I’ve been making an effort to live with less clutter. Like most people, I’m sure I own more things – clothes, documents, random objects – than I need. Coming to Glasgow with probably less than half the stuff I have back home, made me realize that there are only a few objects I can’t live without. I’ve also been trying to keep things simple in the kitchen, even though this is a big challenge for me because I’m not the kind of cook who intuitively works with only a few ingredients per recipe. I love layering flavours and textures on top of each other, and that’s how I naturally cook most of the time. That probably also explains why I’ve always been more drawn to middle-eastern and southeast asian cuisines (lots of things going on, flavour and texture-wise) than mediterranean (simple – but killer – ingredient combinations).
The recipe I’m sharing with you today, although only requiring a few ingredients, has an amazing complex flavour that results from the long cooking time. Just like in this recipe, the onion and marrow flavours and textures are pushed to the limit, and the outcome couldn’t be better. I know that some of you will probably be put off by the idea of peeling and chopping several onions, grating and squeezing the marrow, and waiting more than one hour for the dish to be ready. And since we’re at it, I must advise you there really are no shortcuts here – the vegetables have to brown and caramelize slowly, or there won’t be the same kind of flavour development. But if you think about it thoroughly, most of the cooking time is inactive and, in the end, you’ll end up with an amazing vegetable “jam” that is versatile and tasty enough to be used as a pasta sauce, served on top of cooked lentils, spread on toast and, my personal favourite, used as a filling for chickpea crêpes.
Caramelized Onion and Marrow Spread
(serves 6, as a starter)
Note: As an effort to eat less salt, I’ve been using Lo Salt lately. You can definitely use sea salt in this recipe, but adjust the amount (you’ll probably only need ½ or ¾ teaspoon of it).
Recipe inspired by food52
4 large onions, peeled, cut into half-moons and thinly sliced
6 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons water
1 large marrow
1 ½ teaspoons lo salt (see note above)
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the sliced onions. Give the mixture a good stir, so that the onion slices are evenly coated with the oil. Leave undisturbed for 10-15 minutes, so that the onion slices in the bottom of the pan crisp up and brown slightly. After that time, stir the mixture again and reduce the heat to low. Cook for additional 45 minutes. Stir every 20 minutes and add 1 tablespoon of water each time (2 in total), to release some caramelized bits that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
In the meantime, grate the marrow into a large bowl. Transfer the grated marrow to a colander and squeeze it with the back of a spoon (or using your hands) to release as much water as possible. Set aside until the onions are cooked.
As soon as the onions have caramelized, add the marrow, low salt, pepper and additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for additional 30 to 40 minutes, or until the marrow has reduced significantly and the mixture has a jam-y kind of texture. The spread can be kept, stored in a airtight container in the fridge, for up to 1 week.
Hello guys! Sorry for my absence on the past few weeks. I’m getting used to a new working routine and, as a consequence, the blog has been a bit neglected (I’m slowly getting back into posting more regularly). But before we get into today’s post, I thought we could talk, briefly, about some of the recipes I’ve been making these days –most of them from around the web. I’ve cooked Ottolenghi’s mejadra twice now, only cutting on the oil, and even my grandmother liked it (despite its spiciness). This stew has been in high rotation around here as well, because it’s getting cold and because I love beets (and you do have to like them to truly enjoy this dish). Martha Stewart’s nori rolls are also worth trying – they’re perfect for lunch boxes –, even though the recipe takes a bit of time and you might struggle wrapping up the nori (at least I did, but probably because I was in a rush when I made them). Finally, I’m not a tea person, but I’ve been drinking this one twice a day for the last two weeks (it is that good).
Now, let’s talk roasted vegetables. Around this time of the year, there’s already a great variety of roots in the markets – carrots, turnips, beets… – and they’re perfect for roasting. It might take a bit of time – although not active time – but, in the end, you’ll have a baking tray full of tender and sweet vegetables with slightly brown bits and notes of lemon. They pair incredibly well with simply cooked whole grains and/or puy lentils, for a more complete meal. I guess nothing speaks better of autumn than that.
Lemon Roasted Vegetables
(serves 4 to 6, as a side)
380 g small carrots, halved
315 g / 3 medium sized turnips, cut into 5 -6 cm pieces
450 g / 4 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into 5-6 cm pieces
5 garlic cloves, peeled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
2 sprigs lemon thyme
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Line a large rimmed baking tray with greaseproof or parchment paper.
Zest the lemon and cut the pulp into quarters. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl and add the lemon’s pulp and lemon thyme sprigs to it.
In a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic cloves, lemon zest, olive oil, brown rice syrup, salt and black pepper. Smash everything together until the garlic cloves are broken down. Pour this mixture over the vegetables and mix, with your hands, to coat them evenly. Transfer the veggies to the baking tray and sprinkle a bit more salt and pepper over them.
Cover the baking tray loosely with parchment paper. Roast the vegetables, covered, for 45 minutes. After that time, roast, uncovered, for additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.
I was a little doubtful about posting this one because it’s a recipe that doesn’t aim to convert non-beet fans to beet lovers. It’s actually aimed at those people who, like myself, adore beets and cook them often. Most of the time, it’s suggested that, in order to prepare beets, you should either boil or roast them. Out of those two methods, I prefer roasting as it lends a smoky flavour to the beets; however, it can take up from 40 to 50 minutes if your beets are medium sized. The other day, I found myself trying to master the julienne technique and, without carrots in sight, I practiced with beets. The whole chopping thing took me a while – I can be a bit of a perfectionist sometimes – but, unless you’re aiming at getting perfect beet matchsticks (which I didn’t get anyway), the chopping process will only take you a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you can get the job done in no time using a mandolin. I decided to sautée the beet matchsticks with some coriander seeds and ended up with a dish that I found really flavourful in around 15 minutes. If you’re going to make this one please don’t skip the walnuts – they’re crucial to balance out the beets’ sweetness and add a very pleasant nuttiness to the whole thing.
Sautéed Beets with Coriander Seeds and Walnuts
(serves 4, as a side)
3 large beets / roughly 320 gr cut into matchsticks of about 0,7 cm width
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 big handful toasted walnuts
1 handful chopped coriander leaves
a splash of lemon juice
1. In a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, the beets and the coriander seeds. Sautée for 1 to 2 minutes and, as soon as the pan starts sizzling, cover it with a lid. Let the beets cook for 10-12 minutes, lifting the lid once or twice to give it a good stir, or until al dente. At the very last minute of cooking, add the red wine vinegar, salt and toasted walnuts to the beets. Stir well and transfer to a platter, finishing up with a splash of lemon juice and chopped coriander. The beets are particularly good served over cooked brown rice.
This salad recipe is inspired by the popular festivities held in Lisbon and Porto around this time of the year. In these events, it’s common seeing people gathering on the streets to eat, and you can literally feel the smell of barbecued foods in the air wherever you go – mostly sardines and peppers. I don’t eat sardines (or any fish for that matter), so I came up with a recipe that still conveys the spirit of the festivities, but that is animal-free. I don’t usually brag about recipes I post here on the blog but I have a special place in my heart (and belly) for this one. I made this salad three times since last week and I seem not to get enough of it (as a matter of fact, I also had it for lunch today). To make it more of a complete (nutrionally speaking) meal, you can toss in some grilled tofu or cooked red beans. You could also eat it in a bruschetta, by grilling some bread slices and topping it up with spoonfuls of the salad (I’d leave the potatoes out in that case). I believe you can add flavour to your foods without depending on oil to get it, but it’s crucial to this recipe to use the amount of the said ingredient specified in the directions and not a bit less .The oil and vinegar mixture will coat the vegetables thoroughly, imparting them a beautiful flavour so, make also sure you use a good quality olive oil in here. Olive oil is a key ingredient to many Portuguese-inspired dishes, and this one really is no exception. Enjoy!
Grilled Pepper and Onion Salad with New Potatoes
(serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side)
1 medium sized red pepper, cut into strips
1 medium sized green pepper, cut into strips
1 large onion, cut into rings
10 small new potatoes, skins on (about 300 grams)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing the vegetables
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers (optional, but highly recommended)
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 small handful coriander, coarsely chopped
1. Fill a medium sized pan with water, add the potatoes and about 1 teaspoon of salt, and let it boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to medium and cook the potatoes for about 15 minutes. Then, pass them through cold running water. Transfer the potatoes to a cutting board and when they’re cool enough to handle, cut them into halves. Set aside.
2. Brush a grilling pan with olive oil and set it on high heat. When it’s hot, but not smoking, add the peppers’ strips, skin side down, seasoned with a pinch of salt. Grill them for 7 to 10 minutes, or until slightly charred – to get visible grilling marks, I like to press down the peppers’ strips with the back of a spoon against the grilling surface. Grill on the other side for about 5 minutes. Transfer the grilled peppers to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the onion rings (also lightly salted) to the grilling pan and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft and browned.
4. In a medium sized bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the red wine vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and whisk until incorporated.
5. Put all the vegetables (onion, peppers’ strips and boiled potatoes) on a large serving plate. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over them and toss well. Finally, add the capers (if using), minced garlic and coriander on top. Serve immediately.