29 Nov 2021

Cookery: A Mediterranean taste with a uniquely Greek flavour

Tasty meals for summer days

Cookery: A Mediterranean taste with a uniquely Greek flavour

Sunshine salad with golden beetroot, orange and fennel

Try these three recipes from Under The Olive Tree: Recipes From My Greek Kitchen by Irini Tzortzoglou

Pan-fried red mullet, courgette and pine nut risotto recipe


(Serves 2)

For the red mullet:

4 fillets of red mullet

25ml extra virgin olive oil

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the risotto:

750ml fish stock

50g pine nuts

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

100g risotto rice

100ml dry white wine

1 courgette, cut into matchsticks

For the sun-dried tomato cream:

6–7 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained

2tbsp Greek yoghurt

2tbsp double cream

50ml extra virgin olive oil

2tbsp white wine vinegar

A pinch of dried rosemary

For the pickled radishes:

50ml white wine vinegar

50ml water

25g sugar

4 small red radishes with leaves attached, thinly sliced


1. Heat the stock in a saucepan, then keep it on a low to medium heat during the rest of the cooking process. Bring a small frying pan to a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and shake the pan while they turn a golden colour. Empty out on to a small dish and leave to cool.

2. To make the sun-dried tomato cream, place all the ingredients in a small blender with half the cooled pine nuts and blitz to a smooth cream. If your blender is not powerful enough, you may need to pass the cream through a sieve to remove any tomato skins. Taste and adjust the flavour with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, or a drop of lemon juice. Spoon the cream into a squeezy bottle or a piping bag, or into a small bowl, and set aside.

3. To pickle the radishes, put the vinegar, water and sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Add the sliced radishes and leave to cool.

4. To make the risotto, bring a sauté pan to a medium heat. Add the olive oil and shallot and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and the rice and toss to coat them in the oil. Cook for two to three more minutes, then add the wine and cook until it has evaporated.

5. Start adding the stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly and not adding more until the previous ladle has been absorbed. Towards the end of the cooking time (about 20 minutes), add the courgettes. When the risotto is fully cooked, stir in the rest of pine nuts.

6. To fry the red mullet, wash the fillets and pat dry. Put a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Lay the fish in the frying pan skin-side down and press down gently, using a spatula. Try not to overcook the fish, as its flesh will toughen – depending on the size of the fillets, two or three 3 minutes should be enough.

7. When the fish is cooked, transfer it to a plate and season with a little lemon juice and flaky sea salt. To serve, spoon some risotto into the middle of each plate, place two red mullet fillets on top, followed by a few pickled radishes, and drizzle the sun-dried tomato cream all around the plate.

Sunshine salad recipe with golden beetroot, orange and fennel


(Serves 4)

A handful of pistachio nuts

4–5 golden beetroots, preferably with their stalks

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

A sprig of fresh thyme

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 oranges

1 packet of watercress

2 baby gem lettuces

1/2 a fennel bulb, fronds reserved

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beetroot stalks:

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A squeeze of lemon juice

For the dressing:

300ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 1 unwaxed orange

20ml lemon juice

1tsp orange blossom honey

50ml extra virgin olive oil

Seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed

1cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Roast the pistachios on a baking tray for five to seven minutes, then put aside to cool. Cut the stalks off the beetroots and set aside.

2. Wash and dry the beetroots and place them on a piece of foil large enough to wrap them completely. Drizzle them with a little oil, season with salt and pepper, then add the sprig of thyme and the garlic cloves, wrap well and place in the oven. Check after one hour by inserting a knife into the beetroots, though they may need as long as one-and-a-half hours, depending on their size.

3. Wash the stalks and cut them into pieces about 5cm long. Drop them into a pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes, until soft but still with a bit of crunch, then drain and rinse under cold water. Put them into a bowl with a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon, and season.

4. Take the beetroots out of the oven when cooked and leave to cool. Peel, thinly slice and put into a bowl. Drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper.

5. Peel the oranges and divide into segments, discarding the membrane. Rinse and drain the watercress. Trim the ends off the lettuces and slice them horizontally into 0.5cm-thick rings. With a vegetable peeler or a mandolin, shave the fennel.

6. To make the dressing, bring the orange juice and zest to the boil in a small saucepan, then boil until reduced by half. Place in a small blender and add the lemon juice, honey, oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and blend to a thick consistency. Add the cardamom seeds and grated ginger and give it a good stir.

7. On a flat serving plate, arrange the beetroot slices, watercress, fennel shavings, orange segments and baby gems in layers, scattering some of the beetroot stalks here and there. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and scatter over the roasted pistachios and fennel fronds.

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