Spelt Salad with Broccoli, Walnuts and Pomegranate

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Having developed a recent interest in the macrobiotic diet and its emphasis on whole grains, I am a recent convert to spelt. They call it dinkel in Germany and I think that is a much nicer name, making it sound more whimsical. I actually prefer the spelt raw and soaked for about 24 hours. I add it to stir fries and salads but I know that some people find it irritates their digestive system, so I have cooked it here. I made this really spicy with some great locally grown chillies I bought in a big bunch on the market  in Berlin yesterday but you can leave it out all together if you prefer. This really is a meal in itself and it is delicious. It is chewy and crunchy and sweet and very savoury, all at the same time and, of course, incredibly nutritious. I served it on a bed of baby spinach leaves and we ate it with the soba noodle salad but we are greedy.

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

50g of raw spelt boiled for about 20 minutes until it is still chewy but not hard

A handful of raw broccoli very finely shredded

A handful of finely chopped cucumber

2 large handfuls of fresh coriander chopped

Seeds from half a fresh pomegranate

A large handful of walnuts, toasted in the oven for 10 minutes and roughly chopped

A tablespoon of olive oil

A teaspoon of cider vinegar

The juice of half a small lemon

2 teaspoons of tahina

Half a teaspoon of dijon mustard

A tiny amount of crushed raw garlic

1 large chilli very finely chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all of the fresh ingredients with the spelt in a large bowl. Combine the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, tahina, mustard, garlic and chilli to make a dressing. Pour dressing onto the salad. Season to taste.

 

 

 

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Avocado and Potato Salad

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The sun has been shining a  lot this February in Berlin and it makes me think more about summer food. There are some decent organic avocados in the shops, although they have travelled a long way. Potatoes are always delicious in Germany and there are some lovely salad version available. This is a hearty, rich salad which should only be lightly dressed otherwise it becomes too cloying. It is best with the potatoes still warm.

Ingredients

Serves 1 as a main course

A whole ripe avocado

A Little Gem lettuce or a Romaine heart

6-8 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters

A large spring onion very finely chopped

6 tiny salad potatoes

A tablespoon of shop bought or homemade salad dressing of choice

Boil the potatoes whole for 20 minutes and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Finely chop the lettuce and place in the bottom of a bowl. Add tomatoes and the avocado chopped. Add the potatoes to the top of the salad and then sprinkle over the onion. Dress lightly and season to taste.

Pomegranate and Tomato Salsa

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There are some very large pomegranates in the supermarkets in Berlin at the moment and they are really juicy. This is deliciously fresh and healthy and works really well served with the eggplant pilaf. We like it spicy in our  house, so bear this in mind! Use the best tomatoes you can find.

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a side dish

The juice and seeds of one large pomegranate

About 15 cherry tomatoes or 3 large, ripe tomatoes chopped

A spring onion chopped very finely

A large green chili very finely chopped

A large handful of fresh coriander finely shopped

A tablespoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the  ingredients in a medium bowl and season to taste. Leave for an hour before eating for the flavours to develop.

French Bean and Walnut Salad

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I refuse to buy French beans brought in from Kenya or South America but when they are in season in Europe I love to incorporate then into salads or sauté them in garlic oil. They remind me a lot of trips to Paris where the beans are always tiny and tender. This salad feels very French. You could add black olives or capers for a salty bite.

Preparation time and cooking time 10 minutes

Makes a large bowl

150g of French beans topped and tailed

Half a romaine lettuce

Balsamic dressing

Two handfuls of toasted walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the beans in boiling water for five minutes and then refresh in cold water so that they keep their colour. Shred the lettuce coarsely and place into the bottom of a large salad bowl. Throw the whole beans on top and scatter the coarsely chopped nuts over the salad. Pour over a tablespoon of balsamic dressing and season to taste.

Super Food Quinoa Salad with Walnuts, Pomegranate and Cranberries

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All of the ingredients in this salad are highly nutritious and it is super tasty. I am impressed with the versatility of quinoa and it is so easy to prepare. Walnuts, pomegranates and cranberries are all great foods for the Autumn. This dish is a complete meal but and it could also be served with a casserole when you want to impress or inside a wrap with some baba ghanoush as a snack.

Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes

Ingredients
Makes a large bowlful
100g of quinoa
A handful of toasted walnuts roughly chopped
Seeds and juice from half a pomegranate
A tablespoon of dried cranberries
2 spring onions chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Half a tablespoon of olive oil
A handful each of fresh coriander, fresh mint and fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the quinoa in cold water. Place in a pan with enough water to cover the quinoa plus 2cm. Bring to the boil and turn to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for about 7 minutes until the quinoa is half cooked. Turn off the heat and leave for another 5 minutes till all of the water has been absorbed. Leave to cool.

Place the cooled quinoa and all of the other ingredients in a large bowl and combine.

Raw Mushroom and Pine Nut Salad

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I stole this idea from Twelve Apostles restaurant in Berlin where I ate something similar last weekend. There it was made with rocket but I used a crispy Lollo Rossi lettuce instead. Pine nuts are expensive but they are really delicious and transform this salad to something quite special.

Serves 4
Total Preparation and Cooking Time 10 minutes

Ingredients
Three large handfuls of crispy lettuce leaves roughly chopped
A medium carrot very finely sliced
Five mushrooms shaved finely
A handful of pine nuts
A tablespoon of honey mustard dressing or another sweetest salad dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a cast iron frying pan and toast the nuts evenly, shaking the pan to stop them from burning. When cool combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.

Roasted Corn and Butternut Squash Couscous Salad

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Couscous can be very dull and you need to add a lot of flavour to make it into something wonderful. This dish has sweetness from both the squash and the corn plus bags of freshness from the mint and coriander. We like our food spicy so you can also add chill like I did to give an extra punch but it can be left out. Chickpeas are added for extra protein but green lentils would also work.

This could be served on its own or as part of a vegan mezze platter. It could also be put inside a wrap with some red pepper hummus from the previous recipe. You could add a handful of toasted walnuts for extra texture.

Makes a large bowlful
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
150g couscous
Half a small butternut squash
Half a tin of chickpeas
2 ears of fresh corn
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
A handful of fresh mint chopped
Half a clove of garlic
A tablespoon of honey mustard dressing
A teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (optional)
A spring onion finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste?

Cut the butternut squash in half and place on a baking tray with the corn ears. Roast in the oven at 170 Celsius. Remove the corn after about 10 minutes and remove the squash after a total of about 30 minutes. Leave to cool.

Place the couscous in a pan and add just enough boiling water to cover the couscous. Leave with a lid on for 10 minutes then remove the lid and stir with a fork. Put to one side.

When all the ingredients are cool, place the couscous in a large bowl and add the chickpeas, mint, garlic, coriander and onion. Chop the squash into bitesize pieces and remove the corn from the cobs. Add the squash, corn and dressing to the couscous mixture and season to taste. Add the chilli if using. Chill before serving.