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The magical flavours of the Middle East

The magical flavours of the Middle East


I cannot believe that I have been posting “Vegetable of the Week” recipes for a while now and I have not yet shared this favourite of mine with you. This is one of these minimum effort, maximum taste dishes: whip this up at the last minute to go with your week night meal, or prepare it ahead as part of a fabulous dinner party spread.

The flavours have a hint of the Middle East which makes this a fabulous side dish for spicy lamb chops with cauliflower couscous, for example. But you can also keep it simple and just serve this up with some rice, a steamed chicken breast or a piece of fish.

Ingredients
(From “delicious – simpel & stijlvol”)
Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil
1tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider (or white wine) vinegar
1 tsp honey
¼ tsp mild paprika powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 carrots
10 radishes
flat-leaf parsley
salt

Recipe

  1. Put a pot of water on to boil.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking together the oil, lemon, vinegar, honey, paprika, cumin and cinnamon.
  3. Cut the carrot into very thin slices.
  4. Blanch the carrot for 2 minutes in the boiling water. Drain and briefly rinse with cold water.
  5. Mix the hot carrots with the dressing and allow them to cool down at room temperature.
  6. Cut radishes into thin slices.
  7. Chop the parsley.
  8. Combine the carrot, radish with 2/3 of the parsley.
  9. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.


Serve with

Some of the health benefits of carrots

  • Good for your eyes – rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina, to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision.
  • Reduces the risk for cancer – with falcarinol and falcarindiol
  • Anti-Aging – The high level of beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism. It help slows down the aging of cells. And Vitamin A and antioxidants protects the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, and uneven skin tone.
  • Prevent Heart Disease – Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein.(source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-benefits-of-carrots.html)
Star of the week: zucchini (supporting roll: chicken)

Star of the week: zucchini (supporting roll: chicken)


A new tradition is born: “Vegetable of the Week”!

The other day, my sister and I decided that we would introduce more vegetables to our own and our family’s diet. Not that we eat unhealthily, but with the weather getting cold and the craving for comfort food  is setting in, it is becoming tempting to see vegetables as colourful decoration on a plate of protein and carb.

So we decided to launch the “Vegetable of the Week”. The idea is that EVERY week we pick a vegetable that we will both prepare AT LEAST ONCE THAT week. Also we will share our recipes with each other so that we can choose to cook the other’s recipe or to prepare a different dish. It’s as simple as that.

This recipe seemed to me to be the perfect kick-off.
You must understand, our pact is not about chewing on more raw carrots, it is about introducing more veg into our regular everyday eating routines. And what better start than a common meat dish that replaces some of the meat with vegetable.

Without further ado……. I present to you …….the first “Vegetable of the Week” (drum roll):
Zucchini (in chicken meatballs)

This recipe ticks all the boxes: it has a fabulously healthy vegetable playing the central role, it is ever so tasty (the zucchini adds amazing moisture to the meatballs), it is quick and easy to prepare and did I already say: it is tasty! A recipe by Ottolenghi (whom I have raved about
before – socca, lentil with celeriac).

You could make this dish using ready-ground chicken mince. But I prefer using boneless chicken thighs and blitzing them in my food processor (chicken breast would also work well, although it has a little less flavour).

There must be an endless amount of side dishes you can serve these tasty little morsels with: some pita bread and a little salad. Add some pulses and fold them into mung bean wraps or go all veggie and prepare some cauli tabouleh and steamed green beans.

300 IMG_4618
Ingredients
(adapted from Ottolenghi’s ‘Jerusalem’and inspired by the blog ‘The Iron in You’)
About 20-25 meatballs

1 large (or 2 small) zucchini (courgette)
1 medium onion, finely
500g organic boneless chicken thighs (or chicken breast or ground chicken)
2 tbs mint (you cannot skip the mint! J )
2 tbs parsley
2 egg whites (or 1 large egg)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric (optional)

Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Chop the mint and parsley.
  4. If you have a food processor: use the grating disk to shred your zucchini and onion. Insert the chopping blade. Cut the chicken into chunks and together with the chopped herbs, egg white and seasoning. Blitz just long enough for the mix to come together. Do not overwork.
  5. No food processor: Chop the chicken meat finely. Grate the zucchini and onion finely. Combine with the chopped herbs, egg and seasoning.
  6. Using a spoon drop meatballs onto the baking sheet (the mixture will be rather moist compared to traditional meatballs)
  7. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Check them once in a while as you want them cooked, but only just done so they stay moist. (Usually they will flatten out a little instead of staying perfect little balls – but believe me: the flavour will make up for that)


Serve with

Some of the health benefits

  • Depending on the size, one meatball has just 28.5 calories, with almost no fat (0.3 grams), just 1 grams of carbs and an outstanding 5.3 grams of protein.
  • Zucchini is one of the very low calorie veg – 17cal per 100g (nutrition and you)
  • It is a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.(nutrition and you)
  • A source of magnesium which like vitamin C protects your tissues from harmful free radicals. It supports the function of glycosyltransferases, a family of proteins that promote healthy bone tissue development. Manganese also helps your body produce collagen essential for efficient wound healing. Each cup of chopped zucchini boasts 0.22 milligram of manganese. This provides 12 and 10 percent of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily intake for women and men, respectively. (livestrong)
  • High in fiber
  • Beta carotene
  • Potassium
Smoky aubergine dip also know as caviar d’aubergines

Smoky aubergine dip also know as caviar d’aubergines

Baba ganoush is an aubergine dip with an amazing smoky flavour; I have never tasted anything like it! Gorgeous! I was over the moon when I discovered it really is not that hard to make yourself.

You start by charring some eggplant over an open flame or under a grill. The hob method is more adventurous. Cooking them under the grill is particularly good if you are making larger amounts (and you will want massive amounts, this stuff is so delicious).

Before making the baba ganoush I would actually set aside a little of the roast aubergine to use as part of this recipe for Lentils with Roast Vegetables.

Serve your baba ganoush as an appetizer with some wraps.
Or as a side dish to spiced lamb and a salad for a fabulous main course.
Or….go crazy and serve this dip as part of a mezze style feast.

Last but not least this dip not only keeps in the fridge for about five days, it actually tastes better after a day or two.

 

Ingredients
2 large aubergine
3 garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp tahini (roasted sesame paste)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of cayenne or chili
optional: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp leaf parsley

 

Recipe

Aubergine
I know two methods for preparing the eggplant.

Option 1: Hob & oven

  1. Heat oven to 200C.
  2. Prick the eggplants a few times with a fork. Char them by placing them directly on the flame of your gas stove. Turn them regularly until the skin is blackened and bubbles.( I so enjoy this part of the recipe – I mean how often do you get to do something like this.) Depending on how smoky you like you dip, char them for about (5 to )15 min.
  3. Put the aubergine in an oven dish and bake about 45 min until soft and wrinkled.
  4. Transfer them to a colander and allow to drain for 30 min.

Alternative: Grill

  1. Line a baking tray with a double layer of aluminum foil.
  2. Pierce aubergines a few times with a fork (to stop them from exploding.)
  3. Place them directly under a hot grill for about 1 hour, turning them a few times. The aubergines should deflate and the skin should burn and break.

Making the dip

  1. Boil a little water and throw in the garlic just briefly. (This removes the sharp edge of the garlic.)
  2. Carefully remove the garlic skin. Cut the aubergine into rough chunks and put these to your food processor together with the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cayenne, cumin (if using). Process until you have a creamy dip. (I prefer my baba ganoush with some texture, but you can go as smooth as you like.)
  3. Chill at least for a few hours before serving. The dip will taste even better after a day or two. It will keep for about five in the fridge and can be frozen.

Serve with

Spicy Lamb Chops or Mini Kofta
Soft Warps or Pita Breads
Cauliflower Tabbouleh or Watermelon Feta Salad
Lentils and Roast Vegetables (you can use either baba ganoush or plain roast aubergine for this dish)

Grilled Aubergine on Lentils and Roast Veg

Grilled Aubergine on Lentils and Roast Veg

Combine earthy lentils with crunchy vegetables and salty feta for an effortless salad

Sometimes I doubt whether a recipe is really post-worthy;  some dishes seem so…… everyday. I had the same hesitation about this Lentil Feta Salad recipe. That is until I was on the phone to my sister yesterday:

we were sharing how hard it is to cook healthy food on those days where you are rushed or lack inspiration. I promised to email her some of my favourite go-to solutions. Afterwards I thought: why not post them? If it is one of my go-to recipes, why not share them?

I hereby present you with a humble, healthy and effortless recipe for Lentil Feta Salad.

Fry up a quick steak or stick some easy Mustard Chicken into the oven and within no time you have a nutritious week night dinner. By the way, this recipe is also great as a quick side for a bbq.

Ingredients
(based on the recipe from Bill Granger’s ‘Bill’s Open Kitchen’)
Serves 3-4

1 can of lentils (or cook dry du Puy lentils for 15-20 minutes)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
optional: 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
optional: 1 tsp ground allspice (NL, DE: piment)
black pepper
salt
1/2-1 cucumber
200g (7 oz) cherry tomatoes
1/2 red onion
15g (1/2 cup) flat-leaf parsley
about 12 mint leaves
100g (3 1/2 oz) feta

 

Recipe

  1. Rinse and drain the lentils.
  2. Whisk oil, lemon and spices together.
  3. Strain the lentils and combine with the dressing. (If you cooked the lentils stir the dressing into the warm lentils)
  4. Slice the cucumber into four lengthways and then dice.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into halves.
  6. Slice the onion as thinly as possible.
  7. Roughly chop the parsley and mint.
  8. Gently combine all the prepared ingredients with the lentils.
  9. Spoon salad into a serving dish and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.

 

Tips & Variations

This is a very flexible salad you can

  • leave out the tomatoes
  • leave out mint
  • replace lentils with chickpeas
  • add diced red capsicum (NL, DE: paprika)


Serve with

Dish up some summer with this watermelon feta salad

Meteorological autumn might have arrived, but there is still summer in the air. Although I love autumn I am going to savour every last warm day: I am going to soak in the sunshine, wear flowery dresses and eat as many summery dishes as possible.

This watermelon feta salad is a fabulous hot-weather side dish – fresh tastes, vibrant colours and ready in no time.

 

Ingredients
Serves 2

1/4 -1/2 watermelon
1/2 cucumber
small bunch of mint
50-100g feta cheese


Recipe

  1. Cut the watermelon into bite size cubes.
  2. Peel the cucumber. Cut into thick slices and then halve.
  3. Cut the mint into thin, short ribbons.
  4. Combine watermelon, cucumber, mint.
  5. Sprinkle with roughly crumbled feta.

 Tips & Variations

  • You could leave out the cucumber
  • The goats cheese can be replaced by cottage cheese although then I would cut larger cubes and top each cube with a dollop of cottage cheese


Serve with

The simple cauliflower makes for a tasty, healthy ‘couscous’

It is official: cauliflower is my new favourite vegetable!

Who would have thought that this vegetable is so incredibly versatile.  All my life I only knew it baked with cream, eggs, cheese and ham.

Then last year it blew my mind to discovered mashed cauliflower.   A few months later I found out that raw or blanched cauli makes for a lovely tabouleh-like dish. I was convinced the humble cauli held no more secrets for me. But I was so wrong!  I present: Cauliflower couscous.

 

Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘Stone Soup‘)
Serves 2 (-4)

2 onions
1 cauliflower
2 tsp ground coriander powder
salt
pepper
2 spring onions
optional: a few pomegranate seeds
optional: a bunch of coriander leaves (cilantro)
optional: 2 handfuls of goats cheese

 

Recipe

  1. Chop the onions. Fry until soft for about 5-10 min.
  2. Grate the cauliflower on a box grated or food processor.
  3. Add to the onions together with the coriander, salt and pepper
  4. Cook whilst stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is soft and golden. About 5 min.
  5. Chop spring onions and sprinkle on top with the other ingredients you are using

 

Tips & Variations

Top with avocado, pine nuts and basil


Serve with

Healthy, Tasty Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Cauliflower Tabbouleh – what an amazing discovery!

I used to believe that cauli was not really worth the trouble:  smelly to cook, mushy texture and lacking distinctive flavour.

Man, was I mistaken….I had just been preparing it the wrong way!

This realization hit me when I discovered Cauliflower Mash.  (Never made it before? Try this recipe! It has become one of my favourite healthy go-to dishes).

I had not expected that the humble cauloflower had yet another suprise in store for me:  when grated it has a similar texture to couscous of bulghur.

Not only does this dish taste good, it is oh-so-healthy as cauliflower is low in carbs and full of nutrients (rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, omega 3 etc.)

Ingredients
(discovered on ‘My Man’s Belly)
Serves 1


1/2 pomegranate
1/2 cauliflower
handful parsley
handful mint
juice of 1/4 – 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
black pepper

 

Recipe

  1. Remove the arils from the pomegranate. (You might have your own trick, but I like filling a big bowl with water and then using a spoon to remove the arils under water. This ensures the juices do not spray all over the place. Once you have removed all the arils you can drain them through a sieve.)
  2. Grate the cauliflower in small pieces on a box grater or food processor.
  3. Chop the parsley and mint.
  4. Make a dressing by combining the lemon, oil, cinnamon and pepper.
  5. You can leave the cauliflower raw or briefly warm it. I prefer it slightly warmed so I bring a large pot of water to the boil. Briefly blanch the cauliflower and then drain it.
  6. Just before serving combine cauliflower, dressing, herbs, half the pomegranate. Sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate.

 


Serve with

  • For a super healthy dinner with
    some fish steamed on lemon
    blanched green beans
  • For an easy yet special looking dinner with
    roast quail
    blanched carrots with sliced radishes and a dressing of oil, lemon, cumin, cinnamon, parsley