On the weekend I bought a big bunch of fresh mint from my local greengrocer for a Middle-Eastern dish. I was left thinking what to make with still a sizeable bunch left-over. Turn to Sicily!
In Sicily, unlike other parts of Italy, they have a special Eastern Influence on their flavours, because of the island’s special history, this has lead them to use mint as a herb, rather than just a garnish or for sweets. This has produced some real treasures like zogghiu, a minty & pistachio filled pesto. It would normally have some parsley too, but my version still produces a great, fresh & zingy sauce for pasta.
To make you’ll need:
- 200g dried penne (100g per person)
- Half a head of broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 tin of Borlotti beans, drained
For the zogghiu (pesto):
- Bunch of fresh mint (cut the stalks off)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 4tbs rapeseed/ olive oil
- 1tbs pine nuts
- 1tbs pistachios (unsalted & shelled)
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1tbs white wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
- Few mint leaves
- handful of pistachios
Start with the pesto, simply add the ingredients into a food processor and whizz up into a fragrant green paste. Before blending, keep a few mint leaves aside for garnish. Remember to stop half way, scrape the sides down with a spatula and go again, this will ensure a smoother, more even pesto. Then remove and scrape into a bowl.
Put a pot of salted water onto boil, as it gets up to speed, place in the broccoli. Poach until they’re tender, but still have a bright green colour. Remove with a scoop. Place the pasta in and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al-dente. In the last minute of cooking, add in the Borlotti beans. Strain and place back into the pan. Add the florets of broccoli and pour in 1/2 of the pesto. You can store the other half in the fridge or freezer for a future meal. Fold the minty sauce through the pasta and vegetables. Then scoop into bowls. Add a few mint leaves and a handful of pistachios as a garnish, a nod to whats in the very special pesto.
Here’s a way to up-level the almost cliché of budget meals, for Brits at least; beans on toast. My way to have a gourmet dinner after a long day of work.
To make, you’ll need:
- 1 tin of baked beans in tomato sauce
- 1 tin/ carton of butterbeans
- 2tbs tomato purée
- 1tbs sundried tomato paste (optional)
- 1tbs dried rosemary
- 1tsp chipotle chilli powder
- 1tbs smoked paprika
- 2tsp garlic infused oil
- Splash of liquid smoke
- Sprinkle of smoked salt (optional), (I used Falk smoked salt flakes)
For the toast:
- Any bread really, but I’d recommend a nice crusty sourdough
- Vegan butter
The recipe couldn’t be any easier, start by heating your pan on the hob on medium. I’d recommend putting the oven on around the same time, to a temperature of 180°C. You could do the whole dish on the hob, but if you’re using a cast iron Dutch oven, like myself then I advise you should finish them in the oven. As I’m using tinned butterbeans, they can have a strange aftertaste to them and by putting them in the oven to finish, removes that taste and also concentrates the sauce to make a more gourmet dish.
Once the pan is heated up add in your baked beans, just as you would if you were making conventional ‘beans on toast’ and add in the tomato purée, paste and the array of spices. Stir and leave the spices a couple of minutes to cook-out into the tomato sauce. During this time, you should open and drain the butterbeans, but crucially don’t throw the liquid, or aquafaba away- you can use it to thicken up sauces, soups etc.
Add in the drained beans and stir them through the sauce. Leave for a minute or two on the hob before placing the pan in the oven. Place them on a timer for 8 minutes. Whilst the beans are doing their thing in the oven, get the toast ready and buttered. When it’s time to take the beans out, stir throughly and serve. Finish with a sprinkle of smoked salt. I’d recommend pairing the hearty dish with an equally robust IPA.
Feel free to be creative with this recipe, why not add in a pinch of onion powder, a spoonful of mustard or even a splash of beer, the possibilities are endless!