Three Salads


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In this summer heat, lunch for your friends wants to be a light and fresh affair, Watermelon Gazpacho followed by three salads served with freshly homemade bread. To finish a small pot each of intense dark chocolate sorbet and crispy ginger biscuits.


The beetroot was roasted for an hour with whole cloves of garlic, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, sprigs of fresh oregano and olive oil, season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Let the beetroot cool before mixing with shredded chicory and purple basil leaves.


His salad is cooked green lentils, a good amount of the little pomegranate jewels that I have plenty of in the garden this year, then finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes and celery. Add a generous amount of roughly chopped coriander leaves and dress lightly with lime juice and olive oil.

I’m a fan of soaking dried grains so that when you come to cooking the grains are already re moistened in the centre, and so require less cooking. Pour boiling water over the lentils and leave an hour or so to steep before cooking until just tender. Drain the lentils and let them cool before adding them to the salad.


This is a Yotam Ottolengi recipe which has a lovely contrast of flavours with the sweet roasted red onions and figs, and the peppery watercress and rocket. His recipe uses radiccio rather than rocket, but as I have both I decided that the more peppery rocket suited this recipe better. I was surprised to find that what I thought was weeds in my vegetable patch is actually rocket, and it hasn’t become overly peppery in the strong Spanish heat.
I haven’t used roasted red onions in a salad before, and I have to say, I’m a total convert. I shall be roasting a tray full regularly so that I have them at the ready in the fridge.

This amount serves 4

2 small red onions – peel them and cut each into 6 wedges

50 grams hazelnuts with skin / or ready dry roasted unseasoned hazelnuts

1/2 small head of radicchio / or a similar amount of rocket

good bunch of fresh basil – either the green or purple

bunch of watercress with the stems removed

6 ripe fresh figs, cut into quarters

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

Roast the onions drizzled with olive oil at 180 C for 30 minutes. Leave to cool.

If you are roasting hazelnuts, turn the oven down to 140, and once it has reached this temperature, spread the hazelnuts in a shallow pan and roast for 20 minutes. Leave to cool then break up into pieces with a pestle and mortar. If you are using the ready roasted hazelnuts break these up as above.

To put the salad together, start with the leaves, rip them into pieces and put in a large bowl, add the onions and figs.

Dress with the oil and vinegar and gently toss. I like to do this with my hands as it’s more gentle than using implements.

Scatter over the broken hazelnuts and serve.



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There are so many recipes for falafel both in cookery books and online that it’s difficult to decide which to go for. Personally I’m not keen on the ones that use ready cooked chickpeas, for me the texture is too mushy and wet compared to the traditional recipes that start with dried chickpeas. The only thing with using dried peas is remembering to start soaking them the day before you want them, so a tad of planning ahead is needed, but otherwise they are simple and easy to make.

This makes 4 falafel

75 grams dried chickpeas

1/2 a small onion

1 large clove of garlic

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon of Garam Masala or 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or coriander

oil for frying

Start the day before you want to eat the falafel by soaking the chickpeas in plenty of cold water. Because it’s so warm here I changed the water every few hours so that it didn’t start to ferment, or you can put the container of peas in the fridge to keep it cool.

Peel and roughly chop the onion and garlic. Put in the bowl of a small food processor and whizz to chop.

Add the drained chickpeas and the rest of the ingredients.

Whizz to chop up. You will have to open the processor and scrape the ingredients from the sides several times to ensure an evenly chopped paste.

What you are aiming for is a slightly rough mixture that will just stick together.

Heat a good layer of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.

Form your mixture into four even sized rissole shaped cakes and gently put into the hot oil.

Cook for about 10 minutes before carefully turning the cakes. If they are not crisping up on the cooked side turn the heat up slightly, and if they are getting too brown too quickly turn the heat down.

Cook for 10 minutes again on the second side adding more oil if the pan is getting too dry.

Once cooked remove the falafel from the pan and blot any excess oil with kitchen paper.

Serve with salad and a sauce, I had mine with my Chill Jam, Tahini Sauce is good and also Yogurt with cucumber and mint.

Pomegranate & Buckwheat Salad


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After the, for southern Spain, very wet spring that we have had, all the fruit trees have super abundant crops this year. The little pomegranate tree must have at least 70 fruits on it , the ripest of which are splitting open. With so many fruits they are small, I should have thinned them out earlier in the season, and the jewelled seeds are small and not so sweet but so tasty, and lovely for salads.

For 4 servings

100 grams buckwheat

seeds from 1 large or 2 small pomegranates

1/2 green pepper

2 large tomatoes

1 avocado

1/2 cucmber

1/2 sweet salad onion or spring onion

1 stick celery

chicory leaves – cut into thin strips/ watercress / mache salad

extra virgin olive oil

cider vinegar

good bunch of basil leaves

juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lime.

I like to soak the buckwheat in cold water overnight in which case it only takes five minutes to cook in salted water, but if you haven’t time to soak it, don’t worry, it will just take 10 – 15 minutes longer to become tender.

Once just cooked, drain the buckwheat and let it cool.

Peel the cucumber and cut into small dice.

Cut the green pepper, tomato, avocado, onion, and celery into small dice. Put into a salad bowl with the cucumber and cooled buckwheat.

Add the salad leaves and coarser chopped basil leaves. Mix well.

Dress the salad with the olive oil, lime juice and cider vinegar.

Oriental Rice Pudding


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This pudding is in need of a name, so I would be grateful for any suggestions, or should I just stick to Oriental Rice Pudding? I was looking for a light dessert to follow the Gado Gado which I served for lunch, and remembered an Indian milky dessert called Sheer Korma. That is made with a very fine wheat vermicelli, seviyan, cooked in sweetened milk with nuts and flavoured with saffron, so I thought to make it more in tune with an Indonesian dish, and to make it vegan, to substitute the wheat vermicelli for fine rice noodles and use coconut milk instead of cows milk. I think it worked very well.

For 4 servings

80 grams rice vermicelli

160 ml can full fat coconut milk

40 grams pistachios

25 grams flaked almonds

25 grams broken pecans

75 ml agave syrup / honey

few strands saffron

For lime sherbet topping

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 lime

Start by making the lime sherbet as you have to do this a day in advance so it can dry. This amount is more than you need for garnishing this dessert, but the sherbet keeps well for a couple of weeks in an airtight jar and is lovely on plain ice cream and fruit salad.

On a flat plate or tray sprinkle the sugar in an even layer.

Using the zester on your grater, grate the zest of the lime in an even layer over the sugar, then with your fingertips lightly mix the two together still leaving the mix spread out.

Leave in a warm dry place for several hours or overnight until dry and crunchy.

So for the rice pudding –

Soak the rice vermicelli in cold water for an hour.

Drain and cut into shortish lengths.

Put into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and bring slowly to a simmer.

Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Leave to cool.

Serve at room temperature with the lime sherbet sprinkled over the top.

Gado Gado


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This Indonesian salad dressed with the satay sauce from my pervious post, is perfect summer eating. Like many salads its an assembly rather than a recipe. Gado Gado means mix mix, so there are core ingredients that make it typical, and then the variable ingredients depending on the season and what you have in your vegetable garden or fridge. 


The core ingredients –

Boiled eggs

Tofu or tempeh – lightly fried in sesame oil with garlic and ginger

potatoes or sweet potatoes – cut into long pieces and steamed

prawn crackers

The rest of the ingredients can be either cooked or raw, choose a variety for both their flavours and colour. Today I had –

french beans – steamed

green asparagus – lightly steamed

sweet corn slices – lightly steamed

edename beans – I buy these frozen and ready blanched

red and green peppers – cut into strips

cucumber – cut into strips

carrots – peeled and cut into strips

tomatoes – cut into thin wedges

Other ingredients that would work well together are –

bean sprouts

broccoli florets – lightly steamed

Any of the green leaves – pak Choi, mizuna, radicchio would add a nice slight bitterness, spinach


Fresh coriander and basil

Have your satay sauce on the side to spoon onto the salad and to dip into as you eat.

Satay Sauce, my version


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I have been trying various recipes for Satay Sauce and am now at my definitive version I believe, my friends can’t stop eating it when I serve it, which is always a good sign that you have the recipe right!

2 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped

2 x 2 x 4 cm piece of ginger – roughly chopped

fresh green chillis – this sauce wants to be pretty picante, so you are going to have to use your judgement on this. I’ve got some fiercely hot Padrón peppers in the garden, so I used a whole one of these, probably the equivalent to 3-4 birds eye chillis

50 ml  coconut milk

50 ml ketjap manis – Indonesian sauce

50 ml water

juice of one medium or 2 small limes

150 ml unsweetened peanut butter – give it a good stir to blend in the dense paste at the bottom of the jar before measuring.

Put the garlic, ginger and chilli into a small food processor and blitz to cut up.

Add the coconut milk, ketjap manis, water and lime juice. Blitz again to obtain a smooth purée.

Add the peanut butter and blitz yet again until you have a smooth thick purée.

Serve with Gado Gado Salad, recipe to follow in next post, or anything else you fancy!

Banana, Coconut & Cardamom Buns


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These slightly sweet breakfast buns were inspired by an article on what to do with bananas that had got too soft. In the piece one of the cooks suggested making banana and cardamom puris. I just love anything flavoured with cardamoms and the idea of mixing the spice with bananas was very appealing.
Puris are made from a rich yeast dough, which of course can be baked as well as fried. I replaced the butter and milk in the puri recipe with coconut cream, some slivers of fresh coconut would add to this flavour, but I thought of that after I had made the buns. I was forgetting that I have some coconut flesh in the freezer, so next time…

250 grams whole meal spelt flour

7 grams fresh yeast / 3.5 grams powdered yeast

6 green cardamom pods

2 medium sized ripe bananas

120 ml coconut cream

2 teaspoons soft brown sugar

Egg white and more sugar for a topping


Put the flour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the seeds from the cardamom pods, the sugar and the yeast. Mix well.

Peel and either mash or pulse the bananas in a food processor. You don’t want a purée but some texture remaining.

Add the coconut cream to the bananas and mix.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the banana and coconut cream. Mix in to form a sticky dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave in a warm drought free place for a couple of hours until it has doubled in size.

Flour your work surface and tip the dough onto it. Knead the dough for a few minutes then divide into 8 equal balls.

Place on a baking tray and again in a warm drought free place leave to prove for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 175 C and bake the buns for 10 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 150 C and bake for another 5 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven and brush each bun with egg white then sprinkle on a little brown sugar. Put the buns back in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the tops are nicely browned.

Maccheroni al Piselli


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Or pasta with peas…….and tomato sauce.

I’ve had a tray of peas sprouting on the kitchen windowsill for the last few days, and now the shoots are ready for cutting. The flavour of them is stronger than I expected, and stronger than that of the sweet peas I have, so I thought the two together would make a well flavoured sauce for the swirly maccheroni I have. And it did…….

For 2 portions

200 grams maccheroni

1/2 onion – finely chopped

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

250 grams tomatoes -either fresh or tinned – peeled and chopped small

120 grams tomato Frito or passata

400 grams sweet garden peas – either fresh or frozen

bunch of pea sprouts – cut in half if long

4 large sprigs of fresh basil – roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil for drizzling

Heat plenty of water seasoned with salt and olive oil, and when boiling add the pasta.

Once back boiling, turn the heat down to a brisk simmer and leave the pasta to cook to al dente. For this pasta it was about 12-15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Fry gently until translucent.

Add the chopped tomato, Frito and peas. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes stirring from time to time. You want the sauce to have reduced, thickened and the flavour to have intensified, so if you are using fresh tomatoes that are watery, the sauce may need longer cooking.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta once it is cooked.

Add the pea shoots and basil to the tomato sauce and stir in, then stir in the pasta making sure that it is nicely covered with the sauce.

Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil over the pasta, and enjoy!

Salad Days


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Today the first of the tender summer beetroot were ready to pick……..and its hot! So a trio of salads for lunch…….

Warm potato salad dressed With olive oil and white wine vinegar. The sweet salad onions and dried dill I soaked in the dressing for half an hour before adding the warm potatoes.

A mixed salad of tomatoes, straight from the garden lettuce and radishes, cubes of bread and left over grilled vegetables.

And the lovely beetroot and it’s tender leaves in a lightly marinated raw salad.

2 small beetroot, peeled and cut into fine julienne.

1 tablespoon/ 15 ml green pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon / 15 ml balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon / 15 ml balsamic syrup

1 tablespoon / 15 ml extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and leave to marinate for an hour or so.

Sajur Lemeng


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This Indonesian vegetable curry is adapted from one of my old cookery books, South East Asian Food, written by the Australian academic Rosemary Brissenden who fell in love with Indonesia and its cuisine as a student in the 1960’s.

I made this as a vegan curry which was delicious, the original recipe was with prawns and prawn paste so I will give amounts of those for making the non vegan version.

For 2

about 250 grams in total of various vegetables. You can choose between red and green peppers, green beans, aubergine, bean sprouts and the following that I used on this occasion –


leeks – cut into thin strips

courgette – Cut into bite sized chunks

mange toute peas

small green peppers

mizuna and Pak Choi

1 red fresh chilli – chopped

2 cm square, more or less, fresh ginger or better still galangal – chopped

2 garlic cloves – cut in half

1 small sweet onion – roughly chopped

5 macadamia nuts / 10 hazelnuts

1 teaspoon / 5 ml ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste – if making a vegan curry omit this

1 tablespoon / 15 ml coconut oil

400 coconut milk

First make a curry paste. In a small food processor whizz together the chilli, ginger, garlic, onion, nuts, shrimp paste and coriander together with the coconut oil.

Gently fry the curry paste in a large wok for 5 – 10 minutes until it is cooked.

Add the coconut milk and heat to a simmer.

Add the vegetables that need the longest cooking first, then after a few minutes the more tender vegetables and the prawns if using. Simmer until the vegetables are just done with some bite remaining and the prawns cooked through.

Serve with jasmine rice or sesame sprinkled rice noodles.