Kitchen Cupboard Pasta

Pasta Saturdays. This is what it’s all about. After a whole week of slaving away doing whatever you’re doing, you deserve this. It’s pasta, and it’s delicious in all forms.

But busy bees don’t always have a million years to create a tasty pasta dish from scratch. Imagine all of the flour, the time, the mess! More importantly, what would a busy bee do when a pasta fiend of a friend (and a hungry one at that) is moments away from their door? Panic!! Continue reading

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Chicken Cassoulet

One of the problems I have when I cook a big meal for the family is that I often don’t get a chance to photograph it. Not only is it hard to stave the family off from devouring the meal in moments, but usually the lighting doesn’t permit a decent photo or two being taken. Continue reading

Quinoa and Minted Pea Salad with Lamb’s Lettuce

Quinoa and Minted Pea Salad with Lamb’s Lettuce

After an indulgent few days, I tend to revert to my healthy eating ways and start appreciating my good friends bean and pulse once more. No more peanut butter on a spoon for me.

However, although the idea of a plate of lettuce for lunch sounds mega appealing, I’d much prefer something with some substance. Quinoa perhaps. I think you’d prefer that too.

Join me, won’t you?

Ingredients:

  • 100g quinoa, rinsed with cold water
  • Handful of lamb’s lettuce
  • 2 handful’s of peas
  • 2 large spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

To prepare the quinoa add to a saucepan 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, bring to the boil, then simmer for around 12-13 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan add a little olive oil then on a lowish heat gently sauté the spring onions and garlic for a few minutes before adding the peas. Cook for around 5 minutes before adding your cooked quinoa. Give it a good stir. Feels good doesn’t it.

Transfer your healthy quinoa goodness to a large bowl and add the mint, parsley and lamb’s lettuce, which will wilt slightly with the heat of the other ingredients. Drizzle in some of that beautiful olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and a generous amount of seasoning. Toss well.

Eat without the guilty conscience. Nom.

Makes enough for two.

Maftoul and Lentil Salad with Spinach and Grilled Halloumi

Maftoul and Lentil Salad with Spinach and Grilled Halloumi

Ohhh how yummy this is!! This is the kind of salad that can be eaten as a main or side, or just all the time, like at breakfast.

Maftoul is just pure genius in cracked wheat form. If you’re like me and are obsessed with couscous and bulghur, then you’ll love this. Claimed to originate from Lebanon, Israel, Palestine – frankly I don’t really care where it’s from as long as it’s readily available and in my store cupboard at all times.

Oh and here’s an idea, why not make my roasted red pepper houmous and flatbreads? They’re totally best buds with this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 100g Spinach, finely chopped – reserve a handful for garnish
  • Generous bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 150g maftoul (or giant couscous)
  • 300ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 can of precooked lentils, drained and rinsed
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, 10 haved – reserve 6 whole for garnish
  • 1 pack of halloumi cheese, cut into chunks

For the dressing:

  • Olive oil
  • The juice of ½ a lemon
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

First start by preparing the maftoul. Bring the stock to the boil and add the maftoul, cook for around 6 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the onion, tomato halves, garlic, chopped spinach, parsley and lentils. Add the cooled maftoul and mix well.

Place the halloumi chunks in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave for a couple of minutes. This helps extract some of the salt from the halloumi and makes it really soft and chewy. Remove the halloumi from the bowl, pat dry with kitchen paper then transfer to a frying pan or griddle with a little olive oil. Grill until lightly browned then add to the rest of the ingredients.

To make the dressing combine about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, lemon juice, 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin and a level teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Mix well and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper, give the salad a good toss then serve on a bed of the reserved spinach leaves.

Grab a spoon.

Makes one huge salad.

Yellow Split Pea and Spinach Dal

Yellow Split Pea and Spinach Dal

How do I love thee, dal, let me count the ways.

I am a pretend vegetarian. I am actually more of a pescatarian, although from time to time I love a melt in your mouth, bloody rare steak. But I still pretend I’m a vegetarian. Being madly obsessed with beans, pulses, vegetables, grains, something like a dal is my best bud.

I first discovered a love for dal when I was in Malaysia, in transit from Ipoh to the Cameron Highlands. Just before jumping on a bus I spotted a food market and of course, with the pretense of being a vegetarian I picked up a dal. That day changed my life, and intensified my phony vegetarian ways.

This recipe makes a nice big pan’s worth – perfect for lazy weekends where your stomach has somehow morphed into a seemingly bottomless pit.

Ingredients:

  • 100g yellow split peas, soaked overnight
  • 150g fresh spinach, stalks removed
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, finely crushed with salt
  • 200g chopped tomatoes, fresh or tinned
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (keep the seeds for extra heat)
  • 1 teaspoon chilli paste
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Salt, pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Boiling water

Method:

In a deep frying pan, heat some olive oil then sauté the onion for a few minutes before adding the garlic and chilli. Gently sweat for a few minutes more before adding the chilli paste, a squeeze of lemon juice, the tomato paste and all the spices until a thick paste is formed. Add the prepared split peas, mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Once mixed well, add the chopped tomatoes and enough boiling water to cover. Cook on a low heat for around 30-40 minutes, adding water when needed, until the split peas are tender.

Once you are happy with the split peas, check seasoning and add the spinach, letting it wilt from the heat of the dal, then stir it in.

Garnish with parsley and served with toasted khobiz bread.