Caramelised onion and rosemary flatbread, cherry tomato, olive and rocket flatbread plus a side of samphire salad with lemon and olive oil

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I know I only posted a flatbread recipe a few days but at this time of year they’re just perfect. Quick and easy to prepare, delicious and great for sharing with a group of friends and a good bottle of wine.   I bought some freshly picked samphire earlier from a little road-side stall in Norfolk and couldn’t wait to use it.  This is one of my favourite vegetables!  There are so many incredible ways to prepare it but this samphire was so fresh and delicious that we just ate it raw with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.  Delicious!

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Caramelised onion and rosemary flatbread:

  • 1 flatbread (I bought these ready-made from Crosta & Mollica, available from Waitrose)
  • 2 small red onions (sliced)
  • Dash of red wine vinegar
  • 2 generous sprigs of rosemary
  • Garlic and oregano-infused olive oil (see below)
  1. Pop the onions in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and cook on a low heat for around 40 minutes, with a splash of red wine vinegar
  2. Assemble the infused olive oil, caramelised onions and rosemary on a flatbread for 5 minutes at 180°C

Cherry tomato, olive and rocket flatbread:

  • 1 flatbread (as above)
  • Large handful of organic, on-the-vine cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Large handful of organic rocket
  • Spanish Couchillo olives (available from Waitrose)
  • Garlic and oregano-infused olive oil
  1. Assemble the infused olive oil, cherry tomatoes and olives on the flatbread and pop in the oven for 5 minutes at 180°C
  2. Once cooked add the rocket and serve

 

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Garlic and oregano-infused olive oil:

  • Small cupful of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  1. Add the chopped garlic and fresh oregano to a cup of olive oil and leave in the fridge overnight
  2. You can sieve the olive oil before using but for these flatbreads I included the oregano and garlic

Samphire salad with lemon and olive oil:

  • Generous handful of freshly-picked samphire, washed, roughly chopped and stalks removed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  1. Wash the samphire and then roughly chop, removing the stalks
  2. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the samphire
  3. Drizzle over the olive oil and serve

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Flatbread with caramelised red onion, capers, garlic and fresh basil

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I probably could have made the flatbread but I was short of time and Waitrose sell some amazing ones by Crosta Mollica which are vegan.  This is a great starter to share with friends or just to eat all by yourself because it’s really tasty and well, why not?!

  • Flatbread
  • Red onion – sliced
  • Large spoonful of capers
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • Few leaves of fresh basil
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan – add the red onions and cook on a low heat for 20-30 minutes (if you have more time then cook for longer for a sweeter taste)
  2. Assemble all the ingredients on the flatbread on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 4 minutes at 180°C
  3. Eat!

Tempura vegetables

 

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OK, so this may not be the healthiest way to consume your veggies but as a one-off it’s REALLY tasty!  When I first made these I did so as a starter, which in hindsight was a bit of a mistake as everyone was too full to eat the rest of the dinner!  Now I like to cook up a big batch, serve with a couple of dipping sauces and a great movie!

(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

  • Big pile of chopped up veggies – I used carrots, broccoli, peppers, baby sweetcorn and onion but you can pretty much use whatever you have in the kitchen
  • Pan with enough vegetable oil to cover the veggies (I cook mine in batches so as not to use too much oil but if you have a deep-fat fryer then you can do them all at once)

For the batter:

  • Cup of plain flour
  • Teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda
  • Sparkling water – add to create the constancy you need (see below)
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Mix the batter mix in a big bowl – the consistency should be liquid but thick enough to stick to the veggies.
  2. Heat the oil up in the pan – it needs to be pretty hot so the veggies don’t absorb too much oil and go soggy but not so hot that it’s smoking
  3. Add the batter mixture-covered veggies a few at a time and fry until the batter is a pale golden colour
  4. Place the cooked tempura on a few sheets of kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil
  5. Serve with dipping sauces and enjoy!

Note: If I’m feeling lazy then I’ll just serve the tempura with ready-made sweet chilli or hoisin sauce for dipping but often I’ll make up my own, which is super-quick and easy:

  • Approx 3/4 soy sauce to 1/4 Chinese cooking wine
  • Chopped fresh garlic
  • Chopped fresh ginger
  • Chopped red chilli (with or without the seeds depending on how hot you like it)
  • Small squeeze of agave syrup for a hint of sweetness

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Zucchini, broad bean and pea soup

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This is my favourite summer soup and I make it really regularly during the warmer months.   Very simple to make with delicious fresh flavours.

(Serves 4)

  • 1-2 zucchini/courgettes – diced
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen broad beans
  • 1/2 a cup frozen peas
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • Handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • About 1 pint of organic vegetable stock (I use Kallo stock cubes, which are also gluten-free as well as being vegan)
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan
  2. Add the chopped onion and gently fry for a couple of minutes, to soften
  3. Add the diced zucchini to the pan and gently fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the vegetable stock, peas, broad beans and fresh herbs and cook for a further 3-4 minutes
  5. Remove from the heat and blend (I just use a hand-held blender as I find it easier in a small kitchen plus there’s less washing up!)
  6. Return the soup for he heat, squeeze in the juice of one lemon and season to taste
  7. Serve with fresh, crusty bread

Mushroom, chestnut and truffle oil soup

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There’s nothing like a big bowl of steaming hot, hearty soup to brighten up a cold winter’s day in the UK and this one definitely hits the spot.   Thanks to our friend Nick who first made it for a group of us one cold November night in the Cotswolds a couple of years ago.

(Serves 4)

  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • A splash of olive oil
  • Punnet of organic chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful of chestnuts (you can use fresh but I tend to use the ready-prepared ones by Merchant Gourmet)
  • Organic vegetable stock (I use Kallo organic stock cubes)
  • A tiny drizzle of truffle oil (I use the white truffle oil from Truffle Hunter – it’s expensive but it lasts forever as you only need the tiniest amount)
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Pour the olive oil into a large pan
  2. Add the garlic and onion and gently fry for a few minutes to soften
  3. Add the mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes
  4. Add the vegetable stock, truffle oil and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Heat the mixture through for a couple more minutes and then remove from the heat and blend (I generally use a hand-held blender)
  6. Return the soup to the heat to warm through
  7. Serve with crusty bread

Enjoy.  (Ideally by a roaring log fire with good friends and a bottle of red wine!)