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Ensalada de Tomate y Ajo

10 Aug

Antonia, the lady that does the washing up at the restaurant, gave us a tub full of her homegrown cherry tomatoes yesterday.

I thought about roasting them but I really did not want to put the oven on today. It’s far too hot for all that so I made my favourite summer salad instead, Ensalada de Tomate y Ajo (Tomato and garlic salad).

I first had this salad in Bar Sardina, a restaurant/tapas bar in Alhaurin that has been around for 92 years, apparently. They are well-known for their fresh seafood especially the Conchas Finas which are like a cross between a scallop (they have a coral) and a clam. They are indigenous to Malaga and are traditionally served raw, with a glass of Fino (dry sherry).

Being a vegetarian, it is normally quite difficult to find something to eat if you go out to typically Spanish restaurants . Fortunately Bar Sardina has three dishes that I can order, all of them being fantastic. This salad is so simple but so delicious, which is what for me, sums up Spanish cuisine. It’s all about the ingredients and letting them do what they do best.

The best, in season, sweet tomatoes are mixed with lots of fresh garlic, drizzled with Andalucian extra virgin olive oil, good Jerez (sherry) vinegar and seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and some fresh parsley. That’s it.

Ensalada de Tomate y Ajo Recipe

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 400 gr ripe tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 tbsp extra virgen olive oil
  • 2 or 3 tsp good Jerez (sherry) vinegar
  • sea salt & black pepper

Wash the tomatoes and cut them into halves or quarters for cherry tomatoes or into wedges for normal tomatoes. Mix them with the garlic and parsley in a bowl and drizzle them generously with olive oil, then add the sherry vinegar.

Leave to marinate for a while if you can and then season well with the sea salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust vinegar/seasoning.

Tip into a serving dish, garnish with a little more parsley and serve as part of a meal like the Spanish do.

Or you can do like I did and eat it with some of my sundried tomato & basil focaccia (or any nice bread) to soak up the gorgeous garlicky, tomatoey juices.

This is the perfect simple summer salad, enjoy this right now when tomatoes are at their best.

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

The pomegranate flowers turning into the fruit…

Another sure sign that Autumn is just around the corner.

I’m so looking forward to the cooler weather….!

Slow-Roast Tomato and Quinoa Caprese

25 Jul

These Roma tomatoes, also known as Plum tomatoes or, here in Spain, tomates Pera (pear tomatoes) are all beginning to ripen here now.

When I am out with Rufus in the morning I see the farmers and their wives with their straw hats and gloves on, picking them from row upon row of tomato plants and storing them in crates.

They are really cheap at the moment so you can buy a lot for very little money. One of my favourite things to do with these tomatoes is to slow-roast them. It intensifies the flavour, you can make a load and keep them covered in oil in the fridge.

All you have to do is cut them in half, put them on a lined baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt & pepper and put them in a low oven for 2 hours, or more if you like them more dried.

You can use them in salads, pasta dishes, serve them on burgers, in sandwiches, tortillas, quiches, pizzas or a quick bruschetta. They transform anything ordinary into something a bit special. And it’s so easy.

If you try making these once you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. They’re such a handy thing to have around. And so cheap at the moment, it would be rude not to really.

They’re great for picnics too.

Tomatoes and basil were made for each other. They are what summer is all about. The Caprese salad is one of my “go to” summer dishes because all the ingredients are at their best and it is really quick and easy to make.

Now feel free to just use these tomatoes in a “normal” Caprese with some soft, milky buffalo mozzarella and lots of  torn basil leaves if that is all you can manage in this heat. I wouldn’t blame you at all.

But I couldn’t really call that a recipe could I? I’d feel like I was cheating you somehow.

I used quinoa in this recipe but you could just as easily use cooked rice, couscous, orzo or even pasta as the base.

Quinoa is so good for you, an amazing source of protein if you are vegetarian or vegan and it’s gluten-free. If you’ve never tried cooking with it before you should give it a go. Don’t be scared, it’s easy to work with, really versatile and is nice to eat. It absorbs flavours really well too. I cook mine in veg stock rather than water which makes it even tastier.

Slow Roast Tomato & Quinoa Caprese Recipe

serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free

For the tomatoes:

  • 8 large , ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C and line a baking tray with baking paper.  Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthways and place them, cut side up on the tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt & pepper. Put in the oven for 2 hours, or longer until they have started to dry out.

Leave to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge with any juices until half an hour before you need them. Bring them back to room temperature before serving to get the most out of the flavour. If you want to store them for  longer than a few days, cover them with some olive oil. But I doubt they’ll last that long.

For the Quinoa Caprese:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 400 gr quinoa
  •  about 1 litre veg stock
  • 40gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • a big handful of basil leaves
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 or 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 200 gr mozzarella
  • 6-8 slow-roast tomato halves (see above)
  • salt & black pepper
  • chilli oil (optional)

Cook the quinoa by putting it into boiling veg stock, lower the heat slightly and simmer for 12 -14 minutes until you can see the curlicues in every grain and it has absorbed all, or most, of the stock. Add some boiling water if dries out. Drain, if necessary, and leave to cool.

Meanwhile  fry the onions in the olive oil over a medium high heat for about 5-8 minutes until softened and caramelised.

Fluff up the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains and stir through the onions and any oil from the pan. Tip in any tomato juices, the sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tear or finely julienne the basil and add half to the quinoa and season with salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can refrigerate it at this point, just bring it back to room temperature before serving.

To serve, pile the quinoa onto a large serving dish or into individual bowls and arrange the slow-roast tomatoes on top. Tear off  bite size pieces of mozzarella, scatter it around the tomatoes and top it off with the rest of the basil. Drizzle over some chilli oil or olive oil at the table.

Enjoy the taste of summer in a bowl!

Things That made Me Smile Today…..

Rufus cooling off in the spring…

Giving our plants on the terrace a quick shower…

Stay cool!!

Alhambra Inspired Chargrilled Nectarine Fattoush Salad

22 Jul

The Washer Up’s dad came to stay for a few days and we decided to take him to the Alhambra in Granada.

In 40 degree heat.

 Alhambra translates as The Red Fortress. Its palaces were built in the middle of the 14th century for the last Moorish kings of Spain and their court.  It is a World Heritage site and a unique and beautiful example of Muslim art and architecture.

The majority of the palace buildings are built in the same style, with all the rooms opening out on to a central courtyard.

The Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived there but each new section followed the theme of “Paradise on Earth” by using column arcades, elaborately decorated archways, fountains with running water and reflecting pools.

Blue, red and a golden-yellow, all somewhat faded with time are the main colours used for tiles and decoration.

 The Alhambra was made into a  city, complete with an irrigation system composed of acequias (water channels) for the gardens of the Generalife located outside the fortress.  These acequias are still used today throughout Andalucia for irrigation.

 Generalife means Gardens of the Architect. The Palacio de Generalife is a villa dating from the beginning of the 14th century. Whilst fountains and flowing water are a common feature around the Alhambra, they are particularly prevalent in the Palacio de Generalife.

The gardens of Generalife were definitely my favourite part of the Alhambra. It may have something to do with all the running water cooling the air and the shade created by the trees. The flowers were beautiful too.

You can actually imagine Arabian princesses running around giggling and hiding behind trees from handsome princes. As you can probably tell I read a book before going: Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving. 

It was published in 1832 and immediately attracted pilgrims to Granada from all over the world. He was an American diplomat, historian & traveller who actually lived in the Alhambra for a while.

It paints a romantic, colourful impression of local legends and traditions as well as telling enchanting tales of Moorish  princesses, towers, love and war. I would definitely recommend reading it if you are thinking of visiting or are interested in the history of Moorish Spain.

The picture below is of the Washer Up’s dad, Jim Burns. He is a published poet and writer and a recognised authority on 1930’s -1950’s Beats & Bebop Jazz. He is also an expert on the Spanish Civil War and 19th Century European art and history.

He is 75 and fared better than us on this exceedingly long, hot day. We walked around the Alhambra for around 6 hours in the blazing sun.

He didn’t even fall asleep in the car on the way home. We were listening to Miles Davies though.

Like father like son. The Washer Up loves his music too. He’s more into early punk than jazz but his dad bought him the first Sex Pistols record Anarchy in the UK when it was released in 1976. He was 13.

Fattoush is a Middle Eastern salad made with toasted or fried pieces of pita bread, fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables. Fattoush belongs to the family of dishes known as fatta which means crushed. Stale flatbreads are used up by crushing or crumbling them into the dish, a lot like the Italian Panzanella salad. 

This is a salad we served at the restaurant. Instead of using stale pita we cut soft flour tortillas into triangles, deep-fried them and sprinkled them with sumac and cumin while still warm. This way you get crispy, spicy crackers to eat with your salad and it also makes for a more dramatic presentation. You just arrange them pointy side up around the serving bowl.

They are also great for dipping in hummus.

The basic ingredients for a fattoush salad are: salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, radish, mint, parsley, sumac, fried bread, olive oil and lemon juice.

With that as your starting point you can add whatever else you like: feta, olives, dates, peppers, garlic, pomegranate seeds, the list goes on….

I like to add a little sweetness to counteract the sour lemon juice and sumac. Chopped dates are lovely but I had a fruit bowl full of gorgeous looking nectarines just desperate to be included.

I remembered seeing a recipe in the Ottolenghi Cookbook (I know, I’m obsessed) for a chargrilled peach salad with speck and orange blossom.  I didn’t need any more encouragement than that. Any excuse too use my new griddle pan and I’m happy.

Chargrilled Nectarine Fattoush Salad

serves 2, vegan

  • 2 nectarines, stoned & sliced into wedges (not too soft, firm but ripe is best for grilling)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon rind (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 big beef tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved, deseeded & cubed
  • 2 spring onions (or half a Spanish spring onion), sliced diagonally
  • 2 or 3 radishes, thinly sliced (I didn’t have any)
  • 1 bag mixed salad leaves, or a mixture of rocket and cos lettuce, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 5 or 6 mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
  • 1 soft flour tortilla, cut into eighths (or some stale pita, torn into pieces)
  • sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • sumac & cumin for sprinkling
  • salt & black pepper

 Toss the nectarine wedges with some olive oil, salt & pepper in a bowl. Heat up your griddle pan and cook the nectarines for a minute or so on each side until they get some nice charcoal lines all over. Remove to a bowl and cook the rest, if necessary then sprinkle over the orange blossom water and leave to cool.

Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or deep frying pan over a medium high heat. You can tell when it’s hot enough by sticking a corner of tortilla in and seeing if it sizzles. Carefully put the tortilla triangles (2 batches will be best you don’t want to overcrowd the pan) into the hot oil and cook for 10-20 seconds or until they are a golden colour. Be careful they burn quickly.

Remove to a bowl lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle over some salt, cumin and sumac. Do the same with the rest and leave to cool. Once cooled they can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.

Put the garlic, salt, lemon juice, preserved lemon and olive oil into a large bowl with the tomatoes, sumac and cumin and stir together well.

Just before serving add the cucumber, spring onions, radishes, salad leaves, fresh herbs and any other ingredients (except the nectarines) to the bowl and toss everything together. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Either serve in one big bowl/ serving dish or in individual dishes. Arrange the chargrilled nectarines on top and place the tortilla crackers around the edge of the plate so it looks like a crown. Sprinkle over a little sumac and take to the table.

It’s a royal looking salad fit for the last Moorish King of Spain.

A word of advice, if you are thinking about going to the Alhambra, I wouldn’t recommend going in the summer, May or October would be nice. I’ll try and remember that next time!

Middle Eastern Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

4 Jun

Tabbouleh (or tabouli) is a Middle Eastern salad traditionally made with bulgur wheat, tomato and spring onion. Loads of finely chopped fresh parsley and mint are added then it is dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. It is so simple to make and has bags of flavour from the fresh herbs. The lemon juice lifts all the other flavours making it a refreshing, easy and delicious salad which can be served on its own,  as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish or as part of a mezze.

This is one of my favourite lunch dishes. I vary the ingredients slightly every time according to what I have in the house. I’ve replaced the bulgur wheat with quinoa to keep it gluten-free but you could use couscous as well.

This time I added my Chermoula Seasoning and some harissa paste to the quinoa while it was cooking as well as throwing in some juicy raisins to plump up in the cooking liquid. Some flaked almonds on top give it some added texture but it is really all about the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Whatever you do don’t skimp on the herbs….

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 150 gr (1 cup) quinoa, rinsed in fine sieve
  • 450 ml (2 cups) veg stock
  • a handful of raisins
  • 1 tsp chermoula seasoning
  • 1 tsp harissa paste (optional) or a big pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small red onion or 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (or the zest of 1/2 a lemon)
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • a large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a large handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • salt & black pepper
  • small mint leaves for garnish

Put the rinsed quinoa, stock, raisins, chermoula seasoning, harissa paste, salt & pepper in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the curlicues in each grain. Leave to cool.

Stir through the chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber and preserved lemon or zest. You can keep it in the fridge like this, in an airtight container until you are ready to serve it.

To serve, stir through the herbs, lemon juice and olive oil and taste for seasoning. Tip into a serving dish and top with some flaked almonds and extra mint leaves.

Enjoy!!

Things that made me smile today…..

Thistles…

Double Layer Hibiscus…

Tequila Sunrise anyone…?

Have a great weekend!!

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Spring Onions, Chives and Awards

14 May

I’ll start by saying a big thank you to Kimberli at Kimberli’s Kitchen for passing a Versatile Blogger award onto me. Go and check out her blog, she makes lovely cookies!

The rules of these things are that :

  1. You must thank the person who awarded you by linking back to their post (check)
  2. You have to list 7 interesting things about yourself  (Seven! Oh dear) 
  3. You have to pass the award on to 15 other new or newly discovered blogs. (That’s the easy part)

The following blogs are new (or new-ish) to me and I find them all inspiring in different ways…

Journeys of Your Life. Andrew is living the dream and doing his round the world trip in style. Stops in New York, Peru, Thailand, Bali, India and more. Jealous much?!

A Meandering Mango Bhavani takes some of the most beautiful pictures of food I have seen. I want to be that good!

Pearl & Pine Sarah has an understated and beautiful blog. Her food is simple and elegant. I love her photos of Seattle it makes me want to live there even though it seems to rain all the time!

The Culinary Taste Rita lives in Tuscany with her husband and little boy Lapo. She makes simple, seasonal Italian inspired food and she has just written a children’s book for her son’s first birthday.

Beloved Green Clarkie makes delicious food that you want to eat. Her step by step photos are always gorgeous and she has a soft spot for beautifully designed things.

Two Tarts Sarah are Dulcie are two friends who like to cook and make things from scratch. They show you how to make things like ricotta and mascarpone and then give you a list of gorgeous recipes to make with them. They also post full menus for entertaining which is really brilliant.

Chocolate Chilli Mango As the name suggests, Viviane is obsessed with chocolate and uses her Italian genes to come up with some beautifully delicious sweet things that may have an exotic Aussie twist!

KO Rasoi Sanjana makes the most mouth-watering Indian vegetarian food out there and photographs it beautifully.

Alexa Marsden Alexa is an artist and photographer who also has a  beautiful vegetarian/vegan food blog. Some people can just be too talented you know!

Sweet Caroline’s Cooking Caroline is, as the name suggests, very sweet. Her happy, smiling face greets you when you arrive at her blog and you immediately feel at home. Home cooked beautiful food at it’s best. Margarita cupcakes, need I say more!

Mission Delectable Kirsten lives in San Francisco and I love every delicious recipe she posts. Her photos are light and beautiful, and her dog is just gorgeous!

Moderate Oven Dani makes healthy, seasonal dishes for her family using local produce and has a beautiful vegetable garden to pick from too. So jealous!

A little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock n’ Roll Mama J muses on food, family, music and life. Her vegetarian food is always what I want to eat right now. She also takes beautiful pictures of flowers!

Rufus’ Food & Spirit Guide Rufus is not a spirit guide in the yogic sense (as I thought when I first read it!). What he does do is make interesting, eclectic recipes and amazing cocktails. I love that combination!

The Taste Space  Janet/Saveur posts delicious vegetarian recipes with a definite world flavour. Think Middle Eastern, Asian and Mexican with a whole lot more thrown in. My idea of heaven! 

Okay so that’s my 15 new- ish finds. I really hope you check them out and have a good look round. You won’t regret it and if you feel like leaving a comment don’t forget to say who sent you…..

So back to the recipe while I struggle to find SEVEN interesting things to share about myself….

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat so they are gluten-free. They are also delicious. They have a nutty whole-wheat flavour which goes perfectly with the sesame oil. You can serve them hot in a stir fry or noodle broth but I actually prefer them cold which is how the Japanese serve them. Something about the cold bringing out the flavours and textures I think. They are also extremely more- ish (not Moorish). You can definitely eat a large bowl by yourself, no problem. Which is fine because they’re good for you.

This is our little chive plant which is growing on our roof terrace. It’s beautiful purple flowers make it stand out from the rest of the herbs so I wanted to do a recipe using chives as a main ingredient. This is a Nigella recipe that I make quite often, I just added the chives, it’s delicious…

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Spring Onions & Chives

serves 1, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

  • about 100 gr soba noodles (about 200 gr cooked)
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • a bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 25 gr (or more) sesame seeds, toasted

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat until golden brown, and tip them into a bowl. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt. Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 -8 minutes (or according to packet instructions) until they are just tender. Have a bowl of iced water waiting to plunge them into after draining.

In the bowl you are going to serve the noodles in, whisk together the vinegar, rice wine, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Then add most of the spring onions and chives into the bowl with the cooled, drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding most of the sesame seeds and tossing again.

Leave the sesame noodles for about half an hour to let the flavours develop if physically possible.  If not, serve straight away garnished with the remaining, spring onions, chives and sesame seeds.

Okay so here we go: Seven “Interesting” Facts you may not know about me……

  1. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years (that’s scary)
  2. When I was 13 I saw an episode of the TV show MASH where they had a pet lamb. By the end of the show they had to eat it. I never ate meat again.
  3. I developed breast cancer 2 years ago aged 36. I’ve just finished my treatment which was 6 months of chemo & lapatinib (a clinical trial) followed by an operation to remove the tumor. Then 6 weeks of radiotherapy and then a year of Herceptin.
  4. I now feel better than ever and attribute my swift recovery to a combination of conventional treatment, healthy diet (during treatment I stopped eating dairy (cow) products and all sugars, including fruit), reiki sessions and some alternative medicines such as Salvestrol, LDN and Melatonin. Salvestrol and LDN I will continue to take for the rest of my life.
  5. We used to own a restaurant where I designed the menus but I never went in the kitchen, except to make tea.
  6. None of my friends and family can believe that I now cook because from the age of 18 I lived on a diet that consisted of Marks & Spencer’s mashed potato and hummus, and I NEVER cooked!
  7. My ambition is to publish a vegetarian/vegan cookbook that will be a  vegetarian culinary journey around the world.

Enjoy!!

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans and Hazelnut Mint Pesto

28 Apr

This is a great alternative to all those rich mayonnaise based potato salads. It is spring on a plate. Fresh, seasonal, delicious and completely guilt free. I served it warm as a side dish with dinner and then cold for lunch the next day. Both ways were lovely. It would be great for a barbecue or buffet too.

I bought some beautiful baby new potatoes from the market along with fresh asparagus & broad beans. This formed the base of my salad now I just needed  a dressing. My mint plant on the roof terrace is growing like mad with all the rain so I had to use it. A basil pesto would work really well too but I think the mint with the new potatoes is heavenly. The hazelnuts add a slight sweetness which rounds off the flavours and brings it all together.

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans & Hazelnut Mint Pesto

serves 2 -3 as a side dish, vegan, gluten-free

  • 300 gr baby new potatoes, cut into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1 bundle fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut in half or thirds
  • 200 gr broad beans
  • 50 gr toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint (keep mint stalks) plus leaves for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 finely chopped small spring onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a grinding of black pepper

Put the potatoes and mint stalks in a large pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil & cook until just tender. Add the asparagus & broad beans to the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and remove the mint stalks.

Meanwhile make the pesto. Process the hazelnuts, mint, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper to a paste. Taste and add more salt if necessary. If you need to add more liquid use olive oil, lemon juice or a bit of veg stock.

If you like you can peel the broad beans at this point if the skins are tough and you want a brighter green colour. Tip the potatoes, beans, asparagus and spring onions into a bowl, pour over the pesto and mix everything together well. Check seasoning again.

Serve straight away sprinkled with some chopped hazelnuts and mint leaves or store, covered in the fridge until about 10 minutes before you want to serve it. Let it come to room temperature then garnish as above.

This is a really elegant, flavourful side dish that can be adapted to what is in season or what you have in the fridge. Green beans would be nice if you don’t have asparagus and try swapping the mint/hazelnut for parsley/almond pesto.

It has just occurred to me that this is the perfect dish to take to a Royal Wedding party tomorrow. Everyone seems to be watching it on TV at someone’s house and taking something for the buffet. I must be the only person who won’t be watching it. It’s The Washer Up’s only day off so we are going out and getting our hair cut instead…. It’s not like I won’t see the dress or anything. I’m sure there’ll be nothing else on the TV for days……..

Good Luck Kate, you’re going to need it!!

Bhelpuri – A Spice Roasted Chickpea Salad

27 Apr

 

  I know I said it always rains at Easter but this year was ridiculous. On Thursday afternoon (the day before Good Friday) the sky turned an ominous shade of black and we were treated to one of the scariest thunder storms I have ever experienced. The loudest clap of thunder and lightning strike simultaneously conspired to blow up my modem and the electrics in the house. No internet, no TV, no shops open to buy a new modem and no processions to follow and photograph. Just rain, buckets full of it. The kind of rain that comes in the back door while you are mopping the flood at the front door. So I apologise for my recent absence and lack of Semana Santa documentation but I’ve just come back online today and I wasn’t going to go out in that rain and nor, I believe, did Jesus…

So, thankfully, now it has stopped raining and the sun is shining. The electric is back on and the new modem is working. I have lots of recipes to catch up with so I will get on with it. I bought some wholemeal puffed rice from the health food shop and was reminded of a salad we served as a special at the restaurant called Bhelpuri. Bhelpuri is a type of  Mumbai street food. There are many different versions some including potatoes rather than chickpeas but the common ingredients are puffed rice, tamarind chutney, onion, chilli, tomatoes & coriander. It is a dish with many different textures and flavours. The crispyness comes from the puffed rice and also crumbled puris ( a type of fried flatbread) as well as sev (a fried crispy noodle snack) also found in Bombay mix. I couldn’t find any Bombay mix here so I just used the puffed rice.

Let’s start with the spice roasted chickpeas. These are extremely addictive. You will be lucky if they make it into the Bhelpuri. I had to physically restrain myself from eating the whole lot straight off of the baking tray. They are a really tasty, healthy snack on their own and would be great as a nibble with drinks. I got this easy, delicious recipe from Alexa Marsden. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Spice Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

vegan, gluten-free, adapted from Alexa Marsden

  • 1 jar/tin cooked chickpeas 400 gr, rinsed & drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Sharwood’s medium curry powder (do not use that horrible generic yellow curry powder) or see the original recipe for a spice breakdown
  • salt & black pepper

After you have rinsed and drained the chickpeas leave them to air dry.  Pre heat oven to 180 C. Mix the curry powder, olive oil, salt & pepper in a large bowl then add the chickpeas and toss to coat evenly. Arrange them in one layer on a lined baking sheet and put it on the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes shaking the pan half way through. Leave them to cool if you are physically able then tip into a bowl to serve with drinks or see Bhelpuri recipe below.

This is my recipe for Bhelpuri. I researched it and found that every recipe is different. I have given you a list of suggested ingredients You don’t have to use them all. There are no amounts you just add what you think, mix it all together, taste and adjust to your liking.

My Bhelpuri Recipe

serves 3-4 vegan, gluten-free

  • 4oo gr spice roasted chickpeas (above)
  •  puffed rice
  • sev (or Bombay mix)
  • roasted peanuts or cashew nuts
  • crushed puris or poppadoms
  • 1/4 onion or a few spring onions, finely chopped
  • diced cooked potatoes
  • 1 green or red chilli, finely chopped
  • tamarind chutney/ syrup
  • mango chutney
  • lemon juice (essential)
  •   handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tomato, deseeded & diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded & diced
  • little gem lettuce leaves to serve

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt & pepper. Add vegetables, chutney, lemon juice and coriander, mix to coat everything then taste and adjust to your liking. Serve in a big bowl or on a small lettuce leaf and top with more puffed rice, sev (Bombay mix) and coriander leaves.

Enjoy!!

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