quinoa & couscous salad

Winter seems to be disappearing quickly so it’s time to start stepping up on delicious, healthy and flavourful summery dishes! Salads scream summer and this is another favourite of mine that is a delightful on its own or served as a side with just about anything.
To make life easier I always cook things like quinoa, lentils, spelt & barley in big quantities, portion and freeze it until I need it. This way I can quickly whip up a beautiful meal without spending hours behind the stove.
Once frozen, thaw the quinoa in the fridge overnight.

Quinoa, with its fluffy texture and subtle flavour is high in protein, B vitamins & dietary fibre, making it a healthy and delicious good for you grain.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
2C cooked quinoa
1C cooked couscous
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
20 small rosa tomatoes, halved
1 tub bocconcini cheese, halved or buffalo mozzarella, torn
5 radish, sliced
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and cut into small blocks
100g mange tout, sliced diagonally
1 ripe avocado, cut into blocks
handful fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4C pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4C sunflower seeds, toasted

for the dressing
4T red wine vinegar
1T dijon mustard
3T lemon juice
1/2C olive oil
1t dried oregano
1 garlic clove, crushed
1T brown sugar
pinch salt
good grind of black pepper

how to
In a glass jar or mixing bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and shake or whisk well until emulsified. Set aside to infuse for about 30 minutes.
Tip the cooked quinoa & couscous into a large dish.
Add all the salad ingredients to the quinoa mixture and toss well.

Pour about a quarter of the salad dressing over the salad and mix to coat.


smoked haddock ‘arancini’

Arancini is a very popular and favourite Italian snack, which is made of risotto & mozzarella with the addition of beef and peas. It is shaped into a ball, crumbed and deep fried.
I love haddock and had plenty of rice in my freezer so this is my version of arancini, which is fairly different to the original but I promise you, just as delicious!

These freeze really well, so pack it onto a tray, place it into the freezer for a couple of hours and then bag them in freezer friendly bags. Thaw overnight before dredging in flour, egg & crumbs and deep frying.

Serve these with a salad or sliced avocado and a dipping sauce of your choice.

ingredients | makes about 18 | a little effort
300g smoked haddock
1C milk
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
2 1/2 C cooked long grain rice
1C grated white cheddar
1C frozen peas
bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
handful chives, finely chopped
1t dried dill
1T fish sauce
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
1T olive oil
1T butter

to fry
2C panko crumbs
2 eggs, whisked with about 3 tablespoons milk
1/2C plain flour
cooking oil, for frying

method
In a small skillet, heat the milk and poach the haddock for about 8 minutes, turning halfway. Remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a small pan and sauté the onion & garlic until cooked. About 3 minutes. Add peas, stir to coat and cook for 1 more minute.
Tip the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of the poaching milk to the rice.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the rice except the frying ingredients.
Flake the cooked haddock into the rice mixture, add the onions and peas and now mix well, using your hands. The mixture must just come together to hold its shape. If you feel it is too wet, add a little more of the fine breadcrumbs.
Shape into golf size balls. Set aside.

In a deep, medium sized pot, heat enough oil to come about halfway up the rice balls.

In three separate bowls, prepare the panko crumbs, beaten egg and flour.
Roll each ball into the flour, then in the beaten egg and lastly coat with the panko crumbs. Repeat until you have coated each rice ball.

Carefully drop the rice balls in batches of about 4 into the hot oil and fry for about two minutes a side until beautifully browned and crisp.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel paper.

Serve warm.




pork sausage & veg tray bake

I do love the simplicity of a tray bake and, admitting, that it is a meal frequently enjoyed around our dinner table.
This is a meal that I return to again and again and will not easily tire of.
A great time saver as you can put it all together, store it in the fridge and then just pop it into the preheated oven come dinner time.

The added bonus, of course, is the clean kitchen after dinner. And this alone gets a very high mark in my book.
A healthy, comforting and nutritious meal that your family will love, without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

Good alternatives to pork sausage are beef / chicken sausage or chicken breast.

Serve with a side of couscous or buckwheat.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
8 pork sausages
300g baby potatoes, halved
400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves, whole
punnet baby carrots, scrubbed
200g mushrooms
6-8 sweetcorn mini cobs
1/2C olive oil
2t paprika
1t dried oregano
1t dried thyme
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
4 rosemary stalks
150ml white wine

handful fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Put the rosemary stalks onto a large sheet pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, herbs, salt & pepper. Add the vegetables to the herb mixture and toss through to coat well.
Tip the vegetables onto the roasting tray and arrange in an even layer.
Rub the pork sausages with a little more olive oil and nestle them between the vegetables.

Roast in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes until the sausages are golden brown. Carefully remove the tray from the oven, turn the sausages over and toss the vegetables.
Pour the wine into the roasting tray and roast or a further 20 minutes until the sausages are cooked and the potatoes are tender.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with your choice of side.


chicken & rice tray bake

This is my idea of a simple, delicious, no-fuss family meal that can be on the table in almost no time at all. It is, undoubtedly, a firm favourite in our home. Just an easy, deletable home-cooked meal that goes in the centre of the table so that everyone can tuck in at their leisure.

I like to use leg quarters for this recipe but really, any part of the chicken is just as delicious. The meat is tender and juicy with a lovely spice. The skin is gorgeously browned and crispy and the rice deliciously fluffy, flavourful and buttery.
Make sure to coat the chicken liberally with the spice rub so that the flavour soaks into the rice.

You can combine all of the ingredients in a roasting tray and put it straight into the oven although I like to brown the chicken first to ensure an extra crispy skin. I then cook the onion & garlic in a little oil and butter before adding the rice and mixing everything together.

Everything you need is in this dish but if you want to serve something alongside, opt for something minimalistic like a tomato & avocado salad.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
for the spice rub
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1t paprika
1t salt
1/2t pepper
2T olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together except the oil. Mix and set aside.

For the tray bake
4T olive oil
80g butter
4-6 chicken leg quarters
1 white onion, chopped
3t crushed garlic
120g long grain or basmati rice
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1t dried thyme
1t dried oregano
1t fine salt
1t black pepper
400ml chicken stock
1C frozen peas
fresh cilantro / coriander leaves, garnish
fresh parsley, chopped, garnish

method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Drizzle the two tablespoons olive oil over the meat. Using your hands, rub the spice rub into the skin.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Set aside.
In the same pan, without wiping it clean, heat the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and about 30g of the butter. Sauté the onion & garlic until glossy and fragrant, while stirring. About three minutes.
Add the remaining butter, crushed cumin, oregano & thyme to the skillet / roasting tray and add the rice. Stir to melt the butter and coat the rice and then season with the salt & pepper.
Tip the mixture into a roasting tray or ovenproof dish if needed.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice and then pour the stock into the dish, around the meat.
Cover the roasting tray or dish with tin foil and bake for about 40 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven and carefully remove the foil, taking care the steam doesn’t burn your hand.

Test the rice to see if it is cooked. If it is not perfectly tender, cover with foil again and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Now remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
Stir the frozen peas through the rice, replace the chicken pieces and place the dish back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, garnish with the fresh cilantro and parsley and serve.






citrus crepes with stewed apple & toasted nuts

Here, a delicious breakfast that can double as dessert. Light, zesty crepes with a drizzle of maple syrup, topped with cinnamon stewed Granny Smith apples, toasted walnuts, creme fraiche and a little extra drizzle of maple.
A great way to start any morning as stewed apple enhances digestion and vitality. Pectin, found in apples, help the body to cleanse itself of toxins & metabolise fat effectively.
I like my mornings to start well, not rushed, so I prepped the stewed apples and batter last night and stored it in the fridge until this morning. As for the toasted walnuts – I always have a jar of toasted nuts on hand as I often use it to add crunch to salads, puddings, fruit bowls or vegetables.
All in all, this beautiful plate of absolute deliciousness was on the table in 12 minutes.
There are so many recipes in which you can use stewed apple so any leftovers will not be wasted. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

for the stewed apple
4/5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
5T castor sugar (you can also use brown sugar)
1t vanilla paste
2T water
1t finely grated ginger
2T lemon juice
1/2t ground cinnamon
maple syrup (to serve)
creme fraiche (to serve)
1/2C walnuts or any nuts, chopped and toasted (to serve)

for the crepes
1C all purpose flour
2 eggs
1T canola or sunflower oil
1/2t vanilla essence
pinch of salt
1C milk or half and half water & milk
zest of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/2 orange

how to
Place a saucepan on low heat, and add all of the ingredients for the stewed apple to the pan. Cook, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes or until the apples have softened.
Remove from the heat, taste and adjust if needed. (Add more lemon juice if too sweet or a little more sugar if too tart.)
Set aside.

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the eggs, oil, vanilla, salt & milk and whisk well until you have a smooth batter.
Gently mix in the zest of the lemon and orange.
Heat a lightly oiled non stick frying pan over medium heat and pour the batter into the pan, using about 1/4 cup for each crepe.
Tilt the pan with circular movements so that the surface is evenly coated.
Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes until lightly browned at the bottom, before turning to cook the other side.

to assemble
Spread about a spoonful of creme fraiche over each crepe and drizzle with about a 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.
Fold in half twice. Repeat until you have the desired amount of crepes prepared.
Top the crepes with the stewed apple, a good dollop of creme fraiche, the toasted nuts, if using and another last drizzle of maple syrup.
Sprinkle with icing sugar. (Optional)