Tomato and Balsamic Taralli Biscuits

I’m always looking for new savoury snack ideas as they can be sadly hard to find if you’re on a restricted diet. Breadsticks are mainly out of bounds due to traces of sesame, few crackers are suitable and cheese straws are a obvious no-no! Some crisps and popcorn are good but you can’t always eat crisps, well maybe you can buy you probably shouldn’t!

These little crunchy Italian bites are a great addition to the snacking scene. They savoury, crunchy and moreish – just perfect with an aperitif or to snack on whilst watching a film.

They seem to have been quite a hit as the first batch disappeared in a couple of hours – always a good sign. I think I’ll have to make a couple of extra batches to keep us going through Christmas and to add little bags to my homemade hampers!

Taralli biscuits are often flavoured with fennel but I’ve use balsamic vinegar, sun dried tomato paste and oregano. I think it results in a subtle but delicious savoury taste. If you want to ramp up the flavour use double concentrated tomato purée instead.

Sundreid Tomato and Balsamic Taralli Biscuits

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes about 40

250g plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

3 tsp sun-dried tomato paste

20ml cheap balsamic vinegar (don’t waste the good stuff here!)

80ml white one or grape juice

60-80ml extra virgin olive oil

to glaze: 1 tsp tomato paste mixed with 1 tsp dairy-free milk, flaky salt crystals

  1. Stir in the salt and oregano into the flour. Add the tomato paste, olive oil and white wine and bring together to a soft dough.
  2. Knead until silky and smooth.
  3. Wrap and rest in the fridge for at least an hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade Fan, 190 degrees non-fan
  5. grab small grape sized pieces of the dough and then roll into half cm wide sausages. Cross over the ends to make a loop and place on the lined baking tray while you shape the rest.
  6. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Drop in the Taralli, ten or so at a time and boil until the rise to the surface. This will take a minute or two.
  7. Place back on the lined baking sheet.
  8. Brush with the glaze and sprinkle with the salt. 
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy. 
  10. Cool on wire rack. These will get more crunchy as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last that long!)

Balsamic Fudgies

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When I first saw this concept of pairing balsamic with chocolate I was totally intrigued. I love both flavours – but would they work together? Surely balsamic in a cookie would just be weird! This idea has been on my ‘to do’ list for well over a year but somehow the oddness of the ingredients has made me put it to the back of the list on numerous occasions. Finally braved it this weekend. The result is actually quite subtle – a vague tang which enhances the dark bitter cocoa flavour to give a lift to a simple chocolate cookie. Not weird at all in fact.

Balsamic Fudgies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 18

  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp oat milk
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas mark 4

– Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, stir in the sugar and salt

– In a separate bowl or jug, combine the syrup, oil, oat milk and balsamic

– Pour into the dry ingredients and mix to form a firm dough ( i added a drizzle of super reduced balsamic too, but don’t feel it added anything to the cookies)

– Form into 18 even sized balls and place well apart on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork to give a pattern on top.

– Bake for 10-12 minutes.

– Cool briefly on the baking trays before moving to a wire rack.

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Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

It’s the height of the English asparagus season. Since the quality of English asparagus is so good and the season is so short, we’ve been eating asparagus in a myriad of ways – tarts, pasta, salads, even in sandwiches! This, however, has to be one of my favourite ways of cooking asparagus. By roasting the spears you bring out the sweet nuttiness which is then enhanced by the sweet tang of balsamic – utterly divine!

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

– Trim the woody ends off the asparagus spears by gently bending and snapping off the tough end
– Place on a baking tray and drizzle with the oil, vinegar and seasoning
– Roast at 220 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7 for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Balsamic Tomatoes

These tomatoes make a delicious brunch/lunch when served on a piece of toast. The tomatoes are full of sweet, sticky juice that oozes into crisp, crunchy bread. Also, wonderful served with veggie sausages.

Balsamic Tomatoes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free. sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves 1 (multiply as necessary)

  • 1 cup/large handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • a few basil leaves, torn

– Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the tomatoes.

– Season and saute for 5 minutes, until starting to soften and char.

– Sprinkle on the sugar and stir in the balsamic.

– Continue to cook for 1 minute until the juices are sticky.

– Taste and adjust the seasoning.

– Serve scattered with basil leaves

Roasted Green Bean Salad

The next few days will be spent recovering from the festival (I know it was only one night but we made the critical mistake of forgetting it gets extremely cold at 3am, and so didn’t really sleep at all while the children slept happily under all the warm layers!) So, plenty of sleep and eating the healthiest food possible. Lots of light salads and vitamin packed veggies should do the trick….

These roasted green beans are a delight – still a bit crunchy with an intensified flavour, and they make a great salad dish. So simple, but so delicious….

This recipe was inspired by one that appears in The Moosewood Cookbook

Roasted Green Bean Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

  • 200g fresh green (French) beans
  • a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsps balsamic vinegar
  • handful of pine nuts or sunflower seeds, toasted

– Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5

– Top and tail the green beans and place in a baking tray.

– Add the sliced onions.

– Drizzle with the olive oil and season. Toss well.

– Roast for 30-40 minutes, until cooked through and looking roasted

– Place in a bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar. Check seasoning.

– Scatter with toasted sunflower seeds/pine nuts