Tag Archives: spinach

Greek-style spinach & feta phyllo triangles

19 Oct

Crispy, salty, spinach & feta triangles with phyllo pastry. #PhabPhyllo

 

One of my all-time favourite Greek dishes is spanakopita – a deep-dish spinach and feta “pie” made with layers of buttery phyllo pastry. I’ve seen so many versions of this original dish, many of them in different shapes, as individual rolls or even as small canapés. Spinach and feta make such a fabulous combo, and wins crowd-pleasing votes every time.

My version of this Greek classic contains toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. I fold them into triangles that look like small samoosas – perfect hand-size snacks that won’t require cutlery. The buttered sheets of phyllo bake to a light, golden perfection, crunching and flaking gently when you eat it.

Salt flakes add a crunchy salty finish to these flaky delights. #PhabPhyllo

 

If you haven’t worked with phyllo pastry before – it’s so easy and so very versatile. The thin sheets thaw super quickly, they’re forgiving (you can easily mend tears by sticking another piece on top with butter/oil) and the end result is always light and flaky.

This is a great way to make “shrinking” spinach go further. This filling will yield about 24 small triangles, perfect to feed a crowd as a starter or canapé.

Note: The parmesan and pine nuts add incredible flavour, but they can be an expensive buy if you don’t have it in your pantry already. For a more economical alternative, leave these two ingredients out completely.

Cheat’s tip: If you’re feeling completely lazy, buy a ready-to-eat packet of creamed spinach and stir in some cubed feta. Use it as your filling, then advance to step 6 below!

This is how you assemble a small phyllo triangle, folding with the filling on the diagonal, then flipping it over, folding and flipping. Easy as pie! #PhabPhyllo

 

Ingredients: (makes about 24 small triangles)

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 400 g raw spinach (I prefer using baby spinach because there’s no dirt or sand in the leaves; spinach is usually sold in packets of 200g or 400g)
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) dried oregano
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 rounds (about 200 g) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) pine nuts, toasted
  • zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 XL egg
  • 1 x 500g packet of Mediterranean Delicacies Phyllo Pastry, thawed (you’ll use 8 sheets to make 24 triangles)
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • salt flakes, for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a wide, large pot and fry the onions over medium heat until soft and golden. Transfer the onions from the pan into a mixing bowl.
  2. Using the same pot over medium heat, add the spinach all at once and cover with a lid. Allow to steam for 3 minutes, then stir with a wooden spoon and continue to steam, covered, for a few more minutes until just wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
  3. While the spinach is cooling, add the nutmeg, oregano, grated parmesan, feta cubes, toasted pine nuts and grated lemon zest to the mixing bowl with the fried onions.
  4. Transfer the cooled spinach to a sieve and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Transfer to a large chopping board and chop into small pieces, then add it to the mixing bowl.
  5. Mix all the ingredients together and season generously with salt & pepper. Taste the mixture and adjust if necessary. When you are happy with the seasoning, add the egg and mix well.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220 C. On a clean surface, place one sheet of pastry in front of you, landscape orientated (keep the rest of the sheets covered with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out). Brush lightly with butter all over, then place another sheet on top and repeat the brushed butter. Now cut the sheet vertically into 6 equal strips using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Place a heaped tablespoon of filling at the bottom of each strip, and then fold the edge over diagonally to form a triangle, and flip it over again to close the seam, and again diagonally, and flip it over until you reach the end of the pastry strip. Place each finished triangle on a lined baking tray. Continue with the rest of the filling and sheets. Brush the top of each triangle with butter and sprinkle with a few salt flakes.
  7. Bake the triangles for about 30 minutes or until golden brown in the preheated oven at 220 C. Serve warm.

This recipe was written in collaboration with Mediterranean Delicacies Phyllo Pastry. #PhabPhyllo

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Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata with sage butter

7 Aug

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Frittatas are so unfussy – just comfort food in a pan. They’re super easy to make and can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Choose a pan without a plastic handle – preferably an iron skillet – that can go straight into your oven. I’ve added some classic vegetarian ingredients to this frittata that are usually available all year round, but choose whatever you prefer. Mature cheddar add so much flavour – another option would be goats cheese or feta. Or go meaty with some serrano ham, creamy fior di latte and rosa tomatoes.

Luckily there is less technique going into a frittata than a French omelette: fry your seasonal filling ingredients first, then add the whisked eggs to the hot pan. Fry for another few minutes, gently stirring now and then, then transfer to the oven and cook until set.

Ingredients: (serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a light meal)

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks, white parts only
  • 250 g mixed mushrooms, sliced or broken into smaller pieces
  • a few sprigs of thyme, woody stems removed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 200 g baby spinach, just wilted (cook separately in microwave or in a small pot on the stove with a little olive oil)
  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup grated mature cheddar
  • 60 ml/g butter
  • a handful of sage leaves

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a ovenproof medium size pan (I used cast iron), heat the olive oil and butter. Add the leeks and fry over medium-high heat until they go soft but not brown yet.
  3. Add the mushrooms and thyme, turn up the heat to high and keep frying until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender. Season well with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the spinach, eggs and cheese and stir gently to distribute evenly. Keep on cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  5. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the frittata is fully cooked.
  6. While the frittata is cooking, add the remaining 60 ml of butter to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Keep on cooking, swirling the pan often, until it turns light brown and nutty in flavour. Add the sage leaves and remove from the heat. Swirl the pan until the foaminess subsides and set aside.
  7. Remove the cooked frittata from the oven and leave to cool. Serve with crispy sage leaves and a drizzle of the butter that it has cooked in. Can be enjoyed hot or cold.
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Indian Made Easy with Poetry Stores

6 Jun

An easy Indian spread from Amandip Uppal’s new book Indian Made Easy, available from Poetry Stores (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

This new book from Amandip Uppal, Indian Made Easy (available from Poetry Stores), is simply stunning. I love the lay-out, the fonts, the simplicity of the colours and the photographs too. Amandip also chose to do something interesting with her recipe lists, listing fresh ingredients together, spices together, and pantry ingredients together. It makes a lot of sense when you shop for the ingredients, or when you get everything together before cooking, but I found that some inexperienced cooks might become confused mid-cooking when an ingredient is mentioned but it does not appear in the order of the cooking process.

For my readers’s ease, I’ve rearranged the ingredients below in the order of how it will be used. Amandip’s recipes are really flavorful and beautiful to look at – an easy intro to the fabulous world of Indian cooking. Plate up on Poetry‘s beautiful new dark blue “lace” tableware.

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large red chilli, seeded (optional) and thinly sliced
  • 600 g broccoli spears, cut down the middle lengthways
  • salt, to taste
  • 2,5 cm piece ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
  • toasted coconut, pomegranate seed and coriander (page 238, for garnish)
  • handful of coriander (for garnish)

Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and fennel seeds and fry until the crackle and pop.
Add the garlic, chili and broccoli and fry until the broccoli is slightly charred in colour. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, until cook the through.
Uncover, season with salt to taste and add the ginger. Toss through and gently cook for 20 seconds.
Garnish with a scattering of tasted coconut, pomegranate seeds and coriander and more coriander leaves and stalks.

My notes: This recipes is also excellent served at room temperature.

Plain naan bread with spinach & mint yoghurt (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & Mint Yoghurt

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • a large pinch of dried mint
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 225 g cooked spinach, chopped
  • 225 g natural or Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled & grated (for garnish, optional)
  • fine slivers of red chili (for garnish, optional)

Put the mint leaves, dried mint, garlic, cumin seeds and salt in a mortar. Grind with the pestle to make a smooth paste. Place the spinach into the bowl, together with the mint paste and stir in the yoghurt. Garnish with the ginger and chilli, if liked.

Plain Naan (makes 7-8)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 7 g sachet dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 200 ml warm water
  • 400 g strong bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee or oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or melted butter, for brushing after baking

Mix the yeast, sugar and water. Stir well with a fork and leave for a few minutes. Place the flour, 2 tablespoons gee or oil and salt into a wide bowl and make a well in the centre.
Using one hand, pour in a little of the yeast mixture and with the other hand use a fork to gradually bring the flour in and mix together. Keep pouring a little water while mixing. Flour your hands and begin to knead and form a ball. Add enough water to make a soft, but not sticky dough and keep kneading for about 5 minutes, or until smooth pliable and soft. The consistency should bot be very soft or hard. Cover and rest for 20-25 minutes.
Using slightly oiled hands, divide the dough into about 8-10 equal sized balls. Place on a lightly oiled tray, leaving gaps in between each ball and over with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes until the balls have doubled in size.
Preheat the grill to medium-high with a heavy based baking tray on the top shelf. Roll out the dough balls thinly and evenly. One by one, place the rolled out naan onto the baking tray, brush lightly with water and grill for about 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until lightly browned and puffed up. Lightly brush with ghee and serve hot.

My notes: The recipe didn’t state how/where to roll out the dough, so I did it on a floured working surface (some naan recipes call for an oiled surface). Be sure to also dust the baking tray lightly with flour to prevent the naan from sticking to it.

Classic lamb curry (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Classic Lamb Curry (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 4 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 x 250 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, plus a large pinch for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 kg leg of lamb, chopped into 2,5 cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt, whisked with 200 ml water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

In a blender or using a mortar and pestle, grind the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, oil and tinned tomatoes into a smooth paste.
Mix the paste with the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Place the lamb in a large bowl and cover in the paste, making sure all the pieces of lamb are well coated.
Put the lamb in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is tender and the oil has separated.
Add the yoghurt, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly over a low-medium heat.
Remove from the heat, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and a large pinch of ground cumin and serve.

My notes: I’ve found that the meat needed longer time to cook than mentioned 35-40 minutes. I cooked mine over a low heat, covered, stirring every now and then to prevent the bottom of the pot from turning too dark, for about 2,5 hours until it was really tender.

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Dhal coconut curry with aubergine & spinach

23 Sep

A hearty pot of dhal coconut curry with aubergine, spinach and cashews - rich and fragrant.

A hearty pot of dhal coconut curry with aubergine, spinach and cashews – rich and fragrant.

A few weeks ago I was invited to take part in an organic, seasonal, vegetarian recipe challenge by Faithful to Nature – a natural, organic online retailer. Although I love organic fresh produce, I’m not a health shop regular and not clued up in the least of what is available in the organic pantry department. This was an eye-opening experience to say the least!

In order to find ideas and put together my online order, I browsed the Faithful to Nature site. It is easy to use and has a tremendous array of organic products but also a wide range of wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, paleo and banting products. Not to mention the huge range of lifestyle, beauty, home and kids sections.

Staying with what I know and love, I decided to base my recipe on organic red lentils and organic coconut milk. I cook spicy Indian-style dhal at home often, and I’ll give my left arm for a good coconut-based curry anyday. To keep my curry seasonal, I added some of my favourite fresh organic ingredients: red onion, aubergine and baby spinach – all three such versatile staples. And to add a final zing to the finished product, I made a seasonal sweet sambal with organic pineapple, red onion, tomato and coriander – perfect with the hearty dhal. The curry is mild enough to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, fragrant and rich with pieces of aubergine that just melts in your mouth. End it off with a handful of organic raw cashew nuts and serve with fluffy organic basmati rice.

This dish won’t only excite vegetarians, but meat eaters as well. The dhal visually resembles mince meat, almost to the point where I want to buy a loaf of white bread and make a curry bunny. The coconut milk lends a delicate sweetness to the curry and the nuts add the necessary texture. Packed with proteïen, iron and flavour, it’s a delicious meal for the whole family.

I also learned an important lesson: although some of the organic pantry ingredients might seem a little pricey, you’ll be surprised to see how much money you’ll “save” by not including expensive meat cuts into your meal. Use that extra budget to make sure you buy the best organic pantry staples and spoil yourself with extras like nuts and chocolate spreads from Faithful to Nature – perfect for an after-dinner treat.

Ingredients for the curry:

  • 500 g organic red lentils
  • 45 ml coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large aubergine, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 15 ml mild curry powder
  • 15 ml garam masala
  • 10 ml ground coriander
  • 10 ml ground turmeric
  • 2 cans organic coconut milk
  • salt to taste
  • a small bunch of baby spinach
  • a handful of cashew nuts, roughly chopped
  • a handful of coriander, to serve (optional)
  • cooked basmati rice, to serve

Method:

  1. Rinse the lentils, then place them in a large pot and cover with water (about 5 cm above the lentils). Bring to a boil, then cook until just tender – about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Set aside.
  2. In a large wide pan or pot, heat the oil over high heat. Fry the onions and aubergines until golden brown, then add the garlic, ginger and spices.
  3. Fry for another 2 minutes, stirring, then add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered, then add the cooked lentils and stir to mix. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then season generously with salt (to taste).
  4. Remove from the heat, then stir in the baby spinach and top with the cashews. Serve hot with basmati rice (and coriander leaves, optionally).

For the sambal:

  • 2 large slices of organic pineapple, diced
  • 250 g organic cherry/rosa tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 organic red onion, finely chopped
  • a handful of organic coriander leaves, chopped
  • a squeeze of organic lemon juice
  • a small pinch of salt

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together, then serve at once with the curry.

*For organic fresh produce in the Stellenbosch area, try the following suppliers:

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Avo & blueberry salad with spinach, fennel & feta

6 Jan

Avo blueberry salad

Superfood salad of avocado, blueberries, baby spinach and fennel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Summer is reigning supreme in the Cape Winelands, with blazing hot weather that smells like wine tasting and picnics. I’m always looking for fresh salad ideas, especially when entertaining friends and family at home. This low carb salad contains a couple of superfoods and is so very satisfying to eat.

Blueberries make an excellent salad ingredient because of their dramatic colour and tartly sweet nature. They pop in your mouth and release their magic juices that work so well with the creaminess of ripe avo and the crunch of sliced fennel and fresh baby spinach. Add the salty zing of crumbled feta and you don’t need much else to make a perfect summer meal.

I made a purple salad dressing in my pestle & mortar using blueberries, olive oil & lemon juice, crushing the skins to release their colour.

Serve this as a side salad or as a fabulous light lunch on its own.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a light meal)

  • 200 g baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, skins & pips removed
  • 1 cup of blueberries (set a few aside for the dressing)
  • 1 small fennel bulb, washed and finely sliced
  • 1-2 rounds of feta, crumbled
  • some black sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
  • for the dressing:
    • 5-6 blueberries
    • 45 ml olive oil
    • 15 ml lemon juice
    • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Arrange the spinach leaves on a wide, large platter (not a deep bowl), then arrange the avo, blueberries, fennel & feta on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  2. To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a pestle & mortar and pound to a pulp, creating a pink emulsion. Season well with salt & pepper, then drizzle all over the salad.
  3. Serve at once.

Credits:

Recipe, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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Spinach & ricotta gnudi with chicken and herb broth

29 Jun

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Although most people associate soups with substance and texture, there is something strangely mesmerizing about an understated, translucent broth. This fragrant liquid can pack surprisingly bold flavours and is a fantastic vessel for carrying beautiful treasures like bright vegetables, botanical herbs, curly noodles or delicate dumplings.

My recipe for spinach & ricotta dumplings in a chicken & herb broth is actually 2 dishes in one. The dumplings are cousins of Italian gnocchi – a comforting dish that I usually serve with a bright red pommodoro sauce and grated parmesan cheese. The broth is a light version of traditional American chicken soup that is often associated with “getting better soon”, but also fabulous as a flavoursome home-made stock for making risotto.

This is one of the most comforting meals that I can possible imagine, especially in the cold weather that we’re experiencing in the Cape Winelands. Serve it as a light lunch/dinner with grated parmesan cheese and some buttered toast to soak up the broth.

TIP: Make the broth first, then keep it warm while you cook the gnudi. The broth also freezes well.

For the chicken broth: (serves 6)

  • 1,5 litres (6 cups) water
  • 400 g frozen chicken necks, thawed
  • 1 large knob of ginger, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced leeks
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled & sliced
  • a handful of parsley stalks
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
  • salt & pepper

Method:

Place all the ingredients for the broth in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid, then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for another 30 minutes, uncovered, then strain through a sieve. (Keep the solids for processing with your next soup or use in your next stew.)

For the gnudi/dumplings:

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 450-500g ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, or Grana Padano) plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Method: In a large pan, heat the olive oil and sauteé the spinach over medium heat for about 5 minutes until just wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta, egg and yolk, salt, pepper, parmesan and flour. Roughly chop the cooked spinach, then add it with the parsley to the rest of the ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it starts to form a coarse-looking ball. Lightly dust a rimmed baking tray with flour. Using 2 large dessert spoons, shape heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes, then place on the floured tray and dust with a little more flour (you should have about 30). Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Carefully add the gnudi, then cook for 4 minutes until cooked through and tender (gnudi will quickly float to the surface; continue cooking or they will be gummy in the center). Using a slotted spoon, remove gnudi from water and divide among bowls.

To assemble:

  • 1 batch chicken broth
  • a cup of finely chopped mixed vegetables (leeks, celery, mushrooms)
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
  • a handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • cooked gnudi (about 4 per person)
  • finely grated parmesan cheese

Method: Bring the broth to a slow simmer. Add the finely chopped vegetables, ginger, garlic, parsley & chickpeas, then remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls with the freshly cooked gnudi, then top with grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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Orzo salad with chorizo, spinach & parmesan

2 Aug

Warm orzo salad with chorizo & spinach (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Warm orzo salad with chorizo & spinach (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Orzo (also called risoni or rosmarino) is a type of short cut pasta, shaped like a long flat grain of rice. While my mother served it to us plain as a substitute to rice with meaty stews, I only really started enjoying cooking with orzo in recent years. It’s the strangely delightful mouth-feel that I love most – something that works very well in stews, soups and salads.

In this recipe, I’ve combined a few ingredients that I just adore. First and foremost I chose the king of preserved sausages: chorizo – in my opinion one of the best ways of creating bold flavours in an instant. Smokey, spicy slices of chorizo will trump everyone’s favourite crispy bacon any day, in my opinion. But the flavour will only be as good as the product, so choose wisely. The other ingredients that make this dish magnificent are smoked paprika, baby spinach leaves, ripe cherry tomatoes, shavings of Parmesan cheese and some grated lemon rind.

This is an easy and comforting meal for anytime of the year – winter or summer. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  •  a large pot of salted water, suitable for the stove top
  • 500g orzo pasta
  • roughly 225 g of good quality chorizo sausage
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 g ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoons) smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • juice and finely grated zest of one medium size lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • 200 g baby spinach leaves
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (add as much as you want)

Method:

  1. Place the pot of salted water on the stove and bring to the boil. Add the orzo, stir, and set your timer for 7 minutes.
  2. Remove the skin from the chorizo sausage, then cut the chorizo into fine slices/discs (if the skin is not too hard you can leave it on)
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil, sliced chorizo & chopped garlic. Fry for about 5 minutes until the chorizo has turned slightly brown on all sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. (When the timer for the orzo goes off, drain the orzo in a colander, stir through a splash of olive oil and set it aside.)
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and paprika to the pan with chorizo, and stir-fry for another minute.
  6. Now add the wine to deglaze the pan, cooking until the wine has reduced by half. Remove from the heat.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked orzo and the contents of the frying pan. Also add the lemon juice and zest. Stir with a large spoon to mix thoroughly. Season with salt & pepper.
  8. Now stir through the fresh spinach leaves (they will wilt slightly from the heat of the orzo – that’s perfect), and top with shaved Parmesan.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Spinach ravioli with smoked mozzarella & fresh tomato sauce

6 Aug

Spinach ravioli stuffed with smoked mozzarella and ricotta, topped with fresh tomato sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

This Friday we’ll be celebrating Women’s Day – a day where we are reminded that women played a big role in South Africa’s human rights history.  Back in 1965, a group of very brave women staged a silent march in Pretoria in front of the Union Buildings, against legislation that required African people to carry a special identification document which curtailed an African’s freedom of movement during the apartheid era.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come since 1965. Today, Women’s Day celebrates the respect, love and appreciation of women throughout South Africa. To me, it is not a political day, it is a day where we can treat each other with a little extra care and indulgence, just because we deserve it!

With the help of Poetry stores, I chose a recipe from the amazing book The Italian Cookery Course by Katie Kaldesi (available from Poetry). Being very sceptical of Italian cookery books (because everyone claims to cook like the Italians!), I approached this book with caution. But after spending a few minutes paging through the beautiful recipes and stories, I realised that this book is very authentic. I just couldn’t put it down. It might be my favourite recipe book of 2013 so far – a real inspiration for anyone who really enjoys traditional Italian recipes and ingredients.

Katie Caldesi was nominated for many awards after writing this book, and I can see why. She captures the soul of the people that feature in the book, and it translates onto the recipe pages. I look forward to spending much more time with this amazing book, and I’ll surely feature more recipes in the near future.

The recipe that I chose to feature for Women’s Day from The Italian Cookery Course, is part of a masterclass feature in the book: “Spinach pasta stuffed with smoked mozzarella with fresh tomato sauce”. It’s a bright green spinach pasta, filled with smoked mozzarella cheese and ricotta, topped with Giovanna’s fresh tomato sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese. It is simply sublime in flavour, rich from the cheese filling, yet light from the fresh tomatoes in the sauce. It is a beautiful plate of Italian goodness, perfect for a Women’s Day celebration.

May every lady out there feel special on Friday. I love being a woman!

Ingredients for Fresh Tomato Sauce: (serves 6)

  • 1kg fresh, ripe and very red tomatoes, quartered
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 heaped teaspoon caster sugar (optional)
  • grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

  1. Put the tomatoes, basil, and onion in a large heavybased saucepan over medium heat (no oil!). Cover the pan, shaking it frequently, and leave on the heat for 45 minutes until the tomatoes have released their juices and softened. Remove the basil leaves.
  2. Use a stick blender and whizz up the tomatoes to a smooth puree, skins and all.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic. Fry over medium heat until it becomes fragrant, then add the pureed tomatoes.
  4. Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes until the mixture has reduced and the flavour has become concentrated. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar.

Ingredients for Smoked Mozzarella Filling:

  • 250 g smoked mozzarella (or scamorza)
  • 150 g ricotta
  • a good pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt, to taste

Method:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients well. Be careful with the salt as the mozzarella is already salty.

Rolling out the green pasta dough with my pasta machine (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients for Spinach Pasta Ravioli: (I have adapted this recipe by mixing the dough in my food processor, but you can also mix it by hand)

  • 200 g fresh spinach (or 100g cooked spinach)
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 300 g flour, plus a little extra
  1. Cook the spinach first: I like to sautee the spinach leaves with olive oil in a large pan until it has wilted, then remove from the heat and let it cool. Spinach will lose about 50% of it’s weight after being cooked, so we are looking for about 100g cooked spinach for the rest of the recipe.
  2. When the spinach has cooled, place it in a small mixing jug with one of the eggs, then blend with a stick blender to a smooth green paste.
  3. Add the flour, remaining egg, and green paste to your food processor, then mix until you get a ball of dough that starts to come together (it only takes about 20-30 seconds).
  4. Remove the dough from the processor bowl, then place it on a floured wooden board and press together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Using a pasta machine, roll out the dough, one piece at a time, to a thickness of about 1mm (almost thinnest setting). Lightly dust the pasta while working with it.
  6. Placing balls of filling on the pasta sheets (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

    Lay out the sheet of pasta on a lightly dusted surface to prevent sticking. Place heaped teaspoons of stuffing on one side of each sheet (lengthways), then fold it over and press down to stick the 2 layers together. If your pasta sheets look dry, use a pastry brush and water to make the surface a bit sticky before folding it. Make sure to press out any air bubbles around the stuffing.

  7. Fold the pasta sheets over the filling, then press down around it to get rid of air pockets before cutting it into squares (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

    Use a fluted pastry cutter (or pizza wheel cutter) to cut the ravioli into squares, aiming to leave about 2cm between the end of the filling and the edge of the pasta square. Place the ravioli on a lightly floured tray, spaced apart in a single layer. Set aside until ready to cook, but not longer than an hour otherwise it will start to stick to the surface. You can also freeze them at this stage.

  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Cook the ravioli for 3-5 minutes (until al dente), then drain through a colander – the filling will completely melt on the inside, so don’t be alarmed if the ravioli look “deflated”, just handle with care! Serve with the fresh tomato sauce (see recipe above) and top with grated parmesan cheese.

Credits:

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe

All recipes from: The Italian Cookery Course by Katie Caldesi, available from Poetry stores at R295

Bracelet: Poetry stores, R30 (Poetry supports the Ikamva Labantu programme to empower women. Proceeds from this handmade bracelet provide earnings and upskilling for local bracelet-makers as well as enterprise development opportunities in South Africa.)

Large plate, smaller bowls and wooden spoon: Wonki Ware from Poetry stores (ranging from R65-R399)

 

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Spinach and feta flapjacks with horseradish cream

30 Jun

Spinach and feta flapjacks with horseradish cream and chives

Although most people eat their flapjacks at the breakfast table with maple syrup, there is no reason not to go the savoury route for a change! I recently twisted up my traditional Sasko Quick Treats Flapjack Mix with spinach and feta, and topped them with a mixture of horseradish and creamed cottage cheese. They are just delicious as a light meal, brunch, a snack or party canapés.

They are best served at room temperature, so you can make them a few hours ahead and top with the horseradish cream just before your guests arrive. Perfectly easy Meatless Monday snacks!

Ingredients:

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely chopped (white part only)
  • 250 g spinach leaves (no stems)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 100 g feta, crumbled

For flapjacks:

  • Sasko Quick Treats Flapjacks Mix 500 g
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 550 ml milk
  • 2 x XL eggs
  • vegetable oil for frying

For horseradish cream:

  • 250 g creamed cottage cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of horseradish paste (or more if you prefer)
  • fresh chives for garnish, chopped

Method:

  1. In a large pan, heat oil over moderate heat. Add chopped leak and fry until tender. Add spinach leaves and fry for a minute, then cover and let it steam for 5-10 minutes until soft and wilted.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a pinch of nutmeg. Let it cool to room temperature, then chop finely.
  3. For flapjacks, beat vegetable oil, milk and eggs together, then add Sasko Flapjack Mix and beat until lump free. Stir in chopped spinach and crumbled feta.
  4. Spoon mixture with a tablespoon into a moderately hot, well-greased frying pan, flipping them over when you start to see bubbles appear on the surface. Fry on other side until golden brow. Keep aside until cool.
  5. Mix creamed cottage cheese and horseradish to a smooth spreading consistency. Spread on flapjacks and top with chopped chives.
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