Tag Archives: healthy

Tahini


2008_11_4-tahiniTahini is an essential for the fridge. It lifts the most basic of foods into a rich meal whilst retaining healthy qualities. Tahini is a paste made from grinding sesame seeds and has a high protein content. A  little tweaking turns it into a stunning dressing for steamed vegetables, brown rice and salads. It comes in a light and dark version. Both of which have an amazing depth of flavour.  To learn how to make this sauce see Tahini Dressing.

From the web

“Sesame seeds are very beneficial for you because they are rich in quality vitamins and minerals. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin”.

Also see Hummus.

Griddled Cauliflower with Hazelnuts and Pickled Red Onions

Cauliflower 4This is another ‘centre of the table’ or ‘mezze’ style dish made for sharing. Seasonally this is a winter salad which can be served warm or at room temperature. You can  prepare this well in advance, just put all the elements together before serving. Cooking cauliflower on the fire with oil gives it a really unique flavour. I also roast off cauliflower in the oven which has the same nuances. This combination is really different and is always well received.  It  works well with any other dish on the table, fish, meat, or as a vegetarian/vegan dish.

Ingredients (serves 4 or 6 if part of a mezze meal)

1 small, or half a large cauliflower
20g roasted hazelnuts
10g parsley
1 small red onion
25ml red wine vinegar
Honey
1 tbsp capers
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Prep List

Cut the onion in half and slice it thinly. Mix the vinegar and the honey (or sugar) together. Put the cut onions into the same bowl and push the onions down with your fingers so they are covered with the vinegar.

CauliflowerCut the cauliflower across the body of it as oppose to florets as seen in the photo. Half of it will hold together, the other half will break into small pieces, but it doesn’t matter.

Make sure the hazelnuts are roasted, quite often they are already roasted, if they have no crunch then pop them in a hot oven for 5-8 mins, don’t forget about them.

Chop the parsley.

Measure out the capers.

Method

Cauliflower 2Put your griddle pan or frying pan on a high heat, or fire up the gas bbq. When hot turn down to medium heat. Toss the cauliflower in olive oil and put each large piece on the pan first, then after do whats left of the smaller pieces. Cook it well, you want some bite left in it but not too much. The cauliflower needs to almost burn a bit, crispy caramelized cauliflower is what you want. When it as all done cut the bigger pieces into bite size bits. Put into a mixing bowl with the capers, half the onion, salt and pepper and half the parsley.

Mix the ingredients in a bowl, taste, always taste everything, for seasoning. Lay onto a plate, then finish off the garnish with the rest of the onions and parsley.

Roasted Beetroot and Feta Salad

This is a centre of the table dish, we ate it with smoked mackerel and baked sweet potatoes. In Eastern Mediterranean cuisine it would be part of a mezzesomething I will develop on as the blog evolves. I have served this dish as a starter for which it also works well.  The beetroots take quite a long time to roast off so do them when you have the oven on for a chicken or something similar as the oven needs to be quite hot. They will keep for a day or so, so you don’t have to use them straight away,  just make sure they are at least room temperature when you serve them and not fridge cold.

Ingredients (serves 4 or 6 if part of a mezze meal)

400g beetroots (three large, six medium or eight small)
125g  feta cheese (real feta is sheeps milk or goat and sheep mixed)
150g salad leaves, any salad will do it – rocket and watercress works well
35g herbs, I have used chives but any soft herb will do the job
1 small teaspoon of honey
Olive oil
Black balsamic
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon

Method

Wash and scrub the beetroots and trim up with a small knife. Cut into wedges and put in a bowl. Toss them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put them onto a paper lined baking tray and roast at 200 degrees for about an hour.  Give them a good shake after 30 mins then after an hour take out of the oven. Put them back in the bowl and toss them in the balsamic vinegar. Leave them to cool down.

When you are ready to serve take a plater and cover the surface with the salad. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Scatter the beetroots evenly over the salad. Crumble the feta over that, then dip a teaspoon into the honey and swirl the spoon over the plate, you don’t want to put too much on. Finish off with the chopped herbs.

Pan-fried Trout and Provencal Vegetables

It is rare that I don’t put a sauce with fish, but the Provencal vegetables give the same context to this meal as a sauce, that being moisture and texture. This is one of those recipes where it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have one or two of the ingredients and for example, you can swap basil and parsley for thyme or rosemary.  We are just trying to encapsulate that southern France feeling and that is done by using ingredients that are typically grown and produced in Provence.  You can use any filleted piece of fish with or without skin for this, again I place a certain importance on pin boning, see chef´s tips for details or you can ask your fishmonger to do it, not saying he will as it is quite fiddly. Once you get into the habit it takes the eating of fish to the next level.

Ingredients (four people)

4 175g fillets of trout. (This is based on using the large salmon-trout fillets)
1  large aubergine
1 large red pepper
1 large courgette
3 lemons
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
1 bulb of garlic
10 black olives pitted and halved
1 tablespoon of capers
10g parsley and basil mixed
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Method

Cut the aubergine and courgettes into 3cm squares, again take your time to make  straight even cuts.  Toss them separately  in oil and lay the aubergines onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and lay them out next to the aubergines.Put the red pepper and the garlic bulb on whole and roast in a 200 degree oven for 20 mins.

After 10 minutes take out the tray and gently turn over the aubergines and make some space and put in the courgettes and olives for the final 10 mins, use your instinct if it needs more time then give it, I just worry about the courgettes being overcooked and too soft.

When cooked, put the roast pepper onto a plate and the vegetables into a bowl. This is a warm salad so don’t worry about serving it piping hot. Peel the pepper and cut it into a similar size to the rest. Thinly slice the spring onion into rings. Add the olives, capers, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Cut the roast garlic bulb in half through the middle and squeeze the paste into the bowl. Gently turn over the mix until it is thoroughly mixed being careful not to mash it up.

Put a non-stick pan on a high heat, brush with olive oil and lay the fillet into it skin side down.  Cook until crispy and turn over the fish and turn off the gas.

While your fish is cooking through, lay the plates out and spoon a quarter of the mix onto each plate making sure everyone has a bit of everything.  Cut the lemon and put it next to the vegetables, then lay the fillet skin side up slightly off centre on top of the Provencal mix

Griddled Aubergines with Yoghurt and Pomegranate

This is as good as any introduction to ‘griddling’.  Aubergines really drink oil but cooking them this way will mean you have better control over how much oil you use.  The pomegranates are a great finishing touch but don’t worry if you can’t find one in the supermarket, the dish holds up anyway without them.  This is a sharing dish that goes on the table.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 aubergines
1 small pot (125g) zero or low fat yoghurt
1 lemon
1 pomegranate
2 spring onions
2 green chillies
Maldon sea salt
Pepper
Sunflower oil (or any oil, sunflower is my preference for this recipe)

Method 

Cut the aubergine long ways into three or four thick slices depending on its size. You have to level off the rounded outer bits so it sits on the griddle pan.  Put the griddle pan on the flame and brush with the oil.  Lay the slices onto the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Cook each side until the skin is well marked and the aubergine is golden. Take off the heat and lay onto kitchen roll, repeat the process until all cooked.

Dab off any oil from the aubergine with the kitchen paper then lay onto a large plate.  Put the yoghurt into a bowl and mix a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Cut the spring onions and the green chillies into rings, not too thick.  Empty the seeds out of the pomegranate (see chef´s tips).  Dress the plate when it is ready to go to the table by evenly drizzling the yoghurt over the aubergines, sprinkle over the spring onions and green chilli then finish with the pomegranate.  There are no problems prepare this dish in advance.