Monthly Mystery Munchies #10: Party with Pesto

Pea salad 1

This month, Ann chose a ‘party with pesto’ theme. Don’t mind if I do! I’m ‘sessing over pesto. My mother-in-law decided that we needed to plant basil and kindly gave me a few plants. It’s growing like wildfire, so when Ann chose pesto, I was excited to use my homegrown basil (it’s the little things!). There is something so cool about going in my garden and picking fresh ingredients! Love it!

Hmm.. the problem was that I couldn’t choose between two dishes I’d tried – spicy pesto chicken balls, and olive pesto pea salad, so I decided to do both. You see, here in South Africa we’re highly enthusiastic about braais (barbecues), and the cold pea salad is ideal as a side dish on a blistering hot day. The next recipe, chicken balls with spicy pesto, can be served warm, accompanied by a veggie dish. I wanted to do two different pestos, and in our home, we do love our olives! I really enjoy cooking with chicken mince, which can be quite bland but the pesto perks it up beautifully! Both of these recipes are incredibly easy, require minimal effort and oh-so-healthy. That’s a hard ‘yes’ from me!

You can find more pesto recipes at Grubbs n Critters, and I strongly encourage you to head on over as Ann is a phenomenal cook and uses the most interesting and creative ingredients. This month she made tortilla wraps with wild rocket pesto. YUM! I love that she used turkey and tortillas and perfectly demonstrated the versatility of pesto beyond the usual pasta dishes. Please check it out, but first, we cook:

Pea Salad with Olive Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy, um, peasy
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Supplies:

Pea salad 2250g cooked peas, cooled or tinned peas
1 red onion, finely chopped
½ cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g Kalamata olives (drained weight), pitted
½ tsp dried parsley
½ cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon for onion
1½ disks feta cheese
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making it happen:

Pea salad 51. Steam the peas and set aside to cool, or you can use tinned peas, drained. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan on medium heat and fry the chopped onion for 5 minutes, until soft.

 

 

Pea salad 32. Add the basil, garlic, olives, parsley and olive oil in your food processor. Blitz until thoroughly mixed and season with salt and pepper.

 

 

Pea salad 73. Pour the peas into a bowl, add the onion and 1 feta disk and mix. Pour in the pesto and stir throughly, making sure that it’s evenly spread. Crumble the remaining half feta disk over the top and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. This is suitable to make the day before.  

 

Chicken Mince Balls with Spicy Pesto

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 25 minutes + 1 hour or more refrigeration
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Chicken balls 2 15 basil leaves
2 sprigs lemon thyme
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons lime juice
500g chicken mince

 

Making it happen:

Chicken balls 41. In a blender, blitz all ingredients except the chicken, until well blended. Add the chicken and thoroughly blend.

 

 

 

Chicken balls 52. Form the chicken mince into balls, approximately 1 large tablespoon’s worth each. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or more.

 

 

Chicken balls 1 23. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Spray a baking tray with non-stick spray and place the chicken balls in it. Bake for 20 minutes until cooked.

Words Crush Wednesday – Pavarotti Edition

Arguably the most famous tenor in the world, it’s no secret Luciano Pavarotti adored food. I wholly agree with this statement, that despite where you are and what you’re doing, food provides a welcome break. I believe in finding moments to be still during the day, even if only for a few minutes, and mealtimes provide a necessary placidity. Regardless of whether we’re eating dinner on our own, or feeding the whole family, meals provide a pause from that around us. Leaving us replenished and relaxed, it’s the break we all need.

Pavarotti

Credit: Google Images

For more Words Crush Wednesday quotes, please mosey on over to Rebirth of Lisa.

Words Crush Wednesday – Alfred Tennyson Edition

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. I believe one should not have to wait until the New Year to start something, and, hopefully, see it through. However, this year there is a lot that seems to coincidentally coincide with January. I’ve started doing power yoga again, after having to give it up for many months due to issues with arthritis. I can barely move, people. Like, typing this is expending every molecule of energy I have left. My body is a temple? My hope is to be able to continue to practice yoga (hello, aching hamstrings!), create new recipes, and embrace the knowledge this year brings.

Hope is something that lives within all of us. It is universal, it knows no language, and it’s alive, pulsing, and growing with each achievement. But don’t make it a New Year thing, make it an every year thing.. an every day thing. Where there is hope, there is possibility. My hope is for you to have a very sweet ’16, and every year thereafter.

Alfred Tennyson 1

For more Words Crush Wednesday quotes and awesome writing treats, pop over to Rebirth of Lisa.

Roast Vegetables with Quinoa

Quinoa veggies 7Thank you, Joaquin Phoenix. Why, you ask? When I initially read about quinoa, the only way I could remember the correct pronunciation was by saying this sentence: would Wah-keen like some keen-wah? See? It works! So, thank you Mr Phoenix, brilliant actor and moderately strange human being-slash-space cadet, for preventing major embarrassment when talking to my friends about this super healthy grain seed!

In my attempt to eat more vegetarian dishes, I discovered the deliciousness of roasting peppers, onion, baby tomatoes and carrots, and adding it to sautéed whole tomatoes and beans. This meal is protein-rich, full of goodness, and drenched in yumminess.

Roast Vegetables with Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 35 minutes total
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Quinoa roast veg 11 yellow, red & green pepper, halved lengthways and deseeded
1 red onion, halved
250g baby tomatoes
3 carrots, peeled & halved lengthways
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 tin red kidney beans, drained
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 heaped teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon Greek pesto
1 cup vegetable stock
½ cup quinoa
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 handful Italian parsley
Olive oil
Salt

Making it happen:

Quinoa roast veg 21. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Grill the peppers (skin side up), onion, baby tomatoes and carrots for 15-20 minutes until the peppers have blackened. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.

 

 

Quinoa roast veg102. While the roasted veggies are cooling, drizzle the olive oil (just enough to cover the surface) into a large pan over medium heat and pour in the drained red kidney beans and tinned tomatoes. Add the celery, paprika, garlic, lemon juice and Greek pesto, and simmer.

 

Quinoa roast veg 33. While the above is simmering, peel and slice the peppers and slice the carrots, adding them to the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes.

 

 

Quinoa roast veg 54. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water. Pour the vegetable stock and quinoa into the pan, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

 

Quinoa roast veg 65. Garnish with Italian parsley.

Marvellous Macaroni Cheese with Bacon and Tomatoes

Mac and cheese 12Mmmac ‘n cheese is the ultimate comfort food. This recipe is creamy, cheesy, tomato-y and bacon-y. Right? Let me break it down: macaroni pasta drenched in cheese sauce, mixed with bacon and tomatoes, sprinkled with spices and a hint of a tang with Worcestershire sauce and hot English mustard, and topped with a crunchy breadcrumb layer… Phew, what a mouthful! This gooey meal will leave you wholly satisfied and completely replete, yet still eyeing out the leftovers (if there is any!).

 

Marvellous Macaroni Cheese

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: Prep 20 mins, cooking 30 mins
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Supplies:

Mac n cheese 1500g macaroni
200g bacon, cut and fried
500g plum tomatoes, 2 set aside, chopped and fried
300g white Cheddar, grated
1 cup cream
1 cup 2% milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon English mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons, set aside
2 tablespoons Canola/sunflower oil

Making it happen:

mac and cheese 141. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the chopped bacon until just cooked. Remove from the pan and fry the chopped tomatoes, bar two, in the bacon juices until soft. Add the bacon to the tomatoes.

 

 

Mac and cheese 32. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Cook the macaroni per the package instructions and get started on your cheese sauce: heat the butter in a saucepan on medium. Once melted, add the flour and whisk into a roux. Add the mustard, milk, nutmeg and paprika, whisk and allow to thicken for about 5 minutes, then splash in the Worcester sauce. Add the grated cheese, stirring until it’s melted.

Mac and cheese 63. Your mac should be cooked now – drain it and toss it into a large casserole dish. Add the bacon and tomatoes, pan juices included, and pour in the sauce, stirring well to spread it evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the remaining tomatoes and place it on top of the mac.

 

Mac n cheese 154. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and drizzle 2 tablespoons of butter over the top. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

 

 

 

Mac n cheese 145. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Tip: undo jeans!

Monthly Mystery Munchies # 9: Butternut Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

Haaaaaapy New Year! Ann and I ‘met’ last year, and we’ve been doing our Monthly Mystery Munchies since May. It’s been a wonderfully rich and valuable experience – I have learnt so much about food – from ingredients to cooking methods, and it’s one of my favourite parts of blogging. I can honestly say I fervently look forward to it every month, and I avidly check Ann’s blog to see what she’s created. One thing I do know, before seeing her recipes, is that her food is always fun, definitely interesting, and incredibly tasty!

Butternut salad 2So about the New Year. The Christmas holidays were wonderful, albeit very busy, but packed with overindulgence. My hips, tummy and butt are testament – don’t make me show you the evidence. Let me give you a glimpse into the severity: Christmas lunch is always a big deal. Although relaxed, we went all out. I mean it’s the one time when I have a real excuse, so why not? Well, hips. That’s why not. Anyways, there were seven of us this year, and this the meat we collectively made: turkey stuffed with pork and onion stuffing (moi), glazed gammon (my very talented mom-in-law), and, because that wasn’t enough for six adults and one little dude, my brother-in-law did a turducken. That was just the meat! Yeah, uh, time to detox, which leads me to this month’s theme – salad.

Butternut salad 4Before you start yawning from boredom, we decided that it would be a good idea to do something healthy, but not the traditional lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber. Because that would bore that crap out of me. This salad is so tasty. The sweetness of the butternut and peppers is balanced by the baby spinach leaves, and the feta cheese finishes it off perfectly. Natch, I made a vinaigrette. I do love mustard, so I did healthy salad dressing version, no cream or butter, just mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. All super healthy. I feel thinner already. I decided not to add meat to this salad, but you can throw in some shredded chicken or cubed beef – totally up to you. It’s easy and tasty, and in 40C heat, it’s refreshing to eat a cool meal instead of something steaming hot. Ann made an impressive 5-layer salad! Be sure to check it out! And again, happy 2016!

Butternut Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: super easy
  • Print

Supplies:

1kg butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubed and steamed
250g baby spinach leaves
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 disc feta cheese

Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch paprika
Salt to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Making it happen:

Steam the cubed butternut, let cool and transfer to a salad bowl/dish. Add the chopped peppers and baby spinach leaves, and crumble the feta over the salad. Mix well.

In a small bowl, mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients and pour over the salad.

Butternut salad