Hi everyone. How are you all doing? The days seem to be flying by don’t you think? Have you managed to get yourself into a rhythm that suits you and your lifestyle? I’m loving all the cooking and baking that everyone seems to be doing on instagram. Being stuck inside seems to have unleashed inner domestic culinary gods and goddesses in us all; it is wonderful to see. It seems everyone is baking banana bread and making their own hummus – I can almost smell it when I step outside on my daily exercise.
Meal times have always been a special time for my family to get together, update each other on each others days and news and during this period of uncertainty they have become even more sacred. We take it in turn to cook as it’s a good way to relax and focus the mind and we try and come up with interesting things to cook, to keep the diet varied and interesting. I thought it might be helpful to share a couple of lunch, or indeed supper ideas, that we have eaten recently that were super simple, require few ingredients and take 15 mins max to cook.
First up is my spaghetti alla puttanesca – also known as prostitutes pasta – as it can be made quickly, in between other obligations, hence the prostitute allusion! My version is similar to the Neapolitan in that omits anchovies as I think it makes the dish just too salty. I also add spinach because I LOVE spinach and you can add fresh chillies or chilli flakes but I have omitted these this time round.
The main ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, black olives and capers and together they work so well with the spaghetti. You can use linguine too, whichever you have to hand.
Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
Spaghetti/linguine (enough for 4-6 or however many you are feeding)
2 tbsp olive oil
8 medium tomatoes, quartered
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 large tbsp of stones black olives, chopped
1 tbsp capers
3 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 cup pasta water
1. Fill a large pan with boiling salted water and add the spaghetti/linguine.
2. Heat a large wide pan with olive oil then add the tomatoes 🍅 followed by the garlic. Stir
3. Add the olives and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to allow everything to soften and meld together.
4. Check to see the spaghetti is cooked and when it is to your liking add it to the sauce, mix well with tongs and then add the spinach.
5. Add a cup of the pasta water to loosen and continue to fold in together. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
6. Serve immediately.
It’s deliciously sweet from the tomatoes and salty from the olives and capers and I love the taste of spinach and garlic binding it all together.
The other easy meal is “cauliflower fritters”. I was inspired by Sami Tamimi (Yotam Ottolegnhi’s business partner) who made them on his instagram feed. If you are on instagram have a look at him cooking them on his feed – you can find him @sami_tamimi. I made a few changes in that I added a heaped tsp of curry powder and some black urfa chilli from my favourite spice provider in the US Burlap & Barrel. If you live stateside I highly recommend you ordering some of their spices. They are incredible. I always try and pick some up when I am in the US or have friends bring some over. I also only used plain flour, but you can use chickpea/bread flour or whatever you have to hand.
I also decided they would go really well with a simple tomato, fresh coriander, black olive and feta salad on the side, instead of his suggestion of a yoghurt raita or tahini dip, but it’s totally up to you.
Spiced Cauliflower Fritters
serves 4 (makes around 11 large fritters)
1 cauliflower, chopped into even size piece and the green leaves washed
2cups/ 300g flour or enough to form a batter (you may need to add a little more so adjust as need be)
water – a little to loosen the batter
1 white onion, finely diced
1 large handful of fresh parsley, finely sliced
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 heaped tsp of curry powder
1-2 tsp chilli flakes (black Urfa chilli, Allepo chilli flakes, red pepper flakes)
1 heaped tsp salt
8 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp black olives, stone removed and halved
handful of fresh coriander (or parsley) chopped
1 tbsp feta, broken up
- First boil a large pan of water and then add the cauliflower, including the green stalks, which you keep at full length at this stage.
- Meanwhile mix the flour with the eggs, water, spices, parsley, salt, pepper and white onion.
- When the cauliflower has completely softened – around 6-8 mins, drain and remove the green stalks.
- First thinly slice the green stalks and add them to the batter.
- Using a knife or potato masher, roughly break up the cauliflower so that it is broken down but not like mashed potato.
- Turn it out into the batter and mix together.
- Heat a large pan with a little vegetable or sunflower oil – you want to shallow fry NOT deep fry.
- Using a large spoon turn out some of the cauliflower batter into the pan and flatten with the back of the spoon. Fill up the pan – I find three work well as you don’t want to over crowd the pan. Leave the fritters to bind together and bronze. If you touch them too early they will break apart.
- Leave to bronze on both side. This will take around 3-4 minutes per side. If it is not bronzed sufficiently leave for a little longer.
- Once both sides have bronzed, turn out to a plate with some kitchen roll and keep in a warm oven whilst you continue with the others.
- Prepare the tomato salad whilst the fritters are bronzing and place in a bowl ready to serve.
- Once all the fritters are ready serve and eat whilst still hot.