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Ombre tomato tart

This recipe doesn’t even deserve to be called a recipe - it’s more of an idea on how to make a quick and effective snack with summer heirloom tomatoes. The ombre tart is bound to get you some attention and compliments, so, in case you had no idea what to bring for the next potluck picnic/barbecue/garden party, I just solved this challenging problem. No need to thank me.

The to success is to get the right tomatoes. The more different shades you’ve got, the more spectacular the ombre effect. You could also use the ombre idea to prepare something else, like a salad patter.

Recipe: Ombre tomato tart

Ingredients
  • one sheet puff pastry
  • a handful heirloom tomatoes of various colours and shapes, thickly sliced
  • 50 g Greek feta cheese
  • 1-2 branches rosemary, chopped
  • one tsp olive oil
  • one tsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Roll out the pastry on a parchment paper, forming a rectangle.
  • Place tomato slices on the pastry - group the colours together and try to achieve a fluent transition from one shade to another.
  • Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and evenly sprinkle with sugar, salt and rosemary.
  • Top with crumble feta.
  • Place in the hot oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

Roasted summer vegetables

Roasted vegetables are great as a light lunch or dinner. Try roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto, baby artichokes with feta dip and round courgettes with cherry tomato sauce.

Surely, they would be even greater, if grilled and consumed in a garden, by the lake or in a park. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. For instance, one might not have a garden, a lake or a grill. Unexpected rain can also disrupt an al fresco dinner. Another reason could be a group of wasps.

It was during my sailing holidays in Croatia. I have spend the entire day gutting fish, squid and octopus that I'd bought on a market, geatting ready for a BBQ evening. When we'd finally managed to find a picturesque little bay and tie up the boat, we realised there were countless wasps coming to our yacht and we had to run away. We ended up staying in a marina where barbecueing was not permitted and I had to make the squid and octopus in the oven.

What lesson can be learned from this story? Probably the fact that anything that you might want to barbecue, you can also make in the oven. It doesn't always work the other way around, but in this case it does - I have prepare these recipes for the oven, but you can make the vegetables on the grill too.

Recipe: Roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • a bunch asparagus
  • one tsp. olive oil

Recipe: Basil and sea salt pesto

Ingredients
  • one cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
Method
  • Blend basil with olive oil.
  • Add salt, combine.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Trim asparagus' ends. Coat asparagus with olive oil.
  • Roast at 180C for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with pesto.

Recipe: Roasted artichokes with sizzling feta dip

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4-6 baby artichokes
  • one tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • one tsp lemon zest

Recipe: Sizzling feta dip

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
Method
  • Prepare a bowl with cold water with lemon juice. To prevent artichokes from discoloration, keep the cut ones in the bow before you're ready to roast them.
  • Cut the stalks off the artichoke. Pull off the tough leaves. Cut the artichoke in half. Spoon out the inner leaves and the fuzzy choke. Very young artichokes might not have the choke.
  • Combine oil and lemon juice, coast artichokes with the mixture. Place them in a baking dish and top with lemon zest.
  • Roast at 200C for aboit 25 mintes.
  • Combine feta with oil and lemon juice.
  • Place in a ramekin and bake with the artichokes for 20 minutes.

Recipe: Roasted round courgettes with roasted tomatoes sauce

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 round courgettes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • tsp olive oil

Recipe: Roasted tomatoes sauce

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Cut the tomatoes in halves and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar.
  • Roast at 150C for about 45 minutes.
  • Cool down and blend.
  • Cut the courgettes in halves and coat with oil. Place them in a baking dish and top with chili flakes.
  • Roast at 200C for about 35 minut.
  • Serve with tomato sauce.

Duck egg and chorizo in tomato sauce

Duck eggs have been my favourite breakfast item for a while now. Personally, I don't think there's much difference in taste between chicken and duck eggs, although the latter are supposed to be more intense. I like them for two reasons. Firstly, they're larger, whiter and simply prettier. Secondly, a larger egg means a larger yolk. And I really love yolk!

Recipe: Duck egg and chorizo in tomato sauce

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 duck eggs
  • one tbsp. of butter
  • one small onion, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • one red bell pepper, sliced
  • 50g of Spanish chorizo, sliced
  • one tsp of sugar
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
Method
  • Melt butter in a skillet, add onions and saute them.
  • Add chorizo and red bell pepper, cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and sugar, simmer until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • In the meantime, fry the eggs in a separate pan.
  • Place eggs on top of the tomato sauce and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

Greek salad

What is the last time you had Greek salad? Personally, I have forgotten about it for a while, probably in an unconscious attempt to block out the memories of many bad Greek salads I was served in the 90's. There was always too much lettuce, well, it was mainly lettuce, cleverly covered up with a layer of diced tomatoes and cucumbers, bad olives and poor quality feta. The original version does not include lettuce and it's beauty comes from simplicity and great quality of ingredients. Use ripe heirloom tomatoes, good olives and authentic Greek feta and you no longer need to top everything with vinaigrette. The only adjustment I made was adding crushed chili instead or oregano.

Recipe: Greek salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • a handful of good, ripe tomatoes, you can use different types
  • 1/2 of cucumber
  • a handful of Greek olives
  • 1/3 of red onion
  • thick slice of Greek feta
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. of crushed chillies
Method
  • Cut tomatoes into slices or quarters, depending on their sizes. Slice cucumber and onion.
  • Arrange all the ingredients on a platter, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chili.
  • You can serve it as a meal with grilled pita or as a side salad.

Chorizo and chickpea stew

If you keep dreaming about hearty, warming dishes (l do), this recipe will help you follow your dreams. These might not be the most audacious desires you have, but, let's face it - they're not that time consuming either. The preparation is 15 minutes tops and having done that, all you need to do is sit and enjoy the rich aroma that fills the kitchen. You could even devote that time to some other dreams you have - to rule the world or to bake a chocolate fudge cake. A warming, slightly spicy stew with chorizo, chickpeas, kale and red wine is a perfect start to a cold Thursday afternoon.

Recipe: Chorizo and chickpea stew

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • one large onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red chili pepper, sliced
  • one tbsp. of butter
  • one cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 2-3 Spanish chorizos (300 g), thickly sliced
  • 2 cups of peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • one cup of dry red wine
  • 250 g of kale, sliced
  • one tsp. of coriander seeds
  • one tsp. of cumin seeds
  • one tsp. of brown sugar
  • 2-3 bay leaves
Method
  • Roast coriander and cumin seeds and grind them using a mortar.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter, add garlic, onion and chili and cook through. Add chorizo, cumin and coriander, cook for another minute.
  • Add chickpeas, tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar and wine. Simmer to thicken, for about 30 minutes.
  • Add kale 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
  • Check the seasoning and serve.
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