Roast Eggplant Salad


I made this lovely, colourful eggplant salad to go with Sunday night’s baked falafels. We have falafel quite a bit but I confess we buy packet mixes and we always fry them. We’ve been meaning to make our own for quite a while but never managed to do so. I found this recipe on taste and decided to give it a go.

The falafels weren’t such a hit: easy to make and quite good flavour, but baking them is just ridiculous. I can’t help but wonder if the person who came up with the recipe had some healthy eating brief to follow. In addition to baking being most unsatisfactory for the falafels, there is no way this serves four people. Well, I suppose it might if they weren’t that hungry and shared our low opinion of the baked falafels!

However, this roast vegetable salad was definitely a hit. You can’t choose to make it on the hottest summer day, because you do need to have the oven on, but cool changes always come around eventually!

Heat your oven to 200°C, and line two trays with baking paper. You may also wish to give them a quick dab of oil. Take some Roma tomatoes (for the two of us, I used 2), quarter them, put them on one tray, and drizzle with olive oil (I actually used an oil spray – whatever works for you). You could always season them here, and the addition of some thyme leaves would work well too. Take one large eggplant, cut into chunks about an inch square and spread out over the other tray. Again, drizzle with oil and season if you wish. Place the trays in the oven for a good 20 minutes – half an hour. You want the eggplant in particular to cook and soften and take up a bit of colour.

While the vegetables are cooking, finely slice half a red onion into your serving bowl. When the vegetables come out of the oven, pop them straight into the bowl, onto the onion. The warmth will help soften the onion a little, both in terms of texture and flavour. Sprinkle over some sumac (to taste, I love the stuff so I use loads!) and add plenty of torn mint. You can see how much I used! Gently toss the salad and you’re ready to serve.

You could gussy this up even further by adding some pomegranate seeds (how gorgeous would that look?), and you could serve it with a lemony yoghurt dressing. I just served it with some plain yoghurt with some more sumac sprinkled over the top for colour. Really delicious and incredibly healthy.

Now I just need to find a great falafel recipe!

Moroccan Couscous Salad

My apologies for yet another really awful photograph! When this salad looked at its best I was too busy celebrating New Year to be photographing!

Disclaimer: San Remo sent me the wholemeal couscous.

Another couscous recipe. After the success of the 50-50 white/wholemeal couscous combination of my last effort, I decided that the salad I took along to a New Year’s Eve party could be 100% wholemeal couscous. I picked a recipe for a warm couscous salad from Jason Atherton’s book Gordon Ramsay’s Maze. This recipe was considerably less hassle to put together (despite having to rustle up the ras el hanout) and I certainly now have plenty of ideas for my own couscous salad creation (no doubt that recipe coming at some point … though this isn’t a blog about couscous so you might have to wait a little).

As usual, I had to make adjustments to Atherton’s recipe (it had raisins in it – I’m really not a fan of raisins in savoury food).

In a bowl, put 1 cup of couscous, a good pinch of salt, 2 tsp of ras el hanout, and a generous glug of good quality olive oil. Pour over 1 cup of boiling water, cover with cling film and leave to sit for 15 – 20 minutes.

With couscous – remember 1 cup of couscous, 1 cup of water or stock.

While the couscous is sitting, peel, core and then finely dice a Granny Smith apple. Finely chopping an apple is more difficult than it sounds (it’s not a shape that lends itself well to being chopped) so don’t get too hung up on size and evenness. Mix some lemon juice through the apple to stop it from discolouring (err on the side of more lemon juice, rather than less).

When the couscous has absorbed all the water, fork it through to fluff it up and then mix through the apple. Stir through some lemon juice (to taste – this depends a bit on how much you used on the apple), lemon rind, and some chopped coriander and rosemary.

I actually left out the coriander as we didn’t have any to hand, but I’d recommend using either that or parsley because, if nothing else, it will add some vibrant green to an otherwise somewhat yellow coloured salad!

This is a salad that you need to eat either the day you make it or the next as the rosemary flavour gets stronger and stronger and eventually dominates.

This couscous salad got a reasonable tick – I took it to a New Year’s Eve party and people who said they didn’t normally eat couscous politely said they enjoyed it. The quantities are much more reasonable here (it was served at a BBQ of 9 people and there was enough left overs for one meal for Andy and me). Andy and I decided that, while this too needs some tweaking, we’re on our way to the perfect couscous salad!

Thai Style Fish and Noodle Salad Recipe

Back at home, and recovered from jetlag (but still tired – if I manage to stay up until 10pm I’m impressed!), it’s time to get back in my own kitchen and do some cooking.

This Thai style recipe come originally from Taste, and I was impressed by how relatively few ingredients were involved. By the time I’d finished making it, I was also impressed by how quick it was to put together. I think this would definitely give Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals a run for their money!

I am a little sceptical about how far the recipe will go. Taste says it will serve 4 people but I think that would be four not very hungry people. If you have two people who need a good feed after a day at work – listen to me!

Begin by taking a packet of hokkien noodles (about 400g), putting them in a bowl and covering with boiling water. Leave them to sit while you finely chop some chilli (I used half a long green one) and coriander, and slice some spring onion.

Drain the noodles and toss through the chilli, coriander and spring onion.

Make a dressing consisting of approximately ¼ cup of sweet chilli sauce (trust me on this one – this is something that neither of us particularly like and had to get in especially for this recipe), approximately the same amount of lime juice and a good couple of teaspoons of fish sauce. Whisk this all together and use this to dress your noodles. The idea is that the noodles are served warm or room temperature, not boiling hot, so don’t worry about them cooling down.

Depending on how happy you are multitasking, you can cook your fish while you do all that or you can cook it now. The original recipe uses John Dory, I used flathead* – basically you are after a reasonably firm white fish. I just dusted the fillets with some seasoned flour and pan fried.

To serve, pile some of the noodle salad in a bowl, top with the fish, some chopped toasted cashews and some sprigs of coriander.

Too, too easy. Vaguely healthy (I’m still not sure about that sweet chilli sauce) and very tasty. What more can you want from a dinner that’s put together in minutes?

*Both are species of fish that Sustainable Seafood recommends you think about before using.