Borlottii bean spread

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I had to edit the name of these beans as I translated them wrongly from Greek to Cannellini instead of borlotti. Thanks Mabel!

I have a brilliant greengrocer just near work and today I saw they had big bags of fresh, ready podded borlotti beans, which are called barbounia because of their mottled red colour when uncooked (like the fish red mullet is called barbounia) or xantres because the look like beads – xantres being the Greek word for bead. I got nearly 2 kilos for 4 euros, which is a bargain if you consider the labour saved as well.

Also, and most importantly, I love them for their rich creamy flavour. Most of them have gone into making Anna Jones’ veggie chilli but I also ran up a bean spread because it makes an ace snack. You can tweak with your own flavourings but mine as is came out very fresh tasting. I’ll be spreading mine on sourdough toast or on plain bread with some mayo and sliced cucumber.

1 1/2 cups of freshly boiled borlotti or 1 tin drained

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 small red onion

a handful of flat leaf parsley

a small handful of fresh coriander

a good pinch of cumin and smoked paprika or so

a good glug of EVO oil or 2

juice of 1 small lemon

a little salt

Put the lot in a multichopper or blender and pulse until smooth, or as smooth as you like. If it seems a bit too stiff, add a tablespoon of cold water and pulse again to loosen. Decant to a container and chill. Will last 3 to 4 days. You can freeze some too.

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Pea, Spearmint and feta soup

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Desk jockey lunch

This is a recipe that is easily adapted to suit your needs. I used dried marrowfat peas, the kind we northerners use to make mushy peas ( absolutely nothing like the cack Thomasina Miers foisted on unsuspecting Guardian readers recently). Marrowfat have a deep rich flavour and are great for making thick velvety soups. But you could use any kind of peas – fresh, frozen or even tinned. This is a vegetarian version but you could make it with some ham or, do what I did, add some strips of ham on day two, if you make a good big batch.

Finally, I passed mine through a sieve to make it super smooth and velvety but you could use a stick blender, whizz it in a multi-chopper or just leave it alone with some texture. Your call.

Note: Feta means Greek feta. The cheeses masquerading as feta or Greek style cheese are abominations. Dont use them. You could use yoghurt instead. Again, Greek strained yoghurt is great with this but I will concede that any yoghurt is ok here. Or buttermilk too.

200g of marrowfat peas soaked overnight (or peas of your choice)

1 onion chopped finely

1 vegetable stock pot or cube

500ml water

a handful of chopped spearmint

some crumbled feta

salt and pepper to taste

Put your peas in a pan with the onion, stock cube, and just enough water to cover well. Bring to the boil. Turn heat down to a gentle simmer and put a lid on half on, half off. Simmer gently until the peas are soft and breaking down. Do keep an eye on water levels while the peas are simmering as you dont want them to end up dry. Once the peas are well cooked and soft, season to taste and then blend or pass through a sieve. Serve in deep bowls sprinkled with chopped spearmint and crumbled feta. If the weather is very hot, serve the soup just warm, not hot. I would add the mint and feta to bowls of hot soup and then leave to stand for a good five minutes before serving.

Kali oreksee.

Stuffed Aubergines Alla Grecque

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These aren’t totally authentic Greek taverna because they are neither the Imam Bayildi veggie version exactly, nor the meat version – papoutsakia – with bechamel. Its sort of a cross between the two but not with bechamel. Not because I object to bechamel for its fats and cream, I love it for that reason, its just that this way is quicker, easier and really jolly tasty.

For anyone with out an oven you could do the halved aubergines in a skillet to get them going and finish off under a grill.

Note: I usually season this with a spice mix from corfu – spezia – which you could recreate by adding a pinch each of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and all spice. Or just some nutmeg. Or just salt and pepper. Your call.

 

2 large aubergines ends trimmed and then halved lengthways

1 small onion chopped

1 or 2 cloves of garlic minced

1 large beef tomato chopped

a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

preferred seasonings

EVOO

2 tbs Greek strained yoghurt

200g of mashed real Greek feta

a handful of grated grana padano or kefalo graviera

 

Score round the edge of your aubergine halves with a knife about 1/2 cm from the skin, all the way round and almost all the way through. Rub the halves generously with EVO oil and place on a greased baking tray. Bake in a pre- heated oven for about 1/2 an hour so that they are almost cooked through but not collapsed. Leave to cool down. Once cooled it should be easy to strip the flesh out of the shells from where you’ve scored the flesh. I just dig my fingers in the slit from the rounded bottom end and pull it out. chop the flesh roughly. Heat a good glug of EVOO in a heavy skillet and saute onions until transluscent. Add garlic, parsley, aubergine flesh and tomatoes and seasonings and saute until the aubergine and tomato is a thick sauce consistency. Refill the shells with this mix. Mix the mashed feta and yoghurt together and spread over the top of the stuffed aubergines with a spoon. Sprinkle generously with grated cheese and either bake or grill until golden.

Kali oriksee

 

Roast Tomato and Bulgar wheat Salad

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Spot where one is missing, as I had to pop into my mouth before I could take a pic. Yes, they’re that irresistible.

Right, so I’m back again. Still a bit under the weather and not fully recovered from the after effects of winter and not helped by the warm wet weather here in Greece, which is almost unheard of at this time of year. However, it is summer and all the lovely summer produce is piled high on farmers’ markets stalls. The Athens ‘Laiki’ street markets are absolutely wonderful treasure troves of produce. Greeks might be poor but the produce is unbeatable. Really fantastic and very inexpensive. So, though we can’t do much else, we can still eat well.

At the moment I’ve got a thing about all the baby plum tomatoes. You can get a huge punnet for 2.50 euros and although they’re great as is for salads, I’m obsessed with roasting them. It’s easy enough to do and you get such a lovely depth of flavour – rich and sweet – that really lifts anything you put them in.

To roast them I simply cut them in half and then toss them in a bowl with 2 tbs of EVOO and 1 tbs of balsamic. Then I spread them on a baking sheet cut side up and sprinkle with a little sea salt and bang in a hot oven until they start to caramelize. Don’t let them turn to charcoal, though. You want them to be just starting to go black underneath. So do keep an eye on them.

You can put them in any salad but this is a recipe for one I really like to take to work at the moment. I make it in the evening and bang it in the fridge overnight and that allows the sultanas to plump up. If you wanted to make this salad instantly then put the sultanas in a bowl with some water for half an hour or so.

NOTE: Petimezi is reduced grape must. If you can’t get it, substitute it with pomegranate molasses.

I put the bulgar in a pan. Add a load of boiling water from the kettle. Whack a lid on and leave for 45 mins to an hour.

 

Pligouri summer salad

1 cup of whole wheat bulgar wheat, soaked in hot water till chewy soft but not mushy and then drained in a sieve.

1 handful of sultanas

1 handful of pine kernels or sunflower seeds

1 large handful of well chopped flat leaf parsley

1 or 2 handfuls of roasted baby plum toms

a glug or 2 of EVOO

¼ tsp turmeric

a good pinch of smoked paprika

1 tbs of petimezi (or pomegranate molasses)

Juice of half a lemon

a bit of sea salt.

Add all ingredients in a bowl and turn over gently until all mixed together. Cover with cling film (or put in your work Tupperware) and leave overnight to ‘mature’.

Great filling work lunch on its own but you could always have it with a bit of chicken or ham or some smoked fish if you want extra protein.