Free-form enchilada verde

This is from the magazine “Real Simple” and is like a Mexican lasagna so it’s much easier to assemble and serve

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Serves 6

4 cups (32 oz) store bought salsa verde
18 small corn tortillas
1 & 1/2lbs butternut squash, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 14.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 to 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced pickled jalapenos for topping

Heat the oven to 375 F
Spread 1 cup of the salsa verde in a 9 by 13″ baking dish and top with 6 tortillas.
Top with 1 more cup of the salsa, 1/3 of the butternut squash, 1/3 of the beans and 1 cup of the cheese, spreading evenly.
Repeat the layering two more times reserving the final 1 cup of cheese.
Cover with foil
Bake for 1 hour until the squash is tender. Uncover ans sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup of cheese.
Broil 8 inches from the heat for 4 to 5 mins until the topping is bubbly and browned in spots.
Remove and let stand for 15 mins and decorate with the toppings and serve


Mixed Beans with Peanuts, Ginger, and Lime

This is a great summer throw-together to make when there are lots of beans at the market. Mix colors and types for the full effect. Another Yotam Ottolenghi gem

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Servings: 6

2 pounds mixed snap beans (such as green, wax, haricots verts, and/or Romano), trimmed
½ tsp kosher salt, plus more
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ large shallot, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
1  lemon grass stalk, tough outer layers removed, finely grated on a Microplane
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
½ tsp ground coriander
Freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup salted, roasted peanuts
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
¼ tsp sugar
⅓ cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving

Working in batches by type, cook the beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 1–4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and pat dry.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small skillet over medium and cook shallot, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and coriander and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same skillet over medium-high. Cook the peanuts, tossing often, until golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels; let cool, then coarsely chop. Set aside 1 tbsp peanuts for serving.
Whisk the kaffir lime leaves, lime zest, lime juice, sugar, ½ tsp. salt, and remaining 3 tbsp oil into the shallot mixture. Add the beans, remaining peanuts, and ⅓ cup cilantro and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with more cilantro and reserved peanuts.


Salmon on salsa with black beans, corn and cumin

Now that Spring is here, I am trying to find lighter meals with interesting spices. This is a really super light meal and the salsa is divine eaten with salmon or just scooped up in tortilla chips. Don’t refrigerate it as the tomato will turn pulpy.

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Serves 4

The Salsa
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 scallions, green parts chopped only
1 medium red onion, chopped medium fine
10 ripe plum tomatoes, diced, with juices and pips removed
1 x 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small tin of sweet corn niblets, drained
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped finely (I only use 1)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 tbsp ground roasted cumin (I like to roast my own)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the salmon
4 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each, skinned and boned
2 tbsp coarse grain mustard
3/4 to 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 to 3 tbsps olive oil

To serve
4 cilantro sprigs
4 lime wedges

In a large bowl, combine the garlic, scallions, red onion, tomato, corn, black beans, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, taste for seasoning, cover and set aside.

Pat the salmon fillets dry. Brush each side with the grainy mustard and sprinkle with the coarse pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.Add the oil.
Saute the fish fillets for 4 to 5 minutes on each side- don’t overcook though, so keep an eye on it. The fish should be a little pink in the middle and very moist.

Spoon some salsa onto the plates, lay a salmon fillet on top and garnish with the cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

Only 305 calories per serving!

Pulled chicken tacos

If you’re like me and adore pulled pork, but don’t want the calories, try this recipe. It’s divine!!
A great recipe from the good old BBC Good Food website

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Serves 6

8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and trimmed of any big bits of fat.
2 tbsp chipotle paste
8 oz tomato passata
5 tbsp barbeque sauce (your favorite one)
1 onion, chopped
Juice of 3 limes, plus extra wedges to serve
2 x 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can refried bens
1 ripe avocado, diced
1/2 pack cilantro, leaves only
shredded iceberg lettuce
8 to 12 tacos or cooked white rice to serve

Heat the oven to 350 F.
Rub the chicken thighs with 1 tbsp of the chipotle paste and some seasoning. Mix the remaining chipotle paste with the passata, barbeque sauce, 4 fl oz water or chicken broth and half the onion.
Spoon the sauce into a roasting tin that will fit the chicken snugly in a single layer and add the chicken thighs.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, then uncover, increase the oven to 400 F and bake for another 20 mins.
Meanwhile, mix the remaining onion with the lime juice and some salt, and set aside while the chicken cooks. Mix all the beans in a saucepan with 4 fl oz water or chicken broth, ready to heat to serve.
When the chicken is really tender, use two forks to shred the meat into the sauce (discard the bones). Keep covered with the foil while you heat the beans for 5-10 mins until piping hot and not too wet. Warm the tacos following the pack instructions. Stir the avocado and cilantro leaves into the lime-onion mixture.
Serve the pulled chicken and beans with shredded lettuce and tacos, or rice and lime wedges to squeeze over, if you like.
Top with a spoonful of the avocado salsa.

Asian broccoli salad with peanut sauce

As you probably know by now, I love all Asian food, and this salad is a lovely combination of crunchy broccoli, edamame beans and peanuts and the creamy peanut sauce.

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Serves 4 to 6

1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup shelled cooked edamame beans
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1 batch peanut sauce (recipe below)
black sesame seeds, for garnish

Peanut sauce
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
‘1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 to 2 tbsp hot water, as needed to thin out the sauce

For the peanut sauce
Whisk all the ingredients together until well combined. if the sauce is too thick, whisk in 1 tbsp of hot water, and if it’s still too thick, whisk in another until it’s the consistency you like for pouring over the salad.

Heat a large pot of water until it is boiling. Add in the broccoli florets and boil for 30 seconds. use a strainer to transfer them into a bowl of iced water, which will immediately halt the cooking process.
Now add the remaining ingredients, including the peanut sauce and toss until combined.
Serve immediately, garnished with the sesame seeds, if desired

Rich and warming braised sausages

I adore sausages and of all meat, sausages and bacon are the ones I would miss the most if I ever became vegetarian. This is a hearty, flavorful and warming braise, great for those Fall and Winter evenings and all it needs is some good mashed potato to soak up the juices.

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Serves 4

2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
12 of your favorite pork sausages
6 rashers bacon, rinds removed and cut into 1 inch lengths
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 to 1 tsp smoked paprika
1 x 14oz can chopped San Marzano tomatoes
10 fl oz chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dark brown sugar (Muscovado is great)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 fl oz red or white wine
1 x 14oz can butter beans or another type of bean you like, drained and rinsed
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large non stick frying pan and fry the sausages gently for 10 mins, turning every now and then until nicely browned all over. Transfer to a large saucepan or a flameproof baking dish and set aside.
Fry the bacon pieces in the frying pan until they begin to brown and crisp then add to the sausages
Place the onions in the frying pan and fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes until they begin to soften, stirring often. You should have enough fat in the pan, but if not, add the other tbsp of oil.
Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more until the onions turn a pale-golden color, stirring frequently.
Sprinkle over the smoked paprika and cook together for a few seconds longer.
Stir in the tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and herbs.
Pour over the wine and bring to a simmer.
Tip carefully into the pan with the sausages and bacon and return to a simmer, then reduce the heat, cover the pan loosely with a lid or aluminum foil and leave to simmer very gently for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Alternatively, you can cook it in the oven at 350 F for 45 minutes.


Simple summer stew of tomato, merguez sausage and cannellini beans

Such a simple, summery stew to serve with just a green salad. if you can’t find merguez sausage, try using chorizo.  This is so easy to throw together and full of flavor, thanks to the sausage.
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Serves 4
A splash of olive oil
6 Merguez or Chorizo sausages
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1lb 6oz ripe tomatoes
7 fl oz chicken stock
2 x 15 oz cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
A good handful Italian parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or Le Creuset braiser on high heat. Roughly chop the sausages and fry until browned and beginning to crisp around the edges. transfer to a plate and lower the heat to medium.
Add the onion to the pan and fry for about 5 mins or until softened, adding the crushed garlic to the pan after a couple of minutes so it doesn’t burn.
Quarter the tomatoes, then add to the pan with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Season and stir, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the Cannellini beans to the pan with the browned sausages. Simmer for 10 mins or until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
Roughly chop the parsley, then stir through the stew. Divide it among 4 serving bowls. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and serve with some crusty bread and a green salad.