Hot chorizo salad with butternut squash & baby tomatoes

This is from a magazine I picked up at the airport and a recipe by MasterChef 2005 winner Thomasina Miers. It is also a bit fussier than I would normally put up with – it was the squash-cumin combination that got my attention. I am told that the effort was worth it, hence blogging it here for reference and others’ enjoyment.

Preparation time: 15 minutes (that’s optimistic, it’s more like 30 minutes what with peeling the squash).
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash de-seeded and cut into 5cm pieces
1 dried chilli, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
handful of oregano or marjoram
olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
punnet of baby tomatoes
small bunch coriander, chopped
4 large chorizo cooking sausages, bias cut into long rounds
150g cooked borlotti or pinto beans (I didn’t have any of these so left out, hardly noticed!)
baby spinach
100g Pecorino cheese

Step 1: Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put squash, chilli, cumin and oregano in a roasting dish, coat lightly with oil, season. Roast for 15 mins and add onion. Roast for 10 mins then add tomatoes. Roast for a final 10 mins.

Step 2: Pound the coriander leaves to a paste with a pestle and mortar, then add a pinch of salt. Cover with olive oil.

Step 3: Over a medium heat, fry chorizo 2 to 3 mins. Drain.

Step 4: Mix the veg and beans with coriander oil, spinach and chorizo. Add shaved Pecorino and oil.

The result is very tasty indeed.

Spicy dhal soup

After a rather nice dinner in an Indian restaurant, I decided to have a go at cooking some Indian dishes myself. I came across this red lentil soup, which turned out to be fragrant, tasty and filling. Serve with some warm grilled naan bread spread with a little garlic butter and cut into chunky fingers. If not bothered about keeping it vegetarian, serve with a decent amount of dry-fried bacon, it works wonderfully and turns it into a hearty dish.

Serves 4, takes 30 minutes to prepare. I made a double batch, which is enough for 8, for sure.

Ingredients:

225g dried red lentils
3 tbsp sunflower oil (used light & mild olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, grated
1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and chopped, plus extra to garnish, if you like
1 medium-hot green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
300ml hot vegetable stock (I used my own chicken stock, foregoing the vegetarian option)
200g can chopped tomatoes
Good pinch of cayenne pepper
100ml coconut cream
100g baby leaf spinach, to serve (I didn’t have any so I used lots of fresh parsley)
20g bunch fresh coriander, to serve
6 tbsp natural yogurt, to serve (optional)

  1. Put the lentils into a medium saucepan and cover with 900ml of cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off the scum as it rises to the surface, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until tender and just falling apart. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in another pan, add the onion and fry gently for 15 minutes, until browned. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the spices and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, the lentils and their liquid, canned tomatoes, cayenne pepper and season with salt to taste. Cover and simmer for just 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, then add the coconut cream. Blend, using a hand blender or in batches in a liquidiser, until the soup is almost smooth.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the spinach and most of the coriander leaves and cook for a further minute. Using a hand blender, blend briefly until the spinach is just roughly chopped.
  5. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each with a spoonful of yogurt, the remaining coriander leaves and some finely chopped red chilli, if you like.

Note:
Nutritional Information per serving
369kcals
16.1g fat (1.6g saturated)
18.3g protein
41.6g carbs
7.6g sugar
1.6g

Spiced okra

This is an absolutely amazing way of preparing okra, a dish that I can never make too often. I found it at random, when searching for a quick and tasty way of preparing okra.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb Okra
1 tablespoon Ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Vegetable oil (I use a lot less, for a non-stick pan)

Directions:

Mix cumin, turmeric, chili powder, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add mustard and mix into a wet paste.

Cut stems off okra then split them three quarters of the way down. Split them again, dividing pods into 4 equal parts that are held together at the narrow end tip. Pour a little of the paste in to the openings, spread it lightly all over but the narrow tip. Sprinkle with salt (I never do this bit, don’t think more salt is needed.)

Heat oil in a skillet and fry okra, covered, till tender, about 10 minutes, turning them once.

I serve this with my usual turmeric basmati rice. As for meat, grilled chicken breasts always work, though have had it with roast beef and pork cutlets too.