Easiest gazpacho

This one can be made in volume, and never disappoints.  And did I mention how healthy it is?

fullsizeoutput_ed51Mix together in a good blender the following until pureed:

  • around 600g large tomatoes
  • 2 large teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 red or orange pepper (paprika)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large clove garlic or two if you want it garlicky
  • juice of 1 lime
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • around 400 ml water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Optional: you can add a small bunch of fresh mint to the blender and Worcestershire sauce to taste when serving.

A great variation for ginger lovers:  reduce garlic and add two inches of fresh ginger, to taste.

Asparagus and lentil salad with Grana Padano

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Create a salad bed of hand cut lettuce, shredded beetroot, thinly sliced tomatoes and any other green salad you might have in your refrigerator. Cover with cooked bacon pieces (to taste) and a small tin of lentils – if you don’t want to cook lentils from scratch. Season with good quality bought or home made Ceaser salad dressing.

In the meantime wash and chop in 2 or 3 cm long pieces a bunch of green asparagus and stir fry for about 6 minutes with soya pieces and some sea salt to taste. When ready,  arrange on  the salad whilst still very warm. Sprinkle heavily with grated Grana Padano and ground pepper.

 

Tastiest and easiest asparagus soup ever

I love this one as it is so easy to make with only a couple of steps, and the visual result is a deep tasty green.

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First fry one chopped onion and 2 cloves garlic in one big tablespoon of butter.  One transparent add the following and cook for 5 mins:

  • 3 small potatoes, roughly chopped in 2 cm cubes
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • good pinch of sea salt, to taste
  • one tablespoon of dried Italian herbs

Afterwards add the following and cook for 10 mins:

  • around 350g of green asparagus, chopped in 3 cms pieces
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 100 ml milk
  • 2 tbls (wholemeal) flour

Then add the following and cook for a couple of mins, making sure the potatoes and asparagus are done:

  • big bunch of spinach
  • lots of fresh ground pepper

Blend with a hand-blender.  Serve with some wholemeal bread.

Carb-less broccoli quiche

Broccoli quiche

Stir-fry the following for 5 mins in 2 tbls sunflower oil; the broccoli can remain a bit hard.

  • 1 1/2 broccoli heads cut in quatered florets
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 tbs mixed dry thyme and basil

In the meantime beat the following in a bowl:

  • 120 ml soya milk
  • 120g grated cheese of your choice
  • 6 eggs
  • pepper and salt to taste

Lay the broccoli mix on an oven dish (approx 28cm) and if desired add some cooked paprika cut in tin strips on top of the mixture.  Pour the egg mix gently making sure to cover all the broccoli and spread the cheese on top.  Bake for around 40 mins or until golden brown.

Tip: you can use cauliflower, cut in small florets, as an alternative.

Tasty classic minestrone

Minestrone

Nothing screams winter and new-year-healthy-culinary-resolution more than minestrone.  This is my all time favourite, easy to make in bulk and keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days – these measures makes loads:

Cook the following gently for 8-10 minutes or until soft:

  • 30g butter (optional)
  • 5 tbl olive oil
  • 4 chopped carrots
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 chopped cloves garlic
  • 125g chopped thick bacon

I cheat with the above and buy a 500g bag of mixed chopped onions and carrots – makes this recipe super fast.

Add the following, bring to the boil and cook gently for 20 mins:

  • 2 tinned 400g can chopped tomatoes – or use the fresh equivalent
  • 2+ litres of chicken stock

Add and the following and continue cooking gently  for another 15 mins:

  • 400g of shredded cabbage – I use the Chinese cabbage version, easier to chop and tastier!
  • 100g of cut spaghetti or any other leftover uncooked pasta you might have
  • salt to taste

At the end add the following and heat/cook for another 5 mins.

  • approx 250g cooked broad or French beans – from a tin or jar, should you wish
  • approx 200g cooked petits pois beans

Serve sprinkled with lots of fresh ground black pepper and grated cheese of your choice.

Quick and healthy beetroot soup

In a soup pan fry the following for 3 mins in some sunflower oil:

  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 3 small thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

Then add:

Cook/fry for another 3 mins, possibly adding a bit of water to ease the cooking, and then add:

  • 1 litre chicken/vegetable stock
  • salt to taste
  • 4 pre-cooked packaged beetroots sliced 2 ways

Cook for another 4 minutes, then smooth using a hand blender, add a tin of lentils and cook for another 4 mins.  Decorate with sprouts (optional).

Broccoli pesto

Not your typical pesto as you can eat lots and lots of it on its own and you will be healthier for that, however it is also great as a side.

Blend the following in a blender/food processor:

  • 1 broccoli head (circa 550g) cut in small florets, cooked/steamed and drained.
  • 50 g roasted pine nuts
  • 7 tbs olive oil
  • juice from lemon and some of its zest
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbs linseed (optional)
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, to taste

Serve lots with chicken or fish or serve as a healthy dip.

For the roasted vegetables cut 4 chicory sprouts lengthwise into quarters, sprinkle with olive oil, sea-salt and pepper and fresh thyme.  Half an aubergine, cut small squares in it without cutting the skin, drizzle with olive oil, sea-salt and pepper and oregano.  Roast all at 200oC for 40 mins or until done.

 

Thai pumpkin and lentil soup

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I love this one because it is so easy to make, with just two cooking steps, but rich in taste.  Here goes:

Fry one chopped onion in 3 tbs sunflower oil until soft, then add:

  • one pumpkin, washed, not peeled and chopped in approx 2 or 3 cm cubes (after seeds are scooped out)
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • one orange or tangerine, cut in 4 pieces
  • 2 or 3 carrots, sliced
  • 40g of your favourite curry paste, preferably yellow
  • one 400g coconut milk

Let cook gently for 25 mins until pumpkin and carrot are soft, then add one small tin of lentils and cook further for another 5 mins.

Once ready add a little cream (optional) and cream with a hand blender.  Add some water if required.

Add 20 g of chopped coriander.

 

Delicious lettuce soup (as unlikely as that sounds)

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Fry the following until soft in 2 tbs olive oil:

  • 1 chopped red/onion
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 red paprika (optional)

Then add:

  • 1 iceberg lettuce, sliced
  • 2 tsp mixed dried (italian) herbs
  • 500 ml chicken stock (from one cube)
  • salt and pepper to taste

and cook for around 10 mins until done.  Add:

  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • some milk/cream to taste

and liquidise with a mini-blender.  Yes it is that easy – but tastes great.

Serve with fresh brown bread.

 

Sandwich alle Melanzane

On a recent trip to Italy I had a sandwich that was so delicious and looked so easy to make that I made a mental note to replicate once back home.  Here goes:

For two:

  • 4/6 slices of lightly toasted brown bread
  • one aubergine cut in thin slices and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • some frying/grilling oil
  • brie cheese, cut in thin slices
  • pancetta or ham
  • rucola

Fry the thin slices of aubergine until golden brown on each side.

On a bed of rucola spread two buttered toasted slices of bread and cover with pancetta/ham, brie and the freshly grilled or fried aubergine slices.  The latter will nicely soften the cheese.