Ingredient: olive oil

Simple Fresh Lemon Mint Basil Hummus Dip

Simple Fresh Lemon Mint Basil Hummus Dip

Simple Fresh Lemon Mint Basil Hummus Dip, easy to make and with all the flavours of the herbs and garlic. Serve with homemade pita bread

Quick Rotini Pasta in Garlicky Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce

Quick Rotini Pasta in Garlicky Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce

Easy, quick Rotini Pasta in Garlicky Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce made from colourful, juicy cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and whole wheat spirally pasta

Delicious Summery Fresh Cherry Mint Chutney with Orange Peel

Delicious Summery Fresh Cherry Mint Chutney with Orange Peel

Cooking with cherries is fun. They look gorgeous, taste delicious (you can’t help popping a few into the mouth as you make the preparations, can you?) and manage to appear exotic all while being easy to work with. Except of course for pitting the cherries, which is not a happy task, though I can think of worse things to do (like prepping banana flowers for a traditional South Indian curry). The Fresh Cherry Mint Chutney was worth the little effort needed to pit the cherries, with its sweet and tangy taste and the light flavour of the orange coming

Fresh Cherries
Fresh Cherries

through.

I would not have thought of making this fresh Cherry Mint Chutney were it not for one of the foodie groups that I belong to, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge. This was the first challenge I participated in, in this group. The idea is that each member is allotted a partner for the month, and the partner specifies 2 secret ingredients to be used to make an item fitting into the theme of the month.  The theme for July 2017 was ‘Chutneys’ that delicious and versatile Indian condiment with a pesto-like texture that  is traditionally served with fried food or with idli or dosa or with snacks such as dhoklas or samosas.

My partner for the month, the bubbly vivacious Mayuri Patel (who blogs at Mayuri’s Jikoni)   gave me Cherry and Onions as the two ‘secret’ ingredients for the chutney. I needed to plan a recipe using these ingredients along with other suitable ones, make the Chutney and post the image on the facebook page for the group so that the other members could try and guess the secret ingredients.In turn, I suggested Apple and Onion as the ingredients for Mayuri’s challenge for the month, and she dished out a delectable Green Apple and Spring Onion Chutney.

Getting back to the fresh cherry mint chutney that I made: Cherries in my mind are used in sweet dishes and desserts, while chutneys are savoury. While planning the recipe I decided to zing things up a bit with the orange peel and with mint leaves from the garden. I would have liked to add a pice of fresh red chilli, but I didn’t have any, and it would anyway have become too spicy for my little granddaughter to take. You could however add either a piece of fresh chilli or some paprika, depending on how much heat you want in the chutney.

After tasting the fresh cherry mint chutney I realised that ginger would have been a good addition too, without taking anything away from the flavours of the cherry. I have made the chutney coarse, and the texture of the onions and lightly cooked cherries complement each other very well.

I made pita bread and hummus for dinner, and the delicious, summery, fresh cherry mint chutney with orange peel made a tasty and interesting dip to go with the basil hummus that accompanied the bread. Make the most of the short cherry season and try this recipe out. The chutney may serve as a dip, or with idli or dosa, with fries, or in a wrap or as a sandwich spread or in a quesadilla.

For other interesting recipes on this blog, with cherry, check the links below:

Cherry Compote

Easy Cherry Compote
Easy Cherry Compote

Cherry Compote Yogurt Parfait

Cherry Compote Yogurt Parfait
Cherry Compote Yogurt Parfait

You may also like to try out this traditional Peerkangai or Thurai Thogaiyal, an Indian chutney made of the peel of the ridge gourd, both easy to make and tasty. I like it with hot rice and sesame oil, but like the other chutneys, it may be used in any number of ways.

Peerkangai Thogiyal Thurai or Ridge Gourd chutney
Peerkangai Thogiyal Thurai or Ridge Gourd chutney

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Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

Healthy Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus. Delicious, Nutritious and Easy to make. Refreshing and just right for a meal whatever the weather

Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket

Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket

Summery delicious nutritious Roasted Pumpkin Labneh Buckwheat Salad with Pomegranate and Rocket. With Contrasting textures & flavours – Its Heaven on a Plate!

Thin crust Tomato Mozzarella Pizza

Thin crust Tomato Mozzarella Pizza

Simple to make and an amazingly tasty, classic homemade thin crust Tomato Mozzarella Pizza. The basil leaves and freshly ground pepper take the pizza to another dimension. Try a variant with different toppings, taking you to Pizza Heaven! With homemade tomato basil sauce, the pizza is so easy to put together.

Tomato Mozzarella Pizza_PepperOnPizza.com

Here are the links to the recipes for the home made Pizza Dough and for the home made Tomato Basil sauce in this blog:

Link to the Recipe for Easy Pizza Dough: http://www.pepperonpizza.com/easy-homemade-pizza-dough-recipe

Link to the Recipe for Tomato Basil Sauce: http://www.pepperonpizza.com/tomato-basil-sauce-pasta-pizza-recipe

Link to the recipe for Kale and Onion Pizza: Easy Kale and Onion Pizza – Healthy and Delicious

I make pizza dough once every 2-3 weeks and freeze whatever I don’t use immediately. Similarly with the tomato basil sauce – I always have some of it in the freezer. Weekends, I like to make pizza, and it takes just a few minutes to roll out the base (after the dough has come to room temperature), spread some sauce, top with tomatoes, peppers, mushroom, olives, depending on the combination of toppings I decide on, sprinkle cheese on top. In my oven when I bake the pizza at 250 deg C, it takes 10 -12 minutes for the thin crust pizza to be ready.

The Tomato Mozzarella Pizza is a near variant of the Pizza Margherita. The only reason I have not used the latter name is because after baking, the cheese looks more orange/ yellow than white, perhaps because it took a longer time to bake, than usual. A typical Pizza Margherita would have 3 colours – Red from the Tomato, White from the Mozzarella and Green from the Basil, together forming the colours of the Italian Flag. The story goes, according to Wikipedia, that pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honour of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen preferred the pizza swathed in the colours of the Italian flag. 

The Tomato Mozzarella Pizza does have all the 3 components of a Pizza Margherita, viz, Basil, Mozzarella and Tomato. In the original Neapolitan Pizza (the name is now protected in the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish), the tomatoes used were the San Marzano Tomatoes. I do get San Marzano tomatoes for my Tomato Mozzarella Pizza as well as the Tomato Basil Sauce, when at Bangalore, from First Agro Farms, who supply households in Bangalore with their fresh zero pesticide, non GMO produce.

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Easy Basic Pizza Dough – Anyone can make Pizza

Easy Basic Pizza Dough – Anyone can make Pizza

Recipe for easy to make Pizza Dough, for a thin crust pizza with your favourite toppings.

Easy Tomato Basil Sauce For Pasta or Pizza

Easy Tomato Basil Sauce For Pasta or Pizza

This easy, 6 ingredient (counting salt, pepper and oil, each as ingredients) Tomato Basil Sauce for Pasta or Pizza is a very basic and simple sauce. I make it about once a month and then freeze it in separate small portions so that there is […]

Curried Chilli Zucchini Soup – Spice Up Your Evening

Curried Chilli Zucchini Soup – Spice Up Your Evening

Gorgeous red birds eye chillies and some fresh zucchini from First Agro Farms, set me to searching for the perfect ‘winter’ soup. Broadly adapted from Simply Recipes ‘Spicy Zucchini Soup’, the  chilli zucchini soup is one treat you will come back to again and again. The varied textures and balance of flavours are everything one would want a soup to be.

Hot chilli zucchini soup_PepperOnPizza.com
Hot curried chilli zucchini soup.

The curried chilli zucchini soup is easy to put together, and the walnuts add to the texture and flavour, contrasting with the silkiness of the pureed zucchini.

The red chillies give it just that zing you want from a hot bowl of soup on a chill Bangalore evening.You can manage the level of ‘heat’ by adjusting the quantity of red chilli used in the recipe for chilli zucchini soup below.

I have grated the zucchini and pureed the soup coarsely. However you could dice the zucchini into even sized 1 cm square or so pieces for uniform cooking. Or grate the zucchini and not puree the soup.

The origins of zucchini have been traced by archaeologists to as early as 7000 BC, in Mexico.  Wikipedia says that ‘Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century, many generations after the introduction of cucurbits from the Americas (North and South, called the New World) in the early 16th century.’ The first description of the variety under the name zucchini occurs in a work published in Milan in 1901.

What’s in a name?

The origins of the name of the fruit is interesting, as it is said that the people who colonised New England, gave it the name of squash, which is  derived from its North American description of ‘something eaten raw’.  The first records of zucchini in the United States are said to date to the early 1920s, and thought to have been brought over by Italian immigrants and probably first cultivated in California. Wikipedia says that in the United States, Australia and Germany, the plant is commonly called a zucchini, derived from the Italian zucca, meaning a “gourd, marrow, pumpkin, squash. The name courgette is from the French courge, “gourd, marrow”, and is commonly used in France, Belgium and other Francophone areas, and in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and South Africa. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, a fully-grown, matured courgette is referred to as a marrow.In South Africa, the fruit is typically harvested as a baby vegetable, approximately finger size, and is referred to as “baby marrows”.

Nutrition and Health:

According to nutrition-and-you.com, zucchini has a number of health benefits: Because of their high water content, they are low in calories and without saturated fats or cholesterol, high in Folates, it is a good source for potassium, as well as having other minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. It is often advised by dieticians in weight reduction and cholesterol control programs.  Zucchini has some levels of  anti-oxidants (though not as much as some berries and vegetables) and the yellow skinned ones are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin, which can play a role in ageing and help fight cancer and other disease. The peel is a good source of digestive fibre that helps in reduction of constipation and can be of some protection against colon cancer. Fresh zucchini is rich in Vitamin A and C as well as some moderate levels of B-complex group of vitamins all of which are important for good health.

Zucchini comes in different shapes and sizes_PepperOnPizza.com
Zucchini comes in different shapes and sizes

Culinary uses of the zucchini:

Zucchini or courgette is such a versatile vegetable.  Actually, it is a fruit, like the tomato, but of course not as sweet and soft which is why it is made into savoury dishes, like the zucchini soup. Add it to pasta sauce, make zucchini soup, bake it as an au gratin or as bread, grill it, shred it, sauté or roast it and add to a salad, spiralize into noodles, or stuff and bake it, make a soufflé, theres a lot you can do with it. It cooks fast, and its rather bland taste complements most flavours, and gives texture to the dish. And is both nutritious and healthy too!

The culinary use of the zucchini is as varied as the many regions of the world. The flower and the fruit are both edible, as is the peel of the young zucchini.

A main ingredient in the French ratatouille, or stuffed with meat, tomatoes or peppers; in salads, raw or lightly cooked in Thai or Vietnamese recipes; in Egypt, cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions; fried and served with a yogurt dip in Bulgaria or sliced and baked with eggs, yogurt, flour and dill. Cooked in different ways, in Italy, baked, boiled, fried, sautéed; stuffed with meat or rice, herbs and spices an steamed as in the Middle East and Greece where it is served with avgolemono sauce or fried or stewed with green peppers and eggplant. Zucchini flowers and fruit are used as a filling for quesadilla in Mexico, or made into zucchini soup or stews. A favourite way to cook zucchini in Russia and the Ukrainian region is to coat the zucchini with flour or semolina and fry or bake and serve with sour cream. Zucchini caviar is another interesting dish, where, according to Wikipedia, the squash spread is made from processed zucchini, carrots, onions and tomato paste. The popular mücver or zucchini pancakes of Turkey, are made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs and fried in olive oil, served with yogurt. Mouth watering, are they not?

So:  Have you had zucchini today? Try out this chilli zucchini soup and you will come back for more!

As usual, I had purchased the zucchini, herbs and the chillies for the chilli zucchini soup, from the zero pesticide growers of fresh produce, First Agro Farms, through their marketing arm, Sakura Fresh. We Bangaloreans are lucky indeed to have this quality of vegetables and greens delivered to our doorstep -there is so much happiness in knowing that one has made something flavourful and nutritious and is able to access Safe Food for the family!

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French Style 2 Bean Sorrel Soup

French Style 2 Bean Sorrel Soup

Red Veined sorrel leaves are the base for this delicious Bean Sorrel Soup, made in the French style. Nutritious as well as having the cancer fighting properties of the sorrel, this is actually a 2 Bean Sorrel soup as it is made from fresh sorrel […]