Posts Tagged ‘Courgettes’

Chicken Provencale with roasted peppers, courgettes and olives

February 15, 2011

As you know I have been on a quest to find meals that freeze well. Sadly most recipes don’t have any advice on freezing. Nevertheless I have come up with a selection of great meals that freeze well and are healthy too. We all have such hectic lives these days that having a few tasty meal in the freezer is an absolute winner. A good way to build up your supply is cook one new dish each night for a week but instead of making just enough for dinner make a few extra portions and freeze them. By the end of the week you will have 10 – 15 fabulous meals tucked away for a rainy day. Excellentio!

Ingredients (serves 6 to 8 people)

1.5 kg boneless chicken thigh (ideally free range)
60 grams butter
3 tins of peeled tomatoes
2 red peppers
2 yellow peppers
3 courgettes
2 red onions
8 cloves of garlic
12 anchovy fillets
4 vine ripened tomatoes
Small bunch of parsley
1 1/2 glass of white wine
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Tsp of sugar
1 small jar of Kalamata olives (about 300 grams)

Method

Halve and remove the seeds for the peppers and pop in a ceramic oven proof dish, add an anchovy fillet a 1/4 of a tomato and sliced garlic (2 cloves between the lot). Liberally drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 45 mins – 1 hour or until peppers have collapsed and are tender.

As the peppers are baking finely dice the onion and crush the rest of the garlic. Saute in a large glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp) and a pinch of salt. Saute on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. Add 4 anchovy and continue to cook until they are “melted”.

Add the tinned peeled tomatoes, 1 glass of white wine and the drained Kalamata olives and tsp of sugar.

Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat until tomatoes have broken down (30 mins).

While the sauce is simmering, trim the chicken removing any excess fat. Melt butter in a heavy based frying pan add chicken and brown all over . Once browned remove and set aside in a separate bowl/plate. Do not over crowd the pan so do this in batches.

Once all chicken is browned pop it back into the pan and add a little wine to ensure all the pan flavours are used. Simmer for a couple of minutes then add into the tomato sauce (add a little water if sauce is too thick). Simmer for a further 35 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through and tender).

Slice the courgettes length wise into 4 mm slices (approx). Toss in olive oil and season with S & P and grill in a char grilling pan. If you do not have one you can roast the courgettes in the oven on a baking sheet or fry in a normal frying pan.

The courgettes need to tender.

Slice courgettes into 2 cm slices and mix through sauce with finely chopped parsley. Season to taste and serve with one halved baked pepper. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes. Delish!

When freezing, portion out into individual serves adding 1 half pepper to each. Make sure the chicken is cooled as quickly as possible and frozen straight away.

This should keep for 3 months in the freezer. Remove from freezer 1 day before and defrost thoroughly in fridge before reheating. Reheat by popping into a heavy based sauce pan and slowly bringing to a simmer. Always ensure that when reheating food it is heated until piping hot. Try not to reheat too vigorously as it may toughen up the chicken.

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Mediterranean vegetable lasagne with ricotta and parmesan

February 2, 2011

Lasagne is one of those fabulous dishes that I don’t think you really need a recipe for or an ingredients list for that matter. You can put almost anything in it. All you need is a tomato based sauce, a cheese based sauce some fresh or dried lasagne and game on! So basically I feel as if there is no need to write this recipe at all. Although I tend to forget that some people actually have never made lasagne or don’t really “wing it” with recipes like I do. So for all you people out there that need a recipe here goes.

Ingredients (serves 8 hungry people)

Tomato sauce

4 tins of peeled tomatoes
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 large red onion
Olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Sugar

Mediterranean Vegetables

1 large aubergine (eggplant)
4 red peppers/capsicum (you could use yellow or orange or a mixture – not green)
3 medium sized courgettes/zucchini
1 butternut squash peeled and diced 1 cm (approx 600 grams prepared weight)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Cheese Sauce

2 tbsp plain flour
50 grams butter
1 ltr whole milk
Dijon mustard
100 grams parmesan finely grated
500 grams ricotta

2 packets of plain lasagne sheets (or equivalent of fresh)

Method

Start off by making your tomato sauce. The rule of thumb is the longer you cook the tomato sauce the taster it will be so I recommend at least an hour.

Peel and finely chop garlic, peel and finely dice red onion. Add to a large heavy based non reactive pan. Add a pinch of salt and a generous glug of olive oil (about 3 tbsp).

Heat on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. This will take 10-15 mins. Do not brown. If it does start to brown remove from the heat and add a little more oil, this will cool everything down and stop the “burning”.

Add the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil.

Once boiling reduce to a simmer and simmer for 40 mins – 1hr. Add water if it gets too thick and make sure you stir it regularly.

By this time the tomatoes should have broken down, if not help them along by breaking them up with a wooden spoon and cook for a further 10 – 15 mins. Make sure you taste the sauce at this stage and if it is a little bitter at a teaspoon of sugar.

Season with salt and pepper and leave to the side.

While this is all happening you can get on with preparing the veg. Place a char-grill pan on the stove and heat until blistering hot.

Slice the aubergine and courgettes length wise and drizzle with olive oil.

Char-grill until cooked through (a minute or 2 on each side) remove and place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.

Char-grill the peppers until blackened all over and soft, place in a large bowl and cover to steam then cool so that you can peel them.

Once the peppers are cool enough to handle peel the blackened skin off and remove the seeds, you can keep the “juice” and add it to the sauce if you wish (it has a lovely smokey sweet flavour).

Pumpkin ready for roasting

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Pop the butternut squash into a baking dish – ideally a large one so that there is only one layer. Toss in a little oil and season. Bake in oven until tender and a little golden (about 35 – 35 mins)

Cut the courgettes, aubergine and peppers into bite size pieces (about 1cm strips) and add to the tomato sauce along with the roasted butternut squash. Taste for seasoning and add a little extra virgin olive oil for flavour.

Time now to make the ricotta cheese sauce.

Put the butter into a pan and melt over a low-medium heat, once melted add the flour and stir to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two. Slowly add in the milk, little at a time constantly stirring. Once all the milk is added keep stirring and cook until thickened (coat the back of a spoon).

Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan, a large teaspoon of Dijon mustard and season.

Once the sauce has cooled a little fold through the ricotta cheese.

You are now ready to layer up the lasagne.

Add a ladle of the tomato and veg sauce to the dish, spread evenly. Layer the lasagne sheets over this. Top with the cheese sauce (about a ladle) and repeat the process until you have used up the sauces and lasagne sheets or until your lasagne dish is full.

Your last layer should be cheese sauce and a slightly thicker layer. Then sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 min – 1 hour or until cooked through and golden brown.

This can be par cooked sliced and frozen. Serve with a big salad.

Grilled Halloumi and Courgette with tomato and mint salsa

August 18, 2010

Grilled Halloumi with Courgette tomato and mint salad

I kind of feel like it is a bit of a con writing this recipe as it is so very very easy. It is inspired by my friend Sophie who served me delicious grilled courgettes with a tomato and onion salsa at a BBQ a while ago and also by my lovely friend Rima who is the most amazing Lebanese cook ever!!! This is such a lovely summery meal you could serve it as a starter or as a light lunch with some lovely hot pita bread.

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 medium sized courgettes
1 block of Halloumi
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 sprig of fresh mint
1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Method

To make the salsa – remove core and finely dice tomatoes. Finely dice red onion and add to a bowl with tomatoes. Add juice of lemon, cumin, paprika, finely chopped fresh mint and season to taste.

Cut courgettes length wise leaving on the tip and tail. Brush with olive oil and char grill until “striped” by the grill and cooked but still with bite (a little firm).

Take a dry non stick frying pan and heat on medium/high.

Slice Halloumi into 1/2 cm slices and fry until golden brown on each side.

Serve Halloumi and warm courgette topped with spoonfuls of the tomato and mint salad.

I am dribbling thinking about this…..

Gemista – Greek slow cooked stuffed vegetables

May 27, 2010

Gemista

I am on a roll with Greek food. No matter where I go I seek out Greek restaurants hoping that they will have an old Greek granny in the kitchen making traditional Greek food.

Unfortunately more often than not I am disappointed. One of the best Greek restaurants I have ever been to was actually not in Greece. It was in Balmain in Sydney and was called Artemis’s Village.

For many years it was my favourite restaurant. I felt like I was having dinner at my Greek friends house eating proper “home cooking”.

Great Spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie) and Tiropita (cheese pie), amazing Saganaki prawns (large fresh prawns in a garlicky tomato sauce with chunks of feta dotted through) and Gemista (stuffed veg).

Unfortunately Artemis (the Greek mama in the kitchen) retired and the family sold the restaurant. It was taken over but was never the same….sob sob.

I judge all Greek restaurants on the quality of their Gemista.

Firstly I will not even bother going into the restaurant unless they have Gemista and secondly it must be vegetarian – why do some restaurants put mince in their stuffed veg – yuck!

I have successfully made stuffed tomatoes many times before but have been unsuccessful with my stuffed peppers. So I had a little google search the other day and scanned a few recipes. One thing I picked up from my searches was once the peppers were stuffed and put in the oven a glass of water was added to the roasting dish. This makes the peppers nice and soft and also prevents them burning.

With this new piece of culinary genius I had to tackle stuffed peppers one more time.

Ingredients

8 large ripe tomatoes (6 for stuffing and 2 for the sauce)
2 large courgettes
6 small to medium peppers (I used red and yellow ones)
2 medium brown onions
4 large cloves of garlic
1 large glass of dry white wine
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Approx 1 dessert spoon of fresh thyme leaves
250 grams of Arborio rice
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Pre heat oven to 190 degrees celsius.

Onion and garlic into the pot

Finely dice onions and garlic and saute in a heavy based pan with about 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Scooping out the inside of tomatoes

Cut the “bums” off 6 of the tomatoes to make a lid, scrape out the insides of the tomatoes and add to a bowl.

Sprinkle with salt and leave upside down on a plate.

Peppers deseeded and caps cut off

Cut the tops off the peppers and discard the seeds. Sprinkle with salt and place upside down on the plate alongside the tomatoes.

Removing the centres of the courgettes

Cut the courgettes into 3 leaving the stem on, carve out the middle of the courgette, chop and keep to the side. Sprinkle inside with salt and add to plate.

Once onions and garlic are cooked, soft and sweet with no colour add the rice and stir through until coated with oil.

Add wine to rice, onions and garlic

Add wine and reduce.

Chopped tomatoes added to the rice mix

Chop up the insides of the tomatoes and the 2 left over tomatoes and add to the pot with the chopped up courgette insides too.

Turn the heat down and simmer until the rice has cooked for about 10 mins. Try not to add water there should be enough liquid. However if it is really drying out you can add a splash of water (make sure the heat is not on too high).

The rice should be cooked but still have quite a bite too it (more of a bite than you would have with a risotto).

Add chopped herbs

Finely chop the parsley and mint and add to the rice along with the thyme leaves.

Taste rice for seasoning add salt and pepper if you need.

Stuffing peppers with rice

Stuffing courgettes with rice mix

Fill the tomatoes, peppers and courgettes with the rice mix and put the lids on the peppers and tomatoes – make sure you do not over fill the veg as the rice will continue to expand as it cooks in the oven and it may split the skins.

Stuffed veg ready for the oven

Pack stuffed vegetables into a ceramic dish with at least 5 cm sides.

Add a glass of water and a drizzle a good quantity of olive oil over the veg.

Pop it in the oven for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the peppers are soft/collapsed.

Stuffed peppers, tomatoes and courgettes

I covered mine with foil for the 1st half of the time so that it steamed too but you do not have to do this.

Gemista

Serve with a green salad and a glass of chilled red wine.

Close your eyes and think of Greece……