Category Archives: Veggy

Festonati with creamy ricotta lemon sauce

Pasta… if there is one thing I love in the world its pasta. I adore a plate of pasta with authentic bolognaise sauce and at night I dream about creamy sauce drizzled with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. If you ever wake me up for anything at night let it be a plate full of delicious pasta.

Unfortunately my dearly beloved husband is just not that into pasta. He barely eats a full plate of it and he complains when I put it on the table more then twice a month. It’s a problem in our marriage… maybe we need counselling…

On the other hand the pasta-hater himself makes the best tomato sauce ever and he does it with love and devotion and all that for little old me.

Sometimes he even brings home special types of pasta, just to surprise me. For valentine I got little red heart pasta one year, the other year I got pasta that looked like… well the crown jewels of a men. With Christmas he bought me little santa shaped pasta and a couple of weeks ago he brought home a bag of festonati pasta.

This pasta is one of the newer pasta shapes and is similar to penne or rigatoni. I must say I like it better then a regular penne. The shape is quit special, they are pretty big and they hold on to the creamy sauce I plunged them in.

One warning though, the festonati are quit big but don’t be deceived, they are all dente much quicker then regular penne! So don’t overcook them!

INGREDIENTS

300 grams of festonati
30 grams of butter
100 grams of ricotta cheese
50 grams of grated parmesan cheese
Juice of one lemon
The zest of one lemon
20 whole basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta al dente. When you drain the pasta don’t forget to set aside 1 cup of the hot water you boiled the pasta in.

Now melt the butter on medium heat. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and whisk it together with the melted butter. Turn down the heat. I know this sounds a little weird, but just believe me it will work! Now add the ricotta cheese and let it slowly melt while whisking in the parmesan cheese, the zest of the lemon and the basil leaves. The heat of your pan will make sure that the cheese melts into a creamy sauce. Using two cheeses might make the sauce a little to thick. So check the consistency and add some of the warm water you kept in a cup.

Now add the drained pasta and mingle it all together. You can top it of with some freshly grated cheese and some extra basil leaves if you like.

Single girl pasta

Once a month my husband needs to go to a congres or a training in some far corner of Belgium. Sometimes I let myself be tempted by junk food. I heat up a lasagne or I pop some chinese into the microwave, but most of the time it is my only chance to eat pasta.
The husband dislikes pasta and whines for hours when I dare to put it on the table. So in my lonely moment I tried myself to a plate of hot steaming pasta. Most of the time I make this meals from what I can scatter together in my cupboars. Like yesterday I found 6 scampi in my freezer. A splash of cream that was left from a previous diner and another can of delicious italian cherry tomatoes.
boil up some pasta and dinner is ready. It might not be very healthy and certenly not good for your weight. It is not culinary either and it will not be your most impressive cooking, but it is delicious, comforting food that you eat on the sofa wearing pyamas and watching a real girlmovie.

INGREDIENTS1 clove of garlic, diced
1/2 onion, diced
6 scampi
1 spring onion
1 can of cherry tomatoes
200 ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 teaspoon of sambal oelek
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of cayennepepper
boiled pasta
Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan en simmer the onion and the garlic in it for a couple of minutes.
Poor in the can of cherry tomaties and add the scampis. (It is not neceserry to bake them first. They will heat up in the sauce without turning into chewing gum.)
Let this bake for a couple of minutes. You want all the sauce of the tomatoes to evaporate so that you are left with only those wonderful, glooming red little tomatos.
Now add the cream, the sambal, the ketchup, the basil and the cayenne pepper. Stir this together and let it simmer for just a couple of minutes.

Now taste. Do you want it sweeter? Add some ketchup. Do you want it a little more spicy? Knock yourself out with the sambal! Just dont forget to finish it of with salt and pepper.

Now poor in your steaming pasta and diner is done!
A small amount of parmasan cheese on top of it makes this pasta for one ready to eat! So where is that chickflik?

Cajun Style Scampi

The Dutch foodblog event of this month centred around the topic “cooking from scratch”. Essentially the challenge was to cook with stuff we had in our fridge, pantry or freezer. Because we only go to the supermarket once a week I tried to come up with some other “rules” I had to obey, cause else it would be a little to simple.
So I made myself cook a meal out of ingredients I always have.
Scampi is one of the things I always have in my freezer I adore scampi and they are so easy to cook and match with almost any dish.
Bell pepper and tomatoes is another thing I just have to have in my fridge, cause else I will go crazy. And not to forget the bag of frozen peas on the second shelf in my freezer. I don’t particularly like a pea all by itself, but it is a really grateful ingredient to use in any kind of dish and in plenty of sauces.
The rest of the dish I builded up with bits and pieces that I found in my kitchen. A little bit of cream that was going to expire, some sour cream I used the day before. Cooking from scratch is the ideal way to get rid of all those leftovers.
In the back of my herb cupboard I found an unopened jar of Cajun spices. I think I bought it some time ago when I saw a fabulous recipe for a Cajun wok on TV. It was about time I gave these spices a try.
I served the Cajun scampi with potatoes skins and a lovely sour cream dip sauce.

INGREDIENTS SCAMPI

12 scampi
3 teaspoons of Cajun spice mix
2 tablespoons of olive oil (I used olive oil infused with hot peppers, for that extra bit of flavour.)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
½ red onion
2 cloves of garlic
cherry tomatoes
300 ml of vegetable stock
200 ml of heavy cream
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper
salt

INGREDIENTS SOUR CREAM DIP SAUCE

200 ml sour cream
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
Chopped cilantro according to taste
Chopped parsley according to taste
the juice of half a lime
½ finely chopped Spanish pepper
pepper and salt

 

Clean the scampi.
Season the scampi with one tablespoon of Cajun spice mix and mix it all together, so the flavours get a chance to combine.
In te meantime, heat the olive oil and the butter in a large pan or wok.
Bake the scampi on high heat and as soon as they are done remove the from the pan.
If needed you can add some extra olive oil to the pan, but I think in most cases it wont be necessary.
Now add the cubes of bell pepper together with the chopped onion and the garlic.
Let this simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the chopped cherry tomatoes.
Again let this simmer for a while, so the bell pepper has the time to soften up a little bit.
Now remove all the vegetables from the pan and set them aside.
Poor in the stock and stir it well. It is very important that all the goodness that sticks to the bottom of the pan combines with to stock to get a flavourful sauce.
Now let the stock boil until you are left with 1/3 the of the original amount of stock.
Add the cream and bring back to the boil, so the sauce can further thicken.
Season with the left over Cajun spice mix, the cayenne pepper, the black pepper and the salt. Taste it and add some more spices if you like.
Now add the scampi and the vegetables to the sauce and bring it one more time to the boil.

For the dip:

Mix the sour cream with a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Add the finely chopped Spanish pepper, the cilantro, the parsley and the lime juice.
Mix it well so all the flavours combine, taste and finish it off with some fresh grounded pepper and salt.

classic goat cheese salad

On my dutch blog I posted this wonderful recipe for Italian style goat cheese salad. I already mentioned there that the hubby and I simply adore goat cheese. For this diner with the In laws I decided to go the classic tour with goat cheese and serve it up with some wonderful raspberry dressing.
My husband had been warnings me that he never had goat cheese while he lived at home and that his parents would be very surprised to find this on their plates. I could only hope it would be pleasantly surprised. It felt like a giant leap into the dark. Because goat cheese is something you have to like. It’s not a somewhere in the middle product. Or you love its delicate robust flavour or you detest it.
Apparently my in laws thought they were missing out on a big treat for all those years, because the goat cheese was a big hit! They were very enthusiastic about it and there plates were sparkling clean when I put them in the dishwasher. My mother in law phoned me a couple days later to ask where she could by goat cheese.

INGREDIENTS

Mixture of lettuce (I used lollo bionda, red oat leave lettuce and lamb’s lettuce)
1 pink lady apple
200 grams of salted bacon cubes
2 goat cheeses
roasted pumpkinseeds

2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of raspberry vinegar
red fruits to decorate the salad with. (On the picture you don’t see any fruits because my hubby was still assembling the plates!)

Place the goat cheeses in an oven (you can use your grill to if you like) for about 10 minutes on 170°.
In the meantime dice the apple and bake the bacon until crispy.
Now mix the honey with the raspberry vinegar and whisk till you get a runny, thick dressing.
Now assemble the plates, a little bit of lettuce, some apple cubes, some bacon, the cheese, sprinkle the pumpkinseeds and the red fruits. Drizzle with the dressing and serve it!

Salad bar!

On my Dutch blog I posted some picture of my New Years Eve menu with the promise I would share some of the recipes in the weeks that followed. I did not keep my promise until recently I was challenged by a Dutch Co-foodblogger (something like the daring cooks but in Dutch) to create some buffet dishes that would suit her birthday buffet.  All of a sudden I remembered my promise and the recipes I did not share with my readers. Shame on me!

New Years Eve we traditionally (I admit) have a gourmet, but I always present it with a large salad bar. I try to make everything as fresh as possible cause I detest the flavour of store bought salads and don’t even get me started on the price of those horrible things that pass for food. I admit, making your own salads takes a little time. I spend about 4 hours on my little salad bar. But the result was wonderful, the flavours intense and the crispness of the veggies was unforgettable.
Like you can see in the picture I served all the salads in aluminium boxes. Not very fancy, I know. But after 2 days of cooking I could not stand the thought of doing the dishes for another 2 days in a row. So to make life easier on myself I used these throw away babies! Very convenient, when a there was no salad left I just threw away the box. It made New Years Day a lot more relaxed for me.
Today I share the top 3 of the salads. The ones my guests loved the most!

INGREDIENTS SWEET AND SOUR COWL CAROTT SALAD

300 grams carrots (finely sliced by the food processor)
300 grams of white cowl (finely sliced by the food processor)
1 finely chopped onion
1 dl vinegar
1 dl sunflower oil
50 grams of sugar
1 teaspoon curcuma powder
 salt and pepper according to taste

INGREDIENTS FOR THE ORIENTAL PINEAPPLE MANGOSALAD

1 pineapple
1 mango
1 tablespoon grounded ginger
1 finely chopped red hot chilli pepper
3 tablespoons of lime juice
3 spring onions
1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint
pepper and salt according to taste

INGREDIENTS GREEK PASTASALAD WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

100 grams orzo pasta
100 grams roasted and marinated bell pepper
100 grams roasted and marinated zucchini
50 grams roasted and marinated eggplant
1 dl olive oil
5 cl white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of paprika powder
pepper and salt according to taste

SWEET AND SOUR COWL CARROT SALAD

Take a little cooking pot and put it on the fire. Add vinegar, sugar, peper, salt and curcuma to the pot and bring this to the boil. (Look out, don’t look straight into the pot. The vinegar will irritate your eyes.)
When the mixture starts to boil, turn down the fire and let it cool down at room temperature.

Now add the cowl, the carrots, the onions and the sunflower oil together in a big bowl.
Mix this well and dress it with the vinegar mixture.
Mix again and place this for at least 3 hours in the fridge.

ORIENTAL PINEAPPLE MANGO SALAD

Peal the mango and slice the meat into little cubes. (Try to catch as much juice as you can in a little bowl.)
Now skin the pineapple and slice it to in little cubes. (Again try to catch the juice.)
Now mix the pineapple and the mango and dress it with the juices you caught.
Now add some of the finely chopped spring onions to the fruit.
Mix in the finely chopped mint, the lime juice, the ginger and the red hot chilli pepper.
Place this for at least 2 hours in the fridge before serving.

 

 GREEK PASTASALAD WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

You can if you like grill and marinate your own vegetables. But I took the easy and lazy way and used delicious marinated veggies from the local Italian deli. You can also use the store bought version from sacla, which is also very tasty.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package all dente and drain it with running cold water when cooked.
Mix in a little bowl the olive oil, white wine vinegar, pepper, salt, cumin and paprika powder together into a salad dressing.
Let the marinated vegetables drain a couple of minutes before cutting them into little cubes.
Now add the pasta, the vegetables and the dressing together in a large bowl and pop this into the fridge for at least 2 hours!

  

Veggie mezze with grilled halloumi and falafel

Like I said in my previous post, the challenge of this months daring cooks was the reason we had our own private mezze party at home.
The most important part of a mezze meal for me is the huge variety of dips and spreads that come with it. I love to indulge myself in the creamy loveliness of all those wonderful Mediterranean sauces with just a chunk of bread or some fresh pitas!
Forget the delicious roasted meats and the lovely fish the Greek are famous for, just concentrated on the many dips and sauces that accompany almost every traditional Greek supper.
And even more wonderful is the fact that most of these dips are veggie! No problems when you go down to a typical Greek tavern by the beach with some friends for some ouzo and mezze. Its veggie heaven for them.
And for me in the kitchen too, cause no need to cook differently for the non meat eating friends that came to the party!
To spoil them a little bit extra I made some grilled halloumi cheese and falafel to go with their dips. But you can just as well serve it with some pita bread! They‘ll love it anyway!

INGREDIENTS TZATZIKI
500 grams Greek yogurt
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cucumber
2 tablespoons of chopped dill
1 tablespoon of ouzo
salt and peper
olive oil

INGREDIENTS TARAMASALATA
125 gram fish roe (better order this a couple days in advance at your local fish shop.)
1 small onion
the juice of halve a lemon
2 slices of a old white loaf bread
1 small boiled potato
a splash of vegetable oil
a splash of cold water (I used corn oil)
2 sneetjes oud wit brood

INGRDIENTS MAROCCAN CARROT SALAT
400 grams of carrots
salt
5 cloves minced garlic
4 tablespoons of chopped parsley
½ red hot chili pepper
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika powder
cilantro
1 teaspoon of crushed cumin seeds
4 tablespoons of olive oil
the juice of 1 lemon

INGREDIENTS TYROKAFTERI
250 grams feta cheese
125 grams ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
50 ml olive oil
50 gram roasted bell peppers


INGREDIENTS GRILLED HALLOUMI
olive oil with garlic essence (or pop in some cloves when you heat the oil.)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1,5 tablespoon of chopped parsley
250 grams halloumi cheese
fresh cilantro
Pepper

INGREDIËNTEN FALAFEL
250 grams chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahina
parsley
cilantro
salt
cumin
zathar
1 red hot chili pepper
1 chopped onion
paprika powder
olive oil

TZATZIKI 

For a nice, creamy tzatziki you better start one day in advance. Let the Greek yoghurt drain for a night in a strainer, so all the liquid can flood away and you are left with a creamy thick yoghurt.
Now take the cucumber and peel it. Then deseed it en grate it. Then pop the grated cucumber in a strainer and let it drain for a night. You can sprinkle some salt over the cucumber. Salt always helps when drawing out moist!

The next day you add the shredded cucumber to the yoghurt and you mix this together with the minced garlic, the ouzo and the chopped dill.
Now season this with some salt and pepper.
Just before serving you drizzle some olive oil on top and you garnish with a little bit of extra dill.
 
TARAMASALATA 

Soak the bread in some cold water and leave it a couple to drain in some of the moist. Now squeeze out the excess liquids from the bread and leave to rest on a kitchen towel.

Depending on your fish shop it could be that you need to drain the fish roe under some running water. Fish roe can be quit salty! So taste a little bit and then decide if it’s necessary to drain.
Now add the fish roe, the chopped onion and the filling of the boiled potato to the bowl of your food processor. Mix this all together at the highest stand. After a couple of minutes at the broad and mix it again until you get a thick paste.

Now add the vegetable oil very slowly to the mixture, until you see that your pasta combines. Be careful not to use to much oil! You don’t want a taramasalata that is polluted with greasy oil stains!
Now poor in the lemon juice and add a little bit of cold water. Now whiz this all together one last time!

Now the most important part… taste! The taramasalata must be creamy and thick, but it also needs to melt on your tongue. When it’s not quit that yet, add a little bit more oil and taste again. You can season it with a little more lemon, pepper or salt!

MAROCCAN CARROT SALAT 

Peel and cut the carrots in round pieces. Boil the carrots in some water with a little bit of salt till they are just about al dente. (Watch it that the carrots don’t go to soft! You don’t want to end up with mushy carrots!)

Now mix in a bowl the minced garlic with the chopped parsley, the red hot chili pepper, the paprika powder, a little bit of salt and some cumin seeds.

Take a large non stick fry pan and heat a little bit of oil in it.
When the oil is hot enough at the herb mixture to it and poor in a couple of tablespoons of the carrot water.  
Stir and let it come to the boil.
Let the sauce and the carrots cool before adding them together and season with a splash of lemin juice. Now let the carrot salat rest for at least a couple of hours before serving!
 
TYROKAFTERI 

The easiest spread of all!
When you roast your own peppers its important to let them cool down and remove their skins before using them. When you use store bought peppers, let them drain for about 30 minutes.
Now add the feta cheese, the ricotta cheese, the lemon juice, the olive oil and the bell peppers in the food processor. Mix it at the highest stand till you get a creamy paste.  And you are done!

 GRILLED HALLOUMI

Combine the oil, the lemon juice, the pepper and the parsley in a small pot together as vinaigrette.
Let the halloumi drain a couple of minutes before slicing him into 1 centimeter pieces.

Heat a grill pan (or when the weather gets a little better the BBQ!) and grill the cheese at every side. Don’t worry about the cheese melting. It wont! Halloumi is a cheese especially made to cook and grill with.

Dry-fry all the slices until they are golden brown at both sides. Now place the cheese on a plate an poor over the vinaigrette. Just before serving sprinkle over some fresh chopped cilantro!

FALAFEL

Falafel is best made with dried chickpeas. It ask a little more efford then stained beans, but it will only help you get that awesome flavour! Let the chickpeas soak for 24 hours in cold water, drain them and cook them in some light salted water. When they are cooked through, drained them and leave them for a couple of minutes.

Now pop the chickpeas into the foodprocessor and mix into a creamy pasta. Then add the tahine, the chopped parsley, the red hot chilipepper, the garlic and the onion and blend this into a thick dough. Now you can flavor this to your liking with some zathar and cumin powder. Whiz it together and place the dough for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator! Roll small balls from the dough and fry them until they are nice golden brown and crisp! Let them drain on a kitchen towel en serve them with some chopped cilantro! 

Inspiration for these dishes comes from the wonderful cookbook The food of the Greek island written by Aglaia Kremezi.
The recipe for the grilled halloumi is from the cookbook Nigella Bites from Nigella Lawson.