Lentil and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Feta and Tahini

Another lovely tasty and healthy meatless salad. Enjoy!

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Scant 1 cup dried green lentils (Puy or Casteluccio, if you can find them) picked and rinsed over. (or buy the vacuum packed cooked lentils in the supermarket and skip this whole cooking stage)
2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 fresh sage sprigs
2 tbsp olive oil

For the dressing and salad
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 large garlic clove
Salt (Maldon or another flaky sea salt if you’ve got it)
2 tbsp well-stirred tahini paste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 tbsp plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

1 and 3/4 cups drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas,from a 15-ounce can)
1/2 small preserved lemon, pith and flesh discarded, rind finely diced (optional)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
A handful of cilantro or flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1/4 cup Greek feta cheese
1 1/2 tbsp raw sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan until a shade or two darker

Make the lentils: Put the lentils, garlic, sage, and olive oil in a small pot, along with 2 cups cold water, and set it over medium heat. Let the water come to a simmer (not boiling), then turn the heat to low and cook the lentils in a very gentle simmer just until they are tender (about 25 to 30 mins and you might need some extra liquid near the end) Take the pan off the heat and let the lentils cool a bit before draining them. Pick out and discard the sage and garlic. You’ll have about 2 cups cooked lentils.

Make the dressing: Mix together the ground coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Mash the garlic clove to a paste with 1 tsp salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) on a cutting board or in a mortar. In a small bowl for your dressing, combined the mashed garlic, tahini, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, 1 tsp of the ground coriander-and-cumin mixture and 2 tbsp water. Stir well, then taste. Add more lemon if desired.

Assemble the salad: Place onion slices in a medium bowl and break them up with your fingers. Sprinkle in two good pinches of salt, then two teaspoons of lemon juice, two remaining teaspoons of olive oil and the cilantro or parsley. Toss well, then crumble in the cheese and gently toss again.

Toss the lentils with the drained chickpeas, preserved lemon rind (if using), and 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the tahini dressing and toss it all together really well, then stir in the onion-feta mixture.

Arrange the salad in bowl or platter. Sprinkle the mixture with the sesame seeds and some of the remaining spices. Serve

Spanakorizo (Greek spinach rice)

I happen to adore all rice dishes, but this one is especially lovely served with meat, fish or poultry. The combination of spinach, fresh dill and lemon is so perfect.

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Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 tbsp garlic, minced
Zest from one lemon
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I use roasted ground cumin)
1/2 lb baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped and divided
1/2 tsp salt
A few grinds freshly ground black pepper
Juice from one lemon

Heat olive oil in a medium pan with a tightly fitting cover over medium high heat. Sauté onions until translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
Add the lemon zest, cumin and spinach and cover the pan. Cook until the spinach wilts down (about 3-5 minutes).
Stir the rice, stock, 2 tbsp of the dill, salt and pepper into the spinach mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, replacing the lid on the pan, and cook until the rice is tender (about 15 to 20 minutes –follow your rice’s package instructions).
Stir in the lemon juice and the remaining fresh dill before serving.

Slow roasted garlic and lemon chicken

There is nothing nicer than throwing everything into a roasting pan and watching it caramelize slowly, turning each ingredient into a mouthful of sweetness. The beauty of this dish is that the lemon turns sweet and incredibly tender and you can pop the chunks straight into your mouth, skin, pith and all! Thanks to the irrepressible Nigella Lawson.

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Serves 4 but can easily be augmented

1 chicken (approx 4½lbs) cut into 10 pieces
A bulb of garlic separated into unpeeled cloves
2 unwaxed lemons (preferably thin-skinned) cut into chunky eighths
1 handful fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup white wine
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin and add the garlic cloves, lemon chunks and the thyme; just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later. Add the oil and using your hands mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up.
Sprinkle over the white wine and grind on some pepper, then cover tightly with foil and put in the oven to cook, at flavor-intensifyingly low heat, for 2 hours.
Remove the foil from the roasting tin, and turn up the oven to 400ºF. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelize at the edges.

I like to serve this as it is, straight from the roasting tin: so just strew over some thyme sprigs, warm some lovely bread and make a quick green salad and Bob’s your uncle!

Beet panna cotta with Meyer lemon mousse

What a surprise to see this recipe! It is sensational and the sweetness of the beets is perfect in the panna cotta, especially when slowly simmered in the cream, producing the most wonderful deep purple color. Do try it!!

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Servings: 6
Beet Panna Cotta

½ lb red beets, peeled, cut into ½” pieces
2 cups heavy cream
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
3 tbsp honey
½ tsp vanilla extract

Meyer Lemon Mousse

1 tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon zest
½ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
½ cup sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
½ cup chilled heavy cream

You will need six 8 oz glasses or ramekins

Bring the beets, cream, and salt to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer very gently until the beets are tender, 25–30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine the gelatin and 2 Tbsp cold water in a blender; let sit 5 minutes for the gelatin to soften.
Transfer the beets and their cooking liquid to blender; add the honey and vanilla and purée until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard the solids.
Divide the purée among the glass dishes and chill until set, 3½–4 hours.

Do Ahead: Panna cotta can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Meyer lemon mousse

Bring the lemon zest and juice, ¼ cup butter, and ¼ cup sugar to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks, egg, and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot lemon mixture into the egg mixture.
Transfer back to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the curd is thickened and the whisk leaves a trail, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ¼ cup butter, whisking until melted and the curd is smooth.
Transfer the curd to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, whisk the cream in a small bowl to soft peaks and gently fold into the curd. Spoon the mousse over the panna cotta.

Do Ahead: The lemon curd can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Easy lemon pesto sauce

A light, lemony and more refreshing version of a traditional pesto sauce is delicious tossed with hot pasta for a quick meal or side dish with roasted or grilled meats and fish.
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2 garlic cloves
3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts (to toast the pine nuts, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.)
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, basil, parsley, cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse until ground to a fine paste, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups.

Wilted spinach with creamy lemon and ginger sauce

This is a real beauty with the tangy flavor of the lemon, the slight heat from the ginger and the smooth creaminess of the sauce. Super served with grilled or roasted meats and fish.
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Serves 2, but can easily be augmented

For the sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 glass of white wine
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into julienne strips
1 lemon, zested
9 oz heavy cream
For the spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
9 oz fresh baby spinach
pinch sea salt

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion for 3 to 5 minutes until soft but not colored.
Add the ginger and lemon zest and cook for a further minute
Pour in the cream and white wine, stirring to combine
Simmer gently for 4 to 5 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thickened and coats the back of a spoon. At this point you can remove the ginger pieces. Set aside.
For the spinach
Heat the oil in a saute pan and add the fresh spinach, cooking to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Season with the sea salt.
Spoon the spinach gently into the cream mixture, mixing gently or what is also nice, is to put the spinach into 2 x 3 inch chef’s rings on serving plates, pour the sauce around and over the spinach and remove the ring, leaving this lovely mound of green and the pretty sauce floating around it.

Chicken, green olive and lemon tagine with ginger and coriander

This is a beautiful tagine, especially as it also has ginger and coriander which complements the chicken so well.

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3 tbsp. olive oil
6 whole chicken legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large yellow onions, sliced
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. crushed saffron threads
1½ cups chicken stock
6 oz. green olives, cracked
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tsp. finely chopped cilantro
2 jarred preserved lemons, cut into slices

Heat the oven to 350° F

Heat the oil in an 8–qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pot and cook, turning, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the onions to the pot, cook until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the spices, cook for 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot with the stock and boil.
Bake the chicken, covered, until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Stir in the olives, butter, parsley, cilantro and lemons into the pot, and cook for 6 minutes.
Serve with rice or flatbread.