Posts tagged basil

Raw Citrus Salad

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f you’ve been (un)lucky enough to experience the heat wave that swept the UK last week then you’ll probably agree that appetites change from being food dominant to a welcome craving for frosty, cold and delicious beers. Iced rose if thats more your thing, or perhaps just a freshly made lemonade in the sunshine. However, food still has its place but freshness, lightness and nothing too heavy takes the culinary crown. This salad was perfect after what was probably the hottest day of the year so far. After trawling over London for a meeting – which at the time felt dramatically reminiscent of a desert voyage – I was in no fit state for cooking anything too warm later that evening….

This therefore seemed the perfect opportunity to make a fresh salad but one to replenish the nutrients. And time to crack out an ingredient that’s been waiting patiently in my pantry for the past few months. A little gift from overseas from the Norwegian’s.  I’ve not seen a oil like this before but have been delighting in it since. Whilst I’ve tried flavoured oils in the past which I’ve found to be either bland or synthetic, this little oil/balsamic combo – mandarin oil with an epic peach and apricot balsamic – served neat and combined in equal measures with some crusty bread for dipping was amazing! I instantly thought seafood, fennel, and raw salads….after thoughts of frosty beers and rose. I did mention it was very hot…

With a lack of garden space or even a balcony in London (sympathy welcomed) there was sadly no place for a BBQ here. But if you do then this would be an amazing salad served with charred barbecued squid or octopus. Or keep it simple and griddle your asparagus or sea bass. The smoky bbq flavour is perfect for anything citrus here.

Like I said, its a meal for a hot day…minimal effort, more an assembly of flavours. Feel free to add in any other ingredients of choice or fish and seafood.

*NOTE – if you’ve no time to pop to Norway for these delights, a really good extra virgin olive oil with either a generous squeeze of lemon/lime/orange would work a treat. Try adding a few very thin slices of orange segments or grated zest too. Blood orange if you’re feeling extravagant.

Serve 2

  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced wafer thin (using a mandolin if you have one)
  • 1 handful walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • Small bunch fresh basil and mint, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon/orange/lime
  • Extra virgin olive oil and 1 orange OR flavoured citrus oil or equivalent to above
  • 2 sea bass fillets (or as above, squid, octopus etc)
  1. Hest a frying pan/griddle pan to medium high and add a splash of light olive oil. Griddle the asparagus spears to just take off the rawness for a few minutes until beginning to char. Season and remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, shaved fennel, toasted walnuts and finely chopped herbs.
  3. When the asparagus spears have cooled a little, add them to bowl.
  4. Season and grate in the zest of half the lemon.
  5. The next bit if up to you. Add the citrus oil, and the juice of half a lemon or add the juice of an orange/lime and some plain, extra virgin olive oil. Its all about taste. You need a fresh citrus flavour but it needs to be balanced.
  6. Set aside once done. Fry your fish and serve atop your fresh salad.

I served mine alongside some roasted carrots …I’ll admit this isn’t supporting the cooling and ‘non hassle’ trend I championed above. What can I say, the frosty beer worked a treat…

  • Slice 2-3 large carrot into chunky diagonal chunks
  • Season and drizzle with olive oil
  • Scatter with 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • Roast for about 25 minutes until starting to caramelise and soften. Check after this time and leave in longer if needed.
  • 5 minutes before they look ready, add 1 btsp running honey and combine. roast for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and served, slightly cooled, with your citrus salad (also lovely to add chopped parsley and crumbled feta/goats cheese)

 

Chorizo & Butterbean Stew

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his recipe is the absolute ideal for a balmy, summer provoking Monday night after work. My mind battled with the joys of staying out in the sun as long as possible and the equal craving for some kitchen relaxation that only stirring a pan with a wooden spoon can bring. Ideal for a speedy but flavoursome dinner that can be knocked up in minutes for one, for two, or for many and tomorrows leftovers.  Admittedly my holiday blues were kicking in….so the Med influence snuck back to the kitchen.

Mediterranean food is not usually my cuisine of choice but having spent last week in Corfu on a grounding, enlightening and entertaining yoga retreat (Just Relax Yoga retreats) dining on gorgeous vegetarian tapas and authentic Greek dishes, it solidified my theory that you only need just a few star ingredients to make a knock out dish. After many a beer one night in the Greek sun and a hunger like a pig on a diet, me and the yogis frantically ordered a table full of tapas. Now it may…may have been the hunger and hanger that made it more memorable but when a glutinous bowl of giant butter beans bathed and hugged in a smooth creamy tomato sauce was placed in front of me, I was in heaven. Devine. I’ll admit, the butter beans were twice the size in Greece but beggars can’t be choosers in London eh? After a week in Greece I was keen to get something similar into my regime…

Serves 2

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 400-500g chopped tomatoes (1 can or carton)
  • 150g chorizo, diced/cubed
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, light toasted then crushed
  • 1 x can butter beans, drained
  • Bunch basil and parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 x sea bream or a white fish fillet of choice.
  1. Soften the onion in a little olive oil in a saucepan for about 10 minutes until translucent and starting to caramelise.
  2. Add the chorizo and the garlic and cook for a few more minutes until the chorizo is beginning to crisp and release its oils.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, crushed fennel seed and some generous seasoning.
  4. Simmer until reduced a little for 5 minutes or so.
  5. Add the drained butter beans and heat through.
  6. Simmer until reduced to a stew like texture. Taste and season as needed.
  7. Finally add the lemon zest and herbs and stir to combine.
  8. Serve with fried or grilled fish and a scattering of leftovers herbs and lemon! (Gremolata is wanted)

Crispy Asian Beef

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f you’re intending on sticking to or continuing to stick to a healthy diet this month after the indulgences of Christmas then I recommend Asian food as a good go to. It packs a reliant punch on flavour without compromising on health and nutrition. Not to mention that this is a really quick recipe and can be served out in about 20 minutes.

As a passionate cook and appreciator of food I have always been the type to savour my meals either for flavour or appreciation for the time and effort spent creating it – either by myself or more importantly a fellow cook. However, I can’t help but notice that many of us eat too fast. Not only does this encourage us to be unappreciative of the food, time and effort that has gone into making it but you cannot appreciate and savour the flavours. Sticking to the topic of nutrition and health this month, on a nutritional side the faster you eat the more chance you have of overeating. Eating slowly allows your stomach to register satiety at the right time. It also helps improve your digestion. Hand in hand with this I also recommend chewing your mouthfuls more to aid speed and digestion. Just putting down your fork (or chopsticks) after eat mouthful to enjoy, talk to your dinner friends and take your time is such a great habit to get into.

That said, a great way to get into this habit if using chopsticks! Not only is it fun and authentic but if you’re anything like me and still learning you can’t help but eat slowly…if at all. So obviously have a fork ready to hand to prevent starvation.

NOTE: Quite without meaning to I’ve created a gluten free meal using my stash of ‘Clearspring Gluten Free Brown Rice Noodles’. Asain food is a great go-to is your are gluten free. As I say, it packs a punch on flavour without compromising nutritional requirements.

Serves 2

  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 thumb size knob ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli (hotter the better here)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp fish sauce
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Bunch basil, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 100g ‘Clear Spring’ ‘Gluten free brown rice noodles’
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice 1 lime
  • Serve: I recommend a nice lime juice covered fresh crispy salad e.g. Cos lettuce, grated carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber etc
  1. Submerge and soak the noodles in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside kept warm until ready to serve.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok on a high heat. Add the beef mince and use a spatula to break up the pieces into chunks. then add the star anise. Fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to brown well and crisp up. Keep an eye on it moving the mince around continuously.
  3. After about 5 minutes when well browned add in the ginger, garlic and red chilli and continue to fry on a high heat until the meat is really browned and crispy as below.
  4. After about 5-10 minutes add the soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce and stir to combine. Cook until really dark and crispy to your liking.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped spring onions, coriander and basil
  6. Drain the noodles and squeeze over the lime juice and add the sesame oil
  7. Serve the noodles in warm bowls and top with your crispy beef piece and a lovely crunchy fresh salad.
  8. Jess - Crispy Asaian Beef 2

 

Thai ‘Papaya Noodle’ Salad

 

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I bought a Papaya on a wim. As an extremely disciplined person by nature, I find it annoyingly frustrating that I can never resist a supermarket food offer! After freely placing it in my basket without a second economic thought, my mind began racing over what to make with it. On my walk home, sat in the cinema that same afternoon and whilst relaxing in the bath the culinary devil sat on my shoulder. With salmon in the fridge I couldn’t resist the flavoursome attraction of Thai ingredients to combine with from the pantry.

This recipe is loosely based on one by ‘The Hairy Bikers’. However it does emit some of the ingredients suggested as the pantry let me down (shocker) on tamarind water….but it tasted delicious! And who knows, it could taste even better? The important thing here is to make the dressing seperately and taste as you go along adding more of any ingredient you need depending on the taste which is how I came up with the below. Only then, once you have it to your liking, should you dress the salad. This may sound hard but trust your instinct and taste buds! See below for help.

Serves 2-3 depending on appetite!

  • 1 large papaya, peeled and chopped into matchsticks of julienned with a peeler
  • 3 oz red camague rice
  • 1 small red chilli, finely copped
  • 2cm knob ginger, half grated, half finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar (palm or brown sugar)
  • Bunch mint leavves, chopped roughly
  • Bunch basil, chopped roughly
  • Large handful roasted peanuts
  • 2-3 salmon fillets
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Start by simmering the rice in boiling water for about 20 minutes until cooked. Drain and keep warm
  2. Next make the dressing. In a large bowl, mix together the chopped chilli, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soy, fish sauce and sugar. Give it all a good mix and taste. Add more of what you think it needs. This may be hard but use your instinct. Add more lime for sharpness, sugar for sweetness and soy for savoury saltiness. Quantities will all depend on the ingredients you start with. The soy I used here for example was even new to me –  a very dark, intense type unlike my usual light soy which is less pungent.
  3. Set aside the dressing when you’re happy with it while you julienne the papaya. I have a special peeler for this which I highly recommend if you’re into your raw vege noodles (see here). If not, chopp into matchsticks.
  4. You want to assemble the salad at the last minute when ready to eat so cook your salmon and broccoli before this. Heat a large fryng pan until medium-hot. Add a tbsp olive oil and fry the salmon fillets, skin side down for about 3 minutes on the skin side. Once the skin is nice and crispy turn onto the flesh side and cook for a further 2 minutes to brown it all over and create a lovely charred crust on the outside. Don’t be tempted to cook the salmon longer, the crust on the outside will be a delicous contrast to the soft just-pink inside. No matter what thickness the salmon, it should (generally) never take more than 5 minutes in a medium hot pan. Additionally, it will continue cooking while you bring it to the table.
  5. Steam or boil your broccoli and drain. Drizzle with the sesame oil.
  6. When ready to serve, combine the rice with a few tablespoons of dressing. Add the papaya, chopped herbs and peanuts and mix (reserving a handful or herbs for garnish). Add enough dressing to your liking but make sure its not swimming in the stuff!
  7. Top the salad with your tender salmon fillets alongside your freshly cooked broccoli and scatter with the reserved herbs.

WINE: Excellent served with a delicious Riesling (see here for a suggestion)

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Rump Steak, Herb Fire Sauce

 

Work has been stressful recently I’m not going to lie. So after another long and challenging day I eagerly donned my well worn trainers, embarrassing (but necessary) high vis and rucksack and took to the road and ran home. I love running home after work, its a great way to relax blow the cobwebs from my mind and cleanse my lungs….until I hit Earls Court that is and the bus fumes. Alas.

My run usually involves daydreaming about recipes and what I’m going to cook along with other things. After a long week and some serious after work power yoga sessions I’ve been eating healthy but quick to make suppers and I craved a steak and a little time spent in the kitchen. So….I made a well needed detour past the butchers and nabbed myself a lovely dark, dry piece of rump steak with an unhealthily large piece of flavoursome fat along the back and continued my run home…noticably faster.

Inspired by a chimichurri sauce this to be honest was made on the spot with leftover herbs, plenty of chilli and some lime. I have tried to remember what was added so use this as a guide. Add a touch of anything to balance the flavours and eat with joy! I packed a lot of chilli into mine…it was hot!

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Serves 2

Green Sauce

  • Large handful flat leaf parsley
  • Large handful fresh basil
  • Large handful coriander
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ¼ red chilli (if a hot one)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 btsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil

To serve

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into wedges
  • 2 rump steaks
  • Green beans, asparagus, broccoli or choice of vegetables
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the potato wedges on a baking tray, season generously and drizzle with oil. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until tender and crispy round the edges.
  2. Meanwhile make the sauce. Add all the ingredients except the oil, lime and vinegar to a food processor and season. Blend until chopped. Add the lime and vinegar and blend again. Add enough oil to loosen and bring the sauce together into a thick but spoonable ‘paste’. You don’t want it too runny – more like a salsa.
  3. Heat a frying pan until hot and add a dash of oil. Season the steaks with freshly cracked black pepper and salt. Sear the steak on their edge on the fat side for about 1 minute to render down the fat and allow you to fry the steak in this lovely flavoursome oil. The time will depend on how much fat you have on your steak.
  4. Once rendered and crisp, fry your steak for about 2 to 2 ½ minutes each side for a piece around 2 ½ cm thick (this will give you medium rare). Once cooked leave to rest wrapped tightly in foil for 5 minutes.
  5. When ready to serve, slice your rested steak and drizzle with any resting juices. Serve alongside the roasted potato wedges and any vegetables of your choice. Spoon over your punchy sauce and enjoy!

Drink with nothing but a cold beer of water……..I opted for beer.

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Spiced Lamb, Charred Carrots, Green Coucous, Saffron Yoghurt

 

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I strongly recommend and encourage you to use Organic carrots here but if they’re homegrown, all the better. You can usually tell by their wispy piggy-tail-like ends – these bits always seem to taste the sweetest and nicest. Being simply boiled and charred in a griddle with lemon, the flavour has to good otherwise you’ll just end up chewing on a tasteless carrot stick….

The green couscous recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi and the remainder is a combination of flavours and textures I love and craved last weekend of August that raced by in the blink of my (luckily sun glass clad) eyes!

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Serves 2

Green Couscous

  • 100g cous cous
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • Ground cumin
  • 25g pistachios, chopped roughly
  • 1 small green chilli, chopped
  • Large bunch herbs: Parsley, basil, mint, coriander, dill
  • Good olive oil
  1. Place the couscous in a shallow bowl and season well. Add a very small knob of butter if you wish and then pour over the boiling water. Cover and set aside.
  2. Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and gently and slowly fry the onion until soft and beginning to colour. Add a big pinch of cumin and fry for a few minutes before taking off the heat.
  3. While the onion is cooking, make the herb paste. Blend the herbs in a food processor, adding a slow stream of oil until blended nicely into a paste (The amount of oil you add here is up to you. The more you add the more moist the couscous will be).
  4. When the couscous has absorbed all the water, use a fork to fluff up the grains and add to the pan with the cumin onions. Add the green chilli and pistachios and finely stir through your herb paste.
  5. Taste and add a touch or lemon juice or seasoning or more olive oil to loosen.

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Carrots

  • 6-8 Organic/home grown carrots, cleaned
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  1. Leave the carrots whole and cook in simmering water for about 4 minutes or so but just until tender when pierced with a knife but still with lots of bite and a bit of crunch. Drain and leave to cool and dry a little.
  2. Heat a griddle pan until hot and add the oil.
  3. Griddle the carrots until beginning to char on the outside for a few minutes
  4. Serve warm with the couscous, with the grated lemon zest scattered over the top.

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Lamb Steaks and Yoghurt

  • 2 lamb leg steaks (You can also use lamb cutlets if you wish)
  • Ras el Hanout, Smoked paprika, spice mix (see here)
  • Olive oil
  • 150g plain yoghurt
  • Pinch saffron threads
  1. Sprinkle a good pinch of the dry spices and spice mix over your lamb steaks. Drizzle with olive oil and massage the spices into the meat. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. Put the saffron in a small cup and add 1 tbsp of hot water. Leave to infuse.
  3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan or griddle pan until hot.
  4. Fry the steaks for 2 minutes per side (for a piece the thickness of mine, about 2cm, for medium) and then wrap tightly in foil and leave to rest for at least 5 minutes while you assemble the dish.
  5. Take the saffron water (which should be a vibrate yellow) Pour into the yoghurt with some generous seasoning and stir to combine.
  6. When ready to serve, carve your rested lamb and serve on top of your couscous and carrots with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Drizzle with the resting lamb juices!

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Wine suggestion: Sijnn White 2012 (Chenin-Viogner)

I devoured this with a glass (or two) of Sijnn White 2012. South African, 84% Chenin Blanc, 16% Viogner. Stony fruits, peach, mineral and nutty flavour went deliciously with the spices in this dish.

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Pearl Barley with Walnut, Mint and Basil Pesto

 

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Pesto is such a great addition to bland food – pearl barley, pasta, tossed on boiled vege of ripped through your favourite pizza dough base (personal favourite!) I’m not a regular to the jar of shop bought but sometimes a tablespoon of the punchy stuff is needed, homemade or not. Pesto is all about the basic ingredients (Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, nuts, lemon and oil) mixed until you get the right balance. Basil and pine nuts if you’re a traditionalist but its also delicious with other nuts or herbs. As usual, my lazy self can’t be bothered to weigh so the ‘handful’ measurement has come in again here….I have averaged-small sized hands so do as you please…

Serves 2

Pearl Barley with Walnut, Mint and Basil Pesto

  • 120g pearl barely
  • Handful walnuts
  • Handful grated parmesan
  • ½ lemon
  • Large bunch basil and mint, leaves picked
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x salmon fillets
  • Slow roasted balsamic onions (see here)
  1. Toast the walnuts in a hot dry frying pan until fragrant or roast in a hot oven for about 6 minutes until warm and smelling delicious!
  2. Transfer to a pestle and mortar or a food processor. Pulse until you have fine crumbs with texture.
  3. Add the herbs, garlic and cheese and blend. Season and thin out with the lemon juice and enough oil to get the right consistency for your liking.
  4. Taste and adjust with more of the above.
  5. Cook your pearl barely until tender in a pan of simmering water. When ready, drain and toss liberally with the pesto. Stir through a few whole walnuts and chopped herbs too if you like. Set aside at room temperature
  6. Roast the salmon in a 200°C preheated oven or pan fry, skin side down until crisp and cooked.
  7. Serve the barely topped with salmon, a spoonful of roasted balsamic onions if you like (see here). Drizzle with a good oil and scatter with mint. Serve with greens beans or similar…

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Wild Garlic Pesto

 

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Free ingredients feel cheekily delicious. Whether its that buy one get one free packet of salad, that suspect lemon that apparently didn’t scan in the hands of the conveniently incompetent cashier or, in this case, the hand foraged bunch of wild garlic my sensitive foodie nose kindly led me to on a country walk this Easter. Growing in the hedgerow and just dying to be plucked and cooked these leaves are fragrant with a garlic punch.

Wild garlic should be treated more like a herb- a hardier basil. It can be sauteed in butter but not cooked as hard as a cabbage. I decided to make pesto which can be made in a pestle and mortar and I always find this satisfying and a lovely idea where you really can adjust the consistency, taste and vitally the texture to your own preference steadily and carefully. However my solid granite pestle and mortar weights a tonne and after a long day at work and a run home I wasn’t in need of a weigh session or the horrors of having to unsuccessfully scrape my delicious pesto creation into a bowl and wash up my granite weight. So….shamefully the magi mix came out to do the job for me. I bought a beautiful Godess-like pot of bushy Greek basil on the way home today and couldn’t resist adding a handful to the mix as a nod to the classic pesto but go easy as it is punchy and will overpower the beautiful garlic leaves if added too heavy handidly.

Enjoy with – roasted fish, meats, roasted sweet potato jackets, mixed into pasta sauces, stirred into soups, mixed in salad dressings. I served mine here with pan fried seabass and red camargue rice.

Makes a small bowlful (depending on the amount of oil)

  • 100g wild garlic leaves, cleaned if foraged
  • Optional – a small handful of basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 50g finely grated Parmesan
  • 50g pine nuts, lightly toasted (or walnuts)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive/rapeseed oil (up to 150ml. See note*)
  1. First, if foraged from the bushes, carefully wash the garlic leaves in cold water and pat dry or spin dry in an old school salad leaf drier.
  2. Place in a food processor with the pine nuts, garlic and basil (if using). Blend until chopped finely.
  3. Add the cheese and season.
  4. Now slowly drizzle in the oil until you get the desired consistency. I think I used about 2 tbsp for mine.
  5. Alternatively, bash the leaves with the nuts in a pestle and mortar before adding the cheese and stirring in the oil.
  6. Add seasoning to taste and adjust with whatever you think it needs, a hint of lemon juice perhaps!

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NOTE* – the amount of oil will depend on a few things but I personally like my pesto thick as its more concentrated and punchy in flavour and healthier as it uses less oil. It will also depend on how long you want to keep it. If you plan on storing in your fridge for a bit, pop into a sterilised jar and make sure there is enough oil to cover and seal it from exposure and oxidation.

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Herby Halloumi Wrap

 

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These are an enticing, comforting and friendly hug inside a warm pitta on a rainy December afternoon with the prospect of a Christmas feast approaching. A perfect semi-healthy lunch in the lead up to Christmas. I’m back home in the country air with a day of present wrapping, card writing and general festivity on the agenda. With the house and, more importantly, the kitchen blissfully to myself I welcomed the peace and solidarity and devoured these for a welcome lunch break mid Christmas chores. Alone I’ll admit but I don’t regret a thing…..a thing.

Serves 2

  • 4-6 slices of halloumi (cut thickly)
  • 2 pitta breads (For my homemade pittas see here) or warm wraps
  • Small bunch parsley/coriander
  • Small bunch basil/mint
  • Small bunch dill
  • 4 tbsp thick yoghurt
  • ½ lemon juice and zest
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  1. If making your own the pitta breads start with these (see here) and keep warm while you deal with the halloumi. If not, lightly toast the pitta breads or warm the wraps.
  2. Chop your chosen herbs finely and add the lemon zest. Mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice and some seasoning and set both aside.
  3. Heat a frying pan until hot and add a drizzle of olive oil. Fry the halloumi slices for a few minutes each side on a high heat until golden. Add the honey and remove from the heat and coat the slices in the syrup.
  4. Now assemble your pittas. Cut each open and spoon in a some yoghurt and a handful of herbs. Add your warm sweet halloumi slices and stuff with some more of the herbs and yoghurt.
  5. Devour while warm!

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Wrapped appropriately in a festive napkin….and eaten appropriately with a festive appetite!

Quinoa Salad

 

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I love grains and pulses like quinoa, bulgur wheat and lentils. I’ve always had an appreciation for good food and using interesting ingredients, solidified even more so after painfully watching 3 years-worth of university flatmates religiously eating and buying couscous, pasta and pesto for most meals. So, I thought I’d draw attention to other grains that can offer a little more interest than couscous. Don’t get me wrong, I know couscous is cheap and goes a long way…but its not particularly nutritious. Just by mixing grains like quinoa, bulgur wheat, rice or lentils with a few tasty additions like herbs and lemon with some protein packed nuts and some greasy cheese is a healthy and hearty lunch!

Serves about 2

  • About 120g quinoa/bulgur wheat or a mix (or as pack instructs)
  • Bunch basil leaves, chopped
  • Bunch of mint leaves, chopped
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • ½ red onion, diced finely
  • 1 large tomato, de-seeded and diced
  • Handful of pistachios
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • Olive oil
  • Halloumi
  1. Prepare you quinoa/bulgur wheat (or even couscous?) as instructed on your pack. Usually about 10 minutes in boiling water.
  2. While still a little warm, mix with the tomato, onion, lemon juice, a small drizzle of olive oil and mix well and season to taste
  3. Add the herbs and the pistachios and mix.
  4. If serving with halloumi, fry chunky slices in a splash of oil until golden and serve alongside.