Sumac Roasted Squash & Carrots with Sautéed Cavolo Nero & Shallots, Lemon Yoghurt, Pomegranate & Dukkah…

When the nights draw in and the thought of hibernation becomes ever more alluring, there are times when I know I’ve overindulged. Forking molten Camembert into my mouth at the weekend with friends counts as one of those occasions – wholly delicious, understandable and indeed even necessary at the time as, let’s face it, all melted cheese is at the beginning – but slightly more difficult to deal with the morning after when unrelenting denim is dragged unenthusiastically up my legs inch by inch. These are the times I want to recharge the system, to flush it out with vegetables, olive oil and good fats and feel as though I’m actively feeding it with both dark green & leafy and bright orange & sweet goodness and this simple, cosy vegetarian supper is just the dish to do that.

Bright, citrussy sumac gives most things a lovely, fragrant flavour and its russet coloured sandiness works particularly well here with the natural sweetness of roasted squash & carrots. Black kale – one of my all-time favourite greens and so much more appealing with its dark velvet leaves than its sturdier, spikier sibling – wilts alongside fragments of shallot that infuse it with a caramelised sweetness. Yoghurt based dressings are reached for time and again in our house – there’s something about their creamy appearance that reminds us of the more indulgent mayonnaise but the guilt-free tang cleanses the palate and soothes both conscience & waistband – while warming, spicy dukkah crumbs and nuggets of candy coloured fruit give lovely textural contrast. The dish is minimum effort, maximum reward and I hope it will leave you as enamoured with the autumnal ingredients as it did us.

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INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 medium carrots
  • Sumac
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 2 small banana shallots
  • 100g Cavolo Nero
  • 100g fat-free Greek yoghurt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Seeds of half a pomegranate
  • Dukkah

RECIPE

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190/375/gas mark 5.
  2. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil onto a large baking tray (you may need 2 depending on the size of your vegetables) and place in the oven on a middle-top shelf to warm.
  3. Wash & dry the squash then slice into rounds approximately 1-1/5cm thick then wash & dry the carrots before slicing into batons (I don’t remove the skins as I like both the flavour and the goodness that comes from them but if you would prefer to, then by all means peel both vegetables before cutting).
  4. Add both vegetables to a large bowl, drizzle over 2 tbsps. of olive oil and generously dust everything with sumac, flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Remove baking tray(s) from the oven and evenly place the sliced vegetables on them in a single layer before roasting until they are golden brown and soft enough to be pierced all the way through with a knife; this will take approximately 40 minutes, turning and flipping your vegetables half way through.
  6. When your squash & carrots are approximately 15 minutes from being done, remove the tops, bottoms & outer skin of your shallots, slice in half lengthways and then chop across into slender half-moons, roughly 0.5cm thick.
  7. In a small, non-stick frying pan, add 1 tsp. of olive oil and place on a medium heat.
  8. Add your half-moon shallots (breaking them into individual pieces as you do) and sauté gently until slightly crispy with a nice golden colour.
  9. While your shallots are cooking, remove the central vein from your cavolo nero leaves, slice in half, gather together in a pile and slice finely into thin ribbons.
  10. Once your shallots are nearly done, add the cavolo nero to your frying pan and gently toss for five minutes to ensure everything is warmed through and lightly coated in oil.
  11. Lightly beat together the Greek yoghurt & lemon juice in a small bowl.
  12. Once your vegetables are all done, remove from the oven and the hob; place some of the shallot speckled cavolo nero on a plate and add slices of the squash & pieces of the carrot.
  13. Dollop teaspoonfuls of the lemon-yoghurt on top then scatter with pomegranate seeds and dukkah and serve immediately.

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Upping the cool factor at the hot, loud & down right delicious Black Axe Mangal…

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to eat somewhere that’s part restaurant-part rock concert-part tattoo parlour, you’ve obviously never dined at Black Axe Mangal.

Small, loud – yes even at the yuppiest of meals, Sunday morning brunch – and sat on the Highbury & Islington roundabout next to Maison d’Etre, a prime piece of caffeinated yummy mummy real estate, this place is dangerously close to straying into the ‘if you have to ask, you’re not cool enough to know’ territory. Devoid of all obvious signage and possessing just one small menu in the window, don’t be fooled into thinking no-one knows about BAM; opening at 11am and, by midday, full of people after cold beers and hot meats served in flaky flatbreads served fresh from the Gene Simmons face painted grill, this place is as popular now as when it first opened. Read More

Tahini Parmesan Cauliflower; a perfect vegetarian supper…

Cauliflower.

One of the easiest vegetables to destroy. Take your eye off the prize for just a few moments and you’ll find yourself staring sadly at steaming piles of beige florets that wilt limply upon the gentlest of prods and prove equally offensive to both nose & tongue.

This adapted recipe from Food 52 takes the cruciferous powerhouse, marries it with the simple idea of bread crumbing, gives it a punch of Middle Eastern flavour via an addition of tahini and the result is an absolute cracker. A crunchy and golden exterior gives way to soft but not mushy vegetable and the pairing of salty pecorino with the nutty flavours of tahini make for a killer umami flavour combination.

Keep your cauli pieces the same size to ensure even cooking and make sure you really pack on the Parmesan-Panko for a deeply satisfying vegetarian supper that would be perfect as a side but which we ate on its own as a beautifully light supper to herald the end of a particularly gluttonous weekend!

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Tahini Parmesan Crunchy Baked Cauliflower

(Serves 2 to 4 as a main or side)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and stalk
  • 1/2 cup tahini, well-stirred
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

 

METHOD

Heat your oven to 475 degrees F/245 degrees C/gas mark 9 – note: my oven only goes up to 230 which meant I cooked the cauliflower for a little longer without any issues.

Place a parchment-lined baking tray or casserole dish in the oven while it heats; you want to be able to fit all your cauliflower out in one single layer and the hot pan helps to get it golden & crisp.

Cut the cauliflower into quarters then slice each quarter into 1/4-inch flat pieces. You want large pieces that are all similar in size but don’t waste the smaller ones – as long as they’re the same thickness, they’ll all cook perfectly.

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Set up a dipping station with 2 shallow dishes; in the first, mix together your tahini and olive oil and in the second, mix together your panko, pecorino, thyme and black pepper to taste.

Working with a few slices of cauliflower at a time, coat both sides in the tahini-olive oil mixture (let any excess drip back into the pan) and then coat both sides generously with the panko mixture. Do the same with all the remaining cauliflower and keep your finished pieces to one side until they’ve all been done.

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Working quickly, carefully transfer your crumbed cauliflower pieces to the preheated sheet pan and roast until golden & crispy on both sides, flipping the cauliflower about halfway through the roasting time; this will take approximately 10-20 minutes per side depending on the strength of your oven so keep an eye on it.

IMG_4197Serve warm from the oven and if you have any leftovers, keep them in the fridge before gently reheating in the oven the following day.

Adapted from the original recipe which can be found here:

https://food52.com/blog/20766-crispy-cheesy-tahini-roasted-cauliflower