Cauliflower & Cherry Salad

I love cherries so much – when I was a kid I would ask for a bag of them as a snack from the grocers. Weird kid huh. Anyway I was really happy to see a recipe using them that wasn’t a dessert even if I am very partial to a cherry clafoutis. This recipe was in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’. Such a great book, I really recommend it. I subbed out brown rice for bulghar wheat and probably any mix of fresh herbs would be fine.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 200g bulghar wheat
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • 200g cherries
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 30g fresh mint
  • 30g fresh dill
  • 4 tbsp yoghurt

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C

2.) Chop up the cauliflower into florets

3.) Add the bulghar wheat and cauliflower to a pan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 10 minutes then remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon. Continue simmering the bulghar wheat until cooked. When done, drain and set aside to cool.

4,) Line a baking tray and place on the cauliflower. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with za’atar and salt and pepper. Get another baking tray and crush down. Leave the top tray on the cauliflower and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. (In fact I forgot to do this straight away and ended up taking the cauliflower out halfway through but I think I got away with it. It may have been easier to crush).

5.) While this is baking, prepare the cherries. Destone the cherries, roughly chop and throw into a mixing bowl.

6.) Finely chop the preserved lemon, removing the pips and add to the cherries. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice in from one of the halves. Drizzle in the honey and 3 tbsp olive oil. Give it a good mix.

7.) Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan on a low heat until they start to smell fragrant.

8.) Finely chop up the dill and mint. Mix with the bulghar wheat along with the juice from the other half of the lemon.

9.) Plate up the bulghar wheat and place on the cauliflower. Spoon over the cherry mixture, sprinkle over the pine nuts and spoon over some yoghurt.

Salsa Verde couscous

I do like a couscous salad. They’re quick and easy to prepare and easy to scale up if you want some leftovers which is what I did with this recipe from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’. In the original recipe, the salsa verde makes enough for four servings so it seemed meant to be. You could switch out the chickpeas with some quorn/meat substitute or if you’re not vegan, feta would be delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 onion
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 300g couscous
  • 2 small green chillis
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 30g coriander leaves
  • 25g parsley
  • 15g mint
  • 10g basil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp cornichons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp capers
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 lime
  • 1 pomegranate

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and line a baking tray with some baking paper. Put some kitchen roll on a plate.

2.) Open the tin of chickpeas, drain and rinse the chickpeas, pour them onto a plate and pat the chickpeas dry.

3.) Move the chickpeas to a mixing bowl, add the sumac and syrup and stir to coat.

4.) Pour the chickpeas onto the tray.

5.) Peel and slice the onion and dice the courgette and pepper

6.) Add the veg to the tray with the chickpeas and season. Put in the oven for 25 minutes.

7.) In the meantime, make the salsa. In a blender, add the chilli (seeds in or out depending on how spicy you want to go), the coriander (save some for a garnish), basil, mint and parsley. Peel the garlic and add that. Add the vinegar, mustard, capers, cornichons, oil and water to the blender. Halve the lime and squeeze in the lime juice. Blitz to a liquid.

8.) Prepare the couscous. Boil some water (about 450ml). Put the couscous in a big bowl. Pour over the boiling water so it’s covered. Leave for a few minutes and fluff up with a fork.

9.) Prepare the pomegranate by chopping in half and extracting the seeds.

10.) Once the veg and chickpeas are cooked, mix with the couscous and serve onto plates. Dollop over spoonfulls of the salsa verde and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and remaining coriander leaves.

Scallop gratin with artichoke salad

So far my week off work has been more stressful than I was originally hoping. My cat, Figaro got a stomach upset on Easter bank holiday when all the vets were closed except the emergency one miles from our home. Giving him a new flavour of the pet food he normally eats was enough to do it. After two trips to the vet and being hand-fed for 4 days he finally seems to be on the mend. I nearly had a heart attack when my other cat, Gino came bursting through the cat flap with what looked to be a broken paw. Fortunately he’d just gotten his paw stuck in his collar and there was nothing wrong with him. At least I had a nice treat with this delicious scallop gratin.

This recipe works with the tiny frozen scallops you get from the supermarket, I just defrosted them before using. The version in the book is served in the scallop shells but I used ramekins. The recipes are from the book ‘Cicchetti’ – a book of small Italian dishes that I really love.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 10 small scallops
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 30g butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5g parsley leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 5g chives
  • 2 tins artichoke hearts
  • 30g parmesan
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Peel and chop the garlic, finely chop the parsley

3.) Melt the butter in a pan and then add the garlic and 1/3 of the parsley

4.) Arrange the scallops in 2 ramekins

5.) When the oven is ready, pour the breadcrumbs into the butter and give them a stir

6.) Divide the breadcrumbs between the ramekins and place the ramekins on a baking tray

7.) Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown

8.) While the scallops are baking, grate the parmesan

9.) Add to a mixing bowl, drain the tins of artichoke hearts and chop up

10.) Put the artichokes in the mixing bowl and add the rest of the parsley, some seasoning, mustard and the oil and give it a good mix

11.) Chop up the chives to serve with the scallops and artichokes.

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Summer Rolls

Summer rolls are really a salad but they don’t feel like salad. After a couple of unseasonably warm April days, these fresh, delicious rolls made a great dinner. You can find the rice paper in any oriental supermarket and it’s also readily available on Amazon. I did get back home a little late so I was a bit lazy in making a dipping sauce, just using some pre-made sauces that we had but sweet chilli, soy sauce, satay sauce and hoisin sauce would all be great options. Dipping the rice paper into the water meant my hands were always wet and it was difficult to take pictures of the assembly but as you can see, my rolls were more oblong shaped and it doesn’t really affect the taste.

Makes about 12 rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 small carrots
  • 10g mint
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • 100g pack of pre-cooked prawns
  • 200g pack vermicelli rice noodles
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • rice paper (one pack usually contains at least 50 wrappers)

Method

1.) Microwave the vermicelli noodles according to the instructions.

2.) Peel the carrots and chop them into thin batons about the length of a third of a carrot. Add to a mixing bowl. (You will also need a mixing bowl bigger than the size of your rice paper so bear that in mind in your container choice).

3.) Wash and chop the lettuce into thin strips and add with the carrots.

4.) Finely chop the herbs and add with the lettuce and carrots

5.) Chop up the prawns and add to the salad.

6.) Add the noodles to the bowl and mix everything.

7.) Fill the largest mixing bowl you have with cold water and place a rice paper wrapper in to soak.

8.) Leave for about 30 seconds until soft. When they’re too soft they end up sticking together so keep an eye on it.

9.) Place the rice paper on a plate (it won’t stick) and place the next wrapper in the water.

10.) Dump some of the mixture in the middle of the rice paper

11.) Wrap it up like a burrito – ends first then middle bits.

12.) Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

13.) Serve with your dipping sauce of choice. I found these kept quite nicely in the fridge with some foil over them for the next day.

Roasted Veg and grain Salad

4 more working days until a week off work and I’m very excited about it even though I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the time as everything is closed! Still, just a couple of weeks until I can hit the gym and give the hairdresser a heart attack with my wonky self-cut fringe.

This is a great recipe if you’re like me and wanting to off-set some of the lockdown unhealthiness by getting in your 5 a day. Capers and mustard in the dressing pack a flavour punch as healthy does not need to be bland. I took this recipe from BBC Good Food.

Serves 4 (as a main)

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 400g carrots
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 200g spelt
  • 100g green beans
  • 10g parsley
  • 10g mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard
  • 100ml oil
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Line a roasting tin

3.) Break up the cauliflower into florets and add to a mixing bowl

4.) Peel the carrots, top and tail them then slice into strips and with the cauliflower

5.) In the bowl, add 2 tbsp of the oil, the honey, the cumin and some salt and pepper.

6.) Mix it all up, I think the only way is to get your hands in.

7.) Stick in the oven to roast for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn over the veg to make sure all sides brown.

8.) While the vegetables are roasting, put a kettle on to boil, and add the pearl barley and the water to the pan. Cook for about 18 minutes.

9.) Trim the edges of the green beans and add to the pan with the barley and cook for another 7 minutes until the beans and barley are tender.

10.) While the veg and barley is cooking, make the dressing, chop finely the herbs, add to your container of choice, pour in the oil and vinegar, stir through the mustard, add the capers and a bit of seasoning and give it a good mix.

11.) Drain the pearl barley and beans. Tip it over the tray roasted veg. Dollop the dressing around the tray and serve.

Middle-eastern Chickpea Salad

A tasty salad recipe from the Vegan duo behind the Bosh cookbooks and series. You may have noticed there’s no chickpeas in this recipe – the supermarket was completely out believe it or not! I assumed a tin of mixed beans would do the job and they did except for a bit of splitting while baked – didn’t change the taste though. This is a nice quick one to make and I even put the beans in the oven before the football started and finished off the salad at half time without missing any of the match.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tsp olive pil
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 120g leaf salad
  • 10g mint
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp oil

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray

2.) Drain the beans and pat them dry with kitchen roll

3,) Add the beans to a mixing bowl and add the tsp oil, paprika, cumin, coriander and a pinch of salt

4.) Stir to coat the beans in the spice and spread out on the baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes.

5.) Prep the rest of the salad. Chop up the cucumber (I got rid of the middle bit as it’s very watery), slice the tomatoes in half, chop up the avocado flesh and finely chop the mint,. Add these and the salad leaves back to the mixing bowl. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice. Add the tsp olive oil and stir.

6.) Now make the dressing – beat the tahini with the syrup, 1 tsp oil, salt and 1 tsp water.

7.) When the beans are ready, add to the salad mixture then pour over the dressing and gently toss.