Tomato and Chicken Tray Bake (4)

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I love the ease of tray bakes. Everything goes into the oven together on the same baking tray and cooks at the same time – in this case baby tomatoes, French green beans (the thin ones), new potatoes, black olives from the deli counter and bite-size pieces of chicken. This same mixture can also be a salad. (see Tomato, Green Bean, Potato and Olive Salad) though of the two I think I prefer the hot dish as it produces some nice juices and cooking the olives brings out their saltiness (so don’t season until you have tasted it).

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 chicken breasts – cut into bite size pieces

1 dry pint or 10 oz. baby tomatoes

8 oz. French green beans

8 medium new potatoes – quartered

20 black olives

2 tbsp. olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, pour over the olive oil and toss well together, then tip on to a baking tray and cook in oven for 30 minutes.

 

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French Green Beans and Baby Tomatoes with Tapenade (4)

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French green beans or haricots verts as they are known in France are a thinner version of the traditional green beans found in the US and UK and I much prefer them. In France haricots verts and tomatoes are often combined, whether it be in a salad or a hot dish such as this. I have added tapenade – a traditional Mediterranean appetizer often served on toasted bread in a similar way to bruschetta or used as a dip for crudites – and stirred it in with the vegetables. Tapenade at its most basic combines black olives, capers and olive oil. My version also includes anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. If you don’t want to make it yourself you may be able to find it in your local supermarket. Goes well with lamb or firm white fish.

8 oz thin green beans – topped, tailed and cut in half

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

8 oz cherry tomatoes – cut in half

1 tbsp. tapenade (or more if you want)

Boil the green beans for just a few minutes until ‘al dente’, then drain.

At the same time put 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft and browned on both sides.

Add the beans and 1 tbsp. of tapenade to the pan with the tomatoes and the juices and toss well together.

TAPENADE (makes approx. 1 cup – which is more than you need for this recipe)

1 x cup pitted black olives

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped tbsp. curly parsley

1 tbsp. capers – drained

1 large clove garlic – cut into small pieces

4 anchovies

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend to your desired consistency.

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A Verdant Salad (4)

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This is a lovely, colorful, healthy salad and you can take a big pan of boiling water and use the same pan to cook all the vegetables one after the other. You really have to be in the kitchen for this recipe to keep an eye on the veggies as they want to be ‘al dente’. Serve with vinaigrette of your choice or mayonnaise.

4 oz baby asparagus -cut the bottom ends off

4 oz French green beans (the thin ones) – topped and tailed

4 oz yellow waxed beans – topped and tailed

4 oz snowpeas/mangetout

8 baby potatoes

2 eggs

1/2 can of hearts of palm – chopped into pieces

4 anchovies – chopped into pieces (optional)

Place asparagus into boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, remove from pan and place on paper towel to cool and absorb any water.

Repeat with green beans, waxed beans and snowpeas – cooking them one after the other.

Place potatoes and eggs in the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.

Arrange veg. on a platter with the hard-boiled eggs (cut into 1/8ths) and hearts of palm.

Scatter pieces of anchovies over the veg.

 

Jo’s Ratatouille (4)

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Loads of veg. in this. Not a true ratatouille (to my mind just as good but different). And the addition of potatoes, so a one pot meal. Good for vegetarians and vegans, but also a side dish.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 a large onion – chopped

2 large garlic cloves – finely chopped (or I grate mine)

1 cup veg. stock/broth

2 zucchini/courgettes – sliced and quartered

1/2 dry pint of cherry tomatoes – halved

4 oz. French green beans – topped and tailed, cut into halves or thirds

8 oz. roasted red peppers – cut into small pieces (bought mine in a jar)

8 oz. baby potatoes – cut into quarters

Heat oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper in large skillet/frying pan.

When sizzling add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened and going brown.,

Add broth/stock, zucchini/courgettes/cherry tomatoes, French beans and red peppers.

Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Cook new potatoes separately in  a pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Add to veggies and serve (fairly good cold too).

 

Tomato, Green Bean, Potato and Olive Salad

Tomato, Green Bean, Potato and Olive Salad

On vacation in France with 10 other family members we all took turns to help in the kitchen – preferably quick and easy. This was my contribution one night. I had intended just a simple tomato and green bean salad with those thin French green beans and then I made it more substantial by adding some cooked new potatoes and some pitted black olives that were lurking in the fridge and tossed it with my anchovy vinaigrette.

I had no scales or measurements available, so just take sliced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, greens beans cooked ‘al dente’ and baby new potatoes (halved) in roughly equal amounts. Add in some chopped black olives and toss with anchovy vinaigrette – see below

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

1 garlic clove – finely chopped

3 anchovies – finely chopped

Jo’s Stir Fried Vegetables (serves 4)

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At the weekend I was visiting the Morikami Gardens and Museum in Delray Beach, FL. The Japanese Gardens and setting are very authentic and very peaceful. The restaurant there overlooks a lake and serves a variety of Japanese food. I so enjoyed my duck with stir fried vegetables in a ginger sauce that I decided to try and re-create the dish. I don’t have a wok so used a large metal bottomed frying pan. For the Japanese flavor I used garlic, scallions,  fish sauce and ginger. For the veg. I used carrots, broccoli florets, green beans and baby bella mushrooms. You could serve duck, chicken, pork or beef on top of the veg. with  quinoa on the side. For vegetarians/vegans probably soy sauce would be a substitute for the fish sauce.

1 tbsp. olive oil, seasoned with freshly ground black pepper (no salt needed because of salt in the Fish Sauce)

2 large cloves garlic – grated

1 bunch of scallions – finely chopped (only used white ends)

1 tbsp. Fish Sauce (Thai Kitchen brand Premium Fish Sauce)

1 piece of ginger (size of thumb from first joint to finger nail) – finely grated

4 tbsp. vegetable broth

2 medium size heads of broccoli – torn into smallish florets

2 medium carrots – very thinly sliced

Handful of thin green beans (amount you can get between thumb and forefinger) – topped and tailed and cut into thirds

6 oz. baby Bella mushrooms – washed and cut into 1/4’s or 1/6ths, depending on size

Heat the oil in frying pan and when sizzling add garlic and scallions and cook for a few minutes.
Add grated ginger and Fish Sauce and stir.
Add the vegetables and veg. broth/stock and cook until ‘al dente’ (about 5 minutes) stirring frequently.