Zucchini-onion tian & zucchini salad









Zucchini glut and how to cope

Every year there is the inevitable zucchini glut and even if we are far away from my Mum’s garden to be regular recipients of said glut our weekly veg box can be trusted to contain some sort of courgette (aka zucchini or squash). So, time to hastily add a few zucchini recipes that require minimum effort and work since leisure time for lengthy prep or delicate tweezer action suddenly has become a rare luxury in this house, wonder why…

First a simple zucchini and onion tian, a Provençal gratin where I veer away (just a little) from tradition by arranging the vegetable slices in a fan rather than fitting them snug upright in the namesake earthenware dish. It looks pretty and shortens the cooking time considerably – these days a necessary requirement of any dish we’ll have. Thyme adds its irresistible resin perfume reminiscent of the Provençal hills and makes this a great side dish to lamb (little cumin coated lamb brochettes are my latest favourite) or a grilled fish like sea bass.

Secondly, a light summer salad and absolute of mine: thin zucchini slices in a lemony dressing. Even when made ahead of time zucchini keep a firmer texture and some bite unlike the similar tasting cucumber would. I shave long ribbons of small green and yellow courgettes (no big squashes here) with a mandolin or vegetable peeler and dress these courgette pappardelle quite simply with lemon juice, oil, salt & pepper. You can’t get a lighter but substantial salad that lends itself to any main dish, said lamb brochettes again a firm contender these days. The recipe for those should come soon (hopefully) but I’ll have to make them again since I am much too greedy hungry these days and wolf anything down in record time (in the spirit of ‘Eating-while-it’s-hot’).



zucchini-onion tian

Zucchini-onion tian

Feeds 2-3 people as a side dish. Loosely after Stéphane Reynaud.


2-3 medium Zucchini
3 small onions
a few sprigs of thyme
olive oil
salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 375° F.

Cut zucchini into 5mm rounds, onions into slightly thinner slices. Arrange alternately in an ovenproof dish big enough to have a slanting fan of zucchini & onion slices rather than them being tightly packed like a roll of coins. Place thyme sprigs in the gaps, sprinkle with a generous splash of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and slightly browned around the edges.





Zucchini salad


Thin green & yellow courgettes / zucchini
lemon juice
olive oil
salt & pepper


Shave thin slices of zucchini / courgettes with a mandolin or vegetable peeler and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper to taste.




Deutsche Rezepte:

Zwei Zucchinigerichte um der reichen Zucchiniernte Herr zu werden. Beide, ein leckeres Gratin und ein frischer Salat, schmecken sehr gut zu kleinen Lammspießchen, deren Rezept (hoffentlich) bald hier erscheint.


courgette-onion gratin


Für ca. 2-3 Personen als Beilage. Inspiriert von Stéphane Reynaud


2-3 mittelgroße Zucchini
3 kleine Zwiebeln
einige Zweiglein Thymian
Salz & Pfeffer


Backofen auf 180°C vorheizen.

Zucchini in dicke Scheiben schneiden, die Zwiebeln etwas dünner. Abwechselnd in einer ofenfesten Form fächerartig schichten (und nicht wie üblich für eine Tian diese dicht an dicht wie eine Rolle Münzen). Thymianzweige in die Zwischenräume legen, großzügig mit Olivenöl beträufeln und mit Salz & Pfeffer würzen. 20-30 Minuten backen bis das Gemüse gegart ist und an den Rändern leicht gebräunt ist.






Dünne grüne & gelbe Zucchini
Salz & Pfeffer


Die Zucchini in dünne Scheiben hobeln (geht am besten mit einer Mandoline, aber auch einem Gemüsehobel oder –schäler) und mit Zitronensaft, Olivenöl, Salz & Pfeffer anmachen.



Salad with smoked trout and pickled mustard seeds










One of my favourite starters this year, a delicate herb salad of beautiful reds & greens supports smoked trout with piquant pickled mustard seeds – each one a tiny caviar pearl bursting with flavour. Is there a better combination than dill, trout and mustard as a start to a nice dinner, oh – did I mention quails eggs yet? Cooked to waxy-soft perfection (achievable in just 2½ minutes!) they are my favourite part of any starter. A quick but quite elegant salad with minimum hassle and no tweezers, easy to prepare in advance if you so wish and light enough not to completely fill you up before anyone has even mentioned the main course. You know, just a little something that awakens your appetite and does not extinguish it, a real appetizer. Continue reading

chickpea salad with cucumber, tomatoes & peppers










This is my go-to-salad for a barbecue. It is rather quick to make (once chickpeas are cooked or substituted by tinned) and its bold, punchy flavours pair extremely well with anything grilled or charred: robust skirt steak and herb-marinated lamb, flash-griddled squid (1), red mullet or snapper (2) or as my husband would hasten to point out: sausages & ribs. The chickpeas provide substance as well as a nice bite and take it far away from limp and watery while cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes add crispness and crunch all the way. Seasoned with a little dose of spice and woodsy-ness (3) from wonderful Piment d’espelette, a dash of cumin, parsley and a final flourish of mint and lemon to deliver another boost of freshness. In short, it is the opposite of boring. Continue reading

Green mango salad












Can you believe it, until a few months ago I never had a proper green mango salad! A botched version once made from a fruit caught in limbo between unripe and tasteless was quite off-putting but let’s just forget the sad & sorry thing. This Thai classic is glorious, a revelation, it’s like a refreshing bath in a cold mountain pool or the ice-bucket challenge, it wakes all those slumbering taste buds and is an absolutely wonderful companion to seafood.  Continue reading

Beetroot ‘carpaccio’









This fabulous winter starter may sound a little fancy, bordering on pompous but apart from the original beef carpaccio, beetroot may be one of the few thinly sliced things to come close to be called after the eponymous Venetian painter of beautiful reds, Vittore Carpaccio. His precious vermillion, ruby, intense scarlet & carmine reds made the contemporary of Bellini, Mantengna, Giorgione and the young Titian the proper patron of the famous Harry’s Bar’s classic and maybe even the humble sliced beetroot. Just look at the beautiful burgundy-coloured beetroot slices, Carpaccio would have happily lend his name to this vegetarian version. Continue reading

Pea shoot salad with bacon wrapped chèvre

Pea shoot salad with chèvre

Make honey-rosemary goats cheese for a meat-free version, see note in recipe below. Deutsches Rezept unten.


I am still totally amazed how much a salad leaf can taste of peas, well that sounds odd but you know what I mean. Wispy pea shoots with their tender tendrils do not only look absolutely pretty, their fine taste is a surprise as well and makes them a great addition to any mixture of salad leaves.

A total stickler for old(-fashioned) or forgotten foods, I am happy to come across some things on the local farmers markets or the great abundance of the Frankfurt Kleinmarkthalle but others, I have to grow myself. I miss having a garden every season but especially in spring when everything around suddenly bursts into green growth and you see your plants progress. I grew up in a garden, my grandfather’s garden to be accurate, where I spend all of my childhood. My grandfather picked me up from Kindergarten every day on his bicycle and after lunch he, my grandmother Anni & I went to the garden. We dug, sowed tiny seeds for carrots into neat rills drawn into the ground with a stick, weeded the flower beds, watered the plants with a heavy, long yellow & black marked rubber hose (which looked quite like a snake), burned the cut offs in a rusty old drum and cooked the first potatoes in the fire. My swing was attached to branch of the pear tree and I happily played in the mud and needed to have a great soak & scrub down before my parents came to collect me in the evening. Paradise. I neeeeeeed a garden. Anyway, to compensate I am growing raspberries, forest strawberries & a great number of herbs and the occasional bean on our balcony. Plus the pea shoots, of course.

Pea shoot salad with chèvre

For the salad: first plant your peas! I am not kidding.

Pea shoots grow rapidly and are big enough for a salad in about 10-14 days. You can literally watch them grow which is rather great for children and very impatient people and instantaneously creates the feeling of great satisfaction that you have grown your own food (on a window ledge or flower pot). All you need are some dried green peas from the grocery store & the flower pot, window box or tiny corner of your vegetable patch. Throw a handful of peas onto the soil, press the peas with your flat hand lightly into the ground and cover with a thin sprinkling of earth (1cm or ½ inch). Water and keep the soil moist from now on every day. Tadaa! As I said, you will be able to watch them grow and within a fortnight harvest your first pea shoots & tendrils when they have reached about 5-7cm or over 2 inches. Can’t eat them all? Grow them a few days more into robust little stems of 15-20cm for stir-fried pea shoots.

Clearly, this is a brilliant vegetarian salad / starter / appetizer if you leave the bacon and drizzle the creamy goats cheese rounds with a little honey & a few rosemary needles and give it a quick broil in the oven. Mhmhm, feeling hungry already.




Pea shoot salad with bacon wrapped chèvre

Makes a lunch main course for one; also a great starter for a menu: increase salad and figure one goats cheese per person (or more for hungry people)

a handful of pea shoots (about 20 sprigs)
baby spinach & other salad leaves
¼ yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons cooked broad beans
a few radishes, thinly sliced
a small shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white balsamic or cider vinegar
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil
salt & pepper
2 small rounds of creamy goats cheese (chèvre)
2 rashers of streaky bacon (not too thick cut)
4 rosemary needles
a tiny spritz of olive oil


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350° F) or use the grill / broiler.

Arrange all the salad ingredients on a plate or platter. Make the vinaigrette from mustard, vinegar, oil, salt & pepper.

Wrap the goats cheeses in bacon, cross-wise is best and stick a few rosemary needles into the parcels. Heat an ovenproof pan over a medium-hot heat, add a tiny bit of olive oil to prevent sticking and fry the bacon wrapped goats cheeses on both flat sides until the bacon is lightly browned. Place your pan into the oven or under the grill to quickly cook the rest of the bacon before the cheese melts (a little melting is ok & definitely wanted). For the vegetarian version place the cheeses in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with a little honey and a few chopped rosemary needles and broil or grill swiftly for the same result (warmed cheeses but not totally melted). Place onto your salad, drizzle with vinaigrette and serve with a few slices of ficelle or baguette.



Salat mit Erbsensprossen und in Speck gewickelter Ziegenkäse

Für einen Salat zum Mittag oder auch eine tolle Vorspeise: dafür nur die Salatmenge erhöhen und eventuell nur einen Ziegenkäse pro Person einplanen (hungrige Leute bekommen zwei)

1 Handvoll Erbsensprossen (ca. 20 Stengel, einfache Pflanzanleitung: Erbsen pflanzen, mit dünner Schicht Erde bedecken, wässern, nach 10-14 Tagen 5cm große Sprossen ernten)
Baby Spinat & andere Salatblätter
¼ gelbe Paprika, gewürfelt
2 EL gekochte & gepalte Saubohnen
ein paar Radieschen, dünn gehobelt
1 kleine Schalotte, fein gewürfelt
1 TL Dijonsenf
1 EL weißer Balsamico oder Apfelessig
3 EL Haselnussöl
Salz & Pfeffer
2 kleine cremige Ziegenkäsetaler (chèvre)
2 Scheiben Bacon oder Frühstücksspeck (nicht zu dünn)
4 Rosmarinnadeln
ein wenig Olivenöl


Backofen auf 180°C vorheizen oder den Grill benutzen.

Die Salatzutaten auf einem Teller oder einer Platte arrangieren und die Vinaigrette aus Senf, Essig, Öl, Salz & Pfeffer zubereiten.

Die Ziegenkäse jeweils kreuzweise mit einer Scheibe Bacon umwickeln und Rosmarinnadeln in die Päckchen stecken. Etwas Olivenöl in eine ofenfeste Pfanne geben und die Käse bei mittlerer Hitze von beiden flachen Seiten leicht bräunlich braten. Dann die Pfanne in den Ofen oder unter den Grill geben um den restlichen Speck zu garen. Dabei sollte der Käse nicht völlig schmelzen (ein leichte Schmelze ist aber durchaus erwünscht). Für eine vegetarische Version die Käse mit etwas Honig und Rosmarin bestreuen und in einer ofenfesten Form gleich im Ofen erwärmen oder kurz unter den Grill platzieren. Die warmen Käse sofort auf den Salat geben, mit der Vinaigrette beträufeln und mit Ficelle oder Baguette servieren.

green asparagus, tomato & avocado salad

Back home. There is a smell of spring in the air, daffodils & tulips are out, magnolias are in bloom and it is cold but sunny with no icy winds (I love New York but the wind can be biting). The market stalls are filled with vernal vegetables (ups, no kale anymore) and I picked up a lovely bunch of green asparagus and some avocados to fit my most immediate need for some kind of a hangover cure. Long flights & jet lag always make me hanker for bright, savoury & tangy food with quite a bit of salt added. Where did they say, that astronauts need to have strongly seasoned food in space because the taste weakens considerably in space? Substitute high altitude for space, add a tiny bit of tiredness with a dash of hypochondria and that is me today.

Well, green & fresh food is what I am after now. Don’t think I haven’t eaten very well & very healthy in the past two weeks (ignore the giant Cuban Steak sandwich or the Sturgeon bagel right before take-off). Cooking in NYC is sometimes challenging: tiny kitchen, no dishwasher, extremely limited counter space, check, check, check. On the other hand it is fun & easy since you have all the great/my favourite shops & fantastic markets with their abundance of the choicest produce and beautiful displays (oh, I missed them so so much) at your doorstep or a short subway trip away. I have a myriad of new ideas and recipes that I can’t wait to try out & experiment with.

Tip: To make sure you do not get any tough asparagus pieces, I use this method of snapping the spears between my two hands until the hard fibrous bit breaks of naturally. There is a more economical method, too, which you might want to use if you had to sell a kidney to pay for the green gold (here, anyway): peel the skin of the asparagus ends if there is tough skin or you’ve got white/purple pieces to render them edible.

German version at the end / Deutsches Rezept am Ende.


Green asparagus, tomato & avocado salad
serves 2 as a main or 4 as a small starter or side dish

1lb or 500g (a German pound) green asparagus
1 avocado
250g vine or grape or cocktail tomatoes (= 20 small tomatoes)
2 green or spring onions (optional)
fresh coriander
2-3 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
juice of one lime (adjust to taste, sometimes half a lime is enough)

Wash & trim the asparagus: snap off the tough ends by bending the spear between your hands until it breaks naturally or peel the hard skin off the bottom quarter if they are tough or white/purple (see tip above). Cut the green asparagus in 4-5cm or 2 inch pieces and blanch them for 5-7 minutes in generously salted water, drain and refresh in ice water.

Peel the avocado and cut into chunks, halve the tomatoes & cut your spring onions on the bias into thin rhomboids. Mix the asparagus, avocado chunks and tomatoes in a bowl, sprinkle with the spring onion and coriander leaves and season with soy sauce, sesame oil and lime juice to taste. Ideally the salad should rest for a while and you need to check & adjust the seasoning again.

Salat aus grünem Spargel, Tomaten & Avocado
Für 2 Personen als Hauptgericht oder 4 als kleine Vorspeise oder Beilage

1 Pfund grüner Spargel
1 reife Avocado
250g kleine Strauch- oder Cocktailtomaten (= 20 Tomaten)
2 Frühlingszwiebeln (optional)
frischer Koriander
2-3 TL Sojasauce oder Tamari
2 TL Sesamöl
Saft einer Limette (nach Geschmack, manchmal reicht auch eine halbe)

Den Spargel waschen und putzen: eine Stange zwischen zwei Händen halten bis das holzige Ende abbricht oder wenn man es ökonomischer möchte: die harten oder auch teilweise noch weiß-violetten Enden einfach schälen. Den grünen Spargel in 4-5cm große Stückchen schneiden und in großzügig gesalzenem Wasser 5-7 Minuten kochen, dann in Eiswasser abschrecken. Die Avocado schälen und in größere Stücke zerteilen, die Tomaten halbieren und die Frühlingszwiebeln schräg in dünne Rhomben schneiden. Alles in einer Schüssel mischen, den Koriander darauf streuen und mit Sojasauce, Sesamöl und Limettensaft nach Geschmack würzen. Idealerweise sollte der Salat eine Weile ruhen & muß dann natürlich noch einmal abgeschmeckt werden.


Sunday supper: Za’atar roast chicken, kale salad & Piri Piri sauce

Piri Piri sauce by the james kitchen
Piri Piri sauce, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.


Two weekends ago we had a very nice and simple Sunday supper: Roast chicken with Za’atar, the fragrant Middle Eastern spice blend which combines woodsy thyme, tart sumac & nutty sesame seeds (Za’atar is very easy to find nowadays or to make your own, recipe here), sweet potatoes, a spicy Piri Piri sauce (listen, I do not claim this to be the authentic recipe, this is more ‘a sort of Piri Piri’ sauce) and to round it all of with a kale salad in a creamy-garlicky Caesar dressing with crisp Panko on top. We liked the curly kale salad that much (I did mention the dressing, did I?) that we build last Sunday’s supper around it as well and I am happy to report that it is good company to Macella Hazan & April Bloomfield’s gorgeous Veal shank with white wine & shallots (this is a video), too.

We Germans know or eat curly kale (Grünkohl) mostly as a hot dish, cooked with potatoes and smoked or cured meats & sausages or in particular area of Northern Germany it comes with a Barley sausage called Pinkel which is almost vegetarian and tastes much better than it looks. Some plates heaving with the works illustrate accurately what people commonly associate with German food but done right (and in smaller portions) Grünkohl is a fantastic dish and can be every bit as elegant and refined & veerrry tasty on top. Note to self: Better make it soon then.

Anyway, eating raw curly kale (Grünkohl) or black Tuscan kale (Lacinato kale, Cavolo nero, Palmkohl) might still pose as quite a discovery or novelty, I think, but even if you are a little timid and dub it as a bit too healthy & fibrous for you, let me assure you, slathering it in a Caesar dressing certainly makes up for that. See it as an initiation drug. The massaging (weird, I know, though effective) takes care of the hard fibres and softens both kale and hands.

Recipes in German: see next post / Rezepte auf Deutsch: siehe hier.

Sunday supper:
Za’atar roast chicken with sweet potato wedges, Piri Piri sauce & garlicky kale ‘Caesar’ salad

Za’atar Roast Chicken:
1 whole chicken (around 1.5kg or 3lbs, free-range or organic)
2-3 teaspoons Za’atar
salt & pepper
olive oil

Take your chicken about 1 hour to 30 minutes before you want to cook it out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400° F).

Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle generously with the Za’atar spice blend. Place in the oven and roast for about 1 hour until the juices run clear (cut into the space between the legs & body). Serve whole & carve or cut into pieces.

Shortcut Piri Piri sauce:
adapted from Food & Wine Januar 2013; shortcut: I substituted the spicy Harissa paste instead of chopping various chiles

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red (bell) pepper, finely chopped (if you want it even faster, buy fire-roasted peppers in oil and blend)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup (60ml) water
2 tablespoons (or to taste) spicy Harissa
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the pepper, onion & garlic and cook over low heat for about 12-15 minutes until they are soft. Stir from time to time. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and blend into a puree. Season, adjust the spicyness to your taste and decant into a bowl or glass. Leave for one hour for the flavours to meld.

Sweet potato wedges:

1 sweet potato per person
olive oil

Wash the sweet potatoes and cut it (skin on) into wedges, toss with olive oil and season with salt. Place onto a preheated baking sheet and roast in the oven (200°C or 400° F) along the chicken for about 30-40 minutes depending on the thickness of your wedges. Stir a couple of times.

Garlicky kale salad with parmesan & panko:

This wonderful kale salad has curly kale cut into ribbons, squeezed = massaged & tossed in a lovely Caesar(-ish) dressing with roasted garlic and is finally sprinkled with parmesan and crunchy panko breadcrumbs. The recipe can be found on Tori Avey’s blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen.