Tag Archives: spinach

My Feta and Vegetable Filo Pastry Pie

In the Summer it’s nice to have a pastry dish that’s lighter than the traditional hot crust type dish.  Filo is the perfect answer to this. And I have never had the nerve to make my own filo pastry, I like the uniformity and flavour of the shop bought filo, and always have used it successfully.

Filo (or phyllo) is a very thin dough made without using yeast.  It is primarily used for making pastries such as baklava in Middle Eastern cuisine. Filo-based dishes are, like this one, made by layering many sheets of filo brushed with olive oil or butter after which the pastry is baked.

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A Side of Spice- Saag Aloo

I love Indian food.  Not too hot, but a gentle aroma of mixed flavours can really bring a dish to another level.  Saag Aloo is a recipe that nearly always includes spinach and potatoes.  It is most common in the Punjab region, though is also eaten in Nepal, often with goat.  Of course, when I cook curries it’s really just an excuse to make some naan bread.  There’s something about the soft billowy flat bread that is just MADE for moping up sauce.  No curry chips around here!

Saag Aloo

Ingredients

Vegetable oil, for frying, I use sunflower oil  Please don’t use olive oil, I know it’s pedantic but it’s too much “fusion” for my liking.  Plus you need the higher smoking point from a vegetable oil.

1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

500g of waxy potatoes.  These are not native to our shores.  And although I’m pedantic about this, in this caseI make an exception.  It’s just not right without the tiny little spuds. Cut these into 1 cm cubes.

2cm of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 cloves of garlic finely diced, or crushed

1 teaspoon of curry powder (I use a mild one)

2 teaspoons of turmeric

500g of baby leaf spinach

Sag Aloo

A simple list of ingredients often make a great dish

Method

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the cumin seeds, and don’t move from the pan until they start to pop.  At this stage turn down the heat and add the onion.  Season and cook these gently over a low heat, stirring constantly until they are caramel in colour.  Add the garlic.  Stir for 1 minute more.

Turning up the heat, add the potatoes, ginger and spices.  Add 500ml of water and cook gently until the potatoes are ready.  Stir every now and then.

Sag Aloo

Finally stir in the spinach and cook for about 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted.  Check the seasoning again.

Divine just like this.  But you could serve this along side some roast lamb for a lovely dinner party treat.

Saag Aloo

The finished Saag Aloo

 

French Bean Pasta

Trying to come up with different interesting and nutritious vegetarian dishes every day for large quantities of people with limited ingredients is a challenge. And although pasta is great for numbers it’s something that you don’t want to give every meal.  But in this case it’s gorgeous.

French beans are in season at the moment. sp are the veg du jour. They are hugely versatile as they can be boiled, fried, blanched, baked, and stir fried.  I’m kind of in love with them to be honest, especially as they are easy to prepare. They are also really easy to grow.

They are thought to have originated in South and Central America where their cultivation was started around 7000 years ago. When Christopher Columbus returned from his second voyage to the New World around the year 1493, he brought the French bean to the Mediterranean region. At that time French beans were considered rare and therefore expensive but very soon became one of the most commonly used beans. They were introduced to France in the year 1597 by the Conquistadors.

French Bean Pasta

Ingredients:

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or minced

500g French Bean

1 aubergine, cubed

1 courgette, cubed

200g fresh small leaf spinach

150ml Crème fraiche

Fresh herbs- usually flat leaf parsley

pasta of choice

Method:

Prepare the required quantity of french bean by topping and tailing them.  Then blanch them for 5 minutes by putting them into boiling, salted water for 6 minutes, then immediately cooling them under running cold water, or into iced water preferably. Slice into bite size pieces.

Bean Pasta

French Bean slices with the aubergine


Sauté the onion and garlic gently in the olive oil until translucent. Add the courgette and aubergine and continue to cook, stirring for about ten minutes until both of these vegetables are cooked.  Add back in the beans, and the spinach and cook until the spinach looks droopy!

French Bean Pasta

Copious amounts of vegetables!

Meanwhile cook the pasta, drain reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid or “liquor”as it’s known in the *trade* (LOL). Mix in the veggies, and the crème fraiche.  Season very well, and serve immediately. In this case I did not have spinach to hand so used rocket instead.  This makes the sauce quite highly seasoned which suits the creamy crème fraiche sauce.

french bean pasta

French bean pasta