Niall McKenna: Bean baklava and oxtail with red wine and pancetta

Bean baklava is incredibly easy, tasty and nutritious

WITH the new year upon us and resolutions of all kinds being made, why not make 2018 the time when you brush up on your cooking skills, try out meat-free Mondays or commit to dropping your Saturday night take-away and making something from scratch?

We love to enjoy a meat-free Monday and have the perfect dish for you to try out. Our bean baklava is incredibly easy, tasty and nutritious, giving us strength for the week ahead.

If you are having a Saturday night in and want to swap the takeaway for a delicious homecooked meal, our oxtail with red wine is easy to make, not very technical and worth every bit of effort – the ideal meal to end the week.

Both dishes use ingredients which are easy to source in all supermarkets and will warm you up right through the winter season.

:: Bean Baklava (Serves six to eight)


100ml olive oil

2 white onions, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

2 teasp ground cinnamon

5 tablesp tomato puree

10 vine ripe plum tomatoes, skinned and rough chopped

500g runner beans

A pinch sugar

1 bunch dill, fine chopped

Sea salt

Fresh black pepper

1 packet filo pastry

100g melted butter

100g medjool dates, stoned and fine dice

250g feta crumbled

6 tablesp clear honey


Start by heating the olive oil in a large pot on a gentle heat and cook off the onions until they become soft but not brown. Add in the garlic, cinnamon and tomato puree and mix well.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes on a gentle heat and then add in sugar, dill and salt and pepper.

Add in 150ml water and cook then add in the runner beans, cover with a lid and leave until most of the water has cooked out and the beans are cooked through.

This will take approx. 30 minutes on a medium heat. When the sauce is nice and thick, remove it from the heat and leave to cool.

Preheat your oven at 180C and taste the sauce as it may need additional seasoning. Get a baking tray and brush with melted butter before lining with a sheet of the filo pastry, brushing each sheet with butter. Repeat this three times.

Once you have three layers in the bottom place in some of the tomato sauce mix until it covers the filo pastry. Top with dates and feta and then cover with another three layers of butter brushed filo pastry. Repeat with the tomato and runner bean mix and top with dates and feta.

Finally, top off with three sheets of butter brushed filo pastry. Brush the top with butter and score with a diamond shape. Add a couple of droplets of water on top and place in oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

Once cooked, remove from oven and drizzle with a little of the honey before serving.

:: Oxtail with Red Wine (serves four to six)

Serve with mashed potatoes – this dish is best cooked the day before and served the next day.


1.5kg oxtail chopped by butcher

2 tablesp plain flour

salt and pepper

2 tablesp olive oil

150g pancetta or back bacon, chopped fine

2 medium onions, fine dice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 medium carrots, peeled and fine dice

2 sticks celery, fine chopped

1 teasp cumin

1 teasp ground cinnamon

2 bay leaves

3 tablesp tomato puree

500ml red wine

400g chopped tomatoes (1 tin)

fresh parsley, chopped to serve


Start by heating the oven to 150C. Trim any thick fat from the oxtail and keep any thin fat covering the outside.

Place the flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and dust the oxtail in the flour before shaking off any excess. Heat the oil in a large casserole pot with a lid, place on the hob on a medium heat and cook off the oxtail until browned. This may take a couple of batches.

Remove any excess fat from the casserole dish and adding a little more oil, cook off the bacon for a couple of minutes until it is all browned.

Add in the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and spices and leave on the heat for 10 minutes until the vegetables soften. Add in the tomato puree and after a minute or so of cooking time, add in the red wine, chopped tomatoes and approx. 500ml water. Season with salt and pepper and add in the oxtail.

Bring the mix to the boil and then place a sheet of grease proof paper and the lid on top and place in the oven for 3&1/2 hours. The meat should be flaky and falling off the bone.

Remove from the heat and skim the fat from the top. It is best to leave the dish to cool and then place in fridge. To cook again place on the hot and bring gently up to heat and serve when it is piping hot.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: