Mar 312015
 

Carrot top pestoOnce you know how to make carrot top pesto, you’ll never want to waste your carrot ‘greens’ ever again.

My recipe appeared online and then in my book The Permaculture Kitchen. Since then, I’ve seen carrot top pesto used by loads of people in all sorts of creative and scrumptious ways. I thought it’d be good to collect some of those ideas together as a source of inspiration. The recipe for the carrot top pesto aka ‘CTP’ is at the bottom of this post.

How to use carrot top pesto

Bread

Carla Tomasi made these delicious bread sticks with black pepper and CTP spread over the dough before she twisted and baked it. Ideal with drinks and antipasta.
Carla's bread sticksAlso good is the CTP spread on bruschetta or toast with one or more of cheese, olives, veg, anchovies or shellfish.

Pasta

Thane Prince used the CTP to dress penne in this scrummy pasta bake with cherry tomatoes.
Thane's pasta bakeYou can just as easily just mix it through cooked pasta: just leave some of the cooking water in the pasta to help make the ‘sauce’. Or use it with ricotta or mascarpone filled ravioli or other filled pasta. Peas go well in the stuffing.

Vegetable Tart

Francoise Murat spread the CTP over the base of a puff pastry case and filled with tomatoes and delicious vegetables. Just bake till tender.

Easy- spread on puff pastry, add roasted tomatoes (vinegar+sugar+oil), peas +vegies, mozzarella bake 20 mins  = trop trop bon!

Rice and grains

CTP is ideal mixed into risotto or with farro/bulgur and other grains.

Roasted and baked veg

I love CTP spread on all sorts of veg including potatoes, oca, mashua, aubergine, courgettes, carrots (!), parsnips, onions which are then roasted. Use as a filling for that warming baked potato.

Meat, chicken, fish & seafood

CTP is delightful spread on all these to roast, grill or pan fry. Stuff it under the breast skin of a chicken before roasting. Slather on salmon before you grill it. Pop a blob on a juicy steak as you serve it.

Carrots a large bunch

Carrot top pesto recipe

Ingredients

Feel free to scale the recipe to suit what you have available.

It’s important that you use the young, tender carrot tops. The leaves & stalks from larger ones tend to be a bit tough.

100g of young carrot tops (a large bunch)
1 clove of garlic, peeled (you can use more)
50g whole almonds (it doesn’t matter whether they are blanched or not) Hazelnuts would work well too.
50g parmesan, roughly diced
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

If you need to, wash the leaves to get rid of any mud and grit. Pop them in a big saucepan over a high heat and pour over a large splash of boiling water. Cover the saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are just wilted. Strain in a colander and refresh with cold water to stop them cooking. Drain completely and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. If you don’t need to do this, then you’ll get a fresher result.

Dry roast the whole almonds in a heavy based pan or in the microwave until they are nicely browned.

Cut the garlic cloves into slightly smaller pieces which will help them blend evenly.

Put the almonds, garlic and a small amount of the carrot leaves into a food processor. The carrot leaves help the other ingredients process well. Process until the almonds and garlic are finely chopped.

Add the rest of the carrot leaves and process until they are puréed. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides of the processor a few times to ensure even processing. Add the parmesan cheese and process until well mixed, scraping down if needed.

What you’re going to do next is to add the olive oil to make a fluid paste. Add it gradually, stopping to test consistency and scraping down the sides. The consistency I was after I call ‘falling over’ consistency so that the pesto just falls into the blades of the processor as it turns. So, with the food processor running, gradually add the olive oil until you get your desired consistency.

Then check for seasoning. I added a good grind of black pepper and a couple of pinches of sea salt and processed that in.

Keep in the fridge covered in oil.

 Posted by at 17:09

Stuffed sardines recipe, sarde a beccafico

 Autumn, Dairy, Recipes, Seafood, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter  Comments Off on Stuffed sardines recipe, sarde a beccafico
Mar 232015
 

Stuffed sardines

Stuffed sardines recipe

These sardines just melt in the mouth with a burst of herby flavour. They are a doddle to prepare and only take 10 minutes to cook. They are ideal as antipasto, as part of a buffet or a main fish course.

I developed the stuffing from ingredients I had left over from the foraging workshop I did locally. So it was a real case of the available ingredients driving the recipe.

In Italian ‘beccafico’ means ‘fig pecker’ a name for small, sweet plump birds. The dish is meant to mimic the taste of these birds. The stuffing is traditionally made with pine nuts, currants, anchovies, parsley, bread crumbs and lemon/orange juice and garnished with bay leaves. The fish tails are left to poke up out of the dish to simulate the perky birds’ tail feathers.

This quantity would serve 4 as antipasto.

Ingredients

8 plump sardines
150ml fresh ricotta (see here how to make your own)
50g of dried breadcrumbs
handful of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
large sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 lemon zest finely grated
1 lemon, sliced
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Method

Pre-heat an oven to 180°C (350°F).

If it’s not already been done, cut off the head of the sardines and gut them. Wash & gently dry them.

Cut from the gut to the tail to make it easy to butterfly bone the fish. If you fancy, cut or snip out the dorsal fin and cut off the tail. Put the fish belly down on a board so that the back is uppermost. Press down firmly on the length of the backbone and feel it separate from the flesh. Turn the fish over and remove the backbone and rib bones, with luck they will come out as one. Use a small knife to help you if you need to.

Mix the remaining ingredients apart from the extra virgin olive oil together so it makes a thick paste.

Divide the paste evenly across each of the sardines. Roll up the sardines. If you want to mimic the birds’ tail feathers roll from the wide end first: otherwise it’s easier to roll from the tail end.

Put the fish tightly in a baking dish so they don’t unroll and put a slice of lemon between each. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
Baked stuffed sardinesThe fish can be eaten warm, I prefer them at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

 Posted by at 12:23
Mar 202012
 

Potato, parsnip and wild garlic pesto mash, wilted dressed chickweed & harissa seafood
This meal started off as one of those: “What do I do with these?” scenarios.

Debs had made a gorgeous parsnip, cinnamon and lemon cake with some of our over-wintered parsnips. It was delicious. I had one parsnip left that Debs had not been able to use.

And I had cleared a space in our big polytunnel for a new kiwi ‘Jenny’ and for our tarragon.  (How posh is that, to have a big and a little polytunnel?) The space for these had a huge clump of chickweed in it that we’d been harvesting for ages.

And, of course, it’s wild garlic time.

So I thought that the parsnip would make a really intense sweet/savoury mash with potatoes and wild garlic pesto. It did.

I gave the chickweed a good haircut. Then I just washed it, gave it a good shake and wilted a 2 litre pan full, covered and shaken for 2-3 minutes. I dressed it with my normal vinaigrette.

I brushed the seafood with a little harissa and griddled it on a very hot ridged griddle for about 4 minutes. I then turned the heat off and covered with a saucepan lid to leave it to cook in the residual heat and steam.

The whole recipe took less than 30 minutes to prepare and had a lovely contrast of colours, flavours and textures.

So the only thing for me to add is a recipe for wild garlic pesto. Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:04
Jan 092012
 
The Legendary Wild Haggis

The Legendary Wild Haggis as pictured by StaraBlazkova

Haggis is one of my most favourite savoury meat dishes. It’s spiced and has a nutty smoothness. It’s a great way of using offal and an economical make-ahead dish. Traditionally it’s made with a sheep’s heart, lungs and liver (the ‘pluck’), mixed with oatmeal, suet, onions and spices and packed into the sheep’s stomach. It’s then boiled till cooked.

It’s mostly associated with the Scots now and Burn’s Night celebrations on the 25th January. According to Wiki its origins could come from Scandinavia through to Greece. As anyone who knows anything about butchering fresh killed meat, the offal will spoil quickly, so it seems logical to use what you have to hand to cook it asap after the kill.

Anyway, it’s something I’ve made a version of at home a few times and really enjoyed. I’ve used a few different people’s recipes and thought it was time I came up with my own version. I made this during the festive break and had it with a pearl barley risotto one day and then as a lasagne the next as you can see here. My version is cooked in a saucepan, not in a sheep’s stomach or in an ox bung (big sausage skin).

So here’s my haggis recipe, from Wales (via London).

Would you like to have a go? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:42
Jan 082012
 

Chickweed and teapot

I picked a load of chickweed (stellaria media) after I took all the pictures for this post on the 52 Week Salad Challenge.

It’s a very versatile ingredient. When at its peak like this it can be easily eaten raw and is also great cooked. As the plant gets older it can get a bit tougher, so strip off the leaves and steam them or sauté in some butter or oil.

I used my bounty in two ways. First, it was an ingredient for some deliciously moreish and spicy pakora. Second, I used it in a simple carrot salad dressed with hot kalonji seeds in oil. I served these with some fried, spiced mackerel for a simple curry feast.

Do you fancy having a go at this? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 16:52
Apr 082011
 

This recipe is a delight. It’s stunningly quick & simple to cook and moreishly gorgeous to eat. It will provide a quick supper for two or a fantastic dish for entertaining friends.
Wild garlic and smoked salmon carbonaraThe wild garlic is seasonal, of course. Out of season, you could use garlic chives or chives. Other members of the onion family would work too such as the green tops of baby leeks sliced finely.

I know. This isn’t ‘authentic’ carbonara. I also know there’s a cultural difference in the addition of cream to a carbonara. I’m a no cream person (mostly) and there’s no cream in this recipe. I think you’ll make it too heavy if you use cream and spoil the freshness of all the tastes.

Fancy giving it a try? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 052011
 

Wild garlic and ricotta pastaWe’re really lucky here because the wild garlic a friend gave us has taken and produces masses of wonderful tasting leaves & flowers. It’s also called ‘Ramsons’ and its latin name is Allium Ursinum. As you latin scholars will know, ursinum refers to bears who like the bulbs.
Wild garlicWild garlic and ricotta give a twist to simple pasta. Here I’ve cooked pasta and a simple tomato sauce and garnished it with home-made ricotta flavoured with wild garlic.
This is a very simple recipe which will look and taste great without hours of effort.

You’ll need to make the ricotta a few hours ahead of eating it. The rest of the recipe is very quick to assemble.

The quantities serve about 4: here’s how to make it… Continue reading »

Jan 212010
 
I came across the Dark Days Challenge on the ‘Urban Hennery’ blog written by Laura.
Essentially you’re challenged to eat at least one meal a week that is ‘SOLE’:
  • Sustainable
  • Organic
  • Local
  • Ethical
Sounds easy.  That’s what I thought until I went to the shops.  I could get organic but from Egypt or Israel: not exactly local or sustainable in transport terms. And the range of organic stuff in my ‘in the sticks’ shops wasn’t very impressive.
Anyway, I thought some more and found that I had the makings at home already.  It turned out to be a delight and a surprise.  Fish & Chips – well sort of… 

Continue reading »

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