Archive for category Salads

Panzanella (with scallops and mozzarella)

Panzanella is such a classic summer dish, making use of all the lovely tomatoes that the summer heat brings.  I believe it was once considered a peasants dish, using up stale bread but its a trendy dish now and there are dozens of variations. While its true that tomatoes here in the UK sadly don’t compare with those in Tuscany, where Panzanella originates, if you choose the ripest tomatoes you can find and use them at room temperature you can make a delicious Panzanella here too. I love it and think I could eat it most days during the summer. My husband is not a fan of cucumbers, so this Panzanella does not include them, although they are easily added in if you prefer.

Having just enjoyed a week in the sun I am still in holiday mode and this shows in the meals I want to prepare at the moment, it may not be very summery here but nonetheless  its summer on our plates! I included scallops and mozzarella pearls in our latest Panzanella and it was delicious! It’s rare that I am organised enough to have good tomatoes and stale bread in the house without planning so I often lightly toast the bread which works just fine.

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread or any sturdy country type bread
  • 4 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthways
  • Few sprigs of fresh basil, leaves removed from stems
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more to cook the scallops
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Mozzarella pearls, my pot weighed 125 grams, if you can’t find pearls a ball of mozzarella torn into pieces would be fine
  • Scallops, about 8 large scallops (or if sadly like the day I wanted them they only have small ones in a pack that will also be fine)
  1. Cut the tomatoes into large chunks, the onions into rings and place into a large bowl.
  2. Lightly toast the sourdough bread.
  3. Rub each piece of bread lightly,  on both sides with the cut pieces of garlic. Cut each piece of bread into large cubes and put in the bowl with the onions and tomatoes.
  4. Roughly cut up the basil leaves and add to the bowl.
  5. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Mix together well and leave to sit for a while allowing the bread to soak up the dressing and the flavours to combine.
  6. Brush each scallop with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat a griddle or frying pan and place the scallops in the hot pan, cook for about a minute on each side.
  8. Add the mozzarella  to the salad. Mix ingredients again and serve.
  9. Place the scallops onto the prepared Panzanella and enjoy.

Lovely tomatoes on holiday

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New Urban Farm Challenge: Dandelion Salad (yes you did read that correctly!)

I am taking part in this years Urban Farm challenge, the challenge for May was foraging. Living in a city this is not a regular activity for me. I’ve picked wild blackberries but that’s about the extent of my foraging experience. The challenge here was to try dandelions, they are free and plentiful after all and I hear they are good for you. I must admit to dragging my heels on this challenge, nothing has ever made me want to try a dandelion! Cooking dandelions seems even less appealing to me so I decided to use the leaves in a salad. Lucky for me I have one rogue dandelion plant in my garden so I didn’t have to go far to forage! I tried to pick the smallest leaves as they are meant to be the least bitter. While in the garden I also picked some sorrel that I have growing and decided to use a chives flower in my salad, another first for me, I tend to just use the leaves of the chives and leave the flowers. By an amazing stroke of luck I also found some wild garlic growing next to the dandelion so that went into the salad as well! I added some mixed lettuce leaves and dressed it simply with olive oil and salt as I wanted to really taste the ingredients. There is no recipe here as it really was just picking leaves, scattering some chives petals and dressing lightly.

My verdict? Well I loved using the flower from the chives, amazing how strong the taste of onion was in those tiny purple tips. The wild garlic was wonderful, I wonder how long that has been growing under my nose? As for the dandelions, well I tried but they really were bitter and grassy! It was fun to take part and I wish Id had time to forage further, there were more foraging challenges but May escaped me and here we are already in June!

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Fridge Dump Lentil Salad

It’s National Vegetarian week here this week. I decided to take part in that by eating a vegetarian diet this week.  I’ve had to think of new lunches for the week. One of the lunches I came up with was this lentil salad,  I was led by what was in the fridge, which is why I call this Fridge Dump Lentils. I read that term somewhere on the internet and have mentally used it since whenever I’m gathering whats left in the fridge to make a meal. This salad was a winner! I love lentils but don’t get around to cooking them so often, which is a shame as they are really good for you. Lentils are a good source of fibre, good for your heart and can help to lower your cholesterol. This is also one of those lunches that you can make ahead and just keep in a Tupperware for the week ahead. It would be easy to make variations according to taste and make your own fridge dump version, just throw in what you have. I think the lentils, both types of tomatoes and the stock make a good base which can then be  enjoyed with lots of different salad items. This just happens to be what I had in the fridge.

Fridge Dump Lentil Salad

  • 225 grams Puy Lentils
  • 2 tsp Swiss vegetable Bouillon stock powder, use cube or fresh if preferred
  • 1 pint of boiling water
  • 2 tsp Olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 8-10 Baby mushrooms each cut in half.
  • 1 carrot, diced small
  • 1 stick celery, sliced thinly
  • 5 cm of Cucumber , cubed
  • 8 Cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
  • 6 Sun dried tomatoes  cut small
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Rinse lentils and add to a saucepan, cover with the stock made with the boiling water.
  2. Cook lentils according to package instructions, my pack said bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. While the lentils are cooking you can be chopping your vegetables.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the mushrooms, just until tender.
  5. When the lentil are cooked drain excess liquid if you have any and tip the lentils into a bowl.
  6. Add the mushrooms and all of the other vegetables. Stir to combine.
  7. Drizzle over olive oil and squeeze lemon juice to taste.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Chickpea, Tomato and Kale salad

I love chickpeas any which way, cooked in stews and curries, cold in salad, even sprouted. This salad happened one evening when I realised I had no pitta bread to go with the falafel we were having for dinner. The tomato salad I was making now needed substantiating as it was now going to be the only thing to be served alongside the falafel, especially if I was going to try to keep my husband happy. Somehow I felt just falafel and tomatoes would be too healthy and not enough for my hard-working man! The can of chickpeas I saw in the cupboard was the answer.  Happily we both liked this salad so much it has now replaced the pitta when we have falafel.

I admit the addition of kale goes in at the end only for me, that would be a healthy step too far for my green fearing husband! That is how I know that this salad also works with out the kale but it is better with it, my husband doesn’t know what he is missing! Spinach, if kale isn’t available, makes a good substitute.  Chickpeas are a good source of fibre,  low in fat and can help lower cholesterol levels so I’m so happy that my husband not only eats but likes this dish!

The tsp of chilli flakes make this fairly hot, use less if you don’t like so much heat.

Chickpea, Tomato and Kale Salad

Serves 2

  • 1 can Chickpeas, drained
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, at room temperature, rinsed
  • 3 Spring onions (scallions), trimmed, rinsed and sliced into small rounds
  • 1 heaped tbsp Basil, rinsed and chopped finely
  • a handful of Kale, rinsed and chopped into small pieces
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes
  • Sea Salt to taste
  1. Cut each cherry tomato in half and add to a bowl along with the chickpeas.
  2. Add the spring onions, basil and the kale to the bowl.
  3. In a jug mix together the lemon , vinegar and olive oil until blended.
  4. Add the chilli flakes and salt, mix in and pour over the salad.
  5. Toss together and season more if necessary.

This stores really well in a Tupperware in the fridge and the recipe can be doubled to make a good make ahead lunch to take to work, the kale leaf is robust enough not to wilt too much, in fact some may prefer it a day or so after it has softened a little.


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Fresh Salsa

Cinco De Mayo (the 5th of May) doesn’t mean much in the UK, unless you are my cousin Celia whose birthday it is today! In America Cinco De Mayo is a holiday celebrating Mexican heritage. Growing up I remember doing the Mexican Hat Dance at school and looking forward to whacking the pinata at the end of the day, the eventual explosion of sweets/candy so exciting! We had tacos for dinner at home, it was a day of yummy food, like most celebrations!

As it is Cinco De Mayo today I thought it was the perfect day for a little salsa! This is just a few ingredients which quickly combine to make a salsa that will liven up anything from crisps to sandwiches or as a little spice on the side of your plate! Fresh salsa does not compare with the ready-made version in a jar, this will blow your taste bud socks off! It’s easily played around with if you want it hotter, milder, less onion. The olive oil isn’t essential, not traditional but, I think, adds a nice flavour and softens the sharpness of the lime and onion.


  • 1 large beefsteak tomato (or 2-3 medium), chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped, seeds too if you dare
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • Splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Small handful of fresh Coriander, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and Fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Add all of the chopped ingredients to a bowl and gently stir to combine.
  2. Test for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to taste.

This will keep for several hours, covered in the fridge. It is best eaten on the day its made.

With the coriander used in this recipe in mind I am linking this with the Herbs on Saturday blog challengeon @KarenBurnsBooth blog Lavender and Lovage.







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I’ve had a real Mexican theme going on with my cooking recently. The theme wasn’t planned but I went to Leith’s cookery school for a Mexican cooking class on Friday so I think subconsciously I’ve been in the mood for all things Mexican. I have memories of eating wonderful Mexican food while growing up in California, my father made the best tacos! While I was the happiest girl ever when “Old El Paso” came to the UK it’s the fresher, more authentic, less processed Mexican food I really want so I was really excited about the cookery class! We cooked some lovely things on Friday, one of the most impressive things was the whole box of ripe avocados they had! When do you ever see that here? I can hardly ever get avocados from the supermarket for use on the same day, I find markets better for having riper and cheaper avocados otherwise I have to be organised and buy them a few days before I need them. We made chilled avocado soup in the class, it was good but to be honest not really my thing also the lovely teacher did ask that her recipes not be published. So today I am writing my recipe for guacamole. I adore avocados, apparently I was weaned on them! Guacamole is one of my favourite ways to use them. It’s so easy to make your own, all you need is a chopping board, knife and a bowl! Chop everything, add to the bowl, mix and its done! If you have never made your own do try it, it’s so much fresher and nicer than ready-made guacamole. I use it in tacos, as a sandwich filling, as a healthy lunch with some chopped carrots and celery. Its delicious spread on crispy toast. As well as being delicious avocados are really good for you too they are a good source of potassium and folate as well as vitamin E. They apparently have anti cancer properties, can help lower your cholesterol as well as lowering the chance of strokes and heart disease.

Once the avocados are cut they do go brown, the lime juice in the recipe does help to prevent this. A long time ago I read that if you put the avocado stones back into to the guacamole when it’s prepared it wont go brown. I don’t know why but this really works so don’t throw away the stones, pop them into the guacamole when its done, cover with cling film/glad-wrap and it will happily stay in the fridge until you need it.


  • 2 Avocados
  • 1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, (red or green as you prefer), finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • a small handful of coriander, chopped
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Halve the avocados, reserving the stones. Scoop the avocado flesh from the skin with a spoon, put into a bowl and roughly smash with a fork. Do not puree the avocado you want some chunks and texture.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and give a quick stir to incorporate everything.
  3. If not using right away pop the stones into the guacamole and cover with cling film. Store in the fridge until needed.

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Chipotle Coleslaw

Coleslaw reminds me of summer, of barbecues and sunshine. As a child my favorite coleslaw was from Kentucky Fried Chicken, yes I grew up in those days where fast food was a regular part of our diet!  When I came to England one could get coleslaw but the disappointing overall taste was of mayonnaise. For years I didn’t eat it, before it occurred to me that I could make my own coleslaw! I tried lots of recipes and finally found one on the internet that replicated the KFC taste, it was good but a rather long-winded recipe and as the only coleslaw eater in the house, too much just for me. I recently had lunch in the Mexican restaurant,  Wahaca.  Alongside my meal was some coleslaw, well it was the best coleslaw I’d had for ages! It had the usual cabbage etc but had a spicy, smoky taste. I have no idea what was in it but a day later I was trying to make it for myself at home! Here is my version, it’s fairly hot, with only a little mayonnaise which is lighter on the calories. The taste I recognized in the Wahaca coleslaw was the hot and smoky chipotle.  I’m lucky enough to have some chipotle powder that I bought on holiday in Florida. In the UK you can get a chipotle paste made by Discovery. To get chipotle chilli powder you may have to shop online.

Using a food processor to slice the cabbage makes this come together really quickly. Although as its such a small amount it wouldn’t take very long to chop and grate by hand. A little red cabbage looks nice in this but for such a small portion I wouldn’t rush to buy 2 cabbages!

Chipotle Coleslaw (makes approx 3 servings)

  • 1/2 a small White cabbage,  thinly sliced
  • 1 Carrot, grated
  • 2 heaped tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Chipotle powder (if using paste use 1 tsp) this is quite hot, you may prefer to add less to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Add the cabbage and carrot to a large bowl.
  2. Add the mayonnaise and vinegar, stirring well to coat all of the vegetables.Add the chipotle, stirring well to combine.
  3. Add the Chipotle and salt, stirring well to combine.

Serve immediately or keep covered in the fridge, this will last for 2-3 days.

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