This is looks good (it’s a lovely green colour) and is quick to make. Serves 2:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 onion (finely sliced)
- 2 rashers of bacon (thinly sliced – preferably unsmoked)
- 300g frozen peas
- 500ml vegetable stock
- Leaves from 4 sprigs of mint (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp double cream
- Lemon juice and black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a largish saucepan. Add the bacon and cook (over a medium heat) for 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook very gently for 10 minutes.
Add the peas and the stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes.
Purée the soup using a hand blender, liquidiser or a food processor. Then add the cream and heat gently to just below boiling point, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the mint, lemon juice and pepper, and serve.
Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!
This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
- 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
- 200g pot barley
- 1000ml vegi stock
- Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
- Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
- 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
- 3 tbsp raisins
- Black pepper to taste
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
- 60g yogurt
- A pinch of sumac
- ½ tsp harissa
Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.
Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.
Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).
This recipe is my adaptation of a recipe in Waitrose Kitchen magazine of February 2015. Serves 2:
For the roast tomatoes:
- 8 small tomatoes (halved)
- Leaves from 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Black pepper (a few ‘turns’)
For the fritters etc:
- 100g frozen peas (defrosted – use the cheap peas for this recipe)
- 2 spring onions
- Leaves from 6 mint sprigs
- 1 large egg
- 4 tbsp milk
- 70g plain flour
- 1 rounded tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp oil (for cooking)
- 150g pack of kiln roasted salmon (flaked)
- Soured cream
Place the tomatoes halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with silicone paper. Shake together the thyme, garlic, sugar, oil, lemon juice and black pepper, in a small jar, and drizzle over the tomatoes. Roast at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for 20 to 25 minutes, until they start to char.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
Place the peas, onions, mint, egg and milk in a food processor, and process until smooth.
Sift together the flour and the baking powder. Add this to the food processor. Once the mixture is smooth, spoon it into the frying pan to make 4 even fritters. Cook over a medium heat (2 minutes either side) until golden.
Serve with the tomatoes and the flaked salmon, with a dollop of soured cream.
This recipe is adapted from a Turkey Meatball recipe in Waitrose Kitchen magazine January 2015. Enough for 2:
- 1 small onion (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (more for finally baking the ‘no-meatballs’)
- 1 clove of garlic (chopped/crushed)
- 1 courgette (grated)
- 1/2 400g tin of cannellini beans (drained (the other half was used in Sausage and white bean stew) and mashed)
- 1 tsp allspice (ground)
- 50g feta (crumbled)
- Small bunch of parsley (chopped)
- 2 tsp tahini mixed with 2 tsp water
- Black pepper
- 120g wholemeal couscous
- 130ml boiling water
- 100g frozen peas
- 4 sprigs of mint (chopped)
- Small bunch of coriander (chopped)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 50g rocket
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, and gently cook the onion for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Meanwhile grate the courgette and squeeze as much excess liquid as possible from it. Mix together the onion, garlic, courgette, beans, allspice, feta, half the parsley, black pepper to taste, and the tahini/water mix.
Form into 10 balls. Roll each in oil and bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 20 minutes, until browned.
Put the couscous into a bowl and mix in the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, and then the boiling water. Cover and stand for 6 minutes. Cook the peas as indicated on the packet. Mix the peas, the remaining herbs and the lemon juice, into the couscous. If necessary, keep warm until the balls are cooked, adding the rocket immediately before serving.
I did find that the balls did not hold their shape very well, despite the binding effect of the tahini/water mix. If I make this again, I think that I will try adding some fresh breadcrumbs.
Enough for lunch for 2 (served with bread):
- 100g feta (cut into small cubes, or crumbled)
- 2 spring onions (sliced)
- 1/3rd of a cucumber (diced)
- 14 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
- 12 olives (stoned and halved)
- A few sprigs of mint
- A few sprigs of flat parsley
- 1 clove garlic (crushed/chopped)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- less than 1 tbsp wine vinegar
- Black pepper
Combine the feta, spring onions, cucumber tomatoes and olives in a bowl.
Make the dressing by whisking together the herbs, garlic, oil, vinegar and black pepper. Stir into the salad.
Enough for 2:
- 1 tbsp harissa
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 echalion shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
- 100g feta cheese
- 100g low-fat natural yogurt
- Leaves from 6 sprigs of mint (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp sumac
- Black pepper
- 50g wild rocket
- 4 wholemeal flour tortillas
Mix the harissa and the olive oil in a large bowl. Add the shallots so they are completely coated with the olive oil mix. Arrange in a baking dish and place in the oven 160C (Gas Mark 3) for about 50 minutes, or until soft but still holding their shape.
Meanwhile, mash together the feta and the yogurt in a bowl. Stir in the mint and sumac, and season with black pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Warm the tortillas in the oven for about 2 minutes.
To eat, spread some of the feta dressing on a tortilla with rocket and some of the shallots. Then roll up the tortilla.
Parsley,sage, rosemary & thyme; plus mint & chives
It’s now late September and I have large quantities of common herbs you’d expect to use in everyday cooking in my garden.
These all originated from pots of cooking herbs bought in supermarkets – often the items planted outside were pots which were way past their sell-by-date and reduced to a few stalks.
I find that most supermarket herbs do very well: sage, thyme, parsley (curly/flat), chives, mint and rosemary. The only one I have a problem with is coriander which always goes to seed rapidly.
All my herbs are in pots (many which I’ve acquired via Freecycle), planted in compost made from food/garden waste, on the edge of my patio. They can look extremely attractive (rosemary, thyme and sage all produce flowers on the bluey-pink spectrum) and are a target for butterflies.
As far as pests are concerned, slugs and snails love parsley. To avoid the problem I stuck cooper tape on the outside of the pots (they don’t don’t like the electric shock as they slither over the copper tape). I’m told that spraying the outside of the pots with WD-40 also deters these havoc reeking gastropods, as the poor things keep sliding downwards!
Chilli plant against south-facing wall
I also bought a supermarket chilli plant late last year, which by May was looking fairly sick. I re-potted it in a much larger pot, and it is now thickly covered in green chillies. I suspect this will need bring back into the house soon, but for now, I’m trying to take advantage of the early Autumn sun while the weather is still frost-free.