Baked halloumi and red pepper salad

I’ve been seeing a lot of halloumi and roasted red peppers lately – in toasties at Prêt, in wraps, inside one another (think halloumi stuffed peppers), and as halloumi is one of my food crushes of the moment, I decided to give it a whirl.

I kept it simple and baked them before tossing them with a fresh salad, with a little lemon and thyme as a personal twist.

A great option as a starter – you’d have to serve it with something more consistent to have it as a main – and definitely tasting of summer!

How do you eat your halloumi?

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Serves 1

Ingredients:

1/2 block of halloumi, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, roasted and skin peeled off

1/2 lemon, sliced

A few sprigs of thyme

1/2 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cucumber, thinly sliced

A few baby plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 sweet pepper, thinly sliced

A handful of salad leaves

1. Preheat oven to 200° C. In an oven-proof dish, place halloumi and roasted pepper slices.

2. Mix thyme, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the halloumi and red peppers. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, until cheese is soft and golden.

3. While the cheese cooks, plate salad leaves, cucumber, tomato and sweet pepper slices. When the cheese is done, place with red pepper on top of salad with some of the cooking juices.

4. Enjoy!

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Feta, chorizo and spring onion quesadillas

Quesadillas again! Aren’t you thrilled?

I am! I just love finding new things to eat with tortillas.

Oh, I’m not obsessed.

Really.

Cross my heart.

(and my fingers)

Right, so maybe I am obsessed with quesadillas. I should probably start a quesadilla page on the blog. Or just turn this into a quesadilla blog altogether!

Or not. But believe me, these quesadillas, you will want to try. Thank you, Olive Magazine, for the recipe and happy tummy.

Ps. Added bonus: these looks like crêpes before you cut them. My French side is OVER THE MOON.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 corn tortillas

100g feta cheese, crumbled

100g chorizo, chopped into small pieces

10 baby plum tomatoes, diced

2 spring onion, chopped (including green ends)

1/2 bunch of coriander, chopped

1 lime

1. Mix chopped baby plum tomatoes, spring onions, and coriander. Put 3 tbsp aside and mix the rest in with the juice of the lime to make some salsa.

2. Heat a large frying pan and place one tortilla in the bottom. Add half the crumbled feta, half the chopped chorizo and half the tomato mixture. Place second tortilla on top. When the bottom tortilla is coloured and the feta has melted, flip the quesadilla and cook until the other side has browned.

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3. Repeat with other tortillas and the rest of the feta, chorizo and tomato mixture. Cut both into wedges and enjoy with the salsa and a small side salad.

4. Enjoy!

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Spicy red lentil stew

Think comfort.

Spicy, warm comfort.

This dish is simply perfect for those cold nights where you just want to wrap up in a warm blanket and cosy up inside.

I know I was trying to will the summer on by eating salads, but when it pours outside all day, sometimes you just want to have something to heat up your insides.

One of the best things about this stew? You can make a big batch, freeze a few portions – and presto! A fuss free, healthy meal for one (or two) without having to spend hours in the kitchen waiting for it to cook. Just take it out of the freezer in the morning and heat up in a saucepan (or microwave).

Anyway, try it, savour it, thank me later!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 stick of celery, diced

1 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp tomato purée

400g tin chopped tomatoes

200g red split lentils, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained

Salt and pepper, to taste

Coconut oil

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1. Heat some coconut oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and fry for 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, tomato purée, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper and fry for a further two minutes, while stirring.

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3. Add chopped tomatoes, red lentils and 500ml of water. Season to taste, then simmer over low heat for 30 minutes until sauce has thickened and lentils are cooked.

4. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

5. Enjoy!

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Quick and easy tomato and mascarpone spaghetti

Some days, you just don’t feel like cooking.

I mean, be honest: it happens to the best of us! And, despite my love of cooking (and my best intentions), it happens to me ALL. THE. TIME.

And I have found my easy solution to those lazy days – tomato and mascarpone pasta.

It’s easy: boil water. Add spaghetti. Fry half a chopped onion. Add tomato purée and mascarpone. Mix in with pasta when cooked and drained. Sprinkle over some parmesan. EAT.

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If you’re feeling up for it, dice a cherry tomato or two  to throw into the mix. Adds a bit of freshness.

The great part about this dish: it only takes as long to make as your pasta takes to cook, and it’s still healthy!

I also used wholemeal spaghetti to make it a little healthier – although I must say, I personally really enjoy the taste and extra crunch of wholemeal spaghetti.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

75-100g wholemeal spaghetti

1/2 roughly chopped onion

5-6 cherry tomatoes, diced

1/2 tbsp tomato purée

1 tbsp mascarpone

Salt and pepper to taste

Coconut oil

Parmesan

1. Boil some water in a large pot. When bubbling, add spaghetti.

2. While spaghetti cooks, heat some coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped onion and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add tomato purée and mascarpone, mixing thoroughly.

3. Drain the spaghetti, then place back in pot. Mix tomato mascarpone sauce in with the spaghetti. Drop in the diced tomato.

4. Plate pasta and sprinkle parmesan on top.

5. Enjoy!

Roasted red pepper butterbean salad

The English weather, true to itself, keeps going from amazingly warm, sunny and AWESOME days to raining, pouring, old man snoring-type of days.

Hence, I’ve decided to will the sun out by eating delicious, summer salads all day, every day.

Well, for lunch.

And dinner.

Not breakfast.

Don’t think I could manage breakfast.

Attempt n°1

(It seems to have worked as the rain has temporarily stopped here in the Midlands):

Roasted red pepper butter bean salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 red pepper

80g pancetta cubes

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed

Apple cider vinegar (or red wine if you have it)

Two handfuls of rocket

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 200°. On a baking tray, place your red pepper, deseeded and sliced into four sides. Place in oven until the skin is burnt. Then, put the pepper into a sealed plastic bag and leave to cool. Once it is cool to the touch, peel off the skin, slice into strips and set aside.

2. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, fry the pancetta cubes (no need to add any oil or fats) until golden. Then, add chopped shallots until soft.

3. Tip in strips of roasted pepper and butterbeans, as well as a dash a vinegar and stir until heated through. Season to taste.

4. Plate with the rocket and serve with warm, crusty bread.

5. Enjoy!

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Ps. I bought some bread in store today because I didn’t have time to make my own. It was delicious spicy corn bread and I LOVED it. Definitely going to try making some at home ^^

Spinach and ricotta lasagna

Since I tried this dish out for the first time a few years ago, it’s become one of my go-to healthy dishes, and a bit of a comfort food: I mean, seriously, it’s full of spinach (my absolute favourite), ricotta cheese and nutmeg – how could I not love it? Spinach and ricotta are such a beautiful pairing, I love to use them in basically anything: I’ve already posted about quesadillas, a quick and easy dinner solution, but this is my ultimate favourite and a great dinner dish – lasagna.

Plus, this recipe can easily be tweaked using filo pastry to make spinach and ricotta samosas or filo pie, if and when the mood strikes you. Don’t you love two-in-one recipes? 😉

Serves 6

Ingredients:

250g spinach

1 onion, chopped

250g ricotta cheese

100g feta cheese

1/2 tsp nutmeg

6-9 lasagna sheets

Parmesan

Salt

Pepper

Coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 200° C.

2. Heat some coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat, and fry the chopped onion until translucent and soft. Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Tip into a sieve and press to remove excess liquid, then put into a bowl and let cool.

3. Mix nutmeg, crumbled feta and ricotta, then stir in with the spinach and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. In an ovenproof dish, layer the spinach and ricotta mixture with lasagna sheets, finishing with a ricotta layer. Sprinkle a little parmesan over the top.

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5. Put some aluminium over the dish and put in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove aluminium and bake for a further  10 minutes.

6. Take out of the oven and let cool before serving.

7. Enjoy!

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Roasted sweet potato fajitas

It’s been such a busy weekend with my family visiting me from France so this recipe is a little bit late, but I simply couldn’t deprive you of it.

I LOVE sweet potatoes and this is one of my favorite to-go lunch recipes ever: roasted sweet potato, red onion and red pepper wedges with Mexican spice, crème fraiche, feta cheese and crunchy iceberg lettuce.

It’s perfect, delicious hot or cold, morning or night.

Every time I have it, that’s all I wanted to eat for the next week.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but this baby will most definitely be featuring on my Instagram feed regularly over the next few weeks.

Although I adore this fajita recipe as a vegetarian one, it’s also delicious with some spicy and crispy fried chorizo on top for a meaty twist.Your choice, really.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into wedges

1 red onion, chopped into wedges

1 onion, chopped into wedges

1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into strips

1 tbsp olive oil

15g fajita or Mexican seasoning

Fresh coriander

Iceberg lettuce, shredded

50g feta cheese

Crème fraiche or sour cream, to serve

4 tortilla wraps

Optional: chorizo

1. Heat oven to 200° C. In a mixing bowl, toss sweet potato, onion, red onion and red pepper wedges with olive oil and spices. Place on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes, turning halfway through.

2. Warm the wraps as indicated on the packet (or 8-10 minutes, wrapped in tinfoil in the oven).

3. Make fajitas once the vegetables are cooked by placing them in the wraps with a dollop of cream, some chopped coriander, iceberg lettuce and crumbled feta cheese.

IMG_3953For a meatier option, fry some chorizo slices in a pan until crisp while vegetables are baking then add to the fajitas.

4. Enjoy!

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Black bean quesadillas with fresh salsa and zingy guacamole

I’ve realised in these past few weeks that my initial goal to post once a day was  going to be a hard feat indeed – with a teaching job on the side and a plethora of personal goals to attain this year, there just isn’t enough time in the world to do everything at once.

HENCE, I will be reducing my posting habits to something a little bit more realistic – something closer to three-four times a week – so as to keep up with this wonderful hobby all the while getting everything else DONE and taking some time to go out there and live a little too.

Which is just what I did this weekend, of which we had a wonderful three days here in the UK. It wasn’t exactly restful, but it was definitely fun.

To start the week on a lovely high note, here’s my first meal of the week:

Black bean quesadillas with fresh salsa and zingy guacamole

Quesadillas will probably always be my go-to meal when I want to eat something quick, healthy and delicious – not only are they extremely filling, but they are easy to tweak and modify to fit whatever’s in your fridge or pantry.

These black bean quesadillas are a favorite vegetarian option of mine as they come with a lovely hit of protein and keep you going the entire afternoon. The salsa and guacamole are delicious additions, but if you want a real fill of veggies on the side, I suggest an easy side salad with a little cucumber, red onion, tomato and coriander.

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Serves 1

Ingredients:

For the black bean tortillas:

2 wholemeal tortillas

1/2 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

50g of cheese, such as cheddar or comté, grated

2 spring onion, finely sliced

Small handful of coriander, chopped

Salt and pepper

For the zingy salsa:

A few cherry tomatoes

1/4 lime wedge

Salt

For the spicy guacamole:

1/2 avocado

1/2 tsp red chilli, finely sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

Lemon

Salt and pepper

1. In a mixing bowl, add drained and rinsed black beans, grated cheese (I used cheddar), chopped coriander and sliced spring onion. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

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2. To make the guacamole, spoon out the flesh from the 1/2 avocado into a bowl. Add approximately 1/2-1 tbsp of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, finely sliced red chilli, salt and pepper. Smash with a fork and set aside.

3. For the salsa, simply finely slice the cherry tomatoes (I used a mixture of red and yellow), add a squeeze of lime juice and salt.

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4. Heat a pan over medium heat. In a plate, divide black bean mixture between the two tortillas and fold in half. Place on pan and cook for a few minutes on each side.

5. When done, serve with guacamole and salsa, and possibly a fresh side salad.

6. Enjoy!

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Tea discovery of the week: Revitalise, by Pukka Herbs

It was about time I published another tea review post, wasn’t it?

And I have just the perfect candidate.

I have simply been obsessed with this tea for the past few weeks since I found it in my local health food store.

I was originally looking for Pukka Herbs’ Cleanse tea, but when I saw this one, I just couldn’t resist.

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Cinnamon, cardamom and ginger? Three of my favorite spices all put together? It couldn’t be! And yet…

This tea is first on my list of favourites these days, firstly because it smells absolutely amazing as it brews, the scent of cinnamon floating in the air, mixed with ginger, cloves, cardamom and a hint of orange.

Despite the strong aroma, the taste is perfectly balanced. The name of this spicy infusion is flawlessly suited to its effect; I find it truly invigorating.

Best drunk in the evening or during the afternoon lull.

Here’s where you can find it online. The website also allows you to locate your nearest local supplier.

If you try any tea I recommend, let it be this one. An absolute delight.

I tried: Hello Fresh

So, as my last post stated, I recently received my first Hello Fresh box: after trying out Gousto last year, I had to try this second option. I’ve been busy cooking up the dishes they delivered these past few days. Here are my thoughts on the experience:

1. Delivery:

The box could have been delivered anytime during the day, but it arrived fairly early in the morning (around 11, I think). It was left on my front porch, exactly like I had specified – there were no issues with the delivery at all.

2. The Box :

IMG_3866The box looks simple: brown, with the Hello Fresh Logo on it. Once opened, the contents were very well organised, refrigerated ingredients on one side, fresh (vegetables and fruit) and dry ingredients on the other. Also included in the package were three beautifully designed recipe cards and a pack of Jordan’s Strawberry and Blueberry Granola, which I was delighted to see.

3. The recipes : 

First off, I should specify that I ordered the vegetarian box. Unlike Gousto, you cannot specifically choose which three meals you’d like to receive, as these are randomly picked for you. However, Hello Fresh do have a list of the different dishes available per week on their website (for the current week and the two following weeks).

While the “omnivore” box has a number of meal options (meaning you would only receive three meals out of about ten), the vegetarian menu only includes three items a week. Hence, you can know what meals you’ll be receiving in advance.

The three dishes I received I was, well, less than sold on at first. However, after having cooked and eaten them, I am absolutely bowled over! All three turned out delicious; the flavours were very well balanced and I’ll definitely be keeping some of these recipes in my belt for some other time.

This pasta dish was fresh, zingy and cheesy – I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Power Pasta of the Gods with Peas and Parsley

My personal favourite of the three? This amazing roast sweet potato, onion and tomato salad with spiced halloumi. I’m a big fan of Halloumi cheese and this was definitely a lovely new way of eating it – I haven’t tried spicing it up before and it was very tasty. I loved the Mexican spice mix Hello Fresh included with the recipe.

Mexican Tomato Jumble with Spiced Citrus Halloumi

This dish was the real surprise of the three: I left it til last because I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it quite as much. However, it was completely the opposite. I discovered freekeh, a roasted grain with a nutty taste. I love it already 😉

Springtime Freekeh Salad


My verdict? 

Overall, a lovely experience ordering from Hello Fresh. The recipes were easy to follow and delicious.

The downside? Generally, I wouldn’t be able to afford this: 3 meals for 2 for £36 (for the vegetarian box), although relatively reasonably priced, just goes beyond what I can spend by myself. I got a £25 discount voucher on my first Hello Fresh box from Amazon a few weeks ago and thought I’d take the opportunity to test it. I would definitely recommend trying it out for couples, though!