One-Pot Super Nutty Salad

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This is my slightly simplified version of an amazingly delicious M&S salad I had recently. It is wholesome, nutty and full of goodness and flavour.  I used one of those pre-cooked Merchant Gourmet packets called ‘Glorious Grains’ and cooked everything in one pot before sprinkling it with feta cheese.  It took about 20 minutes.

Pre-cooked Merchant Gourmet packets (or cheaper supermarket equivalents) are generally brilliant for packed lunches and quick dinners so look out for them!

Super Nutty Salad (serves approx 4 people)

Oil e.g. olive or rapeseed oil

1 carrot, chopped small

4 heads of broccoli, chopped in to bite size pieces

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Large handful of edamame beans (frozen is fine)

1 packet of Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Glorious Grains (or equivalent)

Tin of black eyed beans, drained

Small handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Small handful of almonds, roughly chopped

1 tbsp soy sauce

Thumb of ginger, peeled, and grated or chopped very small

Optional – handful of roughly chopped coriander

Feta cheese

Heat some oil in a pan and cook the carrot, broccoli and garlic for about 5 minutes, until tender.  Add the edamame beans, Merchant Gourmet glorious grains packet, black eyed beans, peanuts, almonds, soy sauce and ginger and heat for about another 5 minutes, until everything is heated through nicely.

Spoon in to bowls and top with the coriander (if using), crumble over some feta cheese and add a drizzle of oil if you fancy.  Eat!

 

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Gazpacho (Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAre you enjoying the sun but feeling super hot?  This Gazpacho (chilled Spanish tomato soup) is the best and most delicious way of cooling down!  I have tried to make the recipe as simple and quick as possible, so all you need to do is put the following ingredients in to a food processor, blitz well and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Even better if you top it with some finely chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber for a little crunch.  And a sprinkle of black pepper.

Gazpacho (serves 2 with bread as a light meal)

Tin of chopped tomatoes

1/2 red pepper, roughly chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 red onion, roughly chopped

1 large clove of garlic

1 tsp of vinegar e.g. red or white wine vinegar/sherry vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

Blitz the above ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth.  Chill for atleast a couple of hours in the fridge (it will last a few days in there).  When ready to eat, pour in to bowls and serve with a little garnish of chopped pepper, red onion and cucumber.  Eat and feel refreshed!

 

 

 

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

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This is a really hearty, beautifully flavoured fish stew that hails from Brazil (they call it Moqueca).  The fish is simmered in a lovely tomato, coconut, pepper and garlic sauce and the whole dish is topped with fresh coriander, chilli and a squeeze of lime.  I have simplified it slightly so it only takes 25 minutes to make.  Next time I will eat the stew with a hunk of baguette to soak up the flavours!  Wonderful.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca) – serves 2

Oil, for frying

1 onion, sliced thin

1 red pepper, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Tin chopped tomatoes

Carton of coconut cream (160ml)

Salt and pepper

2 fillets white fish, chopped in to large chunks (I chose pollack as it is good value!)

Handful coriander, roughly chopped

1 red chilli, chopped small

2 lime quarters, for serving

Heat the oil on a medium heat and fry the onion and pepper for about 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until softening.  Add the garlic and 1/2 the chopped chilli and heat for a minute, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, coconut cream, salt and pepper.   Heat for 2 minutes then add the fish on top.  Make sure it is mostly covered by the sauce.  Simmer for around 12-15 minutes, until cooked through, turning over halfway.  Spoon in to bowls then top with the remaining chilli, coriander, and a wedge of lime for squeezing.  Enjoy with crusty bread and a cold drink!

Autumn Platter with Aji Green Dip

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This is an unusual and grown up sharing platter of roast autumn vegetables, prawns and tortillas with Aji Green Dip – a Peruvian sauce which is full of flavour and kick.  The dip is super easy and can be made in minutes in a food processor.  If you use ‘lighter than light’ mayonnaise then the dip is also officially low fat!

The whole platter is lovely to share with someone else for dinner, or with several others as a starter.  As an alternative you could use the dip as a sauce by spooning it over roast veg or meat or swirling it in to soups.

Autumn Platter with Aji Green Dip (serves 2 as a main or 4/5 as a starter)

For the things to dip

1 tortilla, cut in to triangles (or a small bag of plain tortilla crisps)

Small pack of king prawns, dry fried for a few minutes (you can use cooked prawns straight from the packet but they are nicer warm)

3 parsnips/2 potatoes/2 carrots – chopped in to thin wedges

Tbsp oil e.g. olive or vegetable oil

For the dip

Small pack fresh coriander
1 green chilli, chopped in to 3
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lime
4 tbsp mayonnaise (if you use ‘lighter than light’ mayo the dip will be officially low fat!)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.

First put the vegetables in an oven tray and drizzle over the oil, until everything is lightly coated.  Roast the vegetables for half an hour or so, turning a few times, until browned and cooked through (the exact time will depend a bit on the oven).  Ten minutes before the veg are done, arrange the cut tortilla in an oven tray and cook each side for about 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and crunchy.

For the dip, put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz for about 20 seconds, until smooth.  Serve in a bowl with the vegetables, tortillas and prawns placed around it for dipping!

Radiant Ratatouille (20 mins prep/50 mins baking)

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I have always had a soft spot for ratatouille, a wonderfully flavoursome and colourful vegetable stew from the south of France.  My mum used to make a really tasty one and I have been known to eat canned ratatouille with a spoon when no one is looking.  Also, if you have ever seen the Pixar film Ratatouille, there is a beautiful scene where a mean and cynical food critic eats a forkful of ratatouille and the experience takes him back to his childhood and turns him in to a nice person..!

This recipe, from ASDA magazine, is simpler than many ratatouille recipes as you simply cover a dish with a can of tomatoes, garlic, dried herbs, basil and vinegar then chop the vegetables and layer them on top (allow about 20 minutes for this).  Bake for around an hour until all the flavours have mingled with each other and then eat it sprinkled with feta cheese alongside some rice.  Just gorgeous.

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Radiant Ratatouille (serves 4 with rice)

Tin chopped tomatoes

Large clove of garlic, crushed

Small handful of basil, torn or roughly chopped

Shake of dried mixed herbs

Dessert spoon of balsamic, white or red wine vinegar

Tbsp oil

1 aubergine, sliced

1 courgette, sliced

Approx 4 medium tomatoes, sliced

2 red onions, sliced

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees.  Pour the tin of chopped tomatoes straight in to your casserole dish, add the garlic, basil, mixed herbs, vinegar and oil and mix well.

Arrange the vegetable slices in neat rows with alternating colours e.g. slice of aubergine/courgette/tomato/onion, and keep repeating this until you have filled the dish (as per the picture above).  Press the vegetables down in to the tomato mixture.  Brush or spray the top of the vegetables with a little oil, to encourage them to turn golden as they bake (this is not essential).

Bake the dish for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the sauce is bubbling hot and the vegetables are tender.  Serve sprinkled with a little feta or goats cheese alongside some rice or bread.

 

 

 

Katie’s Caponata

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Caponata is an incredibly flavoursome Sicilian aubergine stew and really, really worth a try!  Sicilian food is a mixture of traditional Italian and North African influences, and in this dish the aubergine, tomatoes, capers, raisins and white wine vinegar create a dish that is rich, sweet and sour all at the same time.   My boyfriend (a man who is not over the top with compliments) loved it too.  It’s delicious on it’s own, on some crunchy toasted bread, with pasta or couscous.  It also works well hot or cold and will last a couple of days in the fridge!

I did quite a bit of research to keep the Caponata recipe authentic but without a long list of ingredients, and am confident this is a winner.   Hope you like it : )

Katie’s Caponata (serves approx 2)

Olive oil

1 medium to large aubergine, cut in to small cubes

1 onion, chopped small (white or red onion is fine)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Small shake of dried mixed herbs or small handful of chopped fresh basil or parsley (depending on what you have at home or what you fancy)

Tin of chopped tomatoes

2 heaped tsp capers

1 heaped tbsp raisins

Optional – large handful of pine nuts

1-2 tbsp white or red wine vinegar, depending on your taste

Optional – grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top

To avoid having to cook the aubergine in lots of oil, firstly place it in a colander or sieve, lightly salt it (ensuring the salt is mixed in) and leave it for at least 30 minutes over the sink.  This will draw out the aubergine’s natural juices, which will drip a little in to the sink.

Heat some oil in a pan and add the aubergine.  Fry it for 10-15 minutes, until softening, then add the onion, garlic and whatever herbs you have chosen.  Fry for another 5 minutes, until the onion is softened, then add the tin of tomatoes, capers, raisins, pine nuts (if using) and vinegar.  Leave it to simmer for at least 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have reduced down and you are left with a sticky, rich, tasty sauce.  Add salt, pepper and a wee bit more vinegar if you think it needs it (the other flavours might be plenty!)

Serve the caponata with a little olive oil drizzled on top.  Enjoy it on it’s own, on toasted bread, with pasta or couscous.  Grate over some parmesan if you fancy!

 

 

Pea and Mint Soup with Parmesan Crisps

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My favourite springtime recipe has to be pea and mint soup.  It is so fresh and flavoursome that I ate an unacceptably impolite amount of it at my friend’s house once.  You can make parmesan crisps to dip in to the soup for an extra impressive, yet surprisingly simple, dish.

My other seasonal springtime favourites are: charred lettuce and spring onions with goats cheese; potato, onion and fennel tortilla; asparagus with tomato salsa and crumbled cheese; and watercress pesto (all recipes are on this blog and can be made in 30 mins or less!)

Allow about 25 minutes to make the soup and crisps.  You will need a food processor or hand blender and baking/greaseproof paper.
Pea and Mint Soup with Parmesan Crisps (serves 4 as a starter or light main)

1 tbsp oil
Large knob of butter
1 medium potato, diced small
700g frozen peas
2 vegetable stock cubes (ideally OXO as they crumble well)
Large handful mint, roughly chopped
65g parmesan, very finely grated (or use double this if you want two crisps per bowl of soup)

Heat the oil and butter in a pan and when bubbling add the diced potato. Fry for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden and cooked through. Add the peas then add water so they are only just covered. Simmer for a few minutes, until the peas are tender, then crumble in the stock cubes and stir well. Add the mint then then use a food processor or hand blender to whizz everything together until smooth. If the soup is too thick then gradually add water until you are happy with the consistency.

To make the parmesan crisps, heat the oven at 220 degrees/gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with baking/greaseproof paper and on to this divide the grated parmesan into 4 long strips, in a thin layer. Bake for around 5-7 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden. Leave to cool a little, for about 5 minutes, then while still a little warm carefully peel the crisps off the baking paper. Cool until firm.

Serve the soup in bowls with a parmesan crisp on the side to dip in!