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.

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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.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille 5This traditional French vegetarian dish is not only bursting with flavour, but healthy and easy too. Traditionally, all the vegetables were cooked separately, but nowadays they’re all done in one pan. Ratatouille can be served as a side dish with rice and meat, making it a firm favourite in this home. I use baby tomatoes for their sweetness, but you can use regular tomatoes too. The vegetables are sautéed together, bringing all of the wonderful different flavours to one dish, and the herbs emphasizing its freshness. The olive oil is not only used as a lubricant, but for its flavour. Everything in this dish is fresh, wholesome and delicious!

As a side note: I planned this post before the attacks in Paris. My heart goes out to everyone affected by these atrocities.

Ratatouille

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Ratatouille 101 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 aubergines (egg plants), cut into half-inch slices
6 zucchinis (courgettes/baby marrows), sliced lengthways and then crossways
2 assorted bell peppers (I used red & yellow), sliced
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 x tin whole peeled tomatoes
Fresh basil
Fresh lemon thyme (you can use regular thyme too)
Flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making it happen:

Ratatouille 61. In a large pan on medium heat, pour in half the olive oil and fry the garlic, onions and peppers for 2 minutes, then turn down the heat to low and sauté until the veggies have softened and the onions are lightly browned, about 5 additional minutes.

 

Ratatouille 72. Add the aubergines (egg plants) and zucchinis (courgettes/baby marrows), drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the veggies and saute with the lid on for 5 minutes.

 

 

Ratatouille 83. Add the baby tomatoes and tinned tomatoes, 5 basil leaves, a handful of Italian parsley and fresh thyme, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes until the veggies are sticky and sweet. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

 

Ratatouille 9

 

Oxtail Stew

The Husband and I were cruising the butchery section at our local supermarket when his eyes lit up and he made a run for the section behind me. “Pleeeeease may we have oxtail?”. Let me be honest – I don’t cook a lot of oxtail, and The Husband recently bought a box of gazillion marshmallow and chocolate-covered Easter eggs which he hid away from me (for obvious reasons) No seriously, I jest not. A happy compromise – oxtail for Easter eggs. The thing is, I absolutely love this stew! It’s packed with flavour, fresh herbs, a delicious variety of veggies and it has wine. This is a wonderful excuse to open a bottle of red, just remember to keep some for the stew. A rich stew popular in South Africa, this is the perfect meal to serve on a chilly day. It’s packed with flavour, does not disappoint and will you leave you with a wonderfully satisfied tummy!

Oxtail used to only come from the tail of an ox, but it now comes from the tail of a cow of either gender (uh… gender equality?). It is a bony, fatty piece of meat with marrow in the centre. This makes it ideal for slow-cooked stews so here it is! Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. Let’s dig in!

Oxtail ingredients

1kg (2.2lbs) oxtail
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons oil
4 leeks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
50g tomato paste
250ml red wine
250ml beef stock
500g baby tomatoes
1 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
1kg (2.2lbs) baby potatoes
5 carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Fresh thyme and rosemary
2 bay leaves
Freshly cracked black pepper
Salt

Oxtail 1 2

Sprinkle flour over the oxtails and coat fully. Heat the oil in a large pan on medium and add the meat when the oil is hot. Fry for about 10 minutes until the meat is browned on all sides. Set aside.

 

 

 

 

Oxtail 5 2Pour the hot oil and pan drippings into a large pot, heat on medium and add the leeks and garlic. Fry for about 3 – 5 minutes. Return the oxtails into the pot with tomato paste and fry, turning the meat, for another 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and beef stock, add the fresh and tinned tomatoes and start bringing the stew to a slow boil.

 

 

 

Oxtail 6 2Add the carrots and potatoes. Wash your fresh thyme and rosemary and sprinkle a few sprigs into the pot. Splash in Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice and crack some black pepper. (I don’t add salt at this point – let it stew for an hour, taste it and add salt. The Worcestershire sauce is already salty so try to avoid adding too much salt.) Stir everything, cover, bring to a boil, uncover and simmer for 2 hours. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

 

 

Oxtail 8 2