Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

For the most part, I am trying to eat healthy. I am quite a bit fussy about salads though. They can just be so ordinary and unfulfilling. I always need something to give them a bit more substance. For example, quinoa, pearl couscous or a starchy vegetable like in this case, sweet potato. I cook with sweet potato quite a lot because it’s flavoursome, healthy and most importantly filling.

I was out shopping earlier for groceries and noticed that my local store had pomegranates! I’ve eaten them numerous times but have never actually bought one. Decided to take the plunge and buy one. With a bit of manual labour, I managed to get out all the seeds ready for use. I normally don’t like fruit in my savoury salads but pomegranates are the exception. So in went a handful of fresh pomegranate seeds. Now for a dressing. I wanted something tangy but not with too much vinegar so went with a honey mustard style dressing. Easy to make with ingredients that most people will have in their pantries staples.

Sweet Potato Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

What you’re going to need

Salad

½ gold sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small even pieces

Generous handful of mixed green salad leaves

1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds

20 g feta cheese

Dressing (note: these are rough measures so taste you as go until you’re happy)

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

Pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a baking tray, add the sweet potato with a drizzle of oil and pinch of salt. Bake until soft. (15-20 minutes roughly)
  3. Whilst the potato is baking, place all salad ingredients on your serving plate.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined (you’ll find that the dressing will split if you leave it sitting on the bench so whisk just before serving as well)
  5. Once potatoes are cooked, allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving with the rest of the salad and dressing.

 

 Sweet Potato Salad

 

Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake

I must admit, I only really got into tinned tuna last year. Before that, I’d eat it sporadically and just mix it with corn kernels and seasoning. Now that I am working full time and often procrastinate preparing my lunch until the morning of…(habit I am trying to break that’s for sure), I often find myself looking for things I can just pick up and easily pair with something else. My favourite last minute lunch that is healthy and filling is just simply a tin of tuna, single serve microwave rice, half an avocado plus seasoning. Works well when it needs to but you can only eat so much tuna and rice right?

Alas, today’s meal was a combination of carb cravings, utilising leftovers and of course branching out of my go to tuna routine. The gift I had today was time. I wasn’t in a rush to bolt out the door and make my train and so could actually concentrate on making something flavoursome. This is simple home cooking and it just works so well every time.

Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

1 cup spiral pasta

100 ml cream

1 teaspoon butter

1 70g tin tuna

handful baby spinach, roughly chopped

3 slices sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

tasty cheese, grated (quantity up to you)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. Cook pasta as per packet instructions until al dente.
  3. In a saucepan on a medium heat, add the cream, butter and seasoning until well combined. Optional: mix in a bit of the grated cheese here for extra flavour.
  4. Once the sauce is ready, add the cooked pasta, tuna, spinach and tomatoes. Stir until the pasta is well coated and the additions are mixed in evenly.
  5. In a small baking dish, add the pasta mixture and spread evenly. Add the rest of the grated cheese.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese on the top goes crispy. Set to cool for 5 minutes and then eat.*

Tuna Pasta Bake.JPG

* This recipe is freezer friendly. Wait until completely cool and freeze in a snap lock bag. 

Spinach and Feta Fritters

I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to crave ultimate mood food (aka pizza, burgers and the like) when I am relaxing. To me, Sunday is my day of relaxation. I am usually at home and pretty lazy quite frankly but a girl’s gotta eat right? And so comes today’s recipe.

Opened the fridge and it was pretty bare. However we tend to freeze our leafy greens when they’re no longer good for fresh use so I had a whole stash of kale and spinach ready to go. Next stop, creamy element. I’m a big sucker for cheese and eat it religiously so threw some feta in the mix for these ones as it pairs perfectly with leafy greens. Lastly, a twist. A half filled jar of semi dried tomatoes that lifted the dish to what became a really great lunch.

Spinach and Feta fritters (yields 4-6 small fritters) 

What you’re going to need

1 heaped cup of baby spinach and kale

3 small semi dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

20g feta cheese

1 egg

1/2- 1 tablespoon self raising flour

salt and pepper to season

basil + olive oil to dress (optional)

Method

  1. In a pulse blender, combine the baby spinach, kale feta and semi dried tomatoes. Pulse until roughly chopped (don’t blend too much or you’ll end up with more of a dip consistency)
  2. Transfer mixture from the blender to a small bowl. Add the egg and mix well with a fork. Once combined, add small amounts of flour and stir until mixture holds well together but it’s not too thick. (too much flour makes fritters rubbery in texture and taste. Add with caution)
  3. Heat up a non stick fry pan on medium. Once hot, spoon even amounts of the mixture onto the pan. Cook on one side for about 2 minutes or until you can comfortably flip them over with a spatula. Flip over and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until golden brown
  4. Serve immediately with chopped basil and olive oil drizzle.

Spinach and Feta Fritters

 

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells

Hope everyone is having a great Easter long weekend! I have been cooking away and experimenting a fair bit and I’m excited to share another recipe with you all.

I aim to make my work lunches with tuna or make them vegetarian just because meat is so expensive! I have been on a bit of a streak lately where I have come up with some tasty, filling and cheap lunch options. There were some odds and ends around the kitchen today. I wanted to use up the bits of food we had leftover both in the fridge and pantry to make this dish. I decided to substitute the meat in this dish with potato. It worked well and gave the dish the substance to make it a complete dish. I have also developed the flavours with cheese, garlic and Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce.

Vegetarian Stuffed Pasta Shells (serves 2)

What you’re going to need

10 giant pasta shells (these were from a local food market which sells an abundance of Italian food products)

1 medium potato, diced

100 grams baby spinach

50 grams feta

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup Italian pasta sauce (I used Barilla Basilico Pasta Sauce)

100 grams cheddar, grated (I used Mersey Valley)

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a small saucepan, add the diced potato to cold water and bring to the boil. In a medium saucepan, bring a pot of water and salt (1/2 tablespoon) to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.
  3. In a food processor, blitz the spinach, feta, garlic, salt and pepper until coarse. (you don’t want to blitz it for too long and end up with a dip…)
  4. Mash the potato to remove the large lumps and then combine with the spinach mixture.
  5. Have a small baking dish ready. Place a heaped spoon of the filling into each of the giant pasta shells and place in one layer in the baking dish until all the shells are filled. Spoon pasta sauce over the shells and cover the top and around the sides. Place the grated cheddar on the top evenly.
  6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

 

Tuna and Corn Fritters with Yoghurt Sauce

Fritters. Something that I thoroughly enjoy eating but have struggled to get 100% right. I’m either putting too much flour, or adding milk when I don’t have to or just the combination of flavours doesn’t work out.

Ages ago when I was super lazy but hungry for something healthy, I would just eat tinned tuna, corn kernels with salt and pepper. It served its purpose but was just not enough to make a meal and so stemmed the idea to incorporate this flavour combo into fritters.

This recipe has just four ingredients + any additional seasoning you want to add. I decided to serve this up with a quick yoghurt sauce I threw together. I will provide the recipe for the sauce I made as well.

Here it is if you want to have a go! Fritters are dairy free but can be made gluten free with a simple flour swap.

Tuna and Corn Fritters (yields 2 large or 4 small fritters)

what you’re going to need

Fritters

1 x 75 g tinned tuna

1 x 75 g tin corn kernels

2 tablespoons plain flour (or gluten free alternative)

1 egg

salt and pepper, to season

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Yoghurt Sauce (serves 2) 

1/4 cup plain greek yoghurt (I use Jalna)

1/3 cup cucumber, grated and squeezed to remove as much liquid as possible

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

generous squeeze fresh lime

pinch of mixed herbs

sea salt, to season

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients for the yoghurt sauce and mix until well combined. Place in the fridge ready for serving
  2. In another bowl, add all the ingredients and mix until well combined.
  3. Heat up olive oil in a fry pan on a medium heat. Using a ladle or large spoon, place even amounts of batter into the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown.
  4. On a plate, place a large dollop of the yoghurt sauce then the fritters on top. Garnish with additional lime juice and parsley. Serve immediately.

Tuna and Corn Fritters

I am submitting my recipe today as part of the Our Growing Edge monthly food sharing community. The theme this month is Family Favourites and is hosted by Mark and Susan over at Simple Sundays. If you are interested in sharing your Family Favourites creations this month, check out the instructions on how to submit over at Our Growing Edge.

Pearl Couscous Salad with Chunky Tomato Sauce

The daily dilemma…figuring out what to have for lunch. I was fortunate to be off work when I thought up this recipe so conveniently had an open pantry to work with. Even so, many find themselves swamped with ingredients and not a clue how they fit together.

Lucky for you, one of my favourite pastimes is picking an assortment of ingredients, throwing them together and hoping they will taste amazing.

Pearl couscous is such an interesting grain. It works as a really good filler for salads and an accompaniment to a stew and the like. My original intention for this was to pair it with leftover roast lamb but there was a miscommunication in the kitchen and so my father took it with him to work instead. Alas, crisis management kicked in and I worked with what I had to still make something tasty.

My favourite part of this dish is the crispy fried capers! I’ve seen chefs on cooking shows use this technique numerous times and have always been keen to try it out myself! Super easy and result is definitely worth the minimal effort required.

Pearl Couscous Salad with Chunky Tomato Sauce

What you’re going to need

1/4 cup pearl couscous

a generous handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (I used Perino tomatoes for this recipe)

one slice shortcut bacon, sliced into small pieces

6 kalamata olives, sliced in half

teaspoon baby capers

fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to season

olive oil

Method

  1. Cook pearl couscous to packet instructions.
  2. Whilst the couscous is cooking, fry up the bacon in a small pan until crispy. Set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add a splash of olive oil and heat the oil to a medium heat. Place capers in the pan and fry until aromatic and the colour has darkened (max 30 seconds). Remove from pan and set aside on paper towel to drain.
  4. In a saucepan, add the cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper. Mash up the tomatoes until a relish like texture forms.
  5. Add in the couscous, bacon and fresh basil and mix until well combined. Take off the heat and mix in the olives. Place in a bowl and top with the capers!

pearl-couscous-salad

 

 

 

Quinoa Tuna Bake

I am a massive fan of pasta bake. Creamy, cheesy pasta bake. Having IBS and being mildly lactose intolerant doesn’t mean one of my favourite dishes is ruined. As this was intended for work lunches, I wanted it to be lighter and healthier than the original pasta bake.

So… I switched out the pasta for quinoa. This was definitely an experiment. I have cooked with quinoa numerous times and have a good feel about what flavours work best with it. And since tinned tuna has basically become a staple part of my diet, I have incorporated tuna into the dish as well (over the usual BBQ chicken and bacon). I also figured if I was trying to “healthify” my favourite dish to this extent, I should add broccoli as well.

Now to the sauce. I went for more of a buerre blanc style sauce instead a bechamel style sauce which is what the pasta bake I have at home normally consists of. Definitely losing health points here but hey, the flavour needs to come from somewhere.

In conclusion, I only post food that I believe is worth trying out for yourself so if i wasn’t happy with this, I would not have shared. Be brave and see how you go.

Quinoa Tuna Bake (serves 6, or 6 work lunches for 1)

What you’re going to need

1 cup quinoa, cooked to packet instructions

1/2 broccoli, roughly chopped in small pieces

2 tins 75g tuna (I used Greenseas Tuna in Oil but you can use the Springwater one as well)

cheddar cheese, for grating on top

Sauce

1/3 cup white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc for cooking but up to you)

150ml cream (I use lactose free)

1-2 tablespoon butter (to taste)

sprinkle nutmeg

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a saucepan on a medium heat, add the wine and cook out the alcohol. Add the cream and butter and stir until well combined. Add the nutmeg and any seasoning.
  3. Add the cooked quinoa, broccoli and tuna to the sauce or vice versa (you will need a big saucepan for this) and mix until all the added ingredients are coated in the sauce.
  4. *** Add mixture into a large baking dish and distribute evenly. Top with grated cheddar  (i’ll leave you to decide how much cheese you want to add).
  5. Pop in the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and darkened slightly. Serve warm.

quinoa-tuna-bake

*** If you don’t want cheese on top, then you can skip the oven steps. Another option for extra flavour is a homemade chunky breadcrumb to give the dish more texture.