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Category Archives: Salads

Stuffed Cucumber Salad

For a person who has an insane passion for all things food, many find it incredibly surprising that I own very few cookbooks. I have 4 books, pertaining to food!

And this is even more surprising for those who know that reading is my biggest hobby, one that I share in equal measure with my boys. But whilst we have a huge collection of other books, I have never found myself wanting any cookbooks.

But I find that slowly changing now; guess the passion is becoming an obsession and I do gravitate towards the food section every time I am in a bookstore now. The cookbooks that fascinate me the most are ones from the yesteryears; most of these do not have any amazing photography, exotic ingredients or cooking styles. But these books do have a wealth of information and stays true to the writer’s background, culture and tradition.

And one of the best places to find such treasures is at my local Red Cross charity shop. One man’s waste is another’s treasure! You can find me at least once a month here and I come home laden with vintage props, table cloths, cookbooks etc… You will find things here that are impossible to come across in a regular store and at such incredibly low prices.

One of my favourite cookbooks that I purchased from here is Marguerite Patten’s 1000 Favourite Recipes (and shhh, the book just costed me a dollar!)

A thousand recipes…….and that’s where this stuffed cucumber salad comes from.

This stuffed cucumber salad is the perfect canapé for your spring/summer party. It is easy to make, refreshing, delicious, looks pretty and stylish too.

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I made a few changes to the originally outlined recipe and created my stuffing using boiled eggs, tomatoes, feta, parsley and chives. Pick out the freshest cucumbers that you can find and go for ones with slightly thicker skins so that it holds shape. And to get a contrasting look, I peeled the skin of the cucumber in an alternate fashion.

So let’s get to making stuffed cucumber salad – refreshing crunchy cucumber slices filled with soft mashed eggs, tangy sweet tomatoes, salty creamy feta and fresh herbs.

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Ingredients:

1. 1 large, thick (not the overripe ones) cucumber
2. Salt, to season
3. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
4. 1 tbsp lemon juice
5. For the filling;
• 2 boiled eggs
• 1 tomato, blanched, skinned and chopped finely
• 2 tbsp feta cheese
• 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
• 1 tbsp chives, chopped
• 1 tbsp mayonnaise

Method:

1. Peel the cucumber skin in alternate strips as shown in the picture. This is not mandatory but adds to the visual appeal of the finished dish.
2. Cut the cucumber into thick circles; scoop out the seeded part in the centre leaving just a thin layer at the bottom to hold the stuffing.
3. Season the cucumber slices with salt, pepper and lemon juice. This also helps to draw out the excess water and firms up the cucumber a bit.
4. To prepare the filling, mix the eggs, tomatoes, herbs, mayonnaise and then sprinkle in the feta. Mix well to form a creamy texture; if you think the mixture is runny, then add more eggs or cheese to firm it up.
5. To assemble, line the cucumber pieces, fill with the stuffing and garnish with chives. Place in a platter and refrigerate till serving time.

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There’s just one more day remaining for my first blog anniversary giveaway to end. Have your taken part?

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Celebrating Summer with Mango Salsa

Recently, I came across this online article by Marissa Jayne and this got me thinking about the ways in which I can be a better woman and not just a better person. We often get to read about women being the weaker sex, being exploited etc… But very few talk about the other side of the coin – women who are their own enemies!

Marissa talks about nine different ways in which you can better yourself as a woman and I so totally agree with each one of these. But the most meaningful one for me, especially in today’s times, is the first point – ‘stop the shit talking!’

We are quick to judge, especially other women. All of us have done it at some point, including me. Every time we see another woman, we want to comment about her looks, her clothes, hair, the way she talks, the way she brings up her kids etc…., not once thinking that she too is just another woman like you with strengths, weaknesses, insecurities, likes, dislikes, trying so hard to be the best that she can in her own way. But by being aware of this tendency to judge and consciously refraining from it as much as possible has definitely helped me become a better woman. I believe it has helped me become a happier and more content woman, strengthened me and earned me immense respect from others of the tribe.

Marissa has not really written anything new; but she has definitely helped to remind us once again why and how we can be better women.

Coming to today’s recipe, it is an easy and very common one that you would have come across many times. I want to put it up on the blog because I simply love it and I am always making variations of this salsa with whichever fruit is in season. You should try it with peaches and pineapple too.

Mango Salsa - thespiceadventuress.com

I like to add a slight Indian-ness to my salsa with black salt and chaat masala. Both are easily available at all Indian grocers these days. It adds a slight tang to the whole salad lifting up the sweet and spicy tones to a whole new level. I know I have added chillies; yes, two whole ones but you can either skip it or add less.

And I love to serve this salsa with wheat wafers or roasted Indian pappads.

Ingredients:

1. Ripe mango – 1, finely diced
2. Red onion – 1 medium, finely diced
3. Ripe, red tomato – 1 medium, deseeded and finely diced
4. Lebanese cucumber – 1 medium, finely chopped
5. Green chilli (I like it hot!) – 2, finely chopped
6. Lemon juice – to taste
7. Coriander leaves – ½ cup, finely chopped
8. Black salt/kala namak – a pinch
9. Sea salt – to season
10. Chaat masala – ¼ tsp

Method:

This one should be the easiest salad to make.

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl with a tight lid and season with black salt, sea salt and chat masala.
2. Close the lid and shake vigorously to combine.
3. Keep refrigerated till serving time.

Hope all of you have noticed my new blog name; more on it later as I am still working on the URL. But do let me know your frank opinions and comments.

Spicy Green Salad

I love to window shop! In fact, I can spend countless hours walking in and out of shops, browsing the innumerable shelves, ogling at window displays, checking out prices, deals, discounts, bargains…ohh!

Now there is a huge difference between actual shopping and window shopping. The former is not always a positive experience; you need to fire up your grey cells figuring out what you actually need and what you don’t and finally (even after using up all the brains you have) end up blowing your hard earned money buying stuff you didn’t actually need.

But on the other hand, window shopping can be a very positive and therapeutic exercise. It gives you hope, allows you to dream – to work harder and save even harder to make money and buy all that you ogled at. And dreams are good – as the wise say, ‘a man is dead without his dreams.’ Ok, in practical words – get your act together, your bank balance has hit rock bottom.

Window shopping actually allows you to save a bit of money, because you always think that you can find a better product or a better deal at another ‘window’ and you move on without actually buying anything.

And it keeps you in top shape! All that walking is good for your heart, tones up your muscles, keeps you svelte. Just remember to wear sensible shoes though!

And it keeps boredom at bay!

So I am off to yet another mall (a new one!) for my weekly fix of window shopping. Ooh! I love this life….

And if all this sounds like a truckload of crap, let’s just jump over to today’s dish.

About today’s dish, the name says it all, doesn’t it? For all who thought salads are bland, here is a spicy revelation.

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for tons of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

When I first read this recipe, it excited me beyond measure because I have never really had a salad that has a spice quotient to it. This is a spicy salad but that does not mean it has the numbing, fiery heat that takes away from the flavour of the vegetables. And flavour means that my family would eat a bowl of greens happily!

This salad is quite versatile and can be paired in so many ways. Goes beautifully with this delicious crispy grilled chicken or maybe this salmon fry or perhaps these juicy sardines.

A bowl of greens - food photography and styling - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for tons of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 medium broccoli; cut into florets
  2. 50gm snow peas
  3. 6 green asparagus; cut into half (remove the thicker bottom part and peel the outer skin lightly)
  4. 1 purple carrot; ribbons (no fancy equipment required; a peeler would do)
  5. 8 green beans
  6. Mixed greens; a good handful
  7. 1 lebanese cucumber; sliced diagonally
  8. 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; chopped
  9. 1 tbsp spring onion (green part)

For the dressing:

  1. 2 tbsp sesame oil
  2. 3 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
  3. 2 spring onion (white part); finely chopped
  4. 2 garlic; finely chopped
  5. 2 dry chilli; broken into bits (reduce quantity if you desire less heat)
  6. ½ tsp coriander powder
  7. ½ tsp ginger; grated
  8. Juice of 1 lemon
  9. Salt; to season

Method:

  • Blanch the vegetables like broccoli, green beans, snow peas and asparagus. Remove into a bowl of ice cold water to keep it crunchy. After a few minutes, strain and keep aside.
  • Heat sunflower oil in a pan and lightly brown the garlic. Add the spring onions, dry chilli, coriander powder and ginger. Remove from heat, cool and add sesame oil and lemon juice. Season with salt.
  • Place all the vegetables in a bowl and add the dressing just before serving; toss through with love and care.

Note – You can use any type of vegetable for this salad; so choose what’s in season depending on where you live.

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for a ton of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan Lamb Salad

Having spent over a decade living in the Middle East, I have always had a soft spot for Middle Eastern cuisine. But in the 80s, the food globalization was yet to start off and most Indians stuck to the Indian cuisine, experimenting very little with the local cuisine. There were a few dishes that were mass popular and appealed to the Indian palate like the shawarma (a variation of the doner kebabs), hummus, grilled chicken and falafel.

In retrospect, I feel I have wasted a good chunk of my life living in another country, yet not learning much in terms of its cuisine. But after coming to Australia, where there is a good representation of Middle Eastern food, I have once again re-kindled my interest in this cuisine which is one of the oldest in the world.

Moroccan cuisine – I am always in a predicament as some like to categorize it under Middle Eastern cuisine while others tend to call it Meditteranean. For me, it is more of Middle Eastern though you can find plenty of dishes that are a perfect mix of both cuisines.

This Moroccan lamb salad recipe was totally new to me – I have had a lot of vegetarian salads including the famous ‘tabbouleh’ and ‘fattoush’ but hadn’t heard or tasted any salad with minced lamb like this one. I used commercial Moroccan spice mix since I am still experimenting with the home made mix. It is important to use good quality lamb mince and not the supermarket mince which is full of fat. Choose good quality boneless lamb pieces and ask your butcher to mince it for you which is the best way to get amazing mince and makes all the difference for dishes like these.

Moroccan lamb salad - thespiceadventuress.com

The sultanas/raisins and pine nuts provide a sweet crunch which balances out the heat from the chillies and coriander; the freshness of the tomatoes and cucumbers when mixed through the mildly spiced lamb mince make this a beautiful salad perfect for all seasons. And the best way to serve it – with fresh yoghurt and pita bread. Or this could make the perfect share platter to being a meal with tzatziki and crackers on the side.

Here’s how you prepare, Moroccan lamb salad.

Ingredients:

1. Lean lamb mince – 500 gm
2. Moroccan spice mix – 2 -3 tbsp (this mix is mildly hot so adjust to your preferences)
3. Coriander powder – 1 tsp
4. Raisins/sultanas – ½ cup, coarsely chopped
5. Birdseye chilli – 1, finely chopped
6. Tomatoes – 2, chopped
7. Lebanese cucumber – 1, chopped
8. Toasted pine nuts – ½ cup
9. Coriander leaves – ½ cup, finely chopped
10. 1 lemon zest – grated
11. Salt – to season

To serve:

12. Yoghurt – 1 cup
13. Pita bread

Method:

• Heat a pan and lightly spray with oil. Add the lamb mince and brown over high heat. Do not lower flame as this tends to draw out moisture from the mince and tends to overcook it. Break up lumps as it browns.
• When half done, add coriander powder and Moroccan spice mix; mix well. Cook for a minute and add the raisins and chilli. Cook for another 30 seconds and remove from heat.
• Gently toss through the other ingredients and season with salt if necessary. Serve warm with yoghurt and pita bread.

Roasted Beetroot and Onion Salad

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I discovered the joy and warmth of roasting vegetables very recently and have fallen in love with this ever since. There is something so earthy and humble about roasted vegetables – the rustic sweet flavours are simply to die for.

This Afrikaner salad is a traditional one which goes well with meat as it is sweet and delicious. It is best to use baby or small beets for this salad. The traditional combo is beets and onion but I found a box of fresh baby heirloom tomatoes at the market which I decided to throw into the roasting tray.

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The dressing is very simple and uses the juices from the roasted vegetables which drizzled with balsamic vinegar and seasoned with salt and pepper makes this all year around salad perfect.

A colourful mélange of earthy rustic flavours……

Recipe Courtesy – Tortoises and Tumbleweeds (Journey through an African kitchen) by Lannice Snyman

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Ingredients:

1. Beetroot – 4-6, small halved
2. Onion – 1, cut into wedges
3. Baby heirloom tomatoes – 10, halved
4. Bay leaf – if fresh, 4; dry – 2
5. Olive oil
6. Salt – to season
7. Crushed black pepper
8. Balsamic vinegar – 100ml
9. Water – 40 ml
10. Brown sugar – ½ cup

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Method:

• Heat oven to 220°C. In a baking tray, place the beets, onion and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper; mix well.
• Roast for 15 minutes, remove veggies to serving dish.
• In another pan, add the juices from the roasting tray along with vinegar, sugar and water. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce till thick and pour into a small container.
• Drizzle over the salad just before serving.

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Meditteranean Chickpea Salad + my new kitchen appliance!

My foray into the food blogging world has paved the way for a whole lot of good friendships. I am not a person quick to make friends but I was surprised to find so many good buddies when I started on this food journey. Maybe it’s our similar culinary interests that helped start off these relationships without any of the awkwardness that I usually experience.

And one such friendship developed with a beautiful Chennai lassie, Nanditha Suresh, who currently resides in Sydney, Australia. We have never met but the bond that we share over food is wonderful and a first time experience for me. Nanditha’s food philosophy is clean and healthy eating (and of course delicious) and she runs a Facebook page, Kitchening About, where you can get amazing recipes for healthy, vegetarian food from around the globe. Personally for me, I simply love her soup recipes.

mediterranean chickpea salad

This salad is loosely based on a chickpea salad recipe I found on her page. I tweaked it a bit adding a few Meditteranean flavours like crumbled feta on top. So here is my recipe for a refreshing, delicious summer dish packing with nutrients – Meditteranean chickpea salad

Ingredients:

1. Chickpeas – 1 cup, soaked and cooked (you can use canned chickpeas but I like to prepare it fresh)
2. Lebanese cucumber – 1, finely diced
3. Red onion – 1, finely diced
4. Ripe red tomato (pulp removed)– 1, finely diced
5. Red bell pepper – 1, finely diced
6. Feta cheese – 100gm, crumbled

For the dressing:

7. Lemon – juice of 1 lemon
8. Balsamic vinegar – 1 tsp
9. Salt – to season
10. White pepper – to season
11. Olive oil – 1 tbsp.

mediterranean chickpea salad 1

Method:

• Cook the chickpeas and drain the excess water.
• In a bowl, combine all the diced vegetables and chickpeas.
• Prepare the dressing by mixing ingredients 7-11 in a bowl (feta is salty so remember to add less salt) and mix well to combine.
• Crumble feta over the vegetables and chickpeas.
• Pour the dressing on top just before serving.
• Toss well and serve.

mediterranean chickpea salad 2

And now coming to my new kitchen appliance……

Ta ta da…..

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Unfortunately, I had to leave behind my wooden mortar and pestle when I came to Australia but now, I have this new baby……

I have always wanted a black stone mortar and pestle just like used in the olden times. But bringing one from India is almost an impossible option because of its sheer weight. There are many Asian stores that sell these in and around Melbourne but I chose to buy it from Kitchenware Direct – my go to website for kitchen appliances here. The prices are quite competitive and there is a wide array of kitchen related appliance, utensils etc…that you can find here. No, I am not endorsed in any way by this site (they are not even aware of me and my blog); this is just me sharing my views of the website with my fellow bloggers.

So, stay tuned for recipe using this new kitchen favourite of mine…….Bon appetite!

Feta, Artichoke and Walnut Salad

This salad recipe is a first for me in many aspects – it is the first time I am using walnuts in a salad and also the first time I tasted artichokes. And the latter made this salad quite a technical one for me as I decided to use fresh artichokes and learn how to peel off the layers and get to the heart instead of opting for canned ones. But it was worth the effort as this salad turned out to be one of the best I have eaten in a long time.

I loved the fact that the salad did not incorporate the all too familiar veggies like cucumber, tomato, onion etc. Instead it was a delectable mix of unusual ingredients and flavours. The saltiness of the feta and the olives juxtaposing with the nutty, earthy and smoky flavours all tied down perfectly by a simple olive oil-honey dressing.

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Recipe Courtesy – Vegetarian Cooking by New Holland Publishers

Ingredients:

1. Red capsicum/bell pepper – 1, quartered and seeded
2. Walnuts – 100 gm
3. Baby spinach – 200 gm
4. Greek feta – 200 gm, cubed
5. Artichoke hearts – 300 gm, quartered
6. Black olives – ½ cup, pitted
7. Olive oil – 1 tbsp
8. For dressing:
• Extra virgin olive oil – ½ cup
• Lemon juice – ¼ cup
• Honey – 2 tsp
• Oregano – 2 tsp
• Black pepper – freshly ground, to season
• Himalayan pink salt – to season (any type of salt can be used)

Method:

• Preheat grill. Grill the capsicum pieces till the outer skin starts to turn black. I did not char the skin completely since I wanted a little bit of bite to the pepper but if you like it soft, grill till the outer skin turns completely black. Cool slightly and peel skin when still warm. Cut into long strips and keep aside.
• In a frying pan, heat olive oil, add the walnuts and cook for a minute or two. Keep aside.
• In a small jar, combine all the ingredients under dressing and mix well.
• In a large salad bowl, combine the baby spinach, artichoke hearts, feta, olives, walnuts and bell pepper.
• Pour the dressing just before serving.

Note – If you do not know how to get artichoke hearts, there are plenty of YouTube videos demonstrating the same. Or you could just make your job easier and buy canned ones.

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Insalata Caprese (Tomato Mozzarella Salad)

A simple Italian dish, Insalata Caprese (tomato mozzarella salad) is commonly served as an antipasto. But for me, this took the place of a simple salad which can be made in a jiffy.

It is important to have the freshest produce for this one since there are just two main ingredients – tomato and mozzarella. Pick up fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes and good quality mozzarella to make this salad. A dash of salt and pepper and a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil completes this beautiful salad.

tomato mozarella salad

Ingredients:

1. Vine-ripened tomatoes – 3, cubed
2. Mozzarella – 250 gm, cubed
3. Fresh basil – 5
4. Salt – to season
5. Black pepper – to season
6. Balsamic vinegar – 1 tsp
7. Olive oil – 1 tsp

Note – Use any type of tomatoes as long as it is fresh, ripe and sweet

Method:

• Add cubed tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to a salad bowl.
• In a small jar, mix balsamic vinegar and olive oil and drizzle over the salad.
• Season with salt and pepper just before serving.

tomato mozarella salad

‘Everything’ Salad

When Orna Agmon and Ella Shine started a quaint little café, ‘Orna and Ella’ on Sheinkin Street, Tel Aviv way back in 1992, their only intention was to showcase traditional Israeli cuisine in a modern, contemporary way. But today, this café has become a culinary institution and boasts of a highly versatile and varied menu where gourmet dishes rub shoulders with homemade mama’s recipes.

The ‘Everything’ Salad, so aptly named by the staff at the café because it simply contained everything, has become a signature salad served at the café. The crunchy lettuce and the peppery rocket leaves try to keep their heads above the cool tomatoes and cucumbers which in turn battle with the salty feta and crispy croutons but all these get tied down with the fresh herby creamy dressing to create this bowl of healthy freshness.

everything salad

Ingredients:

For the Dressing:
1. Fresh mint – 1 cup, finely chopped
2. Fresh basil – ½ cup, finely chopped
3. Fresh parsley – 1 cup, finely chopped
4. Chives – ¼ cup, finely chopped
5. Mayonnaise – 1 cup
6. Sour cream – 100 ml
7. Salt – to season
8. Black pepper – to season

For the Salad:
9. Tomato – 4, diced
10. Cucumber – 2, diced
11. Rocket leaves – a large handful
12. Romaine lettuce – 5, roughly shredded
13. Fresh parsley – ½ cup, chopped roughly
14. Mint – ½ cup, chopped roughly
15. Feta cheese – 1 cup, cubed
16. Croutons – 1 cup

Method:
• To make the dressing, either mix ingredients 1-8 in a food processor or add finely chopped herbs to the mayo-sour cream mix.

herby dressing

• Mix all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl and pour dressing on top just before serving.

Note – If you want to make croutons at home, cut any fine bread into cubes; toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking tray and bake at 170°C for 30-40 minutes. If you do not have an oven, toast the bread cubes in a non-stick pan on low heat till golden brown and crunchy. Croutons can be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

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Peanut Salad with Curry Leaf Dressing

We often look to the Western world for salads and salad dressing recipes in spite of having so many beautiful ingredients to work with in our country. And this point was driven home when I came across a simple salad dressing using curry leaves by Sonya Haritha. A shout-out to you Sonya for this wonderful recipe and also the major strides that you have achieved in the organic farming scene.

Instead of using this dressing for a vegetable salad (which I am sure will be spectacular), I decided to use it to dress up roasted peanuts. The warm freshness of the curry leaves, olive oil, lime and honey really makes this one a nutty treat!

So here’s the recipe for peanut salad with curry leaf dressing – simple, nutritious and packed with flavor.

peanut salad with curry leaf dressing

Ingredients:

1. Peanuts (roasted, unsalted) – 2 cups
2. Curry leaves – ½ cup, coarsely powdered
3. Jeera/cumin seeds – ½ tsp, roasted and crushed
4. Red chili flakes – a generous sprinkle
5. Lime juice – 1 tbsp
6. Honey – 1 tsp
7. Olive oil – 2-3 tbsp
8. Salt – to season

Method:

• Roast peanuts without salt and keep aside.
• Roast the cumin seeds and coarsely powder along with curry leaves.
• To this, add lemon juice, honey, red chili flakes, salt and olive oil. Mix or beat well to combine.
• Pour the dressing over the roasted peanuts and toss to combine just before serving.

Note – Omit the chilli flakes if too spicy for your children. You could also try out this dressing with other nuts or vegetables.

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