Monday, 31 August 2015

chickpea salad with spiced yoghurt dressing

Chickpea salad with spiced yogurt dressing.

Another day, another simple salad. The spiced yoghurt dressing is the star of the show here, pulling the chickpeas and salad leaves together in a happy embrace of flavours. Add other vegetables if you wish, as well as nuts and herbs - but even without the embellishments, this salad stands on its own, thanks to the delightfully smoky, tangy dressing.

chickpea salad with spiced yoghurt dressing
(serves 1 as a light and healthy meal, 2 as a very light meal, 3-4 as a side dish)

1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz)
1 handful baby spinach
1 handful mixed salad leaves
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Rinse and drain the chickpeas, and add them to a large salad bowl, along with the baby spinach and mixed salad leaves.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl to make a salad dressing. Taste the dressing, and add more seasonings to suit your preferences, if necessary.
Pour the dressing into the salad bowl, and toss until well-combined.

Optional suggested additions: cauliflower, broccoli, almonds, walnuts, mint, oregano. Remember to either swap out some of the chickpeas and greens or make more dressing if you're adding extra ingredients.

Tuck in and enjoy the smoky flavours of this spiced yogurt chickpea salad.

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

cinnamon apple steel-cut oatmeal with raisins

Cinnamon apple oatmeal with raisins.

I have only recently gotten into steel-cut oats. It takes longer to cook compared to rolled oats, quick oats and instant oats, but the substantial, al dente texture is really rather lovely. I'm not going to say that it rocks my world or anything extreme like that, but it's a quietly pleasurable experience that, for me, is worth the extra cooking time.

I'm not breaking any new ground here by combining oatmeal with apple, cinnamon and raisins. But hey, it's a classic combination for a good reason. Feel free to make a bigger batch of this cinnamon-apple-raisin oatmeal, and keep the leftovers covered in the fridge, where it should be good for at least 3 days. Warm individual portions up in the microwave for a quick breakfast on subsequent mornings. Too easy!

cinnamon apple oatmeal with raisins
(makes 2 - 3 servings)

1 tablespoon butter
1 apple, diced
3 tablespoons sultanas / golden raisins
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup oats
2 + 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the apple, sultanas/raisins, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Stir the mixture for about 2 minutes, then add the oats and water. Bring it to boil, and then reduce the heat.
Let the oats simmer, uncovered, for 15 - 20 minutes.
Pour in the milk, and cook the oats for another 10 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Add more dark brown sugar and spices, as well as a pinch of salt, if you wish. You can also use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar.

Alternatively, cook the apple-raisin mixture for a bit longer until the apples are perfectly tender. Retrieve the apple-raisin mixture from the saucepan, and set it aside in a bowl before proceeding with the other steps. Add the apple-raisin mixture to the oatmeal just before serving. This method works to retain more flavour and texture in the apple pieces.

Cinnamon apple and raisin oatmeal.

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Sunday, 9 August 2015

sweet red bean soup

Sweet red bean soup, a simple Asian dessert.

Just a short and sweet one today! This is an easy red bean soup dessert that I've enjoyed since I was a child. Keep it simple using just red beans, sugar and water, or add an extra dimension with a piece of citrus peel or a knotted pandan leaf. This is very much the kind of recipe that you adjust to suit your taste, so don't be afraid to go with the flow.

sweet red bean soup / adzuki bean dessert soup
(serves 4)

1 cup red beans / adzuki beans
1 piece of fresh mandarin peel or dried tangerine peel (optional)
1/4 cup Chinese yellow rock sugar / raw sugar / light brown sugar
1 pinch of salt (optional)

Soak the red beans overnight with just enough water to completely immerse them.
The next day, drain off the water, rinse the beans well, and place them in a saucepan with 5 cups of water.
Bring the water to boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Add the mandarin peel or tangerine peel, if using. Let the beans simmer, partially covered, for about 40 minutes or until the beans are tender.
Remove citrus peel, and add the sugar and salt. Continue to cook the beans for another 20 minutes or until the texture of the beans is to your liking, adding more water if necessary. If you like, you can also mash or blend a portion of the soup for a thicker, richer consistency.
Serve the red bean soup warm, or chill it in the fridge. I quite like storing it in the fridge - it thickens up a little bit more, and seems to taste better the day after.

Adzuki bean dessert soup.

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