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

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.

Asian marinated beef fillet salad

I normally prefer sirloin to fillet however, for this salad, this cut of beef was the perfect choice!

The marinade is packed with loads of flavour…it is like an explosion in your mouth. Garlicky, herby, peppery from the rocket, a touch of chilli and then the tasty vinegar dressing for the pasta salad and the avocado to neutralise all the flavours and really bring everything together. I used Rosmarino pasta as the base to this tasty salad and dressed it with a very simple red wine vinegar dressing. As an added touch of flavour I made a chilli paste…not too subtle but also not too strong. Really just a perfect little added compliment to the meat. The marinade is an easy recipe made in the blender and will last in the fridge for weeks. Marinade any cut of meat before a ‘braai’ (BBQ) or for an Asian oven roast. This marinade will also work well as a base for an Asian stir fry.
Treat yourself and your loved one to this tasty, healthy meal!

For the marinade (Yields about 500ml)
1/3 C Sweet soya sauce
2 Garlic cloves
2 Bullet chillies
1 Tbs Fresh ginger
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/3C Honey
1/2C Olive oil
2 Tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs Tomato paste
Pinch salt
Black pepper
1/4 C Sesame seeds
Handful coriander leaves
Handful parsley leaves
1/2C Boiling water
How to do it
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for about 2 minutes or until slightly coarse but well combined. Add hot water, mix through and set aside to cool down before marinating meat.

Pasta salad (Serves 2)
400g Beef fillet (Marinade for at least one hour)
1/2C Rosmarino pasta (cooked to packet instructions)
1/2 Yellow pepper, small blocks
1/2 Small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 Cucumber, small blocks
12 Small tomatoes, sliced
2 Feta rounds, crumbled
Parsley leaves, torn
Coriander leaves, torn
1 Avocado
1/2 C Parmesan shavings
2 Handfuls rocket
1/2 C Olive oil
1/4 C Red wine vinegar
1 Tsp Granulated sugar
1 Garlic clove, chopped
Black pepper

How to do it
Make the marinade, cool down, and marinade the beef fillet for at least one hour. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain, drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside to cool. Mix all salad ingredients except avocado, parmesan and rocket, together in a bowl. Combine all the dressing ingredients, shake well and add it to the salad ingredients. Now add the pasta, season with salt & pepper and mix well.
Cook the fillet on a hot grill. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
To assemble
Spoon pasta salad onto a plate. Top with sliced beef fillet and finish off with slices of avocado, rocket leaves and shaved parmesan. Drizzle with a little more good quality olive oil and enjoy!

From my kitchen to yours, with love x