superhealthy super-tasty mixed bean and pickle salad

This dish is the kind of salad you could serve to someone who hates salad, and be pretty sure they’ll still like it.  Unlike the standard leafy vegetables with cucumber, tomato, blah that salads can be, this is more filling, has a texture like “real” food, and is much more flavourful.  Its like a far more delicious cold version of refried beans, with a few of the same crunchy ingredients as guacamole (minus the avocado). You can serve it as a side dish, or alongside more standard salad options such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber and flaked tuna as we did here – because these finicky perishable ingredients are served separately it means your lovely bean salad can be stored for up to a week in the fridge – if it lasts that long!  It contains numerous super foods (beans being the top of the list), and is so healthy you could literally fill up on it at a relatively low caloric intake.  It is also so good that my other half forgot all about the tuna – one of his favourite foods, and polished off three servings of this salad instead 🙂

What makes this recipe so delicious is the flavour combination.  Slow cooked beans, crunchy red onion, diced cherry tomatoes and red peppers, chopped gherkins, capers, herbs and a special lemon and garlic dressing.  What makes the dressing unique is the amount of acidity in it – a regular dressing contains twice the amount of olive oil as vinegar or lemon juice, this dressing has the opposite – an increase in tasty sourness being necessary to balance the unflavoured beans and to prevent indigestion from the beans and onions.  Incidentally, when eating this (or any other dish containing pulses or onion) I recommend drinking orange or apple juice, or lemonade or soda with it as opposed to water, because any dilution of your stomach acids can leave you feeling rather bloated (sour drinks help reduce that).  If you really don’t like those options, its best not to drink anything for an hour or so after eating.

superhealthy-mixed-bean-pickle-salad

Ingredients – serves 4 (recipe can be halved)

  • 3 cups mixed, cooked beans (or the contents of 3 cans of beans of choice such as kidney beans, butter beans, chickpeas, mixed beans etc drained)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 punnet (about 150g) baby plum or cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 red pepper or pimento, diced
  • handful of baby gherkin pickles, diced
  • 2 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 4 sundried tomatoes or preserved slowbaked tomatoes (from a jar), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp arabian dried thyme and sesame (or regular dried thyme)
  • 4 or 5 pieces of preserved artichoke (in oil- from a jar), diced
  • 4 tsp olive oil, or the oil from one of your jars such as sundried tomatoes
  • 6 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste (varies if using canned or home cooked beans)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  1. combine all of the beans and chopped pickles/ vegetables in a large salad bowl.
  2. in a cup or small bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients to make a dressing.  Mix well.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to ensure everything is coated.  Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary – The salad should be crunchy, flavourful and with a tart hit from the lemon and vinegar – if the bean/ tomato/ herb flavours seem too bland it is probably lacking salt.  Carefully add more a pinch at a time, stirring well and tasting between additions.
  4. Serve immediately if desired, or store in the fridge for the flavours to develop.  Can be made in advance and kept for up to a week.  This makes a lot 🙂  Enjoy!

chilled avocado & cucumber soup

Now I know what you’re thinking, believe me, when I first saw this recipe I was thinking the same… “a cold soup? why on earth would anyone want to willingly eat a COLD soup? eeewwwwwwwww” (insert other expressions of distaste here)… I’d seen many recipes in the past, and no matter how great people told me they were, I wasn’t interested.  Until this week, when I finally managed to overcome my prejudices and make this – one of the most incredible, velvety smooth, cooling, filling dishes I’ve ever had.  Ahem… I’ll take a side of my words with that soup, to go. Think of it like a smooth pureed more subtle version of guacamole (which I love – if made correctly and not from those awful jars of bright green sludge from the supermarket it is delicious), or like a velvety thick green smoothie you eat with a spoon.  The crunchy little salad on the top gives it that extra “pop” – the punchy flavours a perfect complement to the soft creaminess of the soup. This is a great dish for summer, when the sun is baking and you really don’t want to eat anything hot.  And while there is more peeling and chopping than some of my recipes, there is NO COOKING WHATSOEVER, making this one of the fastest things to make on this whole blog 🙂 Adapted from a recipe by Gordon Ramsay in his Fast Food book.   avocado-cucumber-soup my first time putting a big photo in – dyu like it? 🙂 Ingredients – serves 2

  • 1 ripe avocado, stoned and peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, 1/4 finely diced for garnish, the rest peeled and roughly chopped
  • a large handful of baby plum tomatoes, or one large one, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp yoghurt of choice (if using soy please make sure it has no flavour or strong aftertaste)
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. place the avocado, yoghurt, cucumber (except garnish), garlic powder, olive oil and 2 tbsp of the lemon juice in a jug blender, or a deep cup/ bowl if using a stick blender.  Blend until a smooth, velvety puree has been obtained and all the lumps are long gone.  Season with salt and pepper to taste – at this point it might taste a little bland but that all changes with the salad on top 🙂
  2. prepare the salad to top: mix together the tomatoes, remaining cucumber, red onion and the rest of the lemon juice, making sure the lemon coats everything well.  Add a little salt, this helps reduce the heat of the onion and brings the flavour of the tomatoes out.
  3. Plate the soup as shown, garnishing with the salad on top.  Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant (Aubergine) Salad

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The best way to get the best flavour out of an eggplant is to roast it!

  • 2 medium or 3 small eggplants (aubergines)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 24 cherry tomatoes, chopped into fourths
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/8 cup vinegar (preferably balsamic)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnishes: walnuts, feta cheese, dried mint or oregano

Pre-preparation:

1. If you plan to be around other human beings in the near future, marinate the chopped onion in a mixture of salt, vinegar, and water for a couple hours. This will calm down the onion flavour and also infuse it with a gentle flavour, rendering it Socially Acceptable. If not, don’t worry about it!

2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the eggplant whole and unpeeled in the oven and roast uncovered it for an hour, or until the peel is burnt and wrinkly, and the inside is tender. You may want to turn it occasionally. (Note: It should look burnt but not smell burnt; if it smells burnt, it’s overcooked!)

3. After the eggplant cools slightly, peel it and discard the peel. Then, chop the eggplant into bite-size pieces. Place it in a colander and allow it to drain for an hour .

Preparation:

1. Toss ingredients in an aesthetically pleasing bowl. Adjust the seasoning as desired.

2. Top with garnishes, if desired.

Don’t worry too much about the proportions – salad is forgiving!

Wholesome living tip: Eggplants, tomatoes, and bell peppers are all nightshade vegetables, which means that some people may experience pain or inflammation with excess consumption. If you feel this might be you, or if you suffer from chronic pain, don’t eat these vegetables every day!

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Simple poached salmon salad with lemon creme fraiche dressing

This salad is a healthy, delicious and superfast light meal which I whip up whenever we’re feeling like we need to detox. The cool, refreshing mix of crisp leaves, creamy lemony dressing and the warm salmon flakes make this a great recipe for the summer months, perfect with a glass of homemade lemonade 🙂

Because this dish is so simple, it relies on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Don’t be tempted to use tinned salmon, or any fresh or frozen variety which has a large layer of that bitter, metallic tasting brown meat anywhere in it – cut that off or remove it after poaching if you need to.

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Ingredients – serves 2
2 good quality large salmon fillets, fresh or frozen
1 lemon
2 small avocados
1 apple (we used pink lady, use your favourite type)
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
4 tbsp creme fraiche
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Poach or steam the salmon. You can do this in the microwave if you know how (make sure you don’t do it too long or you’ll end up with a salmon biscuit), or place in a steamer above a boiling pan of water for 4-5 minutes (depending on how thick your fish is). If poaching, bring half a pan of salted water (add onion /herbs if you wish) to a gentle boil, slip in the fish, boil for about a minute then cover and remove from the heat, leaving it for 10 minutes without uncovering. Whichever method you choose, at the end break the fish apart in the centre (or thickest point) to make sure it’s done.
2. Remove fish to a cool plate and let sit until you are able to handle it. In the mean time, prepare the other ingredients.
3. Split and de-stone the avocado. Arrange on plates as shown with the spinach. Cut the apple and half the lemon into wedges and add them.
4. Flake the salmon gently with your fingers and arrange it in the centre of the dishes.
5. Mix the creme fraiche, the juice and zest of the remaining half lemon and a little salt & pepper to taste (remember the fish is bland so it needs a little more than you think). Pour over the fish.
6. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Green salad with yoghurt dressing

This is a great salad for a hot day. Similar to jajiki (aka tzaziki) but without garlic, wth no fat and a few different ingredients. This dish is served a bit more salty than you might normally have, this is necessary to bring the subtle flavours of the fresh ingredients out (but don’t overdo it)… The result is very refreshing and hydrating, great for this summer weather.

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Ingredients – serves 2 as lunch, 4 as a side

1 cucumber, diced
1 spring onion, finely chopped
3 sticks of celery, diced
1 small avocado, peeled, de-stoned and diced
2/3 pot of zero fat organic natural yoghurt (about 350ml)
2 tsp good quality cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme, or one teaspoon of dried

Combine all the chopped ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the yoghurt and vinegar, then toss to combine. Season with sea salt, then serve with your choice of flat bread or on its own.