One reason for making this, is that Rachel Roddy said in her column in the Guardian’s Cook Supplement on 30 January 2016 (which provides the recipe on which this is based), “Italy is where … leftovers really do still rule, helping cooking feel like a continuum” – has she been reading my blog?
Anyway, I also needed to use most of a 260g bag of spinach leftover from a stir-fry. Enough for 3 people:
- 200g spinach
- 125g risotto rice
- small onion (finely chopped)
- 20g butter
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- 40g parmesan (grated)
- black pepper to taste
- oil (to brush the cake tin)
- 1 heaped tbsp bread crumbs
Quickly wilt the spinach in a hot pan. Remove it to a plate, allow to cool, and snip into smaller pieces with scissors.
Cook the rice in boiling water and drain.
Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion very gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
Brush a cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a little oil and dust with the bread crumbs.
Heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).
Mix together the spinach, rice, onion and parmesan, and then mix in the beaten egg and add black pepper. Place the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with a spoon.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
I served mine with roasted baby plum tomatoes.
More comfort food – this time an Italian potato cake, based on a recipe in today’s Guardian, by Rachel Roddy. You get lovely warming, buttery, cheesy potato with a layer of melted, slightly chewy, cheese in between. I served mine with lightly cooked broccoli. Enough for four people.
- 750g mashed potato (I baked some largish potatoes, and removed most of the cooked potato, so I could use the skins as a separate snack)
- 60g grated parmesan
- 35g butter
- Black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 100ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
- 80g provolone cheese (or mature gouda, or emmental)
- 125g mozzarella ball
- A little olive oil (to grease the baking dish)
- 1 tbsp finely ground breadcrumbs
Mash the potato together with the parmesan, 25g of butter, grated nutmeg and black pepper to taste. Lightly beat together the eggs and the milk, and mix into the potato mixture.
Cut the provolone and mozzarella into small (0.5cm) cubes.
Grease the inside of an oven proof dish (I used a square earthenware dish about 21cm square) with the olive oil. Place half the potato in the bottom of the dish, and sprinkle with the cubed provolone and mozzarella. Place the remaining potato on top and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, at 180C (Gas Mark 4), or until the top is brown and crispy. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
I had most of a bunch of John Hurd’s excellent watercress leftover so I made this pesto. Based on a recipe from watercress.co.uk – it serves four people with pasta, and according to the recipe, freezes well. So half of it is now in the freezer, and I shall discover if really does freeze well when I use it! I used my Cuisinart Mini-processor to make this (or you could just chop the watercress really finely, using a sharp knife and the grind the almonds and garlic with a pestle and mortar, and then mix all the ingredients together):
- 1 bunch watercress (wash thoroughly)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 20 almonds (blanched)
- 50ml olive oil
- 50g finely grated parmesan
- Black pepper and a fairly generous squeeze of lemon juice.
Puree the watercress, garlic and almonds (blanched by steeping in boiling water for about a minute and the peeling away the skins – they have a better flavour than pre-blanched, flaked or ground almonds) in a processor. Add the oil and the parmesan and process until well blended. Add black pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Served here with pasta.
This is based on a recipe in the February 2015 edition of Waitrose Kitchen magazine. For 2 people:
- 10g dried porcini mushrooms
- 130ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot (or equivalent amount of onion – finely chopped)
- 130g chestnut mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic (crushed)
- Leaves picked from 4 thyme sprigs
- 1.5 tbsp port
- 1 tbsp ricotta
- 4 large leaves of filo pastry
- Extra olive oil for brushing the pastry
- 15g grated parmesan
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 1 tsp brandy
- Black pepper to taste
Place the dried porcini in a small bowl, and pour on the boiling water. Cover, and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Then drain and squeeze the porcini, reserving the liquid. Chop the porcini.
Gently heat the oil in a pan, and cook the shallot for 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and the porcini, and cook (covered) over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat, add the port, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool and stir in the ricotta.
Cut the filo pastry sheets in half widthways, and store under a damp cloth.
Layer the sheets of pastry into two lots of four, brushing each sheet with olive oil. Divide the mushroom mixture in half, and arrange each portion on a pile of pastry. Wrap each portion in the pastry, tucking in the edges, and place on a baking tray, so that the edges are underneath. Brush with oil and sprinkle with parmesan.
Cook in the oven at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for about 20 minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile boil the liquid from the porcini until it has reduced by 2/3rds. Stir in the cream and brandy, and heat to just below boiling point, and season with black pepper.
Serve with the porcini sauce.
This makes a generous amount for 2, or smaller portions for 3 people when served with pasta:
- 20 walnut halves
- 1 clove of garlic (peeled)
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
- 100g shredded kale (tough stalks removed)
- 30g parmesan (grated)
- Black pepper to taste
Grind the walnuts in a food processor. Add the garlic, olive oil, kale and parmesan. Process until fully combined to a paste. Season with black pepper.
Add to hot cooked pasta, and stir over a gentle heat, until hot. Serve.
This is based on a recipe in ‘Muffins scones and breads’ in the Austrailan Women’s Weekly cookbook series. There is enough for 6 as an accompaniment to soup or salad. It’s fairly quick to make as it requires only one rising.
- 1&1/2 tsp dried yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 220ml warm (blood heat) water
- 150g strong plain flour
- 150g wholemeal flour
- 35g Italian hard cheese (this is the ‘cheap version‘ of parmesan), finely grated
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small red onion (finely sliced)
- Sea salt
Mix the yeast and sugar with 100ml of the warm water. Cover, and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until it starts to ferment.
Meanwhile sift the flours together into a large mixing bowl. When the yeast is ready, warm the flour briefly in the microwave (say, 20 seconds on high).
Mix the cheese and herbs into the flour, add the yeast mixture and 2 tbsp of the olive oil, and a further 100g of the water. Mix to a soft, but manageable, dough. If too dry add further water (if too wet, knead in some more flour). Knead for about 5 minutes.
Roll out the dough and place it so that it covers a baking tray (I used one 30cm square). Cover and leave in a warm place to rise (until it has doubled in depth).
Heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 8). Spread the onion slices over the top, and sprinkle with sea salt and the remaining olive oil.
Bake for about 25 minutes. Pleace on a wire rack to cool.
This recipe has been adapted from one which appeared in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 May 2014. Enough for 2 (maybe 3 with a salad):
- 200g plain flour
- 2 large eggs (beaten)
- 100g water
- 70g walnuts (chopped) – hazel nuts could also be used
- A small bunch of parsley (chopped)
- 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 50g parmesan (grated)
Thoroughly mix (preferably with an electric whisk) the flour and eggs in a large bowl. Then add half the water and carry on mixing. The batter should drip, but not be too thin (ie it should drip, but very slowly). Slowly add more of the water until the batter is the right consistency.
Mix the nuts, parsley, garlic, oil and parmesan in a large bowl and set aside.
Using a very large pot/saucepan, heat about 5 litres of water to boiling point. The batter needs to be dripped into the boiling water in fine strands. I used a ‘potato ricer’. If you use one of these you need to make sure that the surface with the holes (through which you push the batter) is perfectly horizontal, otherwise the individual strands will stick together. You could also use a colander.
Cook the batter in three batches. The spaetzle, resembling short, irregular noodles, quickly rise to the top. At this point remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add to the nut mix.
This recipe is based on one which appeared in Ruby Tandoh’s ‘Ruby bakes…’ column in the Guardian Cook Supplement (5 April 2014). Serves 4-6:
- 1 deep savoury short crust flan case (I made mine in a tin with a 20cm diameter base, with the sides sloping outwards from the base, using pastry made with 150g of plain flour and 75g of butter)
- 15g butter
- 250g fresh spinach (washed and drained (using a salad spinner is a good idea))
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 medium potatoes (mine amounted to about 330g)
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 250ml milk
- 3 large eggs (beaten)
- 250g quark
- Black pepper (to taste)
- 40g each of parmesan and mature cheddar, finely grated
Heat the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add the spinach (keeping the heat high) and stir until just wilted. Leave to cool.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onion over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Cover the pan and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender.
Meanwhile, peel, and slice the potatoes (to about the thickness of a 10p coin).
Add the potato and nutmeg to the pan with the onion, pour in 150ml of the milk and cook over a gentle heat with the lid on for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The potato should absorb most of the milk by the time you finish this phase of the cooking process.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the remaining milk, eggs, quark and grated cheese, and mix thoroughly. Squeeze any excess water from the spinach, and then stir it into the mixture. Season to taste, and pour into the flan case.
Bake the flan in the oven 160C (Gas Mark 3) for approximately 40 minutes, or until browned on top and filling firm.
This recipe is based on the recipe for ‘Spinach and ricotta malfatti’ which appeared in the dumpling recipes in the Guardian’s Cook supplement on 22 February 2014. Enough for 2:
- 500g fresh spinach, or 250g frozen, thawed
- 1 large egg
- 100g ricotta
- 140g plain flour (the recipe said 100g, but this left the mixture too wet), plus extra for rolling the gnocchi
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 50g parmesan, grated
- 30g unsalted butter melted
- Black pepper
Cook the (fresh) spinach in a large pan with a lid for 5 minutes. Drain and leave until cool. Then squeeze out all the water, and chop very finely.
Beat the egg and the ricotta in a large bowl. Then mix in the flour, nutmeg, spinach and half the parmesan. Add black pepper to taste.
Form the mixture into balls the size of large marbles, by rolling small amounts of the mixture on a plate of flour. Chill for 30 minutes.
To cook, add the gnocchi, a dozen at a time, to a large pan of boiling water. Cook each batch for about 2 minutes after they have risen to the top. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the serving plates (in this case two), and cover to keep warm.
When all gnocchi are cooked, reheat in the microwave (1 minute on ‘high’ for each plate was sufficient).
Pour the butter over the gnocchi, sprinkle with parmesan and serve.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan. Just before serving, spoon the butter over the cooked gnocchi, sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and serve at once.
This is an adaptation (the ingredients have substantially changed) of Dish of the Month which appeared on the February 2014 edition of Waitrose Kitchen magazine. It was an Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. Enough for 4:
- 275 g cherry tomatoes (peeled and halved)
- 50g camargue rice (I used Waitrose LOVE life red camargue & wild rice)
- 70g brown rice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion (finely chopped)
- 1 stick of celery (finely chopped)
- 250g spinach (washed and spun in a salad-spinner to remove any moisture)
- 80g feta (I used Sainsbury’s Basics Greek style salad cheese)
- 2 large eggs
- 80g Greek yogurt
- 40g double cream
- black pepper (to taste)
- 60g mature cheddar (grated)
- 20g parmesan (grated)
Put the tomato halves on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 120C (Gas Mark 1/2) for about 1.5 hours until semi-dried.
Put all the rice in one pan and cook until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and very gently cook the onion and celery for 15 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the spinach, stirring constantly until it has all wilted. Remove from the heat, crumble in the feta, mix well and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together the eggs, yogurt, double cream and black pepper. Add this to the rice mixture, and add 2/3rds of the tomatoes. Make sure everything is well combined and transfer to an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle the remaining tomatoes and the grated cheeses over the top.
Bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for 40 minutes until set and golden brown on top.
When I made this dish, I was in a hurry, so I used the microwave instead. Starting with a warm rice mixture, I microwaved it on ‘high’ for 8 minutes and then browned the dish under the grill. I don’t that the finished product suffered as a result.