Category Archives: Salad

A salad of dreams…

…well, to me anyway!!! 

I’ve made this salad several times recently because it’s been so good! It’s eminently pimpable, and even better 2-3 days later, so a winner in my book.

When I think of the salads of the past, of a bit of limp lettuce, a few slices of tomatoes and a bit of cucumber, I can see why people might think salads are boring…but this is nowhere close to boring. Not to me anyway….red onion, tomato, chickpeas, sweet potato, spices, flavours….it’s all good 🙂

Having just thrown this together, I have guesstimated the quantities that I used, feel free to amend based on taste and discovery…

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, sliced

2 medium red onions, sliced

1 can/jar chickpeas, drained and washed 

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 tsp pul biber chilli flakes 

1 tsp amchur (dried mango) powder 

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped 

Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional) 

Olive oil 

Method

Mix together the tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, tamarind, lemon juice and spices. Stir it well then leave it for the flavours to develop and the juice to emerge from the tomatoes. 

*I leave mine overnight in the fridge for use the following day, although, it is already tasty once you’ve made it, it will be even tastier after a few hours. 

A few hours later, or the next day, boil the sweet potato chunks until they’re nicely cooked but not disintegrating. Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Put the salad together by adding the sweet potato to the tomato and onion mix, add your coriander and parsley, if using, and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve on its own as a meal, or with a meal, and be prepared to want to lick the plate! 

Note: if you find the mixture of tangy flavours too sharp, swap the pomegranate molasses for some a little bit of honey.

I’ve also made this with lots of extra coriander and parsley and minus the sweet potato and the flavours are still so good.

It would also be great with any kind of grains soaking up those lovely flavours…actually, now that I’m reminded of how good it is, I think I’ll make some more, right now….

I’m taking my salad of dreams to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted by the lovely Jhuls and Ai…check it out for a great collection of recipes…

Smoky aubergine & lentil dip, preserved roasted red onion relish, and everything in between…

This week I made this lovely dip from Hanady’s blog, it’s made with gorgeous soft aubergine flesh and lentils – the recipe calls for green lentils, i used brown ones and they worked great. 

With the leftover lentils, I mixed them with chopped fresh coriander & parsley, garlic and spring onions, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses, and left them to marinade for a few hours. This is what I served some of the dip with, above, and then threw over some dried barberries, below..

Which I ate with grilled slices of courgette…

Do check out Hanady’s recipe, it’s lovely, as is all of her blog

With the leftovers of the leftovers I made myself a little platter of the aubergine and lentil dip, the lentil and herb salad, and I blended some of the herb and lentil mix with some yoghurt and tahini to form a third concoction…

And then the rest of the herb and lentil salad got added to some more chopped herbs and spring onions and quinoa…

Which I ate with some of the preserved roasted red onion relish…

….which brings me onto Laura’s excellent recipe

I love roasted red onions, and I love the idea of any relish, but not all of the sugar that they usually require. Laura’s recipe includes no sugar at all! Hurrah!!!!! It’s just the onions, salt, and apple cider vinegar. 

I’ve now made a couple of batches of this, and I will probably continually remake it as my stocks diminish. I’ve added the onions to everything: salads, dips, grains, veg, my husband has added it to his homemade chicken burgers and thrown some over pizzas, it’s so fab to have a jar of in the fridge. 

This week’s onions are so purple, the colour is lovely, last week’s were more red..

The slight amendments I’ve made to Laura’s recipe is that I roast my onions in a tiny drizzle of olive oil, uncovered, and keep them moving during the roasting time; then I chop them quite finely. I also scrape out all of the sticky bits of roasted onion from the pan into the mixture. But otherwise, it’s all thanks to Laura for this one 🙂

This adds to the collection of jars of goodies that I have in my fridge, always jars and jars of homemade goodness…

A shot of all of the jars of my creations in my fridge last week – I do love having a fridge full of possibilities!!! 

I hope you’ve had a great weekend, and have a great weekend to come. I’m going to take Hanady’s and Laura’s inspirations over to this week’s Fiesta Friday and share my leftover creations with this month’s Cook Once Eat Twice collection…

Shatta inspired meals…

It all began when I saw someone talking about ‘shatta’ sauce on Instagram; I, of course, immediately looked it up, and discovered that it’s a middle eastern chilli sauce. I had never heard of it before; I read various recipes and versions of it, then had a play at making a version. 

And boy it was hot! In fact I made two versions, one with red jalapeños (from a jar), and one with milder long red fresh chillies; the one with the jalapeños was the killer! So I added a few other ingredients to flesh it out and take down the rawness of the flavour. In fact I played with both versions and this is what I got…

This one is red jalapeño chillies, fresh parsley & coriander, roasted pumpkin seeds, garlic, dried tomato flakes, cumin, salt, pepper, tomato puree, olive oil & lemon juice.

And this is chopped parsley & coriander, garlic, long red chillies, cumin, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and olive oil, which I added to mashed white beans.

As the week has gone on, the flavours have developed nicely, and I’ve used both concoctions in various ways…

This was a salad of chopped parsley & coriander, bulgur wheat cooked in goats whey, chopped spring onions & chillies, and mixed roasted seeds, with the red jalapeño sauce stirred through it. And serviced with some of the sauce mixed with my red pepper ajvar sauce.

Let’s talk SERIOUS leftovers! This is bulghur wheat, cooked in the whey from making goats curd, and mixed with leftovers of 3 sauces: the red jalapeño sauce; a sauce made by mixing the red jalapeño sauce mixed with some of my red pepper ajvar sauce; and a roasted tomato and chilli ajvar sauce; all stirred together and left to develop lots of flavour. So good heated the next day.

And this was roasted butternut squash wedges filled with a mixture of leftovers of the mashed bean salad mixed together with leftover zaalouk.

So you can see how one idea can lead to so many outcomes, especially in my hands! I know I’ve said it before but I do love chucking stuff together 😉 

Happy Fiesta Friday everyone, and happy weekend x

A ‘green harissa’ feast..

I recently came across a ‘verbena harissa’ that sounded and looked interesting…so I read the ingredients and created a version of my own…

Look at all that green goodness! I think it worked well, I’m thoroughly enjoying eating it anyway.. My experimental recipe is below.

Yesterday I reheated some leftover roasted vegetables from our Sunday lunch, added some freekeh..

..then spooned over lots of my green concoction and drizzled with tahini..

OMG! Heavenly!! There literally aren’t the words to tell you how good it was! 
So, back to my ‘green harissa’..


Ingredients

Frozen spinach, 6-7 cubes, defrosted & drained 

Frozen peas, defrosted & drained 

Coriander, small bunch

Dried parsley, 1 tbsp

Dried lemon verbena, 2 big pinches 

Preserved lemon, 1 washed & finely chopped

Garlic, 1-2 cloves depending on size peeled

Spices: equal amounts of  cumin, coriander & caraway seeds and star anise, toasted, cooled and ground, then 2-3 tsp added to the mix, you can store any leftovers for future and other uses 

Aleppo chilli flakes, 1-2 tbsp depending on taste

Pinch of salt 

Vegetable OR rapeseed oil, 2-3 tbsp

Lemon juice, 1-2 tbsp as required 

Method

Except for the peas, put everything into a blender and process it to a consistency you like

Remove from the blender and stir the peas in gently by hand

Spoon into a jar and store in the fridge overnight for the flavour to develop

To use: remove from the fridge an hour before use, stir well and use at will!

An attempt at a close up 

What do you think? I hope you think it looks as interesting as it tastes..I’m sharing this with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Margy and Anugya..

Luscious lunches…

I make a lot of food. A LOT.

Let me explain: I eat virtually every single meal that I ever eat at home, and I make every single part of those meals.  And I eat a lot!!

I might eat food that I haven’t made a MAXIMUM of twice a month; other than that, I only ever eat food that I have made myself. And I love it! I know exactly what’s going into my body, and I know that I’m going to enjoy my food, and that it’s going to nourish me in every possible way. (And actually, on the occasions that I do eat something that I haven’t made, I end up feeling like I’ve missed out, because I miss eating my own food!)

I don’t ever ‘grab a sandwich’ or open a pot of soup or any kind of packet; I eat meals I can take time over, time to make and time to eat. I make versions of past dishes, versions of elements of dishes, new dishes, experiments, I use lots of leftovers, I make make make all the time.  I have a lot of food preparation happening in my kitchen constantly, for me and my boys. I routinely cook a couple of different grains at a time and have them available in the fridge; I endlessly roast vegetables to use once cooked and to create leftovers; I make sauces, dips, spice mixes, marinations, doughs, salads, chillis, curries, the list goes on…and a big part of this is because I can, I have the time, and because I want to. I spend a lot of time cleaning my kitchen too!

I also take a lot of photos of my food! Instagram is great for sharing those dishes daily, but not everyone is on Instagram and I like to share them on here too, in the hope that I may provide ideas and inspiration. Sometimes I wonder if each dish constitutes a post of their own, but then I think they’re too simple, hence why I share collections of dishes, which is what I am doing again today. And I’ve decided to call this, and future, collections ‘luscious lunches’ as these are typically my lunch dishes.

I am also co hosting Fiesta Friday today, along with Michelle from O Blog Off, and look forward to the huge amounts of weekly inspiration that I’m sure I will find there 🙂 

So, let me show you some recent dishes from my kitchen…there’s been a lot of Levantine and Middle Eastern flavours recently…

Chunks of carrot and sweet potato, steamed, then finished in a pan with coconut oil; with a version of chimichurri made with lots of verjus instead of vinegar, and added crushed roasted hazelnuts. 

Leftover roasted aubergines as per my previous post, with tomatoes and chopped parsley, and a version of chermoula, and toasted slivered almonds. 

Wedges of butternut squash, roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and dukkah, with a sauce of yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice & pomegranate juice, topped with fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds.

Leftover freekeh and couscous topped with leftover roasted carrots from one meal that became…

…this lunch, topped with sumac, tahini sauce, dried barberries, toasted slivered almonds & pistachios.

Couscous with parsley, coriander, dukkah, toasted almonds & dried barberries, with a dressing of lemon juice & olive oil.

The above salad eaten with a salad of cooked carrot mashed with herbs, tabil spice mix, tahini & lemon juice.

Cauliflower roasted with olive oil & hawaayij spice mix, with freshly made homous.

Roasted butternut squash slices, topped with a thinned homous & toasted nuts, with baby plum tomatoes and a salad of aubergine, garlic, chopped parsley, tahini & lemon juice.

Couscous with roasted butternut squash, red onions & garlic. 

Carrot and herb salad.

A pan full of red onion, garlic and tomatoes, cooked in coconut oil, with several spoonfuls of my Mexican chilli and cocoa sauce, avocado, egg and grated hard goats cheese. 

And this dish at the start of this post, aubergine, tomatoes, chopped herbs, freekeh, and homous

Lots of fresh vegetables, and goodness, and versions of versions, and LOTS of flavour! I don’t make food without flavour!!!

So that was a view of the past couple of weeks, I hope you found it interesting. 

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend, and don’t forget to visit Fiesta Friday x

Beetroot…three ways…

Having purchased a bunch of fresh beetroot to make my pickled turnips (previous post) I then had several left to use…the followed dishes therefore include raw, boiled (as in the salad above) and roasted beetroot…

When using beetroot, in all forms, I would advise: ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES!!!

The raw beetroot went into flatbreads; I washed the skin then grated a beetroot and put it into a food processor along with a selection of spices, some rapeseed oil, chapati flour and a splash of water, and processed it until it created a ‘dough’…

I brought it together by feel, it didn’t need much water at all. I then left it in the fridge to rest until I wanted to use it…

To make the breads, with floured hands, I took a handful of the dough, and flattened it into a flatbread, not too thin and not too thick, ready to cook. I heated my ‘tawa’ pan over a medium heat, then cooked the breads on both sides for several minutes, until cooked through. The breads remain quite moist, and are a perfect way to get kids eating beetroot, as well as us lucky adults! 

They are lovely eaten fresh, and reheat well the next day in the toaster. 

To boil the beetroot, I removed the top and bottom stalky bits, then chopped the beetroots into wedges and boiled until soft, but not mushy. Once cooked I drained them and allowed the wedges to cool slightly, then peeled off the skin, it comes off really easily with your hands. Some of these went into salads and dips, and some I then roasted for an extra punch. 

I find beetroot quite sweet, so I tend to pair it with lemon juice or preserved lemons, or goats cheese, ingredients that will help to even out the sweetness. 

This dip was a mix of boiled beetroot, tahini, lemon juice and chopped preserved lemons, mashed so that it remained chunky. 

This salad used the boiled and roasted beetroot mixed with chopped parsley and dill, chopped preserved lemons, whole roasted hazelnuts and a dressing of Verjus and argan oil. 

And similar to the previous one, this salad includes still warm boiled beetroot, chopped parsley & dill, my chermoula spice mix, labneh, crushed hazelnuts and olive oil. With the beetroot being warm it made it all lovely and a bit gluggy 😉 

I hope you like my beetroot creations – I shall be taking them along to this week’s Fiesta Friday (better late than never!) and hope that everyone likes my ideas, especially the co hosts, Loretta and Natalie. Enjoy your weekend! 

Pickled turnips..

Beautiful, vibrant pink pickled turnips are a very typical sight on any Lebanese table. Any Lebanese meal will include a plate of pickles, and would usually include these, so of course, I had to make some! If you have ever eaten a shawarma or a falafel sandwich in the Middle East, you will probably have eaten these as part of it, they are an integral part of the whole wonderful taste sensation. 

I literally had no idea how the turnips become pink, the answer is all to obvious once you know it: beetroot. One beetroot generates so much colour that that is all that is needed to create the pink colour. And when you put the jar together, it’s happen so fast, you can literally see the colour spreading!!! 

I used a recipe from a cookbook which I won’t reproduce here, but you can find endless versions online. You need a basic pickling juice (vinegar, water, salt), some turnips, and a beetroot. Peel and chop the turnips and the beetroot (wear gloves for the beetroot unless you want to be pink for days) into batons, then start packing it all into a jar. You can add garlic, chillies, bay leaves, whatever takes your fancy, then watch the magic happen..

All chopped up and ready for the liquid..

As soon as you pour it in, the beetroot colour starts to spread..

This was less than an hour later! 

I put the jar in a dark cool place and left it..by the next morning. The colour had intensified..

Surrounded by my beloved pots of tahini!! 

I left the turnips for a week before trying them. By then they were completely pink, and each piece had a softness and a crunch, and lots of flavour..

Now I’m just working my way through them..why can’t I ever make small batches of anything???

Am I officially Lebanese yet?! 😉 

Aubergine, carrot & beetroot ‘salads’…

This little plateful of colours, somewhat like a painters palette, formed a recent meal; it included a beetroot salad, a roasted aubergine salad, a roasted carrot salad, homous, and caremalised onions.

I put salad in quotation marks because these are not what you might typically call salads – there’s no green leaves in sight and they’re quite ‘tight’, as opposed to a typically looser collection of ingredients. These are more middle eastern in style, as you’ll see from the ingredients..

You’ll also notice a theme amongst the ingredients: tahini, garlic and lemon juice, the wonderful trio that I put with so many things, and that forms the backbone of homous, along with chickpeas.

So, on the plate is..

Beetroot salad

Boiled and cooled beetroot, mashed with tahini, lemon juice & garlic

Carrot salad

Boiled, roasted and cooled carrots, mashed with olive oil, soy sauce, tahini, garlic, chopped coriander, Aleppo chilli flakes and ground roasted cumin & coriander seeds 

Aubergine salad

Whole roasted aubergine, skin removed, and mashed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic, and mixed with chopped fresh coriander and ground roasted cumin 

Plus homous, using my holy grail recipe, and sliced red onion that I’d caramelised in the oven. 

As you’ll notice, there’s no quantities, because they were all just thrown together from bits and pieces of inspiration and ideas, so I would suggest playing with the amounts. And if any of them taste or feel too ‘claggy’, just add more lemon juice, that’s my motto!

The next day I mixed up the leftovers of the carrot salad and the aubergine salad to create one thing of beauty…mmmmmm…..

I hope your week starts well 🙂 

Super simple salad…

When life gives you fresh ripe tasty tomatoes….make this!!! 

This simple tasty salad is based on fattoush (and it’s cousin panzanella, depending on where you come from) and is a current favourite of mine…the best bit is the twist at the end…

Chop/slice as many tomatoes as you like, and as many red onions as you like, and mix with some handfuls of chopped flat leaf parsley; sprinkle with salt, and then sprinkle LIBERALLY with sumac and mix them through; drizzle with lemon juice, and then drench with olive oil…

Note: sumac has a citrus flavour, so you can leave out the lemon juice and just use plenty of olive oil on its own if you wish.

Mix it all well and leave it aside for at least half an hour if you can before serving – I prefer to leave mine out of the fridge, I think the flavours are better.

In the meantime, toast khobez/Arabic bread or pita bread in a toaster or in the oven; once nice and toasty and crunchy, break the breads into pieces and leave to cool. I have bags of toasted Arabic bread in the freezer for such an occasion. If you really want to do it properly, fry the bread in broken pieces in oil or ghee, it tastes amazing! For me, I just toast it minus the oil. 

When you’re ready to serve the salad, give it all another good mix up, then add the bread. Mix some through the salad, and arrange some on the top…

The bread soaks up the juices and dressing and tastes so good!!! 

Of course, the salad is also lovely without the bread too – the choice is yours! 

Preserved lemon heaven…

I recently decided it was time for me to make preserved lemons; they are such a staple in many Moroccan recipes, and in many Middle Eastern kitchens that I decided I definitely needed to have some in my Middle-Eastern-Middle-England kitchen, but whenever I’d tried shop bought ones, I haven’t liked them…

So, I thought I’d make my own and see if they turned out better…and I’m happy to say that they did! The flavour and consistency is quite different from the ones I’d bought here (I haven’t bought them elsewhere to be able to compare), so from now on, I’ll be making my own 🙂 

I decided to make three different versions and see how the flavour differed, hence the three jars; I started the process a month ago and tried them for the first time this weekend. Opening the jars was like Christmas, wondering what I would find…but before I get to that, let me tell you how I made them…

I’ve read several recipes and in particular kept in mind Kellie’s post and this post, but the basics are this…

You need lemons, salt, lemon juice and a jar, and that’s pretty much it! 

Making preserved lemons 

Have a clean, preferably sterilised, lidded bar available; the lid needs to fit well

Cut some silicone paper to a slightly bigger size than the lid 

The lemons need to be small and unwaxed – I couldn’t find unwaxed lemons so I bought the smallest lemons I could find and cleaned off the wax with boiling water: put the lemons in a colander and pour over boiling water to melt the wax off. As they then dry, you’ll be able to see if there’s still any wax left as it dries white and then you can scrub it off with a scourer and hot water 

Cut into the lemons lengthwise as if you were cutting them into quarters, BUT without cutting all the way through the end so that they stay intact

Sprinkle some good quality salt in the bottom of the jar; stuff each lemon with a tablespoon of salt then press them into the jar, pushing out juice as you do 

Fill the jar, stuffing the lemons in well, then top it up with more lemon juice until the lemons are all covered

Line the lid with the silicone paper and fit the lid

The jar now needs to be left in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks to do their job, the longer the better; keep them somewhere where you’ll see them and turn them every so often to shake up the salty liquid, and ensure that the liquid still covers the lemons, whenever they catch your eye…

You can add aromatics to the jar too, Kellie likes to add pink peppercorns and bay leaves, so I tried that version in another jar; I also made up a jar with added cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods and cloves – a real Christmas spice feel. 

When I finally opened the jars this weekend, the smell was amazing! The liquid had become so syrupy, I almost wished I could eat it, but luckily you can save it for future batches, and the lemon skins were soft and pliable.

And the added aromatics do make a difference! I could definitely tell the difference between the lemons preserved with the ‘Christmas’ spices mix and the ones without; I’m struggling to find the words to explain that difference though!! You’ll have to try for yourself 😉 

Being preserved already, the jars can remain in your cupboard for up to a year, they don’t need to be stored in the fridge, which will also make a difference to them when you use them; if you put them in the fridge, the skins will harden with the cold which will spoil the experience as far as I’m concerned. 

So now, how to use them…the aim is to use the lovely soft skin; the flesh will be very salty and doesn’t tend to be used, but if you like the taste, go ahead. You can add the skin to salads, dips, tagines…the opportunities are as endless as your imagination. 

How to use preserved lemons 

Remove a lemon from the jar and wash it well to remove the salt then loosely dry it off 

Peel out the flesh then chop the skin finely and use at will

During the last week I’ve added preserved lemons to freshly made homous, and several salads…they add such a lovely flavour and texture…

Salad of quinoa, chopped mixed herbs, spices, chilli flakes, olive oil, Verjus, pomegranate molasses and preserved lemons 

Fava beans cooked with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, mixed with tahini and chopped parsley, and added preserved lemons 

Cooked beetroot with chopped herbs, my chermoula spice mix, labneh, olive oil, roasted hazelnuts & preserved lemons.

I am taking several jars of preserved lemons to this week’s Fiesta Friday, and I hope that everyone there likes them, and that I’ve inspired you to make your own – homemade is always best 😉