Vegetarian Mediterranean Cooking Class with a Difference

A vegetarian Mediterranean cooking class with a difference:  prepping, cooking, baking, tasting, plating and magic card tricks to boot, that’s the whole experience at Putia Cooking School with Chef Dominique Rizzo and her fabulous team of guest facilitators.

With what’s cooking vegetarian Mediterranean style never looking and tasting so good, it just has to be shared so here are a couple of the recipes from this class for you to prepare at home.

Firstly, let’s get Baking

Vegetarian Mediterranean Cooking Class with a Difference - Kale, almond and beetroot tart, with herbed cream cheese Dominique Rizzo

Kale, almond and beetroot tart, with herbed cream cheese – with a Keto/low carb pastry

1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks and leaves, thinly sliced
8 large kale leaves, roughly chopped, stalks 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp torn mint leaves
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp chopped sage
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
15g pine nuts, lightly toasted
Grated zest of 1 lemon
100g herbed cream cheese
Qty of almond pastry – see recipe below 1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and black pepper

1 1⁄2 cups almond flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoon xantham gum
1 tsp baking powder gluten free 2 large egg
3 cups grated mozzarella
4 tablespoons cream cheese

Method For the pastry
Preheat oven to 185c.
In a bowl mix together the almond flour, baking powder and xantham gum. Then add the egg and mix together until well combined. Set aside. It will look like a doughy ball.
In a pot over a medium-low heat slowly melt the cream cheese and mozzarella together and remove from heat once melted. This can be done in the microwave as well.
Add your melted cheese mix to the almond flour mix and knead until well combined. The Mozzarella mix will stick together in a bit of a ball but don’t worry, persist with it. It will all eventually combine well. It’s important to get the Xantham gum incorporated through the cheese mix. If the dough gets too tough to work, place in microwave for 10-20 seconds to warm and repeat until you have something that resembles a dough.
Split your dough into 2 pieces and roll one piece between baking paper to about 3 mm thickness, then place into a greased flan or tart tin or turn it into a rustic tart by laying the pastry onto a greased baking tin and piling your tart ingredients into the centre.
Bake for 18 minutes until golden and firm to touch.

For the beetroot:

6 small beetroot, scrubbed and cut into quarters 4 small red onions, base intact, cut into quarters 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
zest and juice 1⁄2 orange
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme
ground black pepper
sea salt flakes
1⁄2 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cut beetroot and red onions into quarters. Combine vinegar, juice, zest, oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss through with beetroot and onion in a baking dish. Bake for about one hour.
Herbed cream cheese
Blend 100g of cream cheese with a handful of chopped mixed herbs, a good pinch of salt and zest of 1 lemon, whisk in an egg and then refrigerate until needed.

For the Kale Tart filling

Place a large frying pan on medium-high heat and sauté the onion,
celery, kale, garlic, mint, parsley and sage in the olive oil. Cook, stirring continuously, for 15 minutes or until the greens are wilted and the celery has softened completely. Remove from the heat and stir through the pine nuts, lemon zest, 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt and a hearty grind of black pepper. Leave aside to cool.
Spread the filling out on the pastry leaving a 3-centimetre edge all the way around. Dot the filling with large chunks of the herbed cream cheese, then scatter around the beetroot. Bring the pastry up around the sides of the filling and pinch the edges together firmly to form a secure, decorative lip over the edge of the tart. Alternatively, press with the end of a fork.
Bake the tart in the oven for 18-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked on the base.
Remove from the oven and brush with a little olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Secondly, let’s get Salad Making

Vegetarian Mediterranean Cooking Class with a Difference - Roast Sweet potato with pickled onions, feta, almond and mint salsa Chef Dominique Rizzo

Roast Sweet potato with pickled onions, feta, almond and mint salsa

Serves 4 as a side dish

Inspired by Ottolenghi

Zest of 2 limes

Skin only of one lime, peeled and sliced into thin strips – avoid the white pith

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

½ small red onion, peeled and cut into 3mm-thick slices

2½ tsp caster sugar

Salt and black pepper

5-6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 5cm x 3cm chunks

90ml olive oil

½ tsp ground allspice

A good handful of mint leaves

1 cup of crumbled feta

1/3 cup blanch almonds roasted and chopped roughly

For the pickled onions

Put the strips of lime skin in a medium bowl with the vinegar, onion, half a teaspoon of sugar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Massage the onions for a minute, until the liquid turns pink, then leave to pickle for at least two hours: the longer you leave them, the brighter and pinker they become.

Heat the oven to 220C. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes with three tablespoons of oil, the allspice, the remaining two teaspoons of sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Transfer to a large, 40cm x 30cm oven tray lined with baking paper, and make sure the sweet potato chunks are spaced apart. Roast for 20 minutes, until crisp and golden-brown, then toss in any oil left on the tray and leave to cool.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, blitz the mint, grated lime zest, the remaining three tablespoons of oil and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt to a smooth, bright green salsa. I use a spice grinder to do this (don’t use a food processor – the quantities involved are too small); if you don’t have one, very finely chop the coriander and mix the salsa by hand.

Once the sweet potatoes have cooled, arrange them on a platter and dot evenly with the pieces of cheese. Drain the pickled onions, discarding the lime peel, and scatter on top. Finish with a drizzle of salsa and a sprinkle of almonds.

Thirdly, let the magic begin

Vegetarian Mediterranean Cooking Class with a Difference - Brian aka Lola with Chef Dominique Rizzo

Bryant, aka Lola, without his magic cape, had us all oohing and ahhing with his spontaneous card tricks, mid-way through this class.  We checked under the cutting boards, behind aprons and on top of benches for his props but none were found leaving us in delightful wonderment of his magic.

and then an easy No Baking Tart

No-bake Strawberry and mascarpone tart

Vegetarian Mediterranean Cooking Class with a Difference - No bake Strawberry and mascarpone tart Chef Dominique Rizzo

Makes 4 small tarts or 1 large

For the pastry
150g almond meal
150g pecans
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup erythritol or sugar substitute 80g butter

fresh strawberries dark chocolate shaved

In a food processor combine the pecans, almond meal, butter, sugar and lemon until the mixture sticks together when squeezed. Divide the mixture evenly among the greased tart tins and press into the moulds so that they are evenly covered. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm to touch.

When the bases are set or firm to touch remove them from the moulds and place onto your serving plate, dollop in a couple of tablespoons of the mascarpone and top with strawberries and shaved chocolate. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

And finally, let’s Feast

Feasting is mandatory at every cooking class at Putia when everyone sits down together to taste and share each of the fabulous dishes prepared in the class.  It’s a time when sharing the love of food is the inspiration that each person takes away with them to cook at home and prepare wonderful dishes for their family and friends.

Vegetarian Mediterranean Cooking Class with a Difference - Roasted Mediterranean vegetables with hemp flat bread and coconut tahini

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables with hemp flatbread and coconut tahini

Vegetarian Mediterranean Cooking Class - Zucchini fritters Chef Dominique Rizzo


A big shout out to all the amazing cooking class students who shared all these great photos with us.

If you would like to know more about what’s coming up at Brisbane’s top cooking school, then stay in touch here.

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