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.

Vietnamese ‘Chicken’ & Mint Salad

I first made this salad many years ago when I lived in the US. Nigella Lawson was doing a competition on her website where you had to make this salad, plate it and take a picture and the best looking picture won. I was a bit annoyed back then because I’d submitted my photo and plated in a certain way then the person who eventually won posted after me and plated very similarly. But resentment over, this is a great salad, the cabbage makes it nice and crunchy and it’s so easy these days to replace the pulled chicken. I used Linda McCartney’s hoisin ‘duck’. The mint balances the spices very nicely and the fish sauce adds a nice sourness. Anyone who is familiar with Nigella Lawson will appreciate her narrative on the recipe ‘When it comes to chicken, I am very much a thigh than a breast person’. She is my idol!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 clove garilc
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • pepper
  • 200g white cabbage
  • 1 carrot
  • 200g chicken substitute
  • 40g mint

Method

1.) Heat a frying pan and cook the chicken substitute until crispy then set aside to cool.

2.) Make the dressing by adding the chilli to a measuring jug, crush the garlic clove, finely chop and add that, add the sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, a pinch of pepper and oil. Stir and leave to sit.

3.) Shred the cabbage and add to a large salad bowl. Peel the carrot and grate and add with the cabbage. Pick off the mint leaves and chop up and mix in. Peel and finely chop the onion and add that. Add the cooled ‘chicken’. Finally, add the dressing and give everything a good mix. Serve.

Lady Marmalade Salad

I made this salad as an accompaniment to my anchovy and olive pissasladiere. I wasn’t 100% happy with that so I won’t post about it this time but this salad from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’ was really something special even though I couldn’t get the chicory that’s meant to be in it and subbed with Romaine lettuce. You cook down some orange juice then add some honey and vinegar so it’s spicy and sweet and honestly I think I could drink the stuff. Jamie recommends to serve with goat cheese on toast. I remember a few years ago there seemed to be a trend of pairing orange and coffee flavour which sounds intriguing but I never got round to trying it out, probably in cake form.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons pistachios
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon runny honey
  • 2 romaine lettuces

Method

1.) Shell the pistachios then toast lightly in a frying pan.

2.) Bash them up in a pestle and mortar and set aside.

3.) Chop the oranges in half and squeeze the juice out into a small saucepan. Remove any pips.

4.) Simmer until syrupy then take off the heat.

5.) Add the vinegar, olive oil and honey and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything.

6.) Wash and chop up the lettuce and place in a salad bowl. Mix with the dressing. Serve and sprinkle with the pistachios.

Halloumi Orange Salad

It’s kind of summer in the UK (well as much as we get) so I fancied a nice summery salad which I found in this on the BBC Good Food website. The Vitamin C probably did me a few favours with my COVID too. Early this month the two final episodes of Stranger Things aired and I got round to watching them this weekend, it was a bit of an event to manage for as they’re film-length. Even if you haven’t seen this show, you must have heard of how Kate Bush’s song ‘Running up That Hill’ has given her a number one over thirty years after the original song came out. It’s even cooler because she’s now made the record for the longest time period between two number one songs. The song features because in the show there is another world full of monsters called the ‘Upside Down’ and the biggest monster of all ‘Vecna’ can drag you down there if you have something traumatic that’s happened in your past. However, your favourite song can pull you out of it, which is how Kate Bush features. Obviously this led to a discussion on what would be the song that rescues you from Vecna, mine would be Bohemian Rhapsody which in my opinion does for music what the Godfather did for films. My husband stole my suggestion and my friend’s was ‘Life on Mars’. What would you choose?

Serves 2 as main meal

Ingredients

  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 large carrots (I used carrot battons as it was all I could find but the original recipe calls to grate the carrot into ribbons)
  • 225g halloumi
  • 100g watercress

Method

1.) Peel the oranges and cut the flesh away from the pith. Chop into small pieces

2.) Add the oranges and juice to a large bowl. Add the carrots and watercress.

3.) In a small bowl, mix the honey, mustard, vinegar and oil and pour into the salad. Mix everything to coat.

4.) Slice up the halloumi and place on a baking tray with some baking paper.

5.) Grill under a hot grill for 5 minutes until browning and bubbling. Flip with a fork and do the same on the other side. Serve with the salad.

Smoked Tofu Salad

I am feeling particularly in the mood for spring after the sunny weather and visiting the Orangerie museum in Paris which houses many of Monet’s famous waterlilies. I was very much looking forward to seeing them after my attempt to reproduce a Monet in an art class. I highly recommend this museum, it’s amazing to see the full sized works of Monet and how what doesn’t look like much detail close up really makes the scene as a whole. I do think that Monet had the right idea just painting his garden everyday though unlike Monet, I hate gardening so I think I would have to get a house next to the sea or just paint cityscapes. Smoked tofu is just the best and this salad from the Hairy Dieters Go Veggie pairs it with orange, avocado, spinach and quinoa.

Serves 4 as lunch or 2 for dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 oranges
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 200g smoked tofu
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Simmer the quinoa in some water until cooked. Drain and set aside.

2.) Peel the oranges and cut out the segments away from the pith.

3.) Slice the oranges up thinly and push the segments and the juice into a large mixing bowl.

4.) Add the spinach to the bowl.

5.) Slice up the spring onions and add these.

6.) Make the dressing by whisking up the mustard, olive oil, juice of 1/2 of the lemon and some salt and pepper.

7.) Peel the avocado and slice this up and add to the bowl.

8.) Add the quinoa. Pour over the dressing and mix everything up. Serve.

Bhel Puri Salad

It’s a salad but a salad with puffed rice (Rice Krispies), Poppadoms and Bombay Mix. Salad doesn’t get much better than this. You only need 50g of delicious Bombay Mix, a delicious Indian snack with dried noodles and peas, peanuts and spices but unfortunately I could only find it in a big 500g bag and it’s ridiculously moreish and unhealthy. The recipe was in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’ and went down pretty well in my household.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cm ginger
  • 2 tsp tamarind chutney
  • oil
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 lemon
  • 50g peanuts
  • 100g rice krispies
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 10 radishes
  • 1 chilli
  • 15g mint
  • 15g coriander
  • 2 poppadoms
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 50g Bombay Mix

Method

1.) Peel and grate the ginger. add the chutney and 1 tbsp oil. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and mix. Tip this into a salad bowl.

2.) Toast the peanuts and rice in a frying pan until lightly golden then set aside.

3.) Peel and dice the onion. Chop up the cucumber (I get rid of the seeds as they’re very watery). Quarter the tomatoes and slice up the radishes. Finely chop the chillis and the herbs. Add the vegetables with the salad dressing.

4.) Chop the pomegranate in half and bash out the seeds into the bowl.

5.) Add the garam masala and bombay mix and stir everything together.

6.) Crush up the poppadoms and sprinkle over the top before dishing up.