Category Archives: Salads

Tossed Nicoise

“Soup for one, salad for one, wine for two” Edna Krabappel, the Simpsons.

I think Valentine’s Day has pushed me over the edge. I can’t bear the tackiness of this day and even if it were not commercial and nausea inducing, I’m not sure that I would ever celebrate couplehood for the sake of it.

I’ve always thought that the times in our lives when we are single – whether by choice or not – should be enjoyed, savoured, and celebrated. After all, you never know when a lifetime of lifting up/down the toilet seat might be just around the corner. And who knows what will happen then? Carrie-with-Aiden Carrie or Carrie-with-Burger Carrie was never as confident and together as Single Carrie.

So with single people everywhere in mind, I’ve started a new recipe category today: Meals for One, and here is the first post I’ve done especially for it.

There is something about the combination of tuna, olive and egg in a nicoise salad that I just find irresistable. I love having this classic  for dinner, especially when I am pressed for time or don’t feel like cooking.

I used to make this by layering the ingredients on my plate starting with lettuce, then boiled potatoes, beans, tuna, boiled egg, sliced olive, then the onions herbs and dressing on the top.  I would then eat my way through it from the top down.

Recently however I wanted to take a bowlful to the park for a twilight picnic, and decided I would just throw it all in together and toss it around. This is how I’ve been having it ever since.

Serves: 1 🙂

  • Iceberg lettuce leaves, torn up with your hands
  • 1 x 95 gram tin of tuna in oil, drained
  • 3-4 pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 1 boiled free range and/or organic egg, quartered
  • 1 or 2 waxy potatoes, such as kipfler, boiled until soft and sliced
  • Half a tin of drained and rinsed cannelini or butter beans (use the other half for a puree, in a soup, or in your lunch the next day)
  • A tablespoon or two of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • A few thin slices of red onion
  • Dressing: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, juice of half a lemon, teaspoon of dijon mustard, shaken together in a jar to combine.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss carefully with the salad. Serve in a shallow bowl.

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Get Ready for Summer with The Abbotsford Kitchen

Got a little extra chunk in your trunk? If you love food and cooking as much as I do, chances are you’ve come to the end of a long winter’s comfort grazing with a little more padding than you’d like.  While I don’t believe in diets, I do try to eat as healthy as possible most of the time.  Even so, there comes a time when some extra effort is required if one doesn’t wish to run the risk of being dragged back into the sea by ORRCA on one’s first visit to the beach.

For the next month I’m going to focus on recipes that are healthy and delicious.  If you’re also wanting to lose some of your winter coat, why not join me? I’ll be regularly posting healthy recipes (I’ll aim for one a day, but we’ll see) and you can share your recipes and tips on my Facebook page.

I thought I’d start with a fantastically healthy lunch that is perfect to take to work during the week.  I regularly make this, and I cook a few days’ worth of brown rice at once.  If you cook the rice the night before, you won’t have so much to do in the morning while you’re trying to get out the door.   It will require a little of your time in those precious morning hours between sleep and work, but you’ll also save time during the day by not having to go out and buy  an unsatisfying and unhealthy lunch.

BROWN RICE, TUNA AND GRATED VEGETABLE SALAD

  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown rice
  • 1 x 95 gram can of tuna (avoid flavoured tuna, or check the ingredients to make sure it’s not full of rubbish)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 beetroot (fresh not tinned)
  • 1 zucchini
  • A handful of fresh chopped parsley (or use coriander, basil or mint if you prefer)
  • About a tablespoon of finely chopped red onion, or shallot
  • Handful of spinach or rocket leaves, roughly chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional: a boiled egg, or some roast almonds

Cook the brown rice (instructions will be on the packet if you’re unsure), drain and cool, and tip as much as you want to use into a mixing bowl.  Wash the carrot, beetroot and zucchini.  You don’t need to peel the beetroot, just slice the top or bottom bit off.  Grate about a third of a cup each vegetable (use as much as you think you want/need)  into a bowl with a cheese grater.  You should use about half of each vegetable. Add the chopped herbs, onions and rocket/spinach.  Season with pepper, and drizzle over a little olive oil and balsamic.  Mix to combine.  At this point I put it into a container ready to take to work, adding the tuna when I get there.

If you want some extra protein and omega 3’s, add a boiled egg or some roast almonds (not too many!).

This amount of rice will be enough to make two lunches, but you’ll need the same again of all the other ingredients.

Sprout Slaw

What is this you ask? Well, its coleslaw made with brussell sprouts instead of cabbage.  Simple really. And I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. It really is delicious.

  • About 6 brussell sprouts, washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 a carrot
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons horseradish cream
  • A dash of sherry vinegar (use lemon juice if you don’t have any)
  • Salt & pepper

Very finely slice the sprouts, then chop until quite small.  Grate the carrot and add with the chopped parsley.  Combine with the other ingredients, and serve , preferably with potatoes and grilled meat or fish, or schnitzel.

Beetroot, Puy Lentil and Fetta Salad with Mint

Here’s a beautiful summer salad that I think is still good in winter because of its earthy flavours.  It brings together some of my favourite tastes.  Do make sure you get the little dark Puy, or French, lentils because they hold their shape and won’t disintegrate when you cook them, unlike most other types of lentils.   You could also use goat cheese instead of fetta.

Give yourself time in advance to cook the beetroot – it takes at least an hour in the oven.  Even better – cook it the day before you need to use it.

  • 1 beetroot
  • 1 cup Puy lentils
  • 1/2 red onion, diced finely
  • About 1 cup of crumbled fetta (use Dodoni if you can get it)
  • Large handful of fresh mint, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (or red wine vinegar).

Heat the oven to 180.  Wrap the beetroot – unpeeled – in foil and place in the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes.  Remove and let it cool down in the foil.  When its cool enough to handle, peel the skin off, which will come away quite easily.  Dice the beetroot and set aside.

While the beetroot is cooking, put the lentils in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more water if necessary.  Drain and let cool.

Put the lentils and beetroot in a bowl, and add the onion and mint, and mix through.  Whisk the oil and vinegar together. Add this dressing to the salad, season with salt and pepper and toss through.  Just before you serve, add the fetta and gentely mix through.

Green Salad with Raspberry Vinegar, Walnuts and Fetta

This is a beautifully simple but delicious salad that is a perfect accompaniment to almost any main course.

Don’t be put off trying raspberry vinegar, its neither sweet nor sickly.  The flavour it lends is delicate, fragrant and perfectly balanced with the other ingredients.  While it’s not a common ingredient, it its not impossible to find either.  Get it from a deli, market or fancy pants grocery store.

I love this salad so much, I’ll be bold enough to predict that once you’ve tried it you’ll make it again and again.

  • A bowl full of mixed salad greens (I like to make sure its got radicchio in it too – for the colour and the sharp tang it gives)
  • About six slices of red onion, very finely sliced, and halved
  • About 1/2 cup of fetta, crumbled (do use Dodoni fetta if you can, it is sublime)
  • About 1/3 cup walnuts, pounded until grainy in a mortar and pestle
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (use red wine vinegar if you can’t get raspberry)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the salad leaves well, dry, and toss into a bowl with the fetta, walnuts and onions.

Whisk the oil and vinegar together and pour over the leaves.  Season with pepper and salt, and toss everything through until the leaves are coated with the dressing and other ingredients.

Silverbeet and Fetta Salad with Lemon Walnut Dressing

I love to serve this salad with Middle Eastern, Greek or Moroccan dishes.  Raw silverbeet is powerfully healthy, and the fetta, walnuts, herbs and lemon make it also incredibly delicious.

1/2 of a small bunch of silverbeet, or 3-4 large leafy stalks

60 grams fetta cheese

1/4 a red onion, finely sliced

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup  extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

50 grams walnuts

Remove the silverbeet leaves from the stalks by holding them upside down, by the white bottom part of the stalk, and slicing down the edge of the stalk with a very sharp knife.  Soak the leaves in a large tub of cold water several times (putting the water on your garden when done, of course).   Shred the leaves and chop them a bit.  Place in a salad bowl.

Crumble the fetta over the top of the silverbeet, and throw in the onions, dill and parsley.  Toss gently.

Pound the walnuts in a mortar and pestle until crumbled, and scrape into a jar.  Pour in the oil and lemon juice and shake well. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until coated.

Panzanella

This Italian salad evolved to use up stale bread but I love it so much that I go out of my way to buy ciabatta and let it go stale in order to make it.  I like to serve it as an accompaniment to barbecued fish or meat.  A good strong, and very stale, bread like ciabatta is important.  Stale sourdough will also suffice. Whatever you use, it will need to be at least a few days old. If its not quite stale, you can dry it out a bit more by putting slices in a just warm oven.   Give yourself a bit of time to make this salad, there are several stages to the preparation and it can’t be done in a hurry.

2 red capsicums

1 loaf of stale ciabatta bread

6 tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt flakes

2 anchovy fillets, chopped into little pieces

1/2 tablespoon salted capers

1/2 cup pitted olives

small bunch of basil leaves

Put the capsicums whole on the barbecue or covered in a hot oven, and cook until blistering and soft.  Turn several times if they are on the barbecue.  Place in a plastic bag and allow to cool.  When cool, peel the skin off,  cut in half, scoop out seeds and stems, and slice into slivers.  If you prefer, buy some marinated capsicum from the deli.

Cut little X-s in the bottom of each tomato and squeeze out the pulp into a bowl and put aside.  Slice the tomatoes and put in a large salad bowl with the capsicums, olives and rinsed capers (if the capers are baby ones, leave them whole, but if they are the bigger ones, chop them up a bit).

Put the chilli, salt flakes and garlic clove in a mortar and pestle and pound to a paste and tip into the tomato pulp.  Mix the red wine vinegar and olive oil together, and toss in the anchovy fillets, and whisk.

Cut or tear the bread into bite sized pieces, toss into the salad bowl with the other ingredients.

You can prepare ahead until this point and set everything aside until ready to serve.

Just before serving, toss through the dressing and the tomato pulp mixture, coating all the bread pieces with the dressing and pulp.  Tear the basil leaves with your hands, mix through, and serve.

The Simplicity Project ~ Jenn Pike

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