For years, The Forest Feast blog readers have been transported to Erin Gleeson’s picturesque cabin in the woods in Northern California through her stunning photography of magical gatherings and vibrant vegetarian cooking inspired by her weekly farm box. Now she takes inspiration from an extended family trip around Europe to create effortless and unforgettable meals immersed in the cultures and cuisines of France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. Erin is mum to Ezra (5) and Max (2).
Snap Pea Paella
720ml Vegetable Broth
285g Arborio Rice
2 tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper
120g Snap Peas, ends trimmed
3 Scallions, chopped
2 tbsp Olive Oil
In a pot bring the broth to a boil, then add the rice and simmer, covered, for about 20 min, until the broth has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Taste the rice and if it’s too al dente, simmer a couple more min with an extra space of broth. When the rice is done, stir in turmeric, garlic powder and seasoning.
In a separate pan sauté the snap peas and scallions a tablespoon of olive oil for one minute, or until the peas are bright green. Turn the heat off and add the cooked rice plus another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir. Spread the rice mixture out on a platter and sprinkle with fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Lemony Pasta Fagioli
2 lemons (1 for juice and zest)
225g orecchiette pasta
1 tbsp butter
1 can [435g] cannellini beans
50g parmesan, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Very thinly slice one lemon into rounds (you can use a mandolin and leave peel on) and then into small triangles. Throw the triangles into a pot of boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Keep the water boiling. Next add the orecchiette pasta to the water and boil according to package instructions (about 8 mins). While the pasta cooks, fry the blanched lemons in a skillet with butter and salt until golden (about 5 mins on med/low heat).
When the pasta is done, turn the heat off and add can of drained cannellini beans to the pasta water (just to warm the beans). Strain the whole pot. Mix in a bowl the fried lemon, pasta, beans, parmesan, olive oil, juice and zest from the second lemon and salt and pepper. Serve right away with a bit more parmesan, salt and pepper on top, plus chilli oil, if you like it spicy. For a different twist, mix in sautéed greens, like chard, to the finished dish.
Avocado Chocolate Mousse
3 ripe avocados
50g cocoa powder
180ml maple syrup
Pinch of Maldon sea salt (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)
Blend in food processor until very creamy.
Chill for one hour before serving. Serve in small cups sprinkled with flaky Maldon sea salt and a dollop of whipped cream.
Erin:“I didn’t buy many souvenirs, but I returned with new ideas, new recipes, and a revitalised view of my life at home. One of the resounding lessons I’ve brought back is the importance of slowing down to enjoy my meals. In Barcelona, no one took their coffee to go, but instead enjoyed it at the bar each morning next to other neighbours on their way to work. In Genoa, our favourite lunch spot was packed with locals enjoying a nice meal in the middle of their workday. In all of the countries we visited, the culture insists upon coming together, sitting down, and appreciating the food and conversation. And so, my hope is to bring home a little bit of that magic, encouraging us all to embrace this kind of pause and gratitude for gathering together with good food, wherever in the world we might be.”
The Forest Feast Mediterranean by Erin Gleeson is out September 17 (Abrams, £26.99). Erin is the author, illustrator and photographer behind the New York Timesbestselling cookbook The Forest Feast, The Forest Feast for Kids and the popular blog of the same name.© 2019 Erin Gleeson