Gently Spiced Sweet Potato and Quinoa Bowls

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Wow I haven’t blogged about food for a long time. Well my New Year’s Resolution is finally getting some attention so I’m back.

My excuse? Well I just haven’t cooked anything new. My wife started a new job (no longer working with me) and it just became easier for both of us to eat at lunchtimes and not really do anything special in the evenings.

Also, a new Wetherspoons opened next door to our office so I’ve been eating junk for 2 months.

But yesterday I decided to stop going out at lunchtimes – get a bit healthier and lose some of the weight I’ve gained. I need to – my wife is losing weight like nobody’s business!

So this dish is the first of many dishes I plan to make from Anna Jones – A Modern Way to Cook. I do like her books – and they please Freya as she wants to eat less meat than we have been doing lately; so expect lots of vegetarian dishes for a while.

This recipe is in the ‘make in the time it takes to set the table’ category – i.e. 15 minutes. I tell you now – that is impossible. It can’t be done – not by me anyway – and I can do the Jamie’s 15 minute meals on time.

Breaking it down this dish is essentially quinoa boiled up in some vegetable stock. When that is done you add that to some spring onions, garlic, sweet potato, carrots and chick peas – which you will have been pan frying for 10 minutes or so to go tender. Oh there’s a little bit or turmeric in there too!

Sweet potatoes and carrots are notoriously unpredictable when it comes to them going soft. It took some time before I considered my vegetables to be ‘ready’ and I love a bit of crunch.

To top it off you fry some spring greens in coconut oil and a squeeze of lemon.

This dish is incredibly tasty. If you are on a budget this is incredibly cheap to make too.

I was planning on serving up two dishes yesterday – the other being a Kale and Crispy Rice dish – but there was plenty here for two with some left over for lunch.

Hopefully I’m back for good this time – and hopefully I’ll lose a stone before I got on holiday in March!

 

 

 

 

Carrot, Walnut and Quinoa Salad

 I had planned on making three dishes tonight but after the amazing Tabbouleh I decided to forget about one of them and just put this really simple carrot salad together.

This is probably the best carrot salad that I’ve ever eaten. What makes it super amazing is the walnuts and the red chilli. Phenomenal.

This salad is also from The Superfood Diet by Gurpareet Bains. New book – two out of two great recipes.

I’d already held back a small amount of cooked Quinoa from the Tabbouleh; and again that is the only cooked element. Putting it together you add walnuts, a red chilli, a shallot, fresh coriander and garlic to mirin, white wine vinegar, and walnut oil. To this mix add your grated carrot and your cooked Quinoa.

I grated half the carrot recommended in the recipe – not out of laziness – I just thought the picture in the book looked too carroty. I wanted to see the Quinoa and the chillies and for it to look more interesting. I think this was a great move.

You serve the dish with some poppy seeds sprinkled over the top. I didn’t have any so I used nigella seeds instead.

Like the Tabbouleh this dish definitely benefits from an hour in the fridge for the flavours to develop. This salad will be seen again at this weekend’s BBQ – weather permitting!

Gluten free Quinoa Tabbouleh

Wednesday night saw us being really naughty and eating a burger in The Railway – a JD Wetherspoons in Putney.  Freya was meeting someone so I waited in the pub patiently with a pretty good pint of Devils Backbone American IPA. Tough as it was I managed.
Today was time to rebalance the scales and have a much lower calorie dinner – just to put us back on track with the diet.

This dish comes from a new cookbook that I only received today – The Superfood Diet by Gurpareet Bains. He has previously published Indian Superfood and it is a great book too so I knew I’d made a good choice.

It’s the first of two dishes we ate today. Both are very low in calories and both very very easy and tasty and good for you.

The only thing you cook in this dish is the Quinoa – unless you fancy cooking your own Puy Lentils. I never do; the precooked stuff from Merchant Gourmet is spot on for this kind of thing – especially given you serve the dish cold. If you cook the lentils you’ll have to cool them!

To the cooked and cooled Quinoa you add Puy Lentils, fresh petite pois, fresh broad beans, a red onion, a spring onion, parsley and mint and mix it all together.

The recipe says you can use frozen peas and broad beans and this will soon be a necessity as the fresh variety will be hard to come by soon.

To the mix you add a really simple dressing of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and black pepper. I added lots of lemon juice and all the bits still left over – segment skins and all. It made the dressing super lemony.

Finally, stir the dressing into the Tabbouleh and chill for an hour to let the lemons infuse into the salad.

This salad is amazing. So tasty, crunchy, lemony and herby. Really great salad.

We are having a BBQ at the weekend and if we do I’ll certainly make this again as a side.

For my Tabbouleh I used mixed Quinoa which had red, black and white Quinoa combined. Regular quinoa can get a little too fluffy and looks a bit plain on the plate. The mixed quinoa cooks at different rates and you get some interesting textures; it looks prettier too.

Loved this. Will definitely make it again.

Rice Salad with Nuts and Sour Cherries

Rice Salad with Nuts and Sour Cherries

Wow I haven’t updated this blog for months. Shame on me! But I have been busy honest!

Freya and I got married, and joined a Gym, and started a film club, and basically upped our social life by a factor of a billion.

I just haven’t been cooking properly – at all. Until today!

I resolved on Sunday that we can’t keep eating out, and just eating halloumi wraps every time we come home from the Gym and trawled through my new favourite book – Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi.

I shortlisted 12 dishes, ordered all the ingredients from Ocado and threw this together in about 40 minutes.

It’s pretty straightforward, cook some rice, then drain it and let it cool down. While it’s cooling, cooks some pine nuts and almonds in a little oil until they start to brown and let those cool down. Also cook some quinoa and let that cool down. While that’s cooling, fry some onions until they are part crisp and part soft.

Once your onions are done, toss all the above in a big bowl (very big bowl – this made loads) add the onions, sour cherries, rocket, parsley, basil and tarragon, garlic and lemon juice and toss the lot together with some added lemon zest and olive oil.

As you can tell this is a cold-ish salad. It’s best to leave this for a while as you want the lemon juice, garlic and the herbs to work their magic and for the flavours to penetrate into the rice.

I absolutely loved this. It’s the first proper meal I’ve made for a month I think! And there’s loads left for lunch tomorrow!

Quinoa Salad with dried Iranian lime

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I shouldn’t have made this. I made a mistake and picked the wrong recipe out of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

I did however have all the ingredients so it doesn’t matter – and I’m glad I did.

You wouldn’t think of having, rice, rice and quinoa would you – but that’s what this recipe is – Wild Rice – I used the giant variety that Ocado sell, brown basmati and the red Quinoa. The recipe calls for mixed basmati and wild rice (which you can apparently buy ready mixed) but I’ve never seen it so I mixed it up myself.

I think this is probably my favourite so far from Plenty. I really love Quinoa and I love roasted Sweet Potatoes. I’ve made a couple of recipes like this one – adding Wild Rice really adds an extra texture.

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As you can see – much clearer in the panview – there are spring onions, goats cheese and lots of herbs in the recipe too. You can’t see the Iranian lime. Here’s why!

Iranian limes come dried and are rock hard – not ‘I’ve left a lime in the fridge’ rock hard – but ‘nutmeg’ rock hard. It is suggested you mill them in something like a nutmeg mill. I seemed to get away with using one of those fancy microplanes – it took me quite a long time to get two tablespoons worth – and my hands ached afterwards – but I got there in the end.

Iranian limes smell amazing – like limes obviously – but so intense. And it adds an incredible sharpness to the dish. If you are making a stew you can just make holes in the whole lime and add it in – and it will infuse – but I haven’t tried that yet.

I’ve never seen these in a shop – and according to the recipe you can buy it in powder form – but it is not as intense a flavour. Mine came as part of my Ottolenghi gift box that Freya’s mum bought me for Christmas – finally got to use them !

I like this kind of dish. You make a tray full of the stuff – you can double it up if you want – or pick at it while you work your way through ‘The Killing Season 2’ like we were.

Absolutely lovely – I’m glad I accidentally made it.

 

Couscous, Sweet Potato and Edamame Salad with a Citrus Basil Vinaigrette

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I know this blog is all about cooking recipes from cookery books, but I’ve also found that there are a wealth of great recipes to be found online or in supermarkets. They do tend to favour the meat eater but there are good vegetarian ones out there too if you look hard enough.

One particularly tasty dish from Ocado’s Vegetarian recipe section is ‘Couscous, Sweet Potato and Edamame Salad with Citrus Basil Vinaigrette

The recipe suggests boiling then frying the sweet potatoes, but I prefer the leave the skins on the sweet potatoes and roast them as they become much softer, sweeter and intense.

I also prefer to swap couscous for Quinoa cooked in bouillon as it is much higher in protein and gluten free; so ideal if you have vegans in your home. Bouillon really adds flavour to grains like quinoa, pearl barley and bulgar wheat.

Looks beautiful doesn’t it. Really colourful and inviting. And what’s more all the ingredients are readily available from your favourite online supermarket.

There are so many textures and flavours going on in this recipe. Quinoa, sweet potatoes, edamame beans, spring onions, basil and rosary ash goats cheese. The orange and basil dressing adds a lovely citrus hit and the goats cheese is incredibly creamy  – hmm its just so yummy and is very filling – and I know I’ll make this regularly.

You can eat this dish hot or cold, and it keeps really well too – so if you have leftovers you can take some to work the next day and have your work colleagues drooling as they eat their ready meals and sandwiches!

If you want to add a crunchy topping for the salad you could try roasting some pumpkin seeds in tamari soy sauce.  I made them in an earlier recipe. They are really intense. I like to make lots and graze on them during the day.

 

Quinoa, Lemon Kale and Sesame Beetroot Salad

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This is another offering from Honestly Healthy for Life. Freya made this one as I was feeling poorly and she insisted I sit down and rest while she did the cooking.

I really can’t go on about Quinoa enough. It’s so versatile and takes on the flavours of any liquid you cook it in. This recipe is no exception. Most of the dishes in this book cook the quinoa in bouillon.

We eat a lot of roasted beetroot – so I was glad to see a few beetroot dishes in the Honestly Healthy book.

The dish contains beetroot, kale, broccoli tips, leeks, lemons and onion – and of course quinoa.

Kale is amazingly dark and is apparently also a superfood – so I guess I’ll always be substituting it for greens or cabbage in future dishes. There’s a whole array of nutrients in kale – but I won’t bore you with that.

It’s supposed to have some bee pollen on it – but mine has mysteriously gone missing from my Amazon delivery – so it ended up being a vegan dish. It was also supposed to have mint but we seemed to have run out.

When you eat it there are an explosion of flavours and textures in your mouth. The kale and the broccoli is still crunchy, the beetroots are rich and there is a lovely citrus lemon running through it too. It also has a vinegary sour taste that comes from the mirin and the brown rice vinegar. It all comes together beautifully.

This dish is a definite keeper. I’ll be making this regularly. It keeps well too – I had some leftovers today (cold) and it was still as yummy as last night – although the kale and broccoli had gone a bit soft. You could probably keep the dressing separate to the dry ingredients and throw them together at the last minute if you want it for work lunch the next day.