Pistachio, pomegranate & herby rice

We’ve well and truly hit BBQ season. I love the whole shabang, I like making plates and bowls of food that people can dip into, and I enjoy the consideration process about which textures and tastes will mix and match the best. When done right BBQ’s are food festivals. They bring people together in the sunshine to enjoy old classics mixed with new tinkerings and tastes.

This salad is a perfect addition to any BBQ spread. It’s more impressive and interesting than your average rice. The fruity sweetness from pomegranate and lemon works really well with the salty crunchy nuts, making it pretty god damn moreish. I wouldn’t worry what to match this one with, it goes with fish, meat or just a bit of green salad. If you’re lucky you might have enough left after guests to just enjoy a simple bowl on it’s own the next day.

rice salad_4

Weights and measures

You don’t need to worry about following specifics too firmly on this kind of thing. It’s nice to prepare for people coming with music on and a feeling of freedom in the kitchen, rather than the prescriptive panic of half measures and exacting teaspoons.

Roughly speaking you need the following for 6 servings:

  • 500g cooked basmati and wild rice (about 180 grams pre cooked weight)
  • 2 generous tablespoons pomegranate seeds (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
  • 2 generous tablespoons of crushed pistachios (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
  • 2 big handfuls chopped mint
  • 2 big handfuls of chopped basil
  • Juice from a lemon
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

rice salad_1

How to make:

  1. Cook your basmati and wild rice according the instructions. Make sure you don’t overcook it. The basmati should be soft and fluffy rather than soggy. Leave it to thoroughly drain and cool before you mix in the other ingredients.
  2. Add the fruit, nuts and herbs, give it a good mix
  3. Mix the lemon and oil together separately, then add to the rice dish. You might not need all the oil suggested, just add half, some salt and pepper and taste first. You can tweak to add more lemon, more oil and more seasoning to your own tastes.
  4. Cover until you’re ready to serve. Make sure this doesn’t go to the table straight from the fridge, room temperature is best alongside your hot BBQ food.
  5.  Before you serve, sprinkle with more pomegranates and nuts

Enjoy xx

Herby green marinade

Summer time! The first week of the school holidays thankfully went without a hitch. I think it’s going to be a good one. We’ve got a long summer with visits from those we love and visits to those we dearly miss.

On the food front summer means plenty of BBQ action. I love a BBQ. It’s the perfect way to serve up lots of little bowls and plates of my kind of food. I love the ceremony of it all, the big banquet of chargrilled vegetables, dips, fruits, fresh shellfish and sexy salads.

This heavenly marinade is perfect for white meat and fish. It’s generous on the garlic and herbs, meaning it really holds its own among a mixed platter of BBQ food.

Chicken_1

To make enough marinade for 2 salmon fillets and 2 chicken breasts you will need:

  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 3 long sticks of fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons of other fresh herbs. I used basil, mint and coriander
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Juice from a large lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard
  • Seasoning to taste

Salmon_3

To make:

  1. Chop your fish/meat into generous cubes – so that they hold their form on the BBQ and don’t drop off the skewers.
  2. Divide the fish/meat into freezer bags – don’t share the same bag for meat and fish.
  3. Pop the marinade ingredients into the blender and whizz up for a few seconds. As with a salad dressing, you need to then taste it. It should be strong and punchy – it’s got to coat the meat and deliver some impact once cooked.
  4. Pour in equal measures into the bags, give a little gentle shake to get good coverage.
  5. Store in the fridge for around 2 hours or more.
  6. When you’re ready to cook, load the fish/meat to metal skewers. Don’t overload or overcrowd, the measures here make 4 large kebabs.
  7. Cook on the BBQ… the timings and technique is down to preference and equipment. The chicken will take a little longer that the fish. I prefer Salmon to be pink, very soft in the middle. Whatever you do, you’ll need to test both before serving.
  8. Serve up with salad, corn and relish or chutney.

Delicious. Enjoy x

Seville orange and mint salad

This time last week we were returning from a weekend in the sparkling city of Sevilla. Steeped in history, yet youthful in feel, it is a welcoming, warm and charismatic place to visit.

Seville offers some amazing culinary options with bodegas and tapas restaurants of varying degrees of formality lining the cobbled streets of the old town. Whilst there we sampled some amazing food, from modern tapas to a classic fine dining experience in the famous Alfonso 8th hotel. A real old treat.

Famous for its flamenco and its oranges, I managed to return with some dodgy dancing shoes for my daughter, marmalade and some orange infused oil. The latter of these inspired this wonderful fresh salad.

Orange oil and mint_1 v2

Orange oil and mint_3 v3

To make two generous salads or a large accompaniment for a meal for four, you need:

  • Mixed soft salad leaves
  • Half an orange chopped into small chunks
  • Half a large mango sliced thinly
  • Quarter of a small red onion finely chopped
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds for the top
  • Optional crumbled feta

For the dressing you need:

  • 50ml orange infused oil. This will work well with olive oil, but add some orange peel into the dressing to bring out more orange flavour
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of greek yoghurt
  • Juice from half an orange (may need more once you have tasted at the end)
  • Around a tablespoon of fresh finely chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper to season

Orange oil and mint_2 v3

There is no real recipe here, but here’s the basic steps:

  1. Prepare your salad in a bowl or plate. Layer the ingredients with leaves, fruit, then crumbled cheese (optional) and warm toasted nuts on top.
  2. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and taste. You may need to tweak the flavours to your liking.
  3. Pour the dressing generously over the salad and eat straight away.

Heavenly. Enjoy x

 

Pack a punch pesto

This bright and bold pesto is the most versatile thing to come out of our kitchen. I’ve been making it for years and always have a few small pots in the freezer. They’re portioned up, ready to pull out for emergency planning shortages or last minute guests.

It is garlicky, earthy and incredibly moreish. It brings to life almost anything you throw at it including oven roast mushrooms, grilled goats cheese, pasta, roast chicken and fresh fish.

Pack a punch pesto

How to make:

I rarely use ‘cups’ and ‘handfuls’ as a way to measure a recipe, but this pesto really calls for it. It’s a good recipe to make your own, tweaking the ingredients as you taste.  Every time you make it you can throw a few different greens in or try a little more or less oil. You literally cannot go wrong on this one.

If you follow the guide below you will create a rich and thick pesto which is great as a dip or a marinade. From there you can thin it out with oil to make a lovely sauce to cover roast vegetables, pasta or to drizzle on salads.

  • 1/2 mug of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 mug of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 handfuls of kale, cavelo nero or spinach, roughly chopped, woody stems removed
  • A few generous glugs of olive oil
  • A few pinches of sea salt
  • About 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I love garlic so use less if you’re not a big fan)

Simply blitz all the dry ingredients and then add the oil to the food processor. Taste, then tweak the flavours or add more oil to your own preference.

A couple of ideas of how to serve:

Pan fried salmon served with warm pesto and an avocado, grape and seedy salad:

Salmon and pesto

Rocket and spinach leaves, balsamic roasted olives and vegetables with pan seared tuna:

Tuna and pesto

If you’re interested in moving to a a cleaner way of eating, moving the shop bought condiments to the bin is a good place to start. They are high in sugars and salts and usually have added preservatives too. Getting to grips with a few simple recipes like this one, gives you your own healthier options for sauces to accompany your proteins. See my Romesco-ish recipe for another simple and easy to make sauce.

Enjoy x

Salmon, date and almond tapas

We had an overnight visit to Tarifa at the weekend. It’s a small bohemian town in the province of Cadiz, on the southernmost coast of Spain. It literally sits at the very bottom corner of Europe where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. It’s a great place. The kite surfing and water sports attracts a really laid back crowd and an easy atmosphere.

Today’s post has been inspired by the fabulous fish and fresh tapas we sampled on our visit. I have brought together 3 simple ingredients that together make a knock out tapas plate.

The sweetness of the date works beautifully with the fish and the creamy crunchy almond gives the little nibbles some extra texture.

4 (2)

For each piece you will need:

  • A strip of approximately 25g smoked salmon
  • 1 date
  • 1 almond

(Each piece contains around 70 calories)

To make:

  1. Pop an almond inside the date.
  2. Wrap the salmon around so that it just covers the date. Keep the strips the same if not a tiny bit wider than the date so that no date peaks out.
  3. Pierce through with a cocktail stick (don’t try pierce the nut just work to the side).
  4. Grind on a little black pepper and squeeze on some lime.
  5. Put in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for about 5 minutes and serve immediately.

And because I LOVE a good salad…

Another serving option is to slice up 4 single pieces once cooked through and serve with lightly dressed leaves and coriander.

2

Enjoy x

Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing

I loved the whole BISH BASH BOSH concept that Jamie Oliver introduced us to in the late 90’s. He transcended the austere and seemingly grown up world of traditional TV chefs and authors, making cooking and creation more accessible for real 20 somethings like me. I loved it. Glass of wine in one hand, music on and a sense of relative chaos around the kitchen. There were sizable chunks of roughly chopped this and that, with glugs of olive oil and plenty of balsamic on the go. His recipes always turned out well and tasted great. Happy days.

Fast forward 15 years. Add pets, a husband and two children. I am now often clutching the Dyson Animal rather than the wine whilst preparing food for everyone. Some days there’s quite a bit of clutter and unintentional BISH BASH BOSHING. Other days I face culinary rejection from critics under the age of 6.

However, when there is calm and space of mind, I find complete peace in my time carefully preparing and creating good food. I have a stronger set of principles about what I eat these days. I actively look for ways to create good food that makes us feel nourished and whole. Knowing this means I enjoy the taste of delicious, well sourced food more than ever.

This recipe was adapted from my friend Natalie’s Ottolenghi cookbook. It features recipes from two bright chefs who produce beautiful mindful food.

Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing

This salad is stunning. It is vibrant, healthy and wholesome.

If you can, prepare your vegetables carefully and with love. Take time to taste the dressing. Leave the ingredients to settle a little before re-tasting and serving up. The vegetables will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days and the dressing for 3 or 4.

Saffron_1

For a salad for 4 try this with:

  • 2 aubergines cut into 1-2 cm slices
  • 1 butternut squash cut into 1-2 cm slices
  • olive oil to brush vegetables
  • Lambs lettuce
  • 20g toasted pine nuts

For enough dressing for above with leftovers:

  • A small pinch of saffron strands
  • 3 tbsp of hot water
  • 180g greek yoghurt
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 – 3 tbsp lemon (go by taste)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Saffron_2

To prepare the salad:

  1. Infuse the saffron in the water for a few minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl with the other dressing ingredients plus a little salt. Whisk up till you get a smooth sauce, then chill.
  2. For the vegetables, brush with oil on both sides and lay on an oven tray, roasting at 220 degrees C for around 25 – 30 minutes till golden. Let them cool before serving.
  3. Assemble either as a large salad or as individual servings.

I have served this with grilled goats cheese and roasted beetroots too. It is a very robust dressing and has enough flavour to stand up well to cheese, fish or white meat.

Enjoy x

Mango chutney

I have procrastinated about making mango chutney for some time. I’m a massive fan, but when I look at recipes out there and see ‘1 kg of sugar’, I shudder a bit and shelve the thought for another time.

It was the mangos that led the way though. I found a greengrocer selling ripe mangos and felt I had to face up to it. So with a little experimentation, I have made my first, very lovely, honey sweetened mango chutney.

mango_1

mango_2

I like mango chutney with curry dishes, but I’m also partial to a generous helping on salads or with some pan fried fish. On this basis I’ve developed a mildly spiced but softly sweet chutney, one that compliments rather than over powers.

salad_2

To make the chutney jar shown I used:

  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil (or your preferred oil)
  • ½ teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 250 ml white wine vinegar
  • 100 ml honey

How to do it:

  1. First peel the mango and chop as much flesh from the fruit as you can. Put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover in cling film overnight.
  2. The next day sauté the onions in oil. Take your time over this, you want the onion really soft.
  3. Pop the garlic into the oven whole to roast for 15 minutes. You can then just squeeze out what you need as a soft pulp. It’s perfect in this form for a chutney.
  4. Add the garlic and spices, keep on the heat. If the onions and spices start to stick to the pan at the bottom just add a little water. You want to take up to ten minutes on steps 3 and 4 together.
  5. Add the mango, honey and white wine vinegar, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down to a gentle simmer. Don’t put a lid on the pan. Also don’t be put off by the smell of vinegar.
  6. You have to be patient now and over the course of an hour to an hour and a half keep visiting the pan and stirring gently. You want to reduce the liquid till it’s sticky and soft.
  7. Once it has reduced down, leave to cool, then check seasoning and add to a jar. (I didn’t add any more salt to this than the original sprinkle to the mango).

The taste really develops as this cools and then again intensifies once added to the jar.

Try it with…

The salad shown works amazingly well with the chutney. It’s just a simple lambs lettuce salad with white balsamic, feta, chickpeas, pine nuts and chia seeds.

salad_1

I hope you get time to try and enjoy.