A toasted cous cous salad with spinach, avocado and pink grapefruit with a pomegranate molasses dressing
February 7, 2011
I know. What was I thinking? It’s blowing a gale out there and I’m making salad???? Well, it’s a filling one, perfect for lunch on its own or as part of a bigger mezze style meal. This is a salad that will bring some very welcome sunshine to your plate. Close your eyes and you might just be somewhere else (you may have to put on music to shut out the pelting rain)……
Pink grapefruit and avocado are in season at the moment and this doesn’t actually happen when the weather’s hot unless you live in the Middle East. For us both of these are winter varieties. For the colour alone I had to put these two together and salad seemed like the obvious way to go. I also had some spinach and that seemed like a good bet but when I put the three altogether with some olive oil, balsamic and a little honey to offset the tart of the grapefuit the result just didn’t seem quite right. Maybe on a blistering hot day in July but right here, right now……… no. First of all, despite the honey, there was still just too much bite from the grapefruit plus a bit more texture was required. What about cous cous? I love cous cous salads especially with avocado so I got to work toasting some up on the pan. Toasting the grains, if you’ve never done it, adds a lovely smokiness to things. You just stick the cous cous on a dry pan until it starts to turn a lovely golden brown. Then turn the heat way down and add hot water (double the amount of the cous cous is the usual ratio). Stir like mad until all the water has absorbed. At this stage the grains should have plumped up nicely. If they still seem hard, stir in a little more hot water.
When the cous cous is done stir in some olive oil to stop the grains sticking together. Let it cool down then add some perfectly ripe avocado, sliced grapefruit, finely shredded spinach and then a handful of toasted pinenuts. Has to be good right?
But what about the dressing? I really was beginning to wonder and then a bottle of pomegranate molasses caught my eye. I’d bought it just before Christmas but still hadn’t managed to get round to trying the stuff . Margaret always raves about it and it’s a staple for Yotan Ottolenghi. So, what is it? Well it’s a pomegranate syrup basically and flavourwise it’s both sweet and sour so very interesting indeed….. especially for salads. One taste and I knew I’d found what was needed. I think this might be the start of something. Apparently you can even make cookies with this stuff. You can get yourself a bottle in any Middle Eastern shop for a couple of yo yos and a lot of delis have it too.
Toasted cous cous salad with spinach, avocado and pink grapefruit with a pomegranate molasses dressing
1 cup wholemeal cous cous
2 cups hot water and maybe a little more
1 perfectly ripe avocado
120gr spinach – well washed and finely shredded
1/2 pink grapefruit
2 tablespoons pinenuts
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses plus some more for drizzling on top at the end
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Begin by toasting the cous cous as I described above. When it starts to change colour turn down the heat and add the 2 cups of water. Stir until the water has absorbed adding a little more if the grains haven’t cooked fully. When the cous cous is ready, put it in a bowl and stir in some olive oil. The idea is to coat all the grains so it doesn’t all clump together as it cools down. You can add a pinch of salt at this stage aswell. Set aside and get on with the other ingredients.
Toast the pinenuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until they start to change colour then remove and set aside. Peel the grapefruit removing the white pith aswell. I find a sharp knife works best for this. Cut the fruit down the middle, set aside one half then cut the other into segments which you then slice. Peel the avocado and chop into smallish pieces. Along with the spinach mix all these ingredients through the cous cous. Be gentle so the avocado doesn’t go mushy.
Make the dressing by putting the ingredients into a jar then giving it a good shake (with the lid on!!!!). Pour over the cous cous and mix the salad again. Taste and add a little more salt if you think it needs it then drizzle with some more mollases and serve. As I said this makes a good standalone lunch especially if you add a bowl of or make a big mezze selection – a nice Spanish omelette, some green salad, olives, good bread, hummus, roasted peppers, a block of salty Feta,….. you get the idea. Either way, enjoy!!
May 14, 2010
We don’t see these greens very often. Cima di rapa or turnip tops (much less glamorous but that’s actually what they are) have a very, very short season. Blink and they’ve gone to seed. I’ve been in almost daily contact with Duncan Healy about getting a supply this week and while it looked a bit touch and go on Tuesday the Healys managed to harvest enough for us. Thank you, thank you!!!
It’s just so nice to have something different. This time of year is called the hungry gap. Most of the winter stuff is finished and the summer varieties are starting to come through but just not as fast as we’d like!!!! Damned organics – why can’t they grow faster???
I’d had a single chorizo sausage in my fridge leftover from a barbeque at the weekend and I’m glad I resisted the temptation to snaffle it as a midnight snack during the week. I fried it up then tossed it with cima di rape, added a smattering of pine nuts and served it dressed in sherry vinegar. Bree Vandecamp would have made a reduction with the vinegar and you can too if you want to go fancy.I was just too hungry and really there’s no need. The spicy oil that oozes from the chorizo when you cook it provides the dressing along with the vinegar which gives a lovely sharp relief. And it was all done in about 10 minutes……….
A warm salad of Cima di rapa with chorizo and pine nuts (for 1 as lunch or 2 as a starter)
1 bunch of cima di rape
2 tablespoons pinenuts
Finely slice the chorizo and throw onto a warm pan and saute slowly for about 5 or 6 minutes. To prepare the cima di rapa, remove the tougher stalks and chop the rest of them into pieces about 1 inch long. The leaves you can leave a lot longer, just tear them in two. When the chorizo has released its oil and is starting to darken, add the pinenuts. Toss for a minute then add the greens. Keep tossing until they begin to wilt then remove from the pan. Drizzle with sherry vinegar and serve.
October 9, 2009
While all fruit and vegetables are good for you; in recent years research has shown that some varieties are especially worth including in your diet, mainly because they have lots of antioxidants; which help to protect against all kinds of cancers, heart disease and other bad stuff. These are the “superfoods” I’m sure you’ve all heard about and include Broccoli, Blueberries, Oranges, Beans, Oats, Pumpkin, Soy, Salmon, Tea, Tomatoes, Walnuts, Yogurt and…… Dark Chocolate! (further proof that God is indeed a woman).Unfortunately, when it comes to the chocolate we only need a little to get all the benefits but at least it means that wolfing a full bar of Green and Blacks on a Friday evening on the sofa isn’t all bad……….. When it comes to the veggies however, as much and as often as possible is the rule and that’s the reason Broccoli is almost always in our bags every week. Vitamins A, B1,B2 B3, B6 and C (just one cup gives you your recommended daily dose), Folic Acid, Iron (which is absorbed easily by the body due to the Vitamin C content), Beta-carotene (an antioxidant that protects against certain cancers), Magnesium, Potassium (both great for nerve function) and Zinc (keeps your immune system in shape) all mean that it’s essential.
Broccoli is so easy to include in your diet because you can cook it so many ways. It’s fantastic straight up with nothing more than a dressing of Olive Oil and a tiny pinch of Sea Salt or you can put it with Asian flavors like Ginger and chili in a simple stir-fry or it works really well with Mediterranean flavors like Garlic, Parmesan and Anchovies. Try steaming or boiling florets and serving them with a dipping sauce like Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise) or Bagna Cruda (Garlic and Anchovy Sauce) for a really simple starter or snack. As a side dish it’s fantastic sauteed with Bread crumbs or Pinenuts. If you’re after a maincourse, Pasta is a great way to go and it’s a dish that takes about 15 minutes to put together…….
Pasta with Broccoli, Garlic and Pinenuts (for two)
4 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Pinenuts
There are two ways to approach this. If your Broccoli is spanking fresh as it is today you can break it up into bitesized florets, steam it and then add it to the dish. If, however, your Broccoli comes from the back of the fridge, seems a little past it’s bestby date you can chop it up quite small and throw it on the pan after the Garlic has had about 2 minutes, and cook it down for about 10 minutes adding a drop of water until it starts almost falling apart and you get a slightly different but very tasty version of the dish below.
Begin by steaming the florets of Broccoli. While they are steaming you can boil water for Pasta then get the pasta cooking (any shape bar Spaghetti will do) To make your sauce, roughly chop the Garlic and gently sauté them in a generous dash of Olive Oil over a medium heat. As they start to soften (do not let them burn and if they do you’re better off starting again as they’ll make everything horribly bitter) throw in the Broccoli and toss over a medium heat adding more Olive Oil if necessary. After a couple of minutes add the Pine nuts and continue tossing for another minute or two before seasoning with Salt and freshlyground Pepper. By this stage your Pasta should be about done. Drain it and add it to the Broccoli and mix everything together adding freshly ground Parmesan Cheese. Serve Immediately.
Variations:There are loads, this is a dish I cook and vary a lot. Try frying some Chili or a couple of pounded Anchovies with the Garlic at the beginning, adding some Lemon Juice at the end, using Feta or Goat’s Cheese instead of the Parmesan, throwing in few Sundried Tomatoes sliced into strips or Black Olive towards the end.
If you fancy something more Asian in flavor, as I mentioned above Broccoli works really well. Try this recipe instead……
Sautéed Broccoli with Garlic and Chilli and Sesame Seeds
Wash and break your Broccoli into large bitesized florets. Gently steam for a couple of minutes until al dente (i.e. cooked but still very firm). Heat some Vegetable Oil on a wok or pan and throw in 2 or 3 cloves of chopped Garlic and some red Chilli (the quantity is up to you). Allow the Garlic to soften but don’t let it change colour as it will burn in a very quickly after that, then throw in the Broccoli. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and add a splash of toasted Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce and some toasted Sesame Seeds (to toast your Sesame Seeds simply throw 2 Tablespoons on a dry pan and roast over a medium heat until they start to change colour and pop). Serve immediately.
New Season Oranges haven’t quite kicked in yet (we’re getting some but not enough) so we’ve included Kiwis in all our selections with fruit this week. These guys have even more Vitamin C than Oranges so are great for this time of year when the change in temperature means we’re all more susceptible to catching colds and flus.If you fancy using them to make a quick desert this fool recipe couldn’t be easier….
Kiwi Mess with Creme Fraiche and Ginger Nut Biscuits
100gr Creme Fraiche
4 Ginger Nut Biscuits
3-4 teaspoons syrup from a jar of stem Ginger – this is a lovely touch but not essential so if you don’t have it just use some icing sugar.
Peel and cut the fruit into chunks. Stir the syrup or icing sugar into the Creme Fraiche and set aside. Roughly crush the biscuits – rolling pin or bottom of a bottle will work for this. Toss everything together and decant into some nice bowls or old-fashioned low champagne glasses (charity shops always good for this kind of thing). Yum!!
By the way, if you’re wondering what to do with this week’s Butternut there’s a fab soup with Thyme and Parmesan on this blog- perfect for a rainy day (Urghhhhhhhhh!)
August 21, 2009
This week we have the start of Autumn varieties – Butternut Squash and New Parsnips. Seems unfair given we haven’t really had a summer but I suppose there’s always September (we Irish never give up the faith). This week’s recipe is a salad with Butternut Squash and Rocket. If you haven’t had it before, Butternut can be boiled, steamed or roasted (there are several recipes already on the blog including a really amazing soup). When you roast Butternut it caramelises on the outside adding great flavour. Then I added some toasted Pine nuts and a little Goat’s Cheese. Perfect for a Saturday lunch…….
Roasted Butternut Salad with Rocket(Arugula) and Goat’s Cheese
300gr peeled Butternut cut into bite sized Cubes
60 gr Rocket (about what you have in this week’s bag) or any other salad leaves
A handful of Pine nuts
150gr Chevre Goat’s Cheese
Begin by preparing the Butternut. I find the best way is to quarter it remove the seeds and stringy bits and then chop it up.Put the Butternut on a roasting tray and with your hands smear about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil on them then roast in a hottish oven (Gas mark 6 or 200 degrees) for about 30- 40 minutes or until the pieces are soft and starting to caramelize.
You can toast the Pine nuts in the oven (on a separate tray) so stick them in and toast until they’ve started to change colour (should take about 10 minutes but check on them after 5). When the Butternut is ready let it cool down a bit them toss it with the Rocket and Pine nuts. Dress the lot with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. Eat with nice bread or a Cous Cous salad (try Cous Cous, Chopped Dates, some Sultanas and some toasted Cumin Seeds dressed in Olive Oil and Lemon Juice)
The tiny plums in your bag this week are Mirabelles and they’re only around for a couple of weeks every year. Completely delicious, they should be eaten asap and there’s no need to add anything – Yum!!!!
Have a great weekend,
February 4, 2009
We have Jerusalem Artichokes in all our bags this week. Never heard of them? Well, they are those funny knobbly things that look like a cross between Root Ginger and Sweet Potatoes in your bag this week. Rather confusingly Jerusalem Artichokes have nothing to do with either Jerusalem or Artichokes. These tubers are a variety of sunflower. Tastewise, they’re quite similar to Globe Artichokes but are much sweeter with a nutty, smokey flavour which goes beautifully with Cream, Garlic, Bacon, Mushrooms, Hazelnuts, Lemon, Parsley and Parmesan. Like all root veg, Jerusalem Artichokes can be roasted, fried, boiled and mashed. They make fantastic soups and gratins and can even be eaten raw although with the day that’s in it that doesn’t really hold too much appeal. Instead, I’d suggest a warm salad with this week’s Rocket and some smoked Cheese. Paul and I have just wolfed this for lunch and it rocks. Or, try soup – Jerusalem Artichokes make the silkiest kind and you can garnish it by pan-frying some of this week’s Mushrooms which are just perfect for bringing up the nutty, earthy flavour of the soup….
When preparing your Artichokes, it isn’t necessary, as many recipes insist, to peel them but they do need a good scrub. If they’re very mucky, a soak in some water before you scrub will make things easier. If you do peel them, be sure and put them in acidulated water (ie water with some Lemon Juice) to stop them going brown. The first recipe this week is a very simple one and it works really well with any kind of roast and it’s also the basis of the salad recipe I just mentioned….
Pan-fried Jerusalem Artichokes with White Wine Vinegar
You’ll need: 600gr Jerusalem Artichokes (about what you have in this week’s bag)
2-3 cloves Garlic
White Wine Vinegar
Scrub your Artichokes well but don’t bother to peel them. Slice each one into rounds about 1/2 cm thick dropping them into a bowl of Water with Lemon juice as you go. When they’re all ready drain them and dry with some kichen paper or a tea towel. Heat some Olive Oil on the pan and add the Artichokes. Pan-fry over a slow to medium heat until golden. This should take about 10 minutes and at this stage the Artichokes will have started to soften. To finish cooking them turn down the heat and cover them for about 10 minutes tossing every few minutes to ensure they don’t blacken. While the Artichokes are cooking, finely chop your Garlic. When the Artichokes are soft to the point of nearly starting to fall apart turn up the heat a little, add a little more Olive Oil and throw in the Garlic and toss with the Artichokes until soft. To finish off the dish add a dash of white wine vinegar, toss everything together then turn down the heat, cover and leave to cook for a minute then turn off the heat, season with Salt and Pepper and serve.
A warm salad with Pan-fried Artichokes, Rocket, Pinenuts and smoked Cheese (for 2)
A portion of pan-fried Artichokes prepared as described above.
60-70gr Rocket (about what you have in your bag this week)
100gr smoked Cheese – Apart from the Basque raw sheeps cheese Idiazabal I’m not normally wild about smoked Cheeses but it’s amazing in this salad. I used Oakwood which is pretty readily available (Idiazabal, unfortuneately, isn’t – even in the rest of Spain it’s hard to track down).
A handful Pinenuts Olive Oil Vinegar or Lemon Juice – I used that Irish Cider Balsamic stuff which is really nice but traditional Red wine or Lemon Juice also works well. I wouldn’t go for regular Balsamic for a salad like this as I think it overpowers the earthy flavours but it’s really up to you.
While the Artichokes are cooking wash and dry the Rocket. Chop the cheese into little chunks (about the size of hazelnuts) or strips about 2 cm long . Toast the Pinenuts on a dry pan until golden then roughly chop and mix through the Rocket. Add in the Cheese and when the Artichokes are ready dress everything with Olive Oil and Vinegar then top with the Artichokes and serve.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup topped with saute Portabella Mushrooms (for 2 hungry people or 4 as a small starter)
A generous knob Butter
1 Stick of Celery
2 Cloves Garlic
600gr Jerusalem Artichokes (about what you have in this week’s bag)
800ml Stock (Chicken or veg)
60ml Double Cream
1 large Portobella Mushroom or 4-5 small Chestnut ones to garnish
Roughly chop your Onion and begin to sweat in the Butter while you finely chop the Celery. Throw in the chopped Celery and after about 5 minutes add the 2 cloves Garlic roughly chopped. Continue to saute over a lowish heat until everything has softened but not changed colour (this should take about 10 minutes) while you get on with preparing the Jerusalem Artichokes. Peel and slice the Jerusalem Artichokes, dropping them into water with a squirt of Lemon as you go. When the Onion, Celery and Garlic have fully softened throw in the Artichokes along with the stock. Season with Salt and Pepper, bring to the boil then simmer for about 25 minutes until the Jerusalem Artichokes are completely tender. While the soup is cooking wipe and thinly slice your mushroom(s), heat some Olive Oil on a pan and fry until golden brown and almost crispy then set aside. When the soup is cooked, turn off the heat and blend until completely smooth. Add in the cream, check the seasoning adding a little more Salt if necessary and serve topped with the Mushrooms.
September 22, 2008
Courgettes, as you know, are a summer staple; not even all the wind and rain can hold them back. Nice as they are, at this time of year “Courgette fatigue” starts to set in. There are only so many Courgette pastas you can eat…. Salads are the way forward especially with vinegar as it brings up their flavour so well. Then to bulk things out and make a larger meal you can add Herbs, Cheese (Goat’s and Feta are especially good), Pinenuts, Tomatoes and Cous Cous. Below are a few of the many salads we’ve eaten over the summer months and for those of you fed up pretending it’s summer right at the end there’s a gratin and pasta recipe.
For one of the best Courgette salads just chargrill or griddle Courgette rounds (see below for details) then add a dressing of Olive Oil and Red Wine vinegar (4:1) along with a little Salt and Sugar. Add some torn Basil or Mint leaves if you have them and set aside for at least 20 minutes so all the flavours have a chance to soften and mingle. Serve with Cheeses, Hummus, Cous Cous, Green Salad and Olives for lunch or as part of a main course with grilled fish.
If you want something a little more filling try an extended version of this by adding Lettuce (or any salad leaves you have) Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and Black Olives. Because the Courgettes are cooked, this salad feels like a meal and really needs nothing more than good bread for a perfect lunch……..
Chargrilled Courgette Salad with Lettuce, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Olives
- 2 Medium Courgettes
- 1/2 Head Lettuce
- 300gr Cherry Tomatoes
- A handful Black Olives
- 100gr Feta
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
Begin by preparing your Courgettes. Either cut them into rounds about 1/2 cm thick or slice them into lengths (about 5 cms is perfect) of the same thickness. Heat your grill or griddle pan and when it’s ready place the Courgettes on it then cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes until the slices start to char (if you’re using a griddle pan you’ll get those snazzy stripes). When they’re done take them off the pan and put them in a bowl. Cover with a plate so the heat from the Courgettes generates some steam which continues the cooking process and leaves them lovely and tender.
While the Courgettes are steaming, wash and quarter about 300gr Cherry Vine Tomatoes (or chop 2- 3 regular sized ones) and make a dressing using 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar and 4 of Olive Oil, a little pinch of Sugar (takes any bitterness out of the Courgettes) and a pinch of Salt.
Mix the Tomatoes, Courgettes and dressing together and and leave aside for at least 20 minutes. If you’re preparing in advance this could be done up to 6 hours before.
To put the salad together, wash and dry half a head of Lettuce then tear the leaves into manageable sized pieces with your fingers. In a salad bowl, mix the Courgettes, Tomatoes, Lettuce Leaves, Feta Cheese (crumbled) and the Olives. Toss together, check the seasoning adding more vinegar if necessary and serve.
Another Very Simple Courgette Salad
- 2 Medium Courgettes
- 3-4 Cloves Garlic
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Basil Leaves
Slice your Courgettes and gently sauté in Olive Oil. Just before they start to change colour add 3 or 4 finely chopped cloves Garlic and continue to sauté until the Garlic has softened and the Courgettes are golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool before dressing with Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar (about 4:1 should be fine but you may need to adjust) mixed with pinches of Sugar and Salt. Add some torn Basil leaves and leave for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to soften and mingle. Serve with cheeses or perhaps a simple omelette and a green salad.
Warm Courgette salad with Pine Nuts and Goat’s Cheese (for 2)
- 2 Medium Courgettes
- A handful Pinenuts
- 1/2 Head Lettuce (or enough Rocket for 2)
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- 150gr Soft Goat’s Cheese (Chevre rounds are ideal)
Once again, slice and sauté the Courgettes until golden brown but this time leave out the Garlic. When done, allow to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
Begin by toasting a handful Pinenuts. To do this, place them on a dry frying pan and toast over medium heat until they start to change colour.
Wash and dry about 1/2 Lettuce.
Make a dressing by mixing Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar (again about 4:1 should do it) with pinches of Salt and Sugar.
To put everything together, toss the Lettuce leaves (tear them first if they’re too big) and Pinenuts with the dressing and put on a plate or platter. Scatter the Courgette slices and small rounds of Goat’s Cheese (Ricotta would also be lovely) on the Lettuce leaves and serve.
And if you fancy something more substantial try…
Courgette Gratin with Tomato and Parmesan (for 2)
- 1 Medium Onion
- 3-4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 3 Medium Courgettes
- 80gr freshly grated Parmesan
- Basil Leaves
Make a Tomato sauce by sautéing a medium Onion in Olive Oil over a lowish heat until soft and beginning to change colour (this will take about 15 minutes). Add a 3-4 roughly chopped cloves Garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes until the Garlic has softened. Add a tin of chopped Tomatoes, a teaspoon Sugar and a generous pinch Salt. Continue cooking over a low to medium heat until the Tomato has reduced by at least half. Check your seasoning adding more Salt if necessary and a little more Sugar if the sauce seems bitter. Cook for a further 5 minutes then remove from heat.
While the Tomatoes are cooking, slice and sauté the Courgettes till golden brown.
To finish the dish, put a little Tomato Sauce on the base of a small ceramic gratin dish followed by a layer of Courgettes, some grated Parmesan and a few torn Basil Leaves if you have them. Continue layering the Courgettes, Tomato and Parmesan until everything has been used ending with a layer of Parmesan. Grill until golden and eat hot, warm or cold.
Pasta with Garlic, Courgettes and Chilli (for 2)
- 2 Medium Courgettes
- 1/2 Fresh Red Chilli
- 2-3 Cloves Garlic
- freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- Enough Pasta for 2
Slice and begin frying your Courgettes along with 1/2 fresh Chilli in a generous dash of Olive Oil. While the Courgettes are cooking put on enough pasta for 2 (any kind works fine). When the Courgettes start to change colour add 2-3 cloves Garlic finely chopped. Be sure to keep moving the Courgettes and Garlic on the pan so the Garlic doesn’t burn.
When the pasta and Courgettes are ready mix together adding plenty of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, Salt, Black Pepper and a little more oil if necessary. Serve immediately.
Variation: Instead of the Chilli you could throw in a handful of Capers at the end.