Lime, coriander and mint paneer with spiced chickpeas

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When the mood strikes, there is nothing quite like a hearty curry, but, with the weather hopefully on the up, sometimes you want a lighter version of your favourites so if this is the case then this is the dish for you. The idea behind this is that the chickpeas are coated in a sauce that doesn’t weigh it down so you can taste and appreciate all the ingredients. Paneer lends itself to pairing with a range of Indian flavours and I have kept this paneer fresh with herbs and the zing of lime.

If you can’t find garlic and ginger paste then substitute it with a garlic clove and a freshly grated piece of ginger. The paste is available in all good Asian supermarkets and is well worth buying if you come across it as it can be used in a wide range of recipes and takes the time out of having to make your own. There will be leftover toasted lentils but fear not; they are delicious sprinkled over salads or as a snack by themselves and will keep for several days if covered over.

Ingredients- serves 4
For the paneer
Block of paneer- cut into bite sized cubes
1 tbsp cornflour
1 small bunch of fresh coriander- finely chopped
1 small bunch of fresh mint- finely chopped
60ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
1 tsp salt

For the chickpeas and curry
1 red onion- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 red bell pepper- chopped
1 yellow bell pepper- chopped
1 small aubergine- chopped
1 sweet potato- peeled and chopped
1 can of chickpeas- drained and rinsed well
2 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder or to taste
1 tbsp fenugreek
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
Salt to taste

For the crunchy lentils
Can of green lentils in water- drained
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
Crushed chilli flakes- to taste

1.I started by toasting the lentils and chickpeas first so I could then concentrate on the other elements of the recipe. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan; pat the lentils as dry as you can after draining them, place them on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Add the salt, garlic powder and chilli flakes and toss to coat the lentils. Place in the oven and cook for around 15 minutes or until crunchy; you can move them around on the baking tray halfway during cooking if needed to ensure they are evenly toasted.

2. As the lentils are cooking, place the chickpeas in a deep roasting tray and add half of each of the spiced listed apart from the garam masala. Toss to combine and roast in the oven for 15 minutes at the same time as the lentils until they have started to gain some colour. Remove the chickpeas and lentils from the oven when they are ready and set aside.

3. To make the curry base, add a glug of olive oil a wide bottomed pan that is large enough to hold the curry in its entirety. Over a low heat, gently cook the red onion until softened and starting to turn golden; add the tomato puree and cook this out for another minute. Add the remaining spices apart from the garam masala and the ginger and garlic paste as well as approx. 200mls of water; stir to form a paste. Add in the vegetables and chickpeas and simmer until the sauce lightly coats them; if it gets a little too dry then add another splash of water or two.

4. For the paneer, mix together all the ingredients listed under the paneer section of the ingredients list; taste and adjust seasoning and/ or the lime juice to taste if needed. Toss the paneer cubes in a tablespoon of cornflour. Add a good glug of oil to a non- stick frying pan and add the paneer; fry over a medium heat until the cubes are golden and crunchy. Remove using a slotted spoon and blot any excess oil using kitchen paper. Add the paneer cubes into the mint, coriander and lime dressing and toss well to coat.

5. To assemble the final dish simple choose a large serving dish and spoon the chickpea curry onto it. Top this with the herby paneer and finish with a liberal sprinkling of the crunchy lentils. Add extra fresh mint and coriander if you like and serve.

Lime, coriander and mint paneer and spiced chickpeas- a lighter take on a curry for the summer!

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Asparagus, feta and mint frittata

This time of year brings the end of the asparagus season so cue me raiding the shops and markets for what’s left in an attempt to hold onto this glorious British grown vegetable. Green, white and purple- you can’t beat asparagus in all its splendour and each with different flavour profiles so you can choose your favourite.

Frittata is perfect for a light summer lunch or dinner. I have chosen to add Jersey Royal potatoes as well to add another flavour and texture so all you need to do is serve the frittata with a salad and away you go! The frittata is also brilliant the next day when chilled overnight and then served at room temperature which makes it perfect for a make ahead picnic idea.

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Ingredients- serves 4
300g new potatoes
Glug of olive oil
1 banana shallot- finely sliced
6 large eggs- lightly beaten and seasoned
200g asparagus
100g feta
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped

1. Boil a kettle of water and simmer the new potatoes for a few minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside, allowing them to cool until you can handle them. Slice them into thin rounds and place in a large bowl.

2. In a frying pan that is going to be large enough to hold the eggs, potatoes and asparagus, add a glug of oil and gently fry the shallot until softened. Depending on the size of the asparagus you have, cut them into chunks and if they are particularly thick then you can also cut these lengthways. If the asparagus is a little more woody (as it can be at the end of the season) you may like to blanch it for a minute or so before using it.

3. To the bowl with the potatoes, add the beaten eggs, asparagus and most of the feta along with the mint. Gently mix to combine and add into the pan with the shallot. Sprinkle the frittata with the remaining feta. Increase the heat to medium and cook until set. Towards the end of cooking, fire up your grill and pop the pan underneath to melt the feta until golden. Serve with a salad.

Asparagus, feta and mint frittata- a frittata fit for picnics across the land this summer!

Spiced lamb kofta with quick pickles and yogurt dressing

When the sun starts coming out, minds start turning to BBQ weather and when the first opportunity will be to eat al fresco. Well fingers crossed this will happen very soon but in the meantime there is no reason you can’t enjoy these lamb kofta indoors. Kofta are easy to make and children can also help out! I served the lamb kofta layered on warmed flatbread along with pickled cabbage, carrot and chillies drizzled with a cool, refreshing yogurt dressing. I will admit that I did use shop bought flatbreads on this occasion to save time but feel free to make your own if time allows.

I have separated the recipe into its constituent parts so you can plan ahead. the dressing and pickles can be made ahead of time. The dressing can sit in the fridge overnight but I would tend to make the pickled carrot and cabbage on the day so they retain some crunch.

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the kofta
400g lamb mince- I used 20% fat mince
1 small red onion
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp chilli powder (optional)
Large handful of fresh mint leaves- finely chopped
Salt and pepper to season

For the pickles
1 small red cabbage- shredded
1 large carrot- grated
3 tbsp.white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
Jarred mild to medium green chillies

For the yogurt dressing
100ml plain Greek style yogurt
Handful of fresh mint leaves- finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1/2 tsp salt

1. Get started by making the dressing. All you need to do is combine all the ingredients, cover and leave in the fridge  until you need it. Simple!

2. Again, the kofta recipe itself is also straightforward. Take a pan and a very small amount of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Remove from the heat and cool. Take the mince and add the spices. mint and seasoning to it. Chilli can be added if you like a bit more heat but it is delicious without so you can taste each spice. When the onion and garlic mixture is cool, add this to the mince and use your hands (clean of course!) to squidge and squish it until firm. Cover and place in the fridge for half an hour whilst you do the pickled veg.

3. I pickled each vegetable separately so each retained its colour. Take two bowls and add the cabbage to one and the carrot to the other. Add 2 tbsp white wine vinegar and 1 tbsp sugar to the cabbage and 1 tbsp vinegar and 1/2 tbsp to the carrot. Mix well to combine and set aside for at least half an hour; stir from time to time.

4. When you are ready to get cooking simply shape the kofta into small balls or sausage shapes; make sure they are as unform in shape and size as you can so they cook evenly. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the kofta and cook for around 10 minutes until golden on the outside and cooked through. Sometime I like to start them off on the hob and then finish them in the oven which also frees a bit of hob space up if you need it. For this heat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan and cook to finish them off.

5. Now for the assembly! Take 4 flatbreads and reheat either in a dry, hot pan or griddle. Place one on each person’s plate and layer with the pickled vegetables, kofta and yogurt dressing. This is perfect for feeding a crowd as everyone can load up their own flatbread as they like. A little crumbled feta is also a delicious addition!

Flatbreads loaded with spiced kofta- roll on BBQ season!

 

Summertime courgette, feta and mint tart

Courgette is now in season so make the most of it with this courgette, feta and mint tart recipe. To make this as flavourful yet light as possible I also used a little added halloumi alongside the feta but you could always use extra feta if you prefer.

This will make two 12 inch tarts or one larger one so get your apron on and get cooking! To make this as simple as possible I used readymade shortcrust pastry to save time but feel free to make your own if you fancy.

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Ingredients
Pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
4 large eggs
100g feta
30g halloumi
1 large courgette or 2 medium
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200c/ 180 fan; do check the instructions on the pack of pastry you have bought in case the temperatures are slightly different but this is a rough guide. Line your tart tin (or tins if making two smaller ones) and blind bake for 10 minutes. You can do this by placing a layer of baking parchment on top of the pastry and adding baking beans, dried beans such as kidney beans or rice to hold it down. You really do need to blind bake otherwise the base of the tart will be soggy and unappetising. After the ten minutes, I then removed the lining and baked for a further 5 minutes to make sure that the base cooks well.

2. Whilst that is in the oven, crack the eggs into a bowl and lightly beat; emphasis on lightly! Add in the cheese, mint and seasoning. Now comes the star of the show: the courgette. I finely sliced two thirds of the courgette and added this to the egg mixture. I then sliced the remaining courgette so this could be layered across the top of the tart when it’s assembled but you could add it all through the egg if you prefer. You could also sprinkle an extra bit of feta or halloumi over.

3. Fill each tart tin with the egg mixture and cook for around 15 minutes until the egg has set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving- nobody wants to burn their mouths on scalding egg! Serve with a salad and dig in!

Courgette, feta and mint tart- a celebration of summertime!

Lamb, beetroot, feta and mint koftas with homemade tzatsiki

Go Greek this summer with these lamb, beetroot, feta and mint koftas. Ideal to make and enjoy straight away but also delicious cold as well as freezing well. Dig in for dinner or pack for a picnic! Every for kofta need a killer dip so I’ve given you my homemade tzatsiki recipe too- don’t say I don’t treat you!

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Ingredients- serves 4-6
400g lamb mince
2 medium beetroots- peeled and grated
1 small pack of feta
1 small pack of fresh mint- finely chopped
Ground cumin and coriander
Salt and pepper

For the tzatsiki
Natural Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber- grated
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Olive oil
Ground cumin

1. Start off by placing the lamb mince in a large bowl and add in the grated beetroot, crumble in the feta, chopped mint and season well. Add 1 tsp of the ground cumin and 1 tsp ground coriander. Work the mince with your hands so it becomes firm and binds together. Decent mince shouldn’t need an egg or breadcrumbs to help it along so give it a little time and form small sausages with the mixture. Place the kofta on a baking tray and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour or until you need them.

2. Meanwhile make the tzatsiki by grabbing a bowl and pouring the yogurt in followed by the mint, cucumber,garlic, a glug of olive oil, pinch of salt and a good pinch of ground cumin. Cover and chill.

3. When you’re ready to enjoy the koftas, simply heat a little oil in a large nonstick frying pan and fry in batches over a medium heat. Serve in pitta bread with salad, pickled chillies and top with the tzatsiki. If you have leftover kofta then they are delicious cooked in a tagine style with a base of tomato- http://wp.me/p4O5jd-e3.

Greek lamb, beetroot, feta and mint kofta with homemade tzatsiki- a summertime winner!