Super Greens Pasta

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I’m enjoying a few days off work at the moment.  We are currently holidaying at home, well sort of.  There have a been a couple of day trips, the house is looking the cleanest we’ve achieved in months, I’ve successfully had my hair cut for the first time in too long to share here and our old car has struggled through its MOT.  Not exactly like holidaying in Tuscany but we are enjoying ourselves.  It feels good to have time to do simple things.  I’ve also been having a chard moment so brace yourselves for a few recipes featuring chard in the coming weeks.  In the absence of my beloved kale, chard is in season at the moment and it’s so pretty.  I love the multicoloured stems.  I treat it much like kale in that it only needs a couple of minutes to wilt and it’s done. 

I was inspired to make this pasta dish after spying a recipe for pasta with greens, garlic and chilli in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book River Cottage Veg Everyday!  This is a great way to get your quota of healthy greens while enjoying a plateful of comforting carbs.  It also comes together quickly which is much appreciated in this house after work.  I decided to add lemon zest here as I love my greens spiked with a little lemon, it makes the flavours zing.  You can use any greens here, just go for what’s in season for the best flavour.

Adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Serves 2
Large handful of chard roughly chopped. Remove the stems, chop them up and set aside.
Purple sprouting broccoli roughly chopped.
½ onion or 1 shallots finely sliced.
Pinch of dried chilli flakes.
1 garlic clove finely sliced.
Grated zest ½ lemon.
150g gluten free pasta
To serve: extra virgin olive oil, toasted flaked almonds and hard goat cheese or parmesan.

Set a large pan of water to boil and cook your pasta according to the pack instructions.  Warm a skillet with a little olive oil.  Add the onion and chard stems if using and cook for a few minutes until soft.  Next add the chilli flakes and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Just before the pasta is cooked add the broccoli to the pasta water and the chard to the skillet.  Cook for a couple of minutes until the chard is wilted and the broccoli is blanched.  Drain the pasta and broccoli, rinse and return to the pan.  Add in the chard mixture and toss together.  Add the lemon zest and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.  Grate in the cheese and mix in.  You might want to add a little pasta water or hot water from the kettle to loosen the final mixture.  Season and serve the pasta with extra cheese grated on top and toasted flaked almonds.

Asparagus Toastie!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

It’s that time of year where we are all going mad for asparagus or rhubarb.  Both have short seasons and therefore seem to hold an elevated place in foodie world.  Having decided that I wanted a toastie for my lunch I then started to ponder the filling.  Feeling experimental I decided an asparagus toastie was the way to go and it did not disappoint.  Of course when you are putting something between toasted bread and smothering it with melted cheese you can be pretty sure it’s going to taste good.  I lightly roasted the asparagus in extra virgin olive oil which gave it a nice crusty outer edge while still retaining a slight bite to the centre.  I think if you wanted to take this sandwich up a level then a fried egg inside would also be amazing.

Makes one toastie.
6 asparagus spears washed and the woody ends chopped off.  They should be about the length of your bread.
Extra virgin olive oil
Hard goat cheese or other strong flavoured cheese.
2 slices of gluten free bread.
Preheat the oven Gas Mark 7, 220°C, 425°F
Place the asparagus on a roasting tray, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season and roast for about ten minutes until just cooked but still retaining a little bite.
Assemble your toastie by your preferred method.  I cook my toastie using the grill.  Layer the base slice of bread with cheese and cook under the grill until slightly melted.  Top with the roasted asparagus and the top slice of bread.  Return the toastie to the grill cooking first one side and then flip it over and do the other.  

Roasted Chickpea Rice Bowl

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

So, chickpeas... I have to say they’ve never been my favourite thing to eat.  I’m a big fan of them hidden in something else like hummus or falafel but on their own, not so much.  However, as with most things, roasting them proves a remarkable transformation.  In the oven they become slightly firmer on the outside giving them a nice crunch.  Roasting them in spices gives them a wonderful deep flavour and sort of disguises their chickpeaness which for me is a good thing.  Chickpeas are also high in protein.  As someone who eats a mostly vegetarian diet that’s a real bonus.  I threw together this rice bowl for lunch at the weekend.  I’ve also used roasted chickpeas in salads and as a topping for sweet potato inspired by this recipe on The First Mess.

I roasted the chickpeas in turmeric but I’ve also used a mix of turmeric and dried rosemary.  Cumin or paprika would also be great.
Serves 2
1-2 carrots sliced with a mandolin in to ribbons
Handful of chard chopped and tough stems removed
½ can chickpeas rinsed and dried with paper towel
½ teaspoon turmeric (or whatever spices you like)
Handful of flaked almonds, toasted
Cooked brown rice or whatever grain you would like.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Toss the chickpeas in the spices and a little olive oil.  Spread out on a baking tray lined with parchment and roast for about 15 minutes until crispy and golden.
On a separate baking tray toss the carrots in olive oil and roast for about 10-15 minutes until they are just cooked but still retain a little bite.  Add the chard to the carrots for approximately 2 minutes before they are ready to wilt in the oven.  Toss everything together with the cooked brown rice.  Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and season to taste.  Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.

Where Has All The Time Gone?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

I’ve been neglecting this blog lately and I don’t like that one bit but time has been flying by, life has been busy, some good, some not so good, some just so.  I have been cooking and taking photos but never finding the time to get things up here so I’m hoping to rectify that over the weekend!  Until I get my act together here are some instagrams and general photos of some of what we’ve been up to lately...

I love that the evenings are lighter and I can take the occasional shot of dinner.  Roasted cauliflower and chicken salad.  Yum!

Many weeks ago we went on a jaunt to Brighton.  I got a little carried away photographing the amazing street art on some of the buildings. 
Also I loved how a bike was just casually leaning against this wall.
Flat white for him, peppermint tea for me.
A family emergency called me away to the Isle of Wight on a very rainy and blustery day.  View from the ferry.
Spring has well and truly sprung (although today it seems to be taking a break) and I have been enjoying weekend walks in the early morning sunshine.
Beautiful blossom everywhere.
And I couldn’t resist these cuties on a river walk.  The geese were hissing at me though so I couldn’t get too close.
Last weekend we did a spot of browsing at our favourite second hand record shop.
Remember that roasted grape pizza I made?  Well I also made a roasted grape and goat cheese toastie.  It was heaven!
Speaking of roasting things... chickpeas are my latest obsession.  More on this soon...
Loving all the green veg I’m finding at the market.  Chard and purple sprouting broccoli are really good right now.
Happy weekend xx

Gluten Free Almond Cookies

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Cookies and sunshine, what more could a person ask for.  These are quite possibly the cookies of my dreams, if I actually ever dreamt about cookies that is.  In reality I’d probably end up dreaming about cookies that were chasing me or stopping me getting somewhere.  That’s the real stuff of dreams. 

When I pulled them from the oven for about the fourth time I said to my husband that I didn’t think they’d worked.  They were so soft on top when I prodded them. (I’m not sure prodding is a proper cooking technique but that’s what I did).  Half an hour cooling later they had transformed themselves in to a chewy, soft centred cookie with just the right amount of crunch and crumble that yields to the first bite.  This is great recipe from Cookie and Kate.  I love the mix of ground almonds and coconut flour.  They are also egg free so can easily be made vegan.  I’m trying to experiment more with coconut flour.  A little goes a long way and there have been a few failures to date but I’m happy to say this one was a resounding success.
The recipe was in cups which for me is always a little tricky to adapt to weight.  I can only tell you what I did and that it worked for me.  Instead of using just chocolate I threw in some cacao nibs for a little healthy substitute and some dried cranberries for added chewiness.  The balance was perfect but if you prefer full on chocolate cookies then go with that all the way.  I think I’ll be making more this weekend.  I miss them already.
Recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate *the original recipe makes 24 small cookies but I only got 16 out of my dough which also meant they took a little longer to cook.
75g / 3oz (¾ cup) ground almonds
25g / 1oz (1/4 cup) coconut flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
100ml (1/2 cup) butter or coconut oil (I ended up doing 75ml butter and 25ml coconut oil because I didn’t have enough of either)
100ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g / 2oz dark chocolate broken up in to small chunks (I used 70% cocoa solids)
50g / 2oz cacao nibs
50g / 20z dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment. 
In a bowl mix together the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon.  Pour in the melted butter or coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract.  Combine well with the flour mixture and then add the chocolate, cacao nibs and dried cranberries.  Place the bowl of dough in the fridge to chill for ten minutes.  (This allows the coconut flour to absorb some of the moisture).  Scoop a tablespoon of dough for each cookie onto the baking sheet allowing space between each cookie.
Bake for 11 to 15 minutes until golden brown.  Mine needed about 20 minutes in the end.