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!

Parsley and Barley Salad

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Cooking seems to have been put on the back-burner (pardon the pun) this week. We’ve just been so busy that eating seems to be the least of our worries. After this week things should settle down and I can get back to cooking properly again.

This very very simple salad is pretty much all I could manage on Friday after I had picked my daughter up from her ballet class, a mere 100 miles away from where I live! Another late dinner – it was definitely past 9pm by the time we ate this. Which isn’t good for you I know. Still it was quick and easy – you can make it in less than 30 minutes – easily!

This is another Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from Jerusalem. I seem to have messed up somewhere and not reviewed his book. I’ll do that soon – as there is so much in that book I want to make. I just don’t seem to be focused on much more than getting our boat relocated to Brentford this week – so my head is in the clouds.

All you do with this recipe is boil then simmer some pearl barley – and not much either – and while it is getting ‘al dente’ chop some parsley, green pepper and spring onion. You also toast some nuts (I overdid mine quite a bit – but it didn’t seem to matter).

Once the pearl barley is to your liking you drain it and let it cool – and then mix with all the other ingredients, some lemon juice, oil and then crumble in some feta.

This dish is so fresh and really delicious. And it keeps pretty well too.

I’ve made this before – as has Freya – and we both keep coming back to it – so it must be good.

It’s a shame the parsley from Natoora was so leggy. Much like the recent batch of spinach from them, the parsley was all stalks and little parsley – and the parsley itself was very papery. I wasn’t overly pleased – which is a shame because usually Natoora are my go-to vegetable and fruit supplier at Ocado.

Dates and Turkish Ewe’s Cheese

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After three days of eating bread and cheese (our go to lazy eating solution when we are at the boat) we got back to work and made this for lunch.

Another Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from the book Plenty. This very simple salad is both very quick to make and incredibly tasty. I think it looks pretty awesome too.

I can’t imagine many people will find Ewe’s Mozzarella in their local supermarket. Ottolenghi himself goes to a cheese specialist not far from his restaurant in London. I used a good quality Buffalo Mozzarella as I didn’t have the time.

Ottolenghi does this a lot. A green thing, a nut thing, a fruit thing and a cheese thing – with a dressing. And I have to say it seems to work everytime (except with Verjus !).

This one is rocket, mozzarella, almonds and Medjool dates. The dressing is olive oil and pomegranate molasses. There’s some basil and dill in there too.

I love this – very fresh – very summery – looks beautiful – and got me back in the mood for cooking again.

Lovely.

Thai Corn and Mango Salad with Pomegranate Relish

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Tuesday nights are Rock’n’Roll dancing nights. Our usual pack drill is we just go dancing straight from work and skip dinner – and this was the plan yesterday. Instead we left work earlier than usual and went home. We didn’t have time to make any dinner so going home was essentially a waste of time.

That said – I did have to pay Freya’s mum for my new knife (well ‘cleaver’) that she picked up for me from Grand Designs at the weekend. The new ‘cleaver’ is a Hammer Stahl 7 inch Asian Cleaver. It’s beautifully weighted and looks stunning. I’ve been a hardcore advocate of Global knives for years. My friend Brad got me on to them some time ago and I didn’t think I’d ever stray – but the Hammer Stahl is very well balanced. And it was a bargain too at £85. Amazing how cheap you can pick up stuff at these shows. Hopefully I can pick up some more if Flint and Flame are at the Stonor Food Fayre this year.

I used the Asian Cleaver to julienne the mango and the spring onions in the final dish I’m making from Honestly Healthy for Life. It is very sharp – and a pleasure to use.

Anyway! enough of the knife idolising.

We got home from dancing at 11pm and Freya was hungry so I decided to make this last dish. It can be done in less than 30 minutes and we needed to wind down so I put it together and we ate it before going to bed. It’s pretty much carb free so I don’t think it’ll affect the waistline.

You simply boil some corn on the cob, then slice it into 2cm slices and sear it in oil on a hot plate. While you’re waiting you mix together some rocket, pomegranate seeds, mango, spring onions, bamboo shoots (which I omitted because mine weren’t fresh enough) and toss in a dressing of sunflower oil, lime juice, garlic, ginger and pomegranate molasses.

Very simple, very quick, very yummy.

I adapted this dish a little for work the next day and added julienned cucumber and some leftover spinach – and a few shavings of parmesan. It wasn’t quite as colourful – lacking the pomegranate seeds – but it was still an eye turner.

I’m still not the master of stripping down a mango. There has to be a better way than my clumsy way. Any suggestions?

 

Citrus Seaweed Salad

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My penultimate dish from the shortlisted selection from Honestly Healthy for Life is this interestingly different dish.

Another incredibly basic dish that just requires a bit of preparation.

Segment a grapefruit and an orange, dice some cucumber, and toss together with Wakame seaweed, sesame seeds and an Asian dressing.

I bought my Wakame seaweed from souschef.co.uk but  I think you can get it in most Chinese Supermarkets and I’ve since found it on Amazon.

Wakame supposedly has a fat burning protein, although I’m not sure how much of it you’d have to eat – and how regularly – before it made any difference to your waistline!

Wakame is usually bought dry and you rehydrate it by soaking it in water for 20 minutes or so. It’s very tasty and it smells lovely too.

I kept picking at this dish all day while I was working away on the boat yesterday. Freya wasn’t as keen as I think the Asian dressing was a bit too spicy.

It’s always tricky when someone says ‘one teaspoon of red chilli’. What do they mean. Dried chilli? Chilli flakes? Fresh Chilli? And then which chilli? Mild, hot, extra hot? It’s tricky to get chilli right in a dish other than to suck it and see – modify and try again. For me it was perfect but I’m a chilli head and will eat insanely hot chilli. Freya isn’t really one for anything other than a mild one.

If we make this again I’ll tone down the chilli. It was tasty enough without it.

 

Puy Lentil, Brown Rice and Sweet Potato Salad

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I think I’ve just made the best thing I’ve ever eaten – and apparently it’s incredibly good for you too.

This recipe comes from ‘Honestly Healthy for Life’ by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson. This was my birthday present from Freya (the book not the meal) – and I’m really chuffed with it. 

There are so many textures and flavours going on in this recipe. Brown rice and puy lentils, sweet potatoes, edamame beans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, spring onions and dill – hmm its just so yummy – and I know I’ll make this regularly. If I had a top 5 this would be in it.

The pumpkin seeds are especially interesting as they are roasted with tamari (soy sauce) and they end up with a lovely intense flavour that really contrasts with everything else.

There is also a dressing of sunflower oil, parsley, lemon and salt which keeps it all nice and moist and gives a nice citrus tang. The dill also really features well.

You really have to make this dish – we had it warm – but only because time was getting on and I was hungry and impatient for it to cool down. We only ate half so no doubt this will be lunch for tomorrow – and I can’t imagine it being any less awesome cold!

Beetroot, Sweet Potato and Carrot Salad

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I wish I could remember where I found this recipe. It was incredible easy apart from the bloodbath that is peeling and dicing beetroots.

Once they are diced, you boil them in very little water, and when they are half done you add the sweet potato. Once cooked, drain and allow to cool. Then you simply toss them together with some grated carrot, coriander and mint.

What I did love about this salad was the way the beetroot juice bled into the sweet potatoes; it gave them an interesting colouring.

When I remember where I found this recipe I’ll re-edit the post – just thought I’d put it out there!