healthy eating

Oct 212016
 

The Olive Oil Diet

 

 

If you follow my blog, I am almost certain that you have a bottle of extra virgin olive oil sitting in your kitchen right now. But how much do you really know about the olive oil you have bought?

 

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but not all extra virgin olive oils are created equal. Anyone who wants to get a better understanding of why it is important to buy olive oil which contains the optimal level of health benefits should read ‘The Olive Oil Diet‘ (available as a paperback or e-book on Amazon). Knowledge is power, and that is definitely the case when it comes to olive oil.

 

The Olive Oil Diet‘ is written by two experts who have a lot of experience with healthy eating. Dr Simon Poole is a General Practitioner who regularly writes and speaks about primary care in medicine and nutrition. Judy Ridgway is an international olive oil expert who frequently travels to olive oil producing regions to meet the growers and taste oils (she was the first non-Italian judge to sit on the judging panel of the prestigious Leone d’Oro international awards for olive oil). Judy also gives incredibly interesting olive oil tasting workshops, which I attended in London (we tasted 16 oils!).

 

The Olive Oil Diet‘ describes a diet for life which focuses on including a wide variety of foods in your day. In an age where people follow restrictive diets for a little while and then drop them for the next diet trend, the Olive Oil Diet describes a way of eating which is enjoyable, adaptable and can become a long-term sustainable part of your lifestyle. The authors stress that while a traditional Mediterranean diet naturally follows the principles of the Olive Oil Diet, the tenets of the diet can in fact be applied to cuisines from all over the world (yes, even curries, salsas and noodles).

 

The book assumes that the reader has limited prior knowledge about olive oil, so it is a wonderfully comprehensive introduction to the world of oils. Even for those who know quite a bit about olive oil, it’s a great refresher and handy reference book. The book is divided into four well-organised parts which are easy to understand and full of useful information. Most importantly, you will immediately be able to apply what you learn in the book the next time you buy olive oil.

 

Part 1 focuses on the health and nutrition aspects of olive oil based on research information published in peer-reviewed journals and scientific articles. A lot of people know that eating olive oil is not just delicious but also very healthy. Good quality olive oil is beneficial for inflammation, heart disease, insulin levels, cholesterol levels, weight and a host of other issues. The benefit of antioxidants in olive oil is explained in-depth as well as the role different fats plays in the Omega 6:Omega 3 balance. It is enlightening to read about the reasons behind the relatively new introduction of polyunsaturated seed oils (including canola/rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oils to name a few) versus monounsaturated olive oil which has been used for thousands of years. Once you understand the science behind the health claims, it is much easier to make an educated decision about what type of oil you want to put in your body every day.

 

Part 2 is all about what to look for when you buy olive oil. It is important to pay attention to the type of container the oil is kept in as well as being able to decipher the real meaning of what is written on the label. Once you understand what clues to look for, you will know very quickly which olive oils to buy and which ones to walk away from for the sake of your health. A label of ‘extra virgin olive oil’ is not always a reliable indicator of the quality of the oil inside. Some companies have been found to mix their oil with other things so buyer beware!

 

Part 3 discusses the principles of the Olive Oil Diet. It is based on the inclusion of seven types of food (the Seven Pillars) which you should aim to eat every day. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the Olive Oil Diet is not simply limited to a traditional Mediterranean diet but can be applied to any type of cuisine in the world. The authors also address the commonly asked question of whether or not it is healthy to cook with extra virgin olive oil (you may be surprised at the answer and the reasons for it).

 

Part 4 is where you can experiment with your meals. It is filled with a wonderful collection of diverse recipes which use olive oil. For a sneak peak into what sort of recipes you can expect, I have listed a few below to show how varied they are:

  • Mango chutney
  • Aubergine Bruschetta
  • Herring and Beetroot Salad
  • Soupe au Pistou
  • Cavatelli with Broad Beans and Peas
  • Spicy Seafood Stir-Fry with Noodles
  • Moorish Chicken with Orange and Lime and Coriander Bulgur
  • Banana Pancakes
  • Plums with Almond Crumble Topping
  • Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

 

 

I recommend ‘The Olive Oil Diet‘ to anyone who is looking for a long-term solution to optimise their health by following a delicious nutrient-rich and inclusive diet with olive oil at its heart. There is a lot about olive oil that the average consumer is not aware of and simply taking the time to educate yourself about olive oil is an easy investment you can make for the sake of your health. Knowledge is power and this book is an invaluable guide to help you make good decisions regarding what food you choose to put in your body.

 

 

Full Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book ‘The Olive Oil Diet’. All words and opinions are my own.

 

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Jun 092015
 

Almond-Cashew Milk

 

I have some members of my family who are allergic or intolerant to dairy products. Often people who are allergic to cow’s milk products can drink other types of milk such as goat’s milk or camel’s milk. However, since these are not mainstream products sometimes these milks are not available when I go to the supermarket, so I usually try to find a substitute such as rice milk or almond milk.

 

I was quite happy with these substitutes until I took a closer look at the ingredient list. Organic rice or almonds (yes!), agave syrup (too sweet), sunflower/canola oil (definitely not!), corn maltodextrin (just, no!).

 

These ingredient lists pushed me into trying to make nut milk myself at home, which would allow me to control what goes into it. And you know what? Nut milk is one of the easiest things in the world to make! I have made it using only almonds, and I have made it using a combination of almonds and cashews. Both are slightly different but very good. If you are making nut milk for the first time, I would recommend starting with almonds only for your first batch and then trying to mix different nuts to compare what combination you prefer. So far, I have always used a nut:water ratio of 1:2, but I may try adjusting the ratio to 1:1 to compare the flavor or consistency. I will keep you posted on that!

 

Share your thoughts: Do you make your own nut milk at home? Do you have any tips to share?

 

Almond-Cashew Milk

 

 

Almond-Cashew Milk

(makes 4 cups/1 liter – recipe can be halved)

 

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole nuts (1 cup almonds and 1 cup cashews; or 2 cups of only almonds or cashews)

4 cups/1 liter of drinking water

Pinch of sea salt

1/8 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract (optional)

1 tsp honey (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Measure out 2 cups of whole nuts and soak them in a bowl of drinking water for 8-12 hours at room temperature.
  2. After soaking, drain the nuts and discard the soaking water. There is no need to peel the skin off the almonds.
  3. Put the soaked nuts in a blender and add 4 cups of fresh drinking water.
  4. Pulse the blender a few times to break up the nuts.
  5. Blend for about a minute.
  6. Now it’s time to strain the milk. If you have a nut milk bag, use it. Otherwise, line a colander with a clean piece of cheesecloth and place the colander in a large bowl. Pour the nut milk into the nut milk bag or cheesecloth-lined colander. The milk will drip into the bowl while the ground nuts will stay in the cheesecloth. Discard the nuts (or use them for baking if you are so inclined.)
  7. Here’s a little tip if you don’t have a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. I actually don’t have either of them (keep meaning to buy them but always forget), so this is what I do. I just use a very fine mesh colander and strain the milk into a large bowl. I discard the nuts in the colander, and then restrain the milk from the bowl into the jug which I will use to refrigerate the milk. If you have a very picky child (like mine), you may want to strain it one last time through a tea strainer just prior to serving to get the very last teeny tiny invisible granules of nut out of the milk. It sounds like a lot of work, but actually it’s really not too difficult.
  8. Add a pinch of sea salt to the milk and stir.
  9. If you want to sweeten the milk, you can add some honey and vanilla/almond extract. I have put suggested amounts above but feel free to use whatever amount is to your taste.
  10. Cover the milk and refrigerate for up to 3 days. The milk may start to separate after the first day. Simply stir it before using.
  11. Note: You can adjust the amount of water depending on your taste preference. If you use less water, the flavour will be slightly more concentrated.

 

Share your thoughts: Do you make your own nut milk at home? Do you have any tips to share?

 

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Apr 032015
 

Classic Egg Salad

 

 

Here is a basic recipe for Simple Egg Salad. At a minimum, you only need to use four ingredients: hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice and sea salt (if you don’t know how to hard-boil eggs, see my Cooking Tutorial: How To Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs.) You can add a few greens such as chopped celery, scallions/spring onions or herbs but it is not absolutely necessary.

 

When it comes to egg salads, the two main issues are ‘how to chop the eggs’ and ‘whether or not to use mayonnaise’. I also recently discovered a little tip about the best sequence in which to combine the ingredients in an egg salad which I will share with you at the end of this post.

 

How To Chop Your Eggs

 

People have different ways of chopping their eggs when they make egg salads.

  • Mashing with a fork – I am an advocate of mashing your eggs with a fork because it gives you the most control to get the texture you want. For me, the ideal texture is when the egg pieces are small and uneven.
  • Egg slicer – Some people use an egg slicer to slice their eggs in one direction and then rotate the eggs and slice through them again to get evenly diced pieces. I have tried this method and I really didn’t like the angular uniform texture it created. But if you use this method and you like, then go for it!
  • Food processor – Some people use their food processor to make a very smooth whipped spread, but for me this method leaves no texture to the eggs. I prefer something chunkier. Plus, do you really want to have to wash your food processor just for a simple egg salad?

 

To Add or Not To Add Mayonnaise

 

Mayonnaise is another biggy. Some people add loads while others avoid it entirely. I am not a huge fan of mayonnaise. I have tried finding an alternative to put into my egg salads by using yogurt or creme fraiche, but somehow I haven’t quite got the taste right yet. In this recipe for Simple Egg Salad, I use 3 Tbsp of mayonnaise and then thin it out with 1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice, which makes the dressing less cloying and much fresher.

 

A Little Tip About the Sequence of Adding the Ingredients

 

As for the the sequence in which to add ingredients while making an egg salad, here is a little tip I recently discovered. In the past, I would always mash my eggs directly into the dressing which tended to make the egg salad a little mushy. But then I realised that there is a better way, so here is what I do now. I get two medium-sized bowls. In the first bowl I prepare my dressing mixture and in the second bowl I mash my eggs. Once the eggs are mashed to my desired consistency, I tip them into the dressing and fold them together. That way I am simply coating the eggs in dressing. Once the dressing and eggs are mixed, I fold in my chopped vegetables and herbs.

 

 

Share your thoughts: I am going to be experimenting with Egg Salad recipes. What do you add to your Simple Egg Salad which I have left out?

 

Classic Egg Salad

 

 

CLASSIC EGG SALAD

 

Ingredients:

6 hardboiled eggs

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 celery stalk (optional)

2 scallions/spring onions or 2 Tbsp of chopped chives (optional)

2 Tbsp freshly chopped dill or parsley (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Hard-boil 6 eggs. For directions on how to cook hard-boiled eggs, see my Cooking Tutorial: How To Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine 3 Tbsp mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 tsp coarse sea salt. Set aside.
  3. Wash and chop 1 celery stalk, 2 scallions/spring onions (or chives), and some dill or parsley. Set aside.
  4. Peel your hard-boiled eggs.
  5. In another medium-sized bowl, mash your peeled hard-boiled eggs with a fork to your desired texture.
  6. Add your mashed hard-boiled eggs to your mayonnaise mixture and fold together.
  7. Fold in the chopped celery, scallions/spring onions/chives, and dill/parsley (optional).
  8. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  9. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh black pepper on bread, toast or lettuce leaves.

 

Share your thoughts: I am going to be experimenting with Egg Salad recipes. What do you add to your Simple Egg Salad which I have left out?

 

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Nov 252014
 

Balance Cafe, Dubai

 

 


Total Salads’ verdict: Balance Cafe is a good restaurant for anyone looking to eat a healthy meal at a reasonable price. They offer many popular international dishes cooked in a contemporary healthy way. The unique thing about Balance Cafe is that it follows Ayurvedic dietary principles. According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes which must be present in a dish for it to be considered well-balanced: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. It is believed that if a person eats a dish with all six tastes, then they are less likely to find themselves snacking or craving more food because all of their taste-buds have been satisfied. Balance Cafe’s commitment to promoting healthier eating goes beyond their restaurant – they also offer cooking classes (daytime and evening) and a door-to-door meal plan food delivery service.

 

Restaurant: Balance Cafe

 

Location: 3rd floor, Oasis Centre Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE

 

Price range: Balance Cafe offers reasonably priced healthy food. Drinks (AED10-20); Soups and Starters (AED10-25); Main Courses (AED27-48); Desserts (AED16-AED22).


 

Venue

Balance Cafe, located in Dubai’s Oasis Centre Mall, follows the ancient Indian principle of Ayurveda which emphasises a balanced diet. According to Ayurveda, balance isn’t only about eating the right quantities of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but also about eating the right combination of tastes. Ayurveda recognises six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent). The idea is that if a person eats a dish with all six tastes, they are less likely to find themselves snacking or craving more food because all of their taste-buds have been satisfied.

 

Although Balance Cafe follows the Indian Ayurvedic philosophy, they do not only serve Indian food. They believe that most cuisines can be prepared according to Ayurvedic principles, and therefore serve popular dishes from different regions (India, the Middle East, Europe and Japan) on their menu cooked in a healthy way. Every item on their menu includes information on calorie count, protein (grams) and fibre (grams). They take pride in what’s NOT in their food: artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and bleached flour.

 

I was invited along with two guests to try Balance Cafe’s menu and see for myself what their food is all about. We arrived on a weekday afternoon and I was pleased to see that it is a popular lunch spot, which indicates that people are actively choosing to eat healthier.

 

Balance Cafe, Dubai

 

 

Drinks

There are several healthy drinks to choose from including Freshly Squeezed Juices (AED20), Sweet or Masala Lassi (AED15), and Mocktails (AED10-AED20).

 

We chose a few healthy Mocktails to start with:

– Detox (AED18) – green apple, orange, carrot and ginger

– Mango Booster (AED20) – mango, orange, pineapple, pomegranate, lemon juice, ginger and mint

– Signature Citrus (AED20) – lemon sorbet, orange juice, vanilla yogurt and honey

 

All the Mocktails were made with fresh fruits and vegetables. The Signature Citrus was a fun drink and the lemon sorbet and vanilla yogurt worked well together. The Detox and Mango Booster were delicious but the ginger was not very strong in our drinks so if you are a big fan of freshly squeezed ginger you could try asking the chef to add a bit more to your Mocktail.

 

For hot drinks, there is a good variety of coffees and teas (AED7-AED14). My favorite tea is Balance Cafe’s Ginger Lemon Honey Tea (AED14) which is very strong (plenty of ginger here) and awakens all the senses.

 

Balance Cafe, Dubai

(clockwise from top left) Mocktails (Detox, Mango Booster, and Signature Citrus); Ginger Lemon Honey Tea; Yin Yang salt and pepper shakers

 

 

Starters

The soups on the menu looked like a nourishing way to start our lunch, but in keeping with the title of my blog (Total Salads) we decided to skip the soups and try a few salads instead.

 

We tried:

– Asian Style Chicken and Prawn Skewers (AED35) – Asian marinated chicken and prawn skewers, peanut coconut dip and Thai fruit salad

– Balance Caesar Salad (AED29) – Mixed salad, parmesan dressing, wheat croutons and French capers

– Organic Quinoa and Chickpea Salad (AED30) – steamed quinoa, chickpeas, crispy lettuce, cherry tomatoes and honey-mustard dressing

 

Our favorite salad out of the three was the Asian Style Chicken and Prawn Skewers which came with a really delicious peanut coconut dip and sweet-spicy chopped fruit salad. The dip and fruit salad were really nicely balanced and in true Ayurvedic style seemed to hit all 6 tastes. I could have happily grazed on the dip and fruit alone, they were that delicious.

 

The Balance Caesar Salad was pretty much what you would expect when ordering a Caesar Salad, except that it did not have very much anchovy flavor. However, the incorporation of capers was a nice way to bring saltiness to the salad in place of the anchovies.

 

The Organic Quinoa and Chickpea Salad was fine but could have been more interesting. There are more creative ways to make quinoa than simply steaming it in water, and it would have been nice if the quinoa had been toasted or steamed in a broth.

 

 

Balance Cafe, Dubai

(clockwise from top left) Organic Quinoa and Chickpea Salad; Balance Caesar Salad; Asian Style Chicken and Prawn Skewers

 

 

Main Course

There are a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Main Course dishes from several regions including India, Europe, the Middle East and Japan. Most of them are traditional favorites cooked in a healthy way.

 

We tried:

– Lamb Biryani (AED43) – Saffron and Cardammom scented long grain basmati rice served with low fat Burani raita

– Lemon Coriander Chicken Curry (AED41) – Home style chicken curry, garlic tossed spinach and tandoori roti

– Tandoori Broccoli and Tofu Tikka Platter (AED36) – served with yellow lentil stew and whole wheat roti

 

The Lamb Biryani was our favorite Main Course. I had read other reviews where people had mentioned the Biryani as being delicious, and I am going to echo that sentiment. It was perfectly spiced, fragrant and without the oiliness which can often accompany restaurant-made Biryani. The Biryanis are listed right at the end of the menu, so make sure you look out for them.

 

The other Main Course dishes were not as good as the Biryani, which really stole the show. The Lemon Coriander Chicken Curry was a little flat in its flavor and The Tandoori Broccoli and Tofu Tikka Platter (which I was informed was a best-seller) had a little too much bitterness for my taste, although I liked the lentils which accompanied the Tikka Platter. Both the dishes were served with delicious freshly made wholewheat rotis.

 

 

Balance Cafe, Dubai

(clockwise from top) Lamb Biryani; Tandoori Broccoli and Tofu Tikka Platter; Lemon Coriander Chicken Curry

 

Dessert

By dessert we were getting full so we only tried two:

– Fruit Platter (AED16)

– Home Baked Mint and Chocolate Cake with Walnuts (AED22)

 

I was really expecting the Fruit Platter to be something special because the chef had done such a great job with the sweet-spicy chopped fruit salad which had accompanied our Asian Style Starter. However, the Fruit Platter was unexciting. I always feel that if you are going to serve just plain fruit on a plate, the fruit has to be perfectly ripe and in season. I was hoping to see some citrus fruits since we are in citrus season right now, but they didn’t make an appearance on the plate. Balance Cafe could easily make their Fruit Platter more appealing by borrowing flavors from one of the many cuisines which it cooks to offer a healthy dip with their fruit salad or even a scoop of homemade sorbet or frozen yogurt. A scattering of pomegranate seeds could also be a nice touch.

 

I was also excited to order the Home Baked Mint and Chocolate Cake with Walnuts because I love the combination of chocolate and mint. I was expecting an intensely flavoured dessert, but unfortunately it was neither chocolatey nor minty enough for me.

 

There were other desserts on the menu which we did not try, so it is possible that there might have been another dessert that I would have preferred. I think the desserts which we tried have the scope to be improved by the chefs at Balance Cafe while still keeping them healthy, and I would love to see that happen.

 

 

Balance Cafe, Dubai

(top) Fruit Platter; (bottom) Home Baked Mint and Chocolate Cake with Walnuts

 

Total Salads’ Final Verdict

Balance Cafe is a good restaurant for anyone looking to eat a healthy meal at a reasonable price. They offer many popular international dishes cooked in a contemporary healthy way. The unique thing about Balance Cafe is that it follows Ayurvedic dietary principles. According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes which must be present in a dish for it to be considered well-balanced: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. It is believed that if a person eats a dish with all six tastes, then they are less likely to find themselves snacking or craving more food because all of their taste-buds have been satisfied. Balance Cafe’s commitment to promoting healthier eating goes beyond their restaurant – they also offer cooking classes (daytime and evening) and a door-to-door meal plan food delivery service.

 

Full disclosure: I was invited to eat at Balance Cafe with 2 guests. All content reflects my honest opinion. 

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Nov 182014
 

 

Vogue Cafe, Dubai

 

 


Total Salads’ verdict: Vogue Cafe is a calm haven hidden away in Dubai Mall’s Level Shoe District. The quality of the food is excellent and the presentation is worthy of a Vogue cover. Like the fashion world, Vogue Cafe plans on changing their menu every season. I tried their Winter 2014/2015 Menu and I was glad to see there are many healthy options to choose between. I love Vogue Cafe’s approach to Main Course salads this season, offering four types of salads plus the option to add some freshly grilled protein to create a balanced, filling and healthy meal. I really wish more restaurants did this. I would recommend Vogue Cafe to anyone who wants to eat well and is looking to escape the hectic crowds of Dubai Mall. 

 

Restaurant: Vogue Cafe

 

Location: Shoe Level District, Dubai Mall, Dubai, UAE

 

Price Range: The price range varies considerably depending on what you order. Portion sizes are generous and most of the ingredients are flown in from France, Spain or Italy and this is reflected in the price. Appetizers (AED56-AED98), Main Courses (AED58-AED185), Desserts (AED43-AED54). Vogue Cafe also serves High Tea (AED129) and Brunch (AED48-AED68).


 

Venue

Vogue Cafe is a calm haven in Dubai Mall. Discreetly tucked away in the Level Shoe District, it is a chic and relaxing place to recharge your energy after a shopping session at the world’s largest shopping mall. If you need some fashion inspiration while you eat, they have a selection of Vogue magazines at the front desk that you can have a look through at your table.

 

I was invited to try their recently launched Winter 2014/2015 Menu. The menu was devised by their new chef Vincent Poitevin, who has extensive international experience including working in a Michelin-star restaurant, so I knew I was in for a treat.

 

Like the fashion world, Vogue Cafe plans on changing their menu every season. For me, a restaurant which changes its menu every season is an exciting place to eat. It keeps the dishes fresh, new and most importantly seasonal.

 

Vogue Cafe, Dubai

 

Drinks

For non-alcoholic drinks, you are spoiled for choice at Vogue Cafe. There are 6 Fresh Juices (AED27) and 16 Mocktails (from AED32-AED80) to choose between. While the fresh juices are the healthier option, I found myself drawn to two of the Mocktails in particular:

 

– Chanel No 6 (AED 48) which is non-alcoholic Prosecco poured over passion fruit caviar and finished with a red rose petal. It was light, refreshing and slightly fruity.

 

– Vogue Cafe Golden Lemonade (AED80) which is a citrus blend of fresh lemon juice mixed with Vogue Cafe’s 72-hour infused homemade golden syrup with flavors of honey and rosemary, sprinkled with 24-carat gold dust. The honey and rosemary work together to give the lemonade an exotic taste. Admittedly AED80 is expensive for a non-alcoholic drink, but it is made in front of you on a special golden cart and served on a lit-up coaster so there is a little extra drama to this drink. (NB: At the time of my visit, the golden cart had not yet arrived so I didn’t get to see what the complete experience is like.)

 

There is also a good selection of coffees (hot coffees, iced coffees) and teas (oolong, white tea, herbal infusions, green teas, black teas) which cost between AED21 and AED35.

 

Vogue Cafe, Dubai

(right) Chanel No 6; (left)Vogue Cafe Golden Lemonade

 

Appetizers

Since Vogue Cafe is part of the Conde Nast Group, I expected the presentation of the food to be beautiful. But even then, my expectations were exceeded. The food is visually stunning, like something from the pages of, well… Vogue magazine.

 

Looking great is one thing, but what really keeps me coming back to a restaurant is how good the food tastes. Each dish I tried was well thought-out and, from the first bite, I could taste that the quality of the ingredients was excellent. Most of the ingredients Vogue Cafe uses are flown in from France, Spain or Italy. What came as a real surprise, however, was the portion size. I was expecting tiny two-bite dishes to match the average fashionista’s small appetite, but the portions are generous.

 

Before our Appetizers, we were brought an amuse-bouche and some bread with 3 types of butter (salted, garlic, and herb) as well as olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

 

For our Appetizers, we ordered the Beetroot and Goat Cheese Mousse (AED52) with lemon vinaigrette, petite cress and candied walnuts. The beetroot is lightly cooked so that it just gives under the weight of your fork and the soft goat’s cheese is a perfect accompaniment (yes, the flowers are edible).

 

We also tried the Smoked Salmon with Dill (AED68) with cream cheese, shaved pickled red onions and rye bread. The salmon was divine, and I was happy to learn that it was organic.

 

Vogue Cafe, Dubai

(top) Beetroot and Goat Cheese Mousse; (bottom) Smoked Salmon with Dill

 

Main Courses

At Vogue Cafe, there are many healthy Main Courses on the menu, but I would really love to highlight their approach to their Main Course salads because it is something I wish more restaurants would do.

 

There are four different salads to choose between and you have the option to add a freshly grilled protein of your choice to the salad. I think it’s such a wonderful way to make your salad a healthy filling meal. At restaurants, I have often been torn between a ordering a salad and a cooked main course because I want the freshness of a large salad but I also need some nice freshly grilled protein on the side. I love love love that Vogue Cafe allows people to get that balance on one plate.

 

The four salads on the menu are:

– Late Summer Salad (AED56) has mixed baby leaves, green mango, papaya, watermelon, pomegranate, strawberry and hazelnut dressing

– Burrata Cheese and Heirloom Tomato (AED74) with aged balsamic, micro basil and extra virgin olive oil

– Blue Crab Salad (AED68) with celery and apple remoulade and light curried mayonnaise

– Caesar Salad (AED58) with baby romaine leaves, garlic herb croutons, homemade dressing and shaved parmesan cheese

 

You can add a grilled protein of your choice to your salad:

– Grilled Chicken (AED24)

– Grilled Angus Beef Tenderloin (AED30)

– Grilled Tiger Prawns (AED32)

– Grilled Salmon (AED32)

– Grilled Seared Yellowfin Tuna (AED35)

 

I decided to go for a Caesar Salad with Grilled Salmon. While the Caesar Salad looked good, compared to the Appetizers we had just eaten and our other Main Course (Grilled Black Angus Beef Tenderloin), it seemed to lack the visual ‘wow’ factor. After the Appetizers, my expectations were sky-high and I was expecting some kind of architectural parmesan crisp to accompany my Caesar Salad and possibly a more creative crouton (something like a crispy thinly sliced piece of seasoned bread rather than small cubed croutons). Still the grilled salmon was gorgeous and the salad was delicious although I prefer a stronger anchovy taste in the dressing. I know that anchovy is not to most people’s taste so rather than add more anchovy to the dressing, it might be an idea to offer the option of a few anchovy fillets on the salad to give that really savoury flavor I am after when I order a Caesar Salad. For my next visit (yes, there will be a next visit), I plan to try the Late Summer Salad with Grilled Tiger Prawns.

 

Our other Main Course was Grilled Black Angus Beef Tenderloin (AED185) with potato and truffle gnocchi, wild mushroom, jus and argan oil. On the side we ordered a Baby Green Salad (AED29). The beef was juicy and perfectly cooked, the gnocchi was full of truffly flavor, and the side salad we ordered lightened what might otherwise have been a delicious but heavy wintery dish.

 

 

Vogue Cafe, Dubai

(clockwise from top left): Late Summer Salad; Caesar Salad with Grilled Salmon; Baby Green Salad; Grilled Black Angus Beef Tenderloin; Blue Crab Salad; Garden Vegetable Parpadelle

 

Desserts

One of Vogue Cafe’s most popular desserts is Chocolate Implosion (AED54) which is a white chocolate sphere, crunchy mint ice cream and warm Valhrona milk chocolate. It sounded tempting but I decided to save that dessert for my next visit and instead try a couple of other desserts.

 

For those who love a creamy dessert, Mille Feuille (AED48) with Vanilla chiboust cream, rhubarb marmalade, and cardamom ice cream will fit the bill. The layers of pastry and cream are simple and delicious although I would have liked to have a little more rhubarb marmalade.

 

Vogue Cafe, Dubai

Mille Feuille

 

A healthier dessert option is Pineapple Carpaccio (AED42) with berries and mint lemon sorbet. I really love it when restaurants go out of their way to make a healthy fruit dessert which is more than simply tossed fruit salad. This dessert takes fruit to a new level with well thought out tastes and textures.

 

We finished off our meal with Moroccan Mint Tea and English Breakfast Tea, which came with chocolates to round off a wonderful lunch.

 

Vogue Cafe, Dubai

(clockwise from top) Pineapple Carpaccio; Moroccan Mint Tea; English Breakfast Tea

 

Total Salads’ verdict

Vogue Cafe is a calm haven hidden away in Dubai Mall’s Level Shoe District. The quality of the food is excellent and the presentation is worthy of a Vogue cover. Like the fashion world, Vogue Cafe plans on changing their menu every season. I tried their Winter 2014/2015 Menu and I was glad to see there are many healthy options to choose between. I love Vogue Cafe’s approach to Main Course salads this season, offering four types of salads plus the option to add some freshly grilled protein to create a balanced, filling and healthy meal. I really wish more restaurants did this. I would recommend Vogue Cafe to anyone who wants to eat well and is looking to escape the hectic crowds of Dubai Mall. 

 

Full Disclosure: I was invited along with a guest to try Vogue Cafe’s Winter Menu. All content reflects my honest opinion.

 

 All images were taken by me except for Late Summer Salad, Blue Crab Salad, and Garden Vegetable Parpadelle which were provided to me by Vogue Cafe.

 

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Nov 102014
 

Puy Lentil Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic

 

 

It’s that time of year again (autumn/winter) when pumpkins and winter squash are piled high in farmer’s markets and supermarkets. I love seeing all the different varieties of pumpkins, some with smooth bright orange skin, others with knobbly green skin, and some pale yellow or even white. 

 

My favorite variety of winter squash has to be butternut squash. I use it in soups, pasta sauce, pumpkin pie and of course I roast it to use in salads. Remember not to throw out your pumpkin seeds. They are packed with zinc and excellent for helping you fight off infections and germs which are so prevalent throughout the colder months. Here is my easy recipe for How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds.

 

When roasting butternut squash, I often throw in a couple of heads of garlic cut in half. The garlic cooks at the same pace as the pumpkin, so they are ready at the same time and can be used together in most dishes (probably not pumpkin pie, though!)

 

What’s your favorite way to cook pumpkin?

 

 

PUY LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND GARLIC

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

 

Ingredients:

200g / 8 oz / 1 & half cups of dried Puy lentils (or double the amount if already cooked)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

 

600g / 1 lb 5 oz butternut squash (peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes)

2 whole heads of garlic, do not remove the papery white skin and cut the garlic heads in half horizontally through the cloves (ie. each cut garlic head should have a top and bottom)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

 

 

Directions:

  1. For easy instructions on how to cook dried Puy lentils, see my Cooking Tutorial on How To Cook Puy Lentils (with pictures). Allow the Puy lentils to cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F to roast the butternut squash and garlic.
  3. Take two whole heads of garlic. Keeping the papery white skin on, hold the garlic head on its side and cut horizontally through the entire garlic head so that it has a top and a bottom. Set aside.
  4. Wash and dry the skin of your butternut squash. The easiest way to peel a butternut squash is by using a potato peeler. Once peeled, cut the butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. If you want, you can roast the seeds (ADD LINK!!). Cut the butternut squash into 1-inch pieces.
  5. In a medium-sized baking dish, add 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tsp of sea salt. Toss the butternut squash pieces in the oil and salt in the baking dish.
  6. Take your 4 garlic halves and rub the cut side on the bottom of the baking dish to coat with oil and salt.
  7. Put the baking dish in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the butternut squash, being careful not to disturb the garlic too much (the cloves might fall out – if they do, don’t worry). Put the baking dish back in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  8. When the Puy lentils and butternut squash are both at room temperature, toss them together in a bowl. Using a knife, remove the garlic cloves from the cut garlic heads and toss them in with the lentils and squash.
  9. I don’t find the need to add anything more to season this salad, but if you want you can add a little olive oil or vinegar.
  10. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for upto 2 days.

 

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Oct 292014
 

The Cycle Bistro

 


Total Salads’ verdict: The Cycle Bistro is a Paleo restaurant located inside a bicycle shop which serves honest, wholesome, tasty food. They offer a variety of creatively made dishes to work around the Paleo dietary requirements (ie. ‘Vegetable Spaghetti’ made from shredded vegetables and ‘Wraps’ made from coconut flour and eggs). A lot of their Breakfast and Main Course dishes come with a generous salad, so ordering one of those is the same as ordering a salad. The Cycle Bistro also serves some Bistro Salads but the two that I tried were disappointing compared to other dishes on their menu, so you are probably better off choosing one of their Breakfast or Main Course dishes which come with a big salad.

 

Restaurant: The Cycle Bistro

 

Location: The Cycle Bistro in The Cycle Hub, Dubai Autodrome Grandstand Shop B6, Motor City, Dubai

 

Price range: Main course dishes cost between AED32 and AED78; Fresh smoothies cost between AED22 and AED26; Coffees and Teas cost between AED12 and AED16 (see their online menu for details)


The Cycle Bistro in Motor City is probably one of the most unique places I have eaten in Dubai. Located inside a bicycle shop called The Cycle Hub, it is the first (and possibly only) Paleo restaurant in Dubai. The atmosphere feels very down-to-Earth – everyone is simply here to eat good healthy food in a relaxed environment.

 

The restaurant was started by The Cycle Hub’s two co-founders, Khalid Al Zarooni and Sam Sayadan. Although it seems odd to have a restaurant in a bicycle shop, The Cycle Bistro already seems to have quite a loyal following, and not just amongst Dubai’s lycra-shorts-wearing cycling population. Every time I have visited, the tables have been packed with all sorts of people.

 

The Cycle Bistro’s menu is designed to offer reasonably-priced healthy food for cyclists who need to fuel up their energy and anyone else who is looking to enjoy wholesome delicious food. As The Cycle Bistro says: “We are Paleo and beyond. No wheat, no sugar – just the best creative food. Whatever we make is good for you.”

 

The Cycle Bistro

 

I do not follow a Paleo diet but I was intrigued to learn more about it. The Paleolithic diet (also known as the Caveman diet or Hunter-Gatherer diet) centres around the idea that human genetics have hardly changed since the end of the Paleolithic era 15,000 years ago and therefore we should be eating the same sort of food that our Paleolithic ancestors ate.

 

Things you cannot eat on a Paleo Diet:

  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes (such as beans and peanuts)
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Salt
  • Refined vegetable oils

 

Things you can eat on a Paleo Diet:

  • Grass-produced meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthful oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

(Apparently, Cavemen ate hot sauce because there is a bottle of Tabasco sauce on every table.)

 

Their chef, Christopher Zerbe, has been very creative in working around these dietary restrictions, such as offering ‘Vegetable Spaghetti’ made from shredded veggies and ‘Wraps’ made from cabbage leaves or coconut flour and eggs.

 

There is a good variety of dishes on their menu, but if you are looking for a salad at The Cycle Bistro I want to give you some advice. Most of their Breakfast and Main Course dishes come with a generous salad so I would recommend ordering one of those. There is a section on the menu called Bistro Salads, but the two Bistro Salads which I tried were a disappointment compared to some of the other dishes they serve.

 

The Bistro Salads I tried were:

–  Thai Spiced Beef Salad with Raw Papaya and Sesame-Orange Vinaigrette

– Roasted Chicken Salad with Avocado, Melon and Cherry Tomato Salsa

 

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the Beef Salad was dry and sadly I couldn’t taste any Thai flavors or the Sesame-Orange Vinaigrette which I had been looking forward to. The Roasted Chicken Salad was slightly better in terms of flavor but somehow the shredded cold chicken just looked unappetising.

 

I am not sure if it was just an off-day or if that is how their Bistro Salads are, but if I went to The Cycle Bistro and ordered either of these salads, I may not be in a hurry to return. But that would be a mistake, and I wouldn’t want anyone to be misled about how good the food here is. Because there is some really good honest cooking going on at The Cycle Bistro. My advice for anyone looking for a salad at The Cycle Bistro is to order a Breakfast or Main Course dish which comes with a large salad.

 

The Cycle Bistro

(Left) Thai Spiced Beef Salad with Raw Papaya and Sesame-Orange Vinaigrette – AED34; (Right) Roasted Chicken Salad with Avocado, Melon and Cherry Tomato Salsa – AED44.

 

One of the Main Course dishes I ordered (and which I am still dreaming of) is the ‘Beef Cottage Pie Stuffed Bell Peppers with Sweet Potato Crust and Organic Salad’. I have vowed that from now on this is the way I am going to make Cottage Pie at home.

 

My husband ordered ‘Avocado Eggs Benedict’ on our first visit, which he said was excellent. On our second visit, he ordered ‘Grilled Grassfed Steak and Eggs’, which he didn’t enjoy as much because the mushrooms and eggs seem to have been fried in coconut oil which he is not a fan of (however I saw plenty of people ordering it and if you like the taste of coconut oil, then I think you will be happy with it). It may be possible to ask them to use a milder tasting oil if you prefer.

 

The Cycle Bistro makes 6 different dairy-free smoothies. Although the Coconut and Banana Smoothie was a little too sweet for me, the Berry Banana Blast and the very green Green Goodness were heavenly and I look forward to ordering them again.

 

The Cycle Bistro

(Left) Wild Berry and Banana Blast with Coconut – AED22; (Top right) Beef Cottage Pie Stuffed Bell Peppers with Sweet Potato Crust and Organic Salad – AED48; (Bottom right) Avocado Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Saffron Sauce – AED44.

 

The Cycle Bistro also offers a good children’s menu (Bistro Jr) with six dishes and three smoothies to choose between. We have ordered the Kid’s Grilled Free Range Chicken twice, and both times it was juicy and tasty. They don’t serve tomato ketchup (I asked), but the chicken was so flavorful that it didn’t need anything extra. An order of Sweet Potato Fries also went down well, although the Paleo Aiolo it was served with was not so popular on our table.

 

The Cycle Bistro

(Clockwise from top left) Sweet Potato Fries with Paleo Aioli – AED16; Bistro Jr Grilled Free Range Chicken Strips with Glazed Carrots and Steamed Broccoli – AED26; Cafe Latte – AED16; Grilled Grassfed Steak and Eggs – AED56.

 

The Cycle Bistro was my first experience eating Caveman-style. Although I don’t follow the Paleo diet, this is a place I know I will visit frequently because there is so much more that I want to try on their menu (aside from the Bistro Salads). The owner Al Zarooni has said that his target for The Cycle Bistro is to have a long queue outside the door. I think that day may not be too far off!

 

Do you follow the Paleo diet or have you ever eaten at a Paleo restaurant?

 

 

Full disclosure: I visited The Cycle Bistro privately and paid for my meal.

 

 

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Oct 192014
 

Baker & Spice

 


Total Salads’ verdict: For salad lovers, Baker & Spice is a 10/10. Their delicious seasonal salads are made from mostly fresh local organic ingredients and offer so much variety that you’re spoilt for choice  The Salad Platter allows you to choose 4 salads from behind the counter (from a choice of around 15 freshly made salads). Their laid-back atmosphere makes this one of my favorite casual restaurants for any meal of the day.

 

Restaurant: Baker & Spice (Dubai)

 

Location: 3 branches in Dubai – Souk Al Bahar (8am-11pm) / Souk Al Manzil (7am-11pm) / Marina Promenade (8am-11pm). Baker & Spice also organizes The Farmers Market on the Terrace at Jumeirah Emirates Tower, Dubai (Fridays 9am-1pm during the UAE growing season, which is roughly November to May).

 

Price range: Plate of 4 Salads from the Counter (300g) – AED58; Shakshouka Matboukha for two to share  – AED 95; organic teas and coffees – AED15 to AED22; fresh squeezed juice and dairy-free smoothies – AED18 to AED38 (see their online menu for details)


 

I am finally writing a restaurant review on Baker & Spice, easily one of my favorite places to go in Dubai for salads. It was one of the first restaurants I visited when I moved to Dubai 5 years ago and I’m still a regular customer. The restaurant’s focus is on using fresh local organic ingredients as much as they possibly can, and you can taste it in their food.

 

Of their three branches in Dubai, I have visited two of them (Souk al Bahar and Marina Promenade). Both restaurants exude a warm unhurried atmosphere. The terracotta walls, fresh produce on display, and wooden tables (including a large communal table in the centre) make you want to sit… and eat… and chat… and sip your coffee slowly. In terms of location, I would slightly give the edge to the Souk al Bahar branch as it feels a bit more spacious plus you have a view of Dubai’s Dancing Fountains.

 

Like many good restaurants, they have a small one-page menu and I have never been disappointed with their food. I usually order their plate of Salads From The Counter.

 

Walking up to the counter to discover what is on offer is always exciting. There are usually around fifteen freshly prepared salads to choose between. Their salads change with the seasons, but some examples include:

  • Green lentil, pomegranate and herb salad
  • Beetroot, orange and goat’s cheese salad
  • Roasted eggplant and feta salad
  • Quinoa salad with chicken
  • Avocado, tomato and cilantro (coriander) salad with lime
  • Roasted sweet potato salad
  • Couscous salad
  • Pasta salad with pesto
  • Roasted root vegetable salad
  • Baba Ghanoush
  • Tzatziki
  • Hummus

Baker & Spice

 

 

Your job is to whittle the choice down to the four you want on your plate. This is probably the hardest part because each of the salads is so different and they all look so tempting. You will invariably end up having to leave some salads that you are desperate to try off your plate, with a silent promise to yourself that next time you come you will try those ones (if they are still there).

 

Last time we went, my husband and I each got a Salad Plate plus a Shakshouka Matboukha for two to share (Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish made of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce). A Salad Plate on its own is a complete and filling dish for one person, but we had heard so much about Baker & Spice’s Shakshouka that we decided to try it as well. All the salads were vibrant, tasty and fresh. The Shakshouka was spicy and nourishing, served with grilled farmhouse bread to mop up the delicious sauce.

 

Baker & Spice

 

Baker & Spice is serious about using local produce to bring delicious, honest food to their customers. Their commitment to encouraging local organic agriculture goes further than their restaurants. In 2010, they initiated The Farmer’s Market on the Terrace in Dubai which allows farmers from all over the UAE to sell their produce directly to customers. I would recommend Baker & Spice to anyone who is looking for a great place to eat, whether it’s salads, a hot dish, or coffee and cakes.

 

Have you been to Baker & Spice? Tell me what you think of it and if you have a favorite dish.

 

 

Full disclosure: I visited Baker & Spice privately and paid for my meal.

 

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Oct 142014
 

Beetroot and Nectarine Salad with Hazelnut-Rosewater Dressing

 

This recipe was a Winner of the Better Life UAE Summer Recipe Challenge 2015.

 

If you’re the sort of person who likes to control everything, here’s something you should try.

 

I recently ordered a box of organic fruit and vegetables to be delivered to my house by the local UAE company Greenheart Organic Farms. I know people have been ordering boxes from them since 2012, but I keep hesitating to place my order for one reason and one reason alone: I am a control freak and I like to know exactly what I’m getting.

 

I try to buy seasonal organic produce as much as possible, but I have always preferred to go to a shop myself to choose what I buy (and how much) rather than order a box packed by someone else. You see, I’ve got recipes in my head when I’m grocery shopping and I need to make sure that I get the right amount of ingredients to make those specific recipes.

 

Last week, I decided to throw caution to the wind and placed my order. I was so excited when our box arrived! It was full of green beans, basil, spring onions, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, capsicum, local dates, a really sweet melon, nectarines, and more. At the bottom of the box, I saw 6 beetroots. Yay, I love beetroot! And next to it, 2 potatoes. The control freak part of me started thinking, “Why would they put 6 beetroots and only 2 potatoes? What can my household of 4 people do with 6 beetroots and only 2 potatoes?”

 

Well, it turns out that what we can do is that we can eat a little differently from what we’ve been used to, which is a great thing! Rather than serving a side dish of potatoes with our roast chicken dinner, I made this Beetroot and Nectarine Salad with Hazelnut-Rosewater Dressing.

 

It was so liberating to work out a recipe by looking at my ingredients first, rather than my usual route of finding a recipe first and then tracking down the ingredients. I really enjoyed it! I can already feel some of my control freak tendencies starting to slip away.

 

And in case you’re wondering about those 2 potatoes, they made it into a stew along with loads of other veggies (including beetroot!).

 

 

Tell me, do you order a box of fruit and vegetables to be delivered to your door? Which company do you use? (Go on, give them a shout out!)

 

 

 

BEETROOT and NECTARINE SALAD with HAZELNUT-ROSEWATER DRESSING

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

25g / 1 oz (approx 20 pieces) hazelnuts (without their shell)

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp rosewater

1 Tbsp water

 

Salad Ingredients:

2-3 medium beetroots (raw or cooked)

2-3 fresh nectarines, sliced

50g / 1.5 oz feta cheese, crumbled or diced

 

Directions:

  1. To make the dressing, you need a hand-blender, blender, or food processor. Put the hazelnuts into the machine and switch it on for about 10 seconds to start breaking up the hazelnuts. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients (extra virgin olive oil, honey, rosewater, and water). Blend until the dressing is mostly smooth (some lumps will remain, which is fine). Set aside on the counter or in the fridge while preparing the rest of the salad.
  2. You can buy cooked beetroot in some grocery stores (not the pickled bottled type), which makes preparing them very easy –  just rinse and slice thinly. However, if you have raw beetroots you can cook them easily yourself. I usually cook more than I need and keep the extras in the fridge for other recipes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Take your beetroot and trim off any long roots or leaves (make sure you only trim those parts, don’t cut into the main body of the beetroot). Wash the beetroot well to remove any dirt. Wrap each beetroot in some aluminum foil (keep the foil join at the top), and place the wrapped beetroot in an oven-proof dish. Fill the dish with about 1 inch (2 cm) of water and place the dish in the oven. It can take between 1 and 2 hours to cook properly (mine usually take 2 hours). Top up the water if necessary in the middle of cooking. The beetroot is ready when you can cut through it easily with a knife. Once cooked, remove the beetroot from the foil and allow to cool on a plate. When cool, rub or peel off the skin. The beetroot is ready to use. Slice it thinly for this recipe.
  3. Wash and dry your nectarines. With a small paring knife, cut around the circumference of the nectarines all the way to the seed, and twist. It should separate into two, however sometimes the seed can be quite tightly attached. Remove the seed, and slice the nectarine thinly into crescents.
  4. On a platter, place 3/4 of your beetroot slices. Place the nectarine slices on top of the beetroot. Then place the remaining beetroot slices on the platter to cover any gaps. At this point, you can place the salad in the fridge to serve later the same day (if you do this, remember to remove it from the fridge 15 minutes before serving to allow it to come to a comfortable tempreature)
  5. When ready to serve, crumble your feta cheese over the salad and drizzle your Hazelnut-Rosewater Dressing on top (you may not need to use all of the dressing).
  6. Serve immediately.

 

 

Tell me, do you order a box of fruit and vegetables to be delivered to your door? Which company do you use? (Go on, give them a shout out!)

 

 

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Aug 312014
 

Potato, Caper and Dill Salad

 

Have you ever done a search in Google Images for ‘Potato Salad’?  Well, I recently did and I was really surprised by what I saw. On page 1, I was bombarded with thumbnail images of insipid, pale, squidgy-looking potato salads. Half of the images could easily have passed off as scrambled eggs or mac ‘n cheese. From page 2 onwards, it slowly starts getting better. Every once in a while, you can actually discern the shape of the individual potatoes and even see colors other than custard-yellow.

 

It made me wonder why there is such a visual monopoly online of just one style of potato salad. Although the squidgy-mayo-laden-eggy potato salad certainly has its place, there are so many other ways of making a potato salad. Potatoes are so versatile and the variations are endless. Adding mayonnaise is not the only way to dress a potato salad. Vinaigrette and seasoned yogurt come to mind as easy alternatives (and healthier too). I recently made a potato salad tossed with strong flavors like capers, sundried tomatoes, and mustard-yogurt dressing. Lots of freshly chopped dill had to fight through the other flavors to be tasted but it rose to the challenge. A colorful feast for the eyes and the tongue!

 

P.S. You will probably find this potato salad image hidden somewhere around page 5 of Google Images.

 

 

POTATO, CAPER and DILL SALAD

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

 

Dressing ingredients:

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (preferably grainy Dijon mustard)

2 Tbsp plain yogurt

1/2 cup fresh dill leaves, finely chopped

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

 

Salad ingredients:

500g waxy potatoes (I prefer new or baby potatoes)

1 Tbsp salt (to add to the cooking water for the potatoes)

1/4 cup capers (in brine)

3/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped into bite-size pieces

 

Directions:

  1. Dressing: Prepare the dressing by mixing all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure the bowl is large enough for you to toss in the salad ingredients later on. Put the dressing in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Potatoes: Bring a pot of water to the boil. Wash 500g potatoes and cut them into bite-size pieces. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and 1 Tbsp salt. Boil for 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through (be careful not to overcook them). Drain the potatoes and spread them on a plate to cool down to room temperature.
  3. Sundried Tomatoes: Measure 3/4 cup sundried tomatoes (do not include the oil). Chop them roughly into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  4. Capers: Measure out 1/4 cup capers. Set aside.
  5. Once the potatoes are room temperature, remove the dressing from the fridge and give it a good mix to loosen it up. Add the sundried tomatoes and capers to the dressing and mix well. Add the potatoes and fold carefully until well-coated in the dressing.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate and eat within 48 hours.

 

 

 

 

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