Salsa Verde

There is something amazing about Salsa Verde. Perhaps it’s the versatility of it; it really does go with everything from meat and fish to vegetables and potatoes. The perfect accompliment to a summer barbecue. It’s a recipe that packs a punch, so if you appreciate strong bold flavours, you’ll fall in love with it for sure.

Salsa Verde translates simply to ‘Green Sauce’. There are literally millions of versions out there, Italian, French, Spanish, Mexican. You name it, almost every country appears to have their own version incorporating different herbs and cold raw ingredients. The recipe below is my perfect balance of flavours.

A small amount of this Salsa Verde will totally transform any dinner into something truly remarkable. It keeps well in the fridge and even gets better with time. That’s if you have any left; it was so popular with my barbecue guests I had none left to save. Much to my disappointment.

You can keep it refrigerated for about a week and a half, or you could freeze it. Pop it into ice-cube trays and use them to jazz up pasta dishes and soups.




Roasted Vegetable Quinoa with Lime and Mustard Dressing

Howdy foodies. Apologies, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy, working, studying and wedding planning. The wedding is just over 3 months away. Eek! Jemima has also been running me ragged, leaving my blog somewhat abandoned. I have been busy in the kitchen though, I’m finding my stride again. And, we’ve been putting the outside kitchen and terrace to use for barbecues, hence this post tonight; to tell you all about a special summer veggie dish I made last weekend.

This really is a super simple and deliciously tasty quinoa dish, and it was a huge hit. Strangely, not only amongst my female guests as one might expect.

Richard often pulls a funny face at the mere suggestion of something like cous cous or quinoa. Like it isn’t manly enough for him or something. That said, he really enjoyed this recipe. Having to admit defeat and confess that it had “loads of flavour” in his words, although it probably pained him to say, no doubt. He sees food like quinoa as a ‘fad’ that nobody actually likes. I admit that plain quinoa would be bland, boring and quite frankly a chore to eat. Throw in the mix though some delicious roasted vegetables and a zingy dressing and it’s transformed into a bright summery dish that is a pleasure to eat.

The dish will serve about six to eight people as a side dish, or it would stretch to four weekday lunches for work. I know I enjoyed the left over portion for my lunch yesterday. I would say this is fine to keep in the fridge for around 4-5 days, just pop it in an airtight container to keep it fresh.



Butternut Squash & Feta Quinoa Salad

When I’ve nothing scrumptious left over from dinner the night before, or simply don’t have time to make lunch I pop to the supermarket in search of a ready-made salad or sandwich. Let’s face it, from time to time most of us end up eating packaged flavourless and quite often disappointing lunches we’ve grabbed on the way into the office. However, a few weeks back I was pleasantly surprised by a Tesco packaged salad – it was utterly delicious, but at £3 a pop it’s a little over-priced.
I decided I’d have a go at making it myself – and it was just as good. I didn’t follow the ingredients list exactly; as you well know these supermarkets love an ingredients list that’s as long as your arm. But, I ensured all of the big flavours were captured and it really was great.
The best thing about this salad is that its part of the Tesco Healthy Living range, so we know it’s good for us. I made a big bowl as a side dish for our barbecue and everyone loved it. This salad is so easy to prepare, the only cooking involved is the roasted vegetables. I bought the bulgur wheat and quinoa already cooked, so it’s really just a case of assembling the ingredients. What could be easier than that?
Cooked Bulgur Wheat and Quinoa (I used a mixed bag)
500g butternut squash (about half a large squash), cubed
Pack of feta cheese, cubed
100g cooked soya beans
1 can chickpeas, drained
Half a red pepper, diced
Half a yellow pepper, diced
Two handfuls of raw spinach, finely sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g low fat natural yoghurt
Bunch of mint, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by placing the peppers and butternut squash onto a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season. Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven on 180⁰C for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile re-heat the bulgur wheat and quinoa and place in a large bowl. Add the soya beans, chickpeas, spinach, red onion and half of the mint – season well and mix to combine. Once the peppers and squash have cooled add them to the bowl too. Top with the feta and mix carefully to ensure you don’t break the feta up. The salad is now ready to serve.

To make the dressing, mix the yoghurt, lemon zest, juice and remaining mint in a smaller bowl. Serve this on the side. 

Garlic, Lemon & Mint Roast Lamb

Roast lamb; my ultimate favourite, but so often overcooked. For me, meat is always far more tasty when it’s not completely overdone and getting a nice leg, or in this case half a leg, on the bone is best, it stays perfectly succulent. To be perfectly honest, cooked just right lamb barely needs improving by stacking on flavour upon flavour, but this combination works so beautifully. The lemon provides a wonderful citrus base, offset by the bite of five cloves of garlic and the fresh mint. What’s not to love?

As far as I am concerned Sundays are for nothing more than roast dinners and red wine, followed by a game of cards in the pub. I know, hard to believe I’m only 24 right! I often have my roast in the pub, I figure that if I’ll end up there later, I may as well grab a paper and do the cross word while someone else sweats over the hot stove, and washes the dishes. But, every now and again I feel it’s time to spend a Sunday at home. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday.

So I’m not going to write a huge post about how to pull together a roast with all the trimmings. I’m guessing most of you already know how to cook a roast, and if you’re one of those who haven’t mastered it yet, you’re probably not interested anyway. It’s all in the timing. Something that’s taken me ages to perfect. I can remember when I first started making roast dinners, the meat would be done before everything else, the potatoes soggy and the vegetables a little too al dente. But alas, I persevered and can say with a great sense of British pride that I am now able to cook a bloody good roast dinner.  

I probably loved this as much for the taste as I did the quickness of preparing it. Anything with that much flavour that can be rustled up in minutes is a no-brainer.

In a bowl, pour out equal parts olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 60mls of each), add five chopped garlic cloves and a packed of freshly chopped mint. Give the mixture a good stir.

Using a sharp knife cut incisions into the meat at 1cm intervals; don’t cut too deep otherwise the meat will dry out. Season the meat with salt and pepper before covering with the marinade, making sure that you allow the marinade to get right into the incisions.

Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Cook when ready.