Humous with zataar and sumac

healthy humous

Like its spelling, everyone has their own way of making humous, I like mine without loads of oil but rammed full of added spices so I can tuck in to mountains of it guilt free. This is a really simple recipe, I vary it slightly depending on what fresh spices I’ve acquired and if guests are about I usually add more olive oil and less water (it’s the chef in me I just can’t help it).

Humous with zataar and sumac

  • 1 tin cooked chickpeas, half drained
  • 2 teaspoons dried garlic granules (sweeter than using raw)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tahini
  • large pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch sea salt flakes
  • 1 tablespoon zataar
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • few tablespoons cold water
  • a sprinkle of zataar, sumac and a drizzle of olive oil to serve
  1. Combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic and spices in a food processor.
  2. Blitz and loosen with more water until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Scoop into a bowl, sprinkle with the extra zataar, sumac and olive oil and leave to sit if you can for an hour at room temperature to allow the flavours to develop.
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Superfood salad with cocoa nibs

superfood salad

Usually if anyone mentions the word “Quinoa” I’m immediately turned off a dish, it’s often made so badly that it resembles a soggy mush of squirly disappointment but if cooked well and combined with some peaky flavours it’s actually rather nutty and lovely and this salad proves just that.

Superfood salad with cocoa nibs

  • 2 handfuls raw quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon powdered veg stock
  • 1 small orange
  • 2 handfuls of frozen board beans, defrosted in water and drained
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
  • 3 tablespoons salad sprinkle mix (mixture of seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, linseed etc)
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 handful blanched almonds
  • 1 yellow chilli finely chopped
  • 1 handful of feta, crumbled
  • 1 handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions but add the stock to the water. Once cooked drain in a sieve and leave to cool completely, this will also help dry it out a bit.
  2. Slice the orange into rounds and sear on a very hot griddle, turning over a couple of times then slice each round into quarters.
  3. Combine everything in a bowl, you can drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over if you fancy it, leave for at least an hour at room temperature to allow all the flavours to mix.

Kickass parsley and fennel salad

parsley and fennel salad

I had a meeting in Leicester on Wednesday so took the opportunity to head to Radio Leicester and catch up with the wonderful Ben Jackson with whom I do the Food Friday cooking items. Ben had just been at the Chelsea Flower Show the previous day and was telling me about an amazing Lebanese meal he went for in Knightsbridge at a restaurant called Randa, he raved about a parsley dish that I knew I needed to go and experiment with.

I’ve been sprinkling this on everything: BBQ’d fish and meat, flat breads smothered in humous and my personal favourite is to dive into it using a piece of crispy smoked bacon as a spoon, yeah, all the ace.

Parsley and fennel salad

  • 1 large bunch flat leave parsley, chopped
  • 1 large handful fennel fronds, chopped
  • 1 red banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
  • zest 1 lemon, grated on a microplane
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 5 radishes very thinly sliced
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, cooked on a very hot griddle for a minute or two
  • pinch sea salt flakes
  • pinch freshly ground pepper
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • pea shoots, chervil and edible flowers to garnish

Just combine everything in a bowl, stir well and leave for at least 2 hours if you can at room temperature before serving then keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Pea and Bean Salad with Orange Blossom Dressing

pea and bean salad with orange blossom dressing

I always have a bag of frozen peas in the freezer for perking up pasta dishes, fried rice or alongside a bit of buttered fish but I also really love them raw in salads. I got into using french beans in salads last summer when I had a bit of a glut and made a gorgeous yellow courgette and french bean salad, sadly we are still a long way from any beans being ready to harvest in my patch yet but a bag of frozen ones has stepped up and has me feeling that Summer may not be too far away, hell even my mint has poked it’s way through the soil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
  • handful of rocket leaves
  • half a red onion, very thinly sliced
  • few mint leaves
  • handful finely grated celeriac
  • 1 mug full of peas (frozen ones defrosted in water and drained)
  • 1 mug of french beans (as above)
  • few petals of edible flowers, I used frilly pansies
  • 1 tablespoon salad sprinkle mix (I used Spiceway’s Salad Sprinkles)
  • 1 handful shelled pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon blue poppy seeds

For the dressing:

Method:

Simply combine the salad ingredients, whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad just before serving.

Fiery Celeriac Salad

fiery celeriac salad

The first sunny weekend in weeks has been glorious, clear skies and warmth on my face as I clear away the dried leaves from the garden has nudged my tastebuds into craving salads. Celeriac is still going strong in the garden and this quick salad makes a potent accompaniment to some hearty burgers, steak or cold cuts.

Ingredients:

  • half a celeriac, peeled and turned into matchstick size pieces (I use my V-slicer mandolin)
  • 1 tablespoon hot English mustard
  • 2 tablespoons nutty rapeseed oil (I use Cotswold Gold)
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon blue poppy seeds
  • 1 capful orange blossom extract
  • salt and pepper

Method:

Put the celeriac into a bowl. Mix together the remaining ingredients and add to the celeriac, combine well, leave to infuse of about 10 minutes.

 

Spring celebratory salad! Beetroot, pistachio, orange flower and yoghurt salad

beetroot, orange blossom, pistachio, greek yoghurt salad

Apologies for the crappy photos today but you get the general idea 🙂

Yes I know there are blustery snow flurries outside but my tiny veg and herb garden is creaking back to life and this morning was gloriously sunny so I threw together a little celebratory salad using the tender young leaves and flowers that have appeared.

What resulted is the most heavenly floral salad of colour, scent and flavour that is sure to pull the tastebuds into their Spring wardrobe and look to the longer days with great anticipation of what the garden is to bring throughout the year.

Ingredients:

  • handful of watercress
  • 2 cooked beetroot in vinegar (just the stuff from the supermarket that comes in a pack in the fridge) quartered
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, very finely chopped
  • greek yoghurt
  • young leaves and petals from the garden (carrot tops, fennel fronds, lemon balm, mint, dandelion, sorrel, chard, chives, celery, beetroot, pansy, primrose)
  • whole shelled pistachios
  • 1 capful orange blossom water
  • drizzle agave syrup

Method:

Pile the watercress, beetroot, leaves and onion on a plate. Dollop over some greek yoghurt, sprinkle over the orange flower water, drizzle the agave then scatter pistachios and petals over the top.

beetroot, orange blossom, pistachio, greek yoghurt salad-2

French Bean and Yellow Courgette Salad

Finally my courgettes and french beans are ready to be picked! This quick salad really shows them off in all their glory. The lovely Bridget has just made a fresh batch of her incredible raspberry vinegar and it is absolutely perfect in for this dish. If you don’t have a lovely Bridget who makes awesome raspberry vinegar then you should definitely try Womersley’s Raspberry Vinegar which you can buy online.

Ingredients:

  • French beans topped and tailed
  • yellow courgettes thinly sliced to the same shape and size as the beans
  • mint leaves
  • fennel fronds
  • white poppy seeds
  • onion flowers

For the dressing:

  • Halen Môn salt flakes
  • heaped tablespoon English mustard
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • glug of extra virgin olive oil
  • few grinds black pepper

Method:

Pop your french beans into a pan of boiling salted water for just 4 minutes then blanch in cold water and dry. Combine with your courgettes, herbs and poppy seeds. Put all your dressing ingredients into a jam jar and shake to mix then pour over your veg and mix well, sprinkle your onion flowers over the top.

Fiery Carrot and Beetroot Slaw

The beetroots that I planted this time last year are still providing me with plenty of leaves and veg but I need to make space for this year’s planting so I’m eating a lot of them at the moment*.  I also have a massive amount of carrots at the moment so this coleslaw was thrown together to tackle the bounty.  Beetroot has a really earthy flavour so it can take other strong ingredients being thrown at it so the dressing has a big kick.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large beetroot, peeled and V-Sliced into matchsticks
  • 6 carrots, prepared as above.
  • 1 finely sliced red onion
  • poppy seeds (blue and white)

Dressing:

  • 1 heaped tablespoon hot english mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Ikea Dill sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Make your dressing, pour it over the rest of the ingredients, mix and eat, simples.

*Eating beetroot can give you a bit of a fright when you go to the loo, your poo is purple! Don’t panic, it literally  scares the crap out of me every time!

Sexy Summer Fennel Salad

Bad salads are boring and depressing, great salads on the other hand make me feel happy and energised just by looking at them.  I feel that I absorb health just by being in the presence of a sexy salad, so actually eating it makes me feel positively saintly.  In fact it’s my duty to accompany such a virtuous dish with some seriously awesome sticky ribs and crispy chicken wings just to redress the cosmic balance (well, thats my excuse anyway).

I was passing my greengrocer’s when I spotted a big bulb of fennel perched plumply on top of a pile of celery, yeah, I wanted that bad boy and 70p later he was mine.  The fridge was raided and this salad thrown together.  The salad itself was fab but the star of the show was the dressing.  I had a bit of fiery honey and balsamic mustard left in the jar from my Good Fork delivery and a bit of Womersley Foods Lime Black Pepper and Lavender Vinegar left that was screaming out for a bit of fennel action.

Salad ingredients:

  • 1 fennel bulb and fennel fronds
  • 1 large apple
  • 8 radishes
  • 1 stick celery
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh ginger mint, chopped
  • poppy seeds

Dressing:

  • Mustard with honey and balsamic vinegar (needs to be a really hot mustard)
  • Womersley Lime, Black Pepper and Lavender vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • glug of lemon infused rapeseed oil
  • sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

My trusty V-Slicer mandolin comes into it’s own for dishes like this, it’s my favourite bit of kitchen kit and I picked it up from a car boot sale for £1 about 7 years ago.  Just finely slice and julienne all the salad ingredients. Put all your dressing ingredients together and mix well then coat your salad in the dressing.

Kick Ass Salad

Last November I headed off to The BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham where I was able to sample Womersley Food‘s infused vinegars.  I was photographing the show for Great Food Magazine so promised the lovely guys on the stand that I would be back to buy a bottle of their Golden Raspberry and Apache Chilli Vinegar once I was done.  Alas I got waylaid  *ahem*  at the Compass Box Whisky stand and ran out of time (lost all sense of direction).  Head honcho at Womersley is Rupert, he’s one of those lovely people on Twitter who always takes the time to chat to you and reply to your messages and well worth a follow if you use it.  Anyway, lovely Rupert very kindly sent me a bottle of the Golden Raspberry and Apache Chilli along with his Lime, Black Pepper and Lavender vinegars to play with.

Last night turned out to be a bit of a late one involving rather large amounts of wine and beer. Such indulgence combined with an early morning walk to the train station to pop an equally hungover mother-in-law on the train home had left me feeling somewhat fragile.  Normally at this point I reach for an emergency bacon sandwich but the sun was shining and I had my Womersley Vinegars to play with…perfect!

Creamy, salty feta and smoky bacon are fantastic together but throw some fresh zingy herbs into the mix, a nice hum from the red onion and the amazing sweetness and kick of the vinegar and it turns this from something nice to something really, really good.  My fella is not a fan of salads at all and has proclaimed it “seriously tasty”, from him thats pretty high praise indeed!  If you needed any more reasons to give it a go then I should mention that cheese, bacon and chilli are a sure fire hangover cure too…

Kick Ass Salad:

  • 250g feta cheese
  • 1/4 red onion
  • handful smoked bacon lardons/panchetta
  • mint leaves
  • coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Golden Raspberry and Apache Chilli vinegar
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • few pomegranate seeds

Method:

  1. Fry off the lardons until crispy and drain on kitchen towel.
  2. Roughly chop the herbs, microplane the onion and combine with the vinegar and seasoning in a bowl.
  3. Break the feta into chunks, add to the bowl and mix gently.  Leave to infuse for 20 minutes if you can bear it then add the crispy bacon, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and dive in!

This salad kicks serious ass!