Broad beans, lemon zest ricotta, fresh mint oil, parma ham with pink peppercorns

IMG_5822

I have been meaning to a write blog post on this recipe for sometime now as I seem to be averaging eating it once a week in the last month or so. It’s one of those recipes that once you’ve prepared it you want to dive in and eat it so I needed to be speedy with the camera work, hence the lack of lots of photos.  It is absolutely perfect for a lunch either by yourself or if you have a few friends coming over. The bright greens and the complimenting flavours of lemon, broad beans, mint, olive oil, garlic, ricotta, parmesan, parma ham and pink peppercorns really appeal to me. The pink peppercorns I managed to source in Turkey last year and they have the most wonderful flavour. Whilst I imagine a quick trip to Turkey may not be realistic you’ll be glad to hear that you can find them at most supermarkets – they are definitely worth seeking out as they have a very distinct flavour – very different from the black variety.

I stumbled across this recipe years ago in Skye Gyngells book ‘A Year in My Kitchen’ and as far as I’m concerned it’s a winning recipe. The only slightly time consuming part is taking the skins off the broad beans – which to be fair does not really take that long, especially if you have a friend to chat to whilst you are sharing the podding together.

IMG_5769

Other than this time, I always prepare the dish with fresh broad beans but for some reason the two places that normally stock them this morning had run out, so I had to suffice with frozen. They tasted equally good, although they were a slightly smaller in size, which made peeling them take a little longer. I reckon if you have a glorious sunny day with friends coming over for lunch this is the perfect dish. To accompany it, a glass of Riesling or ginger cordial would always go down a treat. A great wine merchant called Symposium, based in the picturesque town of Lewes in East Sussex, I always find comes up trumps with recommending great drinkable wines. I’m based in London and they always seem happy to deliver a case or two to me when I am needing to stock up. If you are interested send Henry an email henry@symposium-finewine.co.uk and he’ll send you their wine list.

Broad beans, lemon zest ricotta, fresh mint oil, parma ham with pink peppercorns

Adapted from Skye Gyngell’s book ‘A year in my kitchen’

Serves 4

1kg of fresh broad beans in their pods (or 500g podded/frozen)

250g fresh ricotta

50g parmesan, finely grated

1 lemon, zest and juice

8 slices of parma ham

1 garlic clove

handful of fresh mint

75ml olive oil

pinch of pink peppercorns per serving

sour dough bread (or ciabatta)

1. If using fresh broad beans, take them out of their pods and place into a pan of boiling water for under 1 minute. If you are using frozen broad beans you need to leave them in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and run under cold water immediately and then peel off  the outer shell of the broad beans and discard.

2. Take a large handful of fresh mint and finely chop up all of it bar a few leafs that you will sprinkle over the top at the end. Place the finely chopped mint leaves in a bowl with 75ml of olive oil and leave to infuse for 15 minutes or longer.

3. Place the ricotta into a bowl and add the finely grated parmesan. Stir together and then add most of the zest from one lemon – the remaining zest you will sprinkle on the dish at the end. Add the juice from half a lemon.  Stir in all together and leave to one side.

4. In a preheated oven – 180 degrees – place the parma ham on baking parchment with a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper. Leave to crisp up in the oven for 10 minutes.

5. Slice some sourdough bread and place in the toaster or under a grill for it to become golden. Once toasted cover with a little olive oil and fresh garlic.  Place on a serving plate.

6. Add a spoonful or two of the  lemony ricotta/parmesan to the toast. Add a scattering of broad beans followed by some mint drizzle and then lay two slices of parma ham over the creation followed by some of the remaining lemon zest, fresh mint leaves and a good pinch or two of pink peppercorns. I find that no salt is necessary as the parma ham and parmesan more than make up for the lack of salt.

Eat at room temperature.

IMG_5820


Wintery Warm Lentil and Goats Cheese Salad with a Fresh Basil dressing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We’ve been having some glorious flurries of snow here in the UK, which has been rather exciting for us all. A blanket of snow makes London look magical and the silent, crisp air entices you outside to enjoy what nature has to offer. Whilst it is bitterly cold, returning to the warmth after some jollities in the fresh air is a welcome respite and I for one like nothing more than getting stuck into some cooking and baking. Big A and Little Z set about baking some biscuits, in fact lots of biscuits – I’ll blog this recipe once I have completely perfected it for you. Eating some warming, comforting food is totally necessary in this weather and lentils are the perfect food to tuck into.

The recipe today is great for the winter months, but can also be a fantastic dish in the spring and summer months eaten at room temperature and simply crumble the goats cheese instead of warming it. So if you are reading this in a hotter climate, fear not, you too can also cook the dish and be equally satisfied.

The trick though with this ‘salad’ is in the timing.  So if you are going to eat it warm please read the following.

1) A few hours before you intend to eat the salad place the tomatoes sliced in the oven and cover with caster sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put them on a low heat (100 degrees centigrade or less even) to gently slow roast away. You want the tomatoes to shrivel up at the sides and the slow roasting will give them an incredible depth of flavour. Seriously off the charts kind of taste. 

2) Place the sliced red onion rings on a baking tray covered in balsamic vinegar, caster sugar, olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper and roast in the oven (180 degrees centigrade) for 25 minutes. If you do not have a separate oven to do this – as the tomatoes will need a lower heat – cook the onions first and then just heat them up in the low heat oven when the tomatoes are cooking to re-warm them.

3) Wash the lentils thoroughly then add cold water to cover them along with all the ingredients (listed below) and gently let them boil away for around 20 minutes. It is really important not to over cook them as they will become soft and soggy. You want to have them so that they still keep their shape.

4) Blend up the basil oil while the above is cooking away.

5) Plate up and whilst you are doing this place the goats cheese in a warm oven for a minute or two to warm it up then place on top of the lentils and drizzle with basil oil.

Whilst the ingredients length looks rather long…..please do not be put off as it really takes no time at all – bar the slow roasting of the tomatoes, which need to be cooked slowly over time. Everything, except warming the goats cheese in the oven, can be done ahead of time and then simply warmed up for a few minutes in the oven prior to serving.

Wintery Warm Lentil and Goats Cheese Salad with a Fresh Basil Dressing

adapted from Skye Gyngell’s recipe in her book ‘A Year in My Kitchen’

Serves 4-6

roasted tomatoes

6 plum tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp rock salt

liberally ground black pepper

———————————-

roasted red onions

5 red onions, sliced into circles

75g caster sugar

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

handful of fresh thyme

salt and pepper

————————————-

flavoursome lentils

400g lentils (I used a combination of green and small darkish green lentils but puy is also good!)

1 white onion, peeled and quartered

handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 carrot, peeled and cut into three parts

2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into a few pieces

1 red chilli, kept whole

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp of fresh coriander stalks

———–

2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

—————————————

basil oil

2 bunches of fresh basil

150ml extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled

salt and pepper

————————————

fresh goats cheese

6 slices of fresh goats cheese

—————

1) In the order of the above. Place the halved tomatoes into an oven proof dish and scatter with caster sugar, salt and pepper and place in the oven at a low temperature – 100 degrees centigrade works well – for up to 2 hours.

before slow roasting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

slow roasted to perfection!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2) Slice the onions into circles and scatter in a roasting tin along with the balsamic vinegar, caster sugar,olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme and mix together well with your hands. Place in an oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 25 minutes.

before roasting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3) Wash the lentils and then cover with cold water. Add the carrot, red chilli, onion, garlic, ginger, fresh parsley, bay leaves, coriander stalks and bring to the boil and then gently simmer for 20 minutes (or what is advised on the packet). Be careful not to over cook the lentils. 

lentils ready for the boil

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4) Place the fresh basil in a food mixer and blend. Slowly add the olive oil to the chopped basil and add salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer to have more of an oily basil then just add a little more olive oil. I rather like to have it so that you can add little dollops to the plate. (see below)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5) Drain the lentils and remove the added ingredients as their job to flavour the lentils is now complete. When the lentils are still hot add the tamari, sherry vinegar and sesame oil and mix together.

6) Slice the goats cheese and place on an oven proof dish and place in the oven for a minute or two.

7) Plate up the lentils and add a generous helping of roasted onions, tomatoes and the goats cheese in the middle on the top with some dollops or drizzle of fresh basil oil and leave the rest in a separate bowl for guests to help themselves to more as they see fit.

8) Tuck in and enjoy along with some fresh bread on the side. It is absolutely heavenly. I know I often say that but seriously all the above effort is SO worth it.

Aside from the roasting of the tomatoes, this dish took me 30 mins to cook and plate up.