When the weather warms up it is always good to have foods that are going to fill us up, be good for us and are simple, easy and fuss free dishes to create. This salad is just that, it ticks all those boxes and the great flavours are an added bonus. I cannot remember how I came about this combination, but I have been making this salad for some years and it is great as an accompanying dish as well as on it’s own for a light lunch. A few basic ingredients put together to create a dish that even children enjoy, as my son loves having this salad.
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I only started using pesto after marriage and used to buy ready made jars. It was a convenient thing to do, as at the time I was on an interior design course on Tuesday evenings, so that was a pasta day 🙂 . It used to be a chore to find the vegetarian version of this classic Italian dish. Then about three or four years back I had bought a basil plant for the kitchen window sill and it had produces so many basil leaves, so I thought I should venture into making my own pesto. It was successful and so simple to make that I decided I would buy a basil plant each Spring and make my own pesto.
From looking at various TV chefs and other recipes, as well as a friend (who lives in Italy) telling me that I do not need to add cheese or pine nuts (as they are so expensive), just normal salted nuts are fine – I started making my own version as below. To make it more creamy I sometimes use almond, cashew, and pistachios nuts powder.
There are many uses for pesto, not only as a pasta sauce but also as a dressing for salads, for adding flavour to soups, a spread for sandwiches and roasted mushroom or eggplant. You can also create many different versions like I did by adding the sun-dried tomatoes. Other herbs and vegetables can also be added to give it an extra added flavour.
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We had tried falafels a couple of times many years back, but never attempted to make them ourselves. I started trying out various recipes about 4/5 years back. They used to be a complete disaster – always splitting open when I would try them, or the taste was not quite right. So after trying a dozen different recipes, I have finally come to this, which is a combination of reading the labels of ready to make falafels and a recipe book. The trick to it is to make sure the consistency is right. There is a very good place to eat in Covent Garden (London) which does ‘just falafs’, where I had once tried a particular falafel, thats how I came about adding a simple relish of carrot and beetroot for this recipe. Now I am happy with the combination of crunchy, tangy and sweet with a hint of spice.
I find the best thing about falafels is that it has the main food groups, you have wheat, pulses, vegetables and dairy, a full combination for a vegetarian. That is why it is a good complete meal, excellent for picnics or to eat good food on the go. This is a very good children friendly recipe also. To go with this I sometimes make a simple salad of baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese, with a simple dressing of lemon juice, black pepper, olive oil and ground cumin seeds.
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I first had couscous around five years ago at work where I would regularly have it in various different combinations during lunch. I had seen it being made on TV many times but had never made it at home so I decided to try it one day. After a lot of attempts, I came up with this combination recently of chargrilled vegetables and feta cheese, and it seems to work quite well. Couscous does not have any specific taste, it is a very versatile grain and can take lots of different flavours, this makes it an ideal filler for salads. Due to the stripes created by the griddle pan on the carrots and parsnips, my son says it is tiger & zebra salad. It is a fun way of making sure he eats his food, as I am sure most of you will agree, it is an uphill battle to get them to eat what is good for them.
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