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Food / Wine

Back to School recipes from Natoora

By Natoora Natoora
07/09/2011

Stuffed Courgette Flower

 

12 courgettes flowers
250g ricotta
2 tbsp mint leaves
1 lemon
pepper
30g Parmesan
100g plain flour (plus a little extra for dusting)
120ml sparkling water
vegetable oil (for frying)
4 tbsp. black olives (halved)
250g datterini vine tomatoes (halved)
handful or fresh wild rocket
2 long shallots
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice

  1. First make the salad so that it absorbs all the lovely flavours. Halve the black olives and datterini tomatoes and place in a bowl with the finely chopped shallots. Add the balsamic and olive oil with a good squeeze of lemon and leave to sit in the juices.
  2. Shred the mint leaves, then mix together the ricotta, and squeeze of lemon juice. Grate the parmesan and add to the mix with a good amount of freshly ground pepper.
  3. Carefully open those lovely courgette flowers. Using a teaspoon, fill them with the mixture and twist the flower shut leaving no gaps for the ricotta to escape from
  4. To make the batter, pour the fizzy water in a bowl and gradually add the flour through a sieve. Whisk as you do this to add air and leave no lumps. The batter should have a consistency of pouring cream.
  5. Heat enough oil in a high-sided frying pan to come to about 3 cm. Make sure the oil is hot but not smoking.
  6. Quickly dip each flower in the batter, swirl them around so they are completely covered, and then pop in the pan (carefully!). Deep fry for around 1 or 2 minutes until the batter has crispened and is golden. Remove with tongs and drain on a paper towel.

Serve with the side salad of rocket and the marinated olives and tomatoes.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Aubergine

Serves 2

2 large aubergines, preferably the round variety
extra virgin olive oil
2 balls of mozzarella
1-2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
a small baking tray

 

  1. Wash, top and tail the aubergines peel off alternate stripes of skin. Then slice lengthways in 1cm thick slices. Ideally, do this the night before, layer in a pasta drainer sprinkling some rock salt on each layer, then put a heavy weight on top (usually a pot full of water does the trick) and leave to rest in the sink. The aubergines will lose quite a bit of water overnight. The following day, pat each slice with kitchen paper to dry them further. This step helps a lot as it improves the final result (you’ll get a meatier, less watery bake) but it’s not essential, so if you don’t have time just skip this bit.
  2. Fry the aubergines in hot oil, but try to use as little as possible as aubergines will soak up a lot of oil resulting in a very heavy and greasy bake. Leave to rest on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. If you have dried the aubergines overnight with salt, then they probably don’t need any seasoning. If you haven’t, then add salt to taste (consider they will flavour the tomatoes as well). Mix the tomatoes with the crushed garlic and some freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Now start building your parmigiana. Put a spoonful of chopped tomatoes (you can use passata if you prefer a creamier result) on the bottom of the baking dish, then place a layer of aubergines on top. Top with more tomatoes, finely chopped mozzarella, basil and parmesan. Repeat until you run out of aubergines, making sure the last layer of parmesan is quite generous. Bake for half an hour at 200C, serve hot.

Spaghetti with San Marzano Tomatoes

Serves 2 as a main

250g spaghetti
4 San Marzano tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
basil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
pepper
fine sea salt
rock sea salt

 

  1. Boil a pot of water for the pasta, when boiling quickly blanch the tomatoes for a few seconds. Scoop them out and cool under running water. This will help the skin peel off very easily, so that you’re left with only the pulp. Top the tomatoes and cut in half lengthways, then cut in long strips. Put the fillets on a pasta drainer and toss with some fine sea salt so that they will lose any excess water. Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. When ready, put some rock sea salt into the water and start cooking the pasta.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, brown the garlic and sautee the tomatoes for a minute or so, on a high heat. Remove from the heat, adjust with salt if necessary, toss the spaghetti with the fillets and plate up. Drizzle with olive oil and a crack of pepper, then add the torn basil. You can add Parmesan or Pecorino if you wish.

Hot Plum Chutney

750g ripe plums
500g bramley apples - peeled and chopped
1 large clove of garlic - peeled and finely chopped
225gr red onions - peeled and chopped
100g sultanas
1 fresh chilli, finely diced (or to taste)
1 tsp mustard seeds
100g granulated sugar
200ml white wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100ml port

 

  1. Stone the plums and chop if necessary. Put them into a large saucepan with the garlic cloves, onions, apples, sultanas, chilli, mustard seeds, sugar and 100ml of the white wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Simmer for 30 minutes, until tender. Add the remaining white wine vinegar and the port. Cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring often, or until thickened. If it still seems a bit runny, simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  3. Place into sterilized jars, seal in a hot water bath and store in a cool dark place for at least two months before using. Refrigerate once opened. Use to accompany cold meats and cheese, or use in sandwiches.

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