Soups & Salads

In my excitement of hosting dinner on Hogmanay, I got a little over enthusiastic when shopping for supplies ended up with lots of leftover salad leaves – two huge bags of rocket & spinach salad to be precise. I just hate the idea of people not having enough food, but then I also hate waste… a vicious circle! Until now, I had never used salad leaves in soup before, so was a little apprehensive. However, after consulting some friends and of course with twitter, the consensus was that it would work out ok.

And it did, quickly and easily I should mention too…

Add some peeled new potatoes and vegetable stock (ideally I would use some of Mr F&P’s homemade stock, but in the absence of that I use Knorr stock pots) to a large pot with the salad leaves and cook until the potatoes are soft. Throw in some frozen peas, a good three handfuls or so and cook for another five minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cool, then liquidise.

What you end up with is a rather delicious green pea, potato, rocket & spinach soup, served with a dash of cream and some freshly chopped chives. wpid-img_20150105_160113.jpg

wpid-img_20150105_155931.jpg

If you like the look of the side dish, that’s super easy too, and is lovely and light for lunch. Just smash up half an avocado in a bowl, add some chopped cherry tomatoes, a dash of lime and some chilli flakes and serve on a couple slices of fresh, lightly toasted brown baguette bread. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and enjoy.

wpid-img_20150105_160216.jpg

wpid-img_20150105_155751.jpg

wpid-img_20150105_155751.jpg

wpid-img_20150105_155931.jpg

Summer is getting roasty toasty

Sunshine and toes

There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a good Sunday roast throughout the summer months. You just need to swap your Yorkshire puddings and bread sauce for some crunchy salad leaves and a light gravy and you’re good to go.

Last weekend Mr F&P whipped up an awesome summer roast – it was just what I felt like after a busy weekend in Glasgow, and it fed us for a few days to follow too.

roast chicken side view

Just look at that incredible crispy skin!

roast chicken birds-eye view

He cooked up this impressive chicken with lots of butter, garlic, fresh rosemary & lemon. Mix a good dollop of butter, some crushed garlic, chopped rosemary and lemon juice together in a bowl, and brush over your bird. Don’t be stingy either, get it all on there, you don’t want your chicken to dry out in the oven. I like the skin to go really, really crispy and rubbing a good amount of salt on the chicken skin first will help you get there.

Look out a decent roasting dish and place your chicken on top of a bed of onions, chopped into quarters, and whatever else you’d like to roast – we had some carrots on the go with ours, but sweet peppers would be equally delicious. Remember to brush your veggies with a tiny bit of olive oil first.

How long you cook the chicken depends on the weight. This roast timer on the BBC website will give you all the timings and temperatures you need.

Next up, my favourite part, the roast potatoes. These are so easy to do. Just cover the potatoes in a good glug of quality olive oil and sprinkle plenty of rock salt over them, then pop them in the oven for 40-50mins. A little side note on oil – I can always find this olive oil in my nearest supermarket, and it’s great on salads or to cook with.  It’s worth remembering there are so many great, independent producers around these days, like Summer Harvest Oils, from Perthshire, who do a variety of rapeseed oils and dressings.

roast potatoes

Let’s get a close up of a few of those little pots…

roast potatoes close up

When your chicken is done and the potatoes are ready, simply serve with some fresh salad leaves and whatever else you fancy. I’m a bit obsessed with avocado at the moment, so that features in a lot of my salads dishes these days, but some ripe tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber did a fine job last weekend.  Fingers crossed it’s sunny and set up camp outside, sip on a chilled glass of vino blanco and tuck in! The juices in the bottom of the roasting dish make a lovely light gravy to go over the chicken, and don’t forget to get plenty of that yummy, crispy skin…

roast chicken plate

roast chicken plate 2

Oohhh look at those delicious roasted onions and that crispy, garlicky, crunchy skin…

roast chicken crispy skin

The big bonus? Make this on a Sunday and you can enjoy some amazing chicken salads and for the next few days at work, making all your colleagues super envious and looking totally together and healthy at work. It’s rare for me, but being that organised on a Monday feels amazing, try it for yourselves!

 

Summer Salad Soiree

This past week I dined with my book group girls. The book we are reading at the moment is Donna Tartt, The Secret History. I’ll be honest and say our group is fairly new, and the success rate at which we actually read and discuss book is around 50%… but that aside, we do put on a good spread!

This week we were at Ruth’s pad, and let me tell you, this is a girl who know how to do a good salad. If you don’t think salads can be exciting… well I’m going to let her prove you wrong. Here’s what we tucked into…

Salad table

Like me, she’s a fan sharing plates, and these salad dishes were perfect for our summer soiree. The main event was a butternut squash salad which was full of flavour and surprisingly filling. Here’s how to create Ruth’s bowl of goodness:

  • Chop up some butternut squash, toss the squash in rapeseed oil, half a teaspoon each of paprika, cumin and hot chilli powder and a pinch of sumac if you have it (harissa paste is nice too).
  • Roast at 200 until soft, about 25 mins.
  • Finely chop half a red onion put in a bowl and squeeze half a lime onto it and let it sit while you get everything else ready.
  • Simmer the bulgur wheat for 15 mins or until tender and let it cool a bit. Toss it all together with some spinach leaves once the squash and bulghar have cooled.
  • Add in about a tablespoon each of fresh herbs, it’s really up to use what you use, parsley, basil and chives are good.
  • Finally toast some pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and sprinkle on top then squeeze the other half of the lime on top and some olive oil.

Squash salad

Squash salad close up

Next up was a rather impressive, butterbean salsa dish. This was a really easy mix of tinned butterbeans (drained and rinsed), some chopped plum tomatoes, and about a quarter of a finely chopped red onion. Add a good gulg of olive oil, seasoning and a good handful of fresh herbs – parsley or coriander would work well. If you like a bit of punch in your salad you could always throw some chopped chilli into the mix.

Bean salsa

As we loaded our plates high we also tucked into some roasted peppers, grilled halloumi and iceberg lettuce. With some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and hummus also on the table, there was nothing holding us back from enjoying an amazingly fresh and tasty meal.

Roasted peppers

full plates

Our next meeting will no doubt be just as tasty, and hopefully we will have actually finished reading the book and can enjoy some intellectual discussion as well as oohing and ahhing at Ruth’s salad skills.

 

Easy Peasy Cous Cous Salad

salad headerCous Cous is a such a hassle free carbohydrate to add to a summery salad. I promise if you know how to cook it properly it doesn’t take much effort at all. At the weekend I enjoyed a tuna and cous cous salad, two days running in fact because I enjoyed it so much the first time!

To start, pop enough cous cous for one into a bowl, remember it fluffs up so you don’t need as much as you think. One small handful is probably enough for a salad (sorry, I weigh things in handfuls!) Once the kettle has boiled pour in just enough water to completely immerse the cous cous and have a thin layer of water sitting on top. Immediately cover the bowl with a plate. If you’re looking for a bit of extra flavour you can also pour in some stock flavoured water, same rules apply.

Using the rest of the water put an egg on to boil. Boil it in the shell or poach it if you fancy, however you think will be yummiest.

Whilst your egg is cooking and the cous cous is fluffing up, turn your attention to your salad bowl. This recipe couldn’t be simpler. As a general rule I just tend to use up what’s in the fridge. On day 1 it was tomato, cucumber and coriander, and on day 2 I swapped the cucumber for some lovely broad beans.

Once you’ve got all your items in your bowl, add half a tin of tuna to your salad bowl – I think you get a lot more flavour if you use tuna in sunflower oil, so don’t drain away all the oil before you add half the can, the oil acts as a bit of a dressing for the salad. Season with salt and paper.

After about 10 mins uncover your cous cous. By now all the water have been soaked up and the cous cous should look swollen and dry. Using a fork, fluff it up then add to your salad bowl and then peel your egg if required and pop it on top.

Finally, find a comfy spot to sit and enjoy!

Day 1 – tuna with cous cous, tomatoes, corriander and cucumber
Day 2 – tuna with cous cous, tomatoes, corriander and broad beans

Honey, Garlic and Chilli Chicken Salad

image

This chicken salad is really quick and easy to pull together, and it’s got lots of colour and flavour. Adding brown rice means it’s nice and filling for supper time too.

(FOR 2) Add your brown rice to a pan with water and cook for 20mins, lid on. I measured about one small, heaped handful of rice per person.

Then start by mixing up the dressing in  which the chicken will be cooked. Mix together a couple glugs of olive oil, a good squeeze of clear, runny honey, half a teaspoon of mustard powder and a splash of soy sauce. Pour the dressing over your chicken strips, leaving a little bit of dressing in the jar, and making sure the chicken strips completely coated. Then add the chicken to a pan or wok on a high heat. After a few minutes add one clove of garlic and one red chilli, both roughly chopped, to your pan. Turn the heat down and allow to cook for a further 15 mins.

Whilst that’s cooking away prepare your salad bowls with a layer of mixed lettuce leaves, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Then you can really add any salad items you like – I added avocado, sweetcorn and carrot shavings.

Once the chicken had cooked through and the rice is ready, plate up! Rice first then layer chicken on top. Make sure you pour over any excess dressing you left in the jar. Finally, I added a few herbs on top, parsley just because I had it to hand.

A quick and healthy spring salad that you can alter easily depending on what’s in the fridge. Enjoy!