Mediterranean Salads

Mar 152017
 

Basil Pesto

 

 

Let’s just get one thing out of the way now. Fresh basil pesto will always be superior to the variety you buy in jars at the supermarket both in taste and in nutrients. The ingenious combination of six simple ingredients comes together to make a vibrant flavour that jarred pestos can only dream of having. And need I mention the intoxicating smell in your kitchen? Traditionally, pesto was made using a pestle and mortar but using a food processor works very well too. Making pesto at home is probably one of the easiest ways to get your kids to help out in the kitchen and contribute to a meal.

 

Basil Pesto is delicious tossed with freshly boiled pasta, spread in a sandwich, used as a dip for vegetables, or mixed into a salad dressing to add some vibrancy to it.

 

 

BASIL PESTO

(makes approximately 1 cup)

 

Ingredients:

100g fresh basil leaves (I usually get this from two standard sized basil plants in the supermarket)

1 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped (you can use 2 garlic cloves if your garlic is not very strong)

50g pine kernels

50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated (do not just throw a block of parmesan into your food processor as it is too hard for the blade to process well)

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (start with 4 Tbsp and then add more as necessary)

1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt (or according to taste)

 

Directions:

  1. You will need a food processor to make this recipe. If you have the option, I recommend using a smaller bowl (I use the 1.2L mini bowl in my Magimix food processor).
  2. Pluck the basil leaves from the stalks (this is where little fingers come in handy!). Rinse the basil leaves and dry them on a tea towel.
  3. Grate your parmesan cheese and roughly chop your peeled garlic clove.
  4. In your food processor, add the chopped garlic and pine kernels. Pulse a few times to break them up.
  5. Add the basil leaves and pulse a few times.
  6. Add the parmesan cheese, olive oil and sea salt. Run the food processor for 10 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. This is when you might want to add a bit more olive oil to make the consistency smoother.
  7. Process until the pesto comes together evenly.
  8. Taste once more and add more salt if necessary.
  9. Serve straightaway or refrigerate for upto 5 days.

 

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Jan 132016
 

Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad

 

Strictly speaking, a recipe for ‘Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad’ should be made with Tuscan kale. But I bent the rule with this one by using Curly kale instead as it is the only type of kale I have come across in Dubai. However, in keeping with the Tuscan theme, I have used other traditional Tuscan ingredients in this salad such as dried bread, cannelini beans, tomatoes and cheese.

 

Tuscan kale (also called lacinato kale or dinosaur kale) is a variety of kale which has long flat dark green textured leaves and is slightly less tough and bitter than the more common Curly kale.

 

As with all kale salads, make sure that you remove the stalks and massage the leaves with your hands for 2-3 minute to soften them and release their flavour (technique described in step 2 of the recipe directions below).

 

 

Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad

 

 

TUSCAN KALE and BREAD SALAD
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated on the fine side of a grater

1 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

100g / 3.5 oz kale leaves (weight of leaves without the stalks)

1 tin cannellini/fagioli beans (235g / 8 oz drained weight)

10 cherry tomatoes (about 120g / 4 oz)

Wedge of parmesan or pecorino cheese (according to taste)

2-3 slices of good bread (avoid ciabatta and focaccia as they are too rich for this purpose)

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare your salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients well in a jar. The amount of garlic you use should depend on how strong your garlic cloves are and how much you like to eat raw garlic. Cover and set the jar aside.
  2. Remove the long stalks which run along the length of your kale leaves. Wash and dry the leaves well, and then thinly shred them. To make the kale leaves softer and more tasty, I recommend ‘massaging’ them. Do this by putting the shredded kale leaves in a large bowl and squeezing the leaves on your hands for 3-4 minutes. This will soften their tough texture and release more flavour from the leaf. Massaged kale keeps well in the fridge for several days, so it’s often worth preparing a larger amount of leaves than you need so that you can keep dipping into it throughout the week.
  3.  Drain and rinse 1 tin of cannellini beans (or use freshly cooked beans). Place the beans in a large bowl.
  4. Add the kale to the large bowl and toss with the beans.
  5. Add the salad dressing and toss well to evenly coat the kale and beans.
  6. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and throw them on top of the salad.
  7. Shave some fresh parmesan cheese on top of the salad (the amount should depend on your own taste). You may want to shave a little extra parmesan to garnish the top of the salad before serving.
  8. Toss everything loosely. The salad can be kept in the refrigerator like this for upto 3 days before serving.
  9. Prepare your bread by toasting some slices in a toaster until they are crisp but not burnt. After they have been toasted, allow them to sit in the toaster for 5 minutes to cool and dry out a bit. Once dry, tear them into bite-size pieces by hand. Keep the bread separate from the salad until you are ready to serve otherwise the bread will get soggy.
  10. To serve, re-toss the salad if it has been refrigerated for a while. Spread it on a platter and garnish with some extra parmesan shavings and the toasted bread.

 

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Apr 222015
 
Simplest Italian Tomato Salad

Two years ago, on an evening when I was feeling rushed off my feet and uninspired in the kitchen, I decided to make that old cop-out: Breakfast for Dinner. At our house, this usually means cheese omelettes.

 

Rather than making roasted tomatoes to go with our omelettes (I didn’t have the patience to wait for the oven to heat up), I quickly made a tomato salad with ingredients which I usually have in my kitchen. I had no intention of posting the recipe because the truth is that the recipe is so simple and obvious that it is barely a recipe at all. But then I realised that sometimes it is the easiest and most obvious recipes that we overlook. This recipe for Simplest Italian Tomato Salad is really more of a reminder that something so simple can be so delicious.

 

This salad should really be prepared no more than an hour before you plan to serve it – simply wash your ingredients and have them ready to chop just prior to eating. However, if you are planning to prepare the salad more than an hour before serving, deseeding the tomato will avoid excess liquid collecting at the bottom of your salad.

 

Share Your Thoughts: What is your go-to easy dinner for the evenings when you just can’t be bothered to cook (take-away doesn’t count!). Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

Simplest Italian Tomato Salad

 

SIMPLEST ITALIAN TOMATO SALAD

(Serves 4)

 

 

Ingredients:

450g/1 lb tomatoes (any type, as long as they are good quality)
3-4 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 generous pinches of sea salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Chop the tomatoes and put them into a bowl. If you are serving them straightaway, you can use the entire tomato. However, if the salad will sit for more than an hour, it’s probably a good idea to deseed it so that the salad doesn’t get soggy.
  2. Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to the bowl, and mix well.
  3. Chop the basil roughly and mix it into the salad.
  4. Serve immediately, otherwise refrigerate for upto 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

Share Your Thoughts: What is your go-to easy dinner for the evenings when you just can’t be bothered to cook (take-away doesn’t count!). Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

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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.
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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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Jun 232014
 

Greek Yogurt with Pomegranate and Blueberries

 

 

The summer holidays have started and I have a list of activities which I like to do with my little one now that we have more time on our hands. One of our regular activities is making ‘chapati cookies’. The whole idea came from a cookie-making experience gone wrong.

 

A few years ago, I stocked up on some pretty cool cookie cutters and whipped up a batch of cookie dough. I realised that this was not quite up my alley when the directions told me to:

 

– Divide the dough in half and then roll each half out between two sheets of parchment paper (ugh, is this step really necessary?)

– Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (ok, let me try and make some space in my full fridge!)

– Try and work quickly with the dough once it’s out of the fridge before it starts to warm up to room temperature (Really? Work quickly with a four-year old?)

 

I knew it wouldn’t work the moment I read that last bit, but I persevered because people make cookies with their kids all the time, don’t they? Needless to say, it was rather stressful trying to keep warm little curious sticky hands working fast. We had to refrigerate the dough every few minutes as the dough kept becoming ‘gloopy’ and the whole process just took so long!

 

Since then, we’ve made cakes and drop cookies which are great for making with kids. But I still have these fantastic cookie cutters and I’ve been desperate to use them.

 

Enter ‘chapati cookies’. Chapati is the staple flatbread which Indians and Pakistanis eat. Chapati is actually amazing for kids to work with. It is easy to whip up, is soft and malleable, and can sit at room temperature for the whole day if necessary without melting into a puddle of butter. It’s also very healthy (I use 2 cups finely-milled wholewheat chapati flour + 3/4 to 1 cup water + 2Tbsp olive oil).

 

Although chapatis are traditionally rolled out into circles, there’s nothing in the rules which says you can’t cut them into gingerbread men, hearts, or umbrellas (yes, we have an umbrella-shaped cookie cutter!). You don’t bake them, you dry-cook them on a cast-iron pan or tava. Dipped in a little honey, chapatis make a nutritious breakfast, snack or dessert and my daughter doesn’t even miss the cookies.

 

Another summertime dish which I love eating for breakfast, snack or dessert is Greek yogurt with pomegranate, blueberries and pumpkin seeds. You can go on about the health benefits in this heavenly combination of foods, but the fact is that I eat it this high-protein anti-oxidant laden dish for breakfast simply because it tastes sooo good.

 

 

 

GREEK YOGURT WITH POMEGRANATE AND BLUEBERRIES

(serve for breakfast, snack or dessert)

 

Ingredients:

4 heaped Tbsp Greek yogurt per serving

1 Tbsp honey per serving

2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds (see below for directions on the easiest way to remove seeds from a whole pomegranate)

2 Tbsp blueberries

2 Tbsp any seeds or chopped nuts

 

Directions:

  1. If you can’t find pomegranate seeds in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, you can buy a whole pomegranate and remove the seeds in the following way. Wash the pomegranate’s skin and then cut the pomegranate into quarters (wear an apron to avoid red stains on your clothing). Put a large bowl in your kitchen sink and fill it with water. Take a pomegranate quarter and hold it under water in the bowl. With your fingers, start pulling off the seeds. They should come off very easily under water and there won’t be any red squirts of juice. Because of their weight, the pomegranate seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the white pithe will float. Discard the skin and repeat this process with the rest of the pomegranate quarters. Remove any floating white pithe, drain the pomegranate seeds, and refrigerate for upto 3 days.
  2. Stir the Greek yogurt in its pot to loosen it. Spoon 4 Tbsp of Greek yogurt into each bowl.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp of honey into each bowl and mix well with the yogurt.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp of pomegranate seeds.
  5. Add 2 Tbsp of blueberries.
  6. Add 2 Tbsp of any type of seeds or chopped nuts.
  7. Serve immediately without mixing the toppings into the yogurt.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jun 122014
 

Tzatziki Potato Salad

 

My husband recently went on a business trip to Greece, and on his way out the door he asked me if there was anything I wanted him to get for me. ‘A summer house on an island’ was my immediate answer.  While I knew that the possibility of my wish being granted was rather remote (shall we say ‘nil’), I still thought I should get it out there and see what happens.

 

Needless to say, my husband did not return from his 3-day trip with a set of keys to my dream house, but he got me the next best thing. Three bottles of Cretan Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If I can’t own a piece of the land, then I am more than happy to eat something that grew from it.

 

I love Greek food, especially now that it’s getting warmer. Baked potatoes are starting to lose their charm in Dubai’s 44° Celsius (111° Fahrenheit) heat, so a nice cooling potato salad makes a welcome change. I whipped this one up recently as a side dish for dinner using Greek Tzatziki as the dressing for some lovely waxy baby potatoes. It tastes even better on the second day!

 

 

TZATZIKI POTATO SALAD

(Serves 6-8 as a side dish)

 

Ingredients:

1 kg / 2 lb waxy baby potatoes

Half a large cucumber

3 spring onions / scallions

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and grated/minced

300 mL / 1 & 1/2 cups Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. To make the potatoes, bring a large pot of water to the boil.
  2. Prepare your potatoes by washing them to remove all traces of dirt, trimming any growths, and then cutting into quarters (should be bite-size pieces).
  3. Once the water has boiled, add 1-2 Tbsp of salt to the water and then the potatoes. Simmer for about 8 minutes until  the potatoes are tender and cooked but not falling apart. Drain and allow to cool.
  4. Take 3 spring onions / scallions, and remove the outer leaf of each one. Wash them well and then slice them finely into small (use about 3/4 of the length of the spring onion, discarding the top 1/4 green part). Set aside.
  5. Get 2 garlic cloves, peel them and grate or mince them. I use the fine side of my cheese-grater. Set aside.
  6. Take half a large cucumber and grate it on the coarse side of a cheese grater. Remove the liquid from the grated cucumber by placing it in a fine mesh colander and pressing out the liquid over a sink. Alternatively, you can just pick the grated cucumber in your hands and squeeze it over the sink to remove the liquid. Do not use a kitchen towel to try and squeeze out the liquid because it will beak and a lot of the cucumber will stick to it.
  7. In a bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic and spring onions. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. It should be quite flavorful at this point because once you add the potatoes the flavor will get slightly covered. If the potatoes are not yet cool enough to add, refrigerate the dressing.
  8. Once the potatoes are room temperature, fold them into the dressing taking care not to break the potatoes.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to serve, upto 48 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before you plan on serving to remove the chill.

 

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Feb 112014
 

Tossed Caprese Salad

 

 

A couple of months ago, my  handy little point-&-shoot digital camera broke. I realise that point-&-shoot cameras are looked down upon by serious photographers and some bloggers as well. And I admit that it irritates me that there is a delay between when you click the button and the picture gets taken. However, for me they do the job when it comes to things like taking photos of school events like plays, parties and Sports Day.

 

In the past, I have tried bringing my big bulky super-sophisticated DSLR camera to school events, and it just feels unwieldy. Sure, the pictures are more crisp and the background-foreground contrast can be visually stunning, but I feel like I spend more time trying to handle my camera than watching what’s going on.

 

When my point-&-shoot camera broke, I decided that instead of running out and buying a new camera, I would try using my Samsung phone instead and see how it works out. I found that the quality of the pictures taken using my phone are quite good, certainly good enough to share with family and friends. It also means I don’t need to carry an extra camera in my handbag, which is already permanently over-stuffed and weighs a ton.

 

So, last week it was Sports Day at school. I reached into my handbag to grab my phone to start taking photos of my child participating in various athletic events, when it dawned on me that my phone was at home happily being recharged. I felt a bit lost for a moment. Here I was without anything to record these moments!

 

I asked one of the other Moms if she could take a photo of my child at some point during that day and send it to me, and after that I was left to just watch my little one with no phone or camera in my hand. And you know what? It was one of the best things that could have happened.

 

I could actually live the moments with my child. I could see all the little details I might have missed otherwise, the small expressions of effort on her face. I noticed that just before it’s her turn, she gets very a very focused look in her eyes. Then when it actually is her turn, she furrows her eyebrows a bit because she wants to win soooo badly. I could make eye-contact with her when she did well, and jump up and down to cheer for her without having to worry about messing up a video. Instead of looking individually at her through a screen, I could see her as part of a bigger group of other kids, and I saw that she’s a great team player.

 

Some Moms were already wise to this – they were watching and living the moment with their kids. Other Moms still hadn’t been introduced to the liberating feeling of putting down your recording device to simply enjoy the moment.

 

I saw one poor Mom with a toddler in one arm, a video camera in her hand, and a large DSLR camera slung around her neck. She was alternating between her DSLR camera, video camera and toddler. I understand where she’s coming from – that was me last year so there is no judgement here. I know that feeling of not wanting to miss a moment. But in trying to capture and freeze each moment, you are standing outside of the moment rather than being in it. I just hope that one day she will learn to put down her camera(s) to really live the moment and record things with her eyes and her heart.

 

For the record, the Mom who I asked to take a photo of my child took several lovely ones and I’m really grateful to have them to share with my family. So I guess what I’ve ultimately figured out is that it’s definitely great to take a few photos to share with people who couldn’t be there, but from now on my camera will spend more time in my bag than in my hands.

 

I don’t know exactly how this story relates to my recipe of Tossed Caprese Salad. It’s a gorgeously delicious salad which is so quick and easy to make that your kids can help out with it. What makes it different from a traditional Caprese Salad is simply the presentation. Instead of carefully layering your slices of tomato and mozzarella and gently drizzling it with dressing (which is what I have usually done in the past), this version of Caprese Salad is simply about tossing all the ingredients together quickly so that you can spend more time with your loved ones rather than stuck in the kitchen.

 

 

TOSSED CAPRESE SALAD

(serves 4-6 as a a starter or side dish)

 

Ingredients:

1 lb / 500g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

10 oz / 300g mozzarella ball (drained weight), cut into bite-size pieces about the same size as the halved cherry tomatoes

Handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (according to taste)

1 medium garlic clove, peeled and grated (alternatively, you can use half a garlic clove for a more subtle taste)

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Generous pinch of sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry your cherry tomatoes. Cut them in half. If you will be serving this salad within an hour, you can leave the seeds in. If you plan to serve it in more than an hour, remove the seeds as they may start to make the salad liquidy. Throw the cut tomatoes into your salad bowl.
  2. Drain you mozzarella ball and cut it into bite-size pieces, about the size of the tomato halves. Add the mozzarella to the salad bowl.
  3. Wash, dry and roughly chop a good handful of fresh basil leaves. You can adjust the amount of basil according to taste.
  4. Get a jar, cup or small bowl to mix the dressing. Start by peeling and grating 1 medium garlic clove and adding it to your dressing jar. Add 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and a generous pinch of salt. Mix it well and immediately pour it over your salad.
  5. Toss well and refrigerate until ready to use. This salad needs to be made as close to serving time as possible, certainly on the same day you plan to serve it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 262013
 

Panzanella

 

 

Panzanella is a rustic tomato and bread salad which originates from Tuscany in Italy. The origins of the salad are thought to date back to the 1500s when a Florentine poet named Bronzino first described the merits of a dish of onions, oil and vinegar served with toast. It was not until the 1900s that the onions were substituted with tomatoes as the main ingredient.

 

Panzanella is best made in the summertime with the ripest tomatoes you can find. Although the recipe itself is very easy, it does require a little planning to buy a loaf of country bread a day or two in advance, cut it into bite-size pieces and allow it to dry out at room temperature for a day or two.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

PANZANELLA

(Serves 4-6 as a side salad)

 

Ingredients:

4 cups dried breadcubes (cut a baguette into bite-size cubes and leave to dry on a tea-towel overnight)

2 cups / 300g ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces (with the seeds and skin)

2 bell peppers (preferably yellow or red), deseeded and cut into bite-size pieces

3 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp red onions, finely diced

Half a medium cucumber, diced (optional)

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

freshly round black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

  1. To make your breadcubes, it is best to use a baguette or a rustic white bread loaf. If you have bought fresh bread, you will need to cut it into bite-size cubes and leave it to dry out on a tea-towel or kitchen-towel overnight. If your bread is already a little stale, you can use it the same day. The breadcubes need to be dry so that they can soak up the juices in the salad.
  2. Wash and cut your tomatoes (include the inside of the tomato), red peppers, basil leaves, red onion and cucumber (optional). Toss them all together in a large salad bowl.
  3. Add the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper to the salad bowl and gently toss.
  4. If you are serving straightaway, add the breadcubes, toss and serve. If you are not serving straightaway, refrigerate the salad (not including the breadcubes) for upto 12 hours. Half an hour before serving, remove the salad from the fridge and add the bread cubes. Toss and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

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May 122013
 

Watermelon and Feta Salad

 

 

I was introduced to Watermelon and Feta salad on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, served every morning with breakfast. Watermelon and feta are exact opposites, and that is probably why they manage to bring out the best in each other. The watermelon is much sweeter, crunchier and juicier while the feta shows off its silky creamy qualities.

 

I have seen recipes for Watermelon and Feta Salad which call for dressing the salad with lime and mint. I think it’s too much. I enjoy the simplicity of this salad.

 

 

WATERMELON AND FETA SALAD

 (Serves 4)

 

 

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 whole piece of watermelon, sliced into small triangles

200g Feta cheese, crumbled

 

Directions:

  1. Slice your watermelon piece into thick wedges.
  2. Remove the thick skin and discard.
  3. Slice the watermelon wedges into triangles of equal thickness.
  4. Arrange the watermelon triangles on a platter.
  5. Crumble or dice the feta cheese on a chopping board. Scatter on top of the watermelon.
  6. Refrigerate and serve cold.

 

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May 032013
 

Greek Salad with Oregano Dressing

 

 

The great thing about oregano is that it makes everything taste like pizza. I know that sounds like a 10-year-old boy thing to say, but it’s true.

 

I love Greek Salad but I often find that if I don’t have some feta with each bite, it starts to taste a bit dull. However, pairing it with a slightly punchy (but not too overpowering) Garlic and Oregano Dressing makes every mouthful amazingly satisfying.

 

 

GREEK SALAD WITH GARLIC AND OREGANO DRESSING

(Serves 4)

 

 

GARLIC & OREGANO DRESSING

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1-2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped

1 tsp dried or semi-dried oregano

salt and black pepper to taste

 

 

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients together (Tip: Use a glass jar with a lid to shake all the ingredients together – it can then be put straight into the fridge until you are ready to use the dressing).
  2. Taste and add more salt/pepper, if necessary.
  3. Serve straight away or store in the fridge for upto 4 days.

 

 

GREEK SALAD

Ingredients:

8 oz / 150-200g Cos or Iceberg lettuce leaves (or any other mild-flavored lettuce), roughly chopped or torn

2 tomatoes (cut into eighths) or 8 cherry tomatoes (cut in half)

1 small or 1/2 large cucumber, sliced

8 thin slices of red onion

handful of black olives (preferably whole)

2 celery sticks, sliced

4 spring onions (white part only), sliced in half-inch pieces

8 radishes (quartered)

1 green bellpepper, thinly sliced rounds

50g feta cheese, crumbled

handful of fresh dill, chopped (optional)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Place the lettuce leaves at the bottom of a flat wide-based salad bowl or platter.
  2. Scatter the celery, cucumber, spring onions and radishes evenly over the top of the lettuce leaves.
  3. Place the tomatoes, red onion, bellpepper and black olives on top.
  4. Crumble the feta into a nice heap in the center.
  5. Scatter the dill on top of the salad (optional).
  6. If eating straightaway, dress with the Garlic & Oregano Dressing (see recipe above). Otherwise, put the salad in the fridge and dress when ready to eat.

 

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May 032013
 

Greek Style Potato Salad

 

Potato Salad makes a nice change from serving an ordinary side dish of boiled, mashed or roasted potatoes.

 

This Greek-Style Potato Salad is a really nice refreshing interpretation of the traditional mayonnaise-laden Potato Salad. It is full of green vegetables, herbs and cooling Greek yoghurt. This Potato Salad will definitely not leave you feeling heavy!

 

 

 

GREEK-STYLE POTATO SALAD

(serves 4 as a side dish) 

 

 

Ingredients:

1 lb / 450g waxy potatoes

8 oz / 200g Greek yoghurt

2 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated

1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

3 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 celery stick, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Caperberries or pickles for garnish, optional

 

 

Directions:

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks (whatever size you want in your salad). Boil them in salted water until they are cooked and you can easily pierce them with a skewer (do not let them overcook). Boiling time is usually between 10-15 minutes depending on size. Once cooked, drain and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine all the other ingredients (except the caperberries/pickles, if you are using them) and mix well. Refrigerate until the potatoes are cool and ready to add.
  3. Once you have added the potatoes, give the whole mixture a nice gentle stir until the potatoes are coated.
  4. Garnish with some caperberries or pickles on the side for some added bite (optional).
  5. Eat immediately or refrigerate for upto 24 hours.

 

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