Monthly Archives: November 2012

Vegetable Couscous Salad

2 recipes posted in under a week? If you are guessing that I must have something really important to do, and that this is the perfect form of procrastination – then indeed you are right. This is pretty mild procrastination compared to the lengths of my desperation yesterday. I actually entered myself into this month long novel-writing challenge and while I should have been analysing identity theory, I was in my own fantasy world writing pages and pages about an impending apocalypse. I have serious issues when it comes to work motivation.

This recipe is SO easy but I know when it comes to new lunch ideas for kiddos that it is always useful to find a new meal. Ivy is admittedly a fantastic eater but she seems to usually reserve all her open-mindedness for dinner. While I am cooking dinner she is usually so desperate for food that I can get her to literally eat anything. I’m not even kidding. This kid snacks on raw pepper and spinach like its chocolate spread on ice cream. What kind of toddler does that? But when it comes to lunch, she is usually strictly a scrambled-eggs-and-toast kinda gal. A few days ago we had almost nothing in the kitchen and due to my inability to cope with a minor cold, I was still in pyjamas and didn’t fancy venturing out the house, so I came up with this. And it was surprisingly incredibly tasty, made even more enjoyable by watching Ivy shovel down huge chunks of raw tomato and cucumber. You could add anything to this salad, I would have added some chopped parsley or coriander if it weren’t for the still-in-pyjamas issue, and I was going to add  black olives but Ivy was getting so stressed out watching me try to open the jar for 15 minutes that I decided it was best for all of us if I just gave up.

Anyway, this is a yum recipe and would make a good side dish to a dinner of falafel, pitta and tzatziki.

Vegetable Couscous Salad (serves 2)

150g couscous

300ml vegetable stock

1/4 large cucumber, cut into chunks

1-2 salad tomatoes, de-seeded and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon cumin

A dash of lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pour the stock on the couscous, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until soft. Combine the rest of the ingredients and serve.

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Evidence (the serious look on her face means she is enjoying it):

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Right, back to the apocalypse.

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Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu

The U.K does not know how to celebrate Halloween properly. Every year, I watch Hocus Pocus approximately 10 times and totally forget that such a quaint and wholesome (minus the witches and zombies) Halloween doesn’t exist here. Sigh. Growing up in South West London, in a wealthy area filled with American families, I got to sample how Halloween SHOULD be. Grottos, street parties, kids overdosing on sugar in uncomfortable masks and cheap witches hats – unfortunately where we live now is not quite the same. On the upside, Ivy had a great time and has subsequently spent today saying ‘trick or treat’ instead of ‘hello’ to everyone she meets. Poor kid doesn’t realised that me and her daddy demolished half her sweet collection while she was sleeping last night – I was thinking about her teeth OKAY???

The funnest part for me is always the pumpkin carving. This year me and my boyfriend were in slight competition as per usual. I obviously won. I needn’t even say which one is mine.

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(But just in case my confidence is a little over-stated and deluded, its the one on the left)

I really wanted to come up with some amazing pumpkin inspired recipe but if I am being completely honest, I just don’t like pumpkin very much. Plus the whole pumpkin carving process was so stressful and treacherous that I had no desire to eat the damn thing once I  was done. When it comes to happy holiday celebrations, I am still learning. Upon second reading, I also realise that this contradicts with my previous statement proclaiming my love of pumpkin carving. But isn’t love stressful and treacherous sometimes? Bit of philosophical thinking for ya there.

So instead I came up this. I have only started liking and eating mushrooms recently. This is a very big deal for me, suddenly being a healthy vegetarian is so much easier! Plus, mushrooms are cheap. And really really tasty. I don’t know what I was thinking all these years.

Mushroom and Cherry Tomato Ragu (serves 4)

250g chesnut mushrooms, sliced

A handful of shiitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 celery sticks, diced

150g cherry tomatoes, halved

Sugar

1 can chopped tomatoes

Tablespoon of tomato paste

Worcester sauce

100ml white wine

Handful of basil leaves, torn

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 200c. In a baking tray, lay out the halved cherry tomatoes, season with a little sugar, salt and pepper and a few glugs of olive oil and leave aside.

In a heavy based pan, heat oil. Add the onion and fry until softened, then adding the garlic, celery and mushrooms, cooking for a further 3-4 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, then adding the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then simmer, adding the worcester sauce and a teaspoon of sugar.

Once the sauce is simmering, put the cherry tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes then remove from oven. Carry on simmering the ragu sauce until it is quite thick, then stir in the tomatoes and heat for a few minutes. Serve on buttery spaghetti and add the basil leaves to garnish.

Here is this entry’s slightly more attractive photo:

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