Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup (4)

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I am excited about this soup as it really has a deep tomato flavor. It is made with canned fire roasted tomatoes (so often it is difficult to find really ripe, juicy and tasty tomatoes otherwise I would have used them) and sun-dried tomatoes. I substituted roast garlic instead of the usual chopped garlic. Roasted garlic is much less intense and sweeter. Each clove turns to a paste in the roasting process.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

TO ROAST THE GARLIC

1 head of garlic

1 tsp. of olive oil

Cut the top of the garlic head off so that you can see the individual cloves. If there are some cloves that are smaller and clustered towards the bottom of the head you can cut their tops off individually.

Remove the outer layer(s) of skin.

Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and slowly pour 1 tsp.  of oil over the cloves making sure each one is covered or brush them with a basting  brush.

Wrap up the foil and place in oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, let cook slightly then remove the garlic from the clove with the end of a teaspoon and set aside until needed.

FOR THE SOUP (MINUS ROASTED GARLIC)

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion – finely chopped

2 x 14.5 oz. cans diced and fire roasted tomatoes

2 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes – cut into little pieces

2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 tbsp. fresh basil plus a little extra for garnish – cut into fine strips

4 cups chicken/veg. broth

Heat the seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the onion and let soften and slightly brown.

Then add the roasted garlic, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, basil and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in a food processor or use a hand held blender.

Serve in individual soup bowls garnished with fresh basil.

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Chickpea, Spinach and Harissa Stew (4)

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Harissa paste is a staple of Tunisian cooking and is their equivalent of tomato ketchup. It is made from a combination of chilis, roasted red peppers, spices, herbs and garlic. It adds a zing to soups and stews. My recipe can either be served as a vegetarian or vegan main course or as a side dish.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium sized onion – finely chopped

1 large garlic clove – grated

1 tbsp. harissa paste

1 and 1/2 cups passata

1 cup chicken/vegetable broth (add more broth at the end of cooking if you want a thinner sauce)

4 oz. baby tomatoes

1 x 15 oz can of chickpeas

5 oz baby spinach

Heat seasoned olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish with a lid and when sizzling add onion and let soften and brown, then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add harissa paste, passata, broth, tomatoes, chickpeas and spinach. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer with the lid on for some 20 minutes until tomatoes are bursting their skins.

Oven-Cooked Vegetables and New Potatoes Dotted with Herbed Goat’s Cheese (4)

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The simpler the better but no compromise on flavor. For that a tray bake is the answer. Place everything on a metal tray, toss in olive oil and season – in this case baby asparagus, artichoke hearts and new potatoes. Peas and herby goat’s cheese are added afterwards as they wouldn’t do so well in the oven.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

12 oz. new potatoes – quartered

8 oz. baby asparagus – use the top two thirds of the stem and cut that in half

1 x 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts – drained and quartered

3 tbs. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4. oz. frozen peas

1 – 2 oz. herbed goat’s cheese – cut into little pieces

Place potatoes, asparagus and artichoke hearts on a metal baking tray. Pour over the olive oil, season and toss well.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

5 minutes before the veg. are cooked, boil the peas.

Remove tray from oven, sprinkle over the peas and dot with goat’s cheese.

 

Lemon-Dill Dressed Noodles with Chicken, Olives, Cucumber and Feta (4)

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If I had a garden I would set aside  a patch for growing herbs. How nice it would be to gather them fresh for a recipe – to make mint sauce to go with lamb or add basil to a tomato sauce for pasta or to chop some fresh parsley for a garnish. Luckily my supermarket has a wide range of fresh herbs – oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage and dill among others.

Dill is a common ingredient in Russian, Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisines where it is used in such recipes as sauces and salads and for pickling.

I didn’t realize how many beneficial properties it has. It boosts digestion and the immune system, contains calcium, is an anti-inflammatory and an anti-flatulent!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

4 oz. rice noodles

1 x chicken breast

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp. olive

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 an English cucumber – sliced then each slice quartered

12 black olives – cut into quarters

2 oz. feta cheese – cut into little cubes

Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. dill – finely chopped

1/4 of a shallot – finely chopped

Cook the rice noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and leave to cool.

Place chicken breast on a piece of aluminum dish in an ovenproof dish, pour over the lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Make a parcel out of the aluminum foil, place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven, let cool then cut into bite-size pieces.

Into a large bowl put the rice noodles, chicken pieces, cucumber, olives and feta cheese.

Make the dressing by whisking together the juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon, Dijon mustard, olive oil, dill and shallot. Pour dressing into the bowl and toss together well (the ‘hands’ in the photo and really good for tossing the salad and separating the strands of noodles).

 

 

 

 

Summer Potatoes (4)

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Simply take new potatoes, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper and cook wrapped in aluminum foil. The great thing with this recipe is that the foil wrapped potatoes can be cooked in the oven or on top of the barbecue grill (timing will vary on the grill depending on the temperature so best to keep and eye on them).

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

12 oz new potatoes – cut into quarters

1/2 a medium onion – cut into thin slices and then halve those slices

2 cloves of garlic – finely sliced

Good pinch of cayenne pepper (or more depending how hot you like your food)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

Place potatoes, onion slices and garlic on a large piece of aluminum foil.

Sprinkle with cayenne pepper, salt and a little black pepper.

Pour over the olive oil, mix well together and make the aluminum foil into a little parcel.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

 

Lightly Curried Chicken, Spinach and Quinoa (4)

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A healthy dinner on the table in a short space of time and any leftovers are great cold and would work well as a packed lunch. The curry flavor is mild –  just a hint really – though you could alter that to your taste and comes in the form of a dressing. The chicken and onion are poached together in aluminum foil. Peanuts and raisins in added to the mix. All in all, a nicely different dish.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 x chicken breasts – cut into 1 inch slices

1/2 a medium onion – cut into slices, then halve the slices and separate into individual pieces

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of boiling water

10 oz. baby spinach

Handful of unsalted peanuts – chopped

1/2 oz raisins

1 tsp. curry powder

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 dessertspoon mango chutney

Put a piece of aluminum foil in an oven-proof dish and place chicken and onion slices on top. Pour the 2 tbsp. of oil over, season with salt and pepper and mix together. Make a little parcel with the aluminum foil and cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. After cooking, cut chicken into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, place quinoa in a saucepan, add boiling water, bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Place spinach in a large lidded pan,  add a little boiling water and cook for just a few minutes until spinach is wilted. Drain, then wrap spinach in a clean T-towel. When it is cool enough to touch, wring the T-towel to get rid of excess water, then chop the spinach.

Mix curry powder, apple cider vinegar and mango chutney together, add oil whisk well together.

To assemble, place quinoa in a large bowl, add the chicken, onion and their juices, chopped spinach peanuts and raisins. Pour over the curry dressing and mix well together.

Spicy Chickpea and Avocado Dip (at least 4)

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Healthy, healthy – mashed chickpeas and avocado with some cayenne pepper and a little lemon juice (to stop the avocado from discoloring).

1 avocado

1/2 can chickpeas

1/4 lemon

Salt, freshly, ground black pepper and cayenne pepper

Mash avocado and chickpeas together in a large bowl, then add the juice of a 1/4 of a lemon along with salt, pepper and two pinches of cayenne pepper (adding less or more depending on how spicy you like things.