Category Archives: Salads

Middle Eastern Pearl Barley Salad

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It’s the hint of sweet spices, orange juice and currants that I love most in this Middle Eastern spiced pearl barley salad.  The flavours and the irresistible turmeric colouring infuse into the nutty pearl barley, making every mouthful layered with taste. A sprinkling of toasted almonds, garnished over the top, adds the perfect and necessary crunchy texture to this salad. So it’s no surprise when people ask me to ‘bring a salad’ this is often the one I resort to.

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Let’s face it, dried grains, particularly pearl barley, are a very affordable way of feeding people. And unlike some of the other more robust pulses (chickpeas or black beans) pearl barley can be cooked straight from the packet, no pre soaking required. It makes it an excellent choice for those who forget to plan ahead – or for those who tend to leave cooking to the last minute.

This salad doubles as a side dish, and it works served either cold or served warm. Try it with these barbecued lamb skewers, or even this delicious Moroccan roasted chicken .

It combines effortlessly with an arrangement of other salads, like with this roasted cauliflower salad, or this Kale and pickled carrot slaw.

Because of the filling nature of grain salads there are often left overs (I’m not complaining). Put them to good use. I sometimes fry up any remaining pearl barley and eat it rolled in a wrap the next day with some tahini, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and green salad leaves.  It’s perfect lunch time fare.

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Middle Eastern Pearl Barley Salad

Ingredients 

1 cup pearl barley

1 brown onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 stick celery, roughly chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp all spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin

1/3 cup dried currants

1 orange

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/3 cup toasted slithered almonds

Place the pearl barley in a pot, cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil and cook for 35 – 40 minutes or till pearl barley is just cooked through. Drain and rinse briefly under hot water, set aside.

Meanwhile, place the roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery in a food processor and blitz lightly to a small dice.

Warm 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add the vegetables, all the spices and a large pinch of salt, stir and cover with a lid, cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes.

Zest half the orange, then juice the whole orange. Add the orange zest and juice to the saucepan along with the currants, cover with a lid again and cook a further five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for flavours to infuse for 10 minutes.

Place the spiced vegetables and currants in a medium bowl, add the cooked pearl barley and chopped parsley, stir well to combine. Check the seasoning, and drizzle with a little more extra virgin oil if needed.

Serve on a platter or in a large bowl and scatter with the toasted almonds.

Any left overs store in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Roasted Brussel Sprout And Chickpea Salad With Garlic Yoghurt

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A dear friends Aunty who I lived with for six months in Brighton, the UK, (20 odd years ago now), would steam her brussels for hours on end.

On a Sunday morning (it was always a Sunday) she would begin the day by steaming the vegetables for the evening meal (gulp). The poor overcooked brussel sprouts would then sit all day on the stove top sweating in their pot till we all came home from the pub and she’d proceeded to heat them again before serving our Sunday roast with something I can only refer to as muck.

It was a crime against the vegetables and one that brussel sprouts never made a recovery from. That is till this year, when I pushed aside those horrid memories and took to roasting them.

 

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Suddenly there was reason to love this misrepresented vegetable. To write a recipe for it. To post it here on this food blog.

I urge anyone who has a brussel sprout phobia to fight back. To say ‘No’ to hating brussel sprouts, and ‘Yes’ to roasting them.

This quick and easy way of preparing them with za’atar, garlic, chickpeas and extra virgin olive oil is so delicious, and so simple, that it is side dish you will be sure to fall back on time-and-time-again.

It’s a side dish to serve with a roast, or a good steak, or any number of other vegetable dishes like creamy potatoes and baked pumpkin.

And what I really love about this dish is the whole cloves of garlic, roasted with the sprouts then skinned and chopped and folded through Greek yoghurt with mint if you fancy, the taste is strong yet subtle, creamy and rounded.

 

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Roasted brussel sprout and chickpea salad with garlic yoghurt 

600g brussel sprouts, washed and halved

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp za’atar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle at the end

4 cloves garlic, smashed but kept in their skin

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

1/2 cup Greek natural yoghurt

1 tbsp chopped mint

1tbsp lemon juice

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Cut the washed brussel sprouts in half and place in a large bowl. Add the drained chickpeas, za’atar, 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and sea salt and cracked pepper, toss till well coated.

Line a large tray with baking paper and spread the brussels over the tray. Roast for 30 minutes, or till roasted and caramalised looking.  Half way through cooking sprinkle the sprouts with 1 tbsp water to add moisture during the roasting process.

Set the sprouts aside and pick out the garlic, remove the skin and chop it to a fine paste, combine the garlic with the yoghurt, mint, lemon juice, 1 tbsp water, and season with sea salt and pepper.

Dollop the garlic yoghurt all over the brussel sprouts and serve warm.

Kale And Pickled Carrot Slaw With Green Tahini

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I have about half a dozen fantastic salads I’ve been eating over the summer that have all been on high rotation. There’s barely been a sandwich in sight!

And why not? Salads have become the staple that make me happy. They lessen the guilt of chocolate… cheese… and wine… The simpler the salad the better. Like this kale and quick pickled carrot salad.

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To be honest, a lot of the salads I make use tahini in the dressing (just quietly, I think I’m addicted!). I truly can’t stop eating tahini. I love that there’s always a jar in my pantry. I love that it’s a great source of calcium (among other nutritional benefits). I love that it goes so brilliantly with lemon, let alone when you blend it with lots of parsley too.

Oh, and I only buy the un-hulled tahini. The hull is left on during the processing leaving the nutrients in the tahini.  Basically it’s the wholegrain version.

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This fabulous kale coleslaw is simple and easy but does require a little preparation the day before. The quick pickled carrots may not be as quick as some would prefer. They need a day to pickle. But in comparison to the several weeks that my other pickled vegetables are left to mature, I think they can retain their title of ‘Quick’. Everything else is raw and can be shredded right before eating.

For those who like to dabble in leftovers, this green tahini coleslaw keeps in the fridge far better than one that’s dressed with mayonnaise. It’s fabulous the next day piled in a fresh piece of Lebanese bread, drizzled with chilli oil and lightly grilled.

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Kale and quick pickled carrot coleslaw with green tahini 

 

For the quick pickled carrots – start the day before – makes 750ml jar

3 cups thinly sliced (peeled) carrots – 2mm thick, use a mandoline if you have one

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

10 whole black pepper corns

2cm piece fresh turmeric sliced, or substitute 1/2 tsp ground dried turmeric

  • Rinse a 750ml jar with boiling water. Place the sliced carrots in the jar.
  • Place the vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, turmeric and 125ml water in a pot and bring to the boil. Cook on a rapid heat for 3 minutes.
  • Whilst hot, pour the pickling liquid into the jar over the carrots. Seal the lid, and leave to pickle on the bench for 24 hours. After 24 hours store the carrots in the fridge.

For the kale coleslaw 

2 cups of shredded kale

2 cups shredded white cabbage

1 large celery stick washed and sliced thinly on an angle

1/2 cup sliced pickled carrots, sliced into thin match sticks

Sesame seeds and chopped mint to garnish

For the dressing

1/3 cup un-hulled tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup picked parsley leaves

1/4 cup water

Sea salt and white pepper

  • Combine the shredded kale, cabbage, celery and carrot.
  • Place all the ingredients for the green tahini dressing in a blender. Blitz for 45 seconds till well combined.
  • Pour the dressing over the kale and cabbage and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds and roughly chopped mint.

 

(C) Copy right 2016 – Kale and quick pickled carrot coleslaw with green tahini

Turmeric Potato Salad With Red Quinoa And Yoghurt

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This is far from the conventional mayonnaise based potato salad that most people have in their repertoire. This little beauty uses fresh turmeric added to the potatoes before boiling so the colour leaches out and stains the potatoes a vibrant yellow.

It’s flavoured with coriander seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds, which are all roasted off in a pan first to best release their flavour.

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Each time I make this salad my head starts to nod of it’s own accord. I cheer the brilliance of turmerics soft gentle flavour and what roasted spices can do here, and that just right flavour that slow cooked onions adds to this dish.

And there’s the yoghurt. Spices and yoghurt could go with just about anything. Wouldn’t you agree?

This extraordinary tasting salad can be eaten warm or cold. As a side to a steak, chicken or fish. As part of a buffet of salads, or even served in a wholemeal wrap with extra yoghurt and coriander. The possibilities are endless. So spice it up.

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Turmeric potato salad with quinoa and yoghurt

Ingredients

900g desiree potatoes

35-40g fresh turmeric

1/4 cup red quinoa

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tsp nigella seeds

1 brown onion, sliced thinly

2 tbsp chopped coriander stem, plus coriander leaves for garnish

Rice bran oil

Greek style yoghurt

1/2 lemon juiced

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Leave the skin on the potatoes and cut them into 4cm dice. Place in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add the grated turmeric and a large pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or till potatoes are just soft. Drain and leave to steam in the colander for 5 or more minutes.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a small pot, cover with water bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes, drain and set aside.

Place the coriander seed, cumin seed and nigella seed in a separate small pan. Toast the spices till they start to pop. Cool slightly them ground roughly using a mortar and pestle.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frypan. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook on a low heat for about 8 minutes, till caramalised. Set the onion aside.

Wipe out the fry pan and add 1 tbsp oil, add the cooked potatoes and fry lightly in the pan for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander stem, cooked onion, roasted ground spices and cooked quinoa. Toss to combine. Season with lemon juice and taste for extra salt and pepper.

Serve the potatoes on a large platter, garnish with dollops of yoghurt and picked coriander leaves.

(C) Copy right 2016 : Food From Michelle’s Kitchen Turmeric potato salad with red quinoa and yoghurt

Zucchini, Tuna And Borlotti Bean Salad With Chilli And Lemon

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Not even I can deny the convenience of opening a can of pulses, rinsing them under water, and having them ready to use. It’s what I call fast food. The type we should all be eating.

Whether it’s Borlotti beans, cannellini beans or chickpeas (which by the way, the later two make a great substitute to the borlotti in this salad) the fast access to a pulse that would usually need to be soaked over night and cooked for 30 minutes or longer just can’t be denied.  So I’m happy to use this short cut when I need fast feeding.

This recipe proves that fast food can be healthy. The spirals of zucchini (which look like pasta in this shot) are my favourite element to the salad. I’m grateful for my spirelli cutter, which makes quick work (and beautiful spirals of zucchini). If you aren’t a convert yet, you can use a peeler, a mandolin, do the old fashioned way and use a knife, or – though it’s not as pretty – as a last resort, just grate the zucchini.

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A large glug of extra virgin olive oil (don’t be shy here, it’s so good for you) is heated lightly for the garlic and chilli to gently cook in. In goes the zucchini, a quick swizzle in the pan before turning off the heat and adding the drained tuna, lemon zest (wax-free if you can), juice and rinsed borlotti beans.

If you’re in the middle of winter (like I am) you’d eat it warm, but if you’re beating the heat of summer, let it cool and eat it cold – either way, it’s just so good!

Each time I walk past my bowl of organic homegrown lemons, sitting by the window sill, I think of how lucky I am to have wax-free lemons picked from my own tree. I wonder why all store-bought lemons can’t be wax-free. Surely everyone deserves wax-free lemons. If you don’t have a lemon tree, find someone who does, or, buy organic wax-free lemons, you will benefit immensely.

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I’ll never tire of the classic combination of garlic, chilli, lemon and tuna. I don’t think you will either. It’s so Italian. It’s so simplistic. It’s just right.

And really, any food this delicious that can be made in ten minutes deserves a little attention.

Zucchini, tuna and borlotii bean salad with chilli and lemon 

Serves 1

Ingredients

50ml extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, sliced thinly

1/2 long red chilli, deseeded and sliced

2 small-medium zucchini

95g can tuna, drained (I use Sirena, Italian style)

3/4 cup borlotti beans, drained and rinsed

1 wax-free lemon

Sea salt 

Cracked black pepper

Scattering of picked parsley 

Prepare the zucchini into thin long strips by your preferred method of a spirelli cutter, mandolin, knife or grater.

Zest the lemon and juice half of it.

Warm the extra virgin olive oil in a medium fry pan, add the garlic and chilli, and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, sea salt and cracked pepper, cook gently for 1-2 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the drained tuna, drained borlotti beans, lemon zest and juice, toss lightly to combine. Serve warm scattered with parsley and if so desired grilled bread.

Roasted Cauliflower and Za’atar Carrot Salad with Spiced Yoghurt

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I don’t care that the weather is getting colder and that raw and crunchy foods are becoming less desirable. I still want to eat salad. I love salad. I’m on a roll with eating salads, and I want it to continue. It makes me feel so good!

So, cold raw salads need to be turned on their head. They need to become warm salads that offer comfort. It’s time to start cranking the oven. And one of the best vegetables to roast in that oven is cauliflower.

Once you’ve cut your cauliflower into slices, sprinkle it with za’atar, and drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil before it goes in the oven to roast.

The hint of sumac – a sour berry – in the za ‘atar gives a subtle sweet tang, off set by thyme and sesame seeds, which are also essential ingredients to a good za’atar spice mix. It’s so simple I could cry.

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I’ve used one of those Spirelli vegetable cutters, the ones that curl and spiral vegetables into beautiful long strands, but don’t let this stop you if you don’t have one. Just cut the carrots into thin matchsticks instead.

Creamy dressings go well with roasted vegetables and a spiced yoghurt dressing couldn’t be easier. A few coriander seeds, a few cumin seeds roasted then pounded and sprinkled on the yoghurt; it’s top stuff!

This salad is for one. So boost up the amounts if you’re cooking for others. Not that cooking for others is always necessary; cook for your self this one time. Make this salad for one, and love it for all the right reasons.

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Roasted cauliflower and za’atar carrot salad 

Ingredients

2 cups of sliced cauliflower florets

Extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp za’atar spice mix (look in Middle Eastern stores for an authentic one)

1 medium carrot

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

3-4 tbsp yoghurt

Handful wild rocket leaves

Sea salt

Pre heat oven to 200C

Slice the cauliflower into 2cm thick slices, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, za’atar and sea salt, rub lightly and roast for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the carrot and if using a spirelli cutter spiral the carrot into thick spirals, or use a knife to cut the carrots into thin matchsticks.

After the cauliflower has roasted for 25 minutes, add the carrot and mix lightly. Use a little more oil if the vegetables look dry and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly before tossing through the salad.

Place coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small, dry fry pan, toast till seeds start to pop. Ground lightly in a mortar and pestle.

Place the washed rocket in a bowl, scatter with roasted cauliflower and carrot, dollop over the yoghurt and sprinkle it with the coriander seed mix to suit your tastes.

Eat whilst still warm.

Lamb and Chickpea Kofta with Kale and Tahini Salad

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As a rule of thumb I will only make kofta with freshly ground lamb mince. For this you will need to visit a respected butcher. The spices to flavour the meat are important. I use Middle Eastern flavours – cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg. To heighten these spices I add smoked paprika and lemon zest.

Now, not traditional to a kofta mix, but something I think works a treat, are chickpeas. These need to be blended to a rough crumb and combined with chopped parsley and onion to the free-range lamb mince.

Kofta can be cooked in a fry pan, but for a taste that is hard to beat I cook them on the barbecue – rather slowly in fact. This gives them a chance to cook through properly without getting too dark in colour on the outside. This batch took 20 odd minutes to cook. That leaves plenty of time for laying the table, which if at all possible, setting a table in the garden and eating them out side only adds to the experience of this satisfying meal.

 

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A subtly spiced lamb kofta (not the prettiest of foods) needs two things. A good salad; enter kale. And a good sauce; enter tahini.

When crisp sprightly leaves of kale are shredded and steamed they soften and relax and suddenly the kale is vibrant and green with a milder flavour than when served raw. It’s delicious alongside these homemade kofta. Although the salad and kofta are good companions there is no reason why either one couldn’t be made as a dish on it’s own.

Tahini offers it’s versatility in this recipe as both a sauce and a salad dressing. It might be known that tahini – ground sesame seed paste – loves lemon juice, and garlic for that matter, and when combined with the simple pairings of salt and pepper makes a flavour worthy of both these dishes.

And then thee’s the grilled bread, it is optional, yet I find it hard to resist.

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Kale and tahini salad with Lamb and chickpea kofta

Ingredients 

For the kofta

500g lamb freshly ground free-range lamb mince

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground all spice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed (use a 400g can of chickpeas and reserve the remaining chickpeas for the salad)

1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

For the salad

4 cups firmly packed shredded kale

Remaining chickpeas (use what’s left of the can from the kofta)

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

2-3 small avocados (or 1 large)

For the dressing and sauce

3 tbsp tahini paste

1 large lemon, juiced

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp chopped parsley

Large pinch salt and cracked black pepper

To serve

Grilled pita bread or sliced tomatoes

For the kofta, place the lamb mince, spices, seasoning and lemon zest in a large bowl.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and blitz to a small crumb, add to the mince. Put the onion, garlic and parsley in the food processor and chop finely, add to the mince. Use your hands to mix the kofta till well combined. Take small handfuls of kofta mince and shape using the palm of your hand into small sausage like cylinders. Place on a tray and set aside out of the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the shredded kale for 2 minutes, rinse briefly under cold water to cool then squeeze the excess water from the kale, place in a large salad bowl. Add the remaining drained and rinsed chickpeas, sliced avocado and toasted sunflower seeds (make sure they’re cold).

For the tahini dressing, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Check the seasoning and consistency, if the tahini dressing is too thick add a dash of hot water or a little extra lemon juice.

Pre heat a barbecue or a frypan (use a little oil if using a fry pan). Cook the kofta on a medium to low heat so the meat cooks slowly and cooks all the way through, turn regularly to ensure even cooking.  This can take 20 odd minutes on a low barbecue or if using a fry pan maybe 12 – 15 minutes.

Just before serving, take a few tbsp of tahini sauce and dress the salad, toss to combine. Serve the kofta with the remaining tahini sauce. To accompany the meal you might add some grilled pita bread or sliced tomatoes – this is optional.