Chicken Pesto Salad

Normally you can attribute the success of a dish to a particular ingredient. This however lets every ingredient share the stage. You can leave out one or more of the ingredients but each one adds its own voice to the choir.

Using my last salad post as a base, (Check it out HERE) make it a full lunch or dinner with these other amazing flavours. Grilled Chicken gives this the protein to fill you up. Pesto adds a whole new dimension to the original flavour of the salad. Then, my favourite bit, toasted cumin seeds and pine nuts. That flavour from the fennel seeds really boosts the overall outcome of this pretty healthy, quick lunch or dinner.

What do you need

1x chicken breast

1tsp cumin seeds

25g pine nuts

1 tbsp pesto

1x lemon

Handful of spinach or rocket (or both)

1x pre cooked beetroot

5 sun dried tomatoes halved

40g feta cheese

What you need to do

Bash your chicken breast between some cling film to make it nice and even, around 1 cm thick would be good. Season it with a little salt and pepper and then drizzle it with a little olive oil. Add the breast to a hot pan and cook for around 4 minutes on each side (this can obviously vary, just make sure your chicken is white all the way through and there are no pink bits left inside).Once it is cooked through remove it to a plate and leave it to rest.

While the chicken cooks away heat another small pan and add the cumin seeds and pine nuts. Toast them for around a minute. You are not trying to cook them and you don't want to burn them so keep an eye out. All this does is release the aromatic oils and smells out of them both to make them taste amazing.

In a small bowl mix the pesto and lemon juice together.

Now to plate up just toss the spinach and rocket onto a plate and scatter over the beetroot, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts and cumin seeds. Crumble the feta cheese over everything. Slice your chicken breast into strips and lay on top and drizzle over the lemon pesto.

Sun Dried Tomato, Beetroot and Feta Salad

Bored of lettuce, tomato and cucumber salads? Me too. Try this.

Beetroot, its the vegetable equivalent to Marmite. And like Marmite, I absolutely love it. Couple that with one of the best flavours in the world, sun dried tomatoes, and you have an amazing salad. Spinach and rocket make the bed, on top of that bed lay the super sexy sundried tomatoes and beautiful beetroot. Adorning the top is a scattering of fabulous feta which is by far my favourite cheese at the moment. Drizzle a little olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper and you have a salad that will knock the socks off your usual, dull, lifeless bowl of iceberg, tomato and cucumber.

Beef Meatball Goulash With Rice

Originating from medieval Hungary, Goulash is a deep, rich, belter of a dish. Back in the 9th century goulash was eaten by Hungarian shepherds. They would take cooked, seasoned meat and dry it in the sun to preserve it. Then they would store it in bags made from sheep stomachs. When they wanted to eat it all they would have to do was add water to the bag and they had a meal.

In terms of ingredients I can’t say how close this was to the traditional dish. For sure it would have used paprika (Hungarian paprika is renowned to be some of the best in the world). Not only does it give lots of flavour, it adds that deep red colour that makes it so appealing.

The use of fresh herbs really kick this one up a notch. Those rich flavours are contrasted with the freshness of the parsley. 

Red Onion, chop it into thin half moons

Green pepper, slice it as thin as you can

Garlic, grate it

Parsley, roughly chop it

Cook the onion and pepper till soft in a pan with some oil. Season with salt and pepper. Once soft add half of the garlic, dried thyme and ground coriander. Also add all of the paprika.

Cook this mix for a couple more minutes and add the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil and then add the stock pot and water. Mix it all up, lower the heat to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.

While that is simmering, put the basmati rice in a pot and add 500ml water. Bring to the boil and then pop a lid on the pan, lower the heat to medium and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes remove the pan from the heat and leave the lid on till you are ready to serve.

While the rice is cooking, put the mince into a bowl with some salt and pepper, then add the remaining garlic, dried thyme and coriander. Mix in the panko breadcrumbs. Make into enough balls for 3 each. (Don’t compact them too much, just enough to keep them together. Half submerge the meatballs into the sauce. Pop a lid on the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through. 

Once the meatballs have cooked add the spinach to the pan and put the lid back on for a couple of minutes until it has wilted. Season if you need to and then remove from the heat and stir in two thirds of the sour cream.

Fluff up the rice and serve as a bed for your sauce and meatballs sprinkle over your parsleyand a dollop of sour cream.

Lamb and Chickpea Curry

In previous posts when I said you only need a few ingredients to make a great meal you know, keep it simple.. scrap that, because this little beauty took my opinion, chewed it up and spat it back in my face.

I will go as far to say this is in my top three meals I’ve cooked since starting this journey. I had to check the recipe card and make sure it wasn’t called “Miracle Lamb and chickpea curry” as it kept my wife silent the whole time she was eating it (I’ve made a big batch to have for breakfast lunch and dinner for the next week). There’s a supermarkets worth of ingredients in it and there is a fair bit of prep to do, believe me when I say it’s worth it. You can taste every ingredient and every one you wouldn’t be without.

For the perfect rice cook it in double the amount of ml in water to the amount of rice in grams. So in this case 175g of rice to 350ml of water. Add the star anise to the water to infuse the rice with that fantastic aromatic flavour. Get it to boiling then turn it down to a simmer. Pop a lid on and cook for 10 minutes, then take it off the heat and leave it with the lid on for another 10 minutes. When your ready for it just use a fork to fluff it up a bit. Season it now to your liking.

So once your lamb mince has browned in the pan add your mustard seeds, onion and pepper and cook for five minutes to soften. Then add the Sri Lanken curry powder, ginger and garlic. Cook for another minute until your kitchen smells amazing then add the passata, cook for a minute and add the water and stock. Let this marvellous medley of flavours simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. When it has thickened add the chickpeas and baby spinach until the former are hot and the latter is wilted. Take off the heat and stir through the coriander. Serve with your rice and let the miracle begin.

Spiced Pork with Creamy Lentils and Nigella Chapatis

Amazing lentil, mixed with an abundance of great flavours Including a heart warming Malay spice mix. I’ll get to the chapatis later.

This dish is a bowl of two halves. On one half are creamy lentils cooked with carrots and onion, spinach, garlic and Malay spice which is a mix of cinnamon, cayenne, coriander, cloves, galangal (comes from the ginger family), cumin and cardamom. You know just from those ingredients that you are going to get a very aromatic flavour. Creme fresh is stirred in at the end to give that creaminess. On top is a pork steak rubbed with salt and pepper and some of the Malay spice. Cooked perfectly under the grill (or perfectly on one side and somewhere north of over done on the other).

On the other side we have nigella chapatis. These are basically tortillas cooked in a dry pan then drizzled with olive oil and nigella seeds. Now unfortunately what this means is, the nice crispy tortillas you just cooked go soggy in the oil. I would have thought it would be better to brush on the oil and seeds and then cook them in the oven till crisp. Anyway I would highly recommend this, just leave out the chapatis the dish doesn’t need them.

This dish is from our Hellofresh box www.hellofresh.co.uk

Malay Chicken and Red Lentil Curry


Spice.. in my mind a good (spicy) curry is one that is hot enough for you to question wether it was a good idea to start eating it but stops just short of actually melting your taste buds and stopping you actually tasting any of the dish. Heat is a part of the flavour, not a test of my mascualinity. Now you’re expecting me to say that this dish blew my socks off, well it is the opposite. The malay spice had a great flavour it just lacked that extra punch. Its true it was mild enough to taste the courgette and ginger, the garlic even the onion. It had warmth but to be honest I would rather have had none. It left me wanting more. 

I’m sure a lot of people know how to cook rice. I thought I did. Put the rice in a pan, fill said pan with water boil till rice is soft. Drain the water, BAM rice done. Wrong. It always stuck together and was more like rice pudding. Here we had 175g of basmati rice. We brought to the boil 350ml of water with a pinch of salt. When the water was boiling we added the rice, put a lid on and reduced the heat to medium. After letting it simmer for 10 minutes, remove it from the heat and leave it to steam for a further 10 minutes with the lid on. When its done just flake it up with a fork and you are left with a bowl of rice that is perfectly cooked and each individual grain is separate from the last.