Three fun recipes to brighten up your week

Psoaked in bulgur, soft cheese and hazelnuts, this pumpkin dish is spicy, crunchy, sweet, creamy – and absolutely delicious.

“Pumpkin puree adds sweetness and moisture, but you can skip it if you want to save time or effort,” says Josh Katz. “Myzithra cheese is a soft, whey-based Greek cheese that can be hard to come by. Alternatively, use soft, crumbly goat cheese or ricotta.”

Pumpkin baked with chili

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

For pumpkin puree:

¼ small pumpkin (about 300 g), peeled and cut into pieces

75 g brown sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt flakes and ground black pepper

For lemon dressing:

1 garlic clove, minced or grated

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

90 ml extra virgin olive oil

1½ tablespoons rapeseed oil

Sea salt flakes and ground black pepper

For fried pumpkin bulgar with chili:

¾ small pumpkin (about 900g), cut into 1cm thick slices

60 ml olive oil

30 g light brown sugar

2 tbsp. l. Aleppo pepper flakes (pul biber)

2 tbsp lemon thyme leaves

120 g bulgur

Handful of dill and parsley, chopped

40 g hazelnuts, toasted

40 g capers, drain and rinse

100 g mizithr or soft fresh whey cheese

Method:

1. For the pumpkin puree: Place the pumpkin in a steamer over boiling water and steam for 12-15 minutes until completely soft. Transfer to a food processor, add sugar and lemon juice and blend until smooth.

2. Transfer the puree to a saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes until it thickens and acquires a rich taste. Remove from heat and let cool until needed.

3. For lemon dressing: Combine garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, and oils in a small bowl, season generously with salt and black pepper, and whisk to combine.

4. For Chile Baked Pumpkin Bulgar: Preheat oven to 220°C (400F)/200°C with fan/gas 7.

5. Dredge pumpkin in olive oil, sprinkle with sugar and chili flakes, and season generously with salt and black pepper. Transfer pumpkin to a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle lemon thyme on top, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and slightly burnt.

6. In the meantime, prepare the bulgur, pour boiling water over it in a small bowl and let it soak for about five minutes. Drain the water, pierce the grain lightly with a fork to prevent it from becoming lumpy, and set aside to cool.

7. Mix bulgur with chopped herbs, hazelnuts and capers and add 60 ml of lemon dressing. Tabbouleh should be light and spicy, not wet and heavy. Check for seasonings and adjust accordingly.

8. Scoop the pumpkin puree into the bottom of a plate, top with the pumpkin and bulgur mixture, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

Zucchini galette

This biscuit is perfect for a summer lunch.

(James Murphy/Pennsylvania)

Katz calls it “a simple, light biscuit that’s perfect for a summer lunch or as part of a spread at your next garden party.

“Serve with fresh, savory mixed leaf lettuce and you’re done.”

Serves: four

Ingredients:

For the chili honey dressing:

1 tablespoon honey

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 red chili pepper, blackened, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt flakes and ground black pepper

For biscuits:

200 g mascarpone

100 g cream fresh

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, grated

250 g store-bought buttered puff pastry, cut and rolled into two 30 x 20 cm 3 mm thick rectangles, each cut in half to make 4 smaller rectangles

1 egg yolk

100 g manuri cheese

1-2 large zucchini, very thinly sliced

2 teaspoons thyme leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

1. For the chili honey dressing: Place the honey, lemon juice and chili in a small bowl and slowly pour in the olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

2. For biscuits: Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C with convection/gas mark. 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. In a bowl, combine mascarpone, sour cream, lemon zest and garlic and beat until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

4. Place the dough rectangles on a baking sheet covered with baking paper and brush the edges of the dough with egg yolk, about two centimeters from the edge. Gently pierce the center with a fork, five or six times for each square.

4. Brush the center of each with the mascarpone mixture, crumble the manouri cheese and arrange the zucchini slices on top, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with a little thyme, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, puffed up around the edges and the base is crispy.

5. Arrange the biscuits on serving plates and drizzle liberally with the chili and honey sauce. Serve immediately while still warm.

Precious tahdig

You will need patience and perseverance for this tahdig

(James Murphy/Pennsylvania)

“Tahdig (pronounced tah-dig) is a Persian dish that translates to “pot bottom,” a reference to the crispy, golden brown layer of rice that forms at the bottom of the pot,” explains Katz.

“Improving technique requires practice, patience and perseverance.”

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

300ml verjuice

100 g powdered sugar

80 g currants

60 g barberry

80 g pumpkin seeds

40 g pistachios

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sea salt flakes

360 g basmati rice

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

75 g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

1½ tablespoons natural yogurt

20 g rice flour, mixed with cold water until gruel forms.

2 egg yolks

Method:

1. Bring the right juice and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add currants and barberries. Remove from heat and set aside, allowing fruit to soak in juice for 30 minutes to soften and swell. Drain the water and set aside until required.

2. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C with convection/gas mark. 3. Dredge pumpkin seeds and pistachios in olive oil and season with salt. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and crispy. Set aside to cool.

The book features a mixture of cuisines from the Middle East to North Africa.

(Kyle Books/Pennsylvania)

3. Rinse the rice in a bowl of cold water and swirl it several times with your fingers to separate the starch. Repeat the process two or three times until the water runs clear. Drain the water and set aside. Lay the bay leaf and fennel seeds on the muslin and tie a knot to make a bouquet garni. Fill a 20cm pot halfway with water, add the bouquet garni and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir a few times, bring back to a boil and cook over medium heat for five minutes until the rice is slightly soft but still firm. Drain the rice and let it cool briefly under cold water so it doesn’t cook any more, then let it sit in a colander for a few minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet, spread into a thin layer and leave to cool completely.

4. Grease a non-stick pan with oil. Take one third of boiled rice and place in a large bowl with yogurt, one third of melted butter and rice flour slurry. Stir. Spread this rice evenly in a thin layer across the bottom of the prepared pan. This will form a tahdig. Top with the remaining boiled rice, periodically adding three-quarters of currants, barberry, pumpkin seeds and pistachios (reserve the rest for garnish), working in layers to form a mound. Don’t tamp the rice. You need to spread it in small layers so that there is room for the rice to expand. Wrap the lid of the pot tightly with a clean kitchen towel and place on top so that it fits snugly. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook for 12-15 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, drizzle the remaining oil around the edges.

5. Just before serving, dig a small well in the top of the rice and carefully add the egg yolks. Coat the yolks with the rice and, using the plate where the lid once was, carefully invert the rice onto the plate. Serve immediately, topped with the remaining pumpkin seeds, pistachios, raisins and barberry.

Berber&Q: On Vegetables by Josh Katz (published by Kyle Books, £25; photography by James Murphy), available now.

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