Courgette, Red Pepper & Mint Gratin with Chèvre

Courgette and Red Pepper Gratin with Chèvre | Selma's Table

Such a glut of courgettes (zucchini) around – do you know that right now, the most popular recipe on my blog is Quick Summer Pickle – Sweet and Sour Courgettes? It gets more views every day than anything else at the moment! I love courgettes but unfortunately, Jake does not. No matter how I cook them, oven fries, griddled, sautéed, grated raw or ribboned  in a salad – he just picks them out and says that it is a texture thing. I can’t even fool him anymore by saying that it’s cucumber – he’s waaaay beyond that stage now!

So in order to satisfy my craving for them, I tend to cook them so that they will keep for a couple of days at least – that means gratins and stews. This one is a riff on the very first recipe I posted a year ago, Courgette, Feta and Thyme Bake. I still can’t photograph it that well – it’s not a looker but it tastes fabulous warm, room temperature  or cold.

This Courgette, Red Pepper & Mint Gratin with Chèvre is a good dish for a picnic or a barbecue as it can be made ahead and ideal for a buffet table as well. I like it on a slice of toasted sourdough with a rocket salad – it makes the perfect light lunch or supper. The combination of courgettes, mint, red pepper and goats cheese is lovely and fresh – perfect to see off the summer with.

Courgette and Red Pepper Gratin with Chèvre | Selma's Table

Courgette and Red Pepper Gratin with Chèvre | Selma's Table

My Courgette, Red Pepper & Mint Gratin with Chèvre is terribly easy to make. Sauté some shallots and peppers, then add the coins of courgettes, garlic and seasonings. While that is going on, mix up the custard – the eggs, creme fraiche and parmesan cheese. Then it’s just a matter of layering it all together and dotting it with chunks of chèvre (goats cheese) and popping it in the oven for half and hour or so. Now the trick with layering is to start off really parsimoniously – be as mean as you can get away with so that you have generous amounts left for the top layers. Printable recipe follows below, as always!

Courgette and Red Pepper Gratin with Chèvre | Selma's Table

Courgette and Red Pepper Gratin with Chèvre | Selma's Table

Courgette, Red Pepper & Mint Gratin with Chèvre

  • Servings: 4 - 8 servings
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp rapeseed or mild olive oil
  • 2 large banana shallots or 1 medium onion
  • 1 large sweet red pointed pepper
  • 4 medium courgettes/zucchini
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • a splash of water
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves finely chopped
  • 3 medium free range or organic eggs
  • 150 ml reduced fat creme fraiche
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 100 g of soft goats cheese/chèvre

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 C/450F and butter an oven proof dish.
  2. Warm oil in a large frying pan over a medium low flame
  3. Slice shallots into half moons and stir in.
  4. De-seed and slice the red pepper and stir in. Add a pinch of salt and give it all a stir.
  5. Slice the courgettes into ½ cm coins. When the shallots start to caramelise and the peppers are starting to soften, stir in the courgettes. Let these sauté for about 5 – 7 minutes, stirring frequently so that the shallots don’t catch. The courgettes should be just cooked through and a little browned in places. It does help to use a big frying pan.
  6. Stir in the minced garlic, the rosemary and the bouillon powder and add a little splash of water and scrape up the delicious caramelised juices that will have stuck to the pan. Turn off the heat, stir in the mint and set aside to  cool while you get on with the eggs.
  7. Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk in the creme fraiche , the lemon juice and the parmesan cheese. It will look slightly curdled and will thicken from the lemon juice but it is fine.
  8. In a well buttered ovenproof dish, layer a scant half of the vegetables and cover with a very scant half of the custard. Repeat, finishing by dotting blobs of the soft goats cheese over the top.
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes until set and golden brown in places.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6/8 as side dish or 4 as a light lunch with salad

Also fabulous to take on picnics or in packed lunches.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Broad Bean, Pea and Ricotta Crostini with Mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mintYou all know how much I enjoy my veg box (CSA) from Sutton Community Farm. I just love the quality of the produce and also that it is a not-for-profit organisation which encourages schools, businesses and anyone else to visit the farm, learn all about their organic farming methods and get stuck in too. Well, a couple of weeks ago they hosted their very first Pop-Up VegBox Dinner as part of the fabulous Streatham Food Festival, in the charming new Community Space at The White Lion. With Hix Soho Chef, Joe Fox at the helm, I was really lucky to snaffle a reservation as the event quickly sold out.

It was a lovely warm summer’s evening as we gathered and mingled in the courtyard sipping delicious elderflower champagne which Joris, Head Grower at the farm had brewed in anticipation of his wedding; decorated with freshly foraged elderflowers buds and served in the most adorable 1930’s style champagne coupes, these slipped down effortlessly.  The team were working outside so we  got a sneaky peek at the cooking, prepping and plating up too. Inside, long tables had been set with hessian runners and studded with tomato plant centerpieces, terracotta pots crammed with crudités of baby carrots, radishes and asparagus sprue and served with a fresh wobbly mayo, herb and garlic dip with bread donated by local baker and farm supplier Gaye Whitwham of Sticky Mitts.

The Menu

The Menu

The starter of freshly made ricotta, broad beans which included the shoots and flowers, pickled cucumber, cucumber flowers, salad leaves and croutons, dressed with an organic rapeseed oil was simply stunning. The main course of chargrilled asparagus, served on a bed of crushed Charlotte potatoes and topped with a romano pepper stew was gorgeous – perfectly balanced and seasoned. Pudding was a glorious Mess of farm foraged elderflower and gooseberry compote, meringue, cream and shavings of white chocolate. We also got a brown paper and string tied gift to take home  – inside which was one of their printed cloth shopping bags which now lives in my handbag ready for any purchases I make.

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Starter – Broad Bean, Cucumber, Ricotta & Salad Burnet

An evocative video of the evening has been put together by Asa of Triple A Films which captures the night beautifully. It was a truly wonderful, inspirational and magical evening.

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mintSo, in homage to that wonderful starter and to use up the broad beans in my veg box I made these delicious crostini. When it’s too hot to turn on the oven or spend too long at the stove, this sort of thing is just ideal on a warm evening with a large glass of something crisp and cold!

I am taking them with me to Angie’s popular weekly virtual party – Fiesta Friday #21, so that everyone can feel a little of the magic of that night! This week Angie has also eschewed turning on the oven and has made THE most beautiful salad. So it is only right that the party is co-hosted by Elaine@Foodbod and Julianna@Foodie On Board, both of whom make the most fabulous salads! Thank you ladies!

And since broad beans and the recipe are both Simple and in Season, I’m taking them over to the blog event of the same name graciously hosted by Ren Behan.

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

broad-bean-pea-and-ricotta-crostini-with-mint

Broad Bean, Pea and Ricotta Crostini with Mint

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of podded broad beans
  • 1 cup of peas (frozen is fine)
  • Zest of a lemon and some juice
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp finely sliced fresh mint
  • 4 thick slices sourdough bread
  • 1 large clove of garlic halved
  • 6-8 Tbsp ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil then add the broad beans and cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the peas and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Drain immediately and run under a cold tap or plunge into an ice bath to cool and set the gorgeous green colours.
  4. Skin the broad beans – give those fleshy skins a little pinch and squeeze the beans out.
  5. Place the broad beans and the peas in a bowl with most of the mint; grate over some lemon zest, squeeze over a little lemon juice and a little olive oil;  season, stir and set aside.
  6. Toast the sourdough and while the slices are still hot, rub one side with the  cut side of garlic cloves. The garlic will disappear into the toast.
  7. Spread the toast thickly with ricotta cheese and season lightly.
  8. Top generously with the broad bean mixture, sprinkle with a little more mint and drizzle over a fruity olive oil.
  9. Serve as part of an antipasti or as a first course.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Swiss Chard and Herb Tart

swiss-chard-and-herb-tartMy veg box this week included some beautiful Rainbow Swiss Chard and to celebrate the gorgeous spring weather we have been having, I decided that I wanted to use them in a tart. A quick internet search brought me to a recipe by Ottolenghi which I knew I could adapt without  too much trouble. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartIsn’t rainbow chard beautiful? I read that the coloured shard stalks can bleed into paler colours when cooking but I didn’t find this to be a problem. Chard does need to have a good soak and swish in a sink full of cold water to dislodge any mud that may be clinging in the leaf crevices. The stems have to cook for a little longer than the leaves so do separate them and use them! swiss-chard-and-herb-tart swiss-chard-and-herb-tart The tart was really very delicious – the flaky pastry combined with the greens and cheese reminded me of of that wonderful Greek dish of Spanakoptika. And the textures work really well – slightly crunchy celery and chard stems,  buttery flaky pastry, soft greens and creamy cheese – we had this for a mezze type dinner and Jake, who invariably feels shortchanged if there is no meat, didn’t seem to notice and, unprompted, ate the left overs when he got home from school the next day. A printable recipe follows the photos below so you can scroll straight to that if you prefer not to read my ramblings but for those of you that can bear it, this is how I made the Swiss Chard and Herb Tart. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartFirst, fill the sink with water and swish the chard leaves about. Leave the in the sink for any grit to settle on the bottom and in the meantime slice the onion into half moons and start sautéing them. Slice the celery and add them to the onions. Scoop out the chard leaves and cut out the stems. Slice the chard stems and add to the pan. With lots of water clinging to the chard, slice the chard leaves and chop the herbs and garlic. When the celery has softened a little and become  translucent, stir in the  chard leaves, the herbs and the garlic. Let this cook down, stirring from time to time,  on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. In the meantime toast the pine nuts (these burn quickly and I find it easier to do in the microwave for a couple of minutes – they don’t brown but get nice and crunchy), crumble the feta, grate the parmesan and zest the lemon. swiss-chard-and-herb-tartTurn the heat off under the pan and stir in the cheeses, zest and nuts. Season with lots of freshly ground pepper. Leave to cool. In the meantime, turn on the oven and beat the eggs. Unfurl the pastry onto a baking sheet and score a 2 cm border around the edge, using the back of a knife. Spread the cooled filling within the borders and crimp the edges of the pastry to form a lip. Brush the edges with the beaten eggs. Season what is left over of the eggs and pour slowly and evenly over the filling. Dot the top with teaspoons full of ricotta and slices of goats cheese. I also added some halved marinated cherry tomatoes and used some of the marinade to drizzle over the tart. This can of course, be substituted with fresh cherry tomatoes and olive oil. swiss-chard-and-herb-tart   Bake for half an hour and serve warm or at room temperature! swiss-chard-and-herb-tart swiss-chard-and-herb-tart 

Swiss Chard and Herb Tart

  • Servings: 4 as a main, 6 as part of a mezze
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adapted from Swiss Chard and Herb Tart by Ottolenghi for Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium red onion, sliced (about 85 g)
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced (about 220 g)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard; stalk and leaves separated; both roughly chopped (about 250g)
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g feta cheese crumbled
  • 50 g parmesan, grated
  • 15 g pine nuts toasted
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 x 320 g sheet of ready rolled all butter puff pastry
  • 8 tsp ricotta cheese
  • 50 g (7 or 8 thin slices) of goat’s cheese
  • 5 cherry tomatoes halved (I used the marinated ones from this recipe of mine)
  • 2 beaten eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium low flame and add the sliced onions.
  2. While they cook, slice the celery and stir into the pan.
  3. Remove the stalks from the chard, chop these up and stir into the pan.
  4. Ribbon (chiffonade)  the chard leaves, slice the garlic and chop the herbs.
  5. Once the celery has softened a little, which should take about 5 minutes, stir in the chard, herbs and garlic. Let this cook down for about 10 minutes and take if off the heat.
  6. Stir in the feta, parmesan, lemon zest and pine nuts and season with a little salt  if necessary (the feta and parmesan are very salty) and a good grinding of pepper. Leave to cool.
  7. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  8. Unfurl the pastry and score a 2 cm border around the perimeter.
  9. Place the cooled chard mixture within the border and crimp or pinch the edge of the pastry to form a lip.
  10. Dot the top of the chard mixture with the ricotta, goats cheese and cherry tomatoes.
  11. Brush the edges of the tart with the beaten egg and then gently drizzle the remainder over the tart.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool a little before serving

Eat warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 as a light main course with a salad and some cold cuts for the determined carnivores. Or slice into 12 and serve  as mezze for 6.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Mint

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintI’ve always coveted having an organic-oh-so-good-for-you-and-the-enviroment veg box delivery. For years, I’ve looked longingly at the flyers that land on my doormat then stalked their websites, imagining what size box I would need; sighing over the fabulous fresh, muddy vegetables available, all the time acutely aware, that in my bit of London, a safe  delivery spot, if I am not in, is non-existent. If not filched by human hand then the cats, foxes, squirrels or mice would inflict their damage. I was, therefore, thrilled to discover Sutton Community Farm. They not only deliver to homes but also to local pick-up points so that one may collect said muddy vegetables, on the way home from work. Within seconds of finding this out, I had followed them on Twitter, liked them on Facebook and registered on their website. I did not want to miss out…

Sutton Community Farm describe themselves thus; “We are London’s largest community farm, a not-for-profit social enterprise growing fresh vegetables using organic principles, as well as providing a shared space for the local community to cultivate skills.” And they make deliveries in a van powered by London’s waste cooking oil. How utterly wonderful – please do take a look at their website to see if they cover your area I cannot recommend this scheme highly enough…  http://suttoncommunityfarm.org.uk

Just look at what I got in my small veg box…

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

Purple sprouting broccoli, onions,  carrots, muddy(!) golden and red beets, crisp, firm mushrooms, gorgeous salad leaves plus they stock my favourite eggs. I am so thrilled to have found SCF and plan to order fortnightly.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

How lovely that these delicious salad leaves were grown happily, without chemicals! We enjoyed them for lunch at the weekend.

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And these are my favourite eggs – they taste like the eggs of my childhood and I wrote about them in my first ever recipe post     https://selmastable.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/courgette-feta-and-thyme-bake/ ‎Alas, the farmers market from where I used to get the eggs,  is no-more so I am really pleased to have found them at SCF. We had the eggs for brunch on Sunday, poached with some steamed purple sprouting broccoli and a little hollandaise sauce.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintThe beets –  beautiful and glowing jewel-like once scrubbed.  If you follow Selma’s Table on Facebook, you will have seen me enthusiastically posting some of these photos.

Beetroot can be boiled, steamed and even thinly sliced and eaten raw. They are also wonderful juiced raw, with a couple of apples and  carrots, a nugget of ginger and half a lemon. I find that roasting them intensifies the natural sweetness and transforms them to soft silky slivers that are wonderful in salads.  Once cooked, they keep for days in the fridge (so you may as well prepare quite a few)  which makes lunch boxes and salads so much more exciting. I like to start them off in a sealed foil packet and then, towards the end of the cooking time, open them out to the direct heat of the oven to caramelise.

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Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and MintIf your beets are really fresh, they should have quite a thin skin. The red beets from the SCF were so fresh, that we did not need to peel the skins at all once they were cooked.

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

And just a reminder that red beets will stain everything porous…

Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat's Cheese, Honey and Mint

Waterlogue’d

My recipe for Mixed Roasted Beets with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Mint is a great balance of flavours; warm beets with melting cubes of goats cheese and a sweet and sour dressing topped with mint.

Mixed Beets with Goat's Cheese and Mint

  • Servings: 4 - 6 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small to medium sized Golden Beets
  • 4 small to medium sized Red Beets
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • leaves from 3 or 4 Thyme sprigs
  • 80 g firm  Goat’s Cheese/Chevre, cubed
  • A small handful of  chopped mint leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • ¼ – ½ of a Lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F
  2. Scrub the beets well – I use one of those green plastic scouring pads to get all the mud off.
  3. Peel the golden beets but leave the skins on the red ones to avoid staining everything
  4. Halve the beets then slice each half into 3 or 4 wedges depending on how large they are. Keep the two beets separate to preserve the colour of the golden ones.
  5. Tear off 2 sections of foil, large enough to wrap each pile of the beet wedges in.
  6. Pop the wedges on the foil, drizzle over a little honey and olive oil, scatter over a little thyme and sea salt, then wrap the foil to make a couple of packets.
  7. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes; depending on their size, they may need longer.
  8. Once soft, open out the foil, spoon over the juices to baste the wedges and pop back into the oven to caramelise for about 10 minutes.
  9. If the skins are tough on the red beets, remove them – they should slip off easily once they are cooked.
  10. Arrange on a serving plate, top with the goat’s cheese, squeeze over a little lemon juice, drizzle with honey and EVOO then strew with chopped mint leaves.

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-SauceI came across this recipe which originates from Puglia, in the early 90’s, in a copy of Elle Decoration – a magazine I adored. The issue is long gone but I have never forgotten how wonderful this sauce tasted.  I can remember feeling genuinely surprised that something so simple and uncooked could have such depth of flavour. Well, that will be the anchovies – when blended like this, there is no fishy odour or taste – just a deep, satisfying undertone to a bright and summery sauce.

Now, I haven’t tried this but I am pretty sure that you can substitute tamari sauce for the anchovies – this would make it vegan/vegetarian and keep it wheat free too. Tamari and Soya sauces are both made with fermented soybeans but soy sauce includes wheat and is saltier.

The recipe does require a lot of herbs but these can be bought so easily nowadays – in the supermarkets, in the green grocers and in the ethnic food shops too and they add so much flavour and colour to other dishes that you won’t regret it. Trim the stalks and keep them in a vase/tumbler of water and they will last quite a while.

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

As daffodils and cherry blossom are coming into bloom, this bright, zingy sauce seems just the thing to herald the much anticipated Spring season. This Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce would also be delicious slathered on fish or lamb.

29 May 2014 – I am really thrilled to say that this recipe is a Community Pick over on Food52 and that California Walnuts have asked to use it on their website!

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Pasta Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 6 anchovies preserved in oil (or substitute Tamari sauce starting with 1 Tbsp and adjusting the flavour to your palate)
  • 100 g flat leaf parsley including the stems
  • 40 g basil leaves
  • 40 g mint leaves
  • 20 g tarragon leaves
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ¼ c water
  • lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whiz the toasted nuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add the anchovies, herbs, garlic, shallot, water and pulse until it becomes a coarse puree.
  3. Then add the olive oil and whiz until combined.
  4. Stir in 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.
  5. Taste and adjust the flavour, stirring in additional lemon juice, salt and pepper to make the sauce sing.

Uses

  1. Toss into hot pasta, thinning with a little of the pasta water and finishing with a drizzle of good EVOO.
  2. Slash a whole fish and slather in the cavity and in the slashes; roast in the oven or cook on the barbecue.
  3. Top fish fillets or steaks with a spoonful of sauce and a dribble of wine; bake in parchment (thanks Tish!)
  4. Serve on the side with roast lamb or fish steaks.
  5. Spread baguette slices with a creamy goats cheese and top with a slice of roasted red pepper and little of the sauce; finish a drizzle of EVOO.