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!
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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. 

Spicy Marinated Halloumi and Veggie Wraps

I can’t believe that it took me this long to get into halloumi.


I’d never really been big on cheese, unless it was on pizza or in pasta. On the other hand, my mum eats either camembert or brie as a post-dessert palette cleanser. It’s also an excuse for her to drink wine and feel fancy. Sigh, the things that go on in my house.


To be fair, this lunch spread was an excuse for me to feel fancy. In an effort to terrorise my mother, I’ve been using various wooden bowls ,that previously housed ornaments, as crockery for my food shoots. Because aesthetic, obviously.


I’ve also been bullying my brother into posing for me. In case you couldn’t tell, the background of this photo is his penguin onesie, the new love of his life. Last week he got a break when my neighbour volunteered his hand for this vegan pot pie recipe. This week, he wasn’t as lucky.


This was shot on one of those days that I just felt like cooking. I roasted some chopped potatoes with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, mixed herbs and S&P; threw together a quick strawberry basil salad and rolled up these kick-ass wraps to go with them. How’s that for a healthy balanced lunch?


Spicy Marinated Halloumi and Veggie Wraps                                            makes 2-4 wraps

Ingredients

For the halloumi:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • a pinch salt and black pepper
  • 100g halloumi, sliced into small rectangles

For the wraps:

  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • ¼ cup sliced strawberries (optional)
  • 2-4 tortillas

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, chilli powder, garlic powder, oregano, S & P. Add the halloumi and toss until coated. Set aside for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the filling.
  2. Combine the grated carrot, spinach, basil and strawberries in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Divide the veggie mixture between the tortillas, on one side only.
  3. Heat a skillet on high heat and fry the halloumi for 2-3 minutes on each side or until crispy. Top the veggies with the halloumi and roll up to create your wraps. I like to pan fry my wraps for a minute on each side just to warm the filling and create that beautiful grill pattern but this is completely optional. Serve and enjoy!

Ricotta White Cheese Pizza with Honey Balsamic Reduction

Ciao!

Today I am going to change your life. And I am going to do that with the one startling revelation that you can make your own cheese at home. In under an hour. No joke.

In all seriousness, once I discovered how to make my own ricotta cheese, I have never looked back. And even gone so far as to make my own paneer and yoghurt using these helpful guides from The Kitchn. Honestly speaking, this will change your life.


Let me break this recipe down for you: first of all, it will take you less than 30 minutes to prepare. This is one of those quick Sunday lunches to prepare when still slightly famished from breakfast, but not hungry enough for a full blown meal. It’s light, it’s easy and you can incorporate lots of vegetables into the toppings to maximize healthiness. In short, this recipe is flawless.

The honey balsamic reduction is completely optional but I feel that this white cheese pizza cannot reach its full potential without the tangy flavours of this sauce. I feel that it really cuts the soft and creamy flavour of the cheeses with a sharp, distinct taste and that that ties the whole meal together.

Starting with a preprepared pizza dough, you can use this recipe, all that you have to do is roll out the dough, add your desired toppings, bake for 15 minutes and you are well on your way to tasting Nirvana. You can prepare the balsamic honey reduction whilst your pizza is baking and just pour it straight over the pizza as soon as it gets out. Uggggghhhhhh heaven.


Ricotta White Cheese Pizza with Honey Balsamic Reduction

Pizza

1 pizza dough, either store bought or made from this recipe

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup chopped spinach

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Optional additives: 1/4 cup sliced red onion, 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms, 1/2 cup grated feta cheese, 1/4 cup caramelised onions

Honey Balsamic Reduction

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp raw honey

1 tbsp cornflour + 1 tbsp COLD water

Make the pizza: 

  1. Start by preheating your oven to a temperature that is above 200°C/400°F, basically, just turn your oven up to its highest setting (mine goes up to 225°C/450°F). High temperatures are a key element in getting the perfect crust on pizza, so we have to make sure that every inch of that oven is burning hot. Place the pizza stone/baking sheet that you’re going to bake the pizza on in the oven as well. These steps are crucial for obtaining optimum golden brown crust.
  2. On a large piece of parchment paper, roll your pizza crust into a large rectangular shape, about 6 inches wide and 12 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. For a thin crust pizza, you can roll it out even thinner, but I prefer to keep it at its thickness as a thin crust pizza may not be able to support all your toppings and you may end up with a soggy crust.
  3. Spread the ricotta cheese all over the pizza crust, leaving a border that is about a 1/4 inch wide. Sprinkle on half the mozzarella cheese and half the parmesan cheese. Arrange the chopped spinach carefully over the pizza base. Finally, top it all off with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
  4. Remove your hot baking sheet from the oven (use gloves!) and carefully slide the parchment paper with your pizza onto the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden. Whilst your pizza is baking, make the honey balsamic reduction.

 

Make the honey balsamic reduction: 

  1. Combine the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. In a cup, dissolve the cornflour in the cold water and stir together until no lumps remain (you may need to add more water). Pour into the balsamic honey mixture and stir until mixture has thickened such that it coats the back of a spoon. Drizzle over baked pizza and serve immediately.

 

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Carnitas

Ola amigos!

To be honest with you, I’m not really a big fan of pork. And by that I mean that the only form of pork I really enjoy is bacon. That was until I discovered a sneaky little cut of pork known as tenderloin. Pork tenderloin is generally a cheaper cut of pork than chops or ribs, as it is tougher.

 

2000px-Pork_Cuts_loin

As you can see from the diagram above (courtesy of About Food) the loin is a large cut of meat that forms the pig’s back, and the tenderloin is towards the rear of the loin. The tenderloin comes from an area that is usually worked quite part, and is therefore quite lean which is why it is tougher than other cuts of pork. However, if you leave it in a slow cooker and cook on low for several hours, you will end up with the most succulent yet tender piece of meat you have ever tasted in your life.


Shredded pork tenderloin has many uses besides carnitas, you can stick it in wraps, pizzas, you can even top your fries with it! I would advise you to make this on a Sunday night, then use the leftover shredded pork as you wish throughout the week. Meal prep on fleekThe really nice thing about carnitas is that they’re easily customised so you can make it your own. I topped mine with red onion, pineapple, parsley, lime wedges and sour cream.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Carnitas

Ingredients 

1 bone in pork tenderloin, between 1 and 3 pounds

1 cup water

1 ½ cups BBQ sauce

4-5 pieces of tortilla bread

Pork rub:

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp paprika

¼ tsp dried mustard

2 tsp brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, minced

Toppings:

1 cup pineapple, diced into ½ cubes

A handful of chopped parsley

2 limes, cut into wedges

¼ cup chopped red onion

Sour cream, I like this recipe

Method:

  1. On a chopping board, trim any excess fat from the tenderloin. Place the pork in a large cast iron pot. Combine the ingredients for the pork rub together in a small bowl and massage the rub into the pork with your hands, making sure that you cover the entire tenderloin. Pour the water into the cast iron pot, taking care not to pour it right over the pork, or you’ll wash the spices off. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours. Pork is done when it easily comes away from the bone.
  2. Remove the pork to a large baking dish and let cool. Once cooled, use 2 forks to shred the pork until the pieces are of a size to your liking. Mix in the barbecue sauce and toss until combined.


Assembly: 

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  1. Place a tortilla on a plate. Cover the tortilla with the pulled pork, leaving a border that’s about ½ inch wide. Top with red onion, pineapple, lime wedges, parsley and finally sour cream. Serve and enjoy!