The year was 2013 when I posted a dish by the Hairy Dieters to illustrate on strange food habits. Like, for example, eating over and over again the same dish or ingredient for a whole season. Over and over again… The dish in question was orange and fennel salad with harissa dressing (here). Almost 2 years after, another fennel and citrus salad shows up, this time to explain that grapefruit (and avocado) are my food crazes of 2015. Well, citrus were exceptionally good this year and any excuse was good to have them. Not trying to convert this in a head to head citrus salad competition…. this one is a more sophisticated and chefy, ideal to impress dinner parties mobile calorie intake units guests. Also, it calls for the best ingredients you can find. There is no harissa to hide in this one. In any case, totally worth the effort.
Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint (adapted from a Matthew Accarrino’s recipe found in Food & Wine Magazine)
- 2 red grapefruits
- 2 navel oranges
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 2 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons small mint leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and white pith from the grapefruits and oranges. Working over bowl, cut between the membranes to release the sections into the bowl. Squeeze the membranes to extract the juice. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice and season with salt. [You most likely won’t need all the juice] In a shallow serving bowl, toss the fennel and citrus sections with the dressing. Garnish with the mint leaves and ground coriander and serve right away.
A bit more nutritious and wholesome than regular tabouleh, but a very interesting spin on this dish. The kind of stuff that makes you look forward for your lunch box…
Pearl barley tabouleh with marinated feta (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)
- 40g pearl barley
- 100g feta cheese
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp za’atar
- ½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 80g parsley, leaves and stems
- 4 spring onions (about 40g in total), finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 40g cashew nuts, lightly toasted and crushed roughly
- 1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into 1cm dice
- ½ teasponn ground allspice
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 60ml olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
Put the pearl barley in a small saucepan, cover with water and boil for 30-35 minutes, until tender but still with a bite. Drain into a fine sieve, shake to remove all the water and transfer to a large bowl.
Break the feta into rough pieces about 2cm in size, and mix in a small bowl with the olive oil, za’atar, coriander seeds and cumin. Gently mix together and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Chop the parsley finely and place in a bowl with the spring onion, garlic, cashew nuts, green pepper, allspice, lemon juice, olive oil and cooked pearl barley. Mix well together and season to taste.
A memory of the Summer that has never been… Very easy to do, bold flavours and can be prepared in advance. What’s not to like..?
Fennel with radishes and sumac (Adapted from The Guardian’s The 10 best salad drawer recipes)
- 3 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 small fennel bulb, about 200g
- 200g radishes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Seeds of ¼ pomegranate (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of sumac
1 Have ready a bowl of water with 1 tbsp of lemon juice in it. Finely slice the fennel using a mandoline and place in the acidulated water until just ready to serve, to prevent it discolouring.
2 Finely slice the radishes and place in a bowl. Whisk the oil and remaining lemon juice together. Drain the fennel and mix with the radishes. Drizzle over the dressing and toss gently. Strew the salad over a large serving platter and scatter with the pomegranate seeds, if using. Finish with a dusting of sumac and a little salt then serve straight away.
I would have never thought raw broccoli could taste this good… Please don’t even mention it is often considered a super-food (whatever that means), that raw broccoli has more anti-oxidants than cooked one and how much finer it has. It supposed to be a side dish for a dinner party, not a statement piece or declaration of intentions, OK?
Broccoli slaw (adapted from MailOnline’s Food special part one: Gordon Ramsay’s ultimate home cooking)
- 1 head of broccoli
- 100g raisins
- 100g whole blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
For the dressing
- 200ml natural yoghurt
- 1–11⁄2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- pinch of sugar
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut off and discard the broccoli stalks. Chop the head into small pieces. Place in a salad bowl and add the almonds and currants. Set aside.
Put the yoghurt for the dressing into a bowl and stir in the vinegar, starting with 1 tablespoon, and adding more later if needed. Add the sugar, mix well and season. Taste and add the remaining vinegar or a little extra sugar if necessary.
Pour the dressing over the broccoli, toss well and serve. In case you want to prepare it advance, you can kept in the fridge overnight.
Beetroots again! It has been while – but here they are again… #Beetrootgate proceeds with a lovely salad of contrasting flavours and different textures. Add a bit of feta cheese for a full meal, perfect for a lunch box.
Beetroot, apple and walnuts salad with yoghurt and cumin seeds dressing (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 2 medium cooked beetroots (not pickled), cut into small cubes
- 20g blanched hazelnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 2 chicory heads, trimmed.
- 2 red apples, like gala
- 1/2 small red onion
- small handful of fresh mint leaves
- small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
- 150g of low fat yoghurt
- the juice and the zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2 teaspoon of runny honey
Slip the beetroots out of their skins. Cut them into wedges and then into cubes
Roughly chop the hazelnuts on a board. Tip them into a colander and give it a good shake until get rid of all the small powdery bits. Reserve the big chunky ones.
Scatter the nuts into a non-stick frying pan and toast over a medium-high heat for about 5min or until lightly browned, turning them as they cook. Add the cumin seeds and toast together for about 1-2min. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl.
Cut each head of chicory lengthways into 6 thin wedges and put them in a salad bowl; alternatively you can separate the some leaves. Cut the apple into quarters, remove the core and the slice the apple quarters fairly thinly. Peel and finely slice the onion. Roughly chop the mint and parsley leaves.
Lightly toss the chicory, apple, onion, hazelnuts, cumin seeds and herbs together. Scatter the beetroot on top of the salad and mix gently. Scatter around the dressing to taste
Apparently, it is one of the most popular Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes – and rightly so…. A few tweaks to the recipe, though. Onions were replaced by leeks as one of the
mobile calorie intake units guests is allergic to it. Fresh figs were replaced my dried ones, due to sourcing and budgetary constraints. Probably not the dish Yotam envisioned, but still… it is a pretty good way to start your Autumn.
- 4 small sweet potatoes (1 kg in total)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 40ml balsamic vinegar (you can use a commercial rather than a premium aged grade)
- 20g caster sugar
- 3 leeks halved lengthways and cut into thin slices
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
- 250g of dried figs, sliced
- Maldon sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 240oC/220oC Fan/Gas Mark 9.
Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again similarly into three long wedges. Mix with three tablespoons of the olive oil, two teaspoons of salt and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
To make a balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2–4 minutes, or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools.
Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter.
Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan and add the spring onions and chilli. Fry on a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes.
Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature.
From an off-season salad to a totally in season one, courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi. It seems an odd combination of flavours, but they really go well together: the anise flavor of the fennel, sweetness of the pears, the saltiness of the cheese, the freshness of the lemon, the bitterness of the rucola…. It could well be one of the dishes of this Autumn (minus pecorino cheese, for a sensible calorie count).
Pear and fennel salad with caraway and pecorino (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half lengthways, then each half cut sideways into 2mm slices
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tsp caraway seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- Salt and black pepper
- 10g picked dill
- 75g rocket
- 3 medium ripe conference pears, peeled, quartered lengthways, cored and cut into 0.5cm wedges
- 60g pecorino, thinly shaved
Mix the lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the fennel and leave to soften for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Put the oil, caraway, maple syrup, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some black pepper into a small bowl, strain in the lemon and vinegar from the fennel bowl and stir well.
Add the dill, rocket, pear and pecorino to the fennel bowl, pour on the dressing, toss lightly and serve.
Melons are now totally off season, but it is still worthwhile to post this super light, super healthy and super refreshing little salad. It was the best Summer dish * ever *… Too bad I couldn’t do it more ofter.
Melon, cucumber and courgette salad with olives onion (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall column in The Guardian)
- ½ large cucumber (about 200g, deseeded and cut in half moon slices about 2mm thick)
- 1 medium courgette (about 200g, cut into 2mm thick slices)
- ¼ small charentais or galia melon (about 200gm sliced as above)
- 50g pitted black olives, chopped as above
- Juice of ½ small lemon
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Quarter the cucumber lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and slice into thin quarter-moons about 2mm thick. Put the slices in a large bowl.
Top and tail the courgette, quarter it lengthways and cut into pieces the same thickness as the cucumber. Add to the bowl.
Scoop the seeds out of the melon. Carefully slice the melon off its skin, then cut it first lengthways into two to three slender wedges, then crosswise, as with the cucumber and courgette. Add to the bowl.
Roughly chop the olives and add to the salad.
Squeeze over the lemon juice, trickle over the oil, give it a good seasoning and stir together gently. Taste, add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed, and serve straight away
Every now and again, I find a dish that I like so much I do it over and over and over again. Like, for example, the Russian egg salad. Or, this cauliflower soup. And, let’s not even mention the whole #beetrootgate affair. This is one of those dishes, which has become one of the staples of last Winter (and Spring… and even Summer). It is just divine with smoked trout, baked salmon, cold cuts… And all this for less than 250 calories for a reasonable sized portion. Really, what not to like this salad?
Fennel orange salad with harissa dressing (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 2 medium size fennel bulbs, trimmed, woody central core part removed and thinly sliced
- 2-3 oranges peeled (white parts out) and cut into 5cm chunks.
- 1/2 radicchio washed and thinly sliced (escarole or endive also will also works well)
- About 20 roasted salted almost slightly crushed with a mortar
- Handfull of raisins or sultanas (or a mix of both).
For the harissa dressing
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 white wine vinegar
- 1 pinch ground coriander
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place the sliced fennel in a salad bowl. Carefully remove the white bitter parts of the orange and slice the oranges to divide flesh sections. Add to the bowl Crush the roasted salted almonds with a mortar and tip in the bowl. Add the sliced radicchio In a small bowl whisk well the harissa, honey, coriander and white wine vinegar. Pour in the olive oil in a very thin stream (spoon by spoon), beating all the while. The sauce is ready when it you obtain a glossy, slightly thick mixture. Drizzle the harissa dressing over the salad and gently toss to combine. Serve immediately.
To keep up with the asparagus season, an impromptu picnic by the lake presented itself as an ideal excuse to make this salad… An almost empty cupboard forced me to do a few wild tweaks to the original recipe, though. The feta cheese was replaced by soft goat cheese. Less salty, indeed, but it made the salad creamier with occasional bursts of flavour. The quinoa was first replaced by barley (really bad idea) and then by wheat (much more successful). All, in all, it was a perfect dish for the a perfect summer day by the lake…
Grilled asparagus, red pepper, creamy got cheese and wheat salad (adapted from the The 10 best asparagus recipes’ column on The Guardian)
- 250g wheat (Triticum turgidum)
- 900g green asparagus
- 2 tbsp olive oil, for drizzling
- 200g roasted, marinated red bell peppers, drained and cut in to bite-size pieces
- 200g soft goat cheese
- 100g fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley (reserve some leaves for garnishing)
For the dressing
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp roast cumin seeds, crushed with a mortar
Rinse the wheat and prepare it according to the instructions in the packet.
To prepare the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice. Gently crush the cumin seeds with a pestle and add to the dressing.
Rinse and pat the asparagus dry and place on a plate. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus and roll them until well coated. Season with salt. Arrange the asparagus in a hot griddle pan and cook, turning as needed, until nicely marked on all sides without being burned (it takes about 8 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, dressing, roasted peppers, cheese and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Add the grilled asparagus and gently combine. Serve at room temperature.