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Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category

Summer for one

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Summer meals for one are problematic. The temptation is to gorge on stone fruits or one vegetable, the effort of prepping everything for a salad just too much in the heat, the alternatives of soup, toasties or baked potatoes too stodgy and warming. The result is a vague feeling of dissatisfaction with whatever is selected for dinner, a not-quite fullness that leads to the ice cream tub. Sweetcorn is the answer though, and I don’t mean to the question of dessert. Sweetcorn in desserts is plain wrong; apologies to those Malaysians who love their ais kacang. But for mains, corn can be turned into a full meal in any number of quick ways; grilled and topped with crumbled feta and bacon; stewed with beans in a succotash; or heated over a hob with some pork, tomatoes and a bit of chilli like here. Satisfying and summery.

Summer sweetcorn salad
Adapted slightly from The Kitchen Sink

6 small slices salami, chopped into small chunks
2 large spring onions, green and white parts, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
1 large potato
8 cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved
1 ear of corn, kernels cut from the cob with a knife
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped chives

1. In a medium frying pan heat the salami over a medium heat, until it starts to release its fat and crisp up a bit. Add the spring onions and jalapeño and cook for another couple of minutes.

2. Meanwhile, microwave the potato for 5 minutes, or until just cooked through. Carefully chop the cooked potato into 1-inch chunks and add to the pan.

3. Add the tomatoes and corn kernels to the pan and stir. Cook for a minute or so, until just heated through, then stir in the vinegar, chives and a little salt if you think it needs it (the salami makes it quite salty anyway). Serve immediately.

Serves 1.

Written by guffblog

11th August 2011 at 20:12

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For those of you, like me, who have never heard of skordalia before here’s a little primer on it for you.

  1. It’s Greek.
  2. It’s sort of like mayonnaise, only really not.
  3. It contains gluten.

Most people on reading about skordalia for the first time would probably say “oh yum, must try that next time I’m in the Med”. My mind works slightly differently and thought “Hmm, sneaky gluten hider, I’m glad I know what it is so I can avoid it”. This only applies to avoiding it in the outside world though, it doesn’t mean I can’t make it myself.

Describing skordalia like mayonnaise is a bit like describing a chicken as like a carrot. Yes, they probably have some of the same constituent parts, carbon, for example, and yes they are both food but there the similarities end. Skordalia is made by blending ingredients together and slowly adding oil to bring it together into an emulsion, but it lacks egg, and instead is based on walnuts, garlic, herbs and soggy bread. The result, bizarrely enough, is considerably tastier than mayonnaise, and the perfect foil for some rather bland, cold chicken. If you’re looking for an exotic way to turn cooked chicken and lettuce into dinner, this could well be it, plus the name makes it sound really fancy. Even though it isn’t.

Chicken salad with skordalia
Adapted from Mark Bittman

1 slice gluten-free bread (I used genius but homemade would of course be great)
3 tablespoons milk
2 large handfuls walnuts
1 large clove of garlic, peeled
1 large handful fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
4 tablespoons light olive oil
2 cooked chicken breasts, thighs or legs, shredded
Lettuce, pepper, cucumber or whatever else you fancy in your salad

1. Tear the bread into chunks and place in a bowl with the milk while you prepare the rest of the sauce.

2. Put the walnuts, garlic, parsley, paprika and a good pinch of flaky sea salt into a blender or processor and chop for about 30 seconds, or until it forms a fine crumbly powder. Add the bread pieces and milk, blend again, then add the olive oil, a little at a time, until you have a mixture that resembles thick mayonnaise.

3. Tip the skordalia into a bowl and mix into the chicken with a fork. Serve with lettuce, pepper or rocket, something salady.

Serves 2.

Written by guffblog

28th July 2011 at 19:34

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Classic with a twist

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Ah the great British BLT. A wonder in three letters.

B is for Bacon, the very best of foods. Whilst I am not a true believer in the bacon religion, being still somewhat sceptical as to the glories of bacon fudge, it definitely deserves its place in the top five most amazing foods ever.

T is for Tomato, surely the greatest of fruits. A more versatile offering from the garden will never be seen.

And the L, sandwiched in between those two giants in the form of Lettuce. Shy, retiring, not hogging the limelight, but use the right lettuce, crisp and dry and it prevents the need for mayonnaise or any additional condiments. Crunch, vitamins and the perfect understated companion for the B and the T. Now, imagine all that, but without the fillingness of bread. Behold, the beauty and the genius.

Ok, so the beauty will only come if you are practised at spring roll rolling. As the picture shows, overstuffing of the rolls is a common, and pretty disastrous occurrence (it’s the middle one), caused mainly by greed, and results in large, unwieldy rolls that fall apart when you try and move them. For small, neat spring rolls, use only a heaped tablespoon of filling for each. I know, it’s not much, but more spring rolls means more area for dipping sauce, and the whole point of this recipe is the rice wrappers don’t fill you up, so big or small, it makes no difference to how much bacon, lettuce and tomato you can eat.

BLT spring rolls
From White on Rice Couple

150g bacon
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
3 tomatoes, seeded (if you like) and sliced into strips
6 rice paper wrappers

Dipping sauce
1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
1 red birdseye chilli, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon mayonnaise

1. Chop the bacon into strips and fry off in a hot pan until browned. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile shred the lettuce and chop the tomatoes. I like my tomatoes all drippy and seedy but they will be less soggy if you remove the seeds.

2. Fill a bowl with cold water and set out your spring roll station, with a board to work on, the rice paper wrappers, the cold water, lettuce, bacon and tomato. Dip the first rice paper wrapper into the cold water, shake it off and lay it on the board. Lay a tablespoon or two of filling (a mix of bacon, lettuce and tomato) in a line on the wrapper, and roll, tucking the sides in as you go along. Press down on the final seam to hold in place and repeat with the other wrappers.

3. To make the dipping sauce stir together the soy sauce, tahini, chilli, lemon juice and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Serve the spring rolls cut in half with the dipping sauce on the side.

Serves 2.

And yes this is under salads since it’s cold and fairly salad-esque.

Written by guffblog

9th July 2011 at 21:35

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Continuing the theme…

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…of fruit in salads, I introduce to you the humble British apple. Capable of being stored for many months from the autumn, when it’s in season, it always amazes me when most of the apples I see in supermarkets are imported from South Africa or the Netherlands. What is wrong with our own orchards I wonder? If you’re getting bored with stone fruits (already? I don’t think it’s possible) or just want to add a little crunch and sweetness to your summer salads, apples are perfect. The sweetness and freshness of a good green apple balances out and complements a strong, tangy cheese perfectly; I’m sure this salad would work very well with blue cheese if you like that sort of thing. Otherwise choose a good strong extra mature cheddar to give it some welly, and don’t be sparing.

Radish, avocado and apple salad
Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande

The original included a crumbled hard-boiled egg. Not being a fan of such things, I omitted it, and I think the salad was more than hearty enough without it. Not to mention I didn’t have to turn the stove on to make this meal, which was something of a relief.

200g mixed leaves (I used rocket, spinach and watercress for a nice mix of sweet and spicy)
150g radishes, trimmed and sliced into thin discs or chunks
1 avocado, stoned and cut into 1-inch chunks
100g extra mature cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 green apple, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon wholegrain (gluten-free) mustard

1. In a large bowl put the leaves, radishes, avocado, cheese and apple. In a mug whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper. Pour over the salad, toss well to combine and serve immediately.

Serves 2 as a main meal. Serve with a slice of crusty farmhouse bread, or, as we did, just eat it by itself; it should more than fill you up.

Written by guffblog

27th June 2011 at 19:02

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Strawberry salad

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What with the approach of Wimbledon, the return of the sun (well sort of) and the wonderful light evenings, it can only mean that the wonderful British strawberry season is now here. Which means big, fat, red strawberries that are actually sweet, rather than the rather insipid, pale early season ones. Of course this means a glut of strawberry desserts and I can promise you plenty of those in the weeks to come but today’s recipe was inspired by a few different posts seen online using strawberries in savoury dishes. Now this isn’t as odd as it might at first sound; afterall we pair apricots with lamb quite happily, and orange with duck, not to mention putting citrus dressing on salads, so adding strawberries to a salad for example shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. For this I used my standard salad with some baby gem lettuce, a few little jewels of cucumber and red pepper, and some avocado and of course bacon to give it body and turn it into a meal. It was just topped with a very very light dressing so as not to overpower the other flavours. The result? Well, oddly enough my first thought when I took a bite was “This tastes like a Hawaiian pizza”. Of course it didn’t quite have the same stringy-cheesey texture, and was missing the dough, and the tomato sauce…. but the combination of salty, smoky bacon and the sweet, slightly tart strawberry reminded me of that awesome pizza combination. So my recommendation; if you think Hawaiian pizzas are amazing, or even just like them, then you’ll love this salad. If you think pineapple and ham should never been seen together on a pizza (or even a stick) then I think perhaps you’re a lost cause; stick to strawberries for dessert.

Strawberry, bacon and avocado salad
Inspired by Eat Make Read

75g (3 thick rashers) bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 baby gem lettuces
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 avocado, stoned and cubed
200g (roughly 12 large fat) strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. In a large frying pan over a high heat fry the bacon pieces until browned. Drain off any excess fat and set aside to cool briefly.

2. In a large bowl mix the lettuce leaves, diced tomatoes, diced pepper, cucumber sliced and avocado cubes. Add the hulled, halved strawberries and the cooked bacon pieces.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad, toss well to coat everything, and serve immediately.

Serves 2 (as a main).

Written by guffblog

18th June 2011 at 15:33

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