Monthly Archives: May 2014

Minestrone

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I’m going through some of the things I’ve made recently but haven’t posted, so there will probably be another flurry of activity for a few days and then silence again for months, sorry!

Minestrone is a hearty and healthy soup that’s easy to whip up mid-week. The wee bit of pancetta adds a nice smoky touch, but if you’re a veggie leave it out and you’ll be none the wiser.

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams of pancetta, diced (or tiras de beicon)
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 100 grams fresh or frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 400 g cans of tomato puree (triturado)
  • 1 jar white beans (mongetes or cannelli, whatever you can get your hands on), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 liter of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and thyme
  • bay leaf
  • black pepper and sea salt, to taste

Instructions: 

Heat a soup pot over medium heat, add a lug of olive oil and the pancetta/bacon, fry the bacon until it starts to brown, then add in the leeks and onion. Scrape up the bits of browned bacon that have become stuck to the bottom of the pot and continue to sauté until the onion starts becoming translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, until you can smell the garlic frying. Add the carrots, celery, zucchini and cook slowly for 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften. Add in the spinach, tomato puree, herbs and stock and bring to a boil. Gently stir in the beans and lower heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with pepper and salt to taste.

Serve with grated parmesan and fresh chopped herbs (if you’ve got any) and some nice crusty bread.

Servings: Six, 190 calories (without cheese).

Chicken Couscous & Shirazi Salad

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Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I have kept cooking, promise! We all get into our ruts though, and recently wanted to shake things up. I’ve recently-ish discovered harissa paste, and it’s now my new favorite ingredient. The couscous is an easy one-pan meal and you can chop up the salad ingredients while it’s cooking. I also make a spicy-cool (oxymoron?) yogurt sauce that’s makes a wonderful accompaniment. It makes quite a large quantity of food, but this is definitely one of those better-the-next-day dishes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Couscous:

  • 400 g. chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • ground black pepper or five-peppercorn blend, to taste
  • chunk of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb), peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp harissa paste
  • small can (200 g approx) garbanzos, drained and rinsed
  • 200 g couscous
  • 450 ml chicken stock
  • a handful (1/3 cup) of sultanas or golden raisins
  • small handful (1/4 cup) salted sunflower seeds
  • zest of one lemon

Salad:

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • red pepper
  • large handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Yogurt sauce:

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep frying pan. Sauté the onions until they start to soften then add in the chicken and garlic. Cook the chicken and onions for about 5 minutes. At this point add in the harissa paste, grated ginger and spices. Stir to coat the chicken and onion mix with the spices. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the chickpeas (gently – don’t smush them) and let cook for another minute. Pour the couscous, raisins and sunflower seeds over the chicken mix. Pour the stock over and stir once, then cover the pan with a lid or tin foil and leave to sit for 10 minutes, until the couscous has soaked up all the stock. Remove the lid and sprinkle the lemon zest over the couscous and then fluff the mix up with a fork. Cover the pan back up and let rest until ready to serve.

To make the salad: Chop the red pepper and tomatoes. Peel, de-seed and chop the cucumbers. Toss with the sea salt and lemon juice and place in a medium bowl. After about 10 minutes, drain the excess liquid off the salad. Stir in the mint leaves and serve.

Yogurt sauce: stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and put in the fridge to let the flavors blend.

Serve the couscous with a side of salad and a nice dollop of the yogurt sauce.

Four generous servings. 450 calories.