Veggies on the counter

White Bean and Leek Cakes

Posted in main courses, Uncategorized by veggies on the counter on December 30, 2013

white bean cakes

You know the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The same principle can be applied to food – there are dishes that don’t necessarily look good (like black bean soup or chilli, for instance) but do taste amazing.

On my laptop, there’s a folder with all the recipes from the blog, organized by categories. Inside that folder, there’s one titled “?” where I keep the recipes I’m not exactly sure if I should post up here.  More often than not, those recipes fit into the “ugly-but-oh-so-tasty” category that I mentioned above. There’s the tempeh and mushroom loaf, a version of greek baked beans, and a couple others. They were a nightmare to shoot and I always think they deserve a second chance (photography wise) but, for that to happen, I have to make them again.

The recipe I’m about to share was just an inch away from going into the “?” folder.  I took lots of pictures of it, from different angles and with different plates, but only managed to get two or three that I think are just ok. Part of the reason for that is because this is a recipe that has its roots on the british classic bubble and squeak, a dish well known for its lack of sexiness. In this version, white beans replace the potatoes for a kick of protein, and leeks are used instead of greens just because it was what I had around. The patties come together almost effortlessly and do deliver a lot on the tasting front. Don’t sweat trying to make them look perfectly shaped, though – this is meant to be a simple, uncomplicated dish, where the hearty and rustic flavours are all that matters.

leek comp

leeks

White Bean and Leek Cakes

(makes 4 to 6 patties, depending on the size)

2 large / 250 g leeks, white parts only

450 g cooked white beans (canned is fine)

3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 small bunch / 15 g parsley, finely chopped

salt and black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for seasoning the pan

Cut the leeks in half and wash the halves thoroughly to remove any dirt. Cut each half into thin half moons.

In a frying pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the leeks, garlic and parsley. Cook for 5 minutes or until the leeks are soft.

Transfer the leeks to a large bowl. Add the white beans and mash everything together with a potato masher (don’t overdo it and leave some parts just barely broken down for a bit of texture).  Season the mixture with a bit of salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

Clean the pan in which you have cooked the leeks with kitchen paper towels. Add a generous glug of olive oil to the pan, making sure it covers its surface, and turn the heat on medium. Shape the white bean and leek mixture into patties and add them to the pan. Season each cake with a bit more salt and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown (I like mine almost on the verge of being burnt). Serve with pickled cucumber, mustard, fried capers or whatever you fancy.

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Seasonal Minestrone

Posted in soups by veggies on the counter on September 1, 2010

Surprisingly enough, yesterday – with an outside temperature of 35 degrees -, I found myself sneezing and coughing all the time. I knew I was about to get sick, and started craving a comforting soup and toasted bread, no matter how hot was outside and how sweaty I’d get right after eating those foods. I had some seasonal veggies sitting on the fridge that would make for a good pot of soup, and it didn’t take me long to get my hands at preparing them (peeling, slicing and all), although I must confess I was about to give up a few times during the process and go for a nap. I’m usually very determined when it comes to satisfy my cravings, and the idea that, in the end, I’d get a huge pot of soup that would make my lunches and dinners for the rest of the week, worked out as  the main motivation factor.

I ended up following (although not stricktly) Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a Spring and Summer Minestrone, that I’ve bookmarked from his book Jamie Does. I adapted the recipe to fit what I had on hand, and I guess that’s the spirit of minestrone anyway – use whatever vegetables are in season and that would go well together for a hearty, filling soup. The original recipe for the pesto calls for Parmesan, but as I don’t do cheese, I’ve just ommited this ingredient and had not problems at all. Just bare in mind Parmeasan is quite salty, so use a good pinch of salt in the pesto to work as a substitute and  to balance things out.

Seasonal Minestrone

(serves 6)

200 grams carrots

300 grams zucchini

3 garlic cloves

1 large leek

1 large tomato

a bunch of parsley

2 handfuls watercress

1 cup frozen peas

150 grams short pasta

1 small cabbage

2 liters good tasting stock

salt and pepper

olive oil

for the pesto:

a bunch of basil

60 grams pinenuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 small garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

a pinch of salt

1. Start by preparing the carrots and zucchini: slice each vegetable into quarters, and then slice each quarter into cubes of aproximadetely 0,8 to 1 centimeter thick.

2. Then, thinly slice the leek and garlic cloves.

3. Heat your largest pan on medium heat, add a few glugs of olive oil, the leek, garlic, carrots and zucchini. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Roughly chop the tomato, parsley, and watercress. Slice the cabbage into halves, remove the hard core, and finely shred each half. Add the veggies to the pan.

4. Now, add the peas, pour in the stock, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to low-medium, and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

5. To make the pesto, add the basil, pinenuts, garlic cloves, a pinch of salt and the olive oil to a food processor, and pulse everything for 1 minute, or until the mixture starts coming together into a paste, but isn’t totally smooth. Have a taste and adjust the flavors (adding a bit more of one or another) if needed, bearing in mind you want to find a balance between all the ingredients.

6. Divide the soup among deep plates and top each serving with a good tablespoon of pesto. Drizzle over a little olive oil and add some fresh basil leaves.

recipe inspired  by Jamie Does, published by Penguin Books