Tag: arugula

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Whenever I buy a new appliance for my kitchen, a bigger wardrobe for our bedroom, or a more powerful driller for the tool box, I always ask myself how I managed before the new purchase entered our home. I’m totally fine with having to deal with limited space or less satisfying equipment in the house, but give me the comfort of improvement and I’m hooked for life.

This is exactly how I felt when I got my new fridge last December. It’s only the third fridge I have ever owned and although I can’t really complain about its predecessor – it did a decent job for more than 15 years – it drove me crazy at times. Mainly because the space it offered and the food I tried to put inside it did not match at all. I love fresh food, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables every week at the farmers’ market, and all kinds of cheese, olives, capers, prosciutto … and wine of course. There are only two people to feed but our food needs space. Thinking back, I don’t know how I managed to store all the greens in my old fridge while I was working on my book a year ago, I have no idea. It worked, but now it’s different, now I actually enjoy my fridge. A few days ago I came into my kitchen with lots of bags and baskets full of rhubarb, berries, asparagus and other spring produce and everything fit. I looked at this silver beauty and couldn’t help but say “I love my fridge!”. When Samsung offered me their Chef Collection for my kitchen, I was over the moon and I still feel the same. When you love food and cooking you truly appreciate having the right equipment.

So when I took a look at all the vibrant colours in my fridge, I came up with a salad that looks and tastes as bright and fresh as this season. I cut raw green asparagus very thinly and mixed it with a handful of arugula and canned chickpeas. A few fresh strawberries on top and a light vinaigrette made with orange juice drizzled all over and it was almost done: Some pink peppercorns added subtle spice and their distinct aroma. It was a very satisfying spring creation.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Raw Asparagus Salad with Basil and Pink Peppercorns

Serves 2

For the dressing

olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the salad

young green asparagus, trimmed, 4 stalks
arugula leaves, 1 large handful
drained canned chickpeas, 2 handfuls
fresh strawberries, cut into quarters, 6
a few fresh basil leaves
a few pink peppercorns

For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, orange juice, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut off the heads of the asparagus and cut them in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, a cheese slicer, or a sharp knife, cut the asparagus stalks into long, very thin slices.

In a large bowl, arrange the arugula, asparagus, chickpeas, and strawberries in layers and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and basil and serve immediately.

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

Strawberry, Chickpea, and Rucola Salad

 

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Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

Sometimes I am asked by a reader to come up with a certain recipe. Quite often it’s a dish connected to a childhood memory of theirs, a food experience saved many years ago, and now they’re hoping to find this specific flavour again. But it’s a tricky thing, it’s almost impossible to relive something as an adult and expect the same satisfaction that we felt back then when we were young.

I used to love Dutch coconut sheets for breakfast, which is as weird as it sounds. This is compressed dessicated coconut, pressed into thin sheets and, to make it even more appealing, they were either pink or pale white. I was obsessed with them. After a culinary break from this delicacy, I tried them again years later and I was so disappointed. But there’s another Dutch classic, which still lives up to my memories, and I enjoy it with the biggest passion whenever I pull it out of my oven: sticky honey cake.

At the end of this winter, I got asked to share a traditional German hot chocolate recipe, which my reader, who lives in the US, connects with the time he spent in Germany as a child. Somehow, I never felt in the mood for it, and my hot chocolate is also a rather simple creation made of milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, and ground cinnamon and cardamom, which is not a traditional German take on this drink. I’m sorry, I’ll try to write about it next winter.

But last week, someone dropped a comment on Instagram, telling me that I haven’t made a soup in a long time – and this person was right! She lives in Asia and asked for a soup that she can have with her morning rice. I don’t think that someone who lives in Asia, needs a German girl to tell her how to make a fragrant broth with ginger, spices, and lemon grass, so I thought about something that I could share from my background. Our summers spent in Malta made me fall for minestrone, and when I cook this warming soup with just green vegetables – like fresh beans, peas, and zucchini – it tastes like spring. To turn it into a full lunch, I add tiny meatballs refined with lots of chopped arugula and lemon zest. The strong aroma of the citrus fruit reminds me of the Mediterranean but at the same time, it adds the same lemony freshness that you know from a clear broth made with ginger. Enjoy!

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

 

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

Serves 2-4

For the meatballs

ground beef 400g / 14 ounces
fresh arugula leaves, finely chopped (with a knife or in a blender), 1 large handful / 50g
zest of 1 lime (1 heaping teaspoon)
garlic, crushed, 2 cloves
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
a generous amount ground pepper

For the soup

olive oil
garlic, cut in half, 1 clove
green vegetables (a mix of trimmed green beans, peas, and zucchini), beans and peas cut into bite size pieces, about 350g / 12 ounces
vegetable broth, hot, 1l / 4 1/4 cups
freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tablespoon
bay leaf 1
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the topping

ramp leaves, thinly sliced, 2
and/ or
spring onion, thinly sliced, 1

For the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef, chopped arugula, lime zest, garlic, salt, and pepper and mix until well combined. Wet your hands and form the mixture into tiny meatballs.

For the soup, in a large saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the vegetables, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, lime juice, and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste, and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs and bring to the boil again. Reduce the heat to medium, cover with a lid, and simmer for 4 minutes. Split 1 meatball to check if it’s done. Season the soup with salt, pepper, and additional lime juice to taste.

Serve the soup in deep bowls, sprinkled with ramps and / or spring onion, and enjoy warm.

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

 

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

 

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

 

Green Minestrone with Lime-Arugula Meatballs

 

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A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

Here’s another one of the kitchen leftover mash-ups I mentioned yesterday: There were 3 bunches of rucola (rocket) on the window sill, Italian plums which started to look a bit sad and ripe pears, ready to be eaten just before they get soft and mushy. I tossed everything together in a bowl and mixed it with my new favourite summer salad dressing: olive oil whisked with freshly squeezed orange juice and a little orange blossom water. It’s fantastic, the citrus’ fruitiness merges wonderfully with the orange blossom’s flowery aroma and the warm olive oil.

Citrus and olive oil is a delicious combination. One of my favourite recipes on eat in my kitchen features this glorious treat, it’s a very simple yet absolutely delicious Sicilian salad. The first time I ate it was at a farm in Noto where we stayed a few years ago. The lady of the house would make it for us for breakfast. She used the ripest oranges from the farm, cut them into fillets and sprinkled them with a little olive oil and dried oregano. It was a heavenly and eye-opening experience for me. I had never really thought of this combination before, mixing fruit with olive oil was quite new for me at that point and this morning treat influenced many of my recipes over the years. It taught me to be open minded and experimental, to combine various flavours, to mix what seems far away in taste but trust that it will lead to a satisfying result (which it often does).

However, the combination of fruit and olive oil needs a strong partner, either a herb or spicy rucola leaves as I chose. You could replace the plums and pears with any other sweet fruit you have at hand in your kitchen: strawberries, nectarines, figs or oranges. As long as they have honey sweet juices to add to the salad, they will be a good choice!

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

For a quick lunch for 2 you need

rucola (rocket) leaves, 2 handful
pear, quartered, cored and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)
large plum, cut in half and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)

For the dressing
olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
quality orange blossom water (preferably organic) 1-2 teaspoons, to taste
salt and pepper

Arrange the rucola and fruit in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing, season to taste and sprinkle over the salad, serve immediately.

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

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Spicy Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

A bag of sun-dried tomatoes fell into my hands while I looked through my pantry shelves and it reminded me of the good times I had with them in summer. With Mr. Cini at his salt pans in Gozo, in my pesto that I used as a spread on a sandwich, mixed with sage and chèvre on juicy zucchini steaks or in my spaghetti with broccoli pesto – so many nice memories! I still put them on my pizza sometimes which we bake every Sunday, but recently I’ve been neglecting this salty concentrate of the summer sun, until today!

A few days ago my Maltese mother Jenny sent me a picture of my favourite snorkeling spot at Dwejra in Gozo and all the nice memories were back in my head. Our summer in Malta, the food, the sea, the hot sun, the salty smell of the air and with these feelings came the urge for a Mediterranean snack! Crunchy ciabatta bread roasted with a little olive oil under the grill, fresh rucola (arugula) leaves, a dip made of feta cheese mixed with sun-dried tomatoes topped with red hot chili peppers – and here it is, summer is back, at least for a few bites!

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 Spicy Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

I like to cook the sun-dried tomatoes in a little water for 1 minute to wash of excess salt.

For 6-8 crostini you need

ciabatta bread 6-8 slices
olive oil
feta cheese 200g / 7 ounces
sun-dried tomatoes 5 around 40g / 1.5 ounces
rucola (arugula) leaves a small handful
fresh red hot chili pepper, cut into thin slices, with or without seeds, 1

Sprinkle the slices of bread with a little olive oil and put them under the grill for a few minutes until golden brown and crunchy.

In a small sauce pan, bring the dried tomatoes to the boil in a little water and cook for 1 minute. Take the pot off the heat, rinse the tomatoes and dry them well between kitchen paper. Purée the feta and the dried tomatoes in a blender until well combined.

Spread some rucola leaves on the crostini and top with the tomato-feta dip and a few chili slices (to taste and according to their spiciness).

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

 

Feta, Sun-dried Tomato and Rucola Crostini

Juicy Lamb, Moroccan Lemon and Caper Sandwich

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

Maltese capers, dried tomatoes, wild fennel seeds, honey and sea salt, these were just some of the goods I took home with me from my last trip to the Mediterranean island and these were also the ingredients I offered Malin from The Bread Exchange to choose from for our next sandwich. The sourdough queen went for salty capers and then it was my turn to come up with an idea for our next eat in my kitchen x The Bread Exchange creation.

Malin called me in the morning when the bread was done, after a night without much sleep as she had to get up a couple times to take care of her caper sourdough bread. I jumped on my bike excitedly to meet her in her kitchen which was already filled with the sweetest smell of freshly baked bread when I arrived. When she showed me her beautiful loaf of bread, juicy and spongy on the inside as always, refined with capers and the amazing oily crust that Malin mastered to perfection, I couldn’t wait to get started in my kitchen! A colourful composition of a few strong flavours, a wave of tastes on the tongue, that was my idea when I held the warm bread in my hands.

This inspiration led to a rich sandwich voluptuously stuffed with tender slices of lamb fillet, cooked for just a few minutes to keep it pink on the inside, thin strips of my Moroccan preserved lemons, crisp lemon peel roasted in olive oil (I used both the infused oil and the rind), salty capers and spicy rucola leaves. This was one of those moments when I wasn’t sure if I went a bit overboard with the flavours, especially when they are all so powerful on their own. But the first bite cleared any doubts, there wasn’t too much of anything, it was just right!

This sandwich has been featured on Food52!

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 Lamb, Moroccan Lemon and Caper Sandwich

For 4 closed sandwiches you need

the best sourdough bread you can get, 8 thick slices
lamb fillet 250g / 9 ounces
Moroccan preserved lemons, cut into thin strips, 1/4
lemon peel, 6 long strips
olive oil 3 tablespoons plus more for frying
capers, rinsed and drained, 1 heaped tablespoon
fresh rucola (arugula) leaves, a small handful
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
salt

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F. 

In a small baking dish, mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon peel and roast in the oven for 6 minutes or until the lemon is crisp and golden (it shouldn’t be brown!). Set the oil and roasted peel aside.

In a heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil, season the lamb fillet with salt and pepper and brown for 1 1/2 -2 minutes on each side. The meat should stay pink to keep its juiciness. Wrap the fillet in aluminum foil and set aside for a few minutes.

Drizzle a little of the lemon oil on a slice of bread and cover with a few rucola leaves. Cut the lamb fillet into thin slices and spread on top of the greens. Scatter over some strips of Moroccan lemon, roasted lemon peel, capers and lemon oil. Sprinkle with some crushed black pepper and close with another slice of bread.

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

Here are all of the eat in my kitchen x The Bread Exchange sandwiches we created so far:

Sainte-Maure Chèvre, Rosemary Oil and Olive Sandwich

Roast Apricots on Turmeric Bread with Cardamom Crème Fraîche

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich

 

Lamb, Lemon, Rucola and Caper Sandwich