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Spinach & Potato (Saag Aloo)

12 Mar
Potatoes and spinach make a great combination and there are many versions of this combination in Indian vegetarian cooking. Serve with chapatis and a dhal for a delicious healthy meal.
  • Fresh Spinach Leaves
  • a little peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 dried red chillis
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 fresh green chilli, sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste

Wash the spinach and set aside. Grind the cumin and coriander in a pestle and mortar. Heat the oil and when hot fry the garlic taking care not to let it burn by adding a bit of hot water if necessary.
When the garlic starts to brown, add the dry chilli, mustard, cumin and coriander. Cook for a minute or so then add the potatoes, stir and fry the potatoes with a good pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes start to look translucent. Add the spinach, garam masala and fresh chilli. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes stirring regularly until the potatoes are cooked. Add a touch of water to prevent sticking if necessary.

Chard Sauté with Anchovies

11 Oct

A very simple and tasty way of cooking Swiss chard that only takes minutes to prepare. It tastes so good we sometimes have this on its own as a starter with fresh sourdough bread. You can also serve it as a vegetable accompaniment or tapas.
Prep 6min Cook 7min

  • 500g Swiss chard
  • 8-10 anchovy fillets (1 small tin)
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil

Wash the chard to get rid of any soil or beasties and shred the leaves and stalks finely. Keep the leaves and stalks separate as the stalks will take longer to cook than the leaves.
Chop the anchovy fillets finely.
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute without burning, add the anchovy keep stirring until the anchovies melt into the oil. Add the chard stalks and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften add the chard leaves mix well lower heat and cover continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the chard is tender. We like it fairly crisp but you can cook it longer if you prefer

Spinach Pélardon Lasagne

28 Jun

This is a lovely vegetarian lasagne using the famous speciality cheese of our region, the Pélardon. The Pélardons are small, round, soft-ripened goat cheese that, when bought young, is smooth and creamy with a mild taste. This lasagne is so easy to knock up with ingredients straight from the garden and any kind of soft goats cheese. It is also a great cupboard quicky using passata or pasta sauce from the pantry and quickly thawed spinach from the freezer.
  • Olive oil
  • large colander full of spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 small rounds of goat cheese (Pélardon)
  • 200-400g home made ricotta, cottage cheese, thick yogurt or creme fraîche
  • 3-4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1x250g jar home-made tomato sauce or passata
  • fresh basil
  • sheets of ready to cook lasagne
Preheat Oven to 180c
Choose an oven proof dish that will accommodate one or more sheets of lasagne in a single layer. Wash the spinach then plunge into boiling water for a few minutes to blanch. Drain and chop, mix with the cheeses and garlic (reserving 2 tbsp of parmesan). Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of the baking dish then add a couple of spoons (about a quarter of the jar) of tomato sauce and some basil leaves, a layer of pasta, a couple more spoons of tomato and another layer of pasta. Spread a layer of half the spinach and cheese mix followed by a layer of pasta then the other half of the cheese and pasta again. Spoon on a thin layer of tomato sauce another layer of pasta and a final layer of tomato and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 5 -10 minutes until the top is golden.
Add pinenuts to the cheese and spinach mix for a little added richness.
Cooks’ Tip
Use fresh or frozen spinach. I grow spinach in the cooler months then blanch for 2 minutes and freeze in batches, which are perfect for this dish. Home-made bottled tomato pasta sauce makes this dish even easier.

Spring Salmon Soup

27 Jun

A quick fresh tasting soup inspired by spring ingredients. The combination of the orange salmon and dark green leaves looks great and tastes superb. Excellent light lunch or starter.

Serves 4  Prep 20 mins Cook 10 mins

  • 250g new potatoes
  • 2 handfuls spring greens such as kale, brocoli or spring cabbage leaves
  • 200g Spring vegetables: peas, baby carrots, asparagus, baby courgettes, mangetout peas
  • Shelled broad beans or french beans cut into short pieces, blanched
  • 4 Salmon steaks or fillets de-skinned/bonned and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • I head fennel, finely sliced
  • 1 Tsp each sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Dash white wine
  • 1 Litre fresh fish stock
  • 1-2 tbsp Crème Fraîche
  • 1 tbsp marigold petals (optional)
  • 1 tbsp young Wild fennel fronds or dill finely chopped

This soup is put together by ladling lightly cooked fish and vegetable soup over cold new potatoes, conserving the fresh unique taste of each element.

Prepare the potatoes, peel or scrub and boil whole in salted water for 10mins, thickly sliced or cube when cool and set aside. Blanch vegetables by lowering into salted boiling water, in batches according to how long they will take to cook, 3-5mins, remove refresh in cold water. The vegetables should be slightly undercooked to preserve their colour and crunch.

In a large saucepan gently fry the salmon pieces in 1 tbsp of olive oil to seal, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add a knob of butter to the same saucepan add the onion, fennel, salt and pepper and sauté until soft. Add wine and cook for a further minute, add stock and bring to the boil add fish and vegetables to heat through. Take off the heat stir in Crème Fraîche and marigold petals. To serve, divide the cooked potatoes between the bowls and ladle the fish soup over the top. Serve with a sprinkling of finely chopped dill or young fennel leaves.

Recipe Source: devised and tested at Mas du Diable, inspired by a trip to the arctic circle and Swedish soups.

Greens (Indian Style)

15 May

Green leafy vegetable leaves boiled and then seasoned with a little ghee and spices make a wonderful vegetable side to serve with other dishes. In India all kinds of leaves are used; the leaves of grapevines, cabbages, kohlrabi, radish or turnips, malabar spinach, mustard greens, kales, beets, amaranth, tetragon, collards and spinach. This recipe will work for any leafy green, each has a slightly different taste and texture but all are delicious.

Serves 2-4 Cooking 15min

  • 2 large portions leaves, washed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp ghee, butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 fresh hot green chilli, cored and cut into thin rounds
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp each of fennel seed, black mustard seed, cumin seeds; lightly crushed
  • pinch salt
  • lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp garam masala

Wash and pick over the leaves and remove any rough bits, drain and shred finely. Drop into boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, the colour should intensify then remove before the colour starts to darken and drop into cold water to halt cooking. At this point the leaves can be frozen. I freeze spinach and other leafy crops in small batches so I can just take out a batch and throw it in the pan.

Put a wide heavy pan on the hob and heat the oil or butter. Throw in the green chilli, ginger, garlic and spices and fry for a minute or so. Stir in the leaves and sprinkle with salted water, cover. Cook for a few minutes until the leaves are tender. Sprinkle with lemon juice and garam masala before serving.

Kale & Potato Mash

7 May

Otherwise known as Colcannon, this is an Irish invention of potatoes mashed with cabbage. It is a country dish which, the Irish and Scots took with them wherever they settled. I love it. It is simple, hearty and actually very tasty, it is particularly good if you use the black Tuscan kale Cavolo Nero. As you would expect, with an old country dish, there are many variations to it, some add meat or other vegetables, mine is fairly straight forward but with onion and garlic and is made with olive oil rather than butter.
Serves 4

  • Potatoes
  • Kale
  • Olive oil
  • Half a small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Large pinch sea salt
  • Large pinch cracked black pepper
  • knob of butter to finish (optional)

Wash and chop (peel if you want) the potatoes and put on the stove in a roomy pan of boiling water to cook. Boil for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender, but not falling apart, and drain. Meanwhile wash and shred the kale, chop the onion finely and crush the garlic. In another pan put a good slosh of olive oil in the bottom add the onion, garlic, salt & pepper and fry until softened. When the alliums are softened add the kale stir well to coat it in the oil, add a little water, cover and simmer/steam on a low heat for 5-7 minutes until the kale is tender but still has some bite. Tip the simmered kale and its juices into the pan of drained potatoes and mash. At this point you could also add a little butter or the dripping from roast meat or chicken.

Freezing Kale for storage
We can usually harvest kale right through the winter and up until May. In spring when I need the room for the summer veg I harvest any remaining kale and freeze it. To freeze kale wash and shred it then drop into a large pan of boiling water, lift it out after 2 minutes and plunge into ice cold water to halt cooking. Drain well then put useable size portions into freezer bags and freeze immediately. Frozen kale lasts for about a year at -18 and keeps its colour, texture and taste. It is great in dishes like this one or added to vegetable soups like Ribolita or vegetables dishes such as Tuscan Kale in Pepper Sauce.

Spinach & Chickpeas Sauté

24 Apr

This is another Spanish style spinach dish. There are many combinations of beans and greens in Spanish cooking in this one I’ve added some of the Moorish spices of the south to give it a kick.
Like many of the vegetable dishes I cook ithis one can be served as a small dish as part of a mezze, a course on its own or a side to accompany other foods.
Serves: 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • Olive Oil
  • 250g freshly cooked chickpeas
  • 4 large handfulls spinach
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 dry bird eye hot chillis
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Soak the spinach in cold water to refresh, wash well then drain and shred and set aside. Put the cumin, chilli, salt, garlic and paprika in a pestle and crush to a rough paste. Put a large pan, a wok works for me, over a medium heat and add a good slosh of olive oil, when its hot add the paste. Fry the paste for a minute or so then add the chickpeas cook and stir for another minute before adding the spinach. Stir well to coat and add a sprinkling of vinegar. Cook until the leaves are soft and wilted. Serve as it is with country bread or as part of a mezze or tapas of other small dishes.


Cooks’ Tip I cook chickpeas in large batches, because they take time to cook then freeze the cooked chickpeas in batches of roughly 250 and 500g.

Spinach Spanish Style

18 Apr

This is not so much a recipe as a way of cooking, fried in olive oil with garlic. This is the classic way of cooking all kinds of vegetables, but especially spinach in Spain. I’ve had it served as a vegetables side, as one of a layer of toppings over a plate of rice or beans and I’ve even had it served with a topping of a fried egg. Its great stuff and one of the very nicest ways of eating spinach.

Heat a large pan, a wok works for me, add olive oil and when that’s hot throw in lots of chopped garlic. As soon as the garlic starts to brown throw in the spinach, washed chopped, stir well to make sure it is all coated in the oil and sweat it down until the spinach is tender, which won’t take long, and keep it moving so as not to burn the garlic or the leaves.

Gardeners Note Spinach is best grown and harvested in our garden during the cooler months from October to May.

Tatsoi with red pepper Sauce

3 Apr

This cooked vegetable salad of greens with a spicy pepper dressing was an experiment that really worked. You could use any Oriental cabbage or leafy greens for this dish; mizuna, pak choi, mustard, spinach, broccoli even green beans work well with this dressing. Serve as a side vegetable or as one of a number of samll dishes

  • tatsoi or any greens
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • sugar
  • water or seaweed soaking liquid
  • home-made Preserved Red Pepper Paste 

Wash the Tatsoi leaves and chop into bite size pieces. Bring a roomy pan of water to boil and drop in the Tatsoi, cook for two minutes until the leaves and stems turn a darker shade of green. Meanwhile mix the dressing to taste. When the tatsoi is cooked drain and toss in the dressing. Best served at room temperature.

Cook’s Tip To make a quick version of my home-made pepper paste; drain and puree a jar of preserved sweet red peppers and add fresh or dried chilli and paprika powder to taste.

Greens (Kashmiri Style)

24 Mar

This dish is a perfect vehicle for Chard, Tuscan Kale or any robust leafy veg. It is inspired by the Kashmiri speciality Haak, greens fried in a little spice, chilli and garlic then stewed until soft. It is a light spicy dish that can be made hotter to taste and makes a perfect accompaniment to meat or lentil dishes.
Serves 4 Prep 10min cook 10-15min

  • 400g chard, spinach, tetragon, orache, malabar spinach, spring cabbage or borecole.
  • 3 tbsp mustard or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds (optional)
  • 2-4 hot dried red chillis, sliced or 1/2-1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp home made garam masala

Wash the greens well in a large basin of water to make sure there is no soil. Shred finely and leave in a colander to drain. Heat the mustard oil in a wide pan until it starts to smoke then throw in the red chillis, cumin and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop and the chillis turn dark, add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Add the shredded greens and salt and a little water give it a good stir and cover. Cook for 10-15mins until greens are soft but still green, stir in the garam marsala.

Gardeners Note In Kashmir the greens used for this dish are called Haak otherwise known as collard greens or borekale (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), they also use the leaves from Kholrabi.
Recipe Source came about by studying a number of recipes from Kashmir, testing and simplifying to get this version.