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

  • Time: Literally 5 minutes
  • 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.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #16: Herby, Fully Loaded Chicken Wraps with Zesty Sour Cream

Chicken wraps 1

This month I was a tad nervous to suggest this theme to the lovely Ann from Grubbs n Critters. Was it too easy? Not challenging enough? We’ve definitely been pushing our boundaries, happily so, but I felt like doing something that wasn’t time consuming, that I could whip up and serve immediately. My suggestion? Wraps with meat and a dressing/sauce. That was it. Ann gladly accepted, having bought some wraps a few days prior. It was meant to be. I love it when a cooking plan comes together!

Chicken wraps 2

Yes, I said it, “herby, fully loaded wraps”. I kind of threw everything in my fridge into this meal: chicken, butternut, mushrooms, red onion, garlic and then some more garlic, mustard, coriander, Italian parsley, basil, honey, lemon, sour cream… errthang went in. I’m a sucker for fresh herbs. I try to use them as often as possible. There’s just something really cool about cooking stuff and throwing it in a wrap. Love it. I have basil, parsley, limes and lemons in my garden. Picking it makes me feel like I’m on a farm, all organic and fresh. Then I hear hooters and dogs barking, and I remember that nope, I actually live in a city. Still, it’s wonderful to use what I have in the garden. I’d really like a bacon tree. That would be ideal. Strangely, I can’t find any.

Chicken wraps 3

I’m psyched to see what Ann’s come up with this month. No doubt, it’ll be amaze. She has some great stories on her blog, fabulous recipes, and hilarious jokes. Please hop over to her blog and check it all out.

A little less conversation, a little more food action… here we go… all wrapped up:

Chicken Wraps with Zesty Sour Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies for the chicken:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
1 handful flatleaf Italian parsley
1 handful basil leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Supplies for the veggies:

500g butternut, cubed
250g mushrooms, sliced
200g baby spinach leaves
1 red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Supplies for the sour cream dressing:

250ml sour cream
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 handful coriander
1 tablespooon parmesan per wrap, for sprinkling
8 wraps

Making it happen:

Blitz all the chicken ingredients and pour over the chicken breasts. Bake at 180C for 30 – 35 minutes until cooked.

Meanwhile, steam or boil the butternut until cooked, about 6-10 minutes. Fry the mushrooms and onion on medium heat until cooked, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cooked butternut, and the baby spinach leaves and stir well until all the veg are full mixed.

Blitz the first seven our cream ingredients until fully mixed. Cook the wrap per instructions, and then spoon some veggie mixture into the centre of the wrap. Layer the chicken on top, scatter some reserved parsley and coriander, drizzle with sour cream and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of parmesan over everything. Fold the wrap and serve.  

 

 

Crazy About… Sautéed Lentils

Lentils veg 7Easy! Tasty! Healthy! Check, check, check. I do enjoy a culinary trifecta! This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to cook (it takes me longer to put my face on), it’s packed with flavour, it’s low-carb and low-fat, and can be served as a side dish or a main meal. Last night we had it with honey and mustard chicken breasts, and this afternoon I had it alone for lunch. It was delish as both. Here we go…

Sautéed lentils

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: Less than 15 minutes (no, really)
  • Difficulty: super duper easy
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Supplies:

500g lentils, cooked
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil

Making It Happen:

Lentils veg 81. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic on medium for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sliced peppers, and rosemary and simmer for another 5 minutes.

 

 

Lentils veg 6 12. Add the lentils and lemon juice, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

 

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.