Matevž Side Dish Recipe: Mashed Potato with Pancetta & Beans

This Balkan side dish is one of my absolute favourites.  I’m not a fan of mashed potato but this is so much more than that.  A mixture of potato, kidney and cannellini beans and pancetta this is simply truly delicious!  Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make and goes well with meat, sausages, fish and salad.


Check out the recipe below…


600g maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

240g (1 tin) of cannellini beans

240g (1 tin) of red kidney beans

250g diced panetta

20g butter

150ml sour cream

2 garlic cloves, crushed


Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender (it should take about 20 minutes)

Meanwhile fry the pancetta until crispy

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan

Add the butter and sour cream and mash until smooth

Add the beans and pancetta into the potato and stir

Place in bowl to serve

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Ukrainian Roasted Vegetable Stack Recipe

When I was in Kiev a few years ago I went to eat at Khutorok, a paddle-boat steamer-come-restaurant.  The charming decor was accompanied by even more charming staff and food.  It was by far the best meal I had in Kiev.  I ordered veal, wild rice and roasted vegetables.  The presentation was faultless and the vegetables were impressively stacked.  I remember sitting there thinking that I’d never be able to re-create that but last weekend, as part of a meal I cooked for my family, I foolishly thought I’d give it a go! Although it was a hassle, it looked amazing and I was really pleased with my achievement!


1 aubergine

2 courgettes

Handful of fresh thyme and rosemary (use dried if you can’t get fresh)

3 garlic cloves

150ml rapeseed oil

4 red peppers, roasted, skins removed and sliced into discs

2 white onions, sliced quite thickly

Sprinkling of paprika for presentation purposes


Slice aubergine and courgette and place in a dish

Blend the oil together with the garlic and herbs

Drizzle oil over the aubergine and courgettes and leave to marinate for at least 3 hours

Ukrainian Roasted Vegetables

Heat a griddle pan, when hot, place the aubergine, courgettes and sliced onion in pan using marinate as oil

(Add more oil to pan if needed)

Ukrainian Roasted Vegetables

When all vegetables have a nice charred colouring across them, set aside

Put aubergines, courgettes, onion and sliced red pepper into a dish and heat in oven for 15 minutes on 180°C

Arrange vegetables on top of each other

Sprinkle paprika over the plate to decorate and serve

Ukrainian Roasted Vegetable Stack

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A Balkan Side Dish: Courgettes with Rice

This Balkan side dish is super tasty, if a bit time-consuming and is really healthy.  Make large quantities and either keep leftovers in the fridge or freezer to reheat as and when you want it.


(serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish)

1kg small or medium courgettes

60ml olive oil

3 white onions

3 garlic cloves

1tsp chili powder

1 can chopped tomatoes

200g risotto rice

600ml vegetable or chicken stock

2 tbsp parsley

white pepper

sour cream


Preheat oven to 190 degrees C

Top and tail courgettes and slice into large chunks

Heat half the olive oil in large frying pan

Gently fry chopped onions and garlic

Onion & Garlic

Stir in chili powder

Onion, garlic, chili

Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes


Add courgettes


Cook over gentle to medium heat for 10 minutes

Add rice to pan


Add stock to pan, cover and simmer for 45 minutes


Stir occasionally to prevent rice it sticking


Remove pan from heat

Stir in white pepper and parsley

Pepper & parsley

Spoon into ovenproof dish

Bake for 45 minutes

Halfway through cooking, brush the remaining olive oil over mixture

Garnish with parsley, black olives and sour cream

Done! Serve!

Done! Serve!

The Perfect Polenta

Packet of Polenta Valsugana, 375g, £1.39 available at Waitrose
Packet of Polenta Valsugana, 375g, £1.39 available at Waitrose

The first time I encountered polenta was, when at the age of 13, I spent a few weeks of my summer holiday in Slovenia with our family friends.  Although they live in Ljubljana, the capital city, we stayed at their weekend house, in what I regard as being the most picturesque village in the whole world, Kranjska Gora.

Slovenia shares borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. The fluctuating borders and unbelievable social mobility during times of peace and war throughout 2000 years, have meant the areas, particularly nearer its borders, take a great deal of influence from its neighbours.  No better example of this is food.

While staying in Kranjska Gora, it is possible to cycle, ski or drive to Italy in order to buy some pasta and bring it back for lunch. Although, at the time, in 1999, the border guard was somewhat suspicious of two British sisters, travelling with a Slovene family. However, in 2004, Slovenia entered the EU and since then, it is no longer necessary to declare either your British friends, or your tortellini!

The Detela family would serve up polenta as a side dish to accompany many dishes. One great Croatia dish for which polenta is the perfect accompaniment, is brodet, a fish stew popular on the Dalmatian coast (I will post a recipe for that soon!)

For now, here is my recipe for the perfect polenta.


4 tbsp poltena per serving

250ml boiling water

pinch of salt

drizzle of olive oil


Put the polenta into a saucepan (4 tbsp per serving)

4 tbsp polenta per serving

Add the 250ml of boiling water.

250ml boiling water per seving

Heat on a medium heat.


Constantly stir with a wooden spoon.

After five or so minutes, when the mixture has thickened, remove the pan from the heat.

Ready to take off the heat

When the polenta is ready to take off the heat, pour the polenta into a foil dish.

Pour into foil dish

Let the mix settle evenly.

When it has cooled slightly, drizzle olive oil over the top.

Let it cool and place in the refrigerator until the mix has formed a perfect solid.

Place the foil dish under your grill and gently grill the polenta until slightly crispy on top.

Turn out polenta and grill the other side.

Either serve whole or cut into slice.


Done! A different accompaniment to potatoes or rice, super cheap and really delicious!  Plus, when you have a small kitchen as I do, it is great to be able to prepare side dishes in advance, whether eating on your own or feeding your ravenous friends, thankfully, for that polenta is perfect.  Get it all ready and just grill, just prior to serving up your main course.

Of course, if you would rather it less solid, heat the polenta in the saucepan with the boiling water and pinch of salt, stir until thick and serve!  It truly is as simple as that!

Packet of Polenta Valsugana, 375g, £1.39 available at Waitrose

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