Tag Archives: lemon juice

Recipe: Asparagus and Lemon Soup

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Asparagus season is just starting. One of the things I miss about moving from the Surrey countryside to London is that I no longer have a ready supply of locally grown English asparagus. I’m making do with Spanish-grown spears at the moment. As usual, being on my own, I end up having to buy more than I can comfortably eat at one time. That is where this recipe comes in. It’s a good way of using up the remains of bunches and spears that have just started to get a bit droopy.

It has a lovely, fresh taste – spring in a bowl. But be careful with the flavourings, not too much garlic and not too much lemon – you should be able to really taste the asparagus.

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Ingredients
300g asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced small
750ml light vegetable stock
4 tbsp small soup pasta shapes
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 sprig mint
1/2 lemon, juiced

Place all the ingredients apart from the lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Simmer for 5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
Remove the mint sprig.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the lemon juice a bit at a time until the soup has a fragrance of lemon in the background.
Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Recipe: Lemony Lentil & Spinach Soup

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This recipe is based on one from A Lebanese Feast of Vegetables, Pulses, Herbs and Spices by Mona Hamadeh (review to follow). I have had to adapt it because a) I didn’t have the green lentils it originally called for and b) I really don’t like swiss chard. I did buy the chard for this recipe, but when I was cutting it up I gave it a quick taste and ick! if I want something that earthy, I’ll go lick an earthworm or something! So, no chard, but I had some fresh spinach to hand so I used that instead. Please use chard if you do like it.

This is a lovely soup. The strong lemon flavour seems to pull the sun into the soup, giving promise of warmer days to come. It’s freshness and warmth suit the uncertain spring weather. A keeper, I think with the possibilities of a change of vegetable to suit whatever is available.

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Ingredients
1 large onion, chopped
250g split red lentils
1 l vegetable stock
250g fresh spinach, finely chopped
2 lemons, juiced

Soften the onion in a little oil in a large saucepan.
When the onions are translucent, add the lentil and vegetable stock.
Bring to the simmer, skim off any scum from the surface, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
Add the chopped spinach and lemon juice.
Stir vigorously to break up the lentils.
Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Recipe: Asparagus with Avocado and Dill Sauce

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One of the sad things you learn when you start to cook is that you can’t just put all your favourite ingredients on a plate and expect them to work. It would be nice, but it rarely happens. So I was really pleased to come across this idea for ‘avocadonnaise’, essentially avocado whizzed together with lemon juice and dill. Well, that’s two of my favourite foods of all time in one sauce. It’s also asparagus season, so I thought, Why not?

Why not indeed? The dill and avocado work well together. The sauce can be made while the asparagus cooks. The whole makes a great starter where the taste far exceeds the amount of effort that goes into producing it.

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Ingredients
200g asparagus spears, trimmed
1 ripe avocado
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat a griddle pan on a high heat.
When it is hot enough, coat the asparagus spears in a little oil and place on the griddle.
Turn the heat down a couple of notches.
While the asparagus is cooking, stone and peel the avocado and put the flesh in a bowl.
Add the lemon juice and dill and mash together with a fork until you have a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper.
Turn the asparagus spears over to get the griddle marks on all sides.
Test the asparagus for ‘doneness’ with the point of a sharp knife in the thickest part of the stem.
When tender remove from the griddle and serve with the avocado sauce.

Serves 2 as a starter

Recipe: Griddled Courgettes with Walnuts and Mint

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One of the results of moving is that I have been reacquainted with some of my old kitchen equipment. I now have four frying pans. I also have my old griddle pan again. I’ve been dying to use it all week.

This is a lovely salad/side dish for summer days. I made it inside on the griddle pan, but it would also work on the barbecue. Don’t slice the courgette too thin, though or the slices will disintegrate.

Mint and lemon always work well with courgette, but here the walnuts add a touch of bitterness to work against the sweetness as well as the textural crunch.

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Ingredients
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 twig of mint, chopped
1 tbsp walnuts, chopped
1 courgette, sliced lengthwise into strips

Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, olive oil, mint and walnuts in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Brush the courgette slices with oil and place on a hot griddle pan.
After a minute, turn them over and cook for another minute.
Repeat until all the courgette slices are cooked.
Arrange the courgette slices on a plate and drizzle the dressing over them.
Serve immediately.

Serves 2 as a side salad

Book Review: Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

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This is the second ‘vegetables first’ cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. For those of us who have his first book, Plenty, this is more of the same. It is a lushly photographed celebration of vegetables, fruits, funghi, grains and pulses. You cannot read this book without realising that this is a man who loves vegetables and knows how to put them together to make a multi-flavoured, multi-textured dish. Ottolenghi gets accused of using a lot of ingredients, most of them difficult to get hold of. The last one isn’t that true – you can get most of the ingredients in one of the big, main supermarkets. As for a lot of ingredients, well, you can’t get layers of flavour and texture without them. This is not a book to reach for when you want to throw something together after a long day at work, but if you have the time to spare this book will give you something special to eat at the end of the process.

It does have its eccentricities, though. It is divided into sections by cooking method, so you get Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Simmered, Braised, Grilled, Roasted, Fried, Mashed, Cracked, Baked and Sweetened as chapters. Now, it might just be me, but I don’t normally wander into the kitchen when I’m hungry and think ‘Hmm, I fancy something blanched today!’ There is an index, but no glossary of ingredients. Sometimes Ottolenghi explains the more unusual ingredients at the start of the recipe or in the ingredients list, but sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he suggests alternatives, but sometimes not. If you don’t know what za’atar, shiso and freekeh are, this book isn’t going to tell you.

I think the Tossed chapter is the most successful. Yes, there are lots of ingredients, but they mostly just need putting in the salad bowl or mixing in the dressing. And there are really interesting dressings that would go well on several different dishes.

My least favourite sections are the Cracked and Baked ones. Mr Ottolenghi says in the introduction that he is not a vegetarian and does not want to be pigeon-holed as a vegetarian writer (the horror!). It really shows in this section, not just because there’s a lot of cheese in these recipes, but because there appears to be no attempt to choose vegetarian cheeses. Parmesan is used a lot, gorgonzola appears, so does roquefort. There’s no help for it, you cannot use any named cheese in this book unless you first check that it’s vegetarian. I spotted 22 recipes using non-vegetarian cheese, there may be others.

This is a bit of mixed bag of a book. It is in turns inspirational, aspirational and infuriating for this vegetarian home cook. Having said that, if more chefs took recipes from this book and put them on menus as the veggie option, I would be a much happier woman.

Title: Plenty More
Author: Yotam Ottolenghi
Publisher: Ebury Press
Year: 2014
Pages: 351
Recipes: 154 (including 49 vegan and 22 non-vegetarian)
Price: £27 (hardback)
ISBN 9780092957155

I was thinking of doing one of the Tossed salads for my recipe tryout, but then I found Ottolenghi had done a recipe for Fava, the greek version of pease pudding. That decided it for this Durham lass! Besides, as in a lot of the traditional recipes in the book, they haven’t been complicated.

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Ingredients
3 large onions
300g yellow split peas
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
100ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lemon juice
35g capers, roughly chopped
10g chives, finely chopped
salt and white pepper

Chop one of the onions into rough chunks. Add to the split peas, bay leaves and turmeric in a large saucepan.
Add enough water to cover twice the amount of peas.
Bring to the simmer, skim off any scum, cover and let simmer for 60 minutes or until the peas are soft.
Keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary, they should be loose and sloppy like thick porridge at the end.
While the peas are cooking, slice the remaining onions finely and fry in a tablespoon of the oil until they are golden brown. Set aside.
When the peas are cooked, remove the bay leaves, blend the peas with the olive oil, garlic cloves and lemon juice until you have a smooth paste. Add water if the mixture is too stiff.
Season generously with salt and pepper.
Stir in half the fried onion.
Serve in a bowl with the rest of the fried onion, capers, chives and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe: Black Bean Hummus

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I wanted to make normal hummus, but was out of chickpeas. Luckily I had a tin of black beans to hand. As the colour was already going to be dark I decided to add some more dark ingredients. This is a nice change on ordinary hummus – the olives and tomatoes don’t overwhelm the flavour but add some nice notes in the background.

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Ingredients
400g tin black beans, drained
1 large clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp tahini
7 black olives
3 sundried tomatoes
2 tbsp sundried tomato oil
handful of fresh parsley

Put all the ingredients, bar one olive, in a food processor.
Blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with the remaining olive sliced as a garnish.

Serves 2

Recipe: Carrot, Apple and Hazelnut Salad

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This is a sweet, crunchy side-salad that would do well as an alternative to coleslaw. You can vary the sweetness by maybe using a green apple or even a cooking apple to add a bit more tartness to it.

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Ingredients
4 medium or 2 large carrots (about 250g), cut into battons
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
30g toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 apple, grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp allspice

Heat the oven to 300C.
Toss the carrots in 2 tbsp olive oil and the cumin.
Lay out evenly on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
When the carrots are tender and browned, put in a large bowl and add the other ingredients.
Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 as a side salad