Posts tagged salad

Duck & Watermelon Salad

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‘ve a list of recipes that just catch my eye for one reason or another that I immediately add to my ‘to cook’ list. Those reasons could be the choice of ingredients, the vibrant colours or just a mood and craving but all contribute to the creation of this list. Shamefully the list has been growing faster than it has even had a chance to be depleted this summer! However an easy Tuesday this week called for this vibrant and fuss free salad. Not much cooking here – just a lot of chopping and fancy scattering. Studded with pomegranate gems, hidden with crispy morsels of duck supported by a solid foundation of juicy watermelon bricks.

Having just this week returned from a bootcamp-esque paradise holiday in Greece filled with wake boarding, yoga, volleyball (I could go on), this recipe offered the perfect balance to continue the health kick while fantasising about being back in the turquoise oceans and white sands of my much beloved Greece.

It has been adapted by a recipe from ‘The Londoner’. Adapted with an alternate dressing more heavy on the lime and some extra hidden gems – roasted peanuts in any dish are rarely a bad thing. But what we do share is our appreciation for the hot duck – cold melon combo that is just so refreshing and de-wicious.

*[Alex and Alice – if you’re reading (which I hope you are), put this on your ‘to cook’ list too before summer is completely over!]

Serves 2

  • 1/2 large watermelon, chopped into chunks
  • 2 duck legs
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • Bunch of mint, leaves picked and chopped
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Handful of salted, roasted peanuts
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 1-2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the duck and roast in a tray for an hour.
  2. While the duck is cooking, chop your watermelon into big chunks and add to a large salad bowl big enough to contain the whole salad.
  3. Add the chopped spring onions, red chilli and chopped herbs.
  4. Add the peanuts and pomegranate seeds (as many as you wish to balance the rest of the salad) and combine well.
  5. Combine the juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how juicy they are!) and the zest in a jam jar. Add almost the same measure of extra virgin olive oil, but a touch under so its more ‘limey’.
  6. Add the soy, sesame and some seasoning. Place the lid on the jam jar and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking. The last thing you want to do is add a bad dressing to your wonderful salad!
  7. When the duck is ready, quickly shred the meat and crispy skin. It cools quickly so in order to maintain the hot/cold vibe you’re trying to create here, pop it back in the oven for a final blast of heat to warm.
  8. Once hot, add the shredded duck quickly to the salad bowl and coat the salad and duck liberally in the dressing and combine well.
  9. Serve immediately!

I served mine with a nice fresh rocket and cucumber salad and some homemade coconut flatbreads. But this is still a good and healthy meal in itself. A few chunky roasted croutons would not go a miss here however. Just sayin.

Chicken Satay

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 usually feel that people fall into a love or hate category when it comes to peanut butter, the later being of rarity these days what with all the dreamy varieties and versions available. I embrace all that can be combined with it favouring the blackcurrant jam toast. However if you’ve not tried celery sticks dipped in peanut butter yet then you can thank me later for the introduction. Having mentioned the vast choice we now have for this delicious American spread, sadly I hate to admit that a cheap jar works wonders here. Save your fancy and expensive cashew, pecan and peanut blend for your sourdough toast at brunch y’all.

With no need to continue my expressive love of peanut butter, chicken satay is like a warm hug when wrapped comfortingly in the soft hand of a loveable flatbread with a crunchy, fresh salad. And this recipe really can be served in many ways as mentioned below. I prefer whole thighs rather than diced breast as they have far more flavour and texture. Served with a spoonful of the rich, spicy sauce, a zesty salad and some pillowey flatbreads. Alternatively, chop, coat and wrap the chicken and salad in the mits of a floury flatbread or flat wrap and dive in hands or face only. Use any combination of salad you like but whatever you do, coat liberally with lemon! It cuts through the rich and creamy peanut sauce welcomingly and essentially.

NOTE: If you haven’t tried making peanut butter before its really really simple provided you have a food processor! See here 

Adapted from Nigel Slater.

Serves 4

Chicken Satay

  • 4-8 chicken thighs, de-bonded (allow for 1-2 each depending on starter/main serving size)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Thumb ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1-2 limes
  • 125ml crunchy peanut butter
  • 250ml water
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Sunflower or light, flavourless oil.

Salad & Sides

  • 1 cucumber, chopped into batons
  • 4 little gems lettuce, leaves picked
  • Handful radishes, sliced finely
  • Bunch spring onions, sliced as preferred
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful coriander, chopped
  • Flatbreads (homemade, see here)
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and begin with the chicken. Heat a hot frying pan with a tbsp of sunflower oil on a high heat. Fry the chicken skin side down until crispy and golden. Turn the thighs over and seal on the other side. Remove from the pan and place in a baking tray. Finish cooking in the oven for about 15-20 minutes while you make the sauce.
  2. Using the same pan, reduce the heat and soften the chopped onion for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass and fry for just a few minutes being careful not to burn it – the garlic in particular.
  3. Next add the peanut butter and stir well and continuously to combine with the aromats. Reduce the heat to a low and add half the water. Stir to combine.
  4. The sauce will bubble and thicken as you do this so add the rest of the water when needed, a whisk is useful here.
  5. Keep on a very low heat to warm through, adding a splash more water if you require a thinner consistency.
  6. Add the salad ingredients to a large bowl and squeeze over a generous squeeze of lemon and seasoning.
  7. By now the chicken should have finished cooking, remove from the oven and set aside to rest for a moment while you put the final touches to the sauce.
  8. Add the juice of 1 large lime. Taste – if it needs more to cut through the richness then add another squeeze. Add a handful of the coriander and stir to combine saving the remaining herbs for serving.
  9. Serving is up to you – I prefer to place the thighs gently in the sauce to ensure the skin you worked hard to crisp up remains crispy and then serve the whole dish on the table for people to help themselves from – thighs and sauce scattered with the leftover coriander. Alternatively, you can chop the chicken pieces into bite sized chucks and stir thoughout the sauce to coat entirely and serve in your flatbreads/lettuce leaves like a wrap.

Mediterranean Roasted Potato Salad

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ith a holiday on the horizon it was time to use up the rest of the ingredients littering my fridge…I love this challenge.

Thats where the excellent ingredients that Odysea Greek produce come in handy – and ironically it was Greece where I would be destined for! Odysea sent me a glorious box of their devious samples last year and from this I have savoured some store cupboard gems, waiting patiently in the back of my cupboard until called upon and ready to pack a punch when called to the spotlight.

This salad was a mixture of fridge leftovers combined with a few cheeky purchases and of course, some glorious Greek flare. I used Odysea’s ‘Sun Dried Tomato Meze’ – a mixture of tomatoes, capers, and olives chopped roughly and combined in a gloriously flavoured oil. Similarily you can use the former ingredients alone and combine in your own combination but since Odysea did it so well, I figured I’d use their convenience pre-holiday….

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his makes one large chunky roasted salad but feel free to sub in other ingredients to your taste. Serves around 2-3 as a side dish. I served mine with a lovely fillet of grilled sea bass, but some steamed or roasted cod with lemon and parsley would also be delicious.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 2 large potatoes, chopped
  • 1 x packet green beans
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • Bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 6 x large sun dried tomatoes (chopped), 1 handful olives (chopped), 1 tbsp capers OR 4 tbsp ‘Odysea Sun-Dried Tomato Meze
  • 10 slices thin chorizo OR 1/2 ring chorizo sausage, sliced
  • 2 handfuls rocket leaves
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. Start by par boiling your potatoes for about 10 minutes until just tender. Drain, shake in a pan to rough the edges and then tip into a roasting tray. Season and drizzle over a generous coating of olive/sunflower oil. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden and crispy.
  3. Meanwhile while they roast, par-boil the green beans for a few minutes. Drain and cool them under cold water.
  4. Chop the spring onions, parsley and combine in a large mixing bowl with the  cooled beans, lemon zest, sun dried tomato mixture and season.
  5. Pan fry the chorizo in a dry frying pan until crispy.
  6. Once the potatoes are ready, remove from the oven. Top into the salad bowl with the beans and herbs. Add the chorizo.
  7. Finely, just before serving, add the rocket leaves and squeeze over the juice of half the lemon.
  8. Serve!

 

Apricot, Thyme, Honey and Goats Cheese Grain Salad

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his weekend summer finally arrived! I woke in Wiltshire to gleaming sun rays through my curtains, clear blue skies and the promise of a warm balmy day. I could already taste BBQ in the air and with some thick marbled dexter steaks sitting patiently in the fridge, all we needed was a side dish to accompany.

Now I call this a ‘grain’ salad as its open to using any type of grain or pulse of choice. Cous cous, pearl barely, lentils. Follow your taste buds. But for this creative dish I used quite an original and special one. Sent from overseas England has yet to offer this nutty, textured ingredient. Its a cross between cous cous and pearl barley but get this health addicts –  its gluten free! But like I said sadly its not available in the UK yet but at least you know which food blog to check out when it does (ahem). This special packet of gold dust for coeliacs arrived for me overseas from a budding provider and I was keen to taste it. Being very versatile I wanted to use it simply and being gentle in taste it can easily handle strong flavours. Simmer for about 30 minutes and drain for a delicious texture and a wonderful flavour.

Available in both wholegrain and normal.

Jess - Sorghum

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Serves 4

  • 200g sorghum/pearl barley/giant cous cous/lentils
  • 6 fresh apricots
  • Small bunch thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 tbsp runny honey (I used Odysea’s ‘Wild Thyme and Fragrant Herb Honey‘)
  • 125g soft, goats cheese
  • Handful of rocket
  • 1 lemon
  1. Simmer you grain of choice until tender but with a little bite. Drain and leave to cool until just warm.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C.. Slice the apricots in half, de-stone and place on a baking tray. Drizzle over the honey and half the thyme leaves. Season and drizzle over a splash of olive oil and toss together. Roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until the apricots are roasted and softened but still hold their shape. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before cutting each half again in half.
  3. When ready to serve, season the grains and combine with the warm roasted apricots, the rest of the thyme and a handful of rocket leaves. Crumble in the goats cheese.
  4. Finally, dress with the juice of the lemon and stir gently to combine and coat in the lemony juices.

WINE: Served with a deliciously fruity glass of California’s ‘Folk Machine Pinot Noir’ available at Armit Wines

Jess - salad

‘forage in the pantry’ Summer Supper Club

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fter a successful first supper club earlier in the year, the excitement, delight and adrenaline of the event left me hungry to plan and host another! And with that, 3 apprehensive months later my summer edition arrived with a spice packed menu to tempt my next set of 30 greedy foodies.  And what a sunny and  special one this continued to be. Complete with the tuneful soothing and mesmerising sounds of my beautiful singer Doll Duncan…

For this summery occasion the menu was themed around spice from around the world in an original and eclectic mix of flavours and dishes to reflect my style. The sun was beaming as guests arrived to be welcomed with a crisp glass of sparkling Nyetimber to ease us all in to what I hoped to be an evening not to be missed. I began the menu with a fresh colourful starter of warm feta, pea, mint and dill fritters topped with a quenelle of beetroot and walnut humus. Served alongside this, some warm crusty bread and my homemade smoked salt and fennel butter! And who’d have thought, after all the flavours and tastes the evening offered I had more comments and astonished delight at my flavoured butter! On par with my truffles for simplicity, flavoured butter truly is an amazingly simple and easy addition to create which adds a brilliant twist to a meal (recipe to follow). With the taste buds awoken, I followed the starter with a generous oozy and velveting spoonful of my creamy spiced take on a lentil dahl (I did’t hold back on chilli, I’m told….). My ‘hug in a bowl’ dahl was then topped with a curry roasted cauliflower salad flecked with crisp spring onions, chopped mint and coriander. This miniature mountain of flavour was finally topped with a juicy and lovingly warm shredded handful of duck coated in a fresh zesty lime dressing…..

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower duck

Jess - Butter

Fennel and Smoked Salt Butter

  • 250g unsalted butter (Softened)
  • 1 heaped tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp smoked salt
  1. Dry toast the fennel seeds in a pan until fragrant. Leave to cool before grinding in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Tip into a bowl and then grind the salt flakes to a fine powder too.
  3. Add about 1 tsp each of the ground fennel seed and the salt to the butter and stir well to combine evenly throughout. Add a little more fennel or salt dependant on taste.
  4. Spoon the butter onto a piece of cling film in an oblong shape. Roll into a cylinder and tie up the end tightly like a cracker. Place in the fridge to harden before slicing into rounds.

With satisfied tummies, my lovely diners were relieved momentarily from their eating duties digest and embrace the gorgeous and charming sounds of my dear talented friend Doll Duncan who took to the piano like Beyonce to the stage. With a mix of unique covers (including a fantastic version of Billie Jean) and her own thoughtfully written lyrics she captured the room, and all thoughts of food, stomachs and wine were banished as she distracted our senses.

A short moment of sadness followed as she signed off with her last song but souls were comforted with the arrival of dessert! A very English and seasonal affair. A stick sweet ginger and treacle tart topped with a (ironical festively) spiced apple puree and a spoonful of my homemade rhubarb crumble ice cream. Happy diners.

As the evening darkened and many a late night punter strolled past the open windows curiously wondering what they had missed out on, my velvety homemade dark chocolate truffles teased the room only to be accompanied by coffee, teas and late night tipples from Market Porter’s fantastic range. We drank, talked and relaxed into the wee hours…

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Hosted once again at the charming Porter at Embassy Gardens, nothing sums up the evening better than the video snapshot above, created and shot by the talented Keith Hammond.

 

 

Asparagus Salad with attitude

Asparagus

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ts May! My favourite month. Not just because its my birthday month but because summer is around the corner and we occasionally get some warm sunny days that are by now longer and greener. Also, its not quite summer yet so any warmth is a bonus and any rain can’t be really argued about….rain in July however….that can be, thats not on.

In addition, asparagus season kicks off! One of my favourite vegetables and one that I adore but religiously only use in season. Peruvian flown asparagus in November isn’t quite the same. My patient (and I mean patient) Dad has slaved over a beautiful allotment for a good few years now and asparagus has to be one of the benefits of these hours. Its a funny vegetable to grow really. Its painfully teasing in its initial stages, taking 3 years to form solid allotment foundations. It needs to grow and die again before you can even reap the benefits of your first harvest – 3 years! So it was on day one, year one when Dad announced he was to plant some that we all cheered then sat back in asaparugus-less silence as we waited. But wait we did and now we have a wonderful patch of these cheeky greens. I say funny as while it takes years to establish, when the season hits, asparagus shoots up and grows in lightening speed. It has been known to grow up to 25cm in 24hours! So we can hardly cut it quick enough. While the weather wasn’t ideal for a BBQ this weekend for Dad’s birthday that didn’t stop us from having my (oven grilled) spatchcocked BBQ chicken and this wonderful salad filled with all my Dad’s favourite salad staples and his well deserved asparagus served alongside crispy roasted new potatoes

This is more of an assembly of elements which are open to modification.

Crispy fried croutons, boiled eggs, smoky bacon lardons, stir fired spiced broccoli, crunchy bitter little gems and of course this seasons asparagus….

Serves 6

  • 2 little gem lettuces
  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped into florets and halved if necessary
  • Large bunch asparagus (about 8 stems)
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 3 slices brown bread, chopped into 2 cm pieces
  • 100g pancetta/diced smoked bacon/smoked lardons (optional)
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp each fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed, coriander seed.
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Toast the spices in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant then tip into a pestle and mortar and grind. Set aside
  2. Asparagus – Snap the asparagus where it naturally breaks so you can discard the woody end. Chop the spear ends into half finger length pieces. Blanche these in simmering water for just 2 minutes until just cooked but al dente and drain immediately. Cool under cold water to retain the green colour then allow to cool and dry.
  3. Eggs – Simmer the eggs in boiling water for about 8 minutes depending on their size. Aim for a hard boiled consistency but not overdone. Reduce the time a little if you like them runnier. Drain and cool in cold water. Peel and discard the shell and chop each egg into 8 pieces. Season with a little black pepper.
  4. Salad – Snap the outer leaves of the little gems into a large salad serving bowl and chop the hearts into pieces. Add the cooled and dried asparagus.
  5. Croutons – Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, add the bread cubes and some salt and pepper and fry until you have golden and crispy croutons. Drain on kitchen towel and set aside.
  6. Bacon – Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and fry off the bacon pieces until crispy and golden. Drain on kitchen paper then add to the croutons and set aside.
  7. Broccoli – Do this step last so the florets are still a little warm when added to the salad. Either get a clean pan or wipe out the last of the bacon juices and heat a tbsp of olive oil. Add the broccoli florets and season and fry until beginning to char and turn cripsy in places and the stems start to soften. They will have a nice al dente bite to them. As they begin to stir fry and soften, add the crushed spices and fry for a further minute.
  8. Serve – When ready to serve, add the stir fried broccoli to the salad and asparagus and toss well. Add the croutons and bacon and toss again.
  9. Squeeze over the juice of the lemon and a good drizzle of some good quality extra virgin olive oil and toss to combine.
  10. Finally carefully place the eggs on top!

RP - Asparagus

Pistachio and Feta Dip

Jess - Pistachio feta dip2 Jess - Crackers

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ot another dip I hear you say? And not another Moroccan and middle Eastern themed recipe. Yes. Please continue. A boozy and wonderful dinner party in the Wiltshire countryside this weekend was enhanced as it naturally would be by the addition of a Middle Eastern themed feast! And gracious guests of course! And the weather seemed to be on it best behaviour for most of the time rather suitably while we guzzled bubbly Saumur and nibbles. The downpour and lightening only theatrically threatened to steal the attention late into the evening when the food had already stolen my guests hearts. It reminded me a little of my recent venture to Morocco where a hearty downpour after a heavy humid day was still not enough to spoil the show once the hearty tanginess graced our dining tables.

Kicking off with a round (or two) of sparkling Saumur, my new and cheaper favourite alternative to Champagne, to set the tone, this cheesy spiced Turkish/Bulgarian dip went down a treat. A lovely alternative to the usual humus this is perfect with some mini ‘olive oil cracker tongues’ (see here) adapted with the addition of some sweet smoked paprika and rolled smaller and bite sized.

While the middle East is always a source of natural inspiration for me, both these recipes were inspired by a new cookbook purchase that has weakened my already full and bursting cookbook shelf. Bought on a whim having been won over in a trace by the initial sparkling textured cover and once in side, by the beautiful photos and recipe combinations that steal my foodie heart. Adapated slighty but quite welcomely without much amending. Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour. A delightful book for any cookbook collector, food lover or photography buff.

Serves 8 as a nibble with drinks

  • 100g pistachios, shelled
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 200g feta cheese
  • Handful chopped dill
  • Large bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • zest 1 lemon, juice of 1/2
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp dukka (see here) to garish (optional)
  1. Blend the pistachios and oil in a processor for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you get a smooth but rustic texture. Season to taste
  3. Spoon onto a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with any leftover dill leaves, the dukka and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Serve with olive oil crackers.

Dips and drinks were followed by a slow roasted, shredded and falling off the bone leg of  lamb spiced to the nines with Moroccan love. Zesty lime yoghurt and cumin dipping salt on the side of a fresh allotment picked raw vegetable salad….

Serves 8-10

  • 1 large leg of lamb on the bone (2.5kg approx)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • Handful coriander leaves to garnish

Cumin dipping salt

  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a large roasting tin.
  2. Mark deep incisions over the lamb with a sharp knife
  3. In a small bowl, place the butter, spiced, thyme, and garlic and blend into a paste. Rub the paste over the land and into the incisions.
  4. Place the lamb in the tin and pour in 1 large glass white wine. Cover with foil and cook for 4 hours.
  5. During this time, baste the lamb with any juices every 40 minutes or so.
  6. After 4 hours, turn the oven up to 190°C. Remove the foil and finish the cooking for the final 1 hour uncovered to brown the top and crisp the skin.
  7. Meanwhile, for the dipping salt, dry fry the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind. Add the salt and cinnamon and grind together lightly. Tip into a small ramekin or bowl.
  8. After 5 hours, remove the lamb from the over. Cover with foil and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
  9. When ready to serve, carve the lamb which should tenderly fall from the bone. Carve into chunky pieces and slice the herbed skin. Serve on a large warmed serving platter, scattered with coriander leaves.
  10. Serve e.g some turmeric and cumin roasted new potatoes, fresh raw green salad and a limey creamy yoghurt.

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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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Balsamic Beets, Lentil and Hazelnut Salad

This can only be described as a super hearty salad. A man salad if you will. Bits and pieces foraged from both the allotment, the pantry and the dark saddened depths of the vegetable fridge draw. Not sure if its just me but does anyone else suffer from the wilting and unappetising reduced packet of dill sitting shyly in the bottom draw of the fridge? Often usually buried beneath the more popular and beautiful fresh non-reduced delights…

Put to good use here however:

Serves 2

  • 4oz Puy lentils
  • 2 raw beetroot, washed
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • Handful dill, chopped,
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Handful chives, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Handful hazelnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and fresh black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chop the beetroot into wedges and place in a roasting tray. Season and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for about 20-30 minutes until tender and beginning to crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, simmer the lentils in water for about 18 minutes until tender but with a slight bite.
  3. Roast the whole hazelnuts in the hot oven for about 8 minutes. Remove and if skinned, wrap in a tea towel and rub them until the skins peal away easily then leave to cool before roughly chopping.
  4. After the beetroot is tender enough turn the oven down to 180°C. Add the garlic and coat the beetroot in the balsamic vinegar. Continue to roast for 5-10 minutes until the balsamic begins to glaze the beetroot slightly. Remove from the oven and set aside to keep warm.
  5. Drain the lentils when ready. Season well (it will need it) and add the roasted garlicy beetroot and any balsamic juices. Add the chopped herbs and the chopped hazelnuts.
  6. Combine all well and serve. I served mine topped with some lovely pan fried sea bream and a raw shaved fennel and pea salad! Delicious…

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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.