Last night I made a quick and delicious vegetarian dinner with orzo (rice-shaped pasta) and baby asparagus. The dish has tons of flavor thanks to the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, feta, caramelized onions and herbes de Provence. And the best part? It makes wonderful leftovers for lunch! Here’s the recipe!
Orzo with Grilled Asparagus, Feta & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 350g orzo
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tbsps herbes de Provence
- 200g baby asparagus
- 1 tsp dried garlic
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 150g feta, crumbled
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- 100g sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), chopped
Cook the orzo according to the instructions on the packet and allow to cool slightly. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the onions, seasoning them with the herbes de Provence, for approximately 15 minutes. Grill the asparagus for approx. 3-5 minutes. In a bowl, toss the feta, chopped chives, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted asparagus. Add the orzo and caramelized onions. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve
Every once in a while I decide to put my prejudices aside and try out a recipe from a magazine. Well, to some extent…
I know this may sound a little arrogant, but good recipe writing is a rarity these days. Even well-known food writers are increasingly publishing books (written by ghost writers, may I add) with recipes that simply do not work. As a recipe writer myself, I question whether or not the recipes are tested before publication. I know how disappointing it is when a poorly written recipe ends up in failure and a waste of ingredients, so my recipes are always tested before being submitted to an editor or published on this blog. I want people to gain confidence in the kitchen, not be turned off by disasters that are a result of crappy recipe writing.
Anyhow, to get back to my point…
This past weekend I picked up a copy of the newest Allerhande, a magazine published by Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn. While I prefer to shop at exclusively organic supermarkets and markets (geez that also sounds snobby!), I regularly visit the supermarket for their organic line. I usually leaf through their magazine quickly, but rarely make one of the recipes. This issue, however, featured a really tempting couscous dish I knew I would have to make. It was really my intention to follow the recipe, yet as I was cooking I decided to give it my own twist. The original version (found on page 64 of the April issue) also looks very appealing, though if you’re making it, use 480ml of water to cook the couscous and broccoli rice. The specified 350ml simply isn’t enough!
Here’s my variation, to what already looks like a great recipe:
Herbed Spelt Couscous with Grilled Asparagus & Halloumi
- 300g spelt couscous
- 400g broccoli rice
- 1 tbsp ras el hanout
- freshly cracked pepper
- 480ml boiling water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- fleur de sel
- 15g mint, leaves chopped
- 15g chives, chopped
- 15g parsley, chopped
- 350g green asparagus, ends trimmed
- 400g halloumi, in 8 slices
- handful of almonds, chopped
In a large bowl mix the couscous, broccoli rice, ras el hanout and pepper. Pour in the boiling water and close with either a lid or plastic wrap. Allow this to ‘cook’ for 10 minutes. Make a dressing by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Pour this over the cooked couscous, add the chopped herbs and stir well. Divide the couscous over 4 plates. Grill the asparagus for approximately 4-6 minutes in a lightly oiled grilled pan. Season them with salt at the very end. Divide the asparagus over the couscous. Grill the halloumi for 1-2 minutes per side and divide the slices over each plate. Garnish each plate with chopped almonds and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
In many restaurants in France, I have been served a vegetable flan as a side dish with either meat or fish. Some were more interesting than others, but they all had one thing in common – a thick, eggy custard base, usually flavored with a little bit of cheese. This fragrant carrot and courgette flan is a perfect side dish to chicken, yet I think with a salad and a glass of wine it would make a perfect light lunch.
Carrot & Courgette Flan
- 300g courgette (1 medium)
- 170g carrots (about 4)
- knob of butter
- 1 tbsp mild olive oil, plus extra to grease the baking dish
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 eggs
- 200ml crème fraîche
- 50ml milk
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- 1 tsp dried mint
- salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper
- 60g grated goat’s cheese
Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a 27 x 17 cm baking dish with a little mild olive oil. Grate the carrots and courgette. Melt the butter with the olive and gently sweat the shallots and garlic for about 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat, add the grated vegetables and cook while stirring for a further 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, crème fraîche, milk, coriander, mint and salt and pepper. Stir in the goat’s cheese. Transfer the vegetables to the greased baking dish and pour the batter over them. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. You might want to cover the dish after about half an hour.
I threw this frittata together between working on a last-minute assignment that came in at 6:30 p.m. It’s an easy and tasty vegetarian dinner (or lunch or brunch) and it’s definitely a recipe to keep in mind when the going gets tough!
Potato, Green Bean & Feta Frittata
- 3 tbsps mild olive oil
- 400g potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
- 2 shallots, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 7 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- fleur de sel
- freshly cracked pepper
- 300g trimmed & cooked green beans
- 150g feta, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan or casserole and fry the potatoes for 8 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Whisk the eggs with the turmeric and salt and pepper to taste. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the eggs. Top with the green beans and feta. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into wedges.