Beans and tomatoes, blanched green beans served with sautéed tomatoes cooked with green chilies. A match made in heaven, green beans and tomatoes are for me the classic summery dish.
Green beans with Parmesan cream. The dish makes an elegant side; serve it over rice for a veggie main and throw in slices of cooked chicken for the meat option.
Grilled radicchio salad with Parmesan. Radicchio loses its bitterness when attacked with heat, salt and acid so that’s what I’ve done to make it collapse in a delicious heap.
Hasselback gratin - potato slices stacked like dominoes, baked in creamy and cheesy sauce. They will have their bottoms cooking in the cheese mix and the tops will get scorchy, crispy, crusty, lacey and all the other lovely adjectives that can be applied to cheese.
Hasselback potatoes, Swedish baked potatoes, are also known as ridgeback or hedgehogs. Take unpeeled, medium sized potatoes and slice them almost, but not quite through - that's the trick. Here's how!
Fresh salad with sliced raw beetroot, grated cheese and lots of fresh herbs. Of course I know that the textbook pairing of beetroot is with goat’s cheese, with a few pea shoots adorning the dish.
Gratin of thinly sliced jerusalem artichokes baked with bacon and cheese in a creamy sauce. I like the flavour and the taste – nutty, firmer and sweeter than spuds and not quite as starchy.
Two flavours of spiced kale crisps baked in the oven: garlic and chilli, and Middle Eastern coriander-cinnamon. Best for when you need a zero calorie snack.
Basic kimchi made with Chinese leaf cabbage and garlic, ginger and carrots. Kimchi is delicious with fried rice, adding a kick and a hit of sourness to the grain. You can also make kimchi pancakes, kimchijeon, which must be a lot like Japanese okonomiyaki. I haven’t tried the former, have the latter so can happily vouch for deliciousness.
Leek and potato bake in creamy cheese sauce. A little like Tartiflette but onions replaced with leeks, no bacon, and I didn’t try to resource Reblochon but cleared out the post dinner party cheeses.
Leek and potato soup, homemade is the best. Soup is the easiest, cheapest and quickest thing to cook at home. Especially if you are a proponent of Soup With Bits, like me – you won’t need a blender.
Leek slaw, a simple leek salad with cucumber, seasoned with black pepper and honey. Leeks are good a filler in all sorts of bakes and casseroles. They can convincingly pretend to be onions for people who are not keen on the largest allium. Soups - can I start gushing about my all-time favourite leek and potato? P
Creamy leeks sautéed with wild garlic. Wild garlic, bear’s garlic or ramsons turns up in spring in woody, wet, marshy lands and down in the overgrown part of my garden.
Lemon and smoked paprika roasted potato wedges. This is definitely one of those dishes that look hugely better before cooking. Decorative lemon slices, pale yellow potatoes with a red dusting of paprika, glistening oil and the green sprigs of rosemary – pretty as a picture.
Thinly sliced fennel lightly wilted with salt and sugar is gorgeous, but the homemade ranch dressing with chives and dill is the star of the salad.
Wild or exotic mushroom ragu, perfect to serve over pasta or gnocchi. It is, truly, a masterly recipe and the addition of tomato ketchup a stroke of genius.
French onion soup with toasted bread slices loaded with cheese. The best thing to eat on a cold winter’s day is soup. Something so comforting about a good bowl of soup – better than a stew, much better than a salad and it even beats cheese on toast – sometimes. Not that much beats cheese on toast in my view.
Baked oyster mushrooms with garlic and blue cheese. This makes almost a sauce – if you want proper sauce, chop them smaller and add more cream. I like to bake them whole though and pile the unctuous, blue cheesy morsels on top of a perfectly cooked steak.
Padron peppers, pimientos de padron, a Spanish dish of blistered padron style green peppers.
Turnips roasted with thyme, rosemary and parmesan. They get a new line of life with this recipe, zinged with a dash of parmesan and thoroughly cooked through. Now I’m a hater of overcooked veg, but those babies, they need to be tender.
Chunky parsnip fries with spicy seasoning. Let me tell you: my parsnip chips are fried. Fried. In hot oil. Lots of it. And that’s why I call them fries.
Parsnip gratin, baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce with a hint of spice. Another way to zing up a boring vegetable – parsnip gratin. What to do with all those root veg when the sexy ones have all gone out of season?
Dos and don'ts of making the best roast potatoes you have ever eaten. The ultimate golden, crispy roasties that make you forget about the roast beef.
Piperade is the Basque take on ratatouille with the heat of espelette pepper. This recipe is easy and simple, like a lot of best things in life.
Pissaladiere Provençal, a simple savoury tart on pizza dough with onion, anchovy and olive topping. And that is one of the best snack/street food/ starter/nibble in the world.
Potato, chorizo and cauliflower tray bake; a one pan dish seasoned with cinnamon and smoked paprika. A traybake – or a sheet pan dish – is not very often successful in my view.
Potato and fennel gratin, a super-comfort dish of sliced potatoes and fennel baked in garlicky cream and a generous sprinkle of Gruyere or Cheddar.
Potato salad with pancetta and asparagus, delicious warm or cold. I’m really not sure what the deal with the ‘only three ingredients!’ recipes is. Or only four or five for that matter - the authors of those seem to take pride in putting together as few foodstuffs as possible
Potatoes boulangeres, potato slices baked with stock, onions and a little butter. A simple side of potatoes boulangeres is traditional with beef bourgignon.
Prawns with stewed tomatoes. The other night I went out for dinner (a respite from all this cooking, shooting and Fiending) and had a very decent red mullet served with tomato and raisin stew. The stew was simply AMAZING.
Easy one pan ratatouille with courgettes, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes, cooked on the hob. Classic side dish made simple.
Festive red cabbage stir fried with apples, raisins and spices, super quick to cook. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve cooked red cabbage slow and low before, with the obligatory red wine and spices, but since the generous crop this year I’ve had to look for quicker ways.
Celeriac remoulade with dressing made from mayo, creme fraiche and wholegrain mustard. Celeriac remoulade is a great salad, good with fish but with roast meat as well.
Carrots and parsnips roasted with harissa, herbs and honey. Roasted root vegetables – excellent with a roast, Christmas Day can’t be without them. I find the simpler the better they are.
Chunks of beetroot roasted with honey, thyme, tarragon and balsamic vinegar. This is really gorgeous – beetroot baked long, loooong, you might even consider biscuit beetroot: cooked twice.
Roasted cauliflower florets with togarashi seasoning and a grating of Parmesan. Roasted cauliflower is very, VERY tasty. Go freehand on it: butter, parsley and parmesan are as good as gochujang, ginger and sesame oil.
Roasted red peppers, soft cheese and basil salad. The peppers actually will keep very well in oil or the type of dressing I suggested below; you can jar them and they will keep even longer.
Oven roasted savoy cabbage wedges with Parmesan and thyme. This dish takes me back but it’s really good, I say with relief. Frankly, cooking better than my mum did isn’t a difficult trick.
Crispy, smashed and roasted potatoes with tangy cream topping, so glorious you can skip the meat from your Sunday or Christmas roast.
Potato, beetroot and celeriac rösti. A very Swiss thing. It’s the Alpine dish where you get the starch, the oil, the crispiness of frying, the seasoning – and preferably a sliver of bacon on top – which is just what you need after a day of skiing.
Salt baked celeriac, sweet and earthy and a Michelin grade impressive centrepiece dish. Salt crust made from flavoured salt and flour, you crack it open like an enormous soft boiled egg. Or a pathologist opening the skull.
Homemade spiced sauerkraut, dead easy, can be made in small quantities. I should be talking all about raw and fermented so I’m side-tracking. Recipes abound, everyone is fermenting like crazy and the reports of all those good bacteria doing wonders to our guts are making poor old sauerkraut blush.
Sautéed courgettes with crisp and tasty toasted breadcrumb topping. Those are magic. They have the ability to transform the blandest vegetables into a feast.
New potatoes sautéed with spinach and capers. Sautéing is the next best after roasting potatoes. In this instance I wasn’t pressed for time nor quantities but the combination of spinach leaves and capers thrown into the spuds appealed.
Wild mushrooms - chanterelles and pied-de-mouton, lightly cooked with a dash of cream. Of all things foraged, mushrooms are the best. I suspect I could just LIVE on wild mushrooms, or at least eat them every day, throwing in a scrap of meat or cheese every now and then. Sadly I can’t put it to the test. Why, oh why here in England we’re so deprived? Wild mushrooms are so hard to come by.
Shaved Brussels sprout salad with toasted walnuts and Manchego cheese; the sprouts are raw, the walnuts are toasted and the cheese is mashed into a dressing. Feed it to a sworn Brussels hater and see what happens.
Chinese smashed cucumber salad with chilli, garlic and sesame oil. Cucumbers, the skinniest member of the gourd family of portly melons, squashes, pumpkins and marrows is technically not a vegetable but fruit.
Roasted turnips with flaky smoked fish, olives and capers make an exciting salad. Turnips deserve better: full of fibre and over four times less calorific than potatoes.
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