Warning – look away now if you don’t want to read another foodie post!
Yesterday was Good Friday and while I am not religious, I cannot but help enjoy and partake in the special dishes that Malta has to offer on this special day. In keeping with the Catholic tradition of not eating any meat on this day, the need arose to find dishes that offer just as much sustenance, and so it is that pulses and peas put in a big appearance on this day.
It never fails to amaze me how wholesome, flavoursome and simple traditional food is while never letting up on quality and taste. So if you feel like trying your hand at a delicious vegetarian option, here are a couple of Mediterranean dishes you should consider.
The first is Kosksu bil-pizelli.
This is a pasta dish, not to be confused with couscous. Indeed, the pasta are small, bead-like balls which grow to at least double their size when cooked. Check these out for a suitable alternative. The dish is a semi-broth, with the liquid being a key ingredient to the success of it. Fresh peas are de rigeur.
To serve 4
125g podded peas
75g peeled tomatoes
50g tomato paste
abundant amount of garlic (fresh is better)
Chop the onions & garlic and fry till golden brown. Add the mixed herbs, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, water and peas. Cook this together for around 10 minutes then add the pasta and simmer until it is cooked. (Kosksu takes long to cook, around 20 minutes, which gives the peas enough time to cook through. If using a different sort of pasta, you may need to cook the mixture for longer before adding the pasta). Finally, add a slab of ricotta per person to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes, until softened and warmed through.
And if that wasn’t enough…
My all-time favourite dish of this period is the deceptively simple, but thoroughly complex when it comes to taste…
Essentially, broad beans with garlic. It really seems to encapsulate that bitter smell that lingers in Catholic churches throughout Lent. Once again, it’s a clever dish, loaded on protein on a day where meat is traditionally not consumed. It is very simple to make but time consuming as one needs to shell the beans twice over. Then again, it’s a great activity for the whole family to get involved in around the table, even my two year-old enjoyed helping out! Again, fresh beans are de rigeur to really get the full taste out of this dish.
Shelling the broad beans from their pods is pretty straight forward. It’s removing the second shell that can be a bit pesky. Some people skip this and cook them with their thin covering, but that really does change the dish, both in taste and texture so I wouldn’t recommend skimping on this stage. The quickest and easiest way to peel off this second skin is to blanch them for 1 to 2 minutes and then dunk them in a bowl of ice water. Let them cool, after which it should be relatively simple to pop them out of their skins.
Serves 2 to 3
2.5kg broad beans (in pods)
an abundant amount of garlic
vinegar (to taste, but this is a crucial ingredient so don’t hold back)
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh goat’s cheeselets or eggs (optional)
Remove both skins from the beans. Put them into a small pan with the garlic and plenty of water. Bring to the boil and add all the other ingredients. Simmer till the beans are tender. You can choose to poach an egg per person in the pot towards the end of cooking time. Alternatively, place a goat’s cheeselet in the plate and pour over the beans with liquid. Serve with crusty bread.
Fair warning: another foodie post will follow tomorrow as I wrap up this Easter-cooking series.