Archive for the 'Salads' Category

Carrot, avocado & cumin salad

carrot avocado & cumin salad

When I fancy a bowl full of health this is my go-to-salad. I can toss it together in a matter of seconds and know that soon enough I’ll be plopped on the sofa giving myself a hefty dose of internal TLC. With all that colour, you know that you’re on to a good thing. If I’m feeling energetic I might tuck some up in a sheet of toasted nori with a layer of hummus. But mostly I just like to sit back on the sofa, pull my cashmere blanket up under my arms and eat it straight from the bowl I made it in. I like the way that the carrots crunch between my teeth, the way the avocado is silky smooth on my tongue and how the mint leaves me feeling refreshed. Don’t forget the toasted cumin seeds, lemon and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for an extra dose of flavour and health. Be warned though, you may just find yourself bouncing off the sofa after a bowl of this.

Continue reading ‘Carrot, avocado & cumin salad’

Lemon & thyme roast chicken with asparagus & chickpea salad

roast chicken

I’m well aware that asparagus are no longer in season but I’m hoping that you’ll forgive me. I’ve been working so hard at eating in season but a couple of weeks ago I was overtaken by an overwhelming desire for asparagus. They were talking to me loud and clearly and I felt uneasy turning down what they had to offer. I mean who says no to a bunch of glistening green asparagus claiming they would do mind-blowing things in your mouth if you roasted them in a pan or roast chicken drippings with chickpeas. I think you would have picked up a bunch too.
roast chicken Continue reading ‘Lemon & thyme roast chicken with asparagus & chickpea salad’

A RECIPE: Watermelon, tomato & goats cheese salad with lemon truffle dressing

watermelon tomato & goats cheese salad

Don and I threw a party this weekend for all those guests who could not make the trip across the pond for our recent wedding. IT was such a different evening to that blissful day in June- no white dress, no hair and makeup, no top hats and morning suits and most obviously no body else doing the work for us!

I adore having a good party but I have this unavoidable tendency to make things harder for myself than they need to be. I lie awake thinking of all the things I could make and then stress about how much time it will take, the money it will cost and how I frequently I will have to rush to the kitchen during the party.

So, this time I set rules for myself. It was really the only way to contain and restrict my wild fancies.

Rule #1 Five different nibbles only- no adding extras at the last minute. Pick five stick with five. Follow the rules, Helm Baxter.

Rule #2 No hot nibbles- Saturday was predicted to be the hottest day of the year and our 650 sq ft apartment was struggling to stay cool without having to fight with the oven. Everything would be cold or room temperature. First thing off the list mini Yorkshire puddings.

Rule # 3 Only one nibble was allowed to be an attention seeker. All others had to be pre-made and pre-assembled- pre-party.

Rule # 4 No more rules, rule inhibit creativity.

Rule # 5 Even though you hate rules, there are only three real rules. So STICK with them.

Rule # 6 Rename rules as guidelines as clearly the words rules and cooking in the same sentence are a cause for deep concern.

It was hard. Almost as hard as it was to stop myself from drooling on my keyboard over this. I broke the first rule guideline and ended up with six but I left one of them for my guests to assemble themselves.  Ah ha! An extra point awarded for delegation- I think so! And excluding the Pork butt I had in the oven for eighteen hours before the party I managed to keep the oven pretty much entirely in the off setting save for a few nuts toasting and croutons crisping, which was all done pre-party. Success! This party thing was suddenly becoming a whole lot easier.

On the menu we had

  • Smoked salmon & cream cheese spirals you can find here although I added some rocket leaves and forgot about the lemon. Hey- there were no rules about sticking to recipes!
  • Union square nuts– can’t claim credit for these but they are so good!
  • Crostini with ricotta, lemon, hazelnuts & honey- recipe coming soon!
  • Pulled pork (slathered in a mixture of chili flakes, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and soy and cooked for 18 hours at 225F). These I left for the guests to assemble themselves with rolls, applesauce and bbq sauce on the side.
  • My delicious guacamole with spicy pita chips- always a crowd pleaser
  • Watermelon, tomato & feta skewers with lemon truffle vinaigrette (the unplanned hero)

watermelon tomato skewers
Which leads me nicely, almost as if I planned it, to talking about the salad and the skewers you see photographed. I am a huge fan of adding fruit to salads and as salad combinations go watermelon, tomatoes and goats cheese make a perfect little trio. They are such good buddies that when I had left overs from Saturday’s lunch I decided to stick them on a skewer. The perfect solitary bite ready to pop in your mouth in one go and hence, nibble number six came to being.

watermelon tomato & goats cheese salad

This is a salad I’ve been making for the past  two summers- and for some reason I’ve never gotten around to blogging about it. I’m not sure why- too lazy to weigh a watermelon, I suppose. But then this weekend I did- weigh the watermelon that is and everything else and then just for good measure I’ve thrown in the added bonus of two recipes for the price of one reading. Am I the most generous girl around, or what?!

Well sort of. One’s a recipe, the other is just common sense. I know it’s Monday but please tell me you can cope with that? Here’s a few guidelines (by no means rules!)- cut the watermelon into small-bite-sized pieces slightly bigger than half a cherry tomato and a piece of feta (goats cheese is better but harder to skewer) and then put on a toothpick interspersed with Thai or regular basil leaves . I made about 50 skewers with 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes and 2 lbs of watermelon (weight with the rind on) one block of feta and 1/2 a small bunch of Thai basil. Drizzle with a little vinaigrette before serving. Easy as can be.

If you’re not having a party then you really ought to try this salad. In fact even if you’re having a party then you ought to try this salad. Today in fact would be a most excellent time. Why? Because it’s mid-August and summer will soon be over and tomatoes will be imported and bland and the watermelon will be mealy and you will be cold and wanting something hot. So go! Quickly! No, wait! Rule #1 read the recipe first!

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Watermelon, tomato & goats cheese salad with lemon truffle dressing’

A RECIPE: Light tuna salad with lemon & tarragon dressing

Iight tuna salad

I’m still on a salad kick. I can’t help it, there just so easy. No sweating in a hot kitchen, no pans to scrub, no stove tops to wipe off. It’s just a little bit of whisking and small amount of chopping and then dumped into a bowl, toss, toss and serve. Who doesn’t want to make salad for dinner when it sounds as easy as that? Effortless cooking, if ever there was such a thing.

But besides salads being just about the simplest thing there is to make, they can also be pretty darn good for you too- so long as you don’t douse them in dressing, that is. And most importantly, being a salad need not imply ice burg, cucumber and tomatoes.

Cannelloni beans and tuna are no strangers to one another in the world of culinary companions but mostly I find these salads to be heavy and a little bland or oily. I’ve tried to lighten this one up a bit so that it’s not just a mouthful of tuna and beans. Plus I’ve added a bit of cheese, because I think all salads can do with a bit of cheese in their leaves. You can of course use the dressing of your choice but tarragon goes remarkably well with tuna and of course the fennel, should you decide to use it. I added the peas for a touch of sweetness but you could just as easily slice up some mangetout or sugar snaps and have the added bonus of crunch. The favourite feature of this salad though, is that it tastes great the next day- which is more than can be said for your average mixed green salad.

So, enjoy the lack of sweating at the stove top tonight, revel in the fact that you will only have a couple of things to wash up and feel openly smug about the fact that not only did you eat a healthy dinner- but that lunch for tomorrow is already made. Ahh, the joys of salad.

light tuna & bean salad

Light tuna salad with lemon & tarragon dressing

Serves 2 generously
Diet facts: Gluten free, Vegetarian without the tuna

for the salad:
100g/heaping 1/2 cup frozen peas
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced (red onion is fine, use 1/4 small)
1/2 fennel bulb, outer layer removed and very finely sliced (or use 2 celery stalks)
1 can tuna (best quality you can find) drained
50g/ 2 oz feta cheese
100g/ 4 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp chopped tarragon
bibb lettuce to serve

for the dressing:
1 spring onion, finely diced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp finely chopped tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

1/ Pour some boiling water over the peas and let sit for a minute before draining. Toss together with the remaining salad ingredients, except for the lettuce leaves

2/ To make the dressing, whisk together the spring onion, dijon and lemon juice until combined. Keep whisking as you gradually add the olive oil so that the liquid emulsifies. Stir through the tarragon and honey and taste for seasoning.

A RECIPE: Waldorf with a twist

Waldorf salad with a twist

Waldorf salad was one of those side dishes that my mother made for a weekend lunch. I’m not sure that it really mattered to me what it was served with but more often that not it came alongside a quiche or Ploughman’s lunch. It was a very basic affair- celery, apple and peanuts lightly coated in mayonnaise- certainly not a meal itself but memorable nevertheless. I can’t recall ever calling it something as pretentious as Waldorf salad though- it was probably more like that celery and apple thing but essentially Waldorf is what it was.

It’s been ages since I’ve had mum’s Waldorf salad, but the other day I was craving some crunch and lets face it celery alone (even during spurts of virtuous eating) is rarely enough. Poor Don- he has felt rather shortchanged this past week since our return from honeymoon. Too many meals of rice and beans has left me with a rather desperate need for fruits and vegetables and Don has come home from his new job each night this week hoping for a big steak only to see salad on the table. Again.

So, I thought for this salad, I would at least add some meat- for his plate, anyway. I read around for ideas of what to put in my Waldorf salad but in the end it came down to what I had hanging out in my produce drawers. Strawberries, some fennel, a bit of tarragon and dried cranberries- because why not? I think this would satisfy most anyone’s crunchy cravings. Oh, and Don’s response to another evening of health food?


“Um, actually it’s Baxter now, darling”

“Mrs. Baxter. This is a blog-worthy salad.”

What a great husband.

waldorf with a twist

Waldorf with a twist

Sweet, crunchy, salty and sweetwhat more could a salad ask for?

Serves: 4
Diet Facts: nutritious and delicious

for the salad:
1 celery heart, sliced (roughly 1 cm/.5 inches)
1/2 fennel bulb, very finely sliced
1 apple (I prefer Granny smith), chopped
100g/ 4 oz strawberries, hulled and quartered
50/ 1/3 cup dried cranberries
75g unsalted roasted peanuts

300g cooked chicken or turkey breasts, cubed

for the dressing: (you can use all mayo or all yogurt but I find that the mix adds just the right amount of richness)
1 Tbsp mayonnaise (light is fine)
2 Tbsp Greek or plain yogurt (fat free is fine)
Juice 1 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped tarragon (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1/ Toss together all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

2/ In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.

A RECIPE: Fruity farro salad with lemon chicken

Fruity farro salad with chicken

I am about to head off to the Hamptons for a month! I’m thinking long white sandy beaches, warm sea water, sunshine and one of those coconut drinks I sipped in the Dominican last month. And somewhere in between the lounging and galavanting, I’ll fit in the work that is the reason why I’m going and realise that it’s still only April and yesterdays rise in temperature was only a teaser. April showers are not over yet. So there may not be any swimming but I will be near the beach, albeit a cold one- and that has me thinking of eating summer foods. The kind you eat on your back deck, looking out over the ocean as the sun goes down sipping on a glass of pinot grigio….and there I go again- must have been yesterdays injection of vitamin D that has me dreaming. Amazing what a little sun can do for one’s mood.

This is my kind of salad- a bit of protein, some crunch vegetables, some fruit and a few grains for fiber to keep you going until tea time.  Farro is a wonderfully wholesome, nutty grain that makes Don raise an eyebrow and ask if I’m feeding him squirrel food again. You can swap it for absolutely any grain but I think something with a bit of texture is nice- Israeli couscous would be great. All in all it’s just begging to be packed up with a bottle of bubbly in a cooler bag and taken to a picnic. Now if only the sun would come back again….

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Fruity farro salad with lemon chicken’

A RECIPE: Tabboulish chopped salad

tabboulish salad

I’ve just returned from a week in the Dominican Republic- poor me, I know.  If it’s any consolation I did manage to come home with a sun burnt scalp, which resulted in the embarrassment of dandruff-esque peeling but as with most trips I take I came back desperate for vegetables, and lots of them! Gluttony seems to take its toll on my system and a detox is always in the cards for the week following.  With a feeling of spring in the air in NYC I decided to stray from my typical cooked salads for this time of year and go out on a limb. Okay, so I skipped Spring and headed straight for summer with this salad based on tabbouleh. One can only dream, right?

Tabbouleh, because I love it and tabboulish because I didn’t have any bulghur wheat- plus I took some creative liscence. To stop it from becoming just a mouthful of herbs I added spinach into the mix, along with orange segments and pinenuts. Oh, okay so I got a bit carried away and tossed in some pancetta and celery too. It’s great on it’s own or with a grilled chicken breast but my favourite was stuffing it into a whole wheat pita with hummus. The orange segments and mint keep it tasting fresh, the pinenuts and feta add a creamy element whilst the onion and lemon keeps your mouth on high alert; preventing you from day dreaming off to warmer days. It’s a win win combination.


Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Tabboulish chopped salad’

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