Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Halloumi/Chicken couscous warm salad

A char-grilled red pepper adds a light smokey flavour to this dish, which works well with the garlic in the spinach and the tangy lemon wedges.

4 tomatoes, cut into eighths
2 handfuls of spinach
1 red pepper
1 small clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
200g couscous
Olive oil
Few leaves of basil, torn
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Sea salt and black pepper

Vegetarian:1/2 pack halloumi, sliced
Meat-eater: 1 chicken breast

Place the red pepper directly onto a flame for 20mins, turning every 5mins until the red pepper is almost completely black. (alternatively grill it until a similar effect takes place). Put the char-grilled pepper in an air-tight plastic bag leaving the skin to steam. Remove after 10mins and delicately scrape off the char-grilled skin, leaving you with a soft flesh. Slice the pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and season before setting aside.

Meanwhile marinate the tomatoes in a bowl with olive oil, basil and plenty of salt and pepper.

V: Fry the halloumi in a non-stick frying pan for a few minutes on each side until it browns.
M: Place a square of clingfilm over the top of the chicken and bash a few times until it's about 1inch thick. Remove the clingfilm, season the chicken, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry for about 3 minutes on each side. Cut into slices before serving.

To cook the spinach, place the garlic in a glug of olive oil while it's still cold (I find this stops it from burning). Fry the garlic lightly over a medium heat, stir in the spinach and cook for a few minutes.

When you are ready to assemble the salad, first place the couscous in a large bowl, gently pour over boiling water until it just covers the couscous, drizzle with olive oil and season. Give the bowl a gentle shake to ensure the water is evenly distributed and cover with a lid for 5mins. Use a fork to fluff the couscous before serving.

To serve the salad, distribute the couscous between two bowls, layer the tomatoes, peppers, spinach and your V or M option along with a wedge of lemon.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Tasty Tomato Breakfast

This is a really tasty breakfast. As the tomatoes reduce, the flavour becomes more intense. I usually give the vegetarian an extra egg so I can enjoy a few slices of crispy bacon without feeling too greedy.

Serves: 2

4 large tomatoes
2 spring onions, chopped
1/2 tsp brown sugar
knob of butter
sea salt and black pepper
2 free range eggs
4 slices Multigrain bread, toasted

V: 1 extra egg
M: 2 slices back bacon

For the sauce, using a knife score an X on the bottom of each tomato and place in a pan of boiled water for 2mins (this makes it easy to remove the skin). Skin the tomatoes, remove the core and chop finely.

Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the spring onions, sugar and seasoning. Cook on a medium high heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until the sauce reduces right down.

For the poached eggs, bring salted water to the boil in a small pan, then reduce to a simmer.
Using a spoon stir the water into a whirlpool and gently crack one egg into the centre from a low angle.
Cook for 2/3 minutes. Use a draining spoon to test the egg is firm but still soft before serving. Repeat for all eggs.

To serve, place the reduced tomato sauce on the toast with a poached egg on top. Delicious.

M: Fry the bacon on a medium heat, turning occassionally, until it's nice and crispy.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Spicy chickpea soup

This is my favorite soup, especially when I think I'm getting ill. It's full of vitamins and the chili gives a spicy kick.

Serves: 4

Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 can (400g) chopped plum tomatoes
1 can (400g) chick peas, washed and drained
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1 pint vegetable stock
1 red chili, deseeded and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful coriander, chopped

F: Handful pre-cooked prawns

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and celery and fry gently for about 8 minutes or until soft, stirring often. Add the garlic and chili and fry for a few more minutes before stirring in the cumin.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and stock and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, adding the broccoli for a further 4 minutes.

F: Divide the soup. Add a handful of prawns to the non-vegetarian portion/s, heat for 2 minutes.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste. Add a sprinkle of fresh coriander to each bowl.

Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Warming Winter Soup

A quick and easy soup to warm you through on a winter's day.

Serves: 4

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cans (800g) chopped plum tomatoes
1 can (400g) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Handful chopped corriander
2 pints vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sweet paprika
Salt and pepper

M: 3 rashes streaky bacon, chopped

Optional: 1tbsp plain flour, 1tbsp butter

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, pepper and celery and cook over a low heat for 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, cook for a few more minutes and mix in the paprika until it evenly covers the mixture.

Increase the heat, stirring in the tomatoes and stock. Add the tomato puree and sugar and bring the mixture to the boil before turning down to a simmer for 10 minutes.

The soup might need thickening and a little trick my mum taught me was to mix a tbsp of butter and flour into a paste, adding a little at a time to the soup and making sure each bit dissolves before adding
the next.

M: Meanwhile, heat a tiny bit of olive oil in a small frying pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until crispy.

Add the cannellini beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season, sprinkle with parsley (and bacon) and serve immediately with crusty bread.