Couscous Salad with Chickpeas and Fresh Veggies

It’s our second anniversary! Yay, we’re toddlers! It’s been two years since Ann, the hardworking, dedicated, passionate chefsordinaire at Grubbs n Critters, and I, started our Monthly Mystery Munchies, and it’s been an awesome experience. It’s been challenging, exciting, interesting, but, most of all, it’s been a hugely rewarding and positive experience. Ann, thank you for your commitment, enthusiasm, patience and friendship! Here’s to another two years!

This month, the theme was simple: green, yellow and red. That was it. I loved the simplicity of it, but also the wide range. I mean, anything goes, as long as it’s those colours. That’s the fun thing – we could make a meat dish, veggie dish, side dish, main dish, dessert, baked dish, anything! Absolutely anything! And how fun when I made a cold couscous salad, and Ann made a swiss roll! It’s all open to interpretation, which makes it curious and fun!

I chose couscous salad with baby tomatoes, red onions, a trio of peppers, olives and chickpeas. I serve this salad as a main course, and when I say it’s ridiculously easy, I’m not joking. There’s no cooking involved, except for preparing the couscous. That’s it. The whole thing literally takes five minutes – wash and slice the veggies while the couscous is standing in hot water. Mix together. Top with chickpeas. Done.

Ann made a giraffe-inspired Swiss roll and it looks delicious AF. I basically produced a five-minute dish, and she totally pushed the boat out! She added peaches as her ‘yellow’, but the kids weren’t feeling the vibe. I personally think it’s a great addition! Aaand she used red velvet colouring as the base, and stuffed it with so much yesssness (that’s a word, I promise! (I’m looking at you, mascarpone cheese!) The result? Well, check it out for yourself. (It does not disappoint!)

So, if you’re into raw, fresh ingredients, and you don’t have much time to prepare dinner, this is your guy. You can serve this as a side dish, which works well too. No fuss, no missioning, just easy, quick food. YES! However, if you’re looking for a Swiss roll stuffed with all things cream, Ann’s recipe is the way to go.

Couscous salad with fresh veggies

  • Difficulty: My 5 year old niece could ace this
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Supplies:

2 cups cooked couscous (soaked in water and chicken stock)
500g halved baby tomatoes
1 sliced red, yellow and green pepper
1 sliced red onion
Kalamata olives
30g crumbled feta
1 drained tin chickpeas

Making it Happen:

Cook the couscous per package instructions but add chicken stock to the water.
While the chicken stock is soaking, slice the veggies.
Add the chicken stock to a large dish, then add veggies and the drained chickpeas.
Crumble with feta and season with freshly cracked black pepper.

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Crazy About… Warm Butternut and Avo Salad with Herb Dressing

Avo butternut salad 1 2

It’s too cold for mojitos (cries into pillow), so I decided to use my mint and lime in a herby, minty salad dressing instead. I love it when plan B works! This meal is packed with superfoods, and the mint and coriander add a lovely, fresh taste to the roasted veggies.

Avo butternut salad 3

This is a warm salad, perfect for cold, wet, wintry days. Just because summer’s gone, doesn’t mean you have to give up salad! Just serve it warm, and you’ve got an easy, delicious, healthy meal!

Warm Butternut and Avo Salad with Herb Dressing

  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

800g butternut, peeled and cubed
250g spinach, cooked
2 large ripe avos
1 red pepper & 1 yellow pepper
Zoodles (zucchini noodles)
1 disc feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbablespoons minced garlic

Dressing:

1 large handful mint
1 large handful coriander
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making It Happen:

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Par-cook the butternut, either by steaming or boiling, until just soft. Place the butternut in an oven roasting dish, add sliced peppers, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil or steam the spinach, set aside.

Dressing:

Blitz all ingredients. That’s it.

Cook the zoodles for 1 minute in the microwave.

In a large salad dish, layer spinach at the bottom. Top with cooked butternut, peppers and zoodles. Place avo on top, then feta, then drizzle with dressing. Serve warm.

Crazy About… Couscous with Chicken Mince and Vegetables

Couscous 1I made this recipe three times in one week, because I was “testing” it, you see? Actually, I also “forgot” to take photos, so naturally I had to keep making it. Not that I needed an excuse as The Husband was a willing participant. Enthusiastically so. I had chicken mince in the freezer so why not, yes? Folks, this is healthy, easy and yummy. Trifecta!

Couscous with Chicken Mince and Vegetables

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Couscous 2100g couscous
500g chicken mince
500g butternut squash, cubed
1 yellow, red, and green pepper, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tin (400g) chickpeas, cooked
1 disc feta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
130ml chicken stock (check your couscous package)

Making It Happen:

Couscous 31. Peel the butternut and cut it into small chucks, about 1 inch x 1 inch. Steam or boil until just soft, about 5 minutes.
Slice th onion and fry with garlic until soft, about 5 mins on medium heat.
Add the chicken mince and fry for another 5 min. Then add peppers and fry for another 2 minutes.

 

Couscous 42. Add sun-dried tomatoes, butternut and chickpeas and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes.

 

 

 

Couscous 53. Cook the couscous per package instructions and then add it to the veggies. Stir well, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Crazy About… Asparagus and Green Bean Salad

Asparagus green beans 5This recipe is eeeeasy, people, and delicious, and healthy. I’m down! Ready in minutes, and served either warm or chilled, it’s tasty, low-fat, and delicious. Did I mention it’s delicious?

Asparagus and Green Bean Salad

  • Servings: 4 sides
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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Supplies:

Asparagus green beans 1170g asparagus
200g green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 disc low fat feta
Peppadews/ piquante peppers, halved
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

 

Making It Happen:

Asparagus green beans 21. Slice the asparagus and green beans into thirds. Steam them until al dente.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and add the asparagus, green beans, and peppadews. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes.

 

 

Asparagus green beans 32.Crumble the feta over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.

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
  • 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
  • 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.

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
  • Difficulty: super easy
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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