Spinach and rocket salad with oven-roasted tomatoes, avocado, capers, red onion and pan-fried gnocchi

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We eat so many salads in the summer and despite what some people think they really, really don’t have to be boring!  To be honest we rarely eat the same salad twice as it normally depends on what is in the fridge at the time…

I usually pop gnocchi in boiling water for a couple of minutes but this time I pan-fried it for a slightly different taste and texture.

(Serves 2)

  • 2 large handfuls of organic rocket
  • 2 large handfuls of organic spinach
  • Punnet of slow-roasted tomatoes (see previous recipe)
  • 1 bag of gnocchi
  • 1 ripe organic avocado – peeled, stoned and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion – finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • Handful of toasted almond flakes and pumpkin seeds
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Tablespoon of vegan pesto (I often make my own but Zest do a great one)
  1. Pan-fry the gnocchi in a little olive oil allowing to lightly brown on the outside
  2. Assemble the rocket, spinach, tomatoes, gnocchi, avocado, onion, capers, almond flakes and pumpkin seeds in a bowl
  3. Mix the olive oil with the pesto and drizzle over the salad
  4. Toss and serve

If taking this on a picnic then just take the pesto and olive oil separately and drizzle over at the last minute to avoid the salad leaves going soggy

 

Slow-roasted tomatoes

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I adore these tomatoes.  They’re really easy to prepare, will keep for a few days in the fridge and are great added to salads, served on toast with a drizzle of olive oil or thrown into a pasta sauce.

  • Punnet of organic, on-the-vine cherry tomatoes – Halved
  • 1 garlic clove – sliced
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sprinkle of seasalt
  1. Assemble all the ingredients in an ovenproof dish and pop in the oven at 100°C and bake for about an hour
  2. If not eating immediately then they can be stored in the fridge in an airtight jar for a few days

 

Vegan Spanish tortilla

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I’m always on the lookout for ways to “veganize” foods that I enjoyed before I stopped eating animal products.  This is a recent discovery and I love it!  Tortilla is often served in tapas bars around Spain in small cubes but this is equally delicious served hot or cold with a big green salad.  It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and frequently pops up in our picnic hamper over the summer.

I’ve substituted the eggs for silken tofu flavoured with kala namak and nutritional yeast for a subtle “eggy” taste.  Although I adore the taste of turmeric I initially added it to this recipe for the colour as much as anything else.

(Serves 4)

  • 2 packs of silken tofu
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons of dill (dried or fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground kala namak (black salt)
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Blend the tofu, turmeric, kala namak, nutritional yeast, dill, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to a smooth consistency.
  2. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a non-stick frying pan and heat it up
  3. Add a layer of the tofu mix followed by a thin layer of potato
  4. Continue this process until all the ingredients are used up.  Make sure you finish with a layer of the tofu mix
  5. Put on a low heat for 40 minutes to cook through
  6. Finish off with a few minutes under a hot grill to brown off

Carrot and cashew nut pâté

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This recipe was inspired by an amazing meal I had recently at Acorn Vegetarian Restaurant in Bath.  They did actually give me the recipe for it at the time which I’ve since misplaced so this is my own version.  It makes a great starter for a dinner party or a healthy and tasty snack or light-lunch on its own.

(Serves 4)

  • 6 carrots – roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Handful of cashew nuts (unsalted)
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Heat the oil in the pan and add the spices until they are dissolved
  2. Add the carrots and pan-fry for about ten minutes to soften
  3. Add the cashew nuts and fry for a few more minutes
  4. Season to taste
  5. Blend all the ingredients but not too much – you still want to retain some texture from the carrots and cashew nuts
  6. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.  Alternatively it keeps well for a day or two in the fridge if you want to get the prep done for a dinner party nice and early
  7. Serve with fresh bread

Moroccan-spiced cous cous and apricot salad

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This is a really tasty side-dish, which goes really well with either a Moroccan tagine or as part of a BBQ or picnic.  It keeps well in the fridge too so can be made in advance.

(Serves 4)

  • Large mug of cous cous
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoonfuls of cumin
  • 2 teaspoonfuls of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoonful of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoonful of cinnamon
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Toasted almond flakes
  • Fresh mint (chopped)
  • Handful of dried apricots, chopped
  • Small cupful of orange juice
  1. Pop the chopped apricots in a cup with the orange juice to soak
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the spices, until they’re dissolved
  3. Add the red onion to the pan with the oil and spices and fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the apricots and orange juice to the pan and simmer
  5. Place the cous cous in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave to stand for a few minutes
  6. Separate the cous cous with a fork and then add the contents of the pan
  7. Add the fresh mint, pine nuts and almond flakes and combine all the ingredients before serving

Avocado, vine tomato and pine nut salad

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This is a really tasty salad that can be eaten on its own or shared as a side-dish.  Perfect BBQ  and picnic food although if taking for a picnic I would take the avocado oil separately to avoid soggy salad leaves!

(Serves 1-2 as a main or 4 as a side-dish)

  • Bag of mixed leaf salad (organic)
  • Punnet of on-the-vine cherry tomatoes (organic) – Halved
  • 1 large ripe avocado – skin and stone removed and sliced
  • Toasted pine nuts (you can toast them for a few moments in a dry, non-stick pan)
  • Avocado oil

Simply combine all the ingredients and drizzle with the avocado oil.

Warm new potato salad with mint and olive oil

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I absolutely love the taste of new potatoes.  The fresher and more locally grown, the better.  This makes a great side-dish for a BBQ or picnic (it’s delicious eaten cold too) and is really quick and simple to make and much lighter than the more traditional creamy potato salads.

(Serves 4)

  • Bag of new potatoes (organic)
  • Large handful of fresh mint
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  1. Boil the potatoes for around 10 minutes, until cooked
  2. Cool them under the cold water tap for a few moments (I tend to serve this dish warm, not hot to ensure that the mint stays crisp and doesn’t wilt)
  3. Serve with the olive oil, mint and salt and pepper
  • Sea salt and pepper to season

Banana and blueberry smoothie

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I always make a fresh juice or smoothie in the morning as I find it sets me up really well for the day ahead and doesn’t fill me up too much.  This is a really simple smoothie recipe to make and it’s really delicious.

(Serves 1)

  • 3 bananas
  • Handful of blueberries (either fresh or frozen)
  • Small cupful of water

Add all the ingredients to a jug and blend (I use a hand-held blender as it’s so quick and easy to clear up afterwards.

Blueberries are really, really great for us.  They’re packed full of antioxidants, vitamin C, B complex, vitamin A, vitamin E, copper, selenium, iron and zinc.  Pretty amazing little berries!

Chestnut mushroom, thyme and toasted pine nut risotto

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Mushroom risotto is one of my favourite comfort-foods.  Apart from the time spent stirring (which I actually find strangely therapeutic) it’s really simple to make and it’s just really delicious and always manages to make a bad day a bit better.  I served this one with a rocket salad plus ciabatta and some dipping oils plus a creamed asparagus dip.  (I bought the asparagus dip from an Italian deli but will definitely be making it in the future as it was really delicious and simple to make.)

(Serves 4)

For the risotto:

  • 1 large mug of Arborio rice
  • 2 punnets chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 2-3 pints of vegetable stock (I use Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes)
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • Handful of toasted pine nuts
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Drizzle the olive oil into a large pan
  2. Add the garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes to soften
  3. In a second pan add the vegetable stock and keep this simmering on a low heat 
  4. Add the rice and cook for a few minutes on a fairly high heat until the edge of the grains of rice begin to go translucent
  5. Turn the heat to low
  6. Add the glass of wine to the rice and stir
  7. Continue to stir the rice until the wine is absorbed, all the while “massaging” it in order to release the starch, which adds to the creamy texture of the risotto at the end
  8. Add stock from the other pan as you go and continue to stir the risotto for a few more minutes
  9. Add the mushrooms and half of the thyme
  10. Continue with the process of stirring and gradually adding the stock for approximately 40 minutes.  You want the rice to be cooked but still to retain a slightly nutty texture
  11. Before serving add the salt and pepper to taste, the toasted pine nuts and the remainder of the fresh thyme

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For the lemon dipping oil:

  • Small cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  1. Combine the ingredients and and allow to stand at least one hour before serving

For the rosemary dipping oil:

  • Small cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of fresh rosemary
  1. Combine the ingredients and leave to stand for at least one hour before serving

Serve with freshly baked ciabatta – You can make your own but I cheated and bought mine from Waitrose!

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Samphire salad with lemon and olive oil

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Samphire grows wild along the marshy coastlines and estuaries of Northern and Western Europe and has a distinctive fresh and salty taste.  Not only is it delicious but it’s also really good for us  – it’s high in vitamins A, C and B and is a great source of folic acid.  I’ve even heard it recently described as the “next big superfood”.

Samphire season in the UK is fairly short (July to August) so do make the most of it whilst you can.   I’ve often had it either deep-fried or lightly boiled in restaurants but I bought some today and it was so fresh that I just served it raw with lemon juice (to balance out the saltiness) and a drizzle of olive oil.

This makes a great side-dish.

  • Generous handful of samphire, washed, roughly chopped with stalks removed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients and serve