Lentil, squash, halloumi and bacon salad

I made this salad for a lovely light lunch when working from home one day. With little preparation required, it’s perfect for a simple meal when you don’t have much time to be preparing food. The combination of halloumi, bacon, squash, red onion and lentils is fantastic as it is, but elevated even further by adding dukkah pomegranate seeds. For a vegetarian option, you can just omit the bacon. As far as salads go, you really don’t have to do much convincing when you mention halloumi and/or bacon…

Lentil, squash and za’atar halloumi salad

Serves 2 | Prepare 5 minutes | Cook 30 minutes | Gluten-free , Vegetarian| Easy

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You’ll need
  • 250g frozen butternut squash, defrosted and cut into bite-sized chunks;
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges;
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar;
  • 250g pack ready-to-eat puy lentils;
  • 2 handfuls spinach;
  • 1/2 pomegranate seeds;
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 125g halloumi cut in 6 slices;
  • 4 slices smoked bacon (optional).

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Toss the squash and onion in a large roasting tray with 1 tbsp olive oil, season. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing halfway through. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining oil with the vinegar and season. Tip in the lentils, warm veg, spinach and most of the pomegranate. Mix gently.

Heat frying pan over a medium heat. Scatter the cumin and Za’atar over the halloumi and fry for 2 minutes on each side. If you are using bacon, you can fry it too at this point. Divide the salad between two plates, top with the halloumi and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate.

Original recipe from myWaitrose magazine, issue April 2013, not available online.

 

Pan-roasted ling with clams, perry & curly kale

This recipe requires a little bit of effort, but it is absolutely worth it. Ling is a subtle tasting fish from the cod family which is beautifully complemented by the clams, perry sauce and zesty kale. It’s healthy but incredibly tasty meal which is perfect for when you want to make something special but not too fussy. If you can’t find any ling, just use cod or other similar white fish. I have slightly modified the recipe which I found in BBC Good Food magazine, issue February 2012 and it was also featured in Saturday Kitchen by chef Lawrence Keogh.

Pan-roasted ling with clams, perry & curly kale

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Notes: I couldn’t get any ling and I used cod instead – it worked just fine! Also if kale doesn’t quite cut it, just serve with some buttered boiled potatoes.

Serves 2 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 20 mins | Difficulty easy, but requires a little effort | Gluten Free

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil;
  • 2 x 150g ling fillets, skin on;
  • 300g clams;
  • 200ml perry (pear cider);
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped;
  • 60g butter;
  • 110g curly kale leaves, stalks removed;
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest;
  • 2 tsp finely chopped chives, to serve.

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170c fan/ gas 5. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the fish, skin-down, and cook for 2-3 mins. Flip and cook for 2 mins, or until golden brown. Transfer the fish to a baking tray and place in the oven for 5-6 mins, or until just cooked through. Remove and set aside to rest.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the saucepan and add the clams, perry and shallots. Quickly for 2-3 mins, shaking the pan occasionally, or until the clams have opened up.and the liquid has reduced slightly. Drain through a fine sieve and return the liquid to pan. Discard any clams that remain shut.
  3. Bring the clam liquor back to the boil and cook until reduced by about two-thirds. Gradually, whisk in 45g of the butter, a piece at a time, then season with salt and white pepper.
  4. While the stock is reducing, cook the kale leaves in boiling salted water for 2-3 mins or until just tender. Drain and toss with the remaining butter, lemon zest and some salt and white pepper.
  5. Pile up the kale on serving plates and place the fish on top. Arrange the clams around the plate and pour over the sauce. Finish with a sprinkling of fresh chives.Original recipe from BBC Good Food, issue February 2012. Also available here.

Cashew & Date energy balls

Energy bars/balls are my go-to snack before exercising, when I get cravings for something sweet or to satisfy my hunger when I know I won’t be able to have dinner until late. There is a really good selection out there which provides vegan/gluten-free and a healthier alternative to cereal bars. However, they often aren’t very cheap and even bulk buying can be quite expensive. So I’ve started making some myself. Energy bars/balls can vary in complexity and ingredients but often they contain a couple of simpler ingredients like nuts (think cashews, almonds, brazil nuts and dried fruits (dates, apricots etc). They can also include things like whey protein,  cocoa, chia seed, flax seed etc.   There is still a lot I have to learn about ingredients and their health benefits but I still go about making some simpler versions of my own, which help with cravings and power me up before exercising.

Here is a simple recipe I made over the weekend:

Cashew & Date Energy Balls

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Makes: 6 walnut-sized balls | Time: 15 minutes (including soaking) | Difficulty: Easy | Vegan and Gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 10 pitted dates;
  • 100g. cashews;
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut + a few extra tbsps for serving;
  • 1 tbsp cocoa (optional).

Method

  1. Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain. Add the dates and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until combined.
  2. Shape into balls, roughly the size of a walnut and roll around in the remaining coconut shavings. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container and eat within a week.

I hope you enjoy making these I look forward to your own variations!

~Em