Tag Archives: Olive oil

Griddled Courgette, Garlic, Chili, Basil and Pistachio Tagliatelle with

2 Aug

IMG_20130802_225812My aunt and uncle provided us with a couple of lovely fresh courgettes from their vegetable garden – as they are having such a great season the best way to cook them at this time of year is simply griddled on the barbecue.
This dish was inspired by my favourite Italian restaurant in Nice – where a similar dish was by far my fave. Although they had the addition of scallops (which unfortunately are a bit of a luxury and not a simple dinner ingredient)

Dad was at the barbecue so it’s to his credit how tasty it was!
I always think you should alter any amount of ingredients to suit your tastes – if you fancy more basil or chili then go for it

Serves 2:
Ingredients:
150g tagliatelle (or linguine or spaghetti)
1 large courgette, cut into rounds
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 fresh chili, sliced or a pinch dried chili
2 handfulls shelled pistachios
1 ball of mozzarella, teared
A good knob of butter
A few tablespoons olive oilIMG_20130802_225733
Salt and pepper
Around 10-15 large basil leaves, torn

Method:

1. Put your pasta water on to heat up. On a griddle pan or barbecue, grill your sliced courgettes, turning once after about 4 minutes, until they have lovely charcoal marks on either side. Keep on a heatproof plate in a warm oven

2. Start cooking you pasta – ensure you have a good glug of olive oil in the water to stop the pasta from sticking. Meanwhile, heat your olive oil in a large frying pan and add your garlic to brown, take off the heat and add the pistachios and chilli (they will cook in the hot oil even if it’s off the heat)

3. Drain your pasta, add with a good knob of butter to the frying pan with olive oil garlic etc, add the basil leaves and courgettes, season and give it all a good toss, add some more olive oil if needed. Serve and sprinkle over the mozzarella

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Olive, chilli, oregano, basil and feta bruschetta

18 Apr

I had half a tin of plum tomatoes to use and half a baguette.

I hate wasting food – I will make a point of using something up. I bought a cabbage a few months ago, literally couldn’t get rid of it – genuinely thought it was growing in the fridge. So I would sneak it into pretty much anything much to Ollie’s amusement – Greek salad with a bit of shredded cabbage?! Why not eh!

Anyway this was one of those cases, storecuboard/fridge stables such as tinned olives, oregano, jarred feta cheese and chilli flakes and a few fresh basil leaves from my plant. (it’s laaaaavely weather here down in Nice so no dying plants for meeee!)

It was delish. Perfect for a quick, summery lunch!

Ingredients:
Half a baguette, sliced (get best quality you can… even if you don’t have a cheap artisan bakery at the end of your road… hehe)
a few black olives, cut into quarters
half a tin of tomatoes
teaspoon of dried oregano
salt and pepper
pinch (or more if feeling wild) chilli
feta cubes (however cheesy you’re feeling)
olive oil (I used basil infused)

Method:
1. Combine all ingredients except for the feta cheese and olive oil (and bread, obviously…) in a bowl.
2. Slice your baguette, drizzle over a little olive oil and pop under the grill for a few minutes.
3. Top  bread with the tomato mixture, sprinkle with the feta cubes then pop under the grill until the cheese starts to look as if it is melting slightly. It should smell deeelliiisshhh

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My southern French chunky aubergine tapenade

25 Jan

Tapenade is everywhere In Nice, served with your aperitif, as a starter, there’s even a restaurant named after the stuff!
This southern French speciality is one of my favourite snacks or lunch. However I am not too keen on the ones that are a little too overpowering on the anchovy taste, hence the reason why I invented my own.
You can find such a variety of different tapenades here, including roasted red pepper tapenade, green and black olive tapenade, tomato tapenade and my favourite, aubergine tapenade! It’s amazing! I don’t know why I haven’t discovered it before but it is going to be a common snack or lunch made in my kitchen from now on. Simple, tasty and full of olive oil goodness. My tapenade can be eaten hot or cold, on some crusty baguette or toast, served a salad. It keeps for days and serves ¾ for a light lunch. If desired, you can add a couple of anchovies or capers to the mix.

Ingredients:
1 medium aubergine
8 black olives, stones removed and roughly chopped (I prefer to use olives with stones in as I believe they have more flavour than pitted ones!)
A few tablespoons of good olive oil
1 fat clove of garlic
Salt and pepper

Method:
1. Heat your oven to 190C. Wash and chop your aubergine into small chunks, leaving the skins on (gives it more flavour and texture plus there’s more nutrients in the skin!) peel and finely chop your garlic.
2. Spread the aubergine chunks out on a large roasting tin, sprinkle with the chopped garlic, 2/3 tablespoons of olive oil and season well. Leave to roast for around 40 minutes, tossing halfway.
3. Chop up your olives and place into a bowl big enough to hold the aubergine chunks. Once the aubergine is cooked, add everything (including the olive oil in the roasting tin) into the bowl and with a fork roughly mash everything together until combined.
It is important to mash when hot as it is a lot easier!
Voila! Eat hot or cold! Image

Ventimiglia’s healthy pasta with courgette, tuna, tomatoes, basil and capers

10 Jan

New Years resolution: To carry on eating as healthy as possible. And to drink less wine. The French price of wine has my student self constantly stocking up on cheap, decent wine (good rosé is in abundance down here in the Cote d’Azur!)and having oh too casual glasses of it in the evening. Therefore, a healthy, balanced meal with no wine is what we had tonight. Using wheat pasta bought from the market in Ventimiglia, Italy just before Christmas, made this dish a little bit more special.
Easy and super tasty! Plus tinned tuna for protein keeps the cost low.
Serves 2.

Ingredients:
120g tinned tuna in olive oil (way less ‘fishy’ tasting and more ‘tuna steak’ tasting that tinned tuna in brine)
1 dessertspoon capers

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1 tablespoon roughly torn basil
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 courgette, thinly sliced lengthways
1 clove garlic, chopped
140g Maccheroni al ferro or anything like wholewheat penne
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Good olive oil, salt and pepper

Method:
1. Place your strips of courgette on a piece of foil on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season and pop under the grill to colour.
2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta. Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry your chopped garlic in a large frying pan until lightly brown. Turn to a low heat and add the halved tomatoes, you don’t want them to go mushy – just slightly. Add the tinned tuna. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the saucepan, coating with the sauce.
3. Your courgette will be cooked by now so add these to the saucepan along with the capers. Serve, and top with Parmesan and the basil. Enjoy with a glass of rosé if feeling naughty.

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Butternut squash and sage fried pasta

21 Nov

Fried pasta is one of my favourite things ever. I am always the one who likes the crunchy bit of pasta in the corner of the lasagna dish. There is something so satisfying about slightly crunchy cooked pasta; sauces always seem to intensify with frying too, especially with a spoonfuls of extra Parmesan!

I’m not going to lie, it’s not the healthiest. However a plate of fried pasta can easily be justified – fry in olive oil and use vegetables… there we go J
I recently went for a weekend in Exeter to visit a few friends. We made a big butternut squash risotto before a night out and my love for squash was rekindled. Due to Nice’s constant mild temperature (I am actually craving it to be a bit cold and rainy now and then – I want an excuse to get into bed and watch Downton Abbey on repeat whilst eating chocolate) I haven’t really cooked any seasonal winter dishes. Therefore, a squash was bought.

This is the first of two dishes we made; it’s an adaptation of www.thekitchn.com’s recipe!

Serves 2:
Half a butternut squash.
1 small onion
2 tablespoons fresh or dried sage (we used dried – economical students :D)
50g Parmesan
Large clove of garlic
150g farfelle or rigatoni pasta (we used a combination)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Method.
1. Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius (fan.) Half your butternut squash length-ways, scoop the seeds out and peel (it’s an effort but worth it!)
2. Chop your squash into 1 inch cubes.
3. Finely chop your onion and garlic.
4. In a large baking sheet, toss the squash, onion and garlic with a few glugs of olive oil, sprinkle with half the sage and season well. Leave for around 40 minutes until the squash is soft.
5. Cook your pasta to packet instructions. Drain well and set aside.
6. Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the rest of the sage on a medium-high heat for 2 minutes. If you have two frying pans, then heat them both up to save having to fry in two batches.
7. Add half the pasta and squash mixture to the frying pan (or half in each pan) and heat until the pasta is going brown around the edges (or until your pasta is as crispy as you like). Try and mix your pasta and squash together so it becomes a sort of sauce.
8. When cooked, add half the Parmesan to the frying pan and mix well.
9. Serve onto hot plates and sprinkle on the rest of Parmesan. Enjoy!

Asparagus ravioli

21 Nov

From our trip to Ventimiglia we also brought back a packet of asparagus and ricotta ravioli.

Suspecting it to have a more subtle than the mushroom one, I opted to use fresh, light ingredients that wouldn’t mask the delicate filling.
I added some cold courgette that I had already roasted – adds to your 1 a day and the understated flavour of the courgette goes perfectly with the pasta!
Again, this is simple yet SO SO tasty – It was a perfect fresh lunch ready in less than 10 minutes (that is if your courgette is cooked already however…)

Serves 2:

Ingredients:
I packet asparagus ravioli (approx 250g)
1 small courgette
2 handfuls rocket
Half a lemon – zest and a squeeze of juice
Parmesan – as much as you like
Really good olive oil
Salt & pepper

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 200 Celsius (fan).
2. Wash your courgette and chop into small circles, add a few glugs of olive oil (I use the cheapest type for cooking and save good stuff for drizzling!) to a roasting tray, season and toss your sliced courgette in the oil until completely covered. Place in the oven and wait around 30mins for your courgette is soft and beginning to brown around the edges!
An alternative, quicker method would be to cook your chopped courgette on a griddle pan. However, beware cooking them too much as the smokiness could mask the ravioli filling flavour.
3. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add your pasta with a splash or olive oil. Fresh pasta only needs around 5 minutes.
4. Whilst your pasta is cooking, grate some lemon zest and Parmesan and prepare to assemble your dish!
5. Drain the pasta and place onto plates. Scatter your rocket, Parmesan  sliced courgette, lemon zest and a squeeze of juice onto the pasta. Season to your taste and drizzle some good quality olive oil over.
6. Enjoy!

Ventimiglia, Italy (just about!)

9 Nov

This afternoon, a 45 minute train journey along the Riviera (worth a trip just for the scenery to be honest) had taken me through two countries (Monaco, then back into France!) and finally into Ventimiglia, a  coastal town just across the border in Italy. 

I had decided to visit Ventimiglia because A) I wanted to say oh so casually that I had been to Italy for the afternoon and B) I wanted to visit the food/goods market to see if the alleged rock-bottom prices for pasta and parmesan was true!

The ‘bit of a mess’ that Italy is in economically and politically is evident as soon as you cross the border. It’s a little more shabby and run down than the French Riviera. But as I sat with Ollie, we mused that it actually had an honest, relaxing charm about it.  The beach was a little rough compared to the manicured beaches of the Cote d’Azur, but as it is not a tourist destination, it was a breath of fresh air compared to any of the nearby bustling French towns.

We didn’t actually need to stock up on any food, but in the future it would be well worth a train ticket to do your pasta/cheese/vegetable/fish/meat shopping in the undercover market. There are tens of fruit and veg stalls, selling bargain priced goods from aubergines to star fruits. And, only in Italy will you find mounds of sundried tomatoes and olives for about half the price as in the UK. Also, if you are a mushroom lover, then are stalls selling different varieties of porcini and truffles.

The cheese. I love cheese! The variety available in France (even the smallest supermarket will have a huge selection of cheese, even if it takes up half the shop!) has slowly seduced me into buying multiple varieties  so I have ended up with about 7 different cheeses in the fridge at any one time. Italian cheese such as mozzarella and parmesan is about the same price in France as it is in the UK. Over the border however, there were huge cliff-like triangles of parmesan being sold at a mere 11 euros per kg (in a UK supermarket, the average price is around £18 per kg). Fresh mozzarella is available by the ball, you won’t find any pre-packed mozzarella here!

My favourite find however was the fresh pasta stalls. As well as having a take away service for any pasta variety and home made sauce, about 15 different types of fresh gnocchi, tortellini and ravioli were available to buy in any quantity desired.  After much deliberation (we could have happily bought a portion of each – basil, truffle, salmon, Gorgonzola ..) we opted for the porcini mushroom ravioli, and a portion of the  asparagus and parmesan ravioli. Cannot wait to try them! Prices were above your average packet of supermarket ravioli, but compared to British delis, 500g at 5.50 euros is not bad at all! We will most definitely be returning. 

After wandering around the food market, we made our way to the seafront, where rows and rows of stalls sell leather goods and clothes. To be quite honest most of the clothes were incredibly chavvy. Yes, even though Italians have their stylish stereotype, i’m not so sure if it comes down to coastal border towns (sorry any Italians out there!)

Initially attracted by tack-shop smell of leather (such a bad vegetarian), I came across some high quality leather weekend bags that I found in one stall that I would have loved to buy. Although alas, my purse couldn’t answer my request.

I hadn’t been aware of it, but Italy’s tax on alcohol is even smaller than the one imposed in France. As a result there are a few shops catering for the cross-border shoppers selling cheap as chips vodka, rum, whiskey  pastis and so forth. So cheap that we just had to buy a litre each of Bombay Sapphire, Captain Morgan’s and Jim Bean’s, all for under 40 euros. As a UK student, used to paying £10 for 70cl of Tesco Value’s finest vodka, it was well worth a trip. We now have a little bar in our apartment to last us the year (we say optimistically…)

It was about 3.30 before we headed to find somewhere to eat (fault of the student mealtime pattern, most unhelpful!) however most restaurants were closed. We did manage to find a little place on the market street and after a late lunch of a pizza siciliana (bargain at a mere 6euros, yay for Italian prices once again!) we headed back to Nice as the sun slowly descended into the sea. I’m still not used to complete darkness by 6pm when you can still wear a t-shirt and jumper quite comfortably in the day. So weird. I’m already mentally preparing myself for the cold of Exeter.  Hardly the coldest place on earth, but for a girl who in the UK, spends most of the time getting circulation back into hands and feet, I imagine it will be as if I have been dropped naked into the icy Artic Ocean.

Anyway, time to research what I can cook with my fabulous fresh pasta! I am so excited for tomorrows lunch already 😀