food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘salad’ Category

red lentil pasta + salad

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Red lentils are an excellent source of protein and this vegetarian pasta is satisfying and so full of flavour.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 finely diced onion, 1 finely diced carrot and an equivalent amount of finely diced celery. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent. Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Deglaze the pan with some white wine and cook it all away. Now add a tin of chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Add 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, ¾ of a cup of red lentils and some chopped green olives to taste. Bring to boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked, adding more water as necessary. Season with salt to taste and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce adding some pasta water until the sauce sticks well to the pasta. Serve with a generous sprinkling of feta cheese. 

I served mine with a fresh salad of spinach, zucchini and pine nuts with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.


Written by michelle picker

August 7, 2019 at 12:12 am

bún-chả with bbq pork balls

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These Vietnamese pork balls are packed with flavour and wonderful when served as a complete meal with a fresh and delicious rice vermicelli salad and Nuoc Cham. I could eat this any time.

For the pork balls, you will need 450g (1 lb) of pork mince. Place ¼ of the mince in a small food processor and process until sticky. This will help to hold the mixture together. Combine with the rest of mince, 3 teaspoons of Vietnamese fish sauce, 2 -3 teaspoons of caster sugar, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt, plenty of coarsely cracked black pepper, 3 cloves of minced garlic and the finely sliced stems and roots of 4 sprigs of coriander (cilantro). Mix well and divide into small walnut-sized balls. Place them on skewers and barbecue (grill) over high heat for a few minutes on each side until browned and cooked through. Meanwhile soak some rice vermicelli in boiling water until soft enough to eat. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Shred some lettuce, slice cucumber and tomatoes, cut carrots into fine julienne and add lots of herbs – mint, Vietnamese mint, coriander (cilantro) and dill are all suitable. Finally add some roughly chopped peanuts. Serve with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce: combine ¼ of a cup of Vietnamese fish sauce, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 finely diced small red chilli, ¼ of a cup of water and lemon juice to taste. If the balance needs adjusting use fish sauce for saltiness, sugar for sweetness and lemon juice for sourness.

Written by michelle picker

June 19, 2019 at 12:20 am

home-made hummus salad

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Hummus is such a universally recognised Middle Eastern dip and is widely available ready-made. It’s not so difficult to make from scratch, though, and well worth the effort. It makes an excellent quick lunch when topped with salad and served with flat bread.

To make the hummus, first soak 250g (8¾ oz) of dried chick peas in 1 litre (1 quart) of water overnight. If you’re in a hurry you can achieve this in less time by boiling the chick peas for 4 minutes and allowing them to sit for an hour. Next, cook the chick peas in 1½ litres of fresh water until they are very tender (this might take up to an hour or if you have a pressure cooker only 10-12 minutes). Drain the chickpeas, place them in a food processor with 250g (8¾ oz) of tahini paste, ⅓ of a cup of lemon juice, 1 large crushed clove of garlic and 1½ teaspoons of salt, and process to a smooth paste, thinning with cold water to achieve a consistency you like.

For the salad combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, feta and pickles of some kind, dress it all with a good olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and sumac.

Written by michelle picker

May 15, 2019 at 12:16 am

spiced roast chicken with harissa + greek salad

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Here is our Summer solstice main course. Spiced roasted chicken served on a bed of home-made harissa and garnished with herbs and watercress. Lorraine chose this recipe from Karen Martini’s Where The Heart Is and cooked it to perfection.

You will need Baharat, a Middle Eastern spice mix, for this recipe. If you can’t find it ready-made you can make it by combining pepper with any or all of the following: paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise and nutmeg. For the spice rub combine 3 teaspoons of Baharat with 2 teaspoons of ground fennel, 5 large crushed cloves of garlic, 2½ teaspoons of salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper to taste and 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Make horizontal cuts through a butterflied chicken and rub the mixture into skin. Cover the chicken and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. When you’re ready to cook preheat your oven to 220ºC (430ºF). Meanwhile, heat ¾ of a cup of olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Place the chicken in the pan and brown it on all sides. Transfer to a baking dish and roast for 40-50 minutes until cooked through and golden. For the harissa, roast 1 bulb of garlic, 1 large red pepper and 10 large red chillies. When they are cooked, remove them from the oven and place the red pepper and chillies in an airtight container. Allow them to sweat before removing the skins and seeds. Toast 4 teaspoons of cumin seeds and 3 teaspoons of caraway seeds until fragrant then grind them. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of it’s skin and combine it with the red pepper, chillies, the ground cumin and caraway seeds, 150ml (5 fl oz) of tomato passata, 5 pinches of salt flakes, 2 tablespoons of castor sugar and ½ a cup of olive oil. Process to a smooth paste in a blender or food processor. To serve, spread the harissa on a platter, place the chicken on top, scatter with sprigs of herbs and watercress and garnish with lemon wedges.

Having just been to Greece, Mary was inspired to make a wonderful greek salad as an accompaniment.

Written by michelle picker

January 9, 2019 at 12:20 am

kohlrabi, quinoa, radish and apple salad

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This lovely crunchy salad goes well with any smoked meat or fish and is an excellent addition to any smorgasbord. We ate it with smoked duck.

Rinse ½ – ¾ of a cup of white quinoa and boil in a generous amount of water until cooked but still retaining some texture. Rinse with cold water and draining. Peel and cut 1 kohlrabi and 1 apple into fine julienne. Finely slice 1 bunch of radishes. Combine the quinoa, kohlrabi, radishes and apple in a bowl. Add a handful of chopped fresh dill and ½ a cup or more of broken walnut pieces. For the dressing combine 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of sour cream, 1 tablespoon of walnut oil, 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste. Toss well and serve.


Written by michelle picker

December 12, 2018 at 12:17 am

Posted in salad

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noodle salad with cucumber and poppy seeds

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Another delightful salad from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam OttolenghiTart apple, cooling cucumber, pickled onions and fresh herbs. What a great combination.

In a small saucepan combine 60ml (2 fl oz) of cider vinegar, 30g (1 oz) of caster sugar and 60ml (2 fl oz) of water. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar has dissolved and continue to cook for a few minutes to reduce by one third. Finely slice 1 red onion and finely julienne a 5cm (2″) piece of ginger and place them in a small bowl. Pour the hot liquid over them and allow to pickle for 1 hour. Meanwhile, break 150g (5 oz) of flat rice noodles into 15cm (6″) pieces and place them in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over them to cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes. When the noodles are soft drain them and put them in a large serving bowl. Toss them with 1 tablespoon of oil and allow  to cool. Blanch and drain 200g (7 oz) of edamame beans, core and slice 1 sharp green apple into thin wedges, de-seed and julienne 2 red chillies, roughly chop 10g (⅓ oz) each of fresh mint and tarragon and cut 2 large cucumbers in half lengthways, scooping out the seeds and cutting them into thin long strips. Add all the prepared vegetables and the pickled onion and ginger to the noodles. Add 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds, some more vegetable oil, 1½ teaspoons of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Toss well and serve.

Written by michelle picker

January 17, 2018 at 12:17 am

Posted in pasta & grains, salad

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greek lemon chicken and potatoes

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Looking for a simple meal that’s enticing and delicious? Here is a wonderful version of this Greek classic from Chef John at Food Wishes.

Preheat your oven to 220ºC (425ºF). Cut a chicken into 6-8 pieces (I left the breasts whole as they cook more quickly) and place them in a large bowl. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add 1 teaspoon each of dried rosemary and oregano, some cayenne pepper to taste, 6 cloves of minced garlic, and ½ a cup each of freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Peel and quarter 3 large potatoes and add them as well. Mix well to coat everything with the marinade then place the chicken pieces and potatoes into a lightly oiled roasting pan, reserving the marinade. Pour ⅔ of a cup of chicken stock around the chicken and potato pieces then spoon the marinade onto the top of each piece. Roast in the oven until the chicken pieces are golden brown and cooked through, turning in the marinade now and then but leaving the skin side facing up. When the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken pieces to a serving platter. Toss the potatoes in their marinade again. Turn the oven to high or transfer to a grill (broiler) and finish the potatoes until they are golden brown and the marinade is a little caramelised. Remove the potatoes to the platter and deglaze the roasting pan with a little more chicken stock to loosen it. Taste for seasoning and pour it over the chicken and potatoes (you can strain it if you prefer).  Serve with a salad of greens and feta with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing.

Written by michelle picker

October 18, 2017 at 12:18 am

Posted in poultry & game, salad

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