A simple and delicious salad for warm humid days or when you just want a quick light lunch. With watermelon of every shape and size available in all their bounty this season, the Watermelon Bocconcini Arugula Salad is easy to put together.
A simple and delicious salad for warm humid days or when you just want a quick light lunch. With watermelon of every shape and size available in all their bounty this season, the Watermelon Bocconcini Arugula Salad is easy to put together.
Gourmet Today, edited by Ruth Reichl, is a huge favourite among my daughters and I. All three of us enjoy good cookbooks and separated by distance as we are, it makes sense to each have a copy of the ones we love. And Gourmet Today is not your run of the mill cookbook. It has more than a thousand recipes, each one more mouthwatering and tantalising than the last. No photographs, coloured or otherwise, and just the occasional illustration to help you along. The recipes are very doable. Earlier i could not get ingredients for many of them, but now that it is easier (if still expensive) to access Continental and American ingredients, I am eager to try out as many of the recipes as I can. This Arugula Pesto Pasta in Cherry Tomato Sauce is one such recipe that has been enticing me for a while, and now I am sharing it with you.
This post has been due for a long time, 2 years, to be exact. Feb 2017, I was in Hyderabad with Mridula and Varghese, and we were making Pizzas for dinner. The dough rose dutifully and splendidly, and the toppings had to be decided. It is not often I get a chance to cook along with either of my daughters, and the ‘pizza making’ became an event. Little Natasha ‘loooves’ strawberries. All of us like goat cheese on pizza (or on anything, actually). And then was born the thin crust Strawberry Goat Cheese Pizza, with Balsamic vinegar.
I know what you are going to say. Strawberry? On Pizza? The ‘I don’t want Pineapple on my Pizza’ people will give me a stern look (or worse). All I can say is, just make this Strawberry Goat Cheese Pizza for yourself before you judge. It is not at all a sweet pizza. It is savoury and delicious. Just Try It! It will make happy memories for pizza with loved ones, just as it did for me….
There are few foods that call out ‘comfort food’ as well as being totally delicious, as much as the Levantine Hummus does. Your classic hummus does not have to turn out bland and soggy and sorry looking, if you make it the right way. It should have a subtle flavour, enhanced perhaps by the extra virgin olive oil drizzled onto it. Maybe a little fresh cumin powder or za’atar sprinkled on top. With pita bread, a bowl of olives and perhaps some fresh goats cheese, this no fuss hummus from scratch is its own reward.
In the search for healthy, nutritious food, I have been experimenting with different grains, vegetables and fruits for salads. I specially enjoy Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine, where the combinations of fresh vegetables, salad greens and herbs gives ideas for very delicious simple meals. Like this Levantine Tabbouleh made of fresh parsley, some mint, juicy tomatoes, a little Bulgar and really good quality olive oil. Fresh ground black pepper and a smattering of salt, complete this plateful of goodness.
It is such a pleasure to cook these days. The weather is pleasant and, most important, I seem to have rediscovered my creativity and enthusiasm for trying out new ingredients, flavours and combinations. Adding to all this, there is an abundance of fresh vegetables, greens and fruit all calling out to me to take them home and make something delicious out of them. Bright orange Fuyu Persimmon, fresh mozzarella bought just last evening, basil leaves from my balcony garden, all seemed to tumble over themselves to get into the Persimmon Mozzarella Salad that was my lunch today.
Fresh Mozzarella looks tempting when seen in a Caprese salad or sandwich, but one has to admit, it can be rather bland. One easy way to perk it up therefore, is to marinate the cheese with an interesting marinade. The mustard and balsamic vinegar dressing cum marinade made such a difference to the flavours of this persimmon mozzarella salad. Using good quality mustard and balsamic vinegar makes all the difference between an ok dish and a great one. Thank you Mridula, for the lovely mustard paste you brought for me during your last visit!
The theme for the 174th event of the Foodie Monday BlogHop Group is Potluck Recipes, and the theme was suggested by Preeti Prasad. Preeti blogs at Preethi’s Cuisine. Do visit the blog, it has interesting recipes with clear instructions. I would love to try out her recent recipe for Pesto coated smashed Potatoes, the arachuvitta karamani sambar (a Tamil dish), the sweet and sour mango relish!
The Persimmon Mozzarella Salad would be a great addition to any Potluck gathering. It could be an appetizer or dessert, or a tasty side with pasta, pizza, risotto. With the gorgeous colours of autumn and winter arrayed in one plate, it is bound to be crowd-pleaser.
The mustard and balsamic vinegar serves as both a marinade and dressing. The salad is easy to put together: mix the dressing, slice and marinate the cheese, slice the fruit and then arrange it all together. You could even carry the prepped ingredients with you and assemble the salad at the place where you are getting together for the potluck.
The measurements/ quantities of ingredients in the recipe below are indicative, except for the mustard dressing, which gives the proportions of the ingredients. You can add more of the fruit or greens or arugula or mozzarella.
I can’t think why I’ve not made this sauce before. Considering that dips, spreads and pasta sauces play a significant part in my culinary life, how could I miss out on this finger-licking treat of a sauce! The Spanish Romesco Sauce is really really easy to make and if you roast the peppers till they are charred, the smoky flavours and the zing of the paprika and chilli flakes meld with the sweetness of the peppers and tomatoes.
Theres something very attractive about a bright pink bowl of roasted beetroot hummus. It manages to look and sound exotic even though its just plain old beetroot which has been roasted so that its flavours come through, peeled and tossed into the processor with the usual ingredients for hummus: chickpea, tahini, garlic, seasonings and olive oil. Its amazing though how much the roasted beets enhance the flavours of the hummus.
This Roasted Beetroot Hummus ticks all the boxes for a great food item: Appearance (gorgeous!), Taste (Yum!), Nutrition (its Beetroot and chickpeas right? And its got parsley too!), Ease of making (easy peasy); its vegan, its gluten free. Its not quick though as the chickpeas are soaked overnight and and then cooked. And the beetroots need a good half hour- 45 minutes in the oven. But your active time making the hummus is not much and the process is real simple.
A beginner in the kitchen could turn out the roasted beetroot hummus without stress. Just set out your ingredients and follow the steps in the recipe, and you are home, with a pretty looking dip all ready for serving with crudités or toasted pita bread sprinkled with za’atar.
This week, I suggested the options for the theme for the 167th Foodie Monday Bloghop, viz, a breakfast dish, cooking with grains (other than rice) or a root vegetable (not being potatoes). The majority vote from the members was for a root vegetable, so here we are, Rooting for Roots! I had store bought pita and was planning to make regular hummus, but once the theme was set, decided to make the beetroot hummus instead. I added parsley and a touch of cumin to the roasted beetroot hummus and it turned out delicious.
When making the hummus, I followed Yotam Ottolenghi’s guide to making a great hummus: soak the chickpeas overnight with a teaspoon of baking soda, drain and rinse it the next morning, and cook it till the chickpeas and soft and just falling apart. I don’t remove the skin from the boiled chickpeas, but you could do that to get an even softer texture to the roasted beetroot hummus.
Note: The cooking time below reflects simultaneously cooking the chickpeas and roasting the beets, plus additional time for processing the ingredients into hummus.
You might like to try out other recipes from this blog:
Yes, its Yotam Ottolenghi again. I have had his Plenty Cookbook on my brain the last few days, and have been sighing over these super delicious recipes . Thanks to my little balcony herb garden, I had all the makings for his Crusted Baked Pumpkin -except that I didn’t have pumpkin! There was however this gorgeous small Butternut squash that I got at Namdharis’ last week. I had broccoli carrot soup just made today and these baked wedges of squash were the perfect accompaniment. Voila (or something like that) – here’s my recipe for Baked Squash crusted with Parmesan and Herbs.
You just have to try this one! Homemade Pita bread (recipe coming up sooon!) with a finger lickin’ simple fresh Lemon Mint Basil Hummus Dip.
Its easy to make once you have the chickpeas soaked and boiled, and if you can get hold of pre-cooked chickpeas in a can, then its easy peasy. Soaking and boiling the chickpeas takes time but is not difficult to do, so I would classify the recipe under ‘easy’. The timings given below for this recipe are for making hummus with pre-cooked or canned chickpeas.
Eye-catching and flavourful cherry and grape tomatoes of different colours and some whole wheat pasta went into this easy and quick Rotini Pasta in Garlicky Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce.
The sauce cooks quickly while the rotini is boiling, and the pasta is ready to serve in 15 minutes. Not much chopping and slicing required as the tomatoes are added whole. The cooking times below are assuming that the pasta is set to boil while the sauce is being prepared, and then the cooked pasta is added to the sauce at the end.
Simple to make and an amazingly tasty, classic homemade thin crust Tomato Mozzarella Pizza. The basil leaves and freshly ground pepper take the pizza to another dimension. Try a variant with different toppings, taking you to Pizza Heaven! With tomato basil sauce (link to recipe is given below) the pizza is so easy to put together.
Move over, Dominos, Pizza Hut, et al! Home made Pizza has arrived! Having finally got the hang of making pizza dough at home, weekends have become Pizza dinner days. With my easy tomato basil sauce stocked up in the fridge, along with pizza dough made every 2 weeks or so and frozen till the weekend, it takes 5 minutes to prepare the toppings and spread them on the pizza base. Into the oven and out again in 12 minutes or less.
The recipe below for Pizza dough is adapted from the River Cottage Veg Everyday Cook book’s Magic Bread Dough Recipe. I had earlier followed recipes from Jamie Oliver as well as from the Greens cookbook, but have finally settled down with this recipe for Pizza dough, which I have tweaked for my own use. Jamie’s pizza dough is similar in method to the one below, however as it makes a large quantity of dough, I don’t often use it. The Greens cookbook has a recipe for making pizza dough out of rye flour and wheat flour, and that is something I will be going back to, soon, as I want to shift from all purpose / maida flour to whole wheat flour.
The ingredients listed below may be doubled to make more dough. I wouldn’t advise reducing it to make smaller quantities though, as the proportions for yeast, water and oil may not hold. Some amount of kneading is required, but as this is a soft dough, it is not difficult to knead. And it is good exercise!
The recipe for pizza dough below follows the process of proofing the yeast before adding it to the flour, as this is a practice I invariably follow. The original recipe does not require this to be done as quick blend yeast is suggested, whereas I use active dry yeast.
Dough rising times can vary between 1 hour to 2 or more, depending on the climate as well as the potency of the yeast. Usually when I make the pizza dough at home at Bangalore, the dough doubles in size in under 2 hours.
Similarly, the baking time varies from oven to oven. I usually set my oven temperature at 250 deg C and a thin crust pizza bakes in 10 minutes. Recently when I used another OTG oven where I set the temperature at 240, it took 15- 20 minutes for each Pizza to bake.
For recipes for different pizza toppings, check the links below on this blog:
For the recipe for a Tomato Basil Pizza Sauce on this blog: Easy Tomato Basil Sauce
Till recently, good quality yeast was not easily available in India. Now there are some premium qualities available in Stores that supply ingredients and equipment for Baking, such as Arife, in various cities, and online on Amazon.
This easy, 6 ingredient (counting salt, pepper and oil, each as ingredients) Tomato Basil Sauce for Pasta or Pizza is a very basic and simple sauce. I make it about once a month and then freeze it in separate small portions so that there is always a little packet of sauce ready whenever I want to make pasta or pizza.
You need ripe red tomatoes for a good flavourful tomato basil sauce. I use the zero pesticide San Marzano tomatoes supplied by First Agro Farms, and they give me sauce of just the consistency that I need.
The ingredients below give the quantities of fresh basil to be added for the tomato basil sauce, however if dry basil is to be used, please reduce the quantity by half.
There is very little seasoning in the sauce, so depending on what pasta and other ingredients or which pizza you are going to make, the seasoning can be adjusted at that time. Similarly, sliced olives or sliced sautéed mushrooms or zucchini can be added to the basic tomato basil sauce before mixing it with pasta.
The taste and flavours of the tomato basil sauce depend on the quality of the tomatoes and olive oil used, as well as the slow cooking of the sauce. When you use fresh juicy tomatoes and cook the sauce down as in the instructions, making sure you stir it frequently and watch it so it does not catch or brown, you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a tasty sauce. In fact, less is more in this case.
Once the tomato sauce is all ready, either freshly prepared or in the fridge, dinner takes just 15 minutes – cook the pasta, and meanwhile sauté simple sliced zucchini or mushroom, add the tomato basil sauce and warm it up gently. Toss the pasta into the sauce and grate a little cheese on it – and there you are! Dinner fit for a king, with very little effort and with all the goodness of a homemade sauce.
Gorgeous red birds eye chillies and some fresh zucchini in the the weeks vegetable supply, set me to searching for the perfect ‘winter’ soup. Broadly adapted from Simply Recipes ‘Spicy Zucchini Soup’, the curried chilli zucchini soup with grated zucchini and with walnuts and turmeric, is one treat you will come back to again and again. The varied textures and balance of flavours are everything one would want a soup to be.
Wikipedia says, “In Ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked on the hearth. The word is derived from the Latin focus meaning “hearth’, a place for baking. The basic recipe is thought by some to have originated with the Etruscans or ancient Greeks, but today it is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine. ” Well, I would like to thank the Etruscans or ancient Greeks or Ligurians, or whichever of the ancients introduced this amazing bread to the world. Just make and taste this Olive Rosemary Focaccia Bread, and you will see what I mean!
Red Veined sorrel leaves are the base for this delicious Bean Sorrel Soup, made in the French style. Nutritious as well as having the cancer fighting properties of the sorrel, this is actually a 2 Bean Sorrel soup as it is made from fresh sorrel leaves, french beans and black eyed peas.
Ever since First Agro Farms and their marketing unit Sakura Fresh started supplying households in Bangalore with their zero pesticide and non GMO produce, I have been able to create recipes with fresh greens and herbs many of which are not commonly available here unless imported and at astronomical prices. It is a good feeling to be able to access global ingredients grown locally and that too fresh and without chemical contamination.
A native of the mediterranean coast, sorrel has been known to be cultivated for centuries. The leaves have a sour, faintly citrusy taste which is reduced when sautéed and wilted to add to salads, or otherwise cooked. The plant with long arrow shaped leaves were grown in Europe as garden sorrel, until the cultivation in Italy and France during the Middle Ages of a milder variety with round leaves which is now known as French sorrel, was developed in Italy and France in the Middle Ages. By the end of the 16th Century, French sorrel became popular in England. It is said to have been very popular during the reign of Henry the VIII.
John Evelyn, the 17th and 18th Century writer, traveller and gardener, wrote about Sorrel : … that Sorrel imparted ‘so grateful a quickness to the salad that it should never be left out’. And that ‘Sorrel sharpens the appetite, assuages heat, cools the liver and strengthens the heart; is an antiscorbutic, resisting putrefaction and in the making of sallets imparts a grateful quickness to the rest as supplying the want of oranges and lemons. Together with salt, it gives both the name and the relish to sallets from the sapidity, which renders not plants and herbs only, but men themselves pleasant and agreeable.”
Wikipedia describes the different ways that sorrel is used in various regions of the world: In sour soups or added to spinach and lettuce in salads, or in sandwiches, in Eastern Europe, green borscht in Russia, Soups or even with mashed potatoes and in a dish with herbs and eels in Croatia and Bulgaria. It is one of the ingredients for spankopita in Greece, along with spinach, chard and leeks. In Northern Nigeria it is again added to stews along with spinach, or steamed for salad along with roasted peanut cakes, onion and tomatoes. In Vietnam it is added fresh to lettuce and in salads for Bánh Xèo. It is popular in Brazil taken raw in salads or else in soups.
In Albania, the sorrel leaves are simmered and served cold marinated in olive oil, used in soups, and even as an ingredient for filling byrek pies (byrek me lakra).Wikipedia goes on to say that in India, the leaves are called chukkakura in Telugu,and Pundi in Northern Parts of Karnataka (Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur etc) in making recipes, such as Chukkakura pappu , a soup made with sorrel and yellow lentils or Pundi Palya , a curry made with sorrel, yellow lentils and peanuts.
A popular recipe in early times was the Fasting Day Soup, made of sorrel along with other greens and with eggs, for fasting days when no meat was permitted by the Church.
Sorrel thus has a wide geographical spread and has as many names as the regions where it is used as an ingredient.
Health and Nutrition: (Please read the medical disclaimer on this blog)
The nutrient and health properties of sorrel are numerous. Sorrel is rich in vitamin C and was of great value as it could prevent scurvy at times when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available. It contains Vitamins A, E, Beta carontene and other carotenoids, as well as potassium which helps in lowering Blood pressure. It is said to have anti inflammatory properties as well as being a diuretic.
Sorrel is used medically for reducing pain and swelling or inflammation of the nasal passages and the respiratory tract, as it is said to cause dryness in mucous production and is therefore popular along with other herbs and flowers in treating sinusitis. It is also used to supplement the medication in the treatment of bacterial infections.
Sorrel is not advised for consumption by those suffering from arthritis, kidney stones, other kidney related diseases, and during pregnancy.
Sorrel is an ingredient in the preparation of certain alternative cancer treatment medications such cancer teas, as well as for cutaneous tumours. Research is ongoing as to its use in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.
The researcher René Caisse, who developed the Essiac tea as a cancer cure, suggested that sheep sorrel was a powerful cancer fighter, and this was supported by the studies made by Dr. Chester Stock at Sloan-Kettering in New York. who wrote that sheep sorrel had properties …”to destroy cancer cells in the body and inhibited metastasis by actually causing cancer cells to return to the original tumor site. ” Caisse believed that sheep sorrel, along with the other herbs in her tea, acted as blood purifiers, carrying away destroyed tissue as well as infections thrown off by the malignancy.
2. The addition of beans to the sorrel gives a little thickness to the otherwise watery bean sorrel soup. You could puree the cooked ingredients after simmering the stock with the sorrel leaves, but the soup then turns a rather muddy and unappetising colour. As I do prefer my soups chunky, I have not therefore pureed it but have minced the fennel, celery, leek and french beans to keep the ingredients small sized.
3. Sorrel soup is known for its sour taste – (almost like a tart green apple) which is due to the presence of oxalic acid in the leaves (also called “sorrel acid” in Slavic languages) . The sour taste may be negated by adding sour cream to the soup, since oxalic acid reacts with calcium and casein. Young tender leaves are less sour than the older mature ones.
4. As a variation, egg yolk may be added to the bean sorrel soup and the soup taken off the stove immediately after.
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Making Pizza at home is a whiz, once you have got the making of the dough under control. You can experiment with all kinds of healthy, tasty toppings with fresh produce. I usually make pizza dough from the easy recipe for Magic Bread Dough in the River Cottage Veg Everyday Cook book, and had been coming again and again to the recipe for Kale and Onion Pizza. As Kale is not usually available where I live, I could only look longingly at the pictures and then sigh and turn the page! Finally though, I did get to make the Kale and Onion Pizza.
I do love Shakshuka, and have so far made it only with tomatoes and peppers. When I saw this intriguing recipe for a green Shakshuka on Pinch of Yum, I wanted to try it out. The Pinch of Yum recipe uses Almond and Coconut milk, but I needed to use up all the greens in my fridge, the kale, the Swiss chard, the fresh herbs. I’ve been trying out a series of recipes with kale, so instead of almond milk, decided to make this with kale and with the parsley, coriander pesto described in the original recipe. I did add some Russian Tarragon too, to the Green Shakshuka . I should make this the Pinch of Yum way too, soon, it looked delicious.
This Fennel Frond Pesto Pasta is now on my go to list of quick dinners to put together. It actually took less than 15 minutes from start to finish! Of course the pasta was a quick cooking one, and the home made pesto was already available, but still its lovely to be able to put together a delicious meal with such little effort! Making the pesto would have taken another 10 minutes or so.
Recipe 9 of my 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge: I’m beating the heat today with the 3rd in the series of my No cook Gazpacho. Lunch was a cucumber sandwich and a bowl of this delicious chilled white Grape and Almond Gazpacho. Quick to make, tasty and lovely to look at too.
It is really impossible to cook in this weather. Bangalore is climbing dizzily to nearly 40 degrees Celsius, and there is no sign of rain or even light summer showers. Its early summer and I wonder what its going to be like in May and June when the heat is usually at its worst….
Recipe 7 of my 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge: Beat the heat with this refreshing Cold Pink Watermelon Gazpacho with Tomato, Mint and with Basil Oil – Just right for summer. The flavours of watermelon, tomato and cucumber and honey meld together into a mildly sweet soup with just enough tartness added in from the yogurt and lime juice, and a bout of freshness from the parsley and mint.
This is one of my favourite cold soups, the pretty pink Watermelon gazpacho flavoured with home made basil oil and with fresh herbs. Red ripe tomatoes will help to give the pink colour to the Watermelon Gazpacho. I have used heirloom tomatoes of a darker hue, some greenish, some brown, in the image above, and red tomatoes in the image below – and this may give a difference to the colour and the flavour of the soup.
The Tomatoes, Parsley, Cucumber and Basil were all purchased by me from First Agro Farms through their Sakura Fresh division. These zero pesticide vegetables and herbs enhance the health quotient of this delicious Chilled Soup.
For the recipe for my homemade Basil oil for flavouring the Pink Watermelon Gazpacho, check out this link here. It takes just a few minutes and 3 ingredients (including salt) to make the Basil Oil, and it adds a lovely flavour to the soup.
Recipe 6 of my 100 Healthy Recipes Challenge: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes are usually easy to follow and delicious when made. This Cucumber Spinach Walnut Chilled Green Gazpacho is a a gorgeous cold soup made of fresh and raw ingredients such as spinach and cucumber, with yogurt, bread, olive oil, herbs and walnuts making up the medley of flavours. I have deviated slightly from the recipe in his Plenty Cookbook, using white wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar, and a few other minor changes.
Delicious Asparagus Pasta – Fettucine in a simple creamy sauce, with the contrasting crunch of broccoli, asparagus and almonds – a delicious pasta, quick and easy to make. The addition of basil pesto gives a rich and delicious taste to the sauce, and perks up the Pasta.
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