Baked Feta Salad

After watching a bit of American Gods on Prime and now the Sandman on Netflix I’m wondering if all Neil Gaiman books are pretty similar – both shows have several Gods with different powers though Sandman’s seem to be more functional like ‘Dream’ and ‘Death’. The ‘Death’ character is pretty much what it says on the tin and seeing her killing off a few people who were very far from old age reminded me of my own recent near death experience. As I discovered upon taking a blood sample, I’m actually horrifically scared of blood to the point where if I see it, my body will put me into shock. As someone who’s watched Kill Bill at least 10 times without an issue this was news to me but I assume it’s my own blood I have an issue with. It explains why I also went into shock the last time I gave blood – I turned round to see how the donation was getting along fainted, and wouldn’t come round for a while. At the time they said it’s because I hadn’t eaten enough that day – as if that could ever happen!

As for eating, I saw this recipe for baked feta in a Good Housekeeping recipe collection and I thought about the time my Cypriot friend made us some baked feta. When you bake feta, the flavours really mellow and the texture is also very nice. The recipe bakes the feta with some fruits – figs and peaches and some hazelnuts. Then I just serve it with some salad leaves.

Serves 2 (main meal)

Ingredients

  • 200g block of feta
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 nectarines
  • 4 figs (I used dried)
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 25g chopped roasted hazelnuts
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salad leaves

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Line a baking tray and place the feta in the middle

3.) Slice up the nectarines and onion and scatter around the tray. Halve the figs and scatter these too.

4.) Pick off the tarragon leaves and arrange around the tray then sprinkle over the hazelnuts and chilli flakes.

5.) Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and oil.

6.) Bake for 20 minutes. Serve the baked feta and fruit etc with the salad leaves.

Prawns with Pernod

I’m such a lover of the anise flavour that obviously I’m also a fan of Pastis even if it is seen as a bit of a grandmother’s drink. Now that I’ve bailed out of dry January as as unfair bad performance review just tipped me over the edge in what is already the year’s most miserable month, I may well have a tipple of the stuff tonight. Although pastis is a French liqueur, using anise flavoured booze with prawns is actually more of a Greek tradition. I have fond memories of a lovely restaurant in Thessaloniki where we had prawns with a cream and Sambuca sauce. I saw this recipe in ‘Nopi’ and it reminded me of that dish. However, after Christmas indulgence I didn’t really want the cream so this recipe with just a bit of feta seemed a good trade off.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 600g king prawns
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 120g feta
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 fennels
  • 180ml pernod (or any other brand of Pastis)
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 70g butter
  • 20g tarragon
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • salt

Method

1.) Strip the thyme leaves from the sprigs, mix with the 2 tbsp olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Zest the lemon and add to the bowl and peel and finely dice the garlic and add that. Put the prawns in the bowl, mix everything and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour.

2.) Chop the feta into cubes and add to a small bowl with the chilli flakes and oregano. Give it a stir and also leave to marinate in the fridge.

3.) In the meantime, finely slice the fennels and the tarragon. Measure out the stock.

4.) After an hour, heat up a frying pan and cook the prawns until they’re pink and set aside on a plate.

5.) Add the fennel to the pan and cook for about 7 minutes until soft. Pour in the stock and measure out the pernod and pour that in too.

6.) Let this reduce to about 1/3, reduce the heat, add the tarragon and butter and let the butter melt to a creamy sauce.

7.) Add the prawns back into the pan then place the spinach on top of everything. Leave for a couple of minutes so the prawns can warm up and the spinach wilts.

8.) Divide up the prawns and fennel mix, sprinkle with sumac. Take the feta out the fridge and spoon a bit onto each plate.

Superfood Salad

Superfoods may be seen as a bit of a fad but the thing is, most of them are really delicious. This salad may be made up of some slightly different superfoods from Jamie Oliver’s original recipe from his website but I’m going to blame that on the train service in this country, resulting in me having to do a rush job lunch-time shopping trip to an M&S express. Nonetheless, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, parsnips and nuts contribute to making this delicious.

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • tsp olive oil
  • 200g bulgur wheat
  • 1 broccoli
  • 35g mixed nuts (I used a mix of pine nuts and sunflower seeds)
  • 1 small tub pomegranate seeds
  • 2 limes
  • 1 pack beansprouts
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves
  • 1 pack feta cheese
  • salt

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) Peel and cube the parsnips and potatoes

3.) Line a baking tray

4.) Add the cubed vegetables to a mixing bowl, add half a tbsp oil then add the chilli flakes, a sprinkle of salt, the ground coriander and the cinnamon. Turn around with your hands until everything is coated with the spices then pour into the baking tray.

5.) Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until soft.

6.) While this is baking, peel and dice the onion.

7.) Heat some more oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for a couple of minutes. Then add the beansprouts. Fry until everything is soft then turn off the heat.

8.) In another pan, add the bulgur wheat with enough water to cover and bring to the boil.

9.) Chop up the broccoli and add in the pan with the bulgur wheat.

10.) Cook for about 10 minutes until the broccoli and bulgur wheat is soft. Turn off the heat, drain off the water and set aside to cool.

12.) In another small pan, toast the nuts until they’re starting to give off a nutty fragrance then remove them from the heat.

13.) Chop the feta cheese into cubes and add to the mixing bowl. Slice the limes and add the juice into the bowl. Chop up the coriander leaves and add them to the bowl.

14.) Once the broccoli and bulgur wheat, potatoes and parsnip, onions and beansprouts have cooled to lukewarm, combine them with the rest of the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Give everything a good stir.

Quinoa “Porridge”

I’m excited to blog this recipe as it’s one of my favourites and I make it at least every couple of months. The health benefits of quinoa are endless, probably why it’s had such a big boom in the last few years. It’s packed with fibre, protein and nutrients. Although this is called porridge it’s not really a breakfast recipe though I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (or breakfast, dinner and tea as we call it in the north of England). The recipe is taken from Yotam Ottonlenghi’s ‘Plenty More’ which is a brilliant vegetarian cookbook. Ottonlenghi has a few restaurants in London and Nopi is located in one of my favourite parts of London – just off super cool Carnaby Street. It’s incredibly reasonably priced for the restaurant of a celebrity chef and though it is not a vegetarian restaurant, it’s an absolute mecca for vegetarians as this guy can really pack flavour into greens. As I write this I’m daydreaming about the chargrilled aubergine with yoghurt. In fact, I’ve just decided to buy the Nopi cookbook so I can blog about that one too …

Serves 2

Ingredients

130g quinoa

400ml vegetable stock

5g parsley

5g mint

50g feta

100g spinach

200g plum tomatoes

spray oil

salt

Method

  1. Make up the 400ml vegetable stock
  2. Put the quinoa in a pan and pour over the stock, put onto simmer for about 15 minutes
  3. In the meantime, put the grill on and put the tomatoes on a tray to roast until they start to blacken. Spray them with oil and sprinkle with salt
  4. While these are cooking, chop up the herbs and crumble up the feta
  5. When the quinoa is cooked, add the spinach and let it wilt
  6. Add in the feta and the tomatoes and stir through with a sprinkle of salt
  7. Garnish with the herbs