Beetroot, Chickpea, and Fetta Salad

Admittedly, I am not exactly a salad specialist. And I am probably the farthest thing from a vegetarian that you can find. But, as is the custom in my wife's family, I was asked to bring a salad to last year's Christmas Day - and that meant the search was on for something unique and tasty that fits our Christmas-in-summer climate. 

Almost a year ago, through a recommendation by Pepe Saya, we popped over to Kitchen by Mike for lunch and tried a few different dishes that they had. The focus that day was mussels but we were intrigued by their roast chicken with harissa and the variety of salads on offer. A few days before Christmas we popped by and had an amazing lunch - we both had the chicken but I had their beetroot salad. And was intrigued. 

I believe that Mike actually might cover this salad in his book but I decided to wing it on my own - part of my stop-following-recipes-to-the-letter resolution. I think it turned out pretty good and I found a nifty little secret with the beetroot that allowed me to put this together in under five minutes of effort, flat.

This should serve about 8 people. You'll need:

  • 1 packet packed baby beetroot (the secret weapon)
  • 500g can chickpeas
  • 200g creamy Feta cheese (probably Danish)
  • 1 bag spinach leaves
  • 1/2 red onion
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1tbsp dijon mustard

Now here's the lowdown on the beetroot. Usually, you would roast the beetroots, remove the skins, cool, and then slice. This could take close to an hour and is error prone and messy. Enter the pre-prepared baby beetroot packets cropping up all over Australia. For $3 you can avoid all the whole roasting debacle and you'll end up with pretty much the same result. Nice!

First, macerate the red onion by cutting it in half and then slicing, and covering with red wine vinegar in a cup. Let it stand for 30 minutes. Remove the beetroots from the packet and cut each beetroot into eight pieces. Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly.

Combine the balsamic, olive oil, and mustard with a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk or shake to combine. Set aside.

Add the spinach to a large salad bowl and then pour in the chickpeas. Remove the onion from the vinegar and scatter over the salad. Crumble and sprinkle the feta on top and then add the beetroot pieces. Cover generously with the dressing and mix. Voila! An amazing summer salad. And I bet you won't miss roasting those beetroots...

Zucchini Linguini with Pancetta and Homemade Ricotta

We don't eat a lot of pasta in the Gourmet Male household but lately I've been contemplating creating a light summer dish with linguini. So when I recently made some homemade ricotta I spotted a perfect opportunity to create a new dish. It's a twist of a couple recipes I've tried in the past but with a few added components that I think make it a knock out meal. And just perfect for summer. It's zucchini linguini with pancetta and homemade ricotta. 

zucchini linguini.jpg

To make it, you'll need (serves 2):

  • 250g fresh or quality linguini
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 slices pancetta
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • handful chopped mint and parsley
  • 4 tbsp homemade ricotta
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt, pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. While the water is heating up, mince the garlic and zest the lemon. I swear by a Microplane, by the way. Grate the zucchini with the large holes on a box grater. It should look like this:

zucchini.png

Crisp the pancetta slices in a grill oven and then chop roughly and set aside. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and also set aside.

Once the water is boiling drop the pasta in and cook for approximately 8 minutes. While the pasta is cooking heat up a small frying pan with the olive oil. Sautee the garlic for a minute and then add the lemon zest and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and fry for about 3 minutes.

Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and reserve a bit of the cooking liquid. Toss in the zucchini mix and 3/4s of the ricotta and mix. Add a bit of the cooking liquid to the pasta and then mix once more. Plate the pasta, adding the cherry tomatoes and pancetta and a little of the ricotta on the side. Serve and enjoy! 

Buffalo Wings and Bleu Cheese Dip - A Classic!

I'm pretty surprised that I haven't talked about Buffalo Wings on Gourmet Male until this point but it's always been everyone's favourite party food that I cook a couple times a year. And they are dead easy to make. In my opinion, nothing is more enjoyable on a sunny summer day than a massive platter of wings, veggies and bleu cheese, and some cold beers.

buffalo wings.jpg

I can't take credit for this recipe as the original Buffalo Wing recipe was developed over at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY in the States. But it's one of those dishes that has taken on many, many different variations over the years and across the globe. I prefer to stick closely to the original, which requires sourcing Frank's Red Hot Sauce here in Australia. Luckily, USA Foods carries a number of varieties and sizes, as well as heaps of other American foods.

I deep fry the wings but you can bake them, if you prefer. To make the wings you'll need:

  • 1 kg mini chicken drumettes (you can get these from chicken shops - ask for the unmarinated versions of whatever they have)
  • 175ml Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • 100ml melted butter
  • dash of paprika
  • dash of dried cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce until properly blended. Deep fry the wings for 8 minutes at 180C and then dry over some paper towels. Once the grease is drained pour the sauce over the wings and mix.

Chop up some carrots and celery and add this bleu cheese sauce. You'll need:

  • 50g soft bleu cheese
  • 100g sour cream

Melt the bleu cheese in the microwave and then mix with the sour cream. Serve with the wings and veggies. Enjoy!

Let us know this summer if you try this recipe and if you have any favourite variations.

Watermelon and Bleu Cheese Salad

Summer is almost here in Sydney and it's time to come up with some tasty and refreshing salads to go with the usual BBQs that pop up all over the city this time of year. Recently, I put together a starter salad that I saw in a Jean-Georges cookbook a while back. I definitely saw a few concerned looks when the guests saw what the salad was made of but quickly I was racing to make more as the platter was empty within minutes. So here's my Watermelon and Bleu Cheese Salad.

Transient

This is an extremely simple salad to make. What's key is to make sure the watermelon is seedless and cold and the bleu cheese is smooth and warm. To make it you'll need:

  • 1/4 seedless watermelon
  • smooth blue cheese (enough to cover each watermelon piece)
  • olive oil
  • coarse sea salt
  • pepper

Cut the watermelon into cubes, about an inch by an inch. Scatter on a platter and crumble the blue cheese over the pieces, making sure there is plenty for the number of pieces. Drizzle the platter with olive oil and sprinkle salt and fresh pepper.

I have to say, this was an incredible flavour combination and so refreshing. Actually, if I were you I'd double the quantities as you'll be asked for more!

Please, by all means let us know what you think of the recipe. Enjoy.