One of the few benefits of globalisation is the exposure and the availability we now have to a huge variety of fruits and vegetables. In England, garlic, which was once regarded as foreign muck is now as ubiquitous as the humble spud. Blood oranges, native to Italy are now cultivated and eagerly anticipated worldwide. When we moved to Canada in the mid ’70’s coriander leaves were scarce and an exotic luxury – my mother would use them parsimoniously out of necessity. Today, sheaves of them can be bought in the grocery stores. It is easier than ever to eat a huge variety of fruits and vegetables which has so many knock on benefits.
I can’t remember when I first saw my first romanesco broccoli (aka romanesque cauliflower) but it was a stunningly beautiful if strange, otherworldly looking vegetable that once brought home, I could not bear to destroy by cooking! Cultivated in Italy since the 15th/16th century, this is another vegetable that is now easily available to us. It has a the nutty, buttery flavour of the more familiar broccoli and cauliflower but without the bitter edge that cauliflower can sometimes have and is much preferred by children for that very reason. I love the florets in a cauliflower cheese, or pureed to go with a roast or roasted themselves, but these cute little cakes another way to have them that doesn’t take long and can also be assembled ahead of time if necessary. The feta gives them a salty creamy kick and the za’atar picks out the lemony flavours. A hint of earthy, aromatic rosemary pulls it all together.
After steaming the florets, just mix the ingredients together, shape into little patties and bake – what could be easier?
I am sharing these with those die-hard party goers at Fiesta Friday, hosted by the talented Angie of The Novice Gardener. This week we have Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @birgerbird to thank, as our co-hosts. Both are fantastic cooks and have a wealth of recipes on their sites – do go over and take a look.
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R e a d e r G i v e a w a y!
Win a copy of FIVE by Rachel de Thample!
Ever since my son, Jake, began weaning, I have instinctively incorporated more fruits and vegetables into our diet. I always make sure to include at least three fruits/vegetables at meals – usually more if I can. For instance yesterday we had a stir fry of shredded white cabbage, cavalo nero, ruby chard, kale tops, leeks and red onion with some salmon. This is why Rachel de Thample latest recipe book called FIVE which I reviewed last week, appeals so much to me. it shows you how easy it is to eat well and deliciously. It is full of varied, accessible and delicious recipes that will have you packing away fruits and vegetables without any effort at all. There is a very useful double page spread listing fruits and vegetables and their portion sizes and the recipes clearly state how many portions are in each recipe. And the recipes! There isn’t a single one which I wouldn’t make – from creative breakfast truffles and clever muffins to galettes, latkes, stunning salads, hearty soups, curries, pastries, cakes, puddings, sorbets – and I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader!
All you have to do is follow this blog via email (if you don’t already) and leave a comment below telling me what one of your favourite vegetable dishes is – one of my favourites is griddled courgette/zuchinni slices, tossed with basil or mint, lemon zest, olive oil, parmesan and toasted almond slivers – so delicious!
Now on to the recipe –
Romanesco and Feta Cakes with Za'atar
- 1 small romanesco cauliflower ( approx. 175 g prepared weight) or substitute broccoli or cauliflower
- 75 g feta cheese
- 20 g panko or bread crumbs
- zest of half a lemon
- ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary needles
- ½ tsp vegetable bouillon powder or a good pinch of salt (remembering that the feta is salty)
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 Tbsp za’atar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp fine semolina
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
- Break up the romanesco into fairly small florets and steam for about 8 minutes. A knife should be able to pierce them easily but they should not disintegrate. Allow to cool a little.
- In the meantime, crumble or chop the feta in small cubes,
- When the romanesco is cool enough to handle, mix in the remaining ingredients.
- Taking walnut sized pieces of the mix, squeeze and shape into balls. Wetting your hands makes them easier to shape.
- Lightly oil a baking tray and place the balls on the tray, Flatten them slightly and then drizzle over a little oil. Dust with semolina, Turn over and repeat.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until tinged with gold.
- Serve warm with a dollop of lemony creme fraiche or greek yoghurt.