Recipe: Warm Butternut Squash, Pitta Chip and Halloumi Salad

Isn’t it crazy how quickly time flies, even in a pandemic?! We’ve been in lockdown for two months now (two dark and grey winter months I might add), but time has still flown by. I don’t understand how, but it has both positive and negative aspects. Positive in the way that time is moving on and therefore this too shall pass. But negative in the way that it feels like we’ve all lost a whole year of our lives. So many things have been put on hold and there is no certainly when we will see our loved ones again…

But I digress. The reason I brought up the time aspect is that as time moves on, so does the seasons. And I really must tell you about this wonderful winter salad recipe before winter is well and truly over. The recipe is courtesy of Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen (one of my favourite food blogs that I have followed for years) and it’s basically a way for her to trick her children into eating vegetables for dinner. But, it works just as well on vegetable adverse adults!

We both loved it and the leftovers re-heat really well! It’s definitely the pitta and halloumi that makes it so delicious but the red onion play a big part too, so don’t miss those out!

Warm butternut squash, pitta chip and halloumi salad, serves 4

Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe (I substituted cabbage for kale).

5 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Aleppo pepper

1 red onion, cut into wedges

1 butternut squash, halved seeds removed and sliced 1,5 cm thick

1-2 white pitta breads, cut into triangular pieces

1 packet halloumi, sliced

4 stems of kale, leaves only

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)

1 1/2 tsp sumac

mint sprigs for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 220°C. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tbsp oil. Mix garlic, salt, Aleppo pepper and 3 tbsp oil in a large bowl. Add onion and squash and toss to coat. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet and roast until squash is browned underneath, approx 30 minutes.

Toss pitta, halloumi and kale and remaining 1 tbsp oil in a bowl. Scatter over the squash and onions, then turn vegetables over with a large spatula. Roast until squash is fork-tender and onion, pitta, and Halloumi are browned in spots, 10-15minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with vinegar (or lemon juice). Top with sumac and mint.

Recipe: Green Tahini Yoghurt + Veggie Rice Bowl

As this third UK lockdown coincides with the beginning of a new year, I’ve been trying to cook a bit differently during the weeks. More vegetables (I have subscribed to a vegetable box), less meat and a bit healthier. But also more variety; trying new dishes and recipes.

One of my latest discoveries is this green tahini yoghurt, which goes with absolutely anything! I initially made it for our veggie rice bowls but I’ve also used it with fritters and lots of different leftovers.

It’s the perfect healthy sauce and dressing option to keep in your fridge! It’s fresh and herby, but has depth and a bit of a kick from the garlic. I just love it!

Our veggie bowls were nice too, but really just a clear out of the vegetable drawer so I won’t give you a recipe. But I can give you a formula for what I think a good veggie rice bowl should contain to make it interesting and delicious!

Green tahini yoghurt, one batch

1 150 ml pot Greek yoghurt (not fat free)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

1-2 tbsp water

2-3 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp tahini

1 small bunch of coriander, stems included

plenty of salt and a bit of pepper

Mix all the ingredients together using a stick blender or a food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Veggie rice bowl formula

1 portion rice per person

at least five types of vegetables, some fresh, some roasted and some pickled (think different textures but flavours that go together)

season well

add some lemon or lime juice

serve with a sauce or dressing

garnish with something interesting like crispy fried onions, fresh herbs, seeds, nuts etc

Recipe: the best side salad!

I don’t say this lightly, but this is, in my opinion, the best side salad. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s got crunch, it’s creamy and tangy and covered with grated parmesan.

So far I’ve paired it with lasagne and shrimp rolls with skin-on oven fries; two dishes that I love but I felt some kind of freshness was needed and this is the only salad that has really worked so now it’s forever in my repertoire.

It’s quite simple really, just crunchy little gem lettuce leaves (you don’t even need to cut or shred them) slathered in a homemade ranch-ish dressing with herbs and covered in a scattering of grated parmesan and some more herbs to make it look a bit more exciting. That’s it! It will only take you mere minutes to make but it will complement so many dishes.

Creamy side salad with parmesan, serves 2

1 little gem lettuce, rinsed and patted dry

4 tbsp soured cream

1,5 tbsp mayonnaise

1/2 tsp dijon or English mustard

3 drops of tabasco

1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

1 small bunch of chives, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Topping:

approx 3 tbsp finely grated parmesan

some finely chopped chives

Cut the bottom off the lettuce and place the leaves whole in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine soured cream and mayonnaise. Add dijon, tabasco and herbs. Season to taste. Mix the lettuce with the dressing until every lettuce leaf has a thin coating of dressing. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Scatter with finely grated parmesan and some more chives.

Recipe: Roasted Cherry Tomato Caprese

As the tomato season is almost here (hurrah!) this post might be slightly redundant, but the tomato season is short and if you can’t get hold of really good tomatoes just yet, then this is a great way to get them to taste more.

I would make this dish with really good tomatoes too though, especially on a colder overcast summer’s day when all you need is something summery and warming.

Although you let the tomatoes cool a little after they’ve been roasted to sweet perfection in the oven I like them to be warm enough to make the mozzarella melt a little, so you can scoop it all up on some crusty bread.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Caprese, serves 2

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

approx 200 g cherry tomatoes

2 sprigs thyme

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

125 g good quality buffalo mozzarella, at room temperature, torn into large pieces

crusty bread

Preheat oven to 180C. Toss tomatoes, garlic, thyme and oil in a rimmed oven-proof dish and season with a little salt. Spread out in a single layer and roast until tomatoes are bursting and lightly browned, 40-45 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Arrange mozzarella on a platter and spoon warm tomato mixture with juices over. Sprinkle with salt and peppar. Drizzle with more oil if needed. Serve with crusty (preferably still warm) bread.

Recipe: caprese salad with burrata

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If you follow me, you know I have one strong obsession at the moment – burrata! I think it’s partly because it’s tomato season and burrata go so well with tomatoes. The creaminess of the cheese is the perfect contrast to the sweet and slightly acidic tomatoes.

One of the best – and easiest – ways to combine the two is in a simple caprese salad. All you need is four ingredients (good quality tomatoes, burrata, basil and a decent olive) and salt and pepper.

It’s perfect for lunch with some bread, as a casual al fresco starter with rosé or as part of a buffet or on little skewers as a canapé. The possibilities are endless.

Caprese salad with burrata, serves 2

2 large tomatoes, sliced (or the corresponding amount of cherry tomatoes, halved), at room temperature

1 small burrata, at room temperature

approx 10 basil leaves

2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

Divide the tomato slices between two plates. Tear the burrata into pieces and divide between the plates. Scatter with basil (I like to keep the leaves whole). Season. Drizzle generously with olive oil and serve straight away, maybe with some nice crusty bread. 

 

Recipe: burrata and prosciutto salad

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This favourite salad of mine doesn’t really require a recipe, but I wrote it down anyway, mainly as a reminder to myself. It’s the combination of some green leaves, fresh juicy tomatoes, salty ham and creamy burrata that makes it work, but you can add anything you like to this. I think it would be nice to add some olives and/or sunblush tomatoes, maybe some artichoke hearts, but it’s nice as it is. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Burrata salad with prosciutto, serves 2

1 small good quality burrata

4-6 slices prosciutto

150 g rocket 

approx 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

nice olive oil

balsamic vinegar

crema di balsamico

Divide the rocket and cherry tomatoes on two plates. Place a few slices of ham in the middle of each plate. Cut the burrata in two and place half on each plate on top of the ham. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar all over, paying extra attention to the burrata. To finish, season and drizzle with crema di balsamico. Serve with some nice bread. 

Recipe: lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo

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These little wraps are seriously delicious in an effortless sort of way. Perfect for a post-beach supper with a cold beer or a glass of rosé, or as a light lunch on the terrace. The point is that’s it’s low effort to make but full enjoyment to eat. And almost healthy.

If you want to make them actually healthy I’m sure brown rice or wild rice would work too, but lets be honest; it won’t taste as nice.

But they could easily be converted into a lovely starter by just omitting the rice. You see, the possibilities are endless.

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Lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 portions long-grain rice

300 g raw large prawns

1 tsp Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes

1 lime wedge, the juice only

salt, white pepper

1 -2 little gem lettuce

10 cm cucumber, peel off most of the green peel and cut into small cubes

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into small wedges

2 spring onion, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into small cubes

Spicy mayonnaise:

100 ml Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or homemade) 

2-3 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli sauce)

a few splashes red Tabasco for added heat

a small pinch of salt

To serve:

chopped coriander

1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet. Leave to cool a little. Mix the mayo. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Wash and cut the remaining vegetables. 

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the prawns and fry until pink. Add Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime. Cut the prawns into smaller pieces. 

Fill the lettuce leaves with rice, mayo, prawn pieces and vegetables (in that order, the mayo works as a glue to hold the toppings in place), add some chopped coriander and finish with a squeeze of lime. Serve with plenty of napkins as they’re best eaten using your hands! 

 

Recipe: asparagus with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon

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Easter was all about about asparagus (and wild garlic) for me. The first asparagus of the season had arrived in the UK before I left for Sweden so I brought two nice bunches home with me. And then we found some lovely Italian asparagus in the supermarket so obviously had to buy that too!

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The first time we kept it simple and ate them with homemade hollandaise sauce. The second and third lots were served with wild garlic mayonnaise (it’s SO good!) and on Holy Saturday we made this dish with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon.

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Asparagus with chopped egg, browned butter and lemon, serves 4

12 asparagus 

2 almost hard boiled eggs, chopped 

50 g butter

1/2 lemon

2 tbsp chopped chives 

4 radishes, thinly sliced

salt, black pepper

Place the butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Let the butter melt but leave it until it’s foamy. Remove from heat when it’s a nice medium brown underneath the foam and it smells nutty (and divine!). 

Cook the asparagus in boiling water until al dente (approx 3 mins). Drain and place the asparagus on a plate. Season. Add the chopped egg and spoon over the browned butter. Add plenty of lemon juice. Season again and top with chopped chives and sliced radishes. 

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.