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
Toppings
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.
Drain.
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.

 

 

 

 

Spinach, leek and white bean soup

We are soup fanatics in our house, any time of the year. I made this soup recently because dear friends of ours were having their first baby at the hospital over the road from us, and ended up staying with us for several days before and after. New mom was very anaemic so I was trying to come up with high-iron meals. After some research I read that spinach and white beans are very high in iron.
Well, typical me, I can’t just make a small batch of soup, I made enough for 20 people, but they ended up taking the rest home. If you’re going to make a little soup, you might as well make a lot. That’s my mantra!
This one I made up out of whatever I had in the fridge and pantry and it ended up being really good, so I made it again today and wrote down what I was doing. There are some rather weird ingredients in it, but it all helps to layer the flavors.

 

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2 tbsp butter and 4 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 x 4oz pack chopped pancetta (you could use 4 rashers  (slices) of bacon too)
6 leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed small
2 x 15oz cans white kidney or cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
2 x 11oz packs (22 oz) fresh spinach
1  tbsp medium curry powder (If you want a real curried flavor, add 2 tbsp. 1 tbsp just gives it a certain “je ne c’est quoi”)
3/4 tbsp instant chicken Bouillon granules
3 x large (49oz) tins Chicken broth
A little salt and ground black pepper
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp

Get your largest saucepan, preferably a tall stockpot and put in the oil and butter. Heat gently and add the onions, garlic, pancetta, leeks and potato and saute, stirring occasionally.
Add the white beans and curry powder and season with a little salt and pepper.

2014-07-16 10.29.32Add the chicken broth and chicken stock granules and bring to a simmer. Add the spinach and keep pressing it down into the liquid with a wooden spoon until it wilts and shrinks considerably. Stir occasionally and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.

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After 30 mins, take the soup of the heat and set aside to cool for an hour or two. this way, when you blend it in the liquidizer, the steam won’t cause it to burst the lid off and cover you and your surroundings with soup!
When cooled a little, start blending it in a blender, add tablespoons of the cream cheese to each batch until you have used it all up. This gives it a really silky, creamy texture. When all is blended, return to the large pan and bring to  a simmer and serve
Serve. (You can cool the soup and freeze it in batches at this point)

 

 

 

 

 

Oil Packed-Tuna, Avocado, White Bean, Almond and Arugula Salad

This almost doesn’t need a recipe, but the combination is so delicious and healthy, I had to post it.

Serves 4 and makes about 1/3 cup dressing
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
honey
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 oz baby arugula
1/3 cup of lightly toasted slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (white kidney beans)  canned is fine.
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
6 oz olive oil-packed tuna (preferably line or poll caught)
4 oz crumbled Greek feta cheese
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted and diced small

Whisk together the lemon juice, balsamic, Dijon, a pinch of salt and a couple of twists of black pepper in a small bowl until well combined.
Add honey to taste and slowly whisk in the olive oil until well combined.
Taste and add more salt, pepper or honey if desired.
* The dressing can be made up to 4 days in advance and stored in the fridge.
Arrange the arugula in a salad bowl and top with the beans, quinoa, tuna, feta, almonds and avocado.
Drizzle with half the dressing and serve, passing the additional dressing on the side

Mexican chicken bake


This is a super family-friendly meal, popular with everyone. All you need is a nice salad.

Serves 4
3/4 cup short or medium grain rice
1 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed.
4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
12-oz jar spicy taco sauce (I use the brand “La Victoria Red Taco Sauce – medium)
1/2 cup sliced black olives, optional
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 scallions, green part chopped for a garnish
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Lightly grease a deep, 9 inch ceramic baking dish.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add the rice and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain.
In the prepared dish, combine the beans, 2 tbsp of the cilantro and some salt and pepper, then add the rice and toss together.
Lightly press the mixture into the rice and the mixture is flat.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and saute the chicken thighs for 5 minutes, then turn over.
Add the spicy taco sauce and cook for another 4 minutes.

To assemble, spread half the cheese over the rice.
Arrange the thighs and sauce on top in a star shape, sprinkle with sliced black olives and 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, then sprinkle with cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and the cheese is melted and slightly browned – remove the foil for the last 10 minutes.
Cut into four servings with a knife and scoop out carefully, keeping the layers intact.
Serve sprinkled with the remaining cilantro, chopped scallions and a dollop of sour cream.