Just Married!

I genuinely don’t think I have ever smiled as much as I have on Saturday – we had the best day celebrating our wedding with all our family & friends and neither of us have really quite come back to earth yet. 

We spent the last couple of days hiding out in the New Forest and are now back in London eating our way through a series of restaurants over the next few days. Berber & Q, Polpo and Hawksmoor here we come.

(photo by Jo Crawford – we can’t wait to see the rest!)

Ottolenghi’s Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Aubergine

I’ve been having a fun time lately going back through my stash of cookbooks in search of some new favourites. This baked orzo from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More is a happy discovery on the way. It’s a far cry from the pasta bakes of my student years (their main feature was a thick carpet of melty cheese on top). Instead this features fried aubergine, lemon zest to add brightness throughout, and a layer of tomatoes on top. There’s still plenty of cheese though – mozzarella is spun throughout as well as hefty sprinkling of parmesan on top.

This is great with a really cold glass of white wine, and a salad alongside for dinner one night, with the leftovers stashed away in tupperware of lunch al desko the next day. Whatever direction you take it in, don’t miss out the lemon zest. For me, it’s what makes this so good, and is a trick I’ve been using a lot lately in tomato-heavy dishes for a little extra flavour boost.

Ottolenghi’s Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Aubergine

Ottolenghi’s Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Aubergine

Ingredients

  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1 large aubergine, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 250g orzo, rinsed well
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 120g mozzarella, torn apart
  • 2 tomatoes, finely sliced

Instructions

  • First, preheat the oven to 200C. Heat the olive oil and fry the aubergines until they start collapsing and are golden brown. Remove from the pan before tossing in the carrot, celery and onion. Let these cook at a lower temperature for 15 minutes until they take on some colour, before adding in the garlic and some seasoning. Add in the orzo and tomato puree, tossing everything well and let them cook for 2-3 minutes, and then return the aubergine to the pan.
  • Pour the orzo mix into a deep rectangular mix, before pouring in the vegetable stock. Mix in the mozzarella and lemon zest, making sure everything is well combined. Place a layer of tomatoes over the top before baking for 40 minutes - by this point the top should be turning golden brown and the liquid all absorbed.
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    Curry Laksa

    Curry laksa has been on heavy rotation in my kitchen for the last year, and I’m still not bored of it. Oodles of thick noodles, plenty of good greens and a really spicy paste make for the most delicious warming bowls of soup for cold winter’s days.

    How to make a delicious vegetarian curry laksa at home
    Put simply, curry laksa is a coconut and chilli based noodle soup, but that description doesn’t really do it justice. Imagine a thin broth, spicy hot but rounded out with coconut so you don’t end up in tears, lashings of coriander and plenty of garlic too. The soup is bulked up with noodles, either traditional thick laska noodles or easier to find udon noodles, as well as anything from tofu puffs, fish or chicken. Sounds good right?

    If you’re doing veganuary, this is an ideal recipe to add into your planning. When you bulk out the soup with mushrooms, spinach and beansprouts (or even the aforementioned tofu puffs, if you can find them), you don’t even notice there’s no meat lurking in there. I always make the full quantity of the spice paste first time around, and then stash half into the freezer for a quick dinner in a few weeks time. Do the same with the coconut milk and you’ll be feeling very smug the next time you fancy making this, as everything is ready to go, and you can just add in whatever vegetables come to hand.

    Curry Laska

    Ingredients

    • Bunch coriander (both stems and leaves)
    • 1 shallot, peeled
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 red chillis, deseeded or not depending on your chilli preferences
    • Thumb sized piece of ginger
    • 1 tbsp neutral oil
    • 150g mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
    • 600ml vegetarian stock
    • Dash soy sauce
    • Half a tin coconut milk
    • Udon noodles or rice vermicelli noodles, pre-cooked
    • Half pack bean sprouts
    • Handful of spinach leaves
    • 1 lime, quartered

    Instructions

  • Start by blending up the first six ingredients in a mini chopper until they make a thick bright green paste.
  • Heat a pan on the hob to a medium heat, add the paste and cook for about twenty minutes until very aromatic. Stir very regularly to prevent from burning.
  • Add the mushrooms and coat well in the paste before pouring in the stock, soy and coconut milk and let cook for another twenty minutes.
  • To serve, reheat the noodles and add them to bowls along with the beansprouts and spinach Pour over the soup and garnish with quartered limes.
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    I’ve taken part in the No Croutons Required link-up for vegetarian soups & salads!