salad

Feb 292016
 

Baby Spinach & Garlic Dip

 

 

Spinach is a cool weather crop which grows best in early Spring and in Autumn.

 

It’s a very versatile vegetable and takes on other flavours well. I use spinach in so many things from smoothies to salads to curries. I hadn’t really thought to use it as a dip until fairly recently when I started seeing so many beautiful fresh early Spring vegetables emerge in the market. Fresh vegetables are good, but fresh vegetables with a healthy dip are even better!

 

You can follow my recipe below for ‘Baby Spinach and Garlic Dip’, but the truth is that baby spinach is so versatile that you could easily blend it into any dip to boost its nutritional value and it would work well.

 

 

BABY SPINACH and GARLIC DIP

(makes about 2 cups)

 

 

Ingredients:

150g / 5 oz Fresh baby spinach (roughly equivalent to 4 big handfuls or 4 tightly packed cups)

1/2 cup Fresh chives, chopped

1 spring onion / scallion, roughly chopped (white and green part)

1 plump garlic clove (2 if you really love raw garlic), peeled and cut into 4 pieces

1/2 cup walnuts or cashew nuts

1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (no seeds)

2 tsp sea salt

 

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and drain the baby spinach (no need to trim the stems as it will all go into a food processor).
  2. Put all the ingredients listed above into your food processor and pulse a few times until the spinach has been chopped. You may need to push down the spinach once or twice in the beginning.
  3. Once the mixture is roughly pulsed, run the food processor on ‘Auto’ (or whichever button you need to press for continued processing) for about 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the lid and taste. If required, adjust the seasoning. Keep in mind that the flavour from the raw garlic will become more pronounced in a few hours.
  5. Process the mixture in the machine for another 15 seconds or so.
  6. Taste again and make final adjustments, if necessary.
  7. Pour into a container and refrigerate until ready to eat.

 

 

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Feb 182016
 

Product-French Cheeses

 

One of the easiest ways to quickly turn a simple salad into a delicious and complete meal is by adding some cheese to it. While cheese is produced in many countries, the largest variety by far comes from France where they produce over 400 different types of cheese. By how do you know which French cheeses are good to add to a salad and which ones aren’t?

 

To help navigate the wondrous world of French cheeses, I was invited to attend a workshop at Top Chef Cooking Studio in Dubai given by award-winning cheesemonger Francois Robin (he was voted Best Cheesemonger in France in 2011 which allows him to wear the coveted tricolore collar on his chef coat).

 

Product-French Cheeses

French Cheesemonger Francois Robin

 

As Francois explained early on in our workshop, there is no bad type of cheese, there are just many varieties and you have to find YOUR cheese – that is, learn which types you prefer and which you don’t. Each variety has something different to offer, and even the same type of cheese can taste totally different depending on how long it has been aged.

 

A case in point are the two Brillat-Savarins which we tried in our workshop. First, we tasted a 6-week old Brillat-Savarin which had a butter-like texture and was very salty and slightly bitter on the sides of the tongue. About half an hour later, we tasted a 1-week old Brillat-Savarin which was totally different from its older brother – fresh and creamy with some sweetness which made it almost like a dessert.

 

Product-French Cheeses

Francois chose four very different French cheeses for us to try: a well-aged Comté (hard cheese), a 6-week old Brillat-Savarin (soft cheese), Goat’s cheese, and Roquefort (blue cheese)

 

Tasting cheese is all about using your senses (touch, smell, taste and sight) to ascertain its various qualities. Once you have looked at the cheese, just closing your eyes before you taste it can help you focus more intensely on the aromas, flavours and texture. As a general rule, hard and tangy cheeses should be tasted with the tip of the tongue while soft and blue cheese should pressed to the roof of the mouth.

 

We also experimented with pairing the cheeses with different ingredients to see how they enhanced or muted the flavour. We experimented with pomegranate syrup, honey, spice powders (zaatar, cumin and clove), sesame seeds and a variety of dried fruit and nuts. Experimenting with flavours will help you make great combinations of ingredients when pulling together a salad. Each of us came up with our own creations in the workshop. This was mine:

 

Product-French Cheeses

Le masterpiece!

 

So which French cheeses are the best to add into salads. Well, the answer really is whichever ones you like. Depending on the texture of the cheese, it can be cubed, grated, shaved or crumbled directly onto your salad. A gooey runny cheese can simply be cut into a wedge and placed on top or to the side of your salad to dip into once in a while. Cheese can also be incorporated into a salad dressing – have a go at making my easy and delicious Blue Cheese Dressing (warning: you will never buy bottled again).

 

A good cheese counter is a great place to taste different cheeses before deciding which ones to buy. According to Francois, some of the best places in Dubai to buy good French cheeses are Galeries Lafayette and Carrefour. Remember that good artisanal cheese can be expensive as it’s hand-made and often uses a lot of milk. You may be surprised to know that it takes 10 litres of milk to make 1 kilo of French Camembert de Normandie.

 

Also try and look out for the acronym AOC which stands for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. It means that the quality of these specific cheeses are a direct result of the geography, climate, flora and fauna of the specific area they were produced in. There are currently just over 40 cheeses which have been assigned AOC status. However, even if a cheese is not designated AOC it can still be very good.

 

Product-French Cheeses

 

My personal favourite French cheeses to add to salads include Beaufort, Brie de Meaux, Brillat-Savarin, Bûcheron, Chèvre (unripened), Comté and Roquefort.

 

To learn more about the different varieties of French cheeses available, the following book comes highly recommended on Amazon: French Cheeses – The Visual Guide to More Than 350 Cheeses from Every Region of France.

 

UK customers

 

US customers

 

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Feb 112016
 

Tuna and Avocado Salad Bowl

 

My ‘Salad Bowl’ series is a way for me to show you how I make quick and versatile salads for myself using a mixture of leftover ingredients and fresh ingredients.

 

My Salad Bowl recipes are meant more as an inspiration for you to explore in your own fridge and pantry rather than a strict recipe to follow. They are utterly satisfying, delicious and super easy to make. And once you get the hang of how to proportion your salads, making a hearty delicious and well-balanced salad will become second nature.

 

As a tip, I find that it helps to keep a week’s worth of fresh raw vegetables washed (but not cut) and ready to use in the refrigerator.

 

I usually present the Salad Bowl with all the ingredients clearly visible (see the images above) and then toss it just prior to eating.

 

To learn more, have a look at my Tutorial: How to Use Leftovers to Make a Quick and Delicious Salad Bowl.

 

 

TUNA and AVOCADO ‘SALAD BOWL’

 

All ingredients should be cut into bite-size pieces.

Quantities depend on what you have in the house.

Make ingredient substitutions as you see fit.

Ingredients:

Tinned or jarred tuna, drained

Avocado, ripe

Carrots

Lettuce

Tomatoes

Mature cheddar cheese, diced or crumbled

Greek yogurt (or any other dip)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. Drain your tuna and use a fork to break it up into a bowl. Add a little olive oil and sea salt to season, and mix well.
  2. Chop the carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado into bite-size pieces.
  3. Chop or dice the cheese.
  4. In a bowl, put an equal amount of tuna, chopped vegetables and cheese, keeping the ingredients separate (see image above).
  5. Put a dollop of Greek yogurt (or any other dip) in the centre. Nuts or seeds can be scattered on top of the yogurt, if desired.
  6. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt over the salad and serve.
  7. To eat, mix all the ingredients together and start chomping!

 

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Feb 052016
 

Planeta EVOO

 

 

The Planeta olive grove is set in the south-western Sicilian district of Capparrina. The location was carefully selected both aesthetically and ethically in order to protect the beautiful landscape of the area from over-development and to create employment for the local inhabitants.

 

Planeta currently produces three types of extra virgin olive oil, all of which are made from manually harvested olives are are DOP Val di Mazara (Designation of Protected Origin). The olive oil I am looking at in this post is their traditionally pressed oil (which includes the stones in the pressing). It uses a balance of three olive varietals traditionally cultivated in Capparrina:

  • Nocellara del Belice (50%) – notes of artichoke, tomatoes and almonds, with light spiciness and bitterness
  • Biancolilla (30%) – notes of grass, almond and fruitiness, with light spiciness and bitterness
  • Cerasuola (20%) – notes of freshly cut herbs, artichokes and tomatoes, with bitterness and medium spiciness (due to the high level of antioxidant polyphenols)

 

On their website, Planeta has a lot of information about their olive oils’ flavour/scent characteristics and even offers suggestions as to what to pair each oil with. This oil is recommended as being particularly good when drizzled over grilled foods and soups.

 

Planeta Extra Virgin Olive Oil has got wonderfully complex flavours which work very well together. The first note that hits the nose is a collection of fragrant herbs, in particular I can detect mint, sage and oregano. There is also an underlying fruity olive scent and slight citrus. On tasting the oil, I could sense artichoke followed by a little bit of seaweed (it took a few slurps, but I got it!) and a lingering woodiness which stays on the tongue. It is mildly bitter on the tongue with medium spiciness at the back of the throat.

 

Organoleptic Profile:

Colour (not an indicator of quality): Deep bright green colour with hints of pistachio.

Aroma: an elegant and harmonious bouquet on the nose, with fresh mint and basil combined with an aromatic touch of sage, thyme, oregano and juniper, together with citrus flowers, wood scents, artichoke, green tomato and seaweed.

Taste: The initial sensation of the palate is full, and in the mouth it is generous, fresh and pleasantly bitter at the beginning with a long and persistently spicy finish.

Bitterness: Pleasant bitterness on the tongue which gets progressively stronger and then ebbs out again.

Peppery: Medium spiciness at the back of the throat.

 

Other information:

Company: Planeta

Region: Capparrina, Sicily (Italy)

Olive Varietal: Nocellara del Belice (50%), Biancolilla (30%), and Cerasuola (20%)

Bottle: Dark glass

Production Date: On the label

Expiry Date: On the label

Acidity level: 0.27% (from website)

Peroxide level: Not on label

 

Buy Now! (US)

 

 

Share your thoughts: If you have you tried Planeta Extra Virgin Olive Oil, share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

 

Full Disclosure:

  • I purchased a 500ml bottle of Planeta (Nocellara del Belice, Biancolilla, Cerasuola) Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All opinions are honest and my own.

 

 

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Jan 262016
 

Salmon and Puy Lentil Salad Bowl

 

Two of the big food trends predicted for 2016 which I’m really excited about are:

  • Increasing the effort to reduce food waste, and
  • The rise of the ‘bowl’

 

Wasted food is a huge problem and it’s great to see it being increasingly acknowledged. Recipes which use up leftovers are a big help in reducing food wastage and I’d like to do my part by showing you some of the salads which I make at home using leftovers. Up until now, these salads have not quite made it onto my blog – mostly because there is no real recipe (just pulling together leftovers). But they are utterly satisfying, delicious and super easy to make.

 

Using a bowl for these salads rather than a plate has several advantages:

  • it’s easier to toss a mixed salad in a bowl than in a plate
  • when eating a chopped salad, bowls are easier to use because you can use the sides to pack in the ingredients into your fork or spoon
  • bowls take up less table space than plates, which is a big plus if you eat at your desk
  • bowls give a cosy and homely feeling – whatever you eat from a bowl becomes comfort food!

 

When making my Salad Bowls, I try to stick to the following rules (remember to chop up the ingredients fairly small):

  • one grain (leftover quinoa, puy lentils, brown rice, couscous, etc…)
  • one protein (leftover cooked chicken, fish, seafood, meat, beans, and/or cheese)
  • one cooked vegetable (leftover)
  • two raw fresh vegetables (I always keep a stash of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots or bell peppers in the fridge, washed and ready to cut)
  • one dollop of anything I have in the fridge (yogurt, cottage cheese, hummus, guacamole, tahini, etc…)
  • any micro-greens, nuts or seeds to be sprinkled on top of the aforementioned ‘dollop’
  • depending on how much seasoning there is in the leftovers, you may or may not need some dressing. I find that a glug of extra virgin olive oil and a mini-glug of balsamic vinegar does the job.

 

 

PUY LENTIL and SALMON SALAD BOWL

 

All ingredients should be cut into bite-size pieces.

Quantities depend on what you have in the house.

Make ingredient substitutions as you see fit.

 

Salad Ingredients: 

 

Salmon fillet, cooked and flaked with a fork

Green beans, cooked and chopped

Puy lentils, cooked

Lettuce (raw), washed and finely slices

Cherry tomatoes (raw), washed and cut into sixths

Greek yogurt, a good dollop per serving

Mustard cress, washed

 

Dressing Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

 

Directions:

  1. Use a single-serving bowl per person.
  2. In each bowl, put an equal amount of each of the following: salmon, green beans, puy lentils, lettuce and tomatoes.
  3. Put a dollop of yogurt in the centre of the bowl.
  4. Scatter mustard dress on top of the yogurt.
  5. Add a glug of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sea salt, if necessary.
  6. For the best presentation, I like to serve the bowl like this (with all the ingredients separate.)
  7. To eat, mix all the ingredients together in the bowl and start chomping!

 

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Nov 252015
 

Oriental Brussels Sprout and Clementine Salad

 

This crunchy Oriental-inspired salad is full of flavour and can be made with either raw Brussels sprouts or cabbage. If the idea of raw Brussels sprouts fills you with dread, try slicing them up and blanching them by covering them in some freshly boiled water for about a minute to take off the raw edge.

 

I had intended to make the salad with traditional green Brussels sprouts but in the run-up to Thanksgiving there were only purple ones left in the supermarket. Luckily, it turns out that purple Brussels sprouts are meant to be sweeter than their more famous green brothers, ostensibly making them a better option for salads.

 

Join the conversation: Have you tried purple Brussels sprouts yet?

 

Oriental Brussels Sprout and Clementine Salad

 

 

ORIENTAL BRUSSELS SPROUT AND CLEMENTINE SALAD

 

Dressing Ingredients:

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

500g / 1.1 lb Brussels sprouts

4 radishes

2 scallions / spring onions

1 clementine

2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shaking well. Set aside.
  2. Remove the outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts and trim the stalk. Wash and dry the Brussels sprouts. Thinly slice or shred the Brussels sprouts using a sharp knife. You can eat the shaved Brussels sprouts raw but I like to take the edge off them by putting them in a heat-proof bowl or pot (not on the heat) and pouring freshly boiled water from the kettle over them. I allow them to sit in the water for 1 minute and then drain. If you want to keep the colour vibrant, dunk the Brussels sprouts into a bowl of ice-cold water for 10 seconds and then drain. Allow to cool.
  3. Wash and trim the radishes. Cut them in half lengthwise and thinly cut into half-moon slices.
  4. Trim the scallions / spring onions and remove the outer later. Cut finely, using both the white and green parts.
  5. Peel the clementine and separate it into segments. Cut each segment into three or four bite-size pieces.
  6. In a bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts, radishes, scallions / spring onions, and clementines. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
  7. Add the dressing and toss well.
  8. Refrigerate and eat within three days.

 

Join the conversation: Have you tried purple Brussels sprouts yet?

 

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Nov 232015
 

Brussels Sprout, Pecan and Cranberry Salad

 

Inspired by the plethora of raw Brussels sprout salad recipes I’ve seen floating around online, I decided to try making one myself.

 

Up until now, Brussels sprouts in my house have always been roasted, boiled or sauteed and I was finally feeling brave enough to try them raw. Or was I? For some reason, the idea of eating raw Brussels sprouts is more worrisome than the idea of eating raw cabbage or kale even though they are from the same mustard family (brassica oleracea).

 

Undeterred, off I went to the supermarket to buy some nice green Brussels sprouts which I was going to shave thinly. But with it being Thanksgiving week, all the traditional green ones were sold out and there were only beautiful dark purple Brussels sprouts left.

 

I got home and tasted a sliver of raw Brussels sprout and it was actually okay. Similar to cabbage in texture but with a slightly more mustardy flavour. But then I started worrying about how much raw Brussels sprouts is too much? I mean, one or two slivers will sit comfortably in my stomach, but will a whole bowlful be as… comfortable?

 

With that in mind, I decided to make the salad using semi-raw Brussels sprouts. This basically involves putting the shaved Brussels sprouts into a heat-proof bowl or pot (not on the heat), pouring freshly boiled water from the kettle on top of it, and letting it sit for 1 minute – just to take the edge off the rawness. If you want the colour to be vibrant, dunk it in some ice-cold water for 10 seconds and then drain.

 

I’ll be experimenting more with Brussels sprouts in salads. This is my first one, ‘Brussels Sprout, Pecan and Cranberry Salad’ – a nice make-ahead side dish for Thanksgiving!

 

Join the conversation: Have you eaten raw Brussels sprouts?

 

Brussels Sprout, Pecan and Cranberry Salad

 

 

BRUSSELS SPROUT, PECAN AND CRANBERRY SALAD

 

Dressing Ingredients:

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

500g / 1.1 lb raw Brussels sprouts

1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining the dressing ingredients in a jar and shaking together. Set aside.
  2. Remove the outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts and trim the stalk. Wash and dry the Brussels sprouts. Thinly slice or shred the Brussels sprouts using a sharp knife. You can eat the shaved Brussels sprouts raw but I like to take the edge off them by putting them in a heat-proof bowl or pot (not on the heat) and pouring freshly boiled water from the kettle over them. I allow them to sit in the water for 1 minute and then drain. If you want to keep the colour vibrant, dunk the Brussels sprouts into a bowl of ice-cold water for 10 seconds and then drain. Allow to cool.
  3. In a bowl, combine the Brussels sprouts, chopped pecans and cranberries and toss evenly.
  4. Add the salad dressing and toss well. Allowing it to rest for one day in the refrigerator helps the flavours develop.
  5. Refrigerate and eat within three days.

 

Join the conversation: Have you eaten raw Brussels sprouts?

 

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Nov 212015
 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

 

Dressing:

5 Tbsp EVOO

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Carrots:

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

200g / 7 oz red onion

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp EVOO

1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds

1/2 tsp ground or whole cumin seeds

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

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

 

Rest of Salad:

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

1 tin chickpeas (240g drained weight of chickpeas)

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

100g / 3.5 oz feta cheese, crumbled

 

Directions:

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

 

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

 

 

 

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Nov 152015
 

Zesty Carrot and Parsley Salad

 

I will admit that I have been suffering from carrot envy lately. Trawling through Instagram, Foodgawker and Pinterest for food photos, I keep being met with cute images of rainbow-coloured carrots in shades of purple, red, yellow and white making my ordinary orange carrots seem dull and boring.

 

Living in Dubai, you can pretty much find anything you want to buy as long as you look hard enough, but I have never been able to get my hands on these jewel-coloured carrots. Until now. Yes, it is now possible to find these beauties in Dubai. I found them at Spinneys supermarket, but they may be available in other grocery stores as well. And not only are these carrots rainbow-coloured, but they are organic rainbow-coloured. Score!

 

Although you can eat these carrots raw or roasted, roasting them tends to dull their colour a bit. I love showing off the beautiful hues in this zesty raw carrot salad. And don’t worry if you can’t find rainbow-coloured carrots. I’ve also made this salad using only orange carrots and it’s just as delicious!

 

 

Share your thoughts: Is it easy for you to find rainbow-coloured carrots where you live?

 

Zesty Carrot and Parsley Salad

 

 

ZESTY CARROT and PARSLEY SALAD

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1-2 plump garlic cloves (according to taste), peeled and grated on the fine side of a grater

1/2 tsp sea salt

 

Salad Ingredients:

500g carrots

4-5 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 Tbsp sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare your dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake well and set aside.
  2. Wash and dry your carrots and then peel one layer off them. You can cut the carrots in whichever shape you like. I like making carrot shavings by running my peeler over the length of the carrot to get long shavings. If you have a mandoline (which I don’t), you could also use that.
  3. Wash and dry your flat-leaf parsley, discard the stems, and roughly chop the leaves.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsley, dressing and sunflower/pumpkin seeds.
  5. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for upto 48 hours.

 

Share your thoughts: Is it easy for you to find rainbow-coloured carrots where you live?

 

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Nov 102015
 

Roasted Pumpkin, Garlic and Feta Dip

 

It’s November and there are pumpkins everywhere I turn – smooth yellow ones, big orange ones, knobbly green ones – so I decided to try making a pumpkin dip. I’m a big fan of dips because they make eating healthy very easy. A healthy dip waiting for me in my fridge plus vegetable sticks equals a healthy snack I can turn to in between meals.

 

Roasting is the best way to cook pumpkins. You don’t have to remove the skin, which can be tricky when the pumpkin is not entirely smooth. For roasting, you simply need to cut your pumpkin in half and roast it with the skin on (removing the skin after roasting is much easier). Some people discard the pumpkin seeds, but I recommend roasting them because they are high in zinc and make a delicious snack (see my tutorial on how to Roast Pumpkin Seeds).

 

I am in the habit of throwing a few garlic cloves into the oven whenever I roast anything, so adding roasted garlic with my roasted pumpkin was obvious for me. Feta brings some cool savouriness to the dip, and the saltiness of the feta means that you may not need to add any extra salt.

 

Roasted Pumpkin, Garlic and Feta Dip is delicious served with vegetable sticks, bread, crackers or corn chips. It also works well as a warm meal tossed with hot pasta.

 

Share your thoughts: Do you have a favourite pumpkin dip recipe you would like to share?

 

Roasted Pumpkin, Garlic and Feta Dip

 

 

ROASTED PUMPKIN, GARLIC AND FETA DIP

(makes 2 cups/400ml)

 

Ingredients:

700g raw pumpkin in its shell for roasting (or 400g/300mL freshly roasted pumpkin) – any pumpkin variety will do except for a jack-o-lantern pumpkin

8 fresh raw whole garlic cloves, with their paper skin still on

100g feta cheese, roughly crumbled

salt, according to taste (I did not need to add any as the feta was salty enough)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F to roast the pumpkin and garlic cloves.
  2. To roast the garlic: In a small oven-proof dish, toss the garlic cloves with a little olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow it to cool to room temperature. Remove and discard the paper skin and cut off the hard root end from the garlic cloves.
  3. To roast the pumpkin: Cut your pumpkin in half lengthwise. Use a tablespoon to scrape out the strings and seeds in the cavity of the pumpkin. Some people discard the pumpkin seeds, but I recommend roasting them because they are high in zinc and make a delicious snack (see my tutorial on how to Roast Pumpkin Seeds). Rub the inside of the two halves of the pumpkin with some extra virgin olive oil and place them face down in an oven-proof dish. Roast for 40 minutes or until the pumpkin flesh is soft. Turn the pumpkin over and allow to cool. Once cool, mash the pumpkin flesh and scoop it out of the skin. Discard the skin. If you have too much cooked pumpkin, you can save it in the fridge or the freezer for another recipe.
  4. In a food processor, put in your 8 roasted garlic cloves and 100g crumbled feta cheese. Process  until smooth. Add 400g/300mL freshly roasted pumpkin and process to desired consistency. Taste and add salt if necessary (depending on the saltiness of the feta)
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 3 days with vegetable sticks, bread, crackers or corn chips.
  6. For a warm meal, this also works nicely tossed with pasta.

 

Share your thoughts: Do you have a favourite pumpkin dip recipe you would like to share?

 

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Oct 232015
 

October Snack Platter - Figs and Persimmon

 

Dear friends,

I have decided to start writing a monthly post called ‘Seasonal Snacks’ about seasonal fruits and vegetables which we can all snack on easily throughout the month. I hope you’ll find it useful and it will help you know what to look out for when you’re shopping for food. My aim is to mostly keep it raw, easy to prepare (usually just wash and cut), and always seasonal. This is my first Seasonal Snacks post, ‘October – Figs and Persimmons’.

Making healthy eating easier!

Love,

Erum (Total Salads)

 

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, figs are in season from June to October while persimmons are in season from October to February. Because fig season comes to an end just as persimmon season begins, there is only a short period of time every year (roughly around October) when you can eat them together on the same platter. So grab the chance to feast on them together this month while you still can!

 

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

 

SEASONAL SNACKS: OCTOBER – FIGS AND PERSIMMONS

 

Ingredients:

Ripe persimmons (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

Ripe figs (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry your figs and persimmons.
  2. Using a serrated bread knife (or other sharp knife), cut the fruit evenly in half or quarters.
  3. Place on a platter and serve immediately. Best served at room temperature.
  4. Any leftover cut fruit can be kept in the fridge and should be eaten within a day.

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

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Oct 142015
 

Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Salad

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Salad

 

 

WARM CAULIFLOWER SALAD (BBC Good Food ME)

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1&1/2 Tbsp runny honey

 

Salad Ingredients:

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

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

Pinch of sea salt

250g / 9 oz red onion, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp raisins

3 Tbsp toasted almonds (flaked or roughly chopped)

50g / 1.8 oz baby spinach

Small bunch dill, snipped (optional)

 

Directions:

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

 

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

 

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