When I made this salad for lunch this week my expectations were quite low. I used up some veggies I had laying around the fridge and thought I would have an alright lunch, but nothing more.
Although this salad is so simple and easy, it turned out really satisfying. I was actually quite surprised! Never underestimate the power of simple ingredients.
Warm salad of bulgur wheat, courgette, spinach and feta, serves 2
400 ml bulgur wheat, cooked according to the instructions of the packet
olive oil and butter for frying
200 g fresh baby spinach
150 g feta
1/2 lemon, juice only
2 tbsp nice extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt, black pepper
Cut the courgette in half lenghtways and slice it. Fry in oil and butter until soft and golden brown. Remove from pan. Add the spinach to the pan and stir until it wilts. Squeeze it to remove excess liquid and place with the courgette.
Heat up the bulgur if needed and mix in the vegetables, lemon juice and olive oil. Add the crumbled feta and season.
One reason I love living in London is of course the restaurant scene. It is ever changing and evolving and I love (and hate!) the fact that I can’t keep up. Eating out inspires me a lot as a home cook but it is not always the most impressive and technically difficult dishes that appeal the most.
Since I had a similar version of this squid dish at Terroirs in October I have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to cook it since. So when Laura, another squid lover, came for dinner the other week I knew exactly what to cook.
The Terroirs original has chickpeas instead of my cannellini beans but other than that I think I hit quite close to home. My homecooked dish was just as satisfying and although this is a straight-forward recipe with simple ingredients the combination is just utterly wonderful. (Chorizo is a bit like bacon – whatever you add it to tastes wonderful.) All it requires is some crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.
Squid with chorizo, cannellini beans, spinach and aioli, serves 4
400 g squid, sliced into rings
150 g chorizo, sliced
1 tin (400g) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
250 g fresh spinach
oil for frying
1/2 lemon, the juice
salt, black pepper
aioli (see below)
Fry the chorizo in the oil. Remove from the pan but keep the oil to flash-fry the squid. A few minutes is all you need. Put the chorizo back in the pan and add the beans. Wilt the spinach in a separate pan and add it to the big pan too. Squeeze with lemon juice, season and serve!
Aioli, serves 4
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
150 ml vegetable oil
1/2 lemon, the juice
salt, white pepper
1 garlic clove, pressed
Place the yolk in a mixing bowl and start whisking. Add the oil drop by drop and gradually in a thin beam. Once the mayonnaise has thickened, add the lemon juice to loosen it. Then start whisking again and incorporate the remaining oil. Add more lemon for flavour as well as salt, pepper and garlic.
At this time of year all I want to eat is comfort food. And by comfort food I mean anything with melted cheese or copious amounts of cream. Lovely to eat, but not necessarily healthy. Luckily there are some dishes without cream and cheese that still hit the spot, and this is definitely one out of that category.
Imagine cubes of aubergine crispy on the outside but moist and full of absorbed olive oil within, paired with garlic, wilted spinach and rice noodles. All embraced by a light sauce of lime juice, fish sauce and sesame oil. Yu-um!
Rice noodles with aubergine and spinach, serves 2
a lot of olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 handfuls spinach
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 lime, zest and juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
2-3 tsp sesame oil
90-100 g vermicelli rice noodles
Bring some water to the boil. Put the noodles in a bowl and cover with the just boiled water, Peel and dice the aubergine. Wilt the spinach in olive oil. Remove to a bowl while frying the aubergine dices on high heat and in a lot of oil in the same pan.
Once the aubergine pieces have got some colour, add the spinach to the pan, press in the garlic and and add the lime zest and juice, sesame oil and cayenne pepper. Let it sizzle for a few minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Drain the noodles and add them to the pan. Toss and serve.
I thrive on inspiration from other blogs. Isn’t it great what the internet can provide us with?
Last week I found this recipe on a Swedish food blog I follow; Kryddburken [The Spice Jar] – a wonderful pasta recipe with a fabulous sauce made with spinach, peanuts, lemon, garlic and parmesan. It was utterly simple and tasted lovely. I think this will stick to my weekday repertoire.
I adapted the recipe a little (omitted pine nuts and halved it). You find my version below.
Pasta with spinach and peanut sauce, serves 2
Adapted from this recipe.
200 g pasta of your choice
100 g spinach, roughly chopped
50 g salted peanuts
200 ml half and half (half cream, half milk)
1/2 lemon, the juice
75 ml grated parmesan
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp chilli sauce
butter and oil for frying
salt and black pepper
Cook the pasta accordingly. Chop the nuts with a knife or in a food processor. Add the butter and oil to a frying pan on high heat. Add the spinach and nuts. Cook until the spinach has wilted and the water has dried away. Add the half and half, garlic and lemon juice and let the sauce thicken while stirring. Season.
Remove from the heat after about 5 minutes and stir in the parmesan. Serve with the pasta.
Lasagne is a great dish to make if you’re feeding a large number of people, but it can as easily be reduced to just one portion.
One evening last week I found myself with an open packet of fresh lasagne sheets and a bowl of left-over homemade tomato sauce, and of course I thought it would be a good idea to make a lasagne.
The way I make it, without a cheesy bechamel, is a quick and truly delicious approach, and the best way if you’re making a smaller lasagne.
Spinach and aubergine lasagne, serves 1
1 small aubergine
150 g fresh spinach
3 fresh lasagne sheets
100 ml tomato sauce (homemade if possible)
150 ml creme fraiche
100 ml grädde
1 handful grated cheese
olive oil and a knob of butter for frying
Wash the aubergine and cut it into slices lengthways. Fry these until soft in olive oil on high heat. Put aside. Add the knob of butter to the same pan on medium heat. Add the spinach and stir as it wilts. Add salt and white pepper and drain away the excess water from the spinach. Mix creme fraiche and cream in a bowl. Add salt and pepper.
Spread some tomato sauce in the bottom of a small ovenproof dish (10 x 10 cm approx), cut the lasagne sheet to fit and place it on top of the tomato sauce. Add another layer of tomato sayce, then a layer of aubergine followed by the spinach and then finally the cream mixture and grated cheese. Start again with another lasagne sheet and repeat until the dish is full. Top with a some cream mixture and grated cheese. Place in a 200 C oven for about 30 minutes. Leave to set for a few minutes before serving.