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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Some years back we had enjoyed a dinner, made by one of my sister in-laws, of large shell pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese. It was a very enjoyable experience that I have recreated when ever I can get a hold of the large pasta shells. I felt that the same filling would work well with the sweet pointed pepper, as the flavours would compliment each other and they did. Just to make it into a meal we ate it with some pasta with sun dried tomatoes & basil pesto, for a very heavy filling meal. Although it could have also been served with some salad for a lighter option. Unlike the other recipe of pointed peppers, this is a more Italian style as opposed to Mediterranean.
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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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On a recent visit to my local library I met a friend who was looking for ideas on hosting a dinner party for a few friends. She was thinking of a Moroccan theme so in my enthusiasm I suggested serving Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous as it is so simple to make and would fit the theme she was thinking of.
I first saw a version of this recipe a couple of years back in a supermarket magazine where it was giving ideas on how to use a tagine and this was the vegetarian option. The vegetables were slightly different in the magazine so when I recreated it at home, I just used the vegetables that I had and it turned out to be really good. As I don’t have a tagine I just roasted the vegetables in the oven.
This recipe reminds me of the time when we went on a desert safari excursion on a trip to Dubai. The desert safari included a traditional meal and this dish was served as the vegetarian option. The vegetables were less tasty but the idea of the couscous I got from there so I mixed the two together to create this meal.
This dish of Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous works well for large gatherings where you want to try and have fuss free cooking plus it would be good to take on picnics as it tastes good when served cold. The best thing about this dish is the fact that not only is it simple to make, especially for a large group, but it is vibrantly colourful, which to me is brilliant as half of the way we enjoy food comes from the visual impact.
I was told by Parita from Parita’s World about this event on Moroccan food hosted by Home Cook Recipes and originated by Holy Cow!
I look forward to seeing other vegetarian/vegan recipes from this event.
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Sometimes it is good to think outside the box and try new flavours. As mentioned before, I tend to make either potato or bean burgers at home. However being vegetarian there are unlimited possibilities of the various different vegetables and pulses that can be used. Whilst visiting one of my favourite blogs recently I came across a broccoli burger recipe and thought I must try this. I modified the recipe slightly by adding sesame seeds and red capsicum peppers to give it a nutty and sweet tangy flavour. The result was wonderful and I got a lot of creative ideas and thoughts flowing for making different vegetarian burgers. So watch this space for a few more burger recipes ….
These burgers are also healthier because broccoli is high in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as dietary fibre and it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed, as per the old ways of cooking vegetables, however in recent years more research has shown that if eaten raw you get more of the benefits of the vegetable. Other methods of cooking are also good for cooking vegetables especially stir fries as they cook the vegetables at a very high heat and quickly, hence a lot of the nutrients still remain intact. Although boiling has been shown to reduce the levels of suspected anticancer compounds in broccoli, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying have been shown not to reduce the presence of these compounds.
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There are many spicy foods that are good to serve at parties and as a good filling starter or snack. These Chilli Garlic Cassava Chips are perfect, especially when its accompanied with your favourite dipping sauces or ketchup. Like garlic bread or fries/chips, the combination of garlic and chilli with the fried cassava makes a yummy crunchy treat.
I recently made this dish when my friend had come over for dinner, she asked me to make something different with cassava and I thought it was a good opportunity to try this recipe out. My husband had first tried this recipe at a restaurant and was very keen for me to try it so I could recreate it at home, like the chilli paneer he had first tried at an Indian pub.
It is just amazing how by adding a few simple basic ingredients the taste changes. When we used to have cassava in Malawi, it used to be simply boiled and then served with some salt, chilli powder and lemon juice, or fried and made into crisps. We also used to use the flour to make various different savoury snacks. Indians also tend to eat cassava, potato etc. whilst fasting, so there are many recipes that we used to make. As I’ve grown up I’ve had more and more varied recipes using cassava as friends and family have tried experimenting with different methods of cooking and adding different ingredients.
Cassava is also known by many names including Mogo and Yuca (not to be confused with Yucca) and one of its products include Tapioca.
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Leeks! Why did I not try these before now? It is the question I asked myself when I bought them and made this soup the first time last month. They are visually amazing with wonderful layers and colours, so fresh and vibrant, just like the colours of new life coming up in Spring. Then there is the taste, subtle yet very distinct. Coming from the onion family it has a very delicate onion taste. I decided to use leeks to make a soup just to try the basic taste, not to mention many recipes I have read include putting leeks in soups and stews.
Continue reading “Leek & Potato Soup”