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zucchini haloumi patties

The zucchini glut is upon us!  (And the tromboncino are about to start now too).  This was a make-it-up as you go recipe, and the quantities are very negotiable. But it is fast and easy and a good way to make zucchini work for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The Recipe:

(Makes 6 patties).

In a bowl mix together:

  • a large zucchini or a couple of medium ones, grated
  • a matchbox size piece of haloumi chopped into small dice (or a bit more if you like)
  • a good handful of sweet or lemon basil chopped fine
  • a spring onion chopped fine
  • about half a teaspoon of grated lemon zest (or a bit more if you like)
  • two small to medium size eggs
  • a good handful of wholemeal flour

Squish together with your hands to make a thick patty mix.  Shape into patties and shallow fry in light olive oil in a medium hot pan.  You want your pan hot enough that they cook in a few minutes each side to golden and crispy.

Serve hot with a salad and chutney, or with a poached egg, or cold in a lunch box.

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sun dried tomato tapenade

This is the third of my “Food to Share” series, with the main ingredient inspired by this week’s heat wave tomato sun drying binge.  The heat wave ended yesterday, and the day was cool and misty rain all day. Lovely weather, but I had a tray of tomatoes semi-sun dried, nearly but not quite dry enough for me to feel comfortable storing them in oil.  My basic rule for storing things safely in oil is that if the food would store safely out of the oil, it’s fine.  So tomatoes dried to the leather stage, where, so long as they were kept dry they would not go mildewy, are fine. But semi-sun-dried tomatoes that would go off if they weren’t under oil, should be stored in the fridge, and even then not for too long.  Foods with a high acid content are safe for longer, and this tapenade would probably last for weeks, but the experiment will never get a chance to run in my household!

Everything on this platter is in glut in my garden at present:

  • Sliced fresh Roma and yellow tomatoes
  • Sliced fresh cucumber – the first of the Suyo Long.  The flavour is lovely, but I’ll wait to see how the plant performs before adding it to the favourites
  • Blanched Blue Lake beans
  • Chargrilled eggplant and tromboncino
  • Homemade polenta (I had some sweet corn that we didn’t get around to eating, and it had overmatured)
  • And the star – sundried tomato tapenade

Served with sourdough crostini.

 Sundried Tomato Tapenade Recipe:

In the food processor, blend together:

  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes (dried to soft leather, not crisp)
  • 6 green olives, deseeded
  • 6 macadamia nuts, lightly toasted
  • ¼ cup fresh sweet basil
  • good tasting virgin olive oil -about 4 dessertspoons, but it will vary depending on how dry your tomatoes are

The flavour is intense and wonderful on crostini or chargrilled vegetables.  I can imagine it would go amazingly well with bocconcini too.  Or on Turkish bread as a base for a Mediterranean-style lunch roll.

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I love my kitchen. It has a great big central kitchen bench in the middle of an otherwise very compact space (in a very compact house). I means cooking can be a social activity – several people can chop and stir and roll and fill at once.  Kids can sit up at a stool and be involved, and if they play it right get to listen in on adult conversations.

It only works though if it is not cluttered.  There are bowls of fresh fruit and veg, and a vase of flowers, and a few tools in daily use, like my garlic rock and mortar and pestle,  allowed on the bench, but nothing else.

Which brings me to my pasta maker.  I’ve just got one, yesterday, at a garage sale. I’m not sure at all whether it will be a stayer. The Rules of the Bench mean that it has to live up on a shelf and there are very few kitchen tools that are valuable enough to be taken down and used regularly to earn their space. Mostly I find the effort of washing up, putting away, pulling down, setting up is more than it’s worth.

With pasta, up until now I’ve always just gone with a rolling pin.  Lasagna and tortellini are easy peasy.  Tortellini are even easy and fast enough for the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge. I’ve been playing with a few different tortellini lately, but this has been our favourite.

The Recipe:

Makes two big serves, or three normal ones.

Pasta by Hand:

Put a kettle full of water on to boil. You will need a big pot of boiling water to cook the tortellini.

In a food processor, blitz until the dough just comes together (just a few seconds)

  • 1 cup of bakers flour (I use the same Laucke Wallaby Unbleached Bakers Flour that I use for my sourdough, but any high gluten flour will work)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 dessertspoons (or 1½ US tablespoons) of olive oil
  • good pinch salt

Flour the workbench and knead very briefly, then leave it to rest for a few minutes while you make the filling.

Lemon Feta Filling

You don’t need to wash the food processor.  Just blend together until smooth-ish

  • 160 gm feta (low fat is fine)
  • 4 dessertspoons (or 3 US tablespoons) plain yoghurt
  • 8 – 10 green olives (or you could substitute capers)
  • a good teaspoon of lemon rind ( I like a heaped teaspoon, but I really like citrus flavours)
  • Grind of black pepper
  • A tiny bit of fresh chili or chili powder

Assembling

Divide the pasta dough into 15 little balls about the size of a large macadamia in its shell.

Flour the bench well, and with a floured rolling pin, roll the balls out very thin.  (If you flip them several times while rolling, you’ll find you can easily get them very thin without sticking.)

Put a spoonful of filling on each circle. Use a pastry brush, or just your fingers dipped in water to wet the edges.  Fold the tortellini over and seal together like a little pastie.  With the fold towards you, bring the two corners round towards you and squeeze them together.

Cook in a big pot of boiling water for just a couple of minutes till they float to the surface.

The Sauce

And while they are cooking, again you don’t need to wash the blender. Just blitz together:
  • a tomato
  • a good handful of sweet basil
  • a little swig of good olive oil

Drain the tortellini, divide into bowls, spoon over a few spoonfuls of sauce and gently toss, and top with a grating of parmesan.

Have you been doing the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge? Links to fast, easy, healthy, midweek vego recipes are welcome.

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gnocchi with zucchini and pesto

I’ve just realised a problem with the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge. Do I post it on Wednesday? After making it on Tuesday? Or do I post it on Monday? For readers to make on Tuesday?  I’ve decided to forgo logic entirely, and just post on Tuesday. I actually usually make things several times to get the recipe written down pat before I post them anyway.

I have zucchini and their close cousin tromboncino going nuts in my garden this time of year. It is compulsory in our household to have zucchini every day, I’ve given so many away that my friends are avoiding me, the chooks have gone on strike and refuse to eat any more.  This is the first year I’ve grown tromboncino (Diggers seeds) and I think they have upstaged Blackjack as my favourite variety. They suit my garden well because they grow into a climbing, rambling vine, like a very rampant cucumber. I can grow them up the fences of my fortress fenced beds and they provide a bit of shade for everything in the bed and maximise the use of fenced space – conventional zucchini take up a lot of ground room. But next year, I’ll plant just two or three vines all up for the whole summer!

I also have basil going nuts in my garden this time of year. It is one of the few leafy greens that will cope with summer. So I make pesto just about every week and we have it on sandwiches, in salad dressings, on vegetables. This recipe also uses lots of my lovely new season garlic, and the last of the early spring planted potatoes. We don’t eat a huge amount of potatoes – I’m not active enough to afford the carbohydrates. But the recipe is healthier than it might at first appear, with only one medium or two small potatoes for two generous serves.

The Recipe:

Makes two good serves.

With a bit of multitasking I can make this well within the half hour.  Please feel free to join in the Challenge –  fast, easy, healthy, in season, real food –  and add your link or recipe in the Comments .

Pesto:

You need a couple of tablespoons of pesto for this. I make it regularly this time of year and usually have some in the fridge. It’s just

  • 40 grams of nuts (macadamias, cashews, almonds or pine nuts), lightly toasted
  • 40 grams of parmesan
  • a cup, packed of basil
  • a clove of garlic
  • salt to taste
  • enough good olive oil to blend

If you haven’t got it made and you are making it, get it all ready then use the food processor to do it straight after the spuds. That way you don’t have to wash anything up, and it still gets ten minutes or so to mellow.

Gnocchi:

  • Scrub 250 grams of potatoes, chop and cook them, skin on, till they are tender.  Waxy potatoes like Dutch Cream, Kipfler,  Bintje, Nicola,  or Pink Eye are best. I used the  kipflers that I grew this year for these.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, heat your largest, heavy bottomed fry pan with a little olive oil. Fry about two cups of sliced baby zucchini with two or three cloves of chopped garlic till they just start to colour.
  • Drain the potatoes and put the pot back on with lots of water for boiling the gnocchi.
  • Process the potatoes with a food processor, or through a mouli or ricer, to get a smooth puree.
  • Blend with an egg, a good pinch of salt, and enough OO bakers flour (I use the bakers flour that I use for my sourdough) to make a smooth, kneadable dough. My faithful Braun food processor copes with the spuds, one egg, and about half a cup of flour to make a thick batter.  I tip another half a cup of flour on my benchtop, tip the potato mix on top of it, and knead it in.  Knead very briefly to make a smooth soft not-sticky dough.
  • Roll the dough into long snakes, about 2 cm diameter and cut the snakes into 2 cm slices. Use a fork to squash each gnocchi slightly, like the picture at the bottom.
  •  Cook the gnocchi in two batches in boiling water until they rise to the top. This will take less than a minute. Use a slotted spoon to take them out into a colander.
  •  Is the pan with the zucchini, garlic and olive oil still hot? Get it hot again and add the gnocchi. Cook, tossing gently,  for just a couple of minutes till the gnocchi get a little bit of colour.  I like to add a few handfuls of quartered cherry tomatoes at the end and just heat them through, then add two or three good spoonfuls of pesto.  Toss the pesto through and serve.

 

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