Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

Last night was Film Club night – we watched Frida. It’s very good – you should watch it!

Most Film Club nights end up with us nipping over to Moes (poor mans Nandos) for half a chicken and rice because we haven’t got any food left over from lunchtime.

I was better prepared this week and made this pesto which, when mixed with white beans and served on lettuce leaves, makes for a very nice snack. It probably would have gone very well with some chicken from Moes!

Pesto has undergone quite the transformation over the years. My first recollections of it were the Sacla jars which you would stir through some pasta when you were too lazy to cook anything proper. Since then everyone and his dog has been making their own jars of the stuff, including Jamie Oliver and Lloyd Grossman. I’ve always found them very vinegary or jar/tin tasting which I imagine is down to the preservatives they add.

I always understood pesto to be basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan blended with olive oil but it is seems that the current trend is to call any blend of herb, nut, oil and cheese a pesto. Strictly these variations aren’t pestos – but then again there’s lots of fizzy white wines passing themselves off as champagne these days!

I’ve made many different types in the last year, ones with coriander, parsley, different cheeses, different oils and a variety of nuts. This pesto from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Light and Easy’  is another variation on a theme – but its one of the best I’ve made.

Simply blend parsley leaves, garlic, a tin of anchovies (oil as well), walnuts, some rapeseed oil and a little lemon juice to taste and you’re done.

If you have a Nutribullet you can made this in less than a minute and it will be very smooth.

I’ve copied Hugh’s serving suggestion of stirring through some white beans and laying on some lettuce leaves.

I loved this. It has a real punch to it. Many pestos are quite bland but this is far from it. The anchovy really packs in flavour. Just don’t add more salt – anchovies are salty enough as it is.

There was quite a bit left over which I imagine we will use up with some feta and salad in our tortilla wraps for lunch today.

So far I’m really enjoying this book. Simply cooking. Great taste. That’s what we all need when we have little time to spare.

Roast Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

Tenderstem Broccoli and White Beans

I wanted something very simple for dinner today and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s new book ‘River Cottage – Light & Easy’ had just what I needed. Most of the recipes I’ve shortlisted from this book look easy. Barely cooking at all – more throw some stuff together. Just what you want when it’s freezing cold outside and you’ve just spent an hour heating up a very cold boat!

I couldn’t get hold of Purple Sprouting Broccoli so I used tenderstem broccoli instead.

This is so easy. Just preheat an oven, roast some broccoli with a little oil and seasoning for 10 minutes, add white beans and sunflower seeds and cook for another 2 minutes.

While that’s doing make a dressing of a little garlic, cider vinegar, english mustard, oil and a little sugar. I added an egg yolk to mine – which pretty much makes a hollandaise.

Then simply serve the beans and drizzle the dressing on top.

This is pretty awesome – very tasty – and was done in less than 15 minutes. Just my sort of dinner. I think this could end up in the ‘go to’ pile.

I thought there would be enough for lunch tomorrow – but we had seconds and polished it all off!

Quick Chilli and Brown Rice

Quick Chilli and Brown Rice

It seems like forever since I posted on sifty. I have been eating – honest – I just haven’t been able to muster the enthusiasm to photograph and blog. It gets very cold on a boat this time of year – it kind of discourages you from doing anything!

Our fortnightly visit to Freya’s parents offered up two surprises:

  • a new cookbook (for Freya really – as it was her birthday)
  • a flick through a load of magazine supplements

This weekend’s Daily Mail supplement (which I would never advocate reading) had an interesting article about Ella Woodward and her ‘soon to be released’ cookery book ‘Deliciously Ella’. At the back of the magazine were some very healthy recipes that caught my eye – so I snagged the magazine and made the chilli and brown rice last night.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find black beans in my local supermarket so I swapped them for Fava beans. As the recipe suggests you can knock this up in 10-15 minutes. Its so basic. But it was just what you need when it is -1 outside and you need something warm quickly!

To make this you do nothing more than add grated carrot, garlic, kidney beans, black beans (fava beans in my case), passatta, tomato paste and a jalapeño pepper to a saucepan and heat through for 10 minutes. That’s it – nothing more.

For me it was a bit too tomatoey – Freya loved it. It made plenty. There’s tonnes left for lunch today and it cost next to nothing to make.

I’ll make this again when I am short on time – and I’ll make it with the correct ingredients next time.

Barley and Pomegranate Salad

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This incredibly simple salad is lovely. Yotam Ottolenghi makes amazing salads – this is another one from Plenty.

Simply prepare some pearl barley (boil it until it is tender and has a little bite to it) and then drain and cool under the tap. When it is done throw in some pomegranate seeds, diced celery, coriander, dill and a dressing. Couldn’t be easier than that. If you buy untrimmed celery, keep the celery tops (the leaves) and add them at the end too.

You could probably make this in less than 30 minutes.

I knocked this up in next to no time and it really tastes so fresh, crunchy and filling.  I only made this to keep us going while I made something else – but turns out I needn’t have bothered. I was surprised at how full I was after only one bowl. Plenty of leftovers meant we had it for lunch at work the next day too.

As a child I thought pearl barley was something cheap you used to pad out a stew. How things have changed. It crops up in many of Ottolenghi’s dishes – and other Middle Eastern themed cookbooks.

It’s another great substitute for rice (much like freekeh) and has five times as much protein.

I usually have all the ingredients for this knocking about – so I’ll be sure to make this again