Grilled Vegetable Salads

Dec 042016
 

Muhammara

 

 

It is sometimes hard to accurately trace the origins of a dish to a specific city, but that is not the case with Muhammara. This spicy red pepper and walnut dip originates from one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world – Aleppo in Syria. Muhammara combines sweet, sour and tangy ingredients to create an addictive multi-layered flavour. Traditionally, Muhammara uses Aleppo chilli peppers to bring a mild smokey spiciness to the dip. However, if Aleppo chilli peppers are not available then using a mixture of red chilli powder and paprika, like I have done, is a good alternative.

 

 

MUHAMMARA

(makes 1 cup)

 

Ingredients:

2 red bell peppers (capsicum), roasted and peeled (directions below)

1 plump garlic clove, peeled and cut into 4 large chunks

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted

1/2 cup breadcrumbs, lightly toasted (I toast a medium-sized piece of pitta bread and let it air-dry)

1 tsp ground paprika

1/2 tsp red chilli powder or flakes (or according to taste)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions:

  1. To roast your red bell peppers, preheat your oven to 220°C (fan assisted). Wash and dry your bell peppers and then cut them in half (top to bottom). Remove and discard the seeds, membranes and stalks. Place your bell pepper halves (cut-side down) on a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper. Roast in the middle shelf of your oven for 20-25 minutes. The skin can be allowed to get quite charred without any problems, but do check from time to time to make sure they are not burning. Remove from the oven and immediately put the hot bell pepper halves into a bowl covered with a lid or plate. The steam created in the bowl will help loosen the skin and make it easier to remove from the bell peppers. After 5-10 minutes, remove the lid and peel off the bell pepper skin. Place your peeled bell peppers in a bowl. They are ready to use immediately or refrigerated and used within 5 days.
  2. Lightly toast your walnuts in a dry pan on the stovetop or in the oven.
  3. Lightly toast your breadcrumbs. I find it easiest to do this by simply popping some bread (I use a medium-sized piece of pitta bread) in my toaster for a few minutes and then letting it air-dry. I then run it through my food processor to turn it into crumbs.
  4. To make the Muhammara dip, put all the ingredients into your food processor and process until desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Refrigerate and eat within 4 days.

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Jun 172016
 

Grilled Aubergine Salad with Spice Maple Dressing

 

Grilled vegetables give salads a lovely depth and heartiness and one of my favourite vegetables to grill is aubergines (eggplants). To get lovely tasty grill-lines on your aubergines, you will need to use a griddle pan, panini press or barbecue. If you don’t have any of these, fear not. Roasting your aubergine slices in a hot oven or pan-frying them in a little olive oil also works well (although you won’t get the coveted grill-lines).

 

Whether you decide to salt your aubergines before cooking them (to eliminate bitterness) or not is entirely your decision. I don’t salt aubergines before cooking them and I have never experienced the bitter flavour which people talk about. However, I do tend to buy small or medium sized aubergine, so it is possible that these don’t have as much of a problem as the larger variety.

 

This aubergine salad recipe has a nice punchy Spicy Maple Dressing, and is easy to make in advance. If refrigerated, it should be allowed to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving for the best flavour.

 

 

 

GRILLED AUBERGINE (EGGPLANT) SALAD WITH SPICY MAPLE DRESSING

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

500g / 1.1 lbs purple aubergines/eggplants, cut into half-inch (1 cm) thick discs with the peel left on

Extrta virgin olive oil to coat the eggplant slices before grilling

 

 

Dressing Ingredients: (makes 1/3 cup)

1 plump garlic clove, peeled

1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled

¼ – ½ tsp cayenne powder/red chilli powder (according to taste)

4 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp coarse sea salt

Garnish with pomegranate seeds, chopped nuts or coriander leaves (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. To make the dressing in a food processor, process all the garlic and ginger until the pieces are very small. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients into the food process and process until well combined, about 15-30 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour the dressing into a jar and set aside. If you do not have a food processor, use the fine side of a grater or microplane to finely mince your garlic and ginger. Place all dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid, shake well and set aside.
  2. Wash and dry your aubergines and cut them into ½ inch thick slices.
  3. Pour several Tbsp of EVOO into a dish (preferably with edges so that the EVOO doesn’t spill over). Dip both sides of the aubergine slices in the EVOO and set on a plate. Do this for all the aubergine slices, adding more EVOO when necessary.
  4. Grill the aubergine on medium-high heat in a griddle pan, panini press or barbecue until the aubergine has nice dark lines on it, around 4 minutes. Alternatively, you can roast them in a 200C/400F pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes or pan-fry in a little olive oil (the aubergines will taste good but you will not get grill-lines).
  5. The aubergine slices in batches and allow them to cool on a plate. You can refrigerate the grilled aubergines for upto 48 hours. If you do refrigerate the aubergines, allow them to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.
  6. To serve, arrange the aubergine slices in a nice pattern on a flat serving dish.
  7. Spoon the maple dressing on top. You may only need to use about half of the dressing. The rest can be refrigerated and used in another dish or as a marinade.
  8. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, nuts and coriander leaves if desired.
  9. Keeps well in the refrigerator for upto 3 days.
Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
May 182016
 

Kale and Spring Vegetable Salad

 

Kale is one of my favourite green leaves to put into a salad because you can pre-toss it in dressing and it won’t get limp for days. My general method with most kale salads is to massage the kale leaves by chopping them and then squeezing them between my hands for about three minutes. It makes a world of a difference because the relaxed kale leaves become softer and more flavourful.

 

These days, I’m tossing my kale salads with roasted spring vegetables. Any three vegetables that roast well would work in this recipe, but do try and look for different coloured vegetables to get the most variety. Here I used carrots, leeks and beetroots. I’m using some irresistibly cute mini vegetables which I found in my market, but if you can’t use mini-sized vegetables feel free to use the regular-sized ones and simply cut them into bite-sized chunks.

 

 

Kale and Spring Vegetable Salad

 

Dressing ingredients:

5 Tbsp EVOO

2½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Good pinch of sea salt

 

Salad ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (about 8 large leaves)

400g baby carrots

400g baby leeks

200g baby beetroot

Nuts (optional, for garnishing)

Extra virgin olive oil for roasting the vegetables

Sea salt for roasting the vegetables

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400C.
  2. Wash, peel and trim the carrots. If they are baby carrots, cut them in half lengthwise. If they are regular sized carrots, cut them into generous bite-size pieces.
  3. Remove the outside layer of the leeks and trim off the top and bottom. Wash well. If you are using baby leeks, leave them whole. If you are using regular sized leeks, cut them into large chunks.
  4. In a medium-sized baking dish, add the carrots and leeks and toss them with 2-3 Tbsp of EVOO and a generous pinch of sea salt. Roast them for around 30 minutes until nicely caramelised, tossing once halfway through cooking. When they are ready, remove them from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. To roast the beetroots, first wash the skin and cut off the leaves at the top. Wrap in two layers of aluminum foil and place on a baking tray. Roast them for around 1 hour (or until a skewer goes easily through the beetroot). When they are ready, open the foil and allow them to cool. Once cool, pinch off their skin with your fingers and cut into bite-sized cubes.
  6. While everything is roasting, you can prepare the kale by removing the leaves from the thick stalks down the center. Discard the stalks.
  7. Wash and dry the kale leaves, then roughly chop them.
  8. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and massage it by squeezing it between your hands for 3 minutes (set the timer). This will make the kale softer and more tasty, and in my opinion is a necessary step for any raw kale salad.
  9. Toss the massaged kale with all the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  10. Add the carrots, leeks and beetroots and toss well.
  11. Scatter some nuts on top for garnish (they can be added at this point or just prior to serving).
  12. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Apr 072016
 

Recipe: Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

 

 

In my previous post, I highlighted some seasonal fruits and vegetables which are at their prime in April: Asparagus, Grapefruit and Rucola (also called arugula in the US or rocket in the UK).

 

I came up with a simple recipe which uses all three of these ingredients, called ‘Asparagus and Rucola Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette’. Although asparagus can be eaten raw, I lightly grill it for this recipe to deepen its flavour. The rucola works as a simple base and can be mixed with other spring greens of you find its flavour too overpowering. And I felt the best way to use the grapefruit was in a dressing.

 

This recipe can be used as a base on which to build a more complex salad by adding additional ingredients on top. Otherwise, it is delicious served simply as it is.

 

 

ASPARAGUS and RUCOLA SALAD with GRAPEFRUIT VINAIGRETTE

 

Dressing ingredients:

(makes half a cup – recipe can be doubled)

5 Tbsp (75ml) freshly squeezed juice from a grapefruit

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Salad ingredients:

1-2 handfuls of rucola per person (or some other green leaf)

Asparagus spears (for thin asparagus, allow 8-10 spears per person; for thick asparagus, allow 4-5 spears per person)

Olive oil (to lightly coat the asparagus spears before grilling)

Shaved parmesan (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare Grapefruit Vinaigrette by combining all the dressing ingredients together in a jar with a lid and shaking it well. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Wash and dry the rucola leaves.
  3. Trim the end off the asparagus spears and toss them lightly in extra virgin olive oil. Grill in a panini press on medium heat until you see grill lines. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 200C/400F and roast the asparagus spears in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes (turning halfway through.)
  4. When ready to serve, toss the rucola leaves in the grapefruit vinaigrette. If serving in individual plates, place 1-2 handfuls of rucola on each plate and then the asparagus spears on top. If there is any leftover dressing, you can spoon a little bit over the asparagus.
  5. As an option, you can add a few shavings of parmesan cheese on top of the salad.
  6. Serve immediately.

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Jan 192016
 

Roast Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Salad with Pakistani Yogurt Dressing

 

Having spent a lot of time roasting various types of vegetables for salads using different oven temperatures and combinations of spices, I have come to one very easy and convenient conclusion:

 

Practically all vegetables can be very successfully roasted at 200C/400F tossed in nothing more than extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

 

If I want to add certain flavours to my salad, I have better luck putting them into the salad dressing rather than trying to incorporate them with the roasted vegetables. Firstly, the spices sometimes burn during roasting (especially if you want to get a real chargrilled finish on your veggies). Secondly, it can be hard to control the flavour as you can’t really taste the vegetables until after they are cooked at which point you might belatedly realise that your spice proportions are all wrong. And lastly, by roasting my veggies with olive oil and salt I am able to use them in a wider variety of recipes. For example, half my portion of roasted cauliflower can be used in a Pakistani-inspired salad (like this one) while the other half can be used in something entirely different such as a Chinese-inspired salad.

 

My recipe for ‘Roast Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Salad with Pakistani Yogurt Dressing’ is a hearty salad which makes a delicious meal on its own or works well as a side dish. The dressing should be served on the side for people to add according to their preference.

 

 

Roast Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Salad with Pakistani Yogurt Dressing

 

 

ROAST CAULIFLOWER and PUY LENTIL SALAD with PAKISTANI YOGURT DRESSING

(Serves 3-4 as a main course/Serves 6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt

2-3 Tbsp water (to thin out the yogurt’s consistency, if desired)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (on a fine grater) or crushed

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp cumin powder

1/8 tsp red chilli powder (or according to taste) (optional)

 

Salad Ingredients

1 kg cauliflower, separated into florets

2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into eighths

5 Tbsp coriander leaves, washed and coarsely chopped

1 cup dried Puy lentils (2 cups cooked Puy lentils) [Note: If you don’t have Puy lentils, chickpeas would be a good substitute]

1 bay leaf

Extra virgin olive oil (for coating the cauliflower before roasting)

Coarse sea salt (to taste)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Cut your cauliflower into florets and toss them in a bowl with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (enough to lightly coat the florets) and about 1 & 1/2 Tbsp of coarse sea salt (to taste). Place the cauliflower in a single layer on a large baking tray and place it on the middle rack. Roast for 15 minutes.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, peel 2 medium red onions and cut them into eighths. Toss lightly in extra virgin olive oil. After the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, toss the cauliflower florets so that they roast evenly. Scatter the onion pieces amongst the cauliflower and roast for another 10-15 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. To prepare your Puy lentils, rinse and drain 1 cup of Puy lentils and place them in a saucepan (with a lid). Cover with about 3 inches of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add 1 bay leaf and 1 tsp of sea salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. The Puy lentils should still have some bite to them. Drain and spread on a plate to allow to cool.
  5. Make the spicy yogurt dressing by measuring out 1 & 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt. Add the minced garlic, sea salt and cumin powder and stir until evenly combined. Taste and add chilli powder (optional). Add a few tablespoons of water into the yogurt if you want a thinner consistency. Refrigerate.
  6. Wash and dry about 5 Tbsp of coriander leave and roughly chop.
  7. In a large serving bowl or platter, toss the Puy lentils, cauliflower and onions. Sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves on top and lightly toss once more.
  8. Serve with the salad with the yogurt dressing on the side.
  9. Can be refrigerated for upto 3 days. If serving from the refrigerator, allow the salad to come to room temperature by leaving it on the counter for about 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Nov 212015
 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Autumn is all about roasted vegetable salads for me. Most vegetables can be roasted successfully at 200°C/400°F tossed with olive oil and sea salt. You can really grab any vegetable and roast it – carrots, turnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, radishes, and the list goes on. The roasting time will depend on a variety of factors including the type of vegetable you use and the size it is cut, and can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour.

 

Since they are all cooked at the same temperature, you can put several dishes of different vegetables in the oven at the same time so that in one go you have enough roasted vegetables to make several different salads. I find most roasted vegetables last well in the refrigerator for three days. And if you by the end of three days you find that you haven’t used up all your roasted vegetables, simply blend whatever is left over with some hot stock to make a delicious roasted vegetable soup.

 

Join the conversation: What’s your favourite autumn vegetable to roast?

 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Dressing:

5 Tbsp EVOO

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Carrots:

600g / 21 0z carrots (orange or rainbow coloured), cut into batons

200g / 7 oz red onion

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp EVOO

1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds

1/2 tsp ground or whole cumin seeds

1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to taste)

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Rest of Salad:

2 cups / 50g / 1.7 oz massaged kale (weight without stalks)

1 tin chickpeas (240g drained weight of chickpeas)

1 cup chopped cilantro/coriander leaves (40g / 1.4 oz with stalks or 20g / 0.4 oz without stalks)

100g / 3.5 oz feta cheese, crumbled

 

Directions:

  1. To make the salad dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a jar, shake well and set aside.
  2. To make the carrots: Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Wash and peel your carrots. Cut them into batons, about 3-4 inches long. In an oven-proof dish, toss the carrot batons with the rest of the ingredients listed under carrots (above). Cut a red onion into bite-size wedges and toss with the carrots and spices in the oven-proof dish. Roast in the oven until caramelised, around 20-30 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. To make  the rest of the salad, put 2 cups of washed and chopped kale in a bowl and massage it by squeezing it in your hands for 3-4 minutes until it is slightly wilted. This releases more flavour from the kale and makes it softer to eat raw. Add the chickpeas and chopped cilantro/coriander leaves. Add the dressing and toss well.
  4. Add the roasted carrots and onions to the salad and toss evenly.
  5. Add the crumbled feta and toss lightly.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 3 days.

 

Join the conversation: What’s your favourite autumn vegetable to roast?

 

 

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Oct 142015
 

Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Salad

 

Who doesn’t love a good roasted vegetable salad? Well, I recently discovered a really delicious recipe for ‘Warm Cauliflower Salad’ on BBC Good Food ME. It has lightly charred cauliflower, roasted red onions, fresh spinach, crunchy toasted almonds and sweet raisins in it. Did I mention that the dressing has only 2 ingredients in it? Yes, this salad is pretty easy to put together once you have your oven pre-heated to 200C/400F.

 

I followed their recipe to the letter, except for omitting the dill because there was no dill in my supermarket on the day I went shopping. And even though this is a ‘warm’ salad, I can vouch for the fact that it is also delicious when served cool.

 

 

Share your thoughts: What’s your favourite way to eat cauliflower? If you have a great cauliflower recipe, feel free to link below.

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Salad

 

 

WARM CAULIFLOWER SALAD (BBC Good Food ME)

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1&1/2 Tbsp runny honey

 

Salad Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (the cauliflower I used weighed about 900g / 2 lb)

2-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (to be used for roasting)

Pinch of sea salt

250g / 9 oz red onion, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp raisins

3 Tbsp toasted almonds (flaked or roughly chopped)

50g / 1.8 oz baby spinach

Small bunch dill, snipped (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, wash it, and cut it into florets. Toss the cauliflower florets in an oven-proof dish with 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, peel and thinly slice your red onion. After the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, add the sliced onion (and 2 more Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil if necessary) to the cauliflower and toss. Roast for another 15-25 minutes. Make sure you don’t let the onions burn. Remove from the oven when done and set aside to cool.
  4. To make the dressing, mix the vinegar and honey in a jar and set aside. You don’t need to add any olive oil to the dressing because there is already a good amount of olive oil on the roasted vegetables.
  5. Toast your almonds either in the oven alongside the cauliflower (around 10 minutes, tossing halfway through to avoid burning) or by tossing on a dry pan until lightly browned.
  6. Wash and dry the baby spinach and roughly chop it. Do the same with the dill (optional)
  7. To serve, toss the spinach (and dill) in the vinegar-honey dressing. Add the roasted cauliflower and red onion and gently toss. Sprinkle the toasted almonds and raisons on top.
  8. Serve immediately for a warm salad.
  9. The salad is also nice when served cool (if refrigerated, allow it to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving). It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

 

Share your thoughts: What’s your favourite way to eat cauliflower? If you have a great cauliflower recipe, feel free to link below.

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Sep 292015
 

Grilled Zucchini (Courgette) and Chard Salad

 

In Dubai, one of my favourite locally grown vegetables is kousa, a small light-green zucchini (courgette). One of my favourite moments is when I’m shopping for groceries and I get to the mountain of stacked kousa, taking my time to choose the smallest ones in the pile. Because it’s grown locally, it’s very inexpensive compared to the large zucchini which is imported from Europe, and I am able to stock up on it without worrying about the cost.

 

I use kousa in anything and everything from stews and curries to omelet fillers. It often makes it’s way to my table sliced lengthwise and roasted with olive oil and sea salt – a healthier and better-tasting alternative to french fries.

 

When grilled, kousa is delicious in salads. My recipe for ‘Grilled Zucchini and Chard Salad with Hazelnuts’ uses a nice combination of flavours and textures along with a simple lemon vinaigrette to make a delicious and beautiful side dish.

 

 

Grilled Zucchini (Courgette) and Chard Salad

 

 

Share your thoughts: What’s your favourite vegetable to grill and throw into a salad?

 

 

GRILLED ZUCCHINI (COURGETTE) and CHARD SALAD with HAZELNUTS

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Generous pinch of sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

400g zucchini (courgette), trimmed and sliced 1cm thick

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra is needed)

1/2 tsp sea salt

250g fresh chard or spinach leaves, washed and chopped

1 avocado, diced

3 Tbsp toasted hazelnuts (or any other type of unsalted nuts you have)

Fresh parmesan cheese (use as much as you want), thinly shaved

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare salad dressing by combining the dressing ingredients in a jar and set aside.
  2. Next you need to grill your zucchini. Preheat your grill pan or panini press to medium heat (if you don’t have either of these, you can use a regular frying pan or preheat your oven to 200C/400F). While you are waiting for the grill to heat up, wash and dry your zucchini and slice it into 1cm thick slices. Toss the sliced zucchini gently in a bowl with 3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt. If you are using a grill or frying pan, cook the zucchini on both sides until it gets nice brown grill marks. If you are using a panini press, place the zucchini in the press and cook for a few minutes until you get nice brown grill lines. If you are using an oven, roast your sliced zucchini for 20 minutes (flip the slices halfway through cooking). Set aside.
  3. Wash the skin of your avocado. Cut it in half and remove the seed. Cut the avocado into cubes, discarding the skin. Set aside.
  4. Wash and dry the chard or spinach leaves and chop them (roughly or finely depending on your preference). Set aside.
  5. Toss with the grilled zucchini and avocado.
  6. To put your salad together, place a layer of chard or spinach leaves on a platter (if you are serving straight away, toss the leaves with some dressing. If you are serving later, leave the dressing out as it will make the greens limp). Place your grilled zucchini on top. Scatter with avocado cubes and hazelnuts. Thinly shave some parmesan cheese on top of everything.
  7. Pour the dressing on top just prior to serving.
  8. Serve straightaway or refrigerate for upto 24 hours.

 

Share your thoughts: What’s your favourite vegetable to grill and throw into a salad?

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Jan 292015
 

 

Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

 

 

Salads are evolving. The idea of a salad as a diet food of tasteless leaves seasoned with a low-fat tangy dressing to hide the fact that it is just so boring is starting to be replaced by a completely new concept. Now, salads are seen as nutrient-dense meals packed with a variety of colors, flavors and textures. A salad dressing is no longer a cloak to hide the mediocrity of a salad, but an exciting way to experiment with flavors from different cultures. If you feel like Mediterranean flavors, whip up a lemon and olive oil dressing. Want to make it North African? Add some cinnamon and red chilli. Make it Mexican with cumin, lime and jalapenos. The possibilities are endless.

 

Despite this trend in salads, friends still tell me that although they love salads they just don’t find them filling enough. And I suspect the reason is because they are not eating salads with enough protein in them. You see, the secret to making a really filling salad which won’t leave you hungry after an hour is to include some form of protein. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it should be there in some capacity.

  • Cheese is an easy and fast one to add – a few shavings of parmesan, some cubes of cheddar or a crumble of salty feta can really take a salad to new heights
  • Beans, tinned or freshly cooked, also work well to make your salad more substantial
  • Good quality animal protein like seafood, chicken or beef works well. Whether you use leftovers or cook it especially for the salad, make sure you go for quality over quantity (you only really need to use 2 steaks or 2 chicken breasts for a chopped salad for 4-6 people so it’s worth buying the best quality you can afford)

 

My ‘Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad’ doubles up on protein by including both feta cheese and chickpeas. It’s a delicious and filling salad to eat on its own but it also works well as a side salad for roasted lamb.

 

What’s your favorite quick-fix protein to add into your salad? Leave your comments below.

 

 

Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Salad

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

Ingredients:

300g / 10 oz aubergine (eggplant), cut into 2-inch pieces

150g / 5 oz red onion, peeled and cut into wedges (2-inches at the widest part of the wedge)

360g / 12 oz bell peppers (capsicums) – any color, deseeded and cut into 2-inch chunks

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne powder (or more, if you prefer)

1 tsp sea salt

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

90g / 3 oz feta cheese, crumbled

4 Tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Prepare your vegetables for roasting. Cut the aubergines into 2-inch chunks with the skin on. Deseed the bell peppers and cut them into 2-inch chunks. Peel the red onions and cut into wedges (which are 2-inches at the widest part).
  3. In an oven-proof dish, mix 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp red chilli powder. Toss the aubergines, bell peppers and red onions in the oven-proof dish with the oil and spices until evenly coated.
  4. Place the oven-proof dish with the vegetables into the oven and roast for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through for even cooking.
  5. Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  6. Meanwhile, drain and rinse your tinned chickpeas. Set aside.
  7. Wash some mint leaves and roughly chop so that you have 4 Tbsp. Set aside.
  8. Squeeze 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Set aside
  9. Crumble the feta cheese. Put it in the fridge until ready to use.
  10. Once the vegetables are at room temperature, add the chickpeas, mint leaves, lemon juice and feta cheese. Fold gently until evenly combined.
  11. Refrigerate until ready to serve for upto 48 hours. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Jan 082015
 

 

Roasted Aubergine (Eggplant), Mozzarella and Vine Tomato Salad

 

While Christmas is a time for giving gifts to others, I have always thought of New Year’s as a time for giving a gift to yourself in the form of a New Year’s resolution. It is a promise to yourself that you will finally get around to making a change which will improve some aspect of your life. Of course, making the resolution is the easy part – it’s sticking to it beyond the first month of the year which proves harder for most of us.

 

Millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions, and ‘eating healthier’ consistently comes in as one of the most popular resolutions (along with ‘Go To The Gym’, Quit Smoking’, and ‘Spend More Time With Family And Friends.’)

 

Yet again, ‘Eating Healthier’ is one of my own New Year’s resolutions this year. Sure there are lots of things that I could do better (like improving my golf game), but I feel that as long as I am eating healthily and feeling great, everything else will take care of itself.

 

If ‘Eating Healthier’ is also one of your New Year’s resolutions, I hope my blog will be inspirational to you this year and help keep you on track. Leave a comment below and let me know what you are doing to make sure you stick to your New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily this year!

 

 

Roasted Aubergine (Eggplant), Mozzarella and Vine Tomato Salad

(Serves 4 people as a side dish)

 

Ingredients:

600g / 1 lb 4 oz aubergine (eggplant), cut into 1-inch pieces

200g / 7 oz cherry tomatoes on the vine (about 16 tomatoes)

1 tsp sea salt

6-8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

125g / 4 oz fresh mozzarella ball (drained weight), roughly torn

40g / 1.5 oz pine nuts, toasted

4 Tbsp basil leaves, roughly chopped

3-4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (depending on how strong the vinegar is)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Cut the aubergine into 1-inch pieces and place in an oven-proof dish. Toss with 1 tsp sea salt and 6-8 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (aubergine absorbs a lot of oil, so start with 6 Tbsp and increase if necessary).
  3. Roast the aubergine for 45 minutes.
  4. Place your vine tomatoes (still on the vine if possible) in a separate oven-proof dish. Lightly coat the tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Roast the tomatoes for 25 minutes.
  6. Once roasted, remove the aubergine and tomatoes from the oven. Toss the aubergine with 3-4 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar (start with 3 Tbsp and add one more if necessary – you want to be able to taste the vinegar).  Allow to come to room temperature.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. Take your pine nuts and toast them on a dry pan on medium heat on the stove, tossing regularly so that they brown evenly. Once toasted, set aside.
  8. Take your mozzarella ball and roughly tear it into pieces. Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  9. Roughly chop some fresh basil so that you have 4 Tbsp.
  10. To serve, toss the aubergine with most of the mozzarella, basil leaves and pine nuts together (if desired, reserve a little mozzarella, basil and pine nuts to scatter on top at the end). Spread onto a platter and place the roasted vine tomatoes on top.
  11. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
May 032013
 

 

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad

 

My recipe ‘Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad’ was winner of the Beat Diabetes Healthy 3-Course Meal Challenge. 

 


Quinoa seems like a very exotic ingredient to many people, but if you can cook rice then you can cook quinoa.

 

Quinoa boiled in plain water can be quite bland, which makes it a good vehicle for other flavors. However, by toasting first and then boiling it in vegetable stock, you can really give your quinoa a flavor-boost. To learn more about quinoa and why you should eat it, have a look at ‘Quinoa: 5 Great Reasons Why You Should Be Eating It’.

 

 

 

QUINOA AND ROASTED VEGETABLE SALAD

(Serves 4)

 

 

Dressing Ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup (200 ml) dried quinoa (or 3 cups cooked quinoa)

Half a vegetable stock cube (I recommend Kallo Organic Stock Cubes)

1 & 1/2 cups (300ml) boiling water

500g zucchini / courgette

400g bell peppers (mixed colors)

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
  2. Chop the mixed bell peppers and zucchini/courgette into bite-size pieces and place them in a roasting dish. Drizzle 4 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp coarse salt over the vegetables. Mix quickly and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through. Once cooked, allow to cool
  3. Measure out 1 cup of quinoa and rinse it well. Quinoa can be difficult to rinse because a lot of it floats to the top, so my favorite way of rinsing it is by putting the quinoa in a fine mesh colander and placing the colander in a larger bowl. Place the bowl with the colander in it into the sink and run water over it. This allows you to rinse the quinoa and then raise the colander up out of the bowl to easily drain it.
  4. Put the drained quinoa into an empty dry frying pan on medium heat and toast it gently until it looks slightly brown and nutty. It can take between 5 and 10 minutes. When it is toasted, remove from the heat.
  5. In a kettle, bring a little more than 1 & 1/2 cups (300 ml) of water to the boil. When the water has boiled, measure out 1 & 1/2 cups (3oo ml) and dissolve half a vegetable stock cube in it (or the recommended amount on the packaging). Pour the stock into a saucepan and set bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer.
  6. Add the toasted quinoa to the stock in the saucepan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes (or according to packaging). Remove from the heat and allow to steam (covered) for 5 minutes. The stock should be fully absorbed, but if not drain the remaining stock. Spread the quinoa on a plate and allow to cool.
  7. When the quinoa and vegetables are cool, combine them in a bowl and drizzle 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 2 Tbsp of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  8. Toss everything together and serve immediately or refrigerate for upto 2 days.

 

 

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
May 032013
 

Roast Pumpkin and Spinach Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

 

 


Beta-carotene is a nutrient found most commonly (although not exclusively) in yellow and orange vegetables, which naturally converts in your body into the antioxidant Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps protect your cells from damage and boosts your immunity, amongst other things. Pumpkins are a great source of beta-carotene, but it is not always easy to know what to do with them.

 

In this recipe, I tossed pumpkin wedges in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then roasted them in the oven for 25 minutes until they started to caramelise. A few cloves of garlic easily roasting beside the pumpkin helps to make an interesting Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette dressing. The salad itself has very few ingredients (pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, baby spinach leaves, and feta cheese), but each one brings something important to the dish so I wouldn’t recommend leaving any of the ingredients out.

 

TIP: When buying your pumpkin, make sure that you get a variety which is good for cooking such as a sugar or kabocha pumpkin (even butternut squash will work). Just be sure you don’t use a jack-o-lantern pumpkin because it’s flesh is not as good for cooking.

 

 

ROAST PUMPKIN AND SPINACH SALAD WITH ROASTED GARLIC VINAIGRETTE

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

 

Salad Ingredients:

500g uncooked pumpkin, cut into wedges with the peel on (1-1.5 inches thick) OR cut into chunky cubes with the peel off

100g baby spinach leaves

100g feta cheese, diced

20g pumpkin seeds (I use ready prepared store-bought pumpkin seeds)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of sea salt

 

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3-4 chunky garlic cloves, with the paper-skin still on

6 Tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil

2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

generous pinch of sea salt

 

 

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450F/230C.
  2. Remove the seeds and strings from the center of your pumpkin. Cut your pumpkin into either wedges (1-1.5 inches, with the skin on) OR into chunky cubes (without the skin on).
  3. In an oven-proof dish, toss the pumpkin and 3-4 garlic cloves with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and a generous pinch of sea salt. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes (toss the vegetables half-way through cooking).
  4. When the pumpkin and garlic are done cooking, allow the pumpkin to cool.
  5. Take the garlic and mash it up in a pestle and mortar with some sea salt and a little olive oil to make a paste. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pestle and mortar – you can use a fork to mash the ingredients together.
  6. In a jar, add the garlic paste and the rest of the dressing ingredients and shake well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. To arrange the salad: spread the baby spinach leaves on the bottom of the salad dish, place the pumpkin wedges attractively on top of the spinach, add the feta cubes on top, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8.  When you are ready to serve, dress the salad (you don’t need to toss it), and allow it to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes

 

Follow Me:
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram