Three non-boring recipes to brighten up your week

·7 min read
This pumpkin dish is spicy, crunchy, sweet, creamy – and totally delicious (James Murphy/PA)
This pumpkin dish is spicy, crunchy, sweet, creamy – and totally delicious (James Murphy/PA)

Paired with bulgur, soft cheese and hazelnuts, this pumpkin dish is spicy, crunchy, sweet, creamy – and totally delicious.

“The pumpkin purée adds sweetness and moisture, but you can leave it out if you’re looking to save time or effort,” says Josh Katz. “Mizithra cheese is a soft Greek whey cheese that can be difficult to source. Alternatively, use a soft, crumbly goat’s cheese or ricotta.”

Chilli-roasted pumpkin

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

For the pumpkin purée:

¼ small pumpkin (approx 300g), peeled and cut into pieces

75g brown sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Flaked sea salt and ground black pepper

For the lemon dressing:

1 garlic clove, minced or grated

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

90ml extra-virgin olive oil

1½ tbsp rapeseed oil

Flaked sea salt and ground black pepper

For the chilli-roasted pumpkin bulgar:

¾ small pumpkin (approx 900g), cut into 1cm slices

60ml olive oil

30g light brown sugar

2 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes (pul biber)

2 tbsp lemon thyme leaves

120g bulgur

Handful of dill and flat-leaf parsley, chopped

40g hazelnuts, toasted

40g capers, drained and rinsed

100g Mizithra or soft, fresh whey cheese

Method:

1. For the pumpkin purée: set the pumpkin in a steamer over boiling water and steam for 12-15 minutes, until completely tender. Transfer to a food processor, add the sugar and lemon juice and blend until smooth.

2. Transfer the purée to a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until thickened and concentrated in flavour. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool until needed.

3. For the lemon dressing: Combine the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and oils in a small bowl, season generously with salt and black pepper and whisk to combine.

4. For the chilli-roasted pumpkin bulgar: preheat the oven to 220C (400F)/200C fan/gas mark 7.

5. Roll the pumpkin in the olive oil, sprinkle with the sugar and chilli flakes and season generously with salt and black pepper. Transfer the pumpkin to a parchment-lined baking tray, scatter the lemon thyme over the top, and roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and slightly charred.

6. In the meantime, prepare the bulgur by covering it with boiling water in a small bowl and allowing it to soak for roughly five minutes. Drain, lightly run a fork through the grain to fluff it, so that it doesn’t become clumpy, and set to one side to cool.

7. Combine the bulgur with the chopped herbs, hazelnuts and capers and stir through 60ml of the lemon dressing. The tabbouleh should be light and sharp, not drenched and heavy. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

8. Place the pumpkin purée on the bottom of a plate, layer the pumpkin and bulgur mixture on top, scatter the cheese over and serve.

Galette of courgette

This galette is perfect for a summer lunch (James Murphy/PA)
This galette is perfect for a summer lunch (James Murphy/PA)

Katz calls this a “simple, light galette that is perfect for a summer lunch, or as part of a spread at your next garden party.

“Serve with a fresh, zesty mixed leaf salad and away you go.”

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the chilli-honey dressing:

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 red chilli, blackened, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Flaked sea salt and ground black pepper

For the galette:

200g mascarpone

100g crème fraîche

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, grated

250g shop-bought all-butter puff pastry, cut and rolled to make two 30 x 20cm rectangles, 3mm thick, each cut in half to make 4 smaller rectangles

1 egg yolk

100g manouri cheese

1-2 large courgettes, very thinly sliced

2 tsp thyme leaves

2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

1. For the chilli-honey dressing: put the honey, lemon juice and chilli in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

2. For the galette: preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Combine the mascarpone, crème fraîche, lemon zest and garlic in a bowl, and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

4. Place the pastry rectangles on the lined baking sheet and brush the egg yolk around the border of the pastry, roughly two centimetres in from the edge. Prick the centre gently with a fork, five or six times for each square.

4. Smear the mascarpone mix in the centre of each, crumble the manouri cheese over it, and arrange the courgette slices on top, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle over a little thyme, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, puffed at the edges and the base is crisp.

5. Slide the galettes onto serving plates and drizzle liberally with the chilli-honey dressing. Serve immediately while still warm.

Jewelled tahdig

You’ll need patience and perseverance for this tahdig (James Murphy/PA)
You’ll need patience and perseverance for this tahdig (James Murphy/PA)

“Tahdig (pronounced tah-deeg) is a Persian dish that translates to ‘bottom of the pot’, a reference to the crunchy golden-brown layer of rice that forms at the bottom of the pan,” explains Katz.

“Perfecting the technique requires practice, patience and perseverance.”

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

300ml verjuice

100g caster sugar

80g currants

60g barberries

80g pumpkin seeds

40g pistachios

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp flaked sea salt

360g basmati rice

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp fennel seeds

75g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

1½ tbsp natural yoghurt

20g rice flour, mixed with cold water to form a slurry paste

2 egg yolks

Method:

1. Bring the verjuice and sugar to the boil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the currants and barberries. Take off the heat and set aside, allowing the fruit to soak in the juices for 30 minutes – they will soften and plump up. Drain and set aside until required.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas mark 3. Roll the pumpkin seeds and pistachios in the olive oil and season with the salt. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and crunchy. Set aside to cool.

There’s a mix of cuisines in the book, from the Middle East to North Africa (Kyle Books/PA)
There’s a mix of cuisines in the book, from the Middle East to North Africa (Kyle Books/PA)

3. Rinse the rice in a bowl filled with cold water and swirl several times with your fingers to release the starch. Repeat the process two or three times until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside. Put the bay leaf and fennel seeds on a muslin and tie a knot, making a bouquet garni. Half fill a 20cm saucepan with water, add the bouquet garni, and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir several times, bring back to the boil and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes until the rice is slightly softened but still firm. Drain the rice and run under cold water briefly to cool to stop it from cooking any further, then leave to stand in the colander for a few minutes. Transfer to a baking tray, spread out to a thin layer and set aside until completely cooled.

4. Butter a non-stick frying pan. Take one-third of the par-cooked rice and place in a large bowl with the yoghurt, a third of the melted butter and the rice flour slurry. Stir to combine. Spread this rice evenly in a thin layer onto the bottom of the prepared frying pan. This will form the tahdig. Layer the remaining par-cooked rice on top intermittently with three-quarters of the currants, barberries, pumpkin seeds and pistachios (saving the rest for the garnish), working your way up in layers to make a mound shape. Do not pack the rice down. It should be layered lightly to leave space for the rice to expand. Wrap the lid of the pan tightly with a clean tea towel and place on top so that it fits snugly. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook for 12-15 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, drizzle the rest of the butter around the edges.

5. Just before serving, dig up a small well in the top of the rice and gently add the egg yolks. Cover the yolks with the rice and, using a plate where the lid once was, invert the rice carefully on to a plate. Serve immediately with the rest of the pumpkin seeds, pistachios, raisins and barberries scattered over the top.

‘Berber&Q: On Vegetables’ by Josh Katz (published by Kyle Books, £25; photography by James Murphy), available now.