Tag Archives: Salad

French Green Lentil Salad

Till last year, I was a ‘one-dimensional lentil’ person.

Yep, that’s a phrase I just coined now. So let me explain; till last year, the only lentil I really cooked with was toor dal or split pigeon peas. While I did make different recipes using pigeon peas, it was more or less the only variety I stocked up in my pantry.

It’s not that I didn’t know about other lentils or pulses, but somehow never ventured outside the familiar zone and actually cook with any other variety. A decision to incorporate more lentils and pulses into our daily diet is what made me start experimenting initially.

I picked up a packet of the soup mix at our local shop, but instead of using it as a base for just soups alone, I started using it in this khichdi recipe and also to prepare regular dal curries. Soon I began to shop for all sorts of lentils and pulses from around the world incorporating it into various stews, curries etc…. I even made a delicious lamb curry and haricot beans which was one of my more recent finds.

But this was the first time I am making a salad using lentils.

French Green Lentil Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

I had heard much about the French Puy lentils but recently I also came across the French Green lentils which got me confused as both looked quite similar to me. A bit of research later, I came to understand that both lentils are the same variety except that the term Puy is given to the lentils that are specifically grown in the Puy region of France as these are cultivated in the distinct volcanic soil there. And these lentils grown anywhere else are called French green lentils.

Since I am a big believer of ‘shop local’, I found that I was able to buy French green lentils grown in Australia through Mount Zero Olives, hence that’s the brand I have used for this salad.

This French green lentil salad turned out to be one of the best salads I have eaten in the recent times. It’s fresh, vibrant, and healthy with oodles of flavour. It’s great as a salad dish but also works brilliantly as a side with grilled meats, seafood etc….

The French green lentils are small, mottled and almost grayish green in colour and not a vibrant green as you would imagine from the name. It has a slightly peppery flavour and a soft yet firm texture when cooked that makes it really unique especially in salads like this.

French green lentils - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

French Green Lentil Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

No pre-soaking is necessary as the French green lentils cook really fast unlike other lentils. And as I mentioned, it does not get mushy and holds shape which adds a beautiful textural element to the salad.

So let’s hop right into the recipe and whip up this super delicious and healthy French green lentil salad.

Ingredients:

  1. ¾ cup French green lentils; washed well and drained
  2. 1 red onion; finely chopped
  3. 5 baby qukes (or Lebanese cucumber); finely chopped
  4. ½ red bell pepper; finely chopped
  5. ½ cup olives; sliced
  6. 2 tbsp capers
  7. 2 medium tomatoes; finely chopped
  8. 2 tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  9. 1 cup baby spinach; coarsely chopped
  10. 3 baby radish; finely chopped

Dressing:

  1. 2 tsp jalapeno mustard (use any kind of mustard)
  2. 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1 tbsp verjuice (replace with red wine vinegar, apple cider or any type of vinegar)
  4. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Cook the washed green lentils in salted boiling water; drain and keep aside. (Takes approximately 15-20 minutes to cook)
  2. To the drained lentils, add the spinach leaves and mix through. The residual heat slightly wilts the spinach which is all the cooking that it needs.
  3. To a salad bowl, add the lentils with spinach and all the remaining chopped veggies and herbs.
  4. To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk well.
  5. Pour this over the salad just before serving; toss well to combine.
  6. Enjoy!

French Green Lentil Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

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Chicken Meatball Salad

Do you cook with your children?

Not the once in a while ‘school holiday’ cooking but do you involve your kids in your everyday cooking and food related activities?

From a very early age, I made sure that I got Adi interested in food and cooking. Initially it began with taking him to the market where I taught him to identify the different fruits and vegetables. I would encourage him to touch and feel the produce or ask him to pick out some for our shopping basket. In fact, Adi learnt the different colours and his initial 1, 2,3s…. at our local vegetable shop.

As he grew older and learnt to read and write, I made sure he was with me for most of our weekly grocery shopping trips. He learnt more about the different fruits and vegetables, also learning how to pick out fresh produce but at the same time, I encouraged him to pick out wobbly and misshapen ones that are still fresh indirectly teaching him about food wastage.

And now he is my favourite shopping partner. Not just with the veggies but he is also quite well versed at picking out most ingredients at the supermarket, choosing the deli meat every week for his lunch box etc…

I have also consciously involved Adi in household chores from cleaning, arranging his room and toys, helping me out in the kitchen etc… Initially he wouldn’t be interested but now he sees it as a responsibility and he understands that he needs to do his share too.

Now there are so many advantages to this but above all, I wanted him to develop two important life skills – learning to cook so that he is not dependent on anyone for his needs and also helping him understand that the kitchen, cooking, cleaning etc… is not just a woman’s job.

I wouldn’t claim to be a perfect mom (that phrase doesn’t exist!), but consciously incorporating certain rules or principles has made him a largely responsible and flexible child. It has been hard and there were plenty of times when I lost patience especially because I started very early on, when he was about 2 years of age. But I had the belief that it was the right path which will show results after a few years. And it did…

Adi is 9 years old now, a happy boy who enjoys food and not a fussy eater at all. He enjoys doing his chores, has a flexible disposition, responsible and accountable; all those years of gently steering him from behind seems to have had a positive effect so far.

I am not writing this to brag; every child is unique and has both strengths and weaknesses. Adi has his share too. But I write this for the many young parents who struggle either due to lack of knowledge or think that they have time to rectify certain things when the child is older. And food always seems to be an issue, especially getting the child to make healthy food choices as he grows up.

You have to start really young with children that it almost becomes a way of life for them because it’s so hard to change ways later. And we most definitely can’t raise our kids like our parents did because the needs of this generation are way different. Agree there are some traditional values that remain same but largely our lifestyles have changed which means our parenting must too.

Today, we are making one of Adi’s favourite salads – a Chicken Meatball Salad.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, it’s easy to get him to eat veggies and salads are a regular feature at our dinner table. But once in a while, we make this chicken meatball salad which doubles up as his school snack the next day.

Whenever we make this salad, Adi’s job is to help me roll out the meatballs and also preparing the dressing (he loves the shake shake part) and finally tossing it all up.

The meatballs are simple and are great as a snack. So I always double up the quantities and freeze some to have as an after school snack later in the week. And with meatballs, you can do so much….add it to pastas, a curry base or sandwiches.

The salad is a beautiful medley of our favourite veggies and herbs. Use what’s in your refrigerator or the combinations that your children like to eat.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  1. 500gms chicken mince
  2. 1 slice white bread (soaked in ¼ cup milk)
  3. 2 sprigs rosemary
  4. 1 tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  5. 1 tsp sweet paprika
  6. 1 tsp lemon zest
  7. Salt, to season
  8. Black pepper, to season
  9. Vegetable oil; for shallow frying the meatballs

For the salad:

  1. Salad greens
  2. ½ punnet cherry tomatoes; halved
  3. 1 Lebanese cucumber; diced
  4. 1 yellow bell pepper; diced
  5. A handful of olives
  6. 3 bread slices; to make croutons
  7. 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil; for dressing
  8. Regular olive oil; for shallow frying the meatballs
  9. Lemon juice
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and tear into smaller pieces.
  2. Add this to a large bowl along with the chicken mince, rosemary, parsley, paprika, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine and shape the mixture into even sized meatballs. Keep aside and allow to rest while you assemble the ingredients for the salad.
  3. In a large salad bowl, assemble the salad leaves and veggies.
  4. To prepare the dressing, add the olive oil to a small jar with a tight lid. Add the juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of salt. Shake vigorously to get an emulsion; taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large pan and shallow fry the meatballs in batches.
  6. Add the meatballs to the salad; pour the dressing and toss together to combine.
  7. Serve immediately.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

If you follow me on Insta stories, you would have seen my weekly cookbook series. I do not have a huge collection but a handful of old, new and trusted ones that I cook from often. And last week, I had spoken to you about ‘The Food & Wine Lover’s Guide to Melbourne and Surroundings’.

Whenever we take a holiday in and around Melbourne, I always try to incorporate a bit of food wine experience into it. A visit to a farm, local food store, farmer’s market, restaurant or winery….something unique that celebrates the region. And this book has come handy on so many occasions for this purpose.

The book also features a few recipes from Chefs, restaurants and food producers of different regions. This salad really stood out to me because of the combination of flavours. Tomato and mozzarella is a classic combination but the addition of fire roasted bell peppers, watercress and the mustard dressing takes it to a whole new level.

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

What I loved most about this dish is that it can be served as a salad or as a side dish to grilled fish, meat or perhaps some grilled paneer/tofu. It’s warm and so full of flavour that makes it a delight even during the colder months. We enjoyed it as a salad with our Indian thali and also as a side with grilled fish, both times equally enjoyable and delicious.

This salad is all about the freshness and quality of ingredients. And using different varieties of tomatoes makes it all the more delicious. If you have a local deli nearby, then that’s probably the best place to get your hands on the buffalo mozzarella. I prefer fire roasting over oven roasting whenever possible; that burnt smoky flavour is hard to replicate completely inside an oven. But you can roast the bell peppers any way you wish to. Roast just enough to char the outsides but the flesh inside still has a bite to it.

Roasting bell pepper - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Enough said! Let’s get on with the recipe….

Ingredients:

  1. 1 heirloom tomato; sliced
  2. 1 ox heart tomato; sliced
  3. 1 medium red bell pepper
  4. 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  5. 1 large mozzarella ball
  6. ½ cup picked watercress
  7. 1 tsp seeded mustard dressing
  8. Olive oil
  9. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Method:

  1. Roast both the bell peppers over an open flame till nicely charred all around. Cover with a cloth for a few minutes before peeling off the skin (this makes the process easier). Deseed the bell peppers and slice into thin strips. Alternatively, oven roast the bell peppers and then do the same.
  2. Cut the mozzarella ball into wedges and keep aside.
  3. In a bowl, add the sliced bell peppers, mustard dressing and watercress.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan and flash fry the sliced tomatoes for a few seconds, season with salt.
  5. Cool slightly and add the tomatoes to the bell peppers along with the mozzarella wedges.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle balsamic vinegar and toss lightly.
  7. Serve immediately.

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce)

Yes, I am back with yet another seafood dish. And it’s one that I thoroughly enjoyed cooking and eating. Not that I don’t enjoy the other recipes here, but this one’s special because this is our favourite way to eat salmon.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

The term holidays are still on and we aren’t doing much this time. My little champ was sick for a couple of days and coupled with our house hunting in full spree, there has hardly been time for any activities or fun stuff. Guess we will take a proper vacation once we are settled in the new home.

Coming back to the dish, simplicity is key when cooking with salmon. Do not get tempted to add too many flavours or spices to the fish itself which takes away from its real flavour. Instead, add flavour to the remaining components on the plate like this deliciously spicy green salad and a simple tomato butter sauce. Not much of a sauce actually, it’s more like a quick sauté and butter makes everything delicious right.

The spicy green salad is an awesome way to eat your greens especially if you think green salads are bland and boring. And isn’t it just gorgeous! Love how those purple carrots add that pop of colour to the greens. Use whatever seasonal greens are available in your area; you can even use the dressing for any sort of salad you like to have.

Spicy green salad - a very interesting spicy kick to make your greens interesting - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

Even with 3 components, this is a dish that comes together in no time at all which makes it perfect for weekday dinners. A light yet healthy and filling meal for the whole family. And if you make it, please tag me on the post #thespiceadventuress so that I could see it too. Enjoy peeps!

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

  1. 3 salmon fillets (with skin)
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Find the full recipe here.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan Fried Salmon (with Spicy Green Salad and Tomato Butter Sauce) - a healthy and delicious weekday dinner - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing

It’s been a pretty ‘meh’ week so far and I can’t wait for it to get over. My health took a beating and what followed were days of extreme fatigue and tiredness. And I think when women fall sick, we tend to suffer more emotionally than physically.

The week actually started off on a really good note. On Monday, I went on an impromptu lunch date with two of my girlfriends and we had a really good time. Those stolen couple of hours for ourselves were a blessing in our otherwise harried lives. But the euphoria didn’t last long because by the end of the day, I started feeling weak and terrible.

I hardly got any cooking done, surviving on takeaways and basics the whole week. I am quite behind on deadlines but I really couldn’t care less. A big lesson I have learnt is to listen to your body and slow down when it tells you to and I am doing just that. And since I hadn’t tried out anything new, I decided to share with you guys a gorgeous salad that I did a while ago for a client – a Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

If you like delicate flavours, then you will love this crab salad. It’s light and summery with a hint of heat from the chillies and aromatics. And that fresh herb dressing only adds to the sweetness of the crab meat.

Purchasing crab meat can be an expensive affair and I would recommend getting those huge mud crabs and taking the meat out yourself. A bit time consuming but way more affordable. And if you have kids, get them onto it…will keep them silent for a while though you might end up with shells all around.

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Excellent as a refreshing salad on its own, but it can become the most gorgeous looking party canapé just as easily. I used fried Indian pappads to become a crunchy vehicle for this beautiful salad. You can find all sorts of small sized pappads in Indian stores (sometimes in major supermarkets too). I used the masala pappads for that extra dash of flavour but you can use plain/pepper or cumin studded ones. Generally as an accompaniment, I tend to roast the pappads but for a canapé, I prefer fried as it stays crisp for longer.

You could also opt for crackers or mild flavoured potato crisps….anything crispy that doesn’t overtake the sweet freshness of the salad. A glass of sparkling and this pretty canapé is bound to get conversation flowing….

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Crab Salad with Asian Herb Dressing - a light, refreshing and gorgeous salad - thespiceadventuress.com

And as always, I love to hear from you when you have tried any of my recipes. Feel free to drop a comment, mail or share on social media (remember #thespiceadventuress so that I will not miss it). Have a great weekend folks!

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms white crab meat
  2. 1 small Lebanese cucumber; chopped finely

Read the full recipe here…..

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

Grilled Steak (with curry flavoured smoked sea salt) with Chimichurri Salsa and Fennel Salad (dressed with strawberry port wine vinaigrette)

Quite a mouthful title, isn’t it?

It had to be because today’s post is my dedication to the farmers and food and wine producers of the panoramic Yarra Valley.

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Travel, for me, is not about just visiting a destination. It is about the whole experience of discovering what that place has to be offer, albeit at a small level. It is about bringing back not just memories but also intimate knowledge about the culture, food and life of that region. So when I got this amazing opportunity to visit Yarra Valley as part of the regional food group tour, I bought back some incredible food products and wine using which I created today’s recipe.

From the Gateway Estate, I bought home this bottle of strawberry port wine which I used to make the salad dressing. I really wanted to bring back some dry aged steak but unfortunately travelling by public transport didn’t allow me that luxury.

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While walking around the regional farmer’s market at Yering Station, I came across the Smoke and Roast stall. Getting to hear about my fascination with spices and the like, the owner offered me a sample of their signature curry flavoured smoked sea salt which I have used in today’s recipe as the spice rub for my steak. I also bought a pack of their original smoked sea salt and this gorgeous looking salt container.

While I have used plenty of smoked sea salts before, I have never come across a curry flavoured one. Bang on flavour; totally recommend this one for your spice pantry.

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I also picked up a bottle of Yering Station ‘Old Beenak Road’ Shiraz 2013. A single vineyard wine, I could not have asked for a better pairing to my steak. It was rich yet velvety and smooth with the hint of ripe blackberry fruit and peppercorn spices. The wine tasting session did improve my knowledge and helped me pick a really good bottle.

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Our final stop in the journey was at the Locavore Studio from where I didn’t bring back a product but rather recipes and cooking skills. I learnt to cook the perfect steak and also picked up a great chimichurri salsa recipe, both of which are put to use today.

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Usually I photograph the food for the blog beforehand for optimal light conditions. But today, I am inviting you to our dinner table – no unwanted props or stylized food; this is how we eat whenever I make something special at home.

So come along on this delicious journey……

Ingredients:

For the fennel salad:

1. 2 cups mixed salad leaves
2. 1 fennel (white bulb); sliced lengthwise finely
3. 1 small red bell pepper; sliced lengthwise finely
4. 1 small red onion; sliced lengthwise finely
5. Fennel fronds; for garnish
6. For the vinaigrette:
• 4 tbsp strawberry port wine
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Salt, to season
• Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you do not have strawberry port wine, use vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic or any other port wine. Orange juice is also a great one to experiment with.

For the chimichurri salsa:

1. 1 cup fresh continental parsley leaves; finely chopped
2. 1 cup fresh coriander; finely chopped
3. 3-4 fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
4. 1 garlic clove; crushed and finely chopped
5. 2 tbsp strawberry port wine (red wine vinegar can also be used)
6. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
7. Salt, to season
8. Dried chilli flakes; a pinch (or more to suit your preferences)

For the steak:

1. 3 Scotch fillet steaks (the best quality you can buy)
2. Smoked curry flavoured sea salt rub
3. Olive oil
4. Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you cannot get the smoked sea salt rub, use any spice rub of your choice or just salt and pepper.

Method:

To prepare the salad:

• Cut all the vegetables and place in a bowl. Refrigerate till serving time.
• To prepare the dressing, mix all the ingredients given under vinaigrette. Vigorously shake well to form an emulsion and keep aside.
• Dress the salad just before serving (remember to shake the vinaigrette again) and garnish with fennel fronds.

To prepare the chimichurri:

Combine the chopped leaves, garlic, port wine, olive oil, salt and chilli flakes. Taste and adjust balance if necessary. Refrigerate till serving time.

To prepare the steak:

• Heat the grill to smoking hot; most people make the mistake of not heating the grill enough so make sure its smoking hot.
• Crush the smoked sea salt lightly (the salt crystals were chunky).
• Rub olive oil onto both sides of the steak well and then rub the smoked sea salt all over the steak.
• Place the steak pieces on the grill lengthwise; after a minute turn the steak breadthwise on the same side to get the nice criss cross marks. Half a minute later, flip the steaks over and repeat the same (almost one minute each). This is an approximate time for a medium done steak.
• Remove and rest for 1-2 minutes before serving.

Note:
• If you prefer medium well, then place in the oven at 180°C for 2-3 minutes.
• Timings are always an approximate as the cooking times will vary according to the cut and quality of meat that you are using. So go by the feel of the meat and cook to your preferences.

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Grilled Fennel, Walnut and Cherry Tomato Salad with Fresh Turmeric Aioli

Spring is finally here and I am so happy to see my toes again after a long, almost endless bleak winter.

The cherry blossoms lining my street, the fresh vibrant produce in the markets, the skirts,singlets and thongs are all making me very happy. And I wanted to try and create something light and vibrant to capture the essence of this beautiful season. But I also wanted it to be more than a regular salad. I wanted it to make a statement when it arrives on the table. A bit of fancy, but oh so simple!

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This is my first time cooking with fennel and I wonder why did I put off using such a beautiful vegetable till now. Fennel has such a delicious crisp and fresh texture; an amazing ingredient that can be used in so many ways in your cooking.

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Today, I am keeping it simple; just grilling the fennel to lend a nice charred flavour yet retaining its crunchy texture. The cherry tomatoes are also lightly blistered on the grill but not taking it too far as I wanted that pop of fresh sweetness in the mouth. Splashes of green from the Lebanese cucumbers and rocket, a nutty edge from the roasted walnuts, shavings of good quality Parmigiano Reggiano and finally finished off with a generous drizzle of fresh turmeric aioli.

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The fresh turmeric aioli was a last minute inspiration. I wanted more than a simple vinaigrette dressing; something creamy yet with refreshing flavours. And then I remembered a conversation that I had with a couple of my social media friends about the use of fresh turmeric. I usually use fresh turmeric grated into my morning smoothie and so when I had posted the same, many of my friends wanted to know how else to incorporate fresh turmeric into everyday cooking as it is a powerful immune booster.

And thus, this turmeric aioli happened. This one can be whipped up in no time and keeps well in the fridge for use in sandwiches or tacos. I kept the texture slightly on the runny side (not as thick as mayo) as I was using it for a salad.

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So here’s how you can re-create my grilled fennel, walnut and cherry tomato salad with fresh turmeric aioli. A gorgeous salad with fresh vibrant flavours….

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Ingredients:

1. 1 large fennel
2. 1 punnet cherry tomatoes; halved (keep a few whole for aesthetic purposes)
3. 1 Lebanese cucumber
4. ½ cup walnuts
5. Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) block
6. 1 cup rocket leaves
7. Macrobiotic sea salt, to season (use regular salt if this is not available)
8. Freshly milled black pepper
9. 2 tbsp olive oil
10. Fennel fronds, to garnish
11. Fresh turmeric aioli, to dress the salad

To make fresh turmeric aioli:

1. ½ inch fresh turmeric root
2. 1 egg yolk
3. 1 lemon
4. Salt, to season
5. Vegetable oil (at least 2-3 cups)

Method:

To prepare the aioli:

1. In a food processor, add the egg yolk and squeeze in juice from half a lemon. Season with salt.
2. Blitz the mixture and add oil slowly through the top to start the emulsification process.
3. As the mixture starts to emulsify and thicken, add a pinch of grated fresh turmeric. Blitz with more oil till desired consistency is achieved.
4. Taste and adjust; if less tangy add more lemon juice. If you feel that the turmeric flavour is not coming through, then add a pinch more and blitz for a few seconds. Taste and repeat if necessary.
5. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Note – Fresh turmeric has a very strong flavour which is why it must be added in extremely small quantities.

If you would like to see a video of making aioli; then I liked this one.

Aioli can be made without a food processor; just whip the hell out using your whisk or egg beater.

To prepare the salad:

1. Remove the fronds from the fennel and keep aside (used later to garnish the salad). Cut the fennel bulb into medium thick slices.
2. Heat the grill to smoking hot. Brush the fennel slices lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Grill on high heat for a couple of seconds on either side to get a nice char but still retain the crispness of the fennel.
3. On the same grill, grill the tomatoes for a few seconds. We just need a blister on the tomatoes and do not want it to go mushy.
4. Slice the cucumbers using a mandolin or peeler to get thin strips.
5. Roast the walnuts in a pan; take care not to burn.
6. To assemble; place a handful of rocket leaves on a plate and line two slices of grilled fennel on top. Add a couple of cherry tomatoes and walnuts. Roll 1-2 cucumber slices and place it on the plate. Add 2-3 shavings of Parmesan and garnish with fennel fronds; then dress lightly with a few spoonfuls of turmeric aioli. Finally sprinkle the macrobiotic sea salt and black pepper on top.
7. It is not necessary to plate the salad in this manner; use your own creativity and I am sure you will come up with even better results.

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And if you haven’t already read about all the excitement through my social media channels, I recently bought my first DSLR and this post is the first I shot with it. Notice any differences?

Behind the scenes with my new baby.....

Behind the scenes with my new baby…..

Cherry Tomato Salad

This is the perfect summer salad for me! Simple, delicious and pretty…

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I love cherry tomatoes; the burst of slightly tangy, slightly sweet freshness when you bite into these red beauties. The wonders of nature so delicately captured!

This cherry tomato salad is perfect with your summer barbecues, a much needed freshness to grilled meats or seafood. It makes the perfect antipasto too or sitting enticingly on your cheese platter. So if you are entertaining this festive season, then this one is a must-try.

Simple ingredients yet when bought together produce magic on a plate, but then the best food is always the simplest…..

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The only indulgence to this already perfect recipe was that I used Macrobiotic sea salt, a sample of which was given to me by ‘The Spice People’. This is a natural and extremely healthy sea salt that has been hand harvested from the Great Barrier Reef. But you could use any salt that you want to, even the humble table salt is good enough for this amazing cherry tomato salad.

Shallots, red wine vinegar, pepper, salt and chives….a delicious summery vinaigrette encompasses these perfect cherry red tomatoes adding a flavour dimension that explodes in your mouth, every single bite.

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This recipe is from Bon Appetit, a great online source for food enthusiasts.

Ingredients:

1. 500 gms cherry tomatoes; get the freshest you can find
2. 4 tbsp olive oil
3. 1-2 shallots, finely chopped
4. 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
5. 2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
6. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
7. Macrobiotic sea salt, to season

Method:

1. Leave half of the cherry tomatoes whole and cut the rest into halves.
2. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the shallots; sauté lightly till soft.
3. Then add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes; just get the tomatoes slightly soft but not really to turn it mushy.
4. Add 1 tbsp vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
5. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.
6. Add the remaining olive oil and garnish with the chopped chives.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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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.

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