Sides

Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad

A really lovely summer salad that combines garlic-roasted summer vegetables with garden-fresh salad leaves to create a barbecue accompaniment that has a definite Mediterranean feel to it, bringing sunshine into your meal even if the British weather isn’t delivering!

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need…

1 each of red, yellow and green bell peppers, cored and sliced

2 courgettes, sliced

3 cloves garlic chopped

Splash of olive oil

250g asparagus, trimmed

4 medium tomatoes, quartered

A selection of your favourite salad leaves (I like basil, rocket, spinach, iceberg and chicory) cleaned and torn to bite-size

for the salad dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon good quality balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200° / 400°f / gas 6.

Tip the peppers, courgettes and garlic into a deep ovenproof dish, slosh in the olive oil and stir it through the vegetables. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and give them a quick stir – some of the peppers will be just starting to take on a char-grilled look – perfect. Tip in the asparagus and mix them in before popping the dish back in the oven for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir in the tomatoes and set aside until room temperature.

In the bottom of your salad bowl, tip the oil, balsamic and mustard. Mix together with a fork. Just before you are ready to eat, tip in your roasted vegetables mix and then scatter over the salad leaves. Toss the whole lot together and serve alongside barbecued fish and meats, maybe with some piping hot and slightly gooey mozzarella garlic bread (already blogged) or new potatoes as well. A feast indeed!

Inspired by…

A made-up recipe that we’ve been enjoying for years!

How easy…

So easy that it sort of does itself, allowing you to do the other prep for a great barbie.

 

 

Green Salad with Halloumi, Grapes and Pomegranate Dressing

This is a really unusual and very lovely salad: fresh and tangy and with a combination of distinct flavours that almost unexpectedly, work really well together (halloumi with pomegranate or olives and grapes, for instance). And the dressing is a lovely piquant blend of tart and sweet – finishes the salad off beautifully. You could eat this salad on its own for lunch or serve it alongside barbecued meats or fish. Really loved it and will definitely be doing this one again. Yummy!

Serves 4 as a side salad

What you need…

3 large handfuls of your favourite salad leaves

1 handful fresh thyme, leaves stripped and stems discarded

1 handful green seedless grapes, halved

1 handful red seedless grapes, halved

10 pitted green olives, sliced

250g halloumi cheese, cut into bite-sized cubes

Knob of butter

80g pomegranate seeds

for the dressing

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

60ml olive oil

What to do…

Tip all the dressing ingredients into a screw top jar. Pop the lid on tightly and shake like mad. Set aside.

Place the salad leaves into a pretty serving bowl and then scatter over the thyme, grapes and olives.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the halloumi until golden all over. Remove and scatter over the salad. Drizzle over the dressing and toss the salad gently. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and enjoy being pleasantly surprised by this unusual salad before you reach for a second helping!

Inspired by…

Suzanne Husseini

How easy…

Well it’s salad so it’s not hard but very rewarding.

Summer Mediterranean Vegetables

 

I love salads and make a huge variety of different ones – mixing traditional and new ingredients with influences from all over the world – but even though there is never a boring salad in our house, sometimes it’s nice to have an accompaniment to the barbecue that isn’t salad and this ticks that box, delightfully! I’ve entitled it ‘Mediterranean’ but that’s just what the aromas and flavours felt like to me but no matter how you describe this Mary Berry-inspired dish, it’s quite delicious and a really lovely change.

Serves 6 as a side

What you need…

1 large roasting tin

1 x 25cm shallow round ovenproof dish, lightly buttered

2 aubergines, sliced

2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced

500g courgettes, trimmed and sliced

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

500g passata

1 teaspoon caster sugar

A handful basil, chopped

50g Parmesan, grated

3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges

4 teaspoons thyme leaves

Sea salt and black pepper

Note…

When I tried this, there were only 3 of us, so the ingredients were halved, hence the smaller dish in the photograph. Ingredients above are for the full recipe, for 6 people.

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7.

Chuck the aubergines, red peppers and courgettes into the roasting tin, drizzle over 4 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes and then give them a quick mix about before putting them back in the oven for a further 10 minutes or until lightly browned and just soft throughout. Set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and fry over a moderate heat for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Tip in the passata and sugar and then season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, pop on a lid, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and the sauce, thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Spoon half the sauce into the base of your ovenproof dish and then top with half the roasted vegetables, ensuring an even mix of the aubergines, peppers and courgettes. Sprinkle over the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Spoon over the rest of the sauce, covering the vegetables and then top with the remaining roasted vegetables, arranging them in a spiral pattern if you like. Finally, plop/arrange the tomato wedges on the top and sprinkle thyme over the lot. You can sprinkle more Parmesan over if you fancy (I did).

Cover with foil and pop in the oven for 25 minutes, whilst you clear up and pour a glass of wine. The smell will be amazing!

Serve your lovely summer Mediterranean vegetables with barbecued meat or fish or as light lunch or supper with a great doorstop of fresh bread. Whichever way, just yummy!

Tips…

I use Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients’ frozen and chopped garlic just because peeling and chopping fresh garlic is a faff.

I didn’t have any passata so just whizzed a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes in the food processor – this was just for 3 of us but I used all of the tomatoes and the dish tasted great.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

As is my want: very, very easy and quite delicious!

 

 

 

 

Just Yummy Garlic and Mozzarella Bread

I know what you’re thinking: has she gone mad? She’s stuck up a recipe for garlic bread!!!!! But, bear with me – how many times have you bought garlic bread from the supermarket as a quick accompaniment to pasta or to add to a barbecue and when you cut in to it: huge disappointment – there’s a measly smear of butter in the middle of each slice with barely a hint of garlic – not good enough! My garlic bread is crisp (sometimes too crunchy if I forget about it) on the outside and moist on the inside – so buttery it has been know to drip down a chin or two. Loads of garlic and Italian herbs – it’s lovely. And these days, thanks to my daughter, Maddie, it has the addition of Mozzarella cheese, which makes it even naughtier and even yummier. A sinch to make and really quick, avert your eyes from those supermarket offerings: this is proper garlic bread!

Makes loads! I make a load of garlic butter in one hit, taking it out of the fridge as and when I need it over the course of a month. We soon get through it in the summer months – ideal for garlic bread, for basting lobster tails (if we’re lucky enough) or other fish and for swishing new potatoes in on the odd occasion!

What you need…

250g butter, softened

8 cloves garlic, chopped

1½ tablespoons dried Italian herb mix (mine has a little chilli in it which gives it a real kick)

2 teaspoons garlic granules

1 baguette

Mozzarella cheese

What to do…

Using a fork, mash together the butter, garlic, herbs and garlic granules to form your lovely garlic butter.

Slice the baguette at a slight diagonal and nearly but not quite all the way through. Take a butter knife and slather the garlic butter onto each side of the bread slice – don’t be tempted to cut back – think ‘slather’. Wodge in thin slices of mozzarella cheese in between each slice and then squish together the bread slices and wrap in foil before popping in the oven for 40 minutes. If you’d rather just straight garlic bread, then skip the mozzarella and wrap the bread loosely in foil and pop it in the oven for 40 minutes. Either way, check your garlic bread after 30 minutes to see that it’s starting to crisp up on the outside.

Serve with pasta, a barbecue, a picnicy supper or just on its own with drinks – lovely!!!

Tips…

Italian seasoning is available from supermarkets however…if you have a friend who is travelling through an Italian airport, ask them to pick up a bag of the Italian pasta seasoning from there – it’s just that little bit more special – I use it in a variety of pasta dishes as well as in this garlic butter.

I haven’t put a quantity for mozzarella cheese, but whatever’s left, use it up in a salad with tomatoes and basil, drizzling over olive oil and balsamic to serve. Just yum!

Inspired by…

Who knows! I’ve been doing this for years and everyone loves it!

How easy…

Very, very!

 

 

Prawn and Pomegranate Salad with Mint and Coriander

This is quite simply a really yummy salad: the delicate fishiness of prawns intermingled with citrusy, fresh coriander, the cool cucumber, the aromatic, sweet mint and then the tart piquancy of pomegranate seeds. All of those flavours rolling around together are just fabulous and the pomegranate seeds make the salad look like it’s bejeweled! Simply lovely served with barbecued fish! Try it – you’ll love it!

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter

What you need…

Seeds from ½ pomegranate (buy ready-prepared if you can – lot’s easier)

7cm length cucumber, peeled, sliced and then quartered

2 large handfuls coriander, chopped

Small handful mint leaves, torn

A selection of your favourite salad leaves (I like rocket, red chicory, baby gem, baby spinach, iceberg)

200g cooked prawns

for the dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon runny honey

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Into a screw-topped jar, tip all the dressing ingredients, screw the lid on tightly and set aside.

In a large, roomy salad bowl, chuck in all your ingredients.

Just before you are ready to eat, shake your dressing like mad and then pour over the salad before tossing all the elements together so that everything is evenly mixed and coated with dressing.

Tips…

Sometimes, I buy raw prawns and cook them in a splash of oil and salt about 30 minutes before we eat this salad, adding them at the last minute. The slight warmth of the prawns seems to emphasise the other flavours – really lovely.

A variation on the pomegranate is strawberries, hulled and quartered. Less tart, they give the salad a gentler tone.

For extra crunch, include some sugar snap peas that have been sat in boiling water for 2 minutes before being refreshed in cold water and then drained.

Include basil and parsley to make up the leaves if you happen to have any in the fridge. There are no rules, just a mix of flavours you enjoy together.

Inspired by…

I’m not sure: I think I made it up!

How easy…

See, it’s just salad, which I’ve always viewed as something that should be dead simple but really tasty.

 

Heavenly Hasselback Potatoes

I first saw these a few weeks ago on MasterChef and having tried them once, they’ve adorned our plates several times since, so popular are they! They tick all the boxes – easy, exceedingly tasty – something between sautéed, really great chips and roasties – they taste fantastic anyway and I just love the way they look after they’ve fanned out in the oven during cooking. My version is slightly healthier than the original (unusually for me), which uses butter as well as oil.

Serves 4

What you need…

12 medium potatoes

5 tablespoons rapeseed oil

Sea salt (course crystals work spectacularly well, giving these potatoes a lovely glistening crunch)

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200°c/400°f/gas 6.

Take each potato and put it onto a wooden spoon and cut across it at roughly 3mm intervals. Because the potato is on the spoon, your knife won’t be able to cut all the way through but will stop on the lip of spoon: it is this that enables the fanning out of the potato during the cooking process – so damned easy but so impressive (well, I’m easily pleased).

Pour the rapeseed oil into your baking tin and pop it onto the hob over a high heat. Once the oil is hot, place in the potatoes, cut-side down into the oil, swizzle them around and then turn them over so that the cut-sides are facing upwards. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pop them in the oven to let them do their thing. How long they take depends on their size – 40 minutes for medium potatoes but longer for bigger ones. Keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when they are crisp on the outside but still soft in the middle.

Serve and enjoy this lovely new (for me) version of the humble potato!

Inspired by…

Annie, a contestant on MasterChef, who in turn attributed the recipe for these Swedish potatoes to Nigella Lawson

 How easy…

Very, very easy – they do themselves while you do other things!

 

Scrummy Courgette Salad

I first tried this recipe as a side salad to go with barbecued meats. It’s so simple, I did wonder if it might be just a tad….boring….but I was delightfully surprised – it is a lovely, fresh salad with the added joy provided by the crunch of the pine nuts. Easy, quick, different and delicious!

Serves 1

What you need…

1 large courgette, trimmed

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar

Handful of pine nuts

What to do…

Grate the courgette into your serving bowl. Season liberally with salt and pepper and stir through.

Pop the pine nuts into a small, dry saucepan and dry fry for just a couple of minutes.

Mix together the oil and vinegar.

Mix the dressing into the courgette and tip over the pine nuts. Serve – so simple but absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

The Hemsley Sisters

How easy…

You could almost do this in your sleep!

Zingy, Fresh Asian-Inspired Salad with Asparagus and Crayfish

Salad days are here – yippppeee and lordy, lordy, lordy, this salad is spectacular: it’s zingy and fresh and its fabulous tastes and textures demand your attention. Eat it by itself or serve with fish: terikayi tuna is ideal but also, try this salad on the side of a lovely roasted salmon fillet – maybe with a wedge of lime on the side. I’ve changed the original recipe by adding a few extra ingredients, most notably the crayfish tails (they were on offer) but equally you could add prawns, smoked salmon or even hot, seared scallops. Anyway, it’s just lovely! I’ve never understood why people think salad is boring – this one will knock your socks off – give it a go!

Serves 2 (this is based on the quantities used to make up the marinade – if you’re creating salad for more people, just increase the quantities accordingly).

What you need…

for the salad

A selection of salad leaves: handfuls each of red chicory, rocket, spinach and baby gem work well but really, it’s whatever takes your fancy and is in the fridge

5cm chunk of cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

Handful of mint leaves, torn

Handful of coriander, chopped

250g asparagus, trimmed

125g crayfish tails or prawns (optional)

for the salad dressing

1 lime, juice only

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon palm sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or Tamari if you would prefer gluten-free)

1 red bird eye chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped

What to do…

Pop the asparagus into boiling, water and cook for 2 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool.

Put all your salad dressing ingredients into a screw-topped jar, tighten the lid and shake vigorously until mixed thoroughly together.

When you’re ready to eat, take a large pretty bowl, chuck in your cucumber, tomatoes, all your salad leaves, herbs, asparagus and crayfish tails . Tip over the dressing and mix together. That’s it! Serve and enjoy this absolutely wonderful salad with a lovely crisp dry white wine. And relax….

Tip…

If you’re not too sure about the kick of the chilli, use just half, rather than a whole one

Inspired by…

Watching James Martin and Mary Berry, separately, and then doing my own thing.

How easy…

Well, it’s salad so it’s not hard is it?!

 

John’s Yorkshire Puddings

John’s Yorkshire Puddings are legendary. Family and friends get REALLY excited when they come to us for a Sunday Roast. John cooks the lot and it is unquestionably in a league of its own! Every element of the meal is wonderful however the Yorkshires and his gravy are simply spectacular! I’ve met many people who reckon they can’t make decent Yorkshire Puddings – try this recipe – it will transform your Sunday Lunch!

Serves: this recipe makes one large Yorkshire Pudding and 12 tiddlers. I can’t tell you how many they serve – they get demolished whether there’s 6 of us, 8 or 10!!!

1 x 20cm round baking tin and 1 x 12-hole muffin tin

Fat from top of gravy stock from the previous week’s Roast Dinner or goose fat or lard

270g plain flour

4 large eggs

275ml full fat milk and 200ml water (in same jug)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 heaped tablespoons suet

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 220°c / 425°f / gas 7. I have assumed you are using the same oven to roast your meat (we have 2 chickens).

Ideally, you will have a jug of stock from the previous week’s roast dinner and topping this will be a layer of fat. Scoop off the fat and put in half tsp in the bottom of the individual moulds and two dessertspoons in the ‘family-sized’ mould. (The stock should be used as the base for this week’s gravy, excluding any remaining fat).

If you’re starting from scratch, do the same with either goose fat or lard.

Sift the flour into the bowl of a standalone electric mixer. (If you don’t have one, use a roomy bowl with an electric handheld whisk) Make a well and break in the eggs. Whisk slowly. Whilst whisking, gradually pour in the milk and water. Turn the speed up to medium and whisk for 2 minutes. Switch mixer off. Using a spatula, loosen any stuck flour from the sides or bottom. Season to taste. Mix at medium speed for a further two minutes. Leave to rest until cooking time.

Pop your baking tray and muffin tin into the oven and heat until the fat is smokin’ hot!

Sprinkle the suet into the batter and give it a quick whizz. Ladle the mixture into the your hot baking tray and muffin tin. Pop them both into the oven and cook for around 20 minutes or until golden brown. Watch those babies rise!!!!!!

Serve with your roast dinner – we don’t follow convention – Yorkshire Puddings are served with chicken, beef, suet puddings……pretty much everything!

Inspired by…

John who in turn, tweaked Delia Smith’s recipe

365-6 copy

How easy…

They are easy so don’t be hesitant – given them a go!

 

 

Rosemary-Roasted Root Vegetables

Winter Sunday Roasts in our house are one of the highlights of the weekend. Generally, we have roast chickens served with the lightest, fluffiest Yorkshire Puddings, fabulous gravy and these wonderful roasted root vegetables. As the herbs used in these vegetables mingle with the cooking smells of the chickens, a unique and simple gorgeous aroma permeates the house. It doesn’t matter how horrible the weather is outside, the cooking smells and the knowledge of the meal that is shortly to come brings a lovely warmth inside. Kitchen rules apply: G&Ts on the side and a good bottle of red opened and waiting to accompany this fine meal! The Sunday Roast is prepared by John – which makes it even better – and I only get involved in the preparation of these delicious vegetables. A further joy is the single baking dish that is used to cook them in – minimal washing up! Try them as an alternative to your normal Sunday Roast vegetables – you’ll love them.

 Serves 4

 What you need…

1 large ovenproof dish (mine is 20cm x 30cm x 7cm deep), lightly buttered

½ swede, peeled and cut into wedges

6 carrots, peeled and halved lengthways

4 parsnips, peeled and halved

2 turnips, peeled and quartered

2 red onions, peeled and quartered

2 large red potatoes, washed quartered

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

5 sprigs of rosemary

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200c / 400f/ gas 6.

Chuck all the vegetables into your ovenproof dish.

Scatter over the rosemary and pour over the oil. Mix everything together ensuring that the rosemary and oil are evenly dispersed among the vegetables.

Pop in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Take them out and give them a quick stir before popping them back in for a further 20 minutes. Enjoy the wafting aroma of rosemary!

Serve your rosemary-roasted root vegetables with the rest of your Sunday Roast, indulge in far too much lovely food and retire to the sofa for a little afternoon snooze!

Tips…

Aim to have your chunky vegetables pieces roughly the same size.

Used ready-prepared Cooks’ Ingredients’ frozen, chopped garlic – so much easier than all that peeling and chopping.

For a slight variation, I sometimes add thyme and sage as supplements to the rosemary.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith’s Winter Collection

How easy…

Spectacularly easy and only one pot to wash up. You can also prepare them and then cover the raw vegetables and herbs with cling-film for up to 2 hours before popping them in the oven, which provides the added bonus of allowing the flavours to develop even further.