Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous

Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous (1)

I hope you were all able to enjoy a little sunshine over the weekend.

I’m trying (hubby isn’t aware of this yet) to turn our property into a smallholding. One day, he may come home to find that I’ve purchased a cow. I’m not at that stage yet, but I did spend my weekend tenderly looking after some plants I have grown from seed which I am hoping will reward me with bountiful veggies in a few months.

So, today, I went to the shop to buy ingredients for dinner and was loathe to spend all of that money on food. One red pepper for 79p?? It’s daylight robbery! Still, as I said, I have a couple of months to go before I can start harvesting any crops (providing I don’t accidentally kill all of the plants in the meantime) so I will have to suck it up for the time being.

As the weather has been beautiful today – stunning sunshine – I wanted something light and fairly salad like, so I decided on a cous cous dish. You can eat this hot or cold, though I prefer it hot, and is wonderful for lunch the next day.

This will serve 3-4 and will take no more than 30 minutes to make.

Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous (2)

Chorizo and Sugar Snap Pea Giant Cous Cous

1 tbsp olive oil

300g giant cous cous

150g chorizo

200g sugar snap peas

1 red pepper

1 small bunch spring onions

75g green olives

100g feta

1. Gently fry the cous cous in the oil in a large pan for a couple of minutes. Tip in 600ml water, and bring to the boil, stirring often. Cook until all of the water has been absorbed (approx 15 minutes), stirring so that it doesn’t stick. When the water has been absorbed, try the cous cous – if it’s still a bit crunchy, add a little more water.

2. Meanwhile, slice the chorizo and place in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry until golden on both sides, then add the whole sugar snap peas and chopped red pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.

3. Finely slice the spring onions, and chop the feta into chunks.

4. Finally, mix the cous cous, chorizo mix, spring onions, feta and olives together well. It’s ready!

Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous

Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous (1)

I am back again, after another absence due entirely to laziness. So, new week, new resolve to share my recipes with you again. I have a backlog now! But, I’m sharing tonight’s dinner with you regardless because it is such a perfect Monday night meal.

Mondays are busy days. Or at least, it feels that way perhaps because of the shock of having to actually do things after the weekend!

I always get my food shopping delivered on Monday evenings, which means I have to plan a very quick meal because I’m never quite sure when it’s going to arrive, which is why this one is so perfect.

This would also be wonderful if you’re chancing the Spring weather and having a barbeque – the skewers would work brilliantly over charcoal.

This particular meal is ready in 15 minutes, and will serve 4. Enjoy, it’s a tasty one!

Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous (2)

Chicken Skewers with Giant Cous Cous

400g diced chicken breast

1 tbsp ras-el-hanout

2 tbsps olive oil

300g giant cous cous

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 spring onions

1 pomegranate

100g feta

1 handful mint leaves

Salad leaves, to serve

1. In a bowl, mix your chicken with the ras-el-hanout, half of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. When all of the chicken is coated, thread each piece onto wooden skewers (about 4-5 pieces to each skewer) then cook in a griddle pan or on a barbeque over a high heat for approximately 10 minutes (until cooked through), turning often.

2. Meanwhile, pour the cous cous into a saucepan with about 600ml boiling water. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until soft, then drain.

3. Pour the cooked cous cous into a large bowl and add the remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sliced spring onions, pomegranate seeds, crumbled feta and chopped mint. Mix well, taste, and season if necessary.

4. To serve, have a skewer each with a pile of cous cous and a handful of salad leaves.

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad (1)

March is a month of contrasts, isn’t it? Particularly here in the UK, some days there can be balmy, mild sunshine which shows off the multi-coloured budding flowers and the blossom on the trees. Other days, like today, there can be a miserable, leaden grey sky and a howling icy wind which destroys the buds and blows the blossom away. I, like most people I’m sure, prefer one of these types of day significantly more than the other.

There was one of these rare sunny days recently. It reminded me that in a few short months, my sister and her fiance are getting married. They’re getting married abroad, which means a beach holiday (and the bikini which goes with it), and it was as such a notification that perhaps the time is here to wean ourselves off stodgy winter warmers, and towards lighter, more bikini body friendly meals.

This particular salad is a happy medium. It is served warm, so is nice when the weather is as miserable as it is today (I resembled a drowned rat when I got home), and is packed full of healthy veggies.

It’ll take approximately an hour in total to make, but it’s very low maintenance and the majority of this time is spent sitting on the sofa, drying off next to the fire. This will serve 3-4.

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad (2)

Carrot, Beetroot and Watercress Salad

500g baby carrots

6 raw beetroot

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp runny honey

2 tbsps lemon juice

250g ready to eat lentils

100g watercress

75g goats cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Trim the ends of the carrots and place in a large baking dish. Cut the top and tail off each beetroot and slice them into wedges (no need to peel). Add these to the dish along with half of the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until soft.

3. To make the dressing, mix the remaining olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Towards the end of the cooking time, heat your lentils – either on the hob or in the microwave. Place in a large bowl and mix with the watercress and cooked carrots and beetroot.

5. To serve, share out the salad between bowls and top with a few blobs of goats cheese and a drizzle of dressing. Enjoy!

Avocado, Bacon and Dolcelatte Salad

This is a salad which contains bacon and blue cheese – therefore, of course it is delicious. Apart from that, it also has avocado and watercress which I’m sure go some of the way to balance out the other ingredients.

If you wanted to make this healthier, just omit the bacon and blue cheese and add some crisped onions instead. However, I think it’s lovely as it is. It’s a filling recipe for when it’s too warm to worry about cooking.

This is very quick and the only item which needs any heat is the bacon; everything else just needs compiling. The recipe below will serve four.

Avocado, Bacon and Dolcelatte Salad

300g smoked bacon

2 avocadoes

2 little gem lettuces

75g watercress

50g pumpkin seeds

50g croutons

75g Dolcelatte

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

1. Chop the bacon into thin strips and fry with one tablespoon of the olive oil over a high heat until the bacon is very crispy. Take off the heat and leave to one side.

2. Peel and slice the avocadoes and chop the lettuce. Put them in a large bowl with the watercress and pumpkin seeds – toss.

3. For the dressing, put the mustard, white wine vinegar and remaining oil in a small bowl and whisk together.

4. Slice the cheese into small 1cm cubes.

5. To serve, add a handful of the salad to a bowl and top with a sprinkling of bacon, croutons and cheese. Drizzle over the dressing.

Aspargus and Green Bean Sort-of-Caesar Salad

This is a salad which really packs a punch – none of your flimsy lettuce leaves to be seen here. The dressing is similar to a Caesar dressing, hence the name, but I packed it full of garlic, mustard and anchovies to give it as much of a wow factor as possible.

I topped the salad with a poached egg, and this works well with the Caesar dressing too. Then there are all of the different textures – al dente veg, crunchy croutons and silky egg – please give it a go!

This recipe makes far more dressing than you’ll need, but it’s great to have in the fridge in case you want something to dip carrot batons (or crisps…) in.

As a little postscript – fortunately, this salad goes fantastically well with an ice cold glass of white or a beer, in case you’re indulging/drowning sorrows for the England game.

This’ll make enough for 2.

Asparagus and Green Bean Salad

2 tbsps mayonnaise

2 tsps wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 large clove garlic

4 anchovy fillets from a jar

2 eggs

200g asparagus spears

200g green beans (dwarf beans are good)

50g croutons

Parmesan shavings, to serve

1. Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar in bowl. Finely chop your garlic and anchovies and mix in.

2. Put your eggs on to poach – heat a pan of water until it’s boiling rapidly. Crack the eggs in, then turn off the heat and leave for 4-5 minutes.

3. Put a griddle pan on a high heat (you could use a barbeque if you wanted) and add the asparagus and green beans. Heat, turning regularly, until slightly softened and just beginnning to colour.

4. To serve, pile the veg into a bowl and sprinkle over the croutons. Top with your egg, dollop over the sauce and then add your parmesan shavings. Enjoy!

Greek Salad

Hello again!

I’m back from my honeymoon now, and you’ll be glad to hear that I gained loads of inspiration from our holiday in Kos.

Kos is a self-sufficient island outside tourist season (when the population more than triples) and so they grow a huge amount of beautiful, fresh fruit and vegetables. The Aegean sea is teeming with all sorts of delicious seafood and on every hillside there are sheep and goats, from whose milk is made rich, salty feta.

I’m going to start tonight with a staple which we ate almost every night (usually alongside a main dish, but I’m serving it by its own merit tonight). We need it today because it’s healthy, and after the free bar we need a bit of a detox!

I hope you enjoy it – I’ve tried to make it as authentic to Kos as possible. This will serve at least 4 and takes 20-30 minutes to prepare.

Greek Salad with Tzatziki and Baked Feta

For the salad:

6 large tomatoes

1 large red onion

1/2 cucumber

185g jar pitted black olives

1/2 lemon

For the tzatziki:

250g Greek style yoghurt

1/2 cucumber

1/2 lemon

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Small bunch fresh dill

For the baked feta:

200g block of feta

Small bunch fresh thyme

1 tbsp olive oil

To serve:

Fresh loaf of bread (I used this one from Sainsbury’s.)

1. For the salad, chop the tomatoes into small chunks and thinly slice the cucumber and red onion. Tip into a bowl with the olives and mix. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

2. For the tzatziki, peel the cucumber and thinly slice. Put it in a colander and sprinkle over the salt, and leave for a few minutes over the sink.

3. Meanwhile, for the baked feta, put the feta on a large sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray and top with the olive oil and thyme. Scrunch the baking parchment loosely around it and pop in the oven at 160 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until softened and warm.

4. Back to the tzatziki – tip the cucumber into a bowl and pour over the olive oil. Finely chop the garlic and add to the bowl, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Pour in the yoghurt and dill; mix. Have a taste and adjust the levels of salt/lemon juice if needed.

5. Let everyone help themselves! Grad a hunk of bread and pile it up with salad, soft feta and top with the cooling tzatziki.

 Baked Feta

 Greek Salad


Warm Roasted Red Pepper and Halloumi Quinoa Salad

This is a perfect recipe for a Spring day – the weather doesn’t quite know if it’s hot or cold. There were bursts of sunshine which made me want a salad, but it was also wet, cold and windy at times which meant I didn’t want a completely cold meal.

And of course, the wedding planning meant I needed something quick to make!

This is fast, simple and will serve 4. It’s ready in 20 minutes.

Warm Roasted Pepper and Halloumi Quinoa Salad

1 red onion

450g jar of roasted red peppers

2 tbsp olive oil

300g quinoa

600ml vegetable stock

225g halloumi

1 lemon

1 handful chopped parsley

1. Chop the red onion and red peppers, then add to a large pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes until starting to soften.

2. Add the quinoa and cook for a further 30 seconds, then pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the water has been absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, put a griddle pan on a high heat with the remaining olive oil. Slice the halloumi and add to the pan. Cook for a minute on each side, then take off the heat.

4. When the quinoa is cooked, add the zest and the juice of the lemon and the chopped parsley. Serve the quinoa topped with slices of the halloumi.

Quinoa and Lentil Salad

Another super healthy, and vegetarian, recipe for you today. Once again, we’re tired and in need of something quick and nourishing.

This recipe includes quinoa, which I’m a big fan of, cucumber to give it a burst of freshness and feta to give it a beautiful savoury edge. If you’re not keen on feta, you could easily leave it out – but perhaps add some salty ham or other meat to balance it.

This would also make a great veggie side dish for a summer BBQ!

This will easily serve 4, can be made in 20 minutes and is perfect cold or warm – though personally I prefer it warm.

Quinoa and Lentil Salad

300g quinoa

1 onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 handful chopped fresh tarragon

250g green lentils, pre-cooked

6 spring onions

1/2 cucumber

200g feta

1 orange

1tbsp white wine vinegar

1. Saute the onion in a large saucepan with the oil for a couple of minutes, until soft.

2. Stir in the chopped tarragon, then add the quinoa and 600ml water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed.

3. Chop the spring onions, cucumber and feta into small chunks and add to a large serving bowl. Tip in the lentils and quinoa.

4. Add the zest and juice of the orange and the white wine vinegar.

5. Stir well, and it’s ready to serve!

Chicken and Pomegranate Bulghar Wheat

This is a ridiculously simple one dish recipe. It is full of beautiful, bright tagiine-type flavours but takes under 30 minutes to make. Perfect if you just want something to bubble away on the stove while you get on with other things – i.e. that second glass of wine!

We’re getting married in a couple of weeks (for anyone who hasn’t heard my increasing pitches of hysteria over the last few months) and this sort of recipe is perfect for when you know you need some healthy food but can’t, just can’t, stand at the oven for ages.

This will take 30 minutes to cook (less than 5 to prepare) and will serve 6.

Chicken and Pomegranate Bulghar Wheat

600g skinned and boned chicken thighs

1 tbsp ras-el-hanout (Moroccan spice blend available from most supermarkets now)

1 tbsp olive oil

500ml chicken stock

400g bulghar wheat

200g pomegranate seeds (you can either use the tubs of prepared ones, like I did, or remove the seeds from pomegranates yourself – this will significantly increase the preparation time though!)

1 tbsp chopped, fresh mint

1. Coat the chicken thighs with the ras-el-hanout. Heat the oil in a casserole dish over a medium-high heat and add the chicken. Fry until browned on all sides.

2. Add the chicken stock, turn down the heat, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Remove the lid, add the bulghar wheat and simmer for another 10 minutes. By this time, the liquid should have been absorbed. If not – leave for a little longer.

4. Stir in the pomegranate seeds and chopped mint. Done!

A Warming Salad of Lentil-y Goodness

This salad is much easier to make than it initially looks. Just pop the vegetables in the oven to roast as soon as you get in, do whatever else you need to do around the house – help the kids with their homework, do the ironing, sit and have a large glass of wine – and then throw the rest of the components of the salad together when the veg is almost ready.

I used ready-to-go pouches of lentils which, although more expensive than the dried variety, are extremely fast to heat through with none of the time consuming soaking and I’m sure they’re just as healthy.

This will feed at least four hungry people – increase the amount of veg or lentils and it’ll go much further! You could also substitute the veg being roasted, you could use courgette, aubergines, anything which roasts well. Don’t use potatoes though.

Warm Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Salad

250g baby carrots – ends cut off and large ones halved

5 beetroot – ends cut off and cut into wedges

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp runny honey

500g ready-to-use pre soaked lentils

170g watercress

150g soft goats’ cheese

1. Put the carrots and beetroot in an oven proof dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and put in the oven at about 190 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until soft.

2. Cook the lentils according to packet instructions – either on the hob or in the microwave – and transfer to a large bowl.

3. Tip in the cooked veg and watercress and mix well. Season.

4. Pour the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and honey into a small bowl and whisk. Taste and add more lemon or honey if needed. Season.

5. Serve a helping of the lentil salad, top with dollops of lovely goats’ cheese and drizzle over the honey dressing. A little will go a long way!