Roast Pumpkin, Black Bean and Halloumi Fritters

 

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Most of you would be familiar with the combination of roasted pumpkin and halloumi cheese, you’ve probably seen it on numerous cafe menus. But did you know how brilliantly these two ingredients combine with black beans for a vegetarian fritter out of this world?

I have this thing with black beans at the moment – don’t you?

I keep finding ways to use them in place of some of the other more common pulses like chickpeas and kidney beans. And I reckon they are perfect in these vegetarian fritters. 

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I prefer to plan ahead and use dried black beans because they taste better. And unlike the canned variety they aren’t as mushy. But I guess if you were short on time and needed black beans fast you could use a can of pre cooked black beans, plenty of stores are stocking them now. 

 

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One of the common mistakes with fritters is not having them bind together properly, then they fall apart in the pan as they cook. This is not the case with these fritters. Roasting the pumpkin helps dry it out, and the halloumi cheese with its delightful salty taste and familiar squeaky texture adds a necessary firmness. This is also achieved by the addition of egg and chickpea flour to bind it all together.

So what’s the best way to serve these fritters? There’s several options: In a burger. Broken up and rolled into a wrap. You might eat them with salad or steamed vegetables. There’s so many ways to enjoy them.

But of all these ways, I highly recommend eating them with a squirt of hot chilli sauce, a dollop of sour cream, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Oh, and don’t forget the mild pickled peppers.

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Roast pumpkin, black bean and halloumi fritters 

Makes about 10 large fritters

Ingredients 

1 cup dried black beans

350g peeled  butternut pumpkin, cut into 4cm chunks 

250g halloumi cheese, cut or torn into pieces 

1 cup washed and picked parsley leaves 

1 tsp hot smoked paprika

 Sea salt

White pepper

1 free range egg

chickpea (besan) flour

1/4 cup sesame seeds 

 Rice bran oil for frying

To serve:

Lime – juice and wedges

Hot chilli sauce

Sour cream 

1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded and sliced

Mild pickled peppers 

Place the beans in a bowl, cover them with cold water and soak for 12 hours or over night.

The following day, pre heat oven to 180C. Drizzle the cut pumpkin with oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes, or till soft, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, drain the pre soaked black beans, place in a medium sized pot, cover with water and cook till just soft (about 25-30 minutes). Drain and rinse briefly under cold water. Take 1/2 cup of the cooked black beans and set aside for garnishing.

Place the roasted pumpkin, torn haloumi cheese, picked parsley and smoked paprika in a food processor, blitz till just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Place the remaining cooked black beans (minus the 1/2 cup) in the food processor and lightly blitz, till the beans are broken up but still chunky.

Add the beans to the pumpkin mix. Add the egg and 1/4 cup chickpea flour. Mix till well combined.

Place 1/3 cup chickpea flour and 1/4 cup sesame seeds in a flat tray. Shape the fritters in to 10 rounds and dust each fritter in the flour and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Heat a large non stick fry pan with a shallow covering of rice bran oil, cook the fritters in two batches, on a low heat till golden on both sides. Repeat with remaining fritters.

Take the reserved 1/2 cup of black beans and season them with chopped fresh chilli, lime juice and sesame oil.

You can serve the fritters on a platter, scatter with the reserved black beans, pickled mild peppers and serve with sour cream and chilli sauce.

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Za’atar Carrot Salad with Spiced Yoghurt

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I don’t care that the weather is getting colder and that raw and crunchy foods are becoming less desirable. I still want to eat salad. I love salad. I’m on a roll with eating salads, and I want it to continue. It makes me feel so good!

So, cold raw salads need to be turned on their head. They need to become warm salads that offer comfort. It’s time to start cranking the oven. And one of the best vegetables to roast in that oven is cauliflower.

Once you’ve cut your cauliflower into slices, sprinkle it with za’atar, and drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil before it goes in the oven to roast.

The hint of sumac – a sour berry – in the za ‘atar gives a subtle sweet tang, off set by thyme and sesame seeds, which are also essential ingredients to a good za’atar spice mix. It’s so simple I could cry.

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I’ve used one of those Spirelli vegetable cutters, the ones that curl and spiral vegetables into beautiful long strands, but don’t let this stop you if you don’t have one. Just cut the carrots into thin matchsticks instead.

Creamy dressings go well with roasted vegetables and a spiced yoghurt dressing couldn’t be easier. A few coriander seeds, a few cumin seeds roasted then pounded and sprinkled on the yoghurt; it’s top stuff!

This salad is for one. So boost up the amounts if you’re cooking for others. Not that cooking for others is always necessary; cook for your self this one time. Make this salad for one, and love it for all the right reasons.

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Roasted cauliflower and za’atar carrot salad 

Ingredients

2 cups of sliced cauliflower florets

Extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp za’atar spice mix (look in Middle Eastern stores for an authentic one)

1 medium carrot

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

3-4 tbsp yoghurt

Handful wild rocket leaves

Sea salt

Pre heat oven to 200C

Slice the cauliflower into 2cm thick slices, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, za’atar and sea salt, rub lightly and roast for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the carrot and if using a spirelli cutter spiral the carrot into thick spirals, or use a knife to cut the carrots into thin matchsticks.

After the cauliflower has roasted for 25 minutes, add the carrot and mix lightly. Use a little more oil if the vegetables look dry and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly before tossing through the salad.

Place coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small, dry fry pan, toast till seeds start to pop. Ground lightly in a mortar and pestle.

Place the washed rocket in a bowl, scatter with roasted cauliflower and carrot, dollop over the yoghurt and sprinkle it with the coriander seed mix to suit your tastes.

Eat whilst still warm.

Tomato and fennel chipotle relish

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So what makes a good tomato relish?

Fresh tomatoes (as opposed to tinned) are an excellent start, and if possible, organic tomatoes will improve your relish by a good deal more.

It goes without saying to use onion and garlic. And seeds and spices add their own tributes. Fennel seeds are a favourite of mine. The aniseed taste is perfect with tomato as is cinnamon and all spice.

This is the part in the post where I tell you how much I love chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Are you a fan?

I’m mad for their flavour. Chipotle peppers are ripe Jalapeños that are dried and smoked, the adobo part is the sauce they come in. The sauce should be used too, it’s packed with the same smoky rich taste.

I’ve continuously kept a can in the pantry ever since I discovered I could buy them at my local butcher. Since then I’m seeing them available in more and more stores. Good green grocers are now stocking them and most delicatessens have them too.

 

 

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When I have a jar of this hand made relish in the fridge, I know straight off the bat I can jazz up any type of sandwich. Be it the toasted or the fresh, or on a fried egg roll.

I can spread it on a pizza base and have a hot lunch in no time with the help from just a few olives, feta and grated zucchini.

Or, I can add a spoonful or two to a soup or a stew. To lift its origins.

What about added to  dipping sauce?  Use either mayonnaise or yoghurt with just a few spoons of relish mixed through it to eat with anything deep fried – especially these smoked trout croquettes.

Be sure the efforts of making this relish are worth while – guaranteed to help lessen the ‘staring into the fridge declaring there’s nothing to eat’ scenarios.

 

Tomato, fennel and chipotle relish

Makes about 3 medium sized jars

Ingredients

2 brown onions, sliced thinly

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 kg tomatoes, chopped into large dice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp all spice

2-3 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, chopped finely

125ml (1/2 cup) apple cider vinegar

100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

1 tbsp salt

Grape seed or rice bran oil

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large heavy based saucepan. Add onions, garlic and fennel seeds, cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes, spices, chipotle chillies, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, stir regularly. Cook on medium to low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or till the relish is thickened and the water from the tomatoes has reduced away.

Meanwhile, sterilise 3 – 4 jars – see Tip – and spoon relish in whilst hot. Seal and store in the pantry. Store in the fridge after opening.

Tip : sterilising jars

Pre heat oven to 120C. Place the washed jars, minus any plastic seals in the oven on a tray for 20 minutes, remove and fill jars.

Or, Place jars and lids in a tray. Fill the jars and lids with boiling water, stand for several minutes, then, and this is sometimes the awkward part, pour the hot water out without burning yourself, allow jars to steam dry. Fill jars.