Tag Archives: fresh herbs

Tuna and cauliflower barley pilaf

3 Jun
English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι

English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love risotto and pilaf dishes, which are endlessly versatile, easy to cook and easy to eat, gentle on the pocket and as healthy as you like.

Last night I was running out of fridge potential. A shopping trip is looming, today or tomorrow, but there’s still plenty to work with, despite the almost-empty fridge. One of my perennial store cupboard ingredients is pearl barley (barley – arpacas – in Romania, pearl barley in UK). Cauliflowers are cheap at the moment, and high on the simple-to-prepare-and-cook chart. Tinned tuna is always on standby.

What: barley/pearl barley, cauliflower, tin of tuna, fresh herbs, black pepper and tiny bit of salt

How: Boil the barley. This can take about 40 mins or a bit longer, depending on the eficiency of your stove, so put the barley on and go and do something else, because everything else takes 10 mins. When the barley’s done, drain and put the lid back on the pan to keep the barley warm.

Put a little oil in a pan (or drain the oil from the tuna, if canned in oil. If canned in brine, add that to the oil in the pan). Wash and chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and lob into pan. Sizzle gently for 5 minutes, then add the tuna, seasoning and most of the herbs (eg basil, thyme, chives) and sizzle for another 5 mins till cauli is done to your preferred balance of crunch/tender. Stir in the barley and serve, topping with the rest of the chopped herbs. If you like a bit of yoghurt on top, a spoonful or two is good, but naked is also good.

Healthy stuff: cauliflower, esp if not overcooked; tuna, herbs. I have no idea of the health value of barley, but it’s a whole grain without the gluten of wheat.

Enjoy!

 

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Pink peanut pasta

19 May

This is a very old favourite from student days. A skint* store-cupboard supper, quick, easy, vegan – and scrummy.

Ingredients:

Pasta

Onion & garlic (1 med onion per person & as much garlic as you like)

Tinned chopped tomatoes (half a tin per person)

Generous spoonful of good peanut butter (NO added sugar!) per person

Spice mix of choice [see herb & spice page]

juice of quarter of a lemon per person, or to taste

Herbs of choice

Salt & fresh black pepper

Don’t worry about the length of these instructions – I’m dotting t’s and crossing i’s for the inexperienced, but the only thing you have to watch out for is keeping the sauce from burning, so don’t leave it!

Pick your preferred pasta shape and cook as directed on the packet (or sling it in boiling salted water and test it till it’s done to your satisfaction).

In another pan, slosh in some olive oil [NB see store-cupboard/healthy pages]. Chop up a mid-sized onion per person and some garlic (more or less, according to your taste. I love it, so three cloves for me); hurl them into the pan and fry gently (or sauté if you’re posh) over a low heat, stirring now and then to stop them burning, until they go soft and transparent. At Keep an eye on the pasta.

Scoop out the peanut butter and push it off the spoon into the onion mixture. (NB it melts quickly and then burns easily, so from now on, keep stirring.) Pour in a teacup-ful of water to keep the peanut butter from sticking to the pan, and keep it all moving. Static peanut butter is stuck peanut butter.

Open as many tins of tomatoes as you need and slosh them into the onion pan, with your herbs and spices (turmeric is good, btw) and a bit of salt. Stir thoroughly, then let it mix itself with the spices and herbs for a while.

Is the pasta done? Turn the heat off, drain it and put it back in its pan with a lid on to keep warm.

Tomato & peanut mix: it doesn’t take long to do – maybe 15 minutes. Keep stirring it off the bottom of the pan, and check the flavour. Add a bit more salt if it needs it; adjust everything to your taste.

Squeeze your lemon juice into the tomato mix and stir well. It adds a bit of zing and freshness, and makes the flavour a bit more complex and delish. The tomato & peanut sauce should be a salmony-pink now, but don’t worry about the colour. It’s the flavour that matters most.

You choose: serve the pasta and pour the sauce on top of it; OR turn the pasta into the sauce and stir it through before serving. Put some chopped fresh herbs (basil, chives, or parsley, maybe?) on top of each serving and let them wolf it down.

Vegan, as is; with a shot of sour cream or grated cheese on top, vegetarian.

[* skint – for unBritish English speakers: skint, boracic, broke, cashless, poverty-stricken]

Hello, hungry people and frustrated cooks!

24 Apr

I keep finding all these fabulous blogs that torment me with exquisite dishes that look beautiful and must taste divine. They torment me because I’m a lax cook, never a chef, and have never bothered to learn the skills needed for all these stunningly presented recipes.

But people who come to eat with me have said over the years that they like what I dish up for them; some of them say ‘when’s the cookery book coming out?’.

Thing is, I’m no Delia. Because I’m lax in the kitchen, nothing ever turns out the same. I chuck in a bit of this, a handful of that; I change ingredients and work with whatever’s to hand. There are lots of fridge-dishes (what happens to be lurking in the fridge) and storecupboard-dishes (ditto), and the fresh herbs in the garden get snipped or chopped whenever the fancy takes me and there’s new growth to cut.  

So measurements are haphazard, due to all the above, and the fact that you may have different tastes to me. I like cayenne on almost everything, including porridge (see recipe later) because of the fresh zing it gives (fabulous with a mouthful of fresh coffee, too!) not to mention the healthiness of it. You may like more or less salt; more or less spiciness, more or less garlic – for example.

But stick with me. This blog is the antidote to frustrating gorgeousnesses elsewhere – I like quick and simple, mostly peasant food, and a mish-mash of home (Sussex) and world food. One of the simplest dishes EVER comes from my first Friday in Greece. More of that later.

Have fun with the food, however new or nervous a cook you may be. Try things, eat them, adjust, have a go, see what happens. Let me know! Tell me your variations of my recipes (recipes, hah! loose suggestions, more like) and if you fed family or friends with them, report back with their reactions, good or bad.

See you at the stove!

Abbs