The magic of Mediterranean cuisine

Yotam Ottolenghi filming Mediterranean Island Feast for Channel 4. PA Photo/Keo Films/Channel4.
Yotam Ottolenghi filming Mediterranean Island Feast for Channel 4. PA Photo/Keo Films/Channel4.
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Paella with soller prawns and grilled vegetables - Mallorca

(Serves six)

n 4tbsp olive oil

n 1 onion, finely diced (around 290g)

n 2tsp sweet paprika

n ½tsp smoked paprika

n 4 cloves garlic, sliced

n 250ml dry sherry

n 500g paella rice

n 1.5l chicken stock, warmed

n 1tsp saffron threads

n 3 long strips of orange skin

n 400g French beans, blanched

n 2 small courgettes, sliced on an angle 1cm thick

n 2 green peppers topped and tailed and cut into strips 1cm thick

n 200g cherry tomatoes

n 2 lemons, quartered

n 5 spring onions, ends removed, cut into 6cm lengths and quartered lengthways

n 1kg whole prawns, shells on

n Salt

For the parsley oil:

n 40g parsley, roughly chopped

n 2 green chillies, roughly chopped

n 90ml olive oil

n Salt

Start by making the parsley oil; blitz the parsley, chilli, olive oil and quarter of a teaspoon of salt in a food processor, or a mortar and pestle, until almost smooth but maintaining some of the parsley’s texture.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a paella or large saute pan on medium high heat. Saute the onion for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until it’s soft and glossy without too much, if any, colour.

Stir in the spices and garlic and cook for another minute. Pour over the sherry and bubble away for three minutes until it’s reduced by half. Add the rice and cook, stirring for two minutes, until warm and glossy. Add the chicken stock, saffron, orange strips and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, and gently stir so the rice is even in the pan. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked through but still retains a slight bite and the stock is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and leave somewhere warm.

Meanwhile, place a griddle pan on high heat and ventilate the kitchen. In a large bowl toss the beans with half a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the beans and grill for one minute, until they start to blister and darken. Remove and place in a bowl. Mix the courgettes in the same bowl with half a tablespoon of oil and quarter of a teaspoon of salt and cook for three to four minutes on the grill, until lightly charred. Put in the bowl with the beans. Repeat the process with the peppers, oil and salt.

Add half a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt to the tomatoes and grill for two minutes until they are just starting to char and 
split. Repeat with the spring onions, cooking for only 30 seconds. Place the lemons directly on the grill plate and lightly caramelise each side for 30 seconds.

Lastly, mix the whole prawns with quarter of a teaspoon of salt and half a tablespoon of olive oil and grill for one minute on each side. Remove immediately once cooked.

Spoon two thirds of the rice onto a platter. Sprinkle over a selection of vegetables, followed by more rice, gradually building the layers outwards as well as upwards, but not too high. Scatter the prawns on top of the vegetables, lightly pushing some of them into the rice. Finally add the lemon wedges and drizzle over the parsley oil.

Serve immediately.

Ricotta fritters with orange and honey - Sardinia

(Serves six)

n 470g fresh ricotta

n 60g caprino goat’s cheese, or another soft goat’s cheese

n 3 eggs

n 60ml milk

n 1½tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

n Zest of one orange

n 160g plain flour, possibly more

n 1½tsp baking powder

n 50g caster sugar

n About 700ml sunflower oil, for frying

n 4tbsp honey, melted for drizzling

n Icing sugar for dusting

n Salt

For the topping:

n 1 orange

n 100g sugar

n 100ml water

Start by making the topping. Peel the zest of the orange, being careful not to get the white pith as this is bitter. Slice into thin julienne strips. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Gently simmer for three to four minutes, until it forms a syrupy consistency. Add the orange strips, continue cooking for a minute and then turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Beat 350g of the ricotta with the goat’s cheese and eggs until smooth. Whisk in the milk, mint and orange zest and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to form a batter, adding more flour if necessary, until you reach a dropping consistency - that’s when the mix doesn’t immediately fall off the spoon when you lift it out of the bowl, but does slide off after a few seconds. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest.

Heat a small, heavy-based saucepan with the sunflower oil, so it comes approximately 4cm up the side of the pan (it’s important the oil doesn’t come more than half way up the side). When the oil’s medium hot (180C), gently drop heaped teaspoons of the batter into the oil and cook for three to four minutes, turning occasionally, until lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Continue with the remaining batter until they are all cooked.

Pile the fritters onto individual plates and drizzle over the warmed honey. Top with a dollop of ricotta and dust with icing sugar. To finish, sprinkle the orange strips on top of the ricotta and serve immediately.