Salads

Green bean, ratatouille & feta salad

I made this as a large dish to serve at a party using almost 6kgs of seasonal vegetables. It’s good for a party as it can be made in advance and served at room temperature. You can obviously scale down the quanties if you like, but it will keep in the fridge so it’s worth making a reasonable amount.  I cooked everything in a large, wide, thick based saucepan. I started by heating up about half a cup of olive oil and then I peeled and sliced about 600g onions and slowly fried them. I added a whole bulb of garlic which I crushed with a teaspoon or so of sea salt and some black peppercorns and added to the pan. Then I deseeded and slice 4 bell peppers, about 800g, and added these and then I quartered 1kg of small purple aubergines and added them (you can cube a large aubergine instead). Next cut 800g courgettes into batons and added these. I fried everything for a while and then added 1.5kgs of cheery tomatoes and added a couple of bay leaves and a bouquet garni and a can (220g) of pitted black olives and a mixed everything together. Next I put 1kg of green beans on top and covered the pan for a few minutes to sweat some of the juice out of the veggies. Then I tool of the lid and simmered the veggies on a low heat for about an hour until everything was cooked and the juice was nice and rich. I allowed the ratatouille to cool to room temperature and then took out the bay leaves and the bouquet garni  and put the ratatouille in a serving bowl and cubed a 200g block of feta cheese and sprinkled it on top. I served with homemade focaccia, to mop up the juices, and a Spanish omelette.

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Soups

Mushroom soup

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This is based on a recipe by Bill Granger in his book Bill’s Food but I’ve used Asian mushrooms and a veggie stock and also added truffle salt to deepen the flavours and some cream to make it a little richer. This makes 4 main or 6 starter servings and makes a great meal with some fresh bread.

So what do you need?

  • 500g mixed mushrooms (I used fresh shitake, eryngii and shimemeji)
  • 1 large onion (about 200g)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 1 potato (about 250 g)
  • a glass (150ml) of dry white wine
  • 1/2tsp salt (or 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp truffle salt)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh herbs (oregano or thyme or a mix)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 125ml cream

So what do you do?

Heat the oil and the butter in a thick bottomed saucepan. In a food processor (or by hand) chop the garlic and onion and start to them in the oil. Finely chop the mushrooms in the same way and add them to the saucepan with the salt and pepper and fry for about 10 minutes. The peel and finely chop the potato in the food processor and add this. Then add the wine, stock , herbs and bay leaves and simmer with a lid on, stirring occasionally,  for about 20 mins. Remove the bay leaves and add the cream and then wither put about half the soup back in the food processer and blend it until it’s smooth and then add it back into the soup, or blend the soup with a stick blender briefly, keeping some of the mushroom texture. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. (The amount of salt you need will depend a bit on the stock you use.) If it’s too thick add a little water or milk and then heat it through and serve with a  drizzle of truffle oil or cream on top.

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