Bang Bang Chicken Salad – the perfect family summer salad

If you are after an easy chicken salad that is adored by the whole family, takes minimum fuss to throw together and is packed on flavour and texture, then look no further. Chinese inspired ‘Bang Bang chicken’ has it all and is perfect when the weather is hot and you want something light. My whole family absolutely love it.

I am a huge fan of Pip & Nut peanut, almond and cashew butters – have you tried them? I found their ‘crunchy maple peanut butter’ worked so well with the recipe. (I am not paid to say this ;o) You can find them in most supermarkets now as well as health food shops such as Holland & Barrett.

Don’t stress if you can’t get hold of any – regular crunchy peanut butter will also work well.

The only ingredient that I can imagine may receive a ‘sigh’  or ‘where can I find them’ is Sichuan peppercorns. They are now super easy to find online and I have provided a link below. They are definitely one of my store cupboard favourites as the taste is just heavenly, to put it mildly. If you really can’t be bothered with tracking them down then just use regular black peppercorns this time.

 

 

Bang Bang Chicken

Part 1

450g skinless chicken breasts, chopped in two

500ml chicken stock (fresh or Knorr chicken stock pot works well)

2 star anise

1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorns

1 tsp salt

25g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

 

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Part 2

1 large carrot, peeled and thickly grated

1 cucumber, sliced lengthways and then chopped into small bite size chunks

1 large handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks

2 limes

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Part 3

130g crunchy peanut butter – I think the best is ‘Pip & Nut and they do one which is ‘crunchy maple peanut butter’ which I like to use here

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

 

Optional

1 fresh red chilli, finely diced

 

 

  1. Place all the ingredients in ‘part 1’ into a pan and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, so that the chicken is cooked.
  2. Slice and dice all the ingredients, apart from the lime, in ‘part 2’ and place in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze 1 lime onto the salad ingredients.
  3. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and place to one side. Keep the cooking stock, but strain it and place in a small jug.
  4. Using a fork shred the chicken and then place into the large mixing bowl with the ingredients from ‘part 2’.
  5. Place all the ingredients in ‘part 3’ together and then add an additional 100ml of the cooking stock from the chicken. Gradually add to the the sauce so that it is less thick and more the consistency of cream.
  6. Add half the sauce to the mixing bowl and gently mix the ingredients together.
  7. Plate up and then add an extra spoonful of sauce over each serving as desired.
  8. Top with chilli, for those who like chilli, and place a lime quarter on each plate for added zing.

 

Freeze the rest of the stock for use another time as it tastes so good. 


Chilled Delicately Spiced Watermelon Soup

It’s a sweltering 31 degrees today here in London, hotter than LA, Dallas and Bahamas and New York. I’m not complaining, although if I’m honest I wish we had a sea breeze keeping us cool, wouldn’t that be just perfect.  Thankfully I picked up a giant watermelon over the weekend (my pal took half as it was SO gigantic) so have been eating it in all manner of guises ever since.

As well as being so visually stunning watermelon is perfect for hot weather, due to its largely watery, cooling consistency. I wanted to make a savoury chilled soup that was delicately spiced and balanced sweet and savoury, not just sweet. I think I have managed it so would love you to try my recipe. Eat it as you would a chilled gazpacho, although the flavour of this is very different from anything you have probably tried before. It has sweet tones of course but has savoury notes coming from the fresh curry leaves, tomatoes, cumin seeds and hing/asafoetida. I’d love to hear what you think so please leave a message below in the comments box.

 

Chilled Spiced Watermelon Soup 

Serves 4

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

pinch of hing/asafoetida

10 fresh curry leaves

1 small birds eye green chilli, roughly chopped and deseeded

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1.4kg fresh watermelon, deseeded and chopped into small pieces

3 medium sized tomatoes

1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

pinch of hing/asafoetida

10 fresh curry leaves

salt to taste

 

  1. First prepare all your ingredients and make sure they are chopped and ready to use.
  2. Heat a pan with the oil and when it is hot add the cumin seeds, the hing/asafoetida and the fresh curry leaves and move around the pan for 20 seconds, allowing the flavours to be released.
  3. Now add the garlic and after a couple of minutes add the ginger and tomatoes.
  4. Finally add the watermelon and a little salt. Allow to simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Using a hand blender blend the ingredients of the pan so the liquid is smooth.
  6. Using a colander strain all the liquid so that a lighter consistency liquid is released and any tomato skins, seeds etc are caught in the colander. Taste and season further with salt as necessary.
  7. Allow to cool and place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  8. It will last for a couple of days in the fridge no problem.

 

As an idea you could add a feta crumb of fresh mint flakes on the top of each serving, but I preferred to eat it as is this time.

 

 


Cold Spiced Soba and Cucumber Noodles

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When it’s hot I like nothing more than a bowl of spiced cold noodles. If you have only ever eaten them hot before you are going to have to trust me when I say that cold noodles are seriously good. The whole meal takes 10 minutes max to prepare, which is even better when the sun is shining and you don’t really fancy spending too long over the stove.
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The crunch of the cucumber noodles and nuts (from the crunchy peanut butter) really compliment this dish. I decided to use dragons back chillies which you can purchase from World of Zing here. The chilli gave the dish a kick without being too overpowering. The spring onion and garlic also adds other wonderful flavours running through this dish. The star of the sauce in my mind is chinkiang vinegar, which is also known as Chinese black vinegar. I adore the stuff and if you love Chinese cooking it is an absolute must for your store cupboard. You can easily pick is up in any Asian food store.

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The sauce is salty, sour and sweet and mixed through the noodles it is absolutely heavenly. It’s a perfect meal to take to work as it is easily transportable and can be prepared the morning or night before and then stored in a fridge until lunch. Remember to take it out of the fridge around 30 minutes before eating so that it has reached room temperature.

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Serves 2 or (1 if you are feeling a little piggy)

85g soba noodles

1/2 cucumber, noodles if you have this or thinly chopped into sticks if not

2 spring onions, sliced at an angle

1 dragons back chilli, halved or quartered

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp chinkiang vinegar

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp chilli oil

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp black sesame seeds

1 tsp salt – optional

1. Place the soba noodles in boiling water and boil for around 5 minutes or according to the packet. Drain and run under cold water so that the noodles are completely cold. Place to one side.

2. Mix the chinkiang vinegar, light soy sauce, chilli oil, sesame oil, chopped garlic*, sugar and crunchy peanut butter in a bowl and stir to form a dressing. Taste and add salt if required.

3. Prepare the cucumber noodles or chop the cucumber into thick sticks.

4. Heat a small pan and when it is hot add the dragons back chilli or other dried chilli so that it darkens slightly in colour. I keep all the seeds, but if you like it less hot you can reduce these. Then add 1/2 tsp of chilli oil and add the spring onions for a minute. Take off the heat.

5. In a mixing bowl add the cold soba noodles, the cucumber noodles, the dressing and the dried chilli and spring onions.  Gently fold in together and place in two bowls. Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top.

* if you prefer to cook the garlic add it to the pan with the spring onions so that it softens slightly.

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Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Garlic, Broad Beans and Crispy Sage and Kale

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The summer hols have started in my house. My daughters have weeks ahead to relax, explore, learn and grow. It’s a time to unwind and go at a more leisurely pace, no 6.30am wake up calls until September *does happy dance*. New additions to our family have arrived – two mini lop bunnies, so rabbit is firmly off the menu from henceforth.

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Picnics are wonderful but sometimes more of a proper meal at lunch time is required. This recipe is straightforward and although there are a couple of parts to bring together it really does not take long. I also love the bright summer colours of this meal, you can’t help but be happy when eating it. If you want to make it a morning activity though and involve your children/friends/partner then making your own gnocchi is really good fun. Here is my recipe.IMG_1335

I like to make kale crisps to add to this meal. Eleven minutes in a low oven and hey presto you have kale crisps. You can get creative as well and add cayenne pepper, soy, chaat masala, whatever takes your fancy. For this dish I have simply added a sprinkling of rock salt. By all means you can have the kale crisps in a bowl on the side, but I rather like the crisp aspect to the whole dish. It’s comfort food with a twist and they work well with the crispy sage. Broad beans are in season right now and I love to throw them in so many dishes. I prefer to shell them but I leave that to you to decide.
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Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Garlic, Broad Beans and Crispy Sage and Kale

1/2 of a small butternut squash, skin removed and cubed to the size of the gnocchi

100g chopped kale

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp butter

40g shelled broad beans

350g potato gnocchi

salt and pepper to taste

handful of grated parmesan, optional

1. First cube the butternut squash into the size of the gnocchi. Boil in a pan of water along with the broad beans for around 10 minutes, or until soft but not mushy.  Rinse under cold water and leave to one side. If you need to shell the broad beans then do so at this stage.

2. Preheat an oven to 140 degrees fahrenheit. Meanwhile separate any stems from the kale and discard. Place the kale on a baking try and add the olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale and make sure that the kale is spread out evenly over the tray. Place in the oven for 11 minutes, by which time the kale will be crisp. If it is not then leave it for a minute or two longer. Keep a watchful eye over it as they can burn quickly. These kale crisps are a great snack but also rather lovely in this dish.

3. In a frying pan add the butter and when it is melted add the garlic. Move around the pan before adding the sage leaves. Allow them to cook on a low heat so that they begin to crisp.

4. Add the butternut squash and broad beans and coat them in the butter, garlic and sage.

5. Place the gnocchi in the pan and boil away for 1 minute or according to instructions. If you fancy making your own – here is my recipe.

6. Strain the gnocchi and add the pan with the other ingredients. Stir together for a minute, season to taste and plate immediately.

7. Sprinkle crispy kale over each serving with a scattering of parmesan as desired.


Sardinian Fregula with Courgette, Mint, Lemon, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

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Surprise! I have given my blog a new lease of life by making it a little fresher, with bigger food photographs – to tempt you into making my recipes of course. How do you like it? I’ll probably tweek it here and there as it is not exactly how I want it but it will do for the mean time. It’s also probably at it’s best looked at on a computer as opposed to a mobile or iPad but any device will do. Leave a comment below once you have had a little look around.

Now back to the important stuff…. the recipe. This week I want to tempt you into making this wonderful dish that can be eaten hot or at room temperature, perhaps for a picnic. It requires a little effort in as far as locating the wonderful fregula, but once you have done that making the recipe is a doddle.

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So what on earth is fregula I hear you all ask? Well in a nutshell it’s a Sardinian pasta, which is similar to couscous in appearance, and comes in a variety of sizes. It’s made from rubbing semolina and water to create a crumbly texture that is then rolled into balls. It is then sun dried and toasted briefly in the oven.IMG_0990

This process allows the fregula to have that ‘al dente’ texture giving it a slightly nutty taste. I am not suggesting you make the fregula from scratch, far from it. You’ll find it most Italian delicatessen and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the larger supermarkets may well stock it. If they don’t then I am sure they will very soon.

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The overall dish is healthy, takes under quarter of an hour to prep and cook and is really delicious. The flavours are fresh and cleansing, coming from the mint and lemon and this combined with nutty fregula and pine nuts, umami parmesan (check out my article on umami here) and the bright green courgette. It’s a winning recipe if you are entertaining and want no fuss with cooking as it can all be prepped before guests arrive, aside from the boiling of the fregula and courgettes.

For those who like shell fish I will be doing another fregula recipe again in the next few weeks – that leaves you more than enough time to hunt down a packet from your local Italian deli.

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Sardinian Fregula with Courgette, Mint, Lemon, Parmesan and Pine Nuts 

Serves 3

225g fregula (75g per person)

3 courgettes, cut into thin half moons (1 courgette per person)

1 lemon, juice and zest (to taste)

4 stems of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

60g parmesan

1 large handful of pine nuts

salt and pepper

1. Place the fregula in boiling water so that it is completely covered for 12 minutes.

2. Prepare all the other ingredients, whilst you wait for the fregula to cook. After 12 minutes add the half moon courgettes, adding more boiling water if necessary, and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Drain the courgettes and fregole and place in a large mixing bowl.

4. Add half the lemon juice and zest, most of the parmesan, the mint leaves, pine nuts and season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice and zest to taste.

5. Serve in one large bowl/platter and allow everyone to serve themselves.

Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.


Strawberry, Black Pepper and Spinach Salad with a Red Onion Balsamic Dressing

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I’ve been meaning to post this glorious recipe for ages. It is seriously good and takes no time to whip together. If the truth be told I’ve been eating it all summer, but each time I forget to photograph the food until it’s too late. Today I was ready with my camera to take a few snaps before gorging on this delicious lunch.

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It’s perfect if you want to impress friends as it’s probably a flavour combination they’ve not eaten before so it will take them by surprise…..in a good way.

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It would also work really well for BBQ gatherings or as a starter for a dinner with friends. The flavour combinations of freshly ground black pepper and strawberries is a surprising winner. The dish in itself is sweet, salty and full of umami – read my article here to learn more about umami.

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If you are not able to get hold of fresh spinach, rocket also works really well.

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I originally came across a similar recipe in fellow  food blogger Heidi Swanson’s book ‘Super Natural Everyday‘, which I adore to dip into from time to time.

 

Here is my version of the recipe. Let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below. I love to hear from my readers.

 

Strawberry, Black Pepper and Spinach Salad with a Red Onion Balsamic Dressing

Serves 4

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 small red onion or shallot, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

90g fresh spinach or rocket

300g fresh strawberries, hulled and finely sliced

30g slivered almonds, toasted

15g parmesan, shaved in curls

1. In a small bowl add the balsamic vinegar, red onion/shallot, salt and pepper. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before adding the oil and whisking gently together. Leave to one side.

2. Place the slivered almonds into a large frying pan to toast. They brown really quickly so do not leave the pan. Use a spatula to move the almonds around the heat to help them bronze evenly. This will not take more than a couple of minutes.

3. In a large bowl add the spinach or rocket, strawberries, slivered almonds and parmesan shavings. To make the curls I use a regular vegetable peeler.  Then add the dressing and gently toss so that the dressing is evenly distributed.

Serve immediately.

If you are preparing ahead of time do not add the dressing until your guests have arrived. The dressing can easily be made in advance.


Moussaka and a Greek Escape

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Before I headed off to the Greek Island of Kefalonia – you know the one that Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was based and filmed, my Italian friend in London said I HAD to seek out a certain restaurant where he had tasted, and I quote, “the best Moussaka in my life”.


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I didn’t need to be told twice. With no restaurant name and only scant directions to go by (on the left hand side at the top of the road as you leave the famous Myrtos Beach….. if you are interested), we did manage to find the restaurant. It was called ‘Alexandros’ and yes the Moussaka was heavenly and without doubt the best we had sampled. So much so it has inspired me to recreate it back in Blighty.

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Here is a photo of the legendary Moussaka. Pipping hot in its own terracotta pot. It looks similar to an English Cottage or Shepherds pie, but don’t be fooled. This moussaka was filled with aubergine, slices of potato and delicately spiced lamb mince. Oooooh it was so good. Thanks Carlo for the tip!

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Other than eating we did a lot of swimming in glorious hidden beaches or  in the pool (see photos below). We were based in the north of the island in a wonderful villa in a little rural hamlet outside the charming town (although to be fair it is more of a village) of Fiscardo, which is a mecca for those who love yachting (aka my father who was with us). It’s quiet, calm and peaceful and my idea of the perfect relaxing holiday.

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A short drive up the coast is picturesque Assos with it’s sheltered harbour – another great spot for swimming and  for exploring it’s ruined Venetian castle on the hill facing the town.

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It’s pretty remote and most of the people living there are working the ‘tourist’ season, so much so that only around 40 people remain through the winter months. We were told that in the northern part of the island (which includes Assos) around 300 hundred people remain on the island. Flights onto the island stop at the end of October and do not resume again until spring. If you need to reach the island you have to get there the old fashioned way – by boat. We contemplated for some time what it must be like to live there in a place where everything shuts down for 6 months of the year. The inhabitants must feel so isolated from the worries of the outside world. It made me think of the film ‘The Wicker Man’.

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After swimming around this glorious bay I climbed up into the woods to take the photo above. I then stumbled across the sign below about 20 feet from where I was standing.  Needless to say I was back in the water quick smart!

 

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So I hope you will try my version of Moussaka. It’s delicately spiced with cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, dried oregano and bay leaves, and similarly to Alexandros I have also added potato as well as aubergine. You can prepare most of the dish a day in advance, apart from the béchamel sauce and the potatoes, which are best prepared just before you start layering the ingredients.

 

So here the steps you need to take to make this deliciously Greek dish.

 

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Greek Moussaka

Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil

1 white onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 bay leaves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

400g lamb mince

390g chopped tomatoes (fresh or tinned)

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp oregano

50 ml red wine

370g potatoes (I used 1 very large potato), thinly sliced

2 aubergine, finely chopped width ways

olive oil for frying

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Bechamel Sauce

70g plain flour, sieved

70g butter

50g parmesan, freshly grated

pinch of salt

pinch of ground nutmeg

600 ml milk, warmed

2 eggs, whisked

1. Warm the olive oil in a large pan and then add the onion and gently cook for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute.

2. Add all the spices and bay leaves and stir into the onion and garlic. Now add the lamb and use a wooden spoon to break up the mince. Stir well.

3. After 10 minutes the lamb should now all be brown, with no pink meat remaining. If there is any pink meat cook for a little longer.

4. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red wine vinegar, red wine and stir into the mince. Leave to simmer for a further 15-20 minutes, then leave to cool.

5. In a separate pan boil some water and place the sliced potatoes into the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. You do not want the potato to be soft, instead take it out of the water just before it becomes soft. Strain and place in a bowl of cold iced water to prevent it cooking further. Place to one side.

6. In a large frying pan add a little olive oil and then place some of the sliced aubergine in the pan to bronze. It is best to do this in batches. You will find that the aubergines will probably need a little more oil during cooking as they do tend to soak it up fast. After 5 minutes turn and fry for a further 5 minutes so that both sides have begun to bronze. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper.

7. To make the béchamel sauce, heat the milk in a pan to warm – although do not boil it. Then place in a pouring jug.

8. In a separate pan add the butter and when it is melted add the flour and stir together. Gradually add the warm milk, stirring each time some more milk is added. Add a pinch of salt and ground nutmeg followed by half of the parmesan cheese. Simmer gently for a few minutes, by which time the sauce will be thick. Leave to cool.

9. Once it has cooled add the eggs and stir into the sauce.

10. To layer up the moussaka, first add some of the aubergine so that it coves the bottom of the dish. The dish I use is 12×9 inch. Then add half the mince followed by the potato, followed by the rest of the mince and another layer of aubergine. The final topping is the béchamel sauce, which completely covers all the other ingredients. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on the top.

11. Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees and cook for 35-40 minutes when the top begins to bronze.

Serve once it has begun to cool slightly as it will be very hot when it comes out of the oven.

Happy Holidays everyone.

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Kale, Coconut and Durum Wheat Salad with a Sesame Oil Dressing

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Oh boy it’s been getting pretty hot here in London town. We’re almost hitting 30 degrees and that is pretty darn for HOT for England. All this humid weather means that the fresh water lido’s, that I love to swim in, are heating up nicely to a refreshing 21 degrees. I’ve also been doing a bit of sea swimming, which has been lovely.

When it comes to food and cooking though the hot weather really makes us a little sluggish and well hot, so the last thing we want to be doing is spending hours in a kitchen labouring over a stove.

 

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This recipe takes around 10-15 minutes to make from beginning to end. The combination of flavours and textures make it a joy to eat, and something a little different. It is simple and has few ingredients and requires no salt as that is provided by the tamari. I am a huge fan of kale and eat it through out the year in many forms – have you tried homemade crispy kale yet? After cleaning the kale, dry it thoroughly, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and massage it into the kale leaves (remove any thick stalks). Pop in a low oven – around 160 degrees centigrade is perfect – for 9-10 minutes, by which time it will have completely crisped up. Sprinkle with some rock salk and serve. Delicious snack.

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Anyway there is a super interesting article all about the benefits of kale written by Dana Gill – editor-in-chief of Healthyline.com. You can read her article here.

Now back to the recipe for today, if you want to make even more of a meal out of it you could add grilled tofu or some salmon or trout fillets. I added a sprinkling of chilli flakes, but it also works really well in it’s simplest form.

 

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If you can’t get hold of durum wheat you could use farro or another whole grain.

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Kale, Coconut and Durum Wheat Salad with a Sesame Oil Dressing

Inspired and adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Kale Salad in Super Natural Every Day

Serves 4

125g kale, chopped (stems removed)

100g unsweetened large coconut flakes

175g pure durum wheat  or farro

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80ml  extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce

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chilli flakes, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade.

2. Chop the kale and place in a large bowl along with the coconut flakes

3. Mix the olive oil, sesame oil and tamari together in a small bowl.

4. Pour two-thirds of the oil mixture over the kale and coconut flakes and really mix in thoroughly so that all the leaves are completely coated in the oil.

5. Place in the oven for 10-12 or until the coconut flakes begin to bronze and the kale begins to darken slightly. Keep an eye on it as they can get burn easily and the kale crisp up too much.

6. Whilst the kale and coconut are in the oven place the durum wheat in a pan of cold water and gently simmer for around ten minutes, or according to instructions on the packet. Strain thoroughly.

7. Return all the ingredients to the bowl and mix again with the remainder of the oil mixture.

Serve immediately.

It works wonderfully well on it’s own or equally you could add some grilled salmon or trout or possibly some grilled tofu. Experiment and let me know what works for you.

Notes: I have also made this replacing the coconut flakes with powa flakes, sunflower seeds and 1 tsp of maple syrup to the dressing. Worked equally well. 

 

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Happy summer days.

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Spanish Baked Chicken and Pea and Mint Soup with Crumbled Feta

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It’s always good to have some quick, easy and tasty recipes up your sleeve if you feeding a crowd. I know how it is difficult to decide what to pair up with what in as far as a starter, main and dessert is concerned. I always find it helpful in cookery books when they give suggestions. It’s surprising how many do not actually do this!

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Both these recipes turned up on my blog when I first started back in 2011 and I felt that the photos needed a little improving so decided to re post with new ones that I recently took. They are both definitely ‘go-to’ recipes for me. Hearty food with wonderful herbs, but light and fresh – perfect for summer days.

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They are so quick and easy to prepare that if you have friends coming over or you are doing your own catering on holiday, they take no time and will not cause you any stress. The dessert I accompanied these dishes with was Rose and Summer Berry Skinnifreddo, which I found on fellow food blogger Kellie’s blog – kelliesfoodtoglow.com. It was wonderfully fresh, colourful and healthy and  complements my starter and main beautifully. Her blog is really rather lovely so do take some time to look around it – I am sure you will be inspired.

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The above photo is of the chicken after marinading but before cooking

Spanish Baked Chicken

Sourced and inspired by Simply Recipes

serves 4-6

3.5 pounds/1.6kg  chicken thighs

100 ml red wine vinegar

100ml olive oil

1 handful fresh oregano

100g raisins/sultanas

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

100g stoneless green olives

4 bay leaves

150 ml white wine

2 tbsp brown sugar

1. Cut the excess fat off the chicken thighs, pierce the skin with a fork and place in a large mixing bowl. Then add all the ingredients, except the white wine and brown sugar, to create the wonderful marinade. You don’t have to stick rigidly to the amounts for the olives and raisin/sultanas ingredients – if you love olives throw in a little more and same goes for the raisins/sultanas. Really mix all the marinade thoroughly over the chicken using your hands. Cover with foil and place in the fridge overnight or for as many hours as you can.

2. Transfer the chicken and the marinade to an oven proof dish. I often use a couple of dishes so that the chicken thighs are evenly spread out. Then pour the white wine and sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken thighs.

3. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees centigrade for 50 mins remembering to spoon the marinade over the chicken during cooking. This will ensure the chicken has a golden brown glow when it is cooked.

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Pea and Mint Soup with Crumbled Feta

Serves 4

4 spring onions, sliced

50g butter

700g frozen peas

1 pint/600ml milk

1 pint/600ml of vegetable stock

one handful of fresh mint (or two if you like it really minty)

black pepper

salt

75g feta

1. Melt the butter slowly in a pan, careful not to burn the butter. When melted add the sliced spring onions and stir into the butter for 5 minutes. Stir in the peas, vegetable stock and mint and leave to simmer for around 20 minutes (30 minutes if you are using fresh peas).

2. Puree the soup to the consistency that you require. Then add in the milk – if you like a thicker consistency then add less milk than the amount given above. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Immediately before serving sprinkle each portion with crumbled feta.


Mung Bean, Date and Avocado Salad with a Soy Miso Dressing

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Long, lazy summer days await. Relaxing long lunches with friends in the sun/shade. You don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen preparing food, so I hope that this summer salad ticks all the boxes. It’s easy of assemble, tasty and not at all complicated.

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Mung beans are a fabulous little pulse that are really versatile. As well as salads they work really well cooked with Indian spices and in dals. They do require soaking so you have to be a little prepared. I tend to soak overnight and then boil them for around 40 minutes, the following day.

I like the variety of colour and texture in this salad. From the crunchiness of the carrot, to the smoothness of the avocado, to the sweetness of the dates. The dressing brings it all together, giving it a slightly Asian twist.

 

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Mung Bean, Date and Avocado Salad with a Soy Miso Dressing

Serves 4-6

500g mung beans

1 carrot, chopped into small cubes

1/2 a red onion, finely chopped

150g cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 avocado, chopped into cubes

10 dates, chopped

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Soy Miso Dressing

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp sweet miso – I use this one

1 lime – juice only

1. Place the mung beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Leave overnight or for at least 5 hours

2. After the mung beans have soaked, strain the water and then place them in a pan and boil them in water for 40 minutes, by which time they will have softened.

3. Finely chop all the ingredients to make the salad and toss gently together in a large mixing bow along with the cook and strained mung beans. Note: it is advisable not to prepare the avocado until you are almost ready to eat as they will begin to discolour.

4. Mix all the ingredients of the dressing together and pour over the salad. Mix with some salad tongs and serve immediately.

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