Roasted butternut squash, quinoa, kale, cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese salad

A stunning array of flavors from the toasty walnuts to the sweet cranberries added to the very flavorful quinoa and goat cheese… Need I go on?
This recipe is from a blog called “Stuck on Sweet”

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Serves: 4

1 small to medium butternut squash, diced fairly small
2 large leaves of kale, stems removed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (or feta if you prefer)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock
olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare the quinoa according to package directions. Use chicken stock instead of water to add flavor. Cool completely.
While the quinoa is cooking, add a few drizzles of olive oil to a saute pan and place over medium heat. Add the diced butternut squash and saute until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool.
In the same saute pan add a little more olive oil and the kale. Wilt slightly, 1-2 minutes, you want the kale to still be slightly crunchy. Remove from pan and roughly chop. Set aside to also cool.
Again, in the same pan add the walnut pieces, no olive oil is necessary. Toast for a few minutes on low heat – careful not to burn! Remove from pan and let cool.
Add all of the cooled ingredients along with the cranberries, goat cheese, a little salt and pepper, and gently mix.
If you want to add a little more olive oil you can, but I don;t think it needs it.

Beet, lentil and mint salad with pomegranate molasses and orange dressing

A stunning combination for a healthy, clean tasting winter salad.

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Serves 4 to 6

3-4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 small leek, cut in half lengthways and sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz Puy lentils
1 tbsp each of chopped rosemary, thyme and sage.
3-4 fl oz mirin
3 tbsp white miso
1-2 fl oz soy sauce
5 oz raw beets, peeled and cut into fine strips
A large handful of mint leaves, shredded
A couple of handfuls of baby wild arugula or rocket
About 4 oz Greek feta cheese to crumble over the top (Optional)

Dressing
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
4 tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
juice and grated zest of 1/2 large orange
3 fl oz (approx) of olive oil
pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the leek, onion and garlic and cook, stirring over a high heat until caramelized. Add the lentils, herbs and mirin and continue to fry for 4 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add enough water to cover lentils by 1 inch, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until tender (add a little more water if needed).
Remove from the heat and stir in the miso and soy sauce. Check the seasoning, adding more soy if needed, then leave to cool.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Toss the beets, mint and lentils together in a bowl with a generous slosh of the dressing. Add salad leaves and mix gently. Sprinkle over the feta cheese, if wanted.
Serve immediately

Great cucumber and avocado salad

The wonderful food blog, “Smitten Kitchen” has come up with a version of a lovely and easy salad to have either as a main course or as a side to some grilled protein.
The salad is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian and takes about 5 minutes to put together.
There are many ways to adapt it, too. You can add some thinly sliced Romaine hearts for bulk, but still leave it predominantly a cucumber and avocado bowl.
The scallions weren’t in the original recipe, so if they’re not your “thing” skip them.
If you’re not into lime, cilantro or parsley, try lemon and dill.
If you’re not into mayo, try using yogurt…

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Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

3/4 to 1lb seedless cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks
2 thin or 1 regular scallions, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
2 tbsp mayonnaise (I use Vegennaise)
Juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
Salt and hot sauce (we used Sriracha) to taste
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Combine the cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime and seasonings, adjusting levels to taste.
Drizzle the salad with the dressing and garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Grilled corn with chiptole cream and cilantro

A super tasty recipe from Rachel Ray. and it’s sweet, smoky and spicy at the same time. This is perfect with some grilled meat or fish from the BBQ.

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4-8 appetizer-sized portions

1 cup cream
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped, 1 tsp adobo sauce reserved
Zest and juice of 1 lime, divided
1/2 heaped cup mild crumbling cheese such as queso fresco, Asadero or Cotija, for topping
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 to 3 scallions, finely sliced
2 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
4 ears corn, husks and silk removed

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.

In a small saucepot over a low flame, heat and reduce the cream, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and lime zest until thick and flavors come together, about 15 minutes. Reserve and keep warm.

While the cream is reducing, mix the crumbled cheese, oregano, scallion and cilantro together in a small bowl and set aside.

Grill the corn until the kernels begin to char evenly. When the corn comes off the grill, let cool slightly and cut the corn off the cobb. Place a spoonful of corn in a bowl, drizzle with the chipotle cream sauce, sprinkle with the cheese mixture and serve with a squeeze of lime

Watermelon Tomato Salad with Cumin and Fennel

Another vegan, dairy-free beauty of a salad (from Food 52) for those hot summer days. If you like, you can add crumbles Greek feta cheese or even sliced Kalamata olives to have some variety, of course it would become vegetarian.

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Serves 6

6 cups cubed (1/2-inch cubes) watermelon
2 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp sugar
Salt
1/4 cup sliced mint
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chile powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional – Greek feta cheese, crumbled
halved pitted Kalamata olives

Puree 2 cups of the watermelon in a blender and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining watermelon and tomato and toss with the sugar, a large pinch of salt, the mint, and lime juice.

Set a large saute pan over medium heat and add enough oil to thinly coat the base of the pan. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the cumin, fennel, and ginger, and toast for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric and chile powder, then 1/2 cup watermelon juice, and the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Add salt or sugar as desired, and cook for 1 minute.

Pour the sauce over the watermelon and tomatoes and gently fold together. Divide among 6 shallow bowls, and serve.

Orange-scented quinoa salad with pistachios and dates

Another beautiful healthy and tasty Summer salad. I can’t have enough of these and am always looking for more of these interesting recipes. We love eating them with a piece of marinated and barbequed fish or chicken.

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Serves 4

6 oz (175 g) quinoa or red quinoa, rinsed
1 oz (30g) shelled pistachios
5 tbsp 70ml) fresh orange juice, plus finely grated zest 1 orange
4 tbsp (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 scant tsp Dijon mustard
6 green onions, very finely sliced
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 large bunch watercress, tough stalks removed
10 ready-to-eat dates, chopped
Optional- goat cheese or Greek feta cheese to toss through or sprinkle over it

Bring 3 cups (500 mls) water (or 1/2 water and 1/2 broth of your choice) to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and reduce the heat to low, then cover and cook for 18-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork and spread over a large plate to cool.

Meanwhile, in a dry frying pan, toast the pistachios until fragrant and starting to brown. Cool, then coarsely chop.

To make the dressing, whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, mustard and vinegar and season well.

To assemble the salad, put the quinoa in a serving bowl and toss with half the dressing. Fork through the orange zest, green onions, herbs, watercress, dates, chopped pistachios and enough of the remaining dressing to coat. Taste and add more salt, pepper and/or dressing if needed, then serve.

Lemongrass prawns with Thai noodle salad

This is a very refreshing Asian-style salad, perfect for a hot day. We have a Kaffir lime tree (well worth having, if you cook a lot of Asian food) but if you can’t buy Kaffir lime leaves, then use some grated  lime rind instead. This is also a great do-ahead recipe if you’re entertaining.

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Serves 8

For Prawns and Noodles:

2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh Kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 lb tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
1 (8-oz) package bean thread (cellophane) noodles

For Dressing:

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp red pepper flakes

For Garnish:

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, plus sprigs
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
4 spring onions, chopped

Directions

For prawns and noodles: Peel outer layer of lemongrass. Cut into very fine crosswise slices and transfer to a large bowl.

In same bowl, combine lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, olive oil, garlic, lime leaf, salt, and pepper. Add prawns and toss to coat. Chill for 1 hour.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high, cook prawns for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a plate.

Put noodles in a bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Make dressing: In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients.

Add noodles and toss, then add prawns. Garnish with chopped cilantro, mint, spring onions, and cilantro sprigs.

Lentil and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Feta and Tahini

Another lovely tasty and healthy meatless salad. Enjoy!

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Lentils

Scant 1 cup dried green lentils (Puy or Casteluccio, if you can find them) picked and rinsed over. (or buy the vacuum packed cooked lentils in the supermarket and skip this whole cooking stage)
2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
2 fresh sage sprigs
2 tbsp olive oil

For the dressing and salad
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 large garlic clove
Salt (Maldon or another flaky sea salt if you’ve got it)
2 tbsp well-stirred tahini paste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 tbsp plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

1 and 3/4 cups drained garbanzo beans (chickpeas,from a 15-ounce can)
1/2 small preserved lemon, pith and flesh discarded, rind finely diced (optional)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
A handful of cilantro or flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1/4 cup Greek feta cheese
1 1/2 tbsp raw sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan until a shade or two darker

Make the lentils: Put the lentils, garlic, sage, and olive oil in a small pot, along with 2 cups cold water, and set it over medium heat. Let the water come to a simmer (not boiling), then turn the heat to low and cook the lentils in a very gentle simmer just until they are tender (about 25 to 30 mins and you might need some extra liquid near the end) Take the pan off the heat and let the lentils cool a bit before draining them. Pick out and discard the sage and garlic. You’ll have about 2 cups cooked lentils.

Make the dressing: Mix together the ground coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Mash the garlic clove to a paste with 1 tsp salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) on a cutting board or in a mortar. In a small bowl for your dressing, combined the mashed garlic, tahini, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, 1 tsp of the ground coriander-and-cumin mixture and 2 tbsp water. Stir well, then taste. Add more lemon if desired.

Assemble the salad: Place onion slices in a medium bowl and break them up with your fingers. Sprinkle in two good pinches of salt, then two teaspoons of lemon juice, two remaining teaspoons of olive oil and the cilantro or parsley. Toss well, then crumble in the cheese and gently toss again.

Toss the lentils with the drained chickpeas, preserved lemon rind (if using), and 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (use half as much Kosher salt, even less table salt) in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the tahini dressing and toss it all together really well, then stir in the onion-feta mixture.

Arrange the salad in bowl or platter. Sprinkle the mixture with the sesame seeds and some of the remaining spices. Serve

Carrot Salad with Tahini, Crispy Garbanzo Beans and Salted pistachios

I just love non-meat dishes these days especially with the temperature so warm. Although I’m not a vegetarian, I do fantasize about being one.
This is another beauty of a recipe and simple to make.

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Garbanzo beans
1 3/4 cups cooked Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), or 1 15-ounce can, drained and patted dry on paper towels
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salad
1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup shelled, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Dressing
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp well-stirred tahini
2 tbsp water, plus more if needed
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Roast chickpeas: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the chickpeas with one tbsp olive oil, salt and cumin until they’re all coated.
Spread them on a baking sheet or pan and roast them in the oven until they’re browned and crisp. This can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and firmness of your chickpeas. Toss them occasionally to make sure they’re toasting evenly. Set aside until needed.

Make dressing: Whisk all ingredients together until smooth, adding more water if needed to thin the dressing slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning; don’t worry if it tastes a little sharp on the lemon, it will marry perfectly with the sweet grated carrots.

Assemble salad: Place the grated carrots in a large bowl and toss with the parsley. Mix in 2/3 of the dressing, adding more if desired. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with a large handful of chickpeas (you’ll have extra and if you’re like us, won’t regret it) and the pistachios and dig in.

Do ahead: Salad keeps well in the fridge for two days, however, I’d add the chickpeas and pistachios right before serving, so they don’t get soft

Chinese chicken salad

Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients in the dressing. It is well worth it and you will mostly have them in the pantry if you like Asian-style cooking. This is one of my favorite salads.

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Serves 6

For the Sesame-ginger dressing
3 tbsp Chinese mustard
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 medium piece of ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (available in most supermarkets)
1/2 tbsp sweet chilli paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make the dressing;

Put the mustard in a blender and then add the sesame oil, olive oil, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, sweet chilli sauce and salt and pepper (go lightly on the salt because of the soy sauce).
Give it a quick blend and check for seasoning.

For the chicken salad

1 medium Napa cabbage, washed and shredded
1 medium iceberg lettuce, washed and thinly sliced
1 medium romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 cup snow peas, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
6 chicken breasts, (6 oz each) cooked and diced
Garnishes for the salad
crispy wontons (available in supermarkets)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted

To make the salad

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, lettuces, peppers, snow peas, peanuts, green onions, carrots, beansprouts and diced chicken.
Toss together with the sesame-ginger dressing until well combined.
Divide the salad among 6 plates and garnish with the crispy wontons, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.