Many recipes are merely starting points, the foundations for a skyscraper's worth of variations, alternatives and tweaks. For me, a recipe shouldn't be seen as gospel; it's there to give you ideas and inspiration rather than represent the only way. As Nikki Segnit explains at length, in Lateral Cooking, a recipe is merely one expression at a single point along a vast continuum of alternatives.
Indeed, the two recipes below are shining examples of such philosophy.
The beetroot recipe could have the addition of ground cumin seed; it could be made with grilled halloumi in place of crumbled feta or you could replace the pomegranate molasses with grape molasses and a little lemon for acidity... The courgette recipe is in its most simplest form. You could easily build on the flavour profile by adding more herbs, some salty cheese, maybe some anchovies or capers.... Ultimately it comes down to balance, creativity and playfulness. Be bold, experiment!
Beetroot with pomegranate, feta and dill
This recipe is super quick and requires no cooking. Peeling and grating the beetroot is the hardest part of this recipe so you’ll be amazed at how delicious it tastes. Serve alongside other salads as part of a lunch in the garden or enjoy on its own with some lovely bread.
- 2 medium beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tsp Maldon salt (1/2 tsp normal fine sea salt if you have no Maldon)
- 100g feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill
- Black pepper
Simply mis the grated beetroot with the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, salt, some black pepper and half the chopped dill. Allow this to marinate for around 15 minutes and give it a stir from time to time.
Spoon into a serving dish (after checking for seasoning), top with the crumbled feta and sprinkle over the remaining dill
Chargrilled courgettes with lemon and mint
This recipe is fantastic served with grilled lamb or fish. Alternatively, you could serve it as part of a larger mix of dishes served mezze/tapas style. Feel free to use the recipe as a starting point, it’s delicious as it is, but easily built upon; working a little crushed garlic into the flavoursome marinade would be delicious; sprinkling some feta cheese would create something a little more substantial; adding some olives would create a salty note… So many options for building up layers of flavour.
- 2 medium courgettes, sliced on the angle into 5mm slices
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of one lemon
- A handful of finely chopped fresh mint
- Maldon flaky sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Toss the courgettes in a little olive oil so that they are covered in the merest film of oil.
Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat and add a single layer of courgettes to the pan. You may well need to do this in batches. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until nicely charred. Be sure not to move the courgettes around in the pan once they start cooking; this will lead them to bleed moisture all over the pan, create steam and they will never char.
Once nicely charred on both sides, transfer to a bowl and finish cooking the remaining slices.
Drizzle over a liberal amount of extra virgin olive oil (3-4 tbsp should do it), sprinkle over some salt, plenty of black pepper and the lemon zest and mix gently with your hands, incorporating the fresh mint as you go. Cover and allow to marinate for 15 minutes before serving.