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Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto, Lemon and Fried Chickpeas

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto

A couple days ago, we left Berlin to visit the gardens of Sanssouci Palace a few miles outside Berlin. The palace used to be the Prussian king, Frederick the Great’s summer residence, built in the 18th century. The building itself is beautiful but the terraced garden is stunning. I love being there in summer, when it’s all lush, green and in bloom but there’s a certain melancholic mood woven into the misty air on a cold, grey day that fits this time of the year perfectly. It’s pure silence, no leaves left on the trees, the marble sculptures high up on their pedestals looking down on us, wrapped in jackets and scarves on our way to another one of the park’s winter attractions, a Christmas market and its warming mulled wine.

When we got home I felt so frozen that I promised myself I’d make a rich soup the next day. I cooked canned chickpeas and potatoes in broth, puréed it into a velvety, smooth soup and sprinkled it with fresh rucola pesto, lemon zest and fried chickpeas. It’s a great winter soup, thick and refreshing, and just right before tomorrow’s feasting begins.

I wish you a wonderful and peaceful Christmas with your loved ones. Enjoy the moments of love, joy and good food! xx

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto

 

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto, Lemon and Fried Chickpeas

For 2-4 people

For the soup

olive oil
medium onion, chopped, 1
garlic, crushed, 2 large cloves
potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes, 250g / 9 ounces
canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 250g / 9 ounces, reserve 4 tablespoons for the topping
vegetable broth 900ml / 3 3/4 cups
bay leaf 1
salt
ground pepper
nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
ground cumin 1/8 teaspoon

For the pesto

rucola (arugula) leaves 60g / 2 ounces
parmesan 25g / 1 ounce
pine nuts 25g / 1 ounce
olive oil 75 ml / 1/3 cup
salt 1/8 teaspoon

For the topping

freshly squeezed lemon juice
olive oil
lemon zest
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

You won’t need all the pesto for the soup but I don’t like making pesto in small batches. We used the remaining pesto to spread on toasted dark bread, which we enjoyed with the soup.

For the soup, heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onion on medium-heat for a few minutes until golden and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and chickpeas, stir and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the broth, add the bay leaf, and season with a little salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

While the soup is cooking, purée the ingredients for the rucola pesto in a blender or food processor. Season to taste and set aside.

For the fried chickpeas, heat a splash of olive oil in a small, heavy pan on high heat. Add the reserved chickpeas, close with a lid immediately (the chickpeas will pop) and fry for 1 minute or until golden. Take the pan off the heat.

When the potatoes are soft, discard the bay leaf and purée the soup in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cumin to taste, bring to the boil, and simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Divide the soup between bowls, drizzle with a little lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkle with rucola pesto, lemon zest, crushed pepper and the fried chickpeas.

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto

 

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto

 

Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto

 

chickpeapotatosouprucolapesto6

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

What an amazing anniversary! Thank you so much for your sweet wishes and support of eat in my kitchen. It’s been a perfect celebration of an extraordinary year and the beginning of a new chapter, the second year of the blog!

Let’s start the new week with an easy pasta dish, chickpeas (canned, so there’s no soaking and cooking involved), grilled aubergine slices, lemon and basil! I got the inspiration for this composition from a sandwich which is very popular in Israel, it made it onto the blog last January, the fantastic Sabih. Velvety  hummus, grilled aubergines and a boiled egg on juicy homemade olive bread, it tastes divine! Our godchild’s father told me about this sandwich classic from his home country, he praised it with such passion that I had to try it. It became a new standard, with great potential to inspire various recipes. For my linguine, I left out the egg, although I think it would have fit but instead I added lemon and basil for an aromatic southern Mediterranean feeling. The aubergine and chickpeas were so smooth, almost sweet, that it needed a bit of a contrast, a task that my beloved lemon zest always manages with ease.

When I grill aubergines, I always prepare two or three of them right away. You can use them for your pizza or roll them up with ricotta. Although they need (and soak up) quite a bit of olive oil, I found that you can minimize it by stacking them on top of each other as soon as you take them out of the oven. I brush them with a thin layer of oil on both sides before they cook. Don’t worry, they tend to look a bit dry at first when they are done but they will turn into perfect juicy and oily bites after a couple minutes of soaking and softening each other.

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

 

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

 Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

For 4 people you need

linguine 400g / 14 ounces
chickpeas, canned, rinsed and drained, 300g / 10.5 ounces
large aubergine, cut into 1/2cm / 1/4″ slices, 1
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
olive oil
salt and pepper
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, for the topping, to taste
lemon zest, for the topping, to taste
basil leaves, a small handful

Cook the pasta in salted water al dente and keep some of the cooking water.

Brush the aubergines with olive oil on both sides, season them with salt and pepper and grill them in the oven until golden brown on both sides, they will darken partly but that’s fine. Mine needed 7 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other but that depends on the oven. Set the aubergines aside and stack them, that will keep them moist and soft. Cut them into thick slices.

In a pan, heat a splash of olive oil, add the garlic and cook it for 1 minute on medium heat. Add the chickpeas, season with salt and pepper, close with a lid and cook for 4 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the pasta and a little of the water they cooked in and season with salt. Stir in the aubergine and sprinkle with the crushed black peppercorns, lemon zest and basil.

Enjoy warm or with short pasta as a salad.

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

 

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

 

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

 

Linguine with Chickpeas, Grilled Aubergine and Lemon

Melon, Mint and Lemon

Melon, Mint and Lemon

One of the great things about living in the Mediterranean in summer is that you can find fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables at every street corner. Farmers offer their harvest of the morning on little open vans, ripe tomatoes, zucchini, aubergines, the sweetest peaches, melons, grapes and the biggest bunches of basil I’ve ever seen in my life. They are so big that you have to hold them with both of your hands! These mobile shops are the social meeting points of each street or village. It’s a beautiful scene of women buying their groceries for the next days, checking the quality of the offers, exchanging gossip and enjoying the fresh air before the heat takes over again.

My trusted vegetable man, Leli, comes to Msida twice a week, a humble man with beautiful eyes as blue as the Mediterranean sea! Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to meet him yet. He comes to our village on Tuesday and Friday in the morning and I was busy driving around on the island on both days. Jenny told me that his face lit up with a big smile when she told him that we were soon to arrive! I asked her to buy some vegetables for me before I arrived and she bought me one of the sweetest melons that I have ever eaten. It was like honey, so juicy and ripe!

We enjoyed a couple slices before I threw a handful of mint leaves from Jenny’s garden on top. Then I drizzled some fresh lemon juice over the yellow fruit, a tip a got from my Maltese auntie Sandra. It’s perfectly refreshing on these days that push to almost 40°C (104°F) on the thermometer! All you need is a very ripe Galia melon – Bettiegh in Maltese – skinned and cut into slices, a handful of fresh mint leaves, the juice of half a lemon and the heat can come!

Melon, Mint and Lemon

 

Melon, Mint and Lemon

 

Melon, Mint and Lemon

 

Melon, Mint and Lemon

Lemon Goat Cheese Tartine with Sango Radish Sprouts

Lemon Goat Cheese Tartine with Sango Radish Sprouts

Sango radish sprouts! Their deep purple caught my attention and was the initial inspiration for my sandwich, tartine in this case as it’s made with a single slice of bread. The colour is mesmerizing, the shades change between a dark violet, almost black, a vibrant green and a dull brown. At home, when I looked at the box with the spouts on my table, the fragile plant reminded me of sea anemones, glowing and a bit unreal. The first bite was more familiar than their look, they taste a bit like pepper cress, spicy and fresh.

A dip just as fresh as the sprouts was my idea for this tartine, in white to achieve a strong contrast to the purple (I couldn’t resist to focus on the look of this week’s sandwich as well). I’m very much into goat milk products at the moment, soft cheese, hard cheese, cream cheese and yoghurt, the flavour that it adds is strong but never overpowering. This time I went for a light yoghurt and stirred in some cream cheese and mascarpone to give it more texture and creaminess. I bought a rustic baguette which is more juicy and tasty than the normal one, it’s almost oily on the inside.

For my dip I whisked 125g / 4.5 ounces of goat milk yoghurt with 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of mascarpone. To add a bit of tanginess I mixed in 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and seasoned the creamy dip with salt and pepper to taste. I spread it on 8 slices of baguette and sprinkled the tartines with a handful of Sango radish sprouts ( you could also use pepper or water cress) and a little more lemon zest.

Lemon Goat Cheese Tartine with Sango Radish Sprouts

 

Lemon Goat Cheese Tartine with Sango Radish Sprouts

 

Lemon Goat Cheese Tartine with Sango Radish Sprouts

 

Lemon Goat Cheese Tartine with Sango Radish Sprouts

Lemon-spiced Chicken Wings with Cumin, Harissa and Mint Yoghurt

Lemon Cumin Chicken Wings with Mint Yoghurt

Chicken wings are often underestimated, unfortunately. Their tasty meat is packed in between the bones which keeps it juicy and due to the short roasting time it doesn’t dry out. There isn’t much meat on the wings which is an advantage to me as I prefer a small portion of meat especially when it’s getting closer to summer and the temperatures rise. It’s definitely enough for a spicy treat together with some aromatic cumin, harissa, lemon juice and a few slices of my Moroccan preserved lemons (which you could replace with lemon zest).

The spices and lemon made a delicious skin, golden and crisp after 20 minutes in the oven and packed with wonderful aromas. I like to eat the wings with my fingers, to feel their sticky juices and dip them in a refreshing sauce of yoghurt, sour cream, lemon and mint.

You could also throw them on the grill which would add some smoky flavours or take them out with you on a summery picnic. It’s almost June and my mood calls for an early summer picnic with friends and lots of pots and plates of delicious food, so one dish is already sorted!

Lemon Cumin Chicken Wings with Mint Yoghurt

Lemon-spiced Chicken Wings with Cumin, Harissa and Mint Yoghurt

For 2 people as a main you need (we had half for lunch)

chicken wings 8
olive oil 4 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons
cumin 1 teaspoon
harissa 1 teaspoon
black pepper, crushed, 10 peppercorns
preserved lemon, sliced, 1/4
(or lemon zest 1 teaspoon)
coarse sea salt

For the yoghurt dip
yoghurt 4 tablespoons
sour cream 2 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
mint leaves, chopped, 10
salt and pepper

Set the oven to 210°C / 410°F top / bottom heat.

Whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice, cumin, harissa and black pepper and stir in the slices of the preserved lemon or the lemon zest. Place the chicken wings in a baking dish or on a baking sheet and coat with the spice oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 20 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Mix the yoghurt, sour cream, lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper and whisk until creamy.

We ate this with a simple green salad on the side and some baguette to dip into the juices. The French bread was also great with the yoghurt dip although Naan bread would have been more authentic.

Lemon Cumin Chicken Wings with Mint Yoghurt

 

Lemon Cumin Chicken Wings with Mint Yoghurt

 

Lemon Cumin Chicken Wings with Mint Yoghurt

Zucchini, Bell Pepper and Aubergine Moussaka with Lemon Ricotta

Moussaka

My Moussaka, truth be told, is a fruity ratatouille baked with a fluffy lemon ricotta soufflé on top. The traditional Greek Moussaka is made with a Béchamel sauce which I’m not too fond of. I like this creamy sauce in my lasagna or cannelloni but that’s it. The ricotta tastes much lighter, enhanced with lemon zest, nutmeg, parmesan and fresh basil, it gives this dish more of a summer feeling. Contrary to the Greek version, I kept mine vegetarian, there’s no minced meat involved, just zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, red onions, lots of parsley and a velvety layer of fried aubergine slices in between the vegetables and the cheese. It stops the ricotta from running into the juicy ratatouille.

When I cook a ratatouille I always make a big batch. This moussaka is perfect as a second day dish for ratatouille leftovers. Topped with the ricotta it just has to bake in the oven for half an hour, great if you have friend’s over for dinner and not much time for preparations! I baked it in small casserole dishes closed with a lid so that each of us could have our own little pot.

Moussaka

 Zucchini, Bell Pepper and Aubergine Moussaka with Lemon Ricotta

I bake the Moussaka in two 12,5cm / 5″ casserole dishes with lids, you could use a big one instead but you may have to bake it a bit longer for the ricotta to set.

For 2-3 people you need

small aubergine, sliced into circles, 1
zucchini, sliced into circles, 1
red bell pepper, thinly sliced, 1
big red onion, quartered and thinly sliced, 1
big tomatoes, chopped, 4
garlic, thinly sliced, 3 cloves
parsley, chopped, 2 tablespoons
Balsamico vinegar 2 tablespoons plus more to taste
olive oil for frying
salt and black pepper

For the topping
ricotta 260g / 9 ounces
organic eggs 2
parmesan, grated, 30g / 1 ounce
small basil leaves, chopped, 30
lemon zest 1 teaspoon
lemon juice 1 teaspoon plus more to taste
(I also added in a little of the liquid of my Moroccan preserved lemons)
nutmeg, ground to taste
salt and pepper

Spread the slices of aubergine on a baking dish and sprinkle with salt on both sides to pull some of its water out. Let it sit for around 15 minutes, rinse the slices and dry between kitchen roll paper. In a large heavy pan, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the aubergine for a few minutes on both sides on medium temperature until golden and soft, add a little more oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil and fry the onion for a few minutes until golden and soft. Add the bell pepper and garlic and fry for 2 minutes before you add the zucchini. Fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes and deglaze with 2 tablespoons of Balsamico vinegar. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Add the parsley and season with Balsamico vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

For the topping, mix the ricotta, eggs, parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Set the oven to 200°C / 390°F top/ bottom heat.

Divide the vegetables between the 2 casserole dishes, cover with 3-4 slices of aubergine and spread the ricotta mixture gently on top. Cover with lids and bake for around 35 minutes until the ricotta mixture is set.

Moussaka

Ricotta stuffed Zucchini in White Wine Sauce

Zucchini stuffed with Lemon Ricotta

When we have friends over for dinner, my mood always decides what treats I bring to the table. There are two options, I either feel like a sumptuous meal with several courses which might mean cooking for one or two days and which definitely requires good organisation before and on the night and most importantly enough time to enjoy all the preparations. The other approach is to take it easy and choose recipes which don’t need a rigid plan. I just fill the table with plates full of food before or as our friends arrive and we all enjoy the night together. Eating, talking and laughing, drinking some wine of course, savoring and emptying the plates for hours. This was my choice when I had a dinner for 10 ahead of me a few days ago!

Some of our friends from Malta just moved to Berlin a few months ago. I know how much Maltese love and miss their home and food when they live abroad so I decided to make a traditional Maltese recipe, zucchini stuffed with lemon ricotta. I would have loved to get the small round courgette (Qarabaghli in Maltese) which would have been perfect for this recipe as you can close the stuffed fruit from the top. I worried that the ricotta would run down the sides of my long zucchini when I closed them but it worked fine. I cooked them for an hour in white wine together with the fried pulp of the fruits and some onions. Just a little of the creamy cheese went into the sauce and added some nice creaminess.

In the late afternoon, I cooked the zucchinis and left them al dente. I didn’t want them to turn soggy as I had to warm them up again before our guests arrived. I filled my dining table with three different kinds of quiche which are very easy to prepare in advance and I can’t really say if I prefer them warm or cold (here’s one of my recipes). Two loaves of homemade bread and a big batch of my raspberry chocolate brownies were on my list as well, both are great nibbles for a long night. When we all gathered around the table and I brought the dish with the steaming zucchini I didn’t know that the night would go on for so long – our last guests left at 5 in the morning or so I was told, I fell asleep on the sofa at 4!

Zucchini stuffed with Lemon Ricotta

Zucchini stuffed with Lemon Basil Ricotta in White Wine Sauce

For 2 hungry people or for 4 when you have starters, you need

zucchini / courgette, cut in half (lengthwise)  2 (around 500g / 1 pound)
ricotta 200g / 7 ounces
parmesan, grated, 20g / 1 ounce
organic eggs 2
basil, chopped roughly, 10 big leaves
lemon zest 1 teaspoon
salt 1/2 teaspoon
crushed black pepper
medium sized onion, chopped finely, 1
garlic, cut in half, 2 cloves
parsley 3 sprigs
white wine 1 glass
tomato paste 1 tablespoon
olive oil for frying

Whisk the ricotta together with the parmesan, eggs, basil, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Scrape the pulp out of the zucchini with a small spoon and set aside. Season the inside of the zucchini with a little salt and pepper and fill both sides with the ricotta mixture. Close them just before you put them into the casserole.

In a large pot or casserole with a lid (big enough for the zucchinis), fry the onions in a little oil till golden and soft on medium heat. Add the garlic and the pulp and fry for 2-3 minutes, deglaze with some white wine and add the sprigs of parsley. Put the stuffed zucchini on top of the onions, add some more wine (1-2cm / 1/2-1″ of the bottom should be covered), close with a lid and cook for 1 hour on low – medium heat. Check after 2o minutes, you may have to add some more wine, the bottom should remain covered.

When the zucchinis are soft at the bottom and al dente at the top, take them out with 2 spatulas, carefully, and set them aside. Take out the parsley, add the tomato paste to the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the zucchini together with the sauce.

Zucchini stuffed with Lemon Ricotta

Sicilian Spaghetti with Bottarga di Tonno

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

Marzamemi! This is the name of a picturesque fishing village in southern Sicily in the Syracuse region. It’s right by the sea, with two churches – an old and a new one – both dedicated to the village’s patron San Franceso built around the historic piazza which is, as in every Mediterranean village, the lively centre especially at night.

Two years ago we spent an evening in Marzamemi, strolled through the narrow alleys, between the old limestone houses where  fishermen used to live. We passed a beautiful artisan market which was still open at night and enjoyed the sight of all the restaurants which had placed their long tables outside in the piazza where families already filled the air with laughter and the delicious smell of seafood. We couldn’t wait any longer to join them and went straight to the restaurant at the sea where our table was waiting for us, but as we wanted to sit down we spotted an old storehouse with a big, open gate and people walking in and out. Curiosity was still stronger than our appetite, so we took a look.

We went inside a huge hall piled high with fish products, mainly made of bluefin tuna but also anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and swordfish. I discovered food I had never seen before, tuna salami for example, I had to buy it! It tasted interesting, salty, something I would have to eat a few times and try out a few combinations to get used to it. They also sold the famous Bottarga di Tonno, the dried roe pouch of bluefin tuna. If it’s in one piece, you slice it thinly over spaghetti, grated you sprinkle it over a quick pasta dish. Its taste is distinct and salty, it comes from a fish with a strong flavour and you can taste it!

I haven’t eaten it since my last visit to Sicily so I was happy to finally open a jar of grated Bottarga di Tonno again and mix it with my pasta. I like to add some lemon (juice and zest), garlic, parsley and coarsely crushed black pepper.

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

Spaghetti with Bottarga di Tonno, Lemon and Parsley

For this meal I suggest you warm up the plates in the oven.

For 2 people you need
(the amounts are matched to taste, just play around and season to your own taste)

spaghetti 200g / 7 ounces
olive oil 6 tablespoons
garlic, cut in half, 2 cloves
grated Bottarga di Tonno 4-6 heaped teaspoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
lemon zest 2 teaspoon
parsley, chopped, 4 heaped tablespoons
salt and coarsely crushed black pepper

Cook the pasta in lots of salted water till al dente.

Heat up the oil in a sauce pan, add the garlic and take the pan off the heat, let it infuse the oil for a couple minutes and add the lemon juice.

After the pasta is mixed with the warm oil and divided between the plates, sprinkle with parsley, lemon zest, pepper and salt and add the bottarga di tonno to taste.

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

 

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

 

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

 

Pasta with Bottarga di Tonno, Parsley and Lemon

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