Date Archives November 2013

Quinoa Salad



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.

Spinach, Mushroom and Ricotta Pizza



Ok so it’s a tomato-less pizza…don’t shoot me. This was also pointed out by my (notably) satisfied and well fed but rather unjustifiably disappointed dad? A night of using up all ingredients littering the fridge, clinging on for dear life before labouring into town for a weekly food shop. One of my favourite challenges….make something from what you have left. Its a great way to be creative, prevent waste and come up with new ideas! Challenge accepted, I created this. Spinach forced its way into the base while the topping was a mix of mushrooms, lemony ricotta and some lovely fragrant thyme. Give me ready steady cook anyday?

Serves 4 lightly


  • 1 mug self raising flour
  • ½ water
  • 100g spinach
  • Pinch cumin seeds


  • 200g mushrooms, chopped
  • Small bunch thyme leaves
  • Knob of butter
  • 250g ricotta
  • 150g mozzarella, sliced
  • Handful pine nuts
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  1. Start on the base. Wilt the spinach in a hot pan with a splash of water. Once wilted, drain and squeeze out as much of the moisture as possible. Chop finely.
  2. In a food processor, add the flour, cumin seeds, plenty of seasoning and the spinach. Blend together and slowly add the water, stopping when the mixture forms a soft dough. You will need to use your instinct with the amount of water being used.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead to form a smooth dough. Put aside to rest.
  4. Melt the butter and a splash of oil in a hot frying pan and add the mushrooms. Fry over a medium high heat until they have released their juices. Add the thyme leaves and continue to fry until golden. Set aside.
  5. Loosen the ricotta in a bowl with the juice from ½ a lemon and the zest.
  6. Heat the grill to high. Next, heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add a splash of oil. Roll out the dough thinly and add to the pan pushing into the oil. While the bottom begins to cook and crisp,spoon over the ricotta and spread out evenly. Grate over the lemon zest. Top with the mozzarela and finally the mushrooms. Scatter with the pine nuts and continue to cook the base on the hob until the bottom is beginning to crisp and turn golden (you will need to lift it up now and again to check).
  7. Once you’re happy with a crispy base, pop under the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes until the top is melted and the rest of the dough and crust has cooked.
  8. Remove from the grill and devour drizzle with some good quality grassy green extra virgin olive oil.


Chestnut Butter


Another little experiment with some free and slyly foraged chestnuts got underway last week. ‘Bonne Mamma’ currently do a chestnut spread but I’m never one to buy when I can make it at home with a little TLC. I’m keen on making nut butters, particularly my pumpkin seed butter which is now a delicious staple in my fridge.

The fresh vanilla seeds make this and are delicious so don’t scrimp on buying a few willing pods for your pantry.

NOTE: For tips on cooking chestnuts, see here

Makes 1 jar

  • About 250g cooked, peeled chestnuts.
  • 90ml honey
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds removed
  • Pinch salt
  • Water to loosen
  1. Place all in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding water towards the end to thin to your liking.
  2. Store in sterilised, sealed jars and keep in the fridge.

Delicious slathered by the trowel-full on toasted sourdough or soda bread or inside the warm arms of a buttery croissant!