Tag Archives: Salad

How to Liven Up Limp Lettuce

 

How to Liven Up Limp Lettuce How to Liven Up Limp Lettuce

You know what it’s like, you buy a nice crispy lettuce and before you know it, it’s turned into a sad scrawny version of its former self – even if you have kept it in the salad drawer of the fridge.  But, you’ll be glad to know it’s really easy to spruce it up.  Even if the lettuce is really limp and weary, this’ll work.

Fill the sink with cold water from the tap, break the lettuce leaves from the stalk and place them in the sink.  Make sure they are covered and just leave them there for a couple of hours.  I promise, you’ll be amazed at how they recover.  Even if you don’t have a couple of hours, depending on how far gone your leaves are, even 10 minutes can make a difference, so give this a go before you trash your lettuce.

Once they’ve crisped, dry them off either in a salad spinner or with a clean tea towel and you can use them in your salad.  If you have crisped up more leaves than you need, you can keep them fresh wrapped in a damp tea towel in salad drawer of the fridge.

Of course this won’t work if the leaves are brown and slimy, only if they are limp.

How to Liven Up Limp Lettuce

 

Roast Red Pepper and Potato Salad

Roast Red Pepper and Potato Salad

Roast Red Pepper and Potato Salad:

If you follow me on facebook or twitter or google+ or even instagram you might have noticed a couple of weeks ago I posted about a really good bargain I found on red peppers.  10 Euro for 10 kilo!  I couldn’t resist.  So off I trotted home with my peppers under my arm and a head full of ideas on how to use them.  This was my first recipe – I think because I’m always looking for these kind of salads.  I like to combine my vegetables and carbs in the one dish.  Saves on time (and dishes, and pans), but it also means that I can cut down on the carb element without it being too noticeable (for me, anyway).  Not that I’m particularly worried about carbs, I’m not one of those cooks, not at all, but every little helps, right?

 Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6
The Salad
700gr / 1.5lb. potatoes, boiled in their skins and cut into bite sized cubes (use new potatoes when in season).
200gr / 7oz. green beans, cooked and chopped roughly
150gr / 5oz. cooked chorizo, sliced thinly.
1 x tbsp olive oil
2 x medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
5 x spring onions cut into 5cm / 2in. lengths
3 x red peppers de-seeded and chopped roughly
A large handful of fresh flat parsley leaves chopped finely
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

The Dressing
1 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of a lemon
2 x tsps honey

Method

  1. Set your oven to heat to 200°C/400°F.
  2. Lay the tomatoes in the bottom of a roasting tray evenly, then the chorizo, the peppers and the spring onions. Drizzle over the oil and place in the oven for up to 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and browned.
  3. Whilst the vegetables are roasting, mix the dressing ingredients together, set aside and place the potatoes, beans and parsley into your serving bowl.
  4. When the vegetables are ready empty them into your serving bowl (still warm or you can cool them first, whatever suits best), pour over the dressing, toss through until everything is evenly combined, check for seasoning and serve.

Roast Red Pepper and Potato Salad

Tips and Variations

  • This is a great salad to serve with roast chicken or lamb.
  • I often use leftover potatoes and beans or other vegetables, but if you need to cook them especially for this recipe, just boil the beans in the same pan as the potatoes – they will only need a few minutes.
  • Instead of potatoes, rice or chickpeas work well too.

 

Cavolo Nero with Beetroot

Cavolo Nero with Beetroot

Cavolo Nero with Beetroot

Every time I’m lucky enough to travel I still marvel at the creativity other countries have with vegetables.  I can’t believe I was brought up on that British/Scottish and in some ways northern European obsession with boiling the life out of everything green (apart from maybe lettuce).  This recipe is based on a side dish I had on a recent trip to Greece.  Of course, I can’t find the exact greens because the owner of the little taverna grew them on his own plot of land behind the restaurant, but I think the Cavolo Nero comes close.  Cavolo Nero, or black cabbage is a new one for me, but I really like it.  I’m not a huge fan of kale and although I love spinach, sometimes it’s nice to have an alternative.  Although I ate this dish in the warm Greek sunshine, I find it just as compatible with a cold winter’s evening.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
1 x tbsp olive oil
1 x shallot chopped finely
2 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
10  – 12 leaves of cavolo nero Italian cabbage chopped roughly
300gr / 10.5 oz. cooked beetroot chopped in rough bite sized pieces
Juice of a lemon
50gr / 1.7 oz. feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a high sided pan and add the shallot and garlic. Cook on a relatively high heat for a minute or so.  Just until the shallot and garlic take on some colour, be careful they don’t burn, especially the garlic.
  2. Add the cabbage, salt and pepper, stir through then cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the leaves have softened – not too mushy though.
  3. Then add the beetroot to your cavalo neron, mix through just to heat it up a little, add the lemon juice – I do this half at a time, just in case it’s too much. Check the seasoning and adjust if need be.
  4. Serve topped with crumbled feta.

Tips and Variations

  • Try with kale or spinach. Spinach needs much less cooking, only seconds really.
  • You can also add some chili flakes or fresh chili. I do this at the beginning when I’m cooking off the shallot and garlic.  To give it a bit more body, you can fry off some bacon bits too.
  • Instead of feta, other cheeses that work well grated over this dish are pecorino or manchego. If you don’t fancy cheese, drizzle over a little natural or Greek yogurt instead.
  • You can also grate the zest of the lemon over this dish.

  Cavolo Nero with Beetroot

Chicken in Preserved Lemon Marinade with Spinach Salad

Chicken in Preserved Lemon Marinade with Spinach Salad

Chicken in Preserved Lemon Marinade with Spinach Salad

I always seem to have some kind of version of this meal in my recipe rotation.  This is the latest.  Inspired this time by preserved lemons.  One of those ingredients that I became aware of a few years ago, but didn’t know how to work with them.  This was my first attempt – seems like my strategy is to stay in my comfort zone of chicken and salad and to experiment from there.  I’m pleased to say that this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes plus up to 2 hours to marinate the chicken.
Cooking Time:  20 minutes

Serves: 4
Ingredients
For the Chicken
The meat from 2 to 3 boned, skinned chicken thighs per person
2 x preserved lemons chopped finely
2 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
4 x tbsp honey
3 x tsps coriander
1 x tsp cinnamon
2 x large garlic cloves, crushed
Salt to taste (I always taste this marinade before I add salt because the preserved lemons can be salty enough)
Optional: Some dried chili

Optional: Some toasted almonds to dress

The Spinach and Rice Salad
1 x large red onion chopped finely
100gr / 3.5oz. baby spinach
300gr / 10.5oz. rice, cooked and cooled
4 x tomatoes with their seeds removed and chopped finely
A handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped roughly

Salad Dressing
3 x tbsp olive oil
Juice of one Lemon
2 x tbsp honey
2 x tsp coriander
1 x tsp cumin
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Bring the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl, add your chicken and cover it in the lemon marinade. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours if you can.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°F, place the chicken in a roasting tray lined with aluminium foil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken has browned a little and is cooked through.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, you can make the salad. Stir the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
  4. Place all the salad ingredients in a bowl and mix them evenly. Only pour over the dressing when you are ready to serve otherwise it will wilt your leaves and the salad will become limp.  Toss the dressing through the salad gently with two large metal spoons.
  5. Check your salad for seasoning and serve the chicken on top with some toasted almonds sprinkled over the dish.

 Tips and Variations

  • If you are making this marinade for a lesser quantity of chicken I keep the measurements the same.
  • Once cooked, the chicken can keep for a couple of days in the fridge – great with all kinds of salads or in a sandwich.
  • The cooking time on your chicken may vary based on the thickness of the meat. If you feel the top is colouring too much before the meat is cooked you can place some aluminium foil over it for part of the cooking time to protect it as well as the chicken from drying out.
  • If there are nice juices in the bottom of your roasting tray, add them to the salad dressing.

 

Crete Tomato Salad

Crete Tomato Salad
Crete Tomato Salad

There’s been a couple of Greek influences on my life recently.  I went on holiday to Crete in June, last week I visited my old pal Caterina at her Greek Deli, Olivity last week and, it looks like I’ll be travelling to Greece again in a couple of months.

Since my visit to Crete, I’ve been obsessing about making some of their classics, this is my first, a simple but delicious tomato salad.  Don’t get scared about all the olive oil – that’s how they roll in Crete – they are the biggest consumers of the stuff in the world, could it be a coincidence that they have the lowest level of heart disease?

If you are in Amsterdam and you are looking for some really tasty authentic Greek treats and hospitality, pay a visit to Caterina, I love her orange cake, it’s just soooo luscious, one slice is never enough.  And of course that’s where I picked up the ‘dakos’ (Cretan rusks) for this salad.  The Cretans eat their dakos with practically every meal and it is a great crunchy accompaniment to salads and I love it with tzatziki.

 

Crete Tomato Salad

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Serves: 4

8 to 10 medium sized, ripe, good quality tomatoes chopped quite finely
100m / 3.5 fl. oz.  extra virgin olive oil (best is from Crete or other Greek olive oil)
100gr / 3.5 oz. feta cheese
A handful of chopped, fresh oregano (or about a tbsp of dried)
4 to 6 pieces of Cretan rusks – ‘Dakos’ ( or Swedish style crisp rolls if you can’t get the Greek ones, or you can use whole meal Dutch beschuit – crisp bakes)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Method

  1. Place your tomatoes in a serving bowl, pour over the oil, stir in the oregano salt and pepper and serve with the feta crumbled over the top and the rusks on the side of the dish.

Tips and Variations

  • This salad is all about the quality of the ingredients, of course it is, it is so simple that you really have to make sure you use the best – no point in doing this with winter tomatoes.

Crete Tomato Salad