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?

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Rice and Beans Salad

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The sun is shining and it’s starting to feel a little warmer – yippee! After the long dark, cold months there suddenly light and colour, oh what joy! I was intending on cooking another hearty vegetable soup for lunch but the sun’s warming rays made me quickly shelve that idea. What we needed was some vibrancy and colour; some freshness and zing to match the weather.

So a quick rummage in the larder later and I had the ingredients I needed for this wonderfully zingy and alive rice and bean salad, which also handily continued the Mexican theme that started with pinto bean soup the other day.

The vegetables add jewels of colour and flavour and the lime makes the dish zing. Wonderful eaten on the day, this salad also keeps well for a couple of days. For me, however, its best use is as the base of a delicious taco salad (pictured below): rice and beans salad combined with fresh salsa, lettuce, avocado, dairy-free soured cream and topped with crunchy tortilla chips and coriander – divine!

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Mexican Rice and Beans Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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serves at least 4

  • 1 cup of rice, cooked
  • 1/2 tin of beans, ideally borlotti or pinto
  • 1/2 tin sweetcorn
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped into small dice
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle Tabasco sauce, or 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

– Whisk together the lime, oil and salt (and chipotle sauce, if using)
– Pour over the other ingredients and mix well

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Coronation chickpeas

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Coronation chicken is such a ubiquitous buffet dish and sandwich filling in the UK, and its something I had yet to replicate as a vegetarian. So here’s a recipe for a fully meat free version, inspired by one I saw a while back on a lovely blog I follow called ‘more than greens‘. I never tried out her recipe but the idea for chickpeas replacing the chicken stayed in my head. So last weekend for lunch with had homemade bread, salads and coronation chickpeas, and very nice it was too. There’s noting like a mild, creamy curried addition to add a bit of excitement and spice to such a basic meal.

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

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  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup mayo, I used Plamil egg-free
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 apple, peel left on, cored and cut into cubes
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sultanas
  • Parsley to garnish

– Mix together all the mayo, mango chutney, curry powder and lemon juice

– Stir in the chickpeas, apple, spring onions, sultanas and parsley.

– If possible, let sit for about half an hour before serving for the flavours to combine.

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