Cannellini bean and olive salad

white bean and olive salad, veganAs you might imagine we have a lot of beans being used in this household at the moment – I’ve got to get the chickpea/bean water from somewhere for all the meringue based recipes! This is a neat and tasty way of quickly turning a tin of white beans into a flavoursome and interesting salad. Use the best tomatoes you can for the perfect accompaniment for any lunch of choice.

If you can, soak the onions in cold water for a while before using – it takes that sharp edge off them that can otherwise wise be too overpowering.

Cannellini Bean and Olive Salad

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

white bean salad

serves 4 as a side

1 tin cannellini beans, or other white beans (drained, water used to make meringues! And rinsed)
1 large handful tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 white onion, finely sliced and placed in icy water for 20 minutes, then drained
1 handful mixed olives, halved
1 large handful parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vinegar
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper
Extra squeeze to lemon before serving

  1. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oil and seasoning. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  2. In a beautiful serving bowl, mix together the other ingredients. Pour over the dressing, mix gently and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the flavours to mingle.

Rainbow Salad Platter

rainbow salad plate, vegan

Do you struggle to get your children to eat salad? It used to be a real problem for us – while I could easily live off salad, my children weren’t keen; other than happily wolfing down bowls of cucumber or perhaps the odd carrot, salads lay sadly ignored on the side of the plate. This salad platter changed all that – effectively a rainbow themed plate of yummy salad style ingredients to help yourself to, accompanied up a classic French dressing – they both dived back in for seconds. Result! Besides, it does look appealing and there is something nice about taking what you please.

Think of this platter as more of a template rather than a recipe – as long as you have all the colours accounted for, and I’m a great believer that food should be colourful, with a central starch then you’re good to go!

dairy-free, child friendly salad plate

Here are a few suggestions:

White centre – rice, couscous, boiled new potatoes, pasta, quinoa,
Red- tomatoes, red pepper
Orange – orange pepper, carrots, roasted squash
Yellow – corn, yellow pepper, roasted yellow courgettes
Green – lettuce leaves, avocado, cucumber, green beans
Blue – this one is a bit tricky! – purple sprouting broccoli, blueberries
Indigo – red cabbage, olives
Violet – beet root, dark red salad leaves, olives

rainbow salad bowl, dairy-free

For the dressing:

1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper and a pinch of salt

salad for children

Vegetarian Paella Salad

Vegetarian Paella Salad

Do you match wine? I’m no wine expert, although I do certainly enjoy a nice chilled glass of white or rose, but I’ve recently started to notice how some wines compliment and some wines clash with certain flavours. The lovely people at Yapp Brothers challenged me and some other food bloggers to match a wine in the #DrinksOnUs competition. They asked me for my favourite dishes to cook and then suggested an appropriate match. I opted for fresh, herby flavours and was sent a stunning bottle of 2007 Pinot Blanc from the Alsace region of France. Wow, what a gorgeous wine; straw yellow, this soft and delicate dry white wine is filled with honey and floral aromas. It was a fresh palate bursting with ripe orchard fruit and so much flavour – it could certainly stand up to robust flavoured and herb scented foods.

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post, whereby Yapp Brothers sent me a bottle of wine to match to a favourite dish. I hadn’t heard of Yapp Brothers before but am thoroughly impressed by their range, knowledge and customer service. If you need a specialist wine merchant then i would certainly recommend them.

Pinot Blanc and Paella

I have to say this was a very exciting challenge for me – such a wonderful way to get the inspiration flowing and I’d love to be able to do more wine and food matching in the future. It’s so interesting how a wine can bring the taste of a dish alive or totally kill it dead.

Anyway, on tasting the full flavoured wine I thought it could stand up to some serious spices, and my thoughts turned to smoked paprika. It being a warm day ( and to be honest it was more convenient to make supper in advance!) I went along the salad route. Somehow these thoughts morphed into a paella salad of saffron and smoked paprika infused rice, studded with stunning fresh and marinated vegetables and lifted with a sherry vinegar dressing. More paella should be made as salads, it worked stunningly well!

The match with the wine was also rather pleasing ( remember I’m a novice at wine matching), but the robust, strongly flavoured white added to the subtle spicing of the rice dish and resulted in a well matched pair. Maybe you’ll give a try and tell me what you think?

Vegetarian Spanish paella salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

free from paella

serves 4

1 cup rice
1 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of saffron
8-10 small plum tomatoes
1 red pepper, cut into chunks and roasted for 20-30 mins in oil ( preferably chilli oil)
1/2 jar of marinated artichoke hearts
3 spring onions, sliced
Handful of blanched peas
Handful mixed olives
Large handful parsley, roughly chopped
Lemon wedges to serve

For the dressing:
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of saffron

  1. Put all the dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and warm slightly to let the smoked paprika and saffron infuse, set aside.
  2. Boil the rice in water flavoured with the other smoked paprika and saffron. Once cooked, toss in the dressing.
  3. Leave to cool to room temperature and then stir in all the other ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges

vegan paella salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese Tomato Pasta Salad

tomato pasta salad, vegan We seem to live off salad in the summer – to me there is not much more delightful than an array of stunning salads to dive into on a warm sunny day. But if we have them too often it’s easy to revert to the old family favourites again and again.

My girls love pasta salad, so much so that its become the ‘what I want to eat when I’m not feeling great’ staple! But like most children they like simple flavours with nothing too challenging. This was an attempt to get them to enjoy fresh tomatoes which they simply won’t eat (I have no idea why, I think tomatoes are one of the best foods on the planet!), I thought that if the tomatoes were in the pasta salad then maybe, just maybe they would be tempted. Well, I was wrong. There was no fooling them and the salad was left to one side. However, it was only a partial disaster as it left more for me and D and it is an absolute stunner of a salad, especially when made with a gorgeous array of sweet, ripe tomatoes. Do make sure they are the best tomatoes you can find as there are so few ingredients in the salad you really need the tomato flavour to shine through.

If you love tomatoes I’m sure you’ll love this recipe. If you like tomatoes you’ll find they work so beautifully with the pasta, balsamic vinegar and basil that you will start to love them. If you hate tomatoes, well, maybe this isn’t the right recipe for you!

Caprese Tomato Pasta Salad (egg-free, dairy-free ,nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) caprese pasta salad serves 4

200g pasta 200g mixed tomatoes, chopped fairly small Large handful of basil, roughly chopped 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper

  1. Whisk together the oil, vinegar and seasoning.
  2. Whilst the pasta is warm mix in the dressing, stir well and leave to cool to room temperature
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and basil, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary – easy huh?

IMG_6670

Tapenade couscous salad

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I’ve had a recent hankering for all things olive – I developed a taste for olives only in my mid-twenties and it was definitely a slow burner – starting off with eating one off a pizza to a nibble now and then. Now I sometimes just really want an olive or two!

This salad is delightfully different – bringing the concept of a vegetarian tapenade to a plate of giant couscous. It was partially about using up what I had in the cupboard but the results are a rather stunning salad and a nice contrast to a usual platter. I’d definitely recommend loads of parsley for added freshness and well as vitamins.

Tapenade Giant Couscous Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, fish-free, vegetarian and vegan)

tapenade couscous salad

  • 100g giant couscous
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200ml water
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives, I like Greek Kalimantan olives
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced or chopped
  • Large handful of parsley
  1. Soak the red onion in ice cold water to remove some of the ‘bite’.
  2. Dry fry the couscous in 1tbsp olive oil until golden. Pour in the water and balsamic and stir until absorbed. Taste, if not cooked through, add a little more liquid and continue to stir until cooked through (this will take 15 or so minutes)
  3. Drizzle over the oil, and a little more balsamic if you like, leave to cool.
  4. Drain and pat dry the onions. Stir all the ingredients into the couscous and ideally let sit for half an hour at room temperature for the favours to meld.

giant couscous with tapenade flavours - vegetarian

English spring garden salad

 

garden salad 2

You know that phrase used in American burger restaurants ‘take a walk through the garden’? Well, this is the elegant, English equivalent re-imagined onto your plate.

What is it with me and competitions? I never ever, ever win them. Even if only a few others have entered I still don’t win. I came across a Twitter competition last week to win a copy of Rachel Koo’s new cookbook and hamper of goodies – it’s oozing great design and I’d love to have it, but despite hardly any other entrants, I of course didn’t win. I’ll put it on my lengthy cookbook wishlist.

Anyway, in the attached article was a picture of her English Garden Salad, it looked so pretty and sent my imagination flying. I’m not even sure what exactly was in Rachel’s as I only caught sight of a small picture on my phone, so I just ran with the idea and created my version of an English spring garden salad.

Combining miniature new potatoes,  pink and crunchy radish, cucumber ribbons, herbs and leaves, all bathed in a chive vinaigrette, this is my interpretation of an English garden at this time of year.

English Spring Garden Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Serves 2

  • 2 handfuls of miniature new potatoes, boiled or steamed until tender then left to cool
  • Small bunch of radish, cleaned, topped and tailed and quartered or halved
  • 1/3 rd cucumber, made into thin ribbons with a potato peeler
  • 4 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • Small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • A scattering of salad leaves

Chive vinaigrette (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp slat
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives

– First make the dressing – whisk together all the ingredients, taste
– Toss the new potatoes and radish in a little of the vinaigrette, place in the centre of a platter
– Drape the cucumber ribbons over the potatoes and place the leaves around the plate
– Scatter over the herbs
– Drizzle over a little more vinaigrette
– Eat straight away

english garden salad