Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies

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Recently I’ve been ordering Abel & Cole’s vegetable boxes on a regular basis, and although I love the fresh organic produce, sometimes I find myself wondering what to cook with certain vegetables.

Sure, I have a few butternut squash recipes up my sleeve, but sometimes you just want to try something new, without knowing what that something new would be… That’s when I’m grateful for my (rather large) cookbook collection. I love to grab a pile of cookbooks and search through them looking for that something I didn’t know I was looking for. This last time it was this wonderful recipe by Sabrina Ghayour from Persiana that caught my eye and I absolutely love it.

I had half of it for dinner the same night and the rest for lunch at work the day after (and received lots of envious looks from my colleagues), but it would work just as well as a starter or a side dish.

Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies, serves 4 as a side dish

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe in Persiana.

1 large butternut squash

3 tbsp za’atar

3 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

Yoghurt sauce:

200 g Greek yoghurt 

a bunch of mint, finely chopped (I didn’t have any mint at home and therefore omitted it)

2 tsp sumac

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tbsp olive oil

zest and juice from 1 lemon

black pepper

To serve:

1 bunch parsley

Pickled red chillies (I couldn’t find any and so brought fresh one, sliced them and covered them in lime juice for approx 20 minutes, then chopped into smaller pieces) 

nigella seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 240C. Line a baking sheet with nonstick baking paper.

Cut the squash horizontally in half at the point of the bulge. Now halve each portion vertically. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard, then halve each piece vertically again until you have 8 pieces. Peel the squash and cut the pieces into any shape you wish. 

Make a paste with the za’atar and olive oil in a small bowl and rub the squash pieces all over with paste until every piece is well coated. Place all the pieces on to the prepared baking sheet. Season with sea salt, then roast for about 40-45 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces of squash), or until the edges start to brown and almost char a little. 

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the yoghurt with the fresh mint, sumac, coriander, olive oil, lemon zest and juice and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together well, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  

Remove the squash pieces from the oven and place them on a serving platter. Liberally dollop or pour the yoghurt over the wedges, then sprinkle with the parsley. Follow this with a scant scattering of nigella seeds. Lastly scatter over the pickled chillies.  

Delia’s potato salad with vinaigrette

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This simple, yet quite sophisticated potato salad is one of Delia’s creations, and as I trust her ability I didn’t actually test this recipe before I made it for a dinner party; I just knew it would be nice. And of course it was. One can always trust Delia.

The only change I made was to cut down a bit on the shallots, as chopping onions really makes me cry. I think I gave up after having chopped eight shallots for double the amount of potatoes below.

Potato salad with vinaigrette, serves 8

Adapted from Delia Smith’s recipe.

900 g washed new potatoes

6 shallots, finely chopped

4 tbsp finely chopped (ot cut with scissors) chives

salt

Vinaigrette:

1 dessertspoon sea salt 

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 dessertspoon mustard powder

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

150 ml olive oil

black pepper

Steam or boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, for approx 20 minutes. Leave to cool a little and cut into smaller pieces if needed. 

Meanwhile make the vinaigrette using a pestle and mortar: crush the salt coarsely, then add the garlic. Crush it, mixing it with the salt, creating a purée. Add the mustard powder and really work it in, after that add some black pepper. 

Then add the vinegars and really work them in. Then add the oil, but switch to a small whisk and give everything a really good whisking. 

Stir in the vinagrette while the potatoes are still warm and add the shallots. Add the chives just before serving. Can be served still warm or cold.

Post-holiday Cobb salad with ranch dressing

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Hello dear readers, are you still there?

Sorry about my unplanned break; before the summer I just didn’t have time to update the blog, and then I was away for three weeks and have now been back in London for two weeks. I feel more rested and obviously have lots to tell you about, but I will start easy and share a yummy salad recipe and the best dressing recipe ever with you.

After having seen Cobb salads on almost every single  menu when I was in America, but never felt like it would satisfy my hunger after walking around all day, I couldn’t wait to make it when I got back to Blighty.  It’s a perfect salad to go for if you want something substantial; not just a few lettuce leaves. Make sure you enjoy it while the Indian summer is still here.

 

Cobb salad, serves 2

2 little gem, sliced

10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 avocado, cut into pieces

2 tbsp blue cheese of your choice (jag chose my favourite – Saint Agur)

2 chicken thigh fillets

4 slices streaky bacon

2 eggs

Trim the chicken thigh fillets, brown in butter in a frying pan, add salt and pepper and cook in the oven (15-20 minutes). Fry the bacon until crisp and drain on kitchen towel. Cook the eggs how you like them. Hardboiled are best for salads but I personally prefer a looser yolk (6-7 minutes). 

Slice the chicken, bacon and cube the (cool) eggs. 

Divide the salad between two plates or bowls. Add the toppings (it doesn’t have to be in neat rows but I quite like that). Serve with the dressing of your choice. Maybe ranch dressing? Recipe below. 

Ranch dressing, serves 6

Adapted from The Huffington Post recipe.

120 – 180 ml (1/2 – 3/4 cup) buttermilk

2-3 tbsp sour cream

1-2 tbsp mayonnaise (Hellman’s)

1 tsp finely chopped herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley and chives)

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

a few dashes Tabasco

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Or add all the ingredients to a jar and shake until smooth. 

New potato salad with girolles and bacon

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This wonderful potato salad is an old favourite. I saw a Swedish chef make it on TV many years ago and then made it myself a few times in Sweden and loved it. But moving to London girolles were no longer a staple mushroom in the supermarket so I forgot all about this dish until this summer when I cooked it for my parents. Luckily it was just as nice as I remembered it!

New potato salad with girolles and bacon, serves 4

Adapted from Gert Klötzke’s recipe.

10-12 baby new potatoes, cooked

1 packet rocket

1 litre girolles, cleaned

4 slices smoked bacon (at least)

1 chopped onion 

2 garlic cloves, chopped 

50 g thinly sliced cheddar 

butter for frying

salt, pepper

50 ml mustard vinaigrette (mix 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp olive oil)

Dice the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Fry the bacon until crisp, dice and mix with the potato. Fry the onion and garlic in butter until softened, add the mushrooms and fry until golden. Season. Add the mushroom to the bowl and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Mix well and lastly add the rocket and cheese. Mix again and serve. 

Avocado and cucumber salad

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I was lucky enough to have two weeks of fairly decent summer when I was in Sweden in August. So I seized the opportunity to cook as many summery dishes I could think of. This delicious salad is cool and soothing – perfect with a BBQ after a day at the beach. But just as nice now in the beginning of autumn when we can’t quite let go of summer just yet.

Recipe courtesy of one of my favourite food blogs; Smitten Kitchen.

 

Avocado and cucumber salad, serves 4

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.

1/2 cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks

1-2 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 large avocado, pitted and diced

2 tbsp mayonnaise (homemade or Hellman’s)

1/2 lime, juice only

hot sauce (I used Tabasco)

salt

chopped coriander or parsley to garnish

Combine cucumber, spring onions and avocado in a bowl. Whisk together mayo, lime and seasonings, adjusting to taste. Drizzle (or in my case, mix) salad with dressing and garnish with herbs. 

 

New potato salad with asparagus and wild garlic pesto

IMG_1431It’s not peak season for wild garlic anymore (sob) but I have been slightly too busy lately to be able to post on the blog regularly. I’m hoping to redeem myself with this delicious (and super easy) recipe and higher posting frequency going forward.

If you don’t happen to stumble on some fresh wild garlic in an usually shady part of the woods you can use blanched frozen wild garlic too, or bookmark the recipe for next year.

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New potato salad with grilled asparagus and wild garlic pesto, serves 4

450 g new potatoes

200 g asparagus

1 batch wild garlic pesto

salt, black pepper

Make the pesto. Boil the new potatoes in salted water. Drain and leave while you fry the asparagus on a griddle pan until semi-soft. Cut each stalk into 3-4 pieces and cut the potatoes into chunks. Toss with pesto in a bowl and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve with various barbecued meats or this lovely pork fillet.  

The best couscous salad

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This couscous salad is divine. I know, the recipe sounds too simple to create a divine dish but trust me, and my friend Gaby, when we say it is delicious.

I whipped this up one night when I was tired, hot and bothered and had no energy to cook and it turned out great. I just served it with some fried halloumi and a glass of white wine and it turned out to the an amazing supper.

Couscous salad with chilli and mint, serves 2

2 portions coucous

olive oil

1/2 lemon

1 tomato

3 spring onions 

1/2 red chilli

a handful mint

sea salt

Cook the couscous according to the packet, but add some stock to the water. Takes max 5 mins. Meanwhile chop/slice the chilli, tomato, spring onion and mint.

Use a fork to puff up the couscous and add some olive oil. Heat up some more oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chilli for a minute or two without browning. Mix the chilli and hot oil into the couscous and add the tomato and spring onions. Add some lemon juice and salt. Adjust the seasoning and add the mint. Serve with fried halloumi, barbecues chicken or what else you fancy.