warm barley & quinoa salad

For me, salads scream summer and since we are currently enjoying our beautiful winter season, it is fair to say that salad is almost last on my “have to make” food list. However, this warm salad of barley and quinoa was the perfect lunch comfort on a chilly day. At the fireplace with a glass of red wine, of course.
If you are not all that fond of smoked meats then grilled chicken breast, chorizo and grilled steak re also wonderful alternatives. I can definitely also recommend soft poached eggs.
The dressing is simple and delicious so take a few extra minutes and make it yourself. Home-made is so much better (and healthier) than store bought.
A simple way to mix the ingredients is using a glass jar to which you add all the dressing ingredients, seal it, shake it up and leave it to stand for a few minutes. Less mess and fewer things to wash up.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
200g cooked pearl barley
150g cooked quinoa
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
300g smoked chicken, sliced
250g mushrooms, quartered
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only & extra for garnish
120g mange tout or green beans
1C cherry tomatoes, halved
1C walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
2T olive oil (more if needed)
3T butter
handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
fresh rocket or watercress (optional)
avocado, optional
salt to taste

for the dressing
3T apple cider vinegar
3t Dijon mustard
3T maple syrup or honey
1/2C olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt
grind of black pepper

how to
Cook the pearl barley and quinoa to the packet instructions and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the two tablespoons olive oil and butter together and saute the red onion for about two minutes. Add the sliced garlic and mushrooms and cook, while stirring, until the mushrooms are just cooked, about five minutes. Add the mange tout, tomatoes and thyme leaves, season with salt & pepper and cook for two more minutes.
Set aside.
In the same pan, warm the pearl barley & quinoa together with a tablespoon of butter. Season.
Spoon the barley & quinoa into a large salad bowl and top with the warm mushrooms & onion mixture. Add the sliced smoked chicken, walnuts & rocket.
Garnish with the parsley and extra fresh thyme.
Serve with sliced avocado, if using.

for the dressing
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid or whisk together in a deep bowl until emulsified. Seal the jar and shake for a few minutes. Add more olive oil & seasoning if desired.

warm tomato & feta salad

Although we are currently in our winter season, which normally calls for all things slow cooked and piping hot, i still have a big love for a good salad as a healthy dinner option or as a side to a good piece of protein.
This salad, served warm, is a very delicious alternative to normal salads and pairs well with red meat, chicken or fish.
A great addition to this dish is toasted butter & garlic ciabatta or sour dough slices, making it a delicious, light meal on its own.

Easy, simple, fresh, delicious.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
2T olive oil
300g-400g vine tomatoes or rosa tomatoes
4 rounds feta cheese, halved
150g green beans
handful fresh basil leaves
1t dried basil
3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3T balsamic vinegar
2 red onions, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled & halved
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper

how to
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
Place the tomatoes and red onion into a roasting tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat.
Nestle the feta rounds in and amongst the tomatoes & onions. Add the thyme leaves, dried basil, garlic, balsamic, salt & pepper and gently coat everything using your hands.
Place the tray into the preheated oven and roast for about 15-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, blanch the green beans.
Prepare an icy bath with water and ice. Set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Immerse the beans into the water and cook for about three minutes. Remove the beans from the simmering water and into the ice bath to cool.
Remove and drain on kitchen towel paper.
Add the beans to the tray and continue to roast the salad for a further five minutes or until the tomatoes have popped.

Garnish the salad with the fresh basil leaves and serve warm.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

salmon gravlax & citrus salad

Gravlax, traditionally Nordic, is a dish consisting of salmon that is cured by using sugar, salt & dill. It is served with bread or boiled potatoes and a dill & mustard sauce.
There are, however, many different gravlax recipes, personalised through taste and preference. Pernod is another great ingredient to use when curing salmon. It adds a beautiful, mild aniseed flavour to the fish very similar to that of fennel.
The recipe is easy and the process and time well worth it.
The quality of the salmon is really important here so get your hands on the best you can find from a trusted fishmonger. This is a starter portion. For a main meal simply double up the recipe.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy (starter portion for four)
600g salmon fillet, skin on
1C coarse salt
1C granulated sugar
1/2C fresh dill
1 large cucumber
3T coarse salt
1/2C cream cheese, room temperature
2T lemon juice
1/2t black pepper
3-4 oranges, sliced and skin removed
fresh chives, garnish
fresh dill, garnish
1t white sesame seeds (optional)
1t black sesame seeds (optional)

how to do it
Lay the salmon fillet skin side down in a large dish. Mix the sugar, salt & dill together and spoon this out onto the salmon. Cover the fillet well with the salt & sugar mixture.
Wrap the dish tightly with clingfilm and place into the refrigerator overnight.
Peel the cucumber with a julienne peeler, discarding the centre. Place the cucumber strips into a sieve over a bowl and strew with the two tablespoons of coarse salt. Leave to stand for about one hour. (This will remove excess moisture from the cucumber.)
Rinse the cucumber well under running water and dry on paper towel.
Mix the cream cheese, black pepper & lemon juice in a bowl. Add the cucumber ribbons and mix gently until well combined.
Slice the oranges into rounds and remove the skin with a sharp knife.
Remove the salmon from the fridge and rinse well under cold running water. Pat the fillet dry with towel paper and lay it flat on a work surface.
Slice the fillet into thin strips, against the grain.
Arrange the citrus onto a large plate. Place the gravlax on top and serve with the cucumber & cream cheese mixture.
Garnish the dish with the fresh herbs and sesame seeds.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

Grilled pineapple salad

Inspired by a dear foodie friend of mine, I loved making this salad as much as I did eating it!! Salty and sweet, smoky grill taste, sesame crunch, peppery leaves and a bite of birds’ eye chilli. It most certainly is my idea of a fresh, tasty and moreish side to almost any dish.
Serving this salad with prawns, fish or pork will definitely leave your tastebuds wanting more and your guests returning for seconds.
I made a watermelon dressing, which was just as ridiculously tasty as the salad! Please see my very easy dressing recipe below…

Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 Pineapple, sliced & cored
2 Tbs Brown sugar
1/2 Red pepper, sliced
1/2 Cucumber, sliced diagonally
1 Small red onion, sliced
1 Red chilli, sliced with seeds
1 Green chilli, sliced with seeds
1 Avocado, sliced
Rocket leaves
Iceberg lettuce, sliced
1 Tbs Black sesame seeds
1 Tbs White sesame seeds
1/2 C Cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 C Parsley roughly chopped

How to do it
Grease a griddle pan with non stick spray. Sprinkle the pineapple with the sugar and grill for 4 minutes a side. Set aside.
Arrange all the remaining ingredients, except avocado, sesame seeds, chilli & herbs on a large platter. Top with the pineapple & sliced avocado and sprinkle with the sesame seeds & chilli. Garnish with the cilantro & parsley.

Salad dressing
1/2 C Olive oil
1/2 C Watermelon juice (I used Naturexan’s 100% watermelon juice)
1/2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs Brown sugar or honey
Pinch salt
Grind of black pepper

How to do it
Combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar with a fitting lid. Shake well and set aside to infuse for about 30 minutes.
Shake the dressing well before use.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

Panzanella salad

Panzanella is of Tuscan heritage and made up of soaked stale bread, tomatoes and onions. I love tomatoes so this salad is exactly to my taste! This is my version of a Panzanella salad! The idea, however, stays the same.
It is the perfect summer salad and side to any dish! And I love that you can make your own croutons, using the stale bread in the bread bin rather than throwing it away. Add some capers or olives and garnish with pomegranate pearls for extra deliciousness!!

1 Punnet mixed tomatoes, sliced
1/2 Red onion, thinly sliced
Croutons (Recipe below)
1/2 Cucumber, sliced or cubed
Fresh basil, leaves only
Fresh mint, leaves only
Salad dressing (Recipe below)

How to do it
Arrange all ingredients except herbs and dressing together on a platter. Garnish with the basil & mint. Serve the dressing separately.

Croutons (Recipe may be halved)
1 Loaf bread (preferably stale bread)
1/3 C Olive oil
2 Tbs Garlic powder
Black pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a tray with baking paper. Cut bread into cubes or break the bread into pieces. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the garlic powder, salt & pepper. Scatter onto baking tray, place into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway.
Remove from the oven, cool and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Salad dressing
1/4 C Balsamic vinegar
1 C Olive oil
1/2 Garlic clove, crushed
1/2 Tsp tomato sauce
1/2 Tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs Brown sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
Black pepper

Add all ingredients to a small jar, place the lid on and shake well to mix all ingredients together. Set aside for about 20 minutes before using. Shake well before use.
This dressing will keep well in the fridge.