Archive for the 'Side dishes' Category

Grilled Halloumi and roast baby beetroot salad

August 19, 2010

This is the first time I have ever properly grown my own veg. It was a wee bit of a trial actually to see what would grow (if anything) and if I could do it. Much to my surprise I have managed to grow things. It’s funny I never really expected anything to grow. Over the past few months I have been regularly harvesting my own rocket, baby cos lettuce, parsley, radishes and tons and tons of beautiful flat leaf parsley. Oh the joy of being able to step out side to “gather” the ingredients for a meal – sigh!

It is so exciting watching my beetroots grow steadily larger and on the flip side rather disappointing seeing my fennel struggling along – pesky rabbits are munching on it!

The beetroot is plentiful and I decided yesterday it was time for my first harvesting. Roasted baby beetroot – yummy yummy yummy. With a little bit of a whip round the kitchen and the parsley patch I had all the ingredients I needed for a lovely hearty salad.


8 baby beetroot
4 medium tomatoes (the sweeter and tastier the better)
large bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
1 block of Halloumi
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper


First things first, cut the stems from the beetroot leaving approx 1 cm. Scrub all the dirt from them and leave some of the tail (root).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Place in a ceramic oven proof dish whole, if some of the beetroots are a bit large you can cut them in half.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Add about 3 tablespoons of water and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake in oven for 35 – 45 mins or until tender (check with a sharp knife – knife should slide in with only a little bit of resistance).

You may need to add a little more water half way through the cooking as you do not want the juices to burn. A little bit of caramelisation is fine but not charred.

Remove from oven and leave to cool.

Wash and dry parsley, picking the leaves and leaving any tough stems.

Add to a large salad bowl or platter.

Roughly cut tomatoes into chunks and sprinkle over the parsley.

Heat a non stick frying pan and dry fry slices of the Halloumi until golden brown on both sides.

Scatter beetroot and Halloumi over the top of the tomato and parsley and dress with best quality extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Serve immediately. Good on it’s own with pita bread or as a side with chicken, lamb, kebabs etc.


Lebanese green beans in tomato sauce

August 19, 2010

Green beans are generally difficult to get excited about mainly because of the “squeak” factor. When green beans are not quite cooked enough they squeak when you bite into them. It really sends a shiver up my spine and gives me goose pimples. However, (you knew there was going to be a however didn’t you!!) this dish is so delicious and doesn’t have a squeaky bean in sight.

I have eaten this bean dish on many occasions since I was a little kid and always wondered how they can taste so good. The Greeks, Turkish and Lebanese all make a similar dish, I generally call it “collapsed beans” as they are cooked until they collapse. Several years ago I was discussing this dish with my Lebanese fruit and veg grocer who ran off to get his wife so that she could give me the recipe. What a legend. I have been making it ever since. They also gave me a pot of “Lebanese Pepper” which until recently I had no idea what was in it. I now have the recipe for that too…phew!

The beans are a great side to meat, grilled fish, chicken or just served as the main part of a meal with some spicy rice with toasted almonds, pine nuts and cashews.


500 grams of round green beans (french beans)
4 medium brown onions (I had a mixture of red and brown – doesn’t really matter)
1 1/2 tins of best quality tinned tomatoes
Olive oil
Lebanese Pepper (blend of ground Allspice, Black pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Fenugreek, Ginger)

Peel and slice onions by cutting in half and slicing thin half moons. Add to a large heavy based pan with a good glug of oil.

Fry onions on a medium heat until soft, sweet and translucent. Do not brown.

Add washed beans with tops/stalks removed (leave tails). Add to pot. Boil kettle.

Once beans have turned a brilliant green colour add enough boiling water to cover the beans.

Cook on medium heat until water has reduced by half. Add tinned tomatoes.

Continue to cook until tomatoes have broken down and beans are cooked through and collapsed.

Add teaspoon of Lebanese peppers and season to taste.

This dish reheats well and tastes even better the next day.

Grilled Halloumi and Courgette with tomato and mint salsa

August 18, 2010

Grilled Halloumi with Courgette tomato and mint salad

I kind of feel like it is a bit of a con writing this recipe as it is so very very easy. It is inspired by my friend Sophie who served me delicious grilled courgettes with a tomato and onion salsa at a BBQ a while ago and also by my lovely friend Rima who is the most amazing Lebanese cook ever!!! This is such a lovely summery meal you could serve it as a starter or as a light lunch with some lovely hot pita bread.

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 medium sized courgettes
1 block of Halloumi
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 sprig of fresh mint
1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil


To make the salsa – remove core and finely dice tomatoes. Finely dice red onion and add to a bowl with tomatoes. Add juice of lemon, cumin, paprika, finely chopped fresh mint and season to taste.

Cut courgettes length wise leaving on the tip and tail. Brush with olive oil and char grill until “striped” by the grill and cooked but still with bite (a little firm).

Take a dry non stick frying pan and heat on medium/high.

Slice Halloumi into 1/2 cm slices and fry until golden brown on each side.

Serve Halloumi and warm courgette topped with spoonfuls of the tomato and mint salad.

I am dribbling thinking about this…..

Apple fennel and bitter leaf salad (for something a bit different)

May 17, 2010

Apple fennel and bitter leaf salad

For many years I have had a bit of an issue with fruit being used in savory dishes. I had a very distressing experience in the hunter valley with a strawberry and scallop dish. Vomit!!

Recently I have started to branch out, throwing caution to the wind, and use the odd pear or apple in a salad. What a success!!

I actually feel a wee bit silly adding this to my recipe collection as this salad really is ridiculously simple and easy to make. However there are still a great proportion of the general public headed straight towards a trusty cucumber, lettuce and tomato combo for a salad. Boring!! (unless you are using AMAZING tomatoes of course).

I hope this inspires you to branch out a little and try fruit in your salads (but not strawberries and scallops – please!)

1 cox’s orange pippin
2 small chicory (witlof)
1 medium size bulb of fennel
1 small bag of wild rocket
1 small bag of baby Italian leaves (beetroot leaves, radicchio, red chard, watercress, lollo rosso, baby cos etc)
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley


1 table-spoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of runny honey
Extra Virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar

Finely slicing fennel

Remove outer leaves of fennel and cut of any shoots. Cut in half from top to bottom through the narrow side (leaving 2 wide halves). Very finely slice length wise.

Wash and dry leaves (if not already washed) – make sure you spin the leaves in a salad spinner this is VERY important. If the leaves are wet you will dilute the dressing and it will taste very average.

Add leaves and finely sliced fennel to a large bowl, peel the outer leaves from the chicory (witlof) and cut the bottom 1/3 off. Separate the leaves and add them to the bowl. Finely slice the bottom 1/3 of the chicory and add to bowl.

Separating chicory leaves and adding them to the bowl

Wash and dry small/medium bunch of parsley. Pick off the leaves discarding any discoloured ones or stems. Add to bowl.

Picking leaves from bunch of flat leaf parsley

Wash apple and cut in half removing core. Finely slice and add to bowl.

Finely sliced apple added to bowl

To make dressing I find using a clean jam jar makes life a lot easier.

Add 1 table-spoon of Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of runny honey about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar to the jar. Put the lid on and shake, it should quickly form a thick dressing. Taste it and it should taste a little bit too vinegary – this is good. If it is a wee bit mild add a bit more vinegar.

Add dressing bit by bit to salad whist lightly tossing through with your hands. The leaves should be coated but not drenched.

Apple fennel and bitter leaf salad

Serve immediately! This can be eaten as a starter or along side fish, chicken, pasta, risotto etc. You can also make it more substantial and have it for lunch on its own by adding some cheese (goats cheese, brie, Gorgonzola etc) and some toasted nuts (hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews etc).