Monthly Archives: June 2014

Recipe: Pear, Orange and Rocket Salad

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The pears in my fruit bowl were getting past the ripe and juicy stage and arriving at the bruised and woolly stage. I had to throw a couple out but, luckily, some were salvageable. I didn’t want to use them in a sweet recipe, and decided to try them in a salad instead. The result is this bright, fresh side-salad.

The trick with this salad is to balance the flavours so it’s neither too sweet, or too sour. That’s why I only give a guideline as to how much vinegar to put in the dressing, it really depends on how ripe your orange is. Taste as you mix it. And be careful with the mint – you just want a hint of coolness, not toothpaste!

Pear, orange and rocket salad photo DSCN1655_zps86124030.jpg

Ingredients
2 smallish pears
1 orange
1 bag rocket (70-100g)
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tsp cider or white wine vinegar
4 mint leaves, shredded
4 olives (black or green), sliced

Top and tail the pears.
Cut them in half and scoop out the core.
Slice them thinly.
Segment the orange and squeeze the juice from the remains into a bowl.
Add the rocket, orange segments and pears into a salad bowl.
Mix the olive oil into the orange juice.
Add the vinegar a teaspoon at a time until you have got the right balance.
Season it with salt and pepper.
Stir in the mint leaves.
Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss thoroughly.
Serve with the olive slices scattered over the top.

Serves 2 as a side salad

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Recipe: Asparagus and Puy Lentil Salad

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It’s nearly the end of the British asparagus season. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my local deli was still selling it on Saturday. This is probably the last recipe I’ll make with it this year, but it’s a good one.

Soaking the onions in vinegar is a tip I got from Nigella Lawson. It softens the taste of the onions and turns them bright pink at the same time – win/win!

Although this is a warm salad, it’s just as good cold.

Asparagus and Puy Lentil Salad photo DSCN1648_zps3dd3e745.jpg

Ingredients
100g puy lentils
500ml vegetable stock
1/2 red onion, halved and sliced
2 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
bunch of asparagus, trimmed and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Put the lentils and vegetable stock in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
While the lentils are cooking toss the onion slices in the vinegar and leave to steep.
Once the lentils are cooked add the asparagus to the pan and stir so that they are covered. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Drain the vinegar for the onions and whisk in the olive oil and the mint.
Pour the dressing over the lentils and asparagus.
Stir in the onion.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 2

Recipe: Black Bean Hummus

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I wanted to make normal hummus, but was out of chickpeas. Luckily I had a tin of black beans to hand. As the colour was already going to be dark I decided to add some more dark ingredients. This is a nice change on ordinary hummus – the olives and tomatoes don’t overwhelm the flavour but add some nice notes in the background.

Black Bean Hummus photo IMG_0001_zps8a2ace93.jpg

Ingredients
400g tin black beans, drained
1 large clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp tahini
7 black olives
3 sundried tomatoes
2 tbsp sundried tomato oil
handful of fresh parsley

Put all the ingredients, bar one olive, in a food processor.
Blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with the remaining olive sliced as a garnish.

Serves 2

Recipe: Pasta with Roast Vegetable Sauce

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This is a great vegetable-packed pasta sauce that doesn’t feel like you’re eating a lot of vegetables in it. It has a deep flavour (aided by the balsamic vinegar), but the effort required is minimal. You could even roast the vegetables the night before and then this is a quick pasta sauce that can cook while the pasta is boiling.

Roast Vegetable Sauce photo DSCN1642_zpsadbab607.jpg

Ingredients
1 aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
1 pepper, cut into 2cm dice
1 courgette, cut into 2cm dice
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Spread out the aubergine, pepper and courgette over one or two baking trays.
Toss the vegetables in the olive oil until they are all coated.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Wrap the garlic cloves in a square of kitchen foil and put on one of the trays.
Cook the vegetables for about 30-40 minutes.
Once the vegetables are cooked, scrape them into a saucepan.
Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves into the pan.
Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of the basil leaves.
Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Serve with pasta, with the remaining basil leaves sprinkled over the top.

Serves 4