oil.

Repeat the spinach, feta and yoghurt mix layer.

Place another 2 layers of filo, each brushed with oil, then sprinkle with the seeds.

uncooked pita pie

Bake for 40 minutes until golden on top.

spinach filo pie

Mung bean curry

Mung bean dalA change in the weather and the beginnings of an autumnal cold has made me crave warming, nourishing curries this week. I also like to cook a big pot of soup or curry to have for lunch during the week.

This easy mung bean curry recipe is also cheap and very satisfying, either served simply with plain boiled basmati or as part of a thali spread, with lime pickle and yoghurt.

I would like to serve this with chapati too, but since going gluten-free have yet to find a decent recipe. I tried a 100% gram flour one to go with this curry, but the dough was too hard to work with. So please let me know if you’ve got any easy gluten-free chapati recipes!

I made this curry quite dry, but if you’re in a soupy mood, then feel free to add more of the reserved stock to make it more liquid.

Serves 4

Ingredients

200g whole green mung (or moong) beans, soaked overnight

2 tbsp sunflower oil

6 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 green chillis, finely chopped and deseeded depending on heat required

2 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp tumeric

4 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

small handful fresh coriander, stalk finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped

small handful (10-15 leaves) curry leaves

Method

Put the mung beans in boiling water in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until just soft. Drain, and reserve the cooking liquid.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan.

Fry the garlic, chillis and spices on a medium-low heat, without letting the garlic colour, for five minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomatoes and salt, cooking for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.

Add the coriander stalks, curry leaves and mung beans, putting in about a wine glass of the drained mung bean cooking water, or as much as required.

Simmer the curry for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with basmati rice or chapati.

Okra curry

Okra curry with chutney and raita

I fully got into the curry vibe during a weekend visit to Easton, Bristol, this weekend, with an evening at the wonderful Thali Café and a shop at the Sweet Mart.

I stocked up on okra, because as I live in the wilds of Somerset, even in a town like Frome, this vegetable is something of an exotic novelty for me these days. I love their impossibly funky bike wheel pattern when they’re sliced open, and their weird and unique ooziness.

This recipe is adapted from one I learnt at Little Cove Yoga Retreat in Goa. Don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients; like many curry recipes, there’s really not that much to it once you get started, as most items listed below are spices you can just throw in.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped

5 cm piece of ginger, peeled, grated and finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded depending on heat preferred

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

300g okra, washed, topped and tailed

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp salt

25 g fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Heat the oil on a medium-high heat and cook the mustard, coriander and fennel seeds for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onions, ginger and chillies, cooking for 10 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, slice the okra into pieces about 0.5cm thick.

Chopped okra

After the onion has cooked for 10 minutes, add the garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala and salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the okra and 50ml of water and cook, covered, on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the coriander and cook for another 5 minutes.

Okra curry

Caldeirada de lulas (Portuguese squid stew)

Caldeirada de lulasI love Portuguese food, particularly seafood. My favourite dish is sardinhas assadas, preferably served at a rustic seaside bar with a cold Sagres or a glass of Vinho Verde.

I also love the various tiny artisan cheeses, fish pate, chewy sourdough and gorgeous salty olives that come before your starter in restaurants; watch this space for a Portuguese sardine pate recipe.

This summer I had some fantastic squid in both Spain and Portugal, including the relatively unusual albondigas de choco, another recipe that will be featured here sometime soon.

But for the time being, I’ve made a caldeirada de lulas, which I took to my monthly food club this weekend, with Portugal as its theme for September. The key to the delicious rich sauce is to cook the onions until they start to caramelise and to be generous with the wine. I try to get hold of cuttlefish for this recipe as it’s so much cheaper than squid.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 kg squid or cuttlefish, cleaned weight (ask your fishmonger to do this, as this is not a job for the squeamish!)

4 tbsp olive oil

3 onions, finely sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 peppers, sliced

2 small glasses of white wine, preferably Vinho Verde

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves, preferably fresh

500g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut slices as thick as a £1 coin

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 tbsp sea salt

White crusty bread to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 170ºC fan/325ºC/as mark 3.

Cut the squid or cuttlefish into thick slices of 2 cm by 5 cm.

Heat the oil in a large roomy pan.

Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes on a medium-low heat.

Stir in the peppers, leaving to cook for another 10 minutes, before adding the garlic, and cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf and potatoes, and bring to the boil.

Stir the squid in the stew.

Once it’s simmering, season to taste and then transfer the stew to a casserole dish and place, covered, in the oven for an hour.

Season, then sprinkle with coriander.

Portuguese squid stew

Easy masala dosa

Masala dosa

I love masala dosa but an authentic recipe takes some preparation, involving soaking urad dal and rice over night, grinding them the next day and then leaving them to ferment. So when I saw a bag of dosa flour at Bristol’s Sweet Mart I realised I could make reasonable dosas without much hassle at all. The flour and water batter does need leaving overnight, but it’s easy to prepare. Our children love pancakes, so this recipe has the added bonus of being a real crowd pleaser for a family meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Dosas

Sunflower oil for frying

200g dosa flour (I used Jalpur Dhosa Mix Flour)

Enough warm water to make a thin batter, about 500-600 ml

1 tsp salt

Potato masala

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

12 curry leaves

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 green chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

800g cooked potatoes

2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

2 tsp crushed coriander seeds, lightly crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chat masala (optional)

Chat masala salad

3 tomatoes, third of a cucumber, diced

half a tin of chickpeas

2 spring onions, finely sliced, or a handful of chives, snipped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)

Pinch of chat masala (optional) and salt

Raita

250g natural yoghurt

half a garlic clove, crushed

small handful of mint, chopped

pinch of salt

Method

Dosa batter

Mix the dosa ingredients together and leave overnight.

Masala potatoes

Heat the oil on a medium-high heat.

Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to pop, add the curry leaves and stir for 30 seconds.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onions. Cook for 5-10 mins until soft.

Add the cumin and coriander seeds, garam masala and chat masala and cook for 2 minutes, before adding the cooked potato. Heat through and keep in a warm oven.

Dosas and potato filling

Dosas

Traditionally dosas are cooked in a flat tawa pan but you can also use a crepe pan, or non-stick frying pan. Heat ½ tsp of oil on a medium-high heat and when it’s hot, add a ladleful of batter (I made a rough spiral to cover the pan as thinly as possible).

Gently flip with a spatula when one side is done, after a few minutes. Keep the dosas warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

To assemble, put a few dessert spoons of potato mix on a dosa and fold over. Serve with the chat masala salad and raita, along with lime pickle and mango chutney.

Chutney and dips

Wild garlic and feta quiche

Wild garlic and feta quicheThis is a seasonal allium-rich dish, full of spring onions, leeks and wild garlic, and a great quiche for a picnic. I’ve also made this recipe as 1½ times the ingredients and used the excess for making mini tarts in a jam tart baking tin, which are perfect for kids’ lunchboxes. Sometimes I make individual tarts instead of a whole quiche; use the same quantity as the recipe below but use a baking tin for tarts instead.

This is an easy quiche recipe as it uses a yeasted pastry, which is much simpler to cook with no need to chill beforehand or bake blind – and it never gets a soggy bottom!

I bought some lovely plump spring onions from VP Collins veg at Frome Farmers’ Market; it’s worth looking for these home-grown varieties, which are fuller in flavour than the supermarket kind. If you can’t find wild garlic, then substitute it with 250g spinach, wilted and squeezed of moisture. You can also substitute the feta for goat’s cheese, or any other strong cheese you have.

Ingredients

Pastry

120g plain flour

50g butter or margarine, melted

1 egg

1 tsp dried fast-action yeast

½ tsp salt

Filling

1 tbsp olive oil

1 leek, finely sliced

Bunch of spring onions, finely sliced

100g wild garlic leaves, shredded

100g feta cheese, roughly cut into small cubes

5 eggs, beaten

100ml milk

Pinch of salt

Method

Mix the pastry ingredients together and set aside for at least an hour, covering it with oiled clingfilm (you can also mix them the night before and put the pastry in the fridge, bringing it out an hour before you want to use it).

Grease a 25 cm quiche dish.

Roll out the pastry when it’s ready, and line the dish.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan (200°C or gas mark 6).

Heat the olive oil on a medium heat and fry the leek for 10 minutes, then add the shredded wild garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until just wilted. Add the spring onions and stir for another minute. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs and add the milk.

Place the leek mixture in the quiche case, dot the feta cheese on top before adding the egg and milk and salt.

Put in the oven for 30 minutes until firm in the middle and lightly browned on top. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

wild garlic and feta tart

As this quiche has got three lots of veg, I’m entering it for April’s Extra Veg challenge, hosted by Jo from Jo’s Kitchen, along with Michelle at Utterly Scrummy and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Extra-Veg-Badge-003

Baked wild garlic falafel

wild garlic falafelI recently tried making some baked falafel, using a brilliant recipe by Jessy Ellenburger at Instructables. Continuing my wild garlic fetish, which seems to be my theme of April, I decided to make a similar recipe, replacing the usual falafel herb ingredients of parsley and coriander with yep, you’ve guessed, wild garlic. Baking means that this is a healthy and super-easy falafel recipe.

I love a good sauce with my falafel and so whisked up an easy tahini sauce (see below) to go with them, along with the Israeli zhoug, an easy recipe for green chilli sauce shared with me by my friend Marie. To finish it off, I made a simple tomato salad sprinkled with finely shredded wild garlic. I added more wild garlic to the salad leaves that went in the pitta, for a real wild garlic extravaganza!

easy tomato salad with wild garlic

Ingredients

2 tins of chickpeas, drained

50g wild garlic, roughly chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp salt

Pitta breads, extra wild garlic, salad leaves, tomatoes and tahini sauce (see below) to serve

Serves 4

Method

Heat the oven to 180°C. Whizz the chickpeas and wild garlic in a food processor until mixed but not blended to a paste.

Add the onion, spices and salt.

Form into small walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly.

uncooked wild garlic falafel

Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through.

Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce by whisking together 4 tbsp of light tahini, 3 tbsp water and juice of a lemon, plus a crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt.

You could also make some zhoug at this point – see my recipe for this here.

Serve the falafel stuffed in pitta with salad, drizzled with the tahini sauce and zhoug, alongside a tomato salad (see above.)

wild garlic falafel in pitta breadI’m entering this seasonal dish in Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season, hosted this month by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Easy chana masala (chickpea curry) with wild garlic

easy chickpea curry with wild garlic

The season for wild garlic is so unfairly short (from around mid-March to late April, depending on where you live) that I can’t help but shoehorn this pungent plant into as many dishes as possible this time of year. But wild garlic is optional in this recipe, being easily replaced with spinach or chard or left out altogether.

Chana masala is a brilliant budget dish,and even better value when you use a foraged ingredient. It’s also quick, vegan and easily thrown together with store cupboard ingredients, assuming you have a few basic spices to hand. Having said that, chole masala is a spice mix that may be hard to find (where I live anyway) but is worth the effort to track down.

Chana masala is delicious on its own, or served with rice or chapatis and yoghurt with chopped fresh coriander.

I’m entering this for Karen’s April Cooking with Herbs challenge over at Lavender and Lovage. Because this is an ultra-thrifty dish, I’m also adding it to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food, along with Camilla at FabFood 4 All  and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Ingredients

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled, grated and finely chopped

1 green or red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2-3 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chole masala

tin of chickpeas

2 handfuls of wild garlic, washed and shredded

Salt to taste

Rice or chapatis to serve

Serves 4

Method

Heat the oil and fry the onion for 10 minutes on a low heat until translucent.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes.

Add the spices and cook for a few more minutes before adding the tomatoes and a mug of water.

Simmer for 15 minutes, add the chickpeas and heat through for 5 minutes.

(If using spinach, throw it in during the last five minutes of cooking time; chard will need shredding and adding a bit earlier, or rinse it and wilt it first in a separate pan for 5 minutes before adding to the chana masala.)

Add the wild garlic and stir through until wilted and season.

chana masala with wild garlic

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