Herby Halloumi Heirloom Tomato Bake

That alliteration in the recipe title actually gave me goosebumps.


My mum’s been at it again folks, we have ripe tomatoes in our garden! If you don’t follow me on Instagram, firstly hop to it my username is @lifeisohsodandy! Secondly, you wouldn’t know about our chickens. Yes, we have chickens. You may have seen the first hen who was a gift to my mother from a friend in this post, her name is Butters. We thought that Butters was lonely, so we arranged for a rooster to keep her company and his name is Rodney. Don’t they make a sporting pair?


Whilst they are fascinating creatures to observe, they are wreaking havoc in the vegetable garden. Our gardener has recently locked the gate to the vegetable garden to stop them from getting in. In their hunt for earthworms and various insects, our beloved chickens have been digging up dirt en masse and uprooting the vegetables- not good.


Aside from the mischievous chickens, my mother has been successful in her tomato growing venture. We have beautiful heirloom tomatoes! I did what I do best- turned them into a delicious dish, of course. This makes a wholesome appetiser, best served with garlic bread or just plain toast as I’ve done. Throw in some olives and hummus and you could turn this into a winning platter!

Herby Halloumi Heirloom Tomato Bake

Ingredients

For the tomato bake:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • a sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 100g halloumi, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  • 4-6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 medium potato, unpeeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tsp castor sugar (optional- most of the time I find this unnecessary but if you think that the sauce is too bitter then throw in the sugar)

For the crusty bread: 

  • 3 slices white bread (sourdough also works really well)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • some salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, oregano, basil and thyme. Add the halloumi and toss to coat in the herb mixture. Set aside and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Reserve 2 of your tomatoes for the top of the dish. Dice the remaining tomatoes into small pieces. Heat some olive oil in the bottom of a large saucepan and fry the onion on high heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, carrot and mixed herbs to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until the carrots are soft and the garlic is fragrant, about another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste (if using) and water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil  before adding the sweet potatoes and reducing the heat to low. Simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down and the sweet potatoes are soft, between 15 and 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes you had reserved earlier into thin slices. Heat up your grill/broiler and adjust your oven rack to the top shelf. Once the sweet potatoes are fully cooked, remove the saucepan from heat. Taste and season with salt ad pepper if needed; if the sauce is too bitter then add the castor sugar. Layer the top with the sliced tomatoes and top with the marinated halloumi. Grill for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown, serve hot with crusty bread!

For the crusty bread: 

Slice the bread in half diagonally and lay on a rimless baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 5-7 minutes or until golden and crusty.

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Crispy Curry Vegan Potato Pancakes

Because savoury pancakes beat sweet pancakes any day.


As much as I will always be a sweet tooth at heart, coriander beats chocolate in my book. Whilst we’re on the topic, what do you think about chilli infused chocolate? Is it the best of both worlds or an utter hit and miss?


This is a ridiculously easy snack recipe. It’s a variation of potato croquettes but with an Indian twist with the addition of the curry spices. If you’re shy of spicy food then feel free to either reduce the cayenne pepper added or serve with a dollop of yogurt on top! As much as I detest tomato sauce in every other context, I have to confess that it does compliment this particular dish.

Spicy Vegan Potato Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled
  • ¼ cup soy milk or any other plant based milk
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup plain flour

Method

  1. Fill a large saucepan with boiling salted water. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Pour the soy milk into the saucepan with the cool potatoes and mash until smooth.
  2. Add the mashed potatoes to a medium bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix until combined. Shape into 8 patties and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan and allow to heat until almost smoking. Fry the patties until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with tomato sauce, fresh parsley and fresh mint. Enjoy!

Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

First new recipe of the new website! Woohoo!


A.k.a. what I’ve been eating everyday for lunch since I got back from Europe last week. It’s THAT good. This recipe has been swimming in the depths of my mind since we visited Rome about 3 weeks ago. There was an authentic Italian all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant about 500m down the road from the hostel we were staying at. So on a sunny Tuesday evening (it was 30°C, full sunshine at 7 pm, can you imagine?!) we paid a visit to this beautiful establishment. For €11 I got to enjoy a refreshing Mimosa, the scenic views of downtown Rome and all the delicious risotto, biscuits, pasta and bean salads as I could eat. How’s that for a bargain?



Believe me, there was a ridiculous number of items on offer. Pasta in tomato sauces, pasta in various pestos, pasta of all different shapes and sizes- I’m surprised I didn’t gain 2 jean sizes from just looking at it. There was one particular salad that had my tastebuds raving. A grain similar to orzo pasta, oodles of fresh herbs, juicy red tomatoes and a dressing to die for. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, I was browsing recipes from different cultures and BAM, it was there.




Tabbouleh. The same life changing salad I had had in Rome. So of course I made it to relive a great memory. Then I made it again with a couple of tweaks to suit my taste. Then I made it again because I really enjoyed it- and you know what happens after that.


This salad makes the perfect weekday lunch, it will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and it’s also a fabulous addition to your Sunday lunch! Hold on, I think I’ve still got some leftovers in my fridge…..

Simple Couscous Tabbouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • ½ cup finely diced cucumber
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley and fresh mint, finely chopped
  • a handful of dried apricots, chopped finely
  • a handful of chopped pecans
  • a handful of chopped sliced almonds

Method

  1. Add the dry couscous to a small Pyrex baking pan. Cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Add ½ tsp of salt and a drop of olive oil to the couscous. Stir well with a fork to combine. Cover the baking pan with aluminium foil and seal tightly. Let sit at room temperature or in a warm oven for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Make sure you’re happy with the texture- if too wet, leave it in uncovered a warm oven for another 5 minutes, if too dry then add a tablespoon of water and fluff again.
  2. Whilst the couscous is soaking, prepare the dressing. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a small jug and allow to sit at room temperature. Taste the dressing to make sure you’re happy with it, if it’s too bitter then you can add a teaspoon of warm honey to improve the flavour, though I usually don’t find this necessary.
  3. Once the couscous is done and you’re happy with the texture, transfer it to a salad bowl or the dish you’re going to serve it in. Top with the tomato, cucumber, onion, fresh herbs, dried apricots, pecans and almonds. Use a salad spinner or 2 forks to toss the tabbouleh and evenly distribute the veggies.
  4. Drizzle in the dressing when you’re ready to serve and briefly toss the tabbouleh again. Serve with hummus or add to your meze platter! Enjoy!

Tandoori Spiced Halloumi Skewers with Mint Sauce

Halloumi definitely goes on the list of things that I wish I’d known about earlier.


It just compliments everything I put it next to. Try these Halloumi And Veggie Wraps on for size. Then come back and make this recipe and try and tell me that halloumi is not magical. I have many things planned for this salty cheese in the future but let’s talk about the NOW.


Halloumi has long been criticised for becoming rubbery and unpleasant when cooked. Not that I don’t understand, I’ve experienced this firsthand. Do I have any magical tips for avoiding this? Of course I do, you know me. These are the 3 options most recommended by the Internet. Firstly, you could make your own halloumi. Whilst I’m not against homemade cheese, I don’t have 3 days to wait. The second option, which is more convenient, is to soak your cheese in cold water for up to an hour to get rid of some of the salt. The third option is to eat that cheese as soon as it comes out the pan! Don’t let your food get cold and you don’t have to worry about that rubbery feel. This is by far my favourite option because you don’t need to tell me twice to tuck into my food.


That having been said, this recipe is no frills, no fuss. The instructions are as simple as the cooking time is short. If you’d like to turn up the heat then increase the amount of cayenne. If you’re spice-shy then I’d suggest lathering the halloumi skewers in this simple mint sauce. Enjoy!


Tandoori Spiced Halloumi Skewers with Mint Sauce

Ingredients

For the halloumi:

  • 250g halloumi, sliced into thick rectangular prisms (nerd much??)
  • 6 skewers
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the mint sauce: 

  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan

Method

To make the mint sauce: combine all the ingredients for the mint sauce in a blender and pulse until combined. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

To make the halloumi skewers:

Start by carefully skewering the halloumi. Set aside. Combine the spices and olive oil in a small bowl and stir until it forms a thick paste. Coat the halloumi skewers in the tandoori spice paste. Heat a skillet on high heat and brush with some vegetable oil. Grill the skewers for 3 minutes on either side. Serve with the mint sauce and some naan and yogurt to curb the heat!

Spicy Carrot Spinach Cakes with Avocado Dressing

Lets get down to business. 

You’ve heard me talk about the produce in my mother’s vegetable garden? Of course you have, I’ve only been talking about it for the ages. We’ve got spinach, carrots, tomatoes, leeks and onions! For previous posts about these groegiurs veggies, check out these Carrot Cake Pancakes and these Spinach Falafel. For today, we’re going to talk about how I used the spinach and carrots to prepare your next greatest lunch project.


I’m on a roll right now as far as meatballs and patties are concerned. Falafels, burgers, meatballs, I’m really taking advantage of all the vegan foods. Now it’s no fun to just throw a couple of vegetables in a food processor, pulse and throw it in the oven. No my friends, we have to make it interesting! That’s where the various spices I’ve thrown in here come in. Added bonus: they really bolster the nutritional value of this dish. Trust me when I tell you that you need to get into adding spices to your food. Take for example this Golden Spiced Pineapple Cooler I made a couple of weeks ago. It’s delicious, insanely healthy for you and has a gorgeous colour! So before you start to think twice about the number of spices involved in this dish, remember how every little ingredient contributes to the goodness of these cakes. 


These carrot cakes are delicious tucked into a pita or between 2 pieces of naan with a side of roasted vegetables. The avocado sauce is a must and helps take some of the heat off if you find that they’re too spicy for you. Make these in bulk and freeze just before baking so that you can defrost and cook as you need them! Enjoy! 


Spicy Carrot Spinach Cakes with Avocado Dressing

Ingredients

For the carrot spinach cakes:

  • 1 cup dried red or brown lentils
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 cup rolled oats, divided in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach 

For the avocado dressing:

  • 1 whole avocado, roughly mashed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice 
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • A handful of sliced almonds 

Method 

Start with the carrot spinach cakes: 

  1. Add the lentils to a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of boiling water. Cook on medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until they have soaked up all the water and are soft. Remove and allow the cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the carrots, cooked lentils, 1/2 cup of the rolled oats, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Pulse a couple of times until the ingredients are well combined and you have a thick batter. 
  2. Remove the batter to a large bowl. Add the other half cup of oats, bicarbonate of soda, cumin, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and spinach. Use a large wooden spoon to blend all the ingredients together, making sure that there are no pockets of dry spice. 
  3. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper/aluminium foil and preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Grab a heaping tablespoon of the carrot spinach mixture and shape into a patty with your hands. It’s much easier if your hands are damp. Add each patty to the baking sheet as you form them, making sure to leave some space in between them. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Serve hot with the avocado dressing, some naan and extra roasted veggies. Enjoy!

To make the avocado dressing:

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Keep leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 10 days. 

Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels

In other words: my latest obsession.


It’s taken me way too long to get a falafel recipe right. believe me, I’ve tried almost everything this year from lentils to mushrooms to wild rice. I just could not create a falafel recipe that

a) Didn’t fall apart in my sandwich

b) Wasn’t drier than the Sahara desert

c) Worked every single time

UNTIL this one happened.


Believe me, I’d long given up on the falafel dream, resigning myself to order from the Lebanese lady at the farmer’s market. If you’ve read my vegan carrot cake pancakes post then you’ll know about the abundance of home grown produce in my home. Among these vegetables, we have some leafy green spinach hanging around. To put it to good use, I blindly added it to my food processor with some chickpeas and quinoa. And whoa. And I mean WHOA. These beautiful things came around.


I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is all I ate for a week. I could not believe that they were this good and came from my own kitchen. And now, I’m posting the recipe here so that you too can experience heaven in a bite!


Falafels are traditionally eaten in a pita with cucumber and a yogurt sauce. Today we’re keeping it strictly vegan with an avocado sauce that I will also be posting soon. I didn’t have any pitas on hand, but there was some naan dough that I had frozen, so I whipped up a batch of fresh naan and can I just say, BEST LUNCH EVER. So I encourage you today, reader: go forth and make delicious falafel balls!

Baked Spinach Quinoa Falafels                                                              makes about 20 falafel

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups soaked chickpeas, rinsed
  • ½ cup fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the quinoa to a medium saucepan and cover with a cup of boiling water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the water has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove the cooked quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool.
  2. To a food processor, add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and olive oil. Process until combined, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetable mixture to a large bowl before adding the flour, baking powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the vegetable mixture, stirring carefully to ensure there are no pockets of flour.
  3. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper/aluminium foil. Dampen your hands to make it easier to shape the falafel. Use a tablespoon to portion out the falafel and use your hands to shape into a sphere before adding to the baking pan. Repeat until you’ve used up all the mixture. If the mixture fails to hold together, add flour 2 tbsp at a time until it does. Refrigerate the falafel for 20 minutes whilst you preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
  4. Bake the falafel for 15 minutes before gently turning over and baking for another 10 minutes. Serve warm in a pita with cucumber and tomatoes. Enjoy!

Cheesy Pull Apart Pizza Bread

There is nothing more beautiful on this earth than stretchy melty cheese. Anyone who wants to disagree can fight me in the comments.



Typically whenever I need a cheese fix, I go for pizza or a grilled cheese. So this week I strayed and went for this pizza/bread hybrid. And OHMYGOSH it was the most wonderful thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. I took this to my friend’s leaving barbecue (so sad literally everyone I know is off to university) and it got rave reviews from everyone there. This was honestly the best way for me to distract from the “OHMYGOSH you’re a vegetarian, what do you even eat?!” conversation. 

Along with a game of monopoly that turned violent way too quickly 😆. This recipe is super quick, 30 minutes from start to finish unless you decide to go the noble route and make your pizza dough from scratch (I did). Here’s the link to the recipe I posted for pizza dough that includes a non-yeast option that works very well whenever I don’t have time for the dough to rise. Go forth, make cheesy bread and be merry my friends! 


Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup frozen butter, grated (It’s important that the butter is frozen otherwise it will start melting whilst you’re trying to work with it)
  • ½ cup white cheddar, grated
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper
  • ½ pound cold pizza dough, homemade or storebought is fine

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a skillet or baking dish. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the pizza dough. Toss lightly with your hands to evenly distribute the ingredients. Remove about ¼ cup of the cheese mixture and keep separate. Use a sharp Chef’s knife to cut the pizza dough into ½ inch cubes. Add the pizza dough to the larger portion of the cheese mixture and toss with your hands to make sure that the dough is completely covered in the cheese mixture.

Lay the dough pieces in the bottom of the skillet in a single layer and bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and top with the remaining cheese mixture and bake for an extra 5 minutes. Serve immediately!