Posts tagged ‘goat cheese’

March 27, 2012

Carrots and Peppers Roasted with Harissa and Lentils

Every now and then, I have ice cream and popcorn for lunch.

I know from where you’re sitting it probably looks all like salads, roasted vegetables and legumes over here. And I love all that stuff…that’s why I write this blog. I make them taste good and they make me feel good. It’s a love-love relationship.

But sometimes (usually on a Saturday) a late lunch ends up being two scoops of the silliest flavors you can think of (No joke, I had a gingerbread flavor called Hansel He’s So Hot Right Now this weekend. It was marvelous.) and some salty popcorn to balance it all out.

Ain’t no thing.

Part of me likes to think I’m doing 7-year-old me justice and living the dream of ice cream whenever I want. I kind of am.

My goal when I make a salad is to make it as alluring as ice cream for lunch can sometimes be. I like to give it an edge, (read: cheese) a little extra flair (harissa) and implement some lazy, but effective technique (roasting) – together those things make a lunch that I would pick over ice cream 6 days out of 7.

Carrots, Peppers and Lentils
- 4 large carrots, cut into rounds
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 1 cup cooked French lentils*
- 1/4 cup goat or feta cheese for serving
- salt, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 220 C/430 F.

Combine carrots, peppers olive oil and harissa in a large bowl. Mix well until the vegetables are well coated with oil and harissa.

Spread vegetables out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing half-way through, until golden brown.

Combine lentils and vegetables in a bowl. Add a touch more olive oil if the vegetables are a little dry. Sprinkle with salt and cheese and serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes:
For cooking lentils: Place 1/2 cup dry lentils in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 – 2 cups water and a whole garlic clove. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for 25-30 minutes until tender. Drain well to serve.

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March 21, 2012

Fig and Caramelized Onion Pita Pizzas

Figs are having their autumn moment!

And I’m majorly feeling the pressure. Figs bring on a case of cook’s block for me every time. It’s like writer’s block, but with ingredients.

My knee-jerk reaction is to slice them open and eat them on their own, but I also don’t want to miss the opportunity to cook with them.

I agonize over what I can make with these revered little parcels. I want something a little different, but I also want to maintain the fig’s natural flavor and texture.  You know, treat them right.

I think it’s best to keep it simple. They’re perfect on toast with ricotta and drizzle of honey. Or sliced with a little sweet cheese on each piece, canape style.

One of my favorite simple short-cuts is using thin pita bread as a quick pizza crust. This time, I decorated them with complimenting flavors like goat cheese, caramelized onion and of course, figs. Top with some mesculin greens tossed with a little olive oil just before serving and we’re in business!

Boom. Celebration of figs.

Fig and Caramelized Onion Pita Pizzas
(makes 2 pizzas)
- 2 pita breads, poked with a fork*
- 1 large red onion, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing and garnishing
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2-4 fresh figs, sliced into discs*
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- salt and pepper, to taste

For salad topping
- 1 cup mesculin greens or arugula
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

To caramelize the onions, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add onions, salt and balsamic vinegar. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until browned and completely soft.

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.

Prepare a baking tray by coating it in a small amount of olive oil. (This helps the pitas crisp up without becoming brittle.)

Put together your pizzas, starting with spreading the caramelized onions on the pitas. Top with sliced figs, cheese and nuts. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper and drizzle each pizza with a small about of olive oil (about a 1/2-1 teaspoon for each pizza.)

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until everything is heated through.

In a bowl mix greens with olive oil, salt and pepper. Top heated pizzas with the greens and serve immediately.

*Notes:
- Putting little holes in the pitas prevents them from ballooning in the oven.
- The amount of figs you’ll need depends on the size of your figs and of your pitas. I only used two figs for the pizzas pictured.

March 13, 2012

Grape and Goat Cheese Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

It’s lovely to have a weekend away. An entire weekend of seeing new things.

Eating at new and exciting places for every meal.

Finding new inspiration.

Escaping your routine.

Walking new places.

Getting lost.

You know, shaking it up a little.

After a relaxing weekend of eating and drinking in Melbourne, it’s nice to be home.

Back to my bed. Back to my routine.

A routine of morning jogs, writing in the evenings, and lunchtime salads. My routine isn’t special, but I like having it to come home to. These are the simple things in my day that never fail to make me feel good.

         

Grapes are in season! The red ones have been particularly crunchy and sweet. I usually just keep a big bowl in the fridge and grab a handful of them in between meals. But I love using them in savory salads for extra texture and juiciness, too. I used a honey vinaigrette to compliment the fruit, nuts and cheese.

Red Grape and Goat Cheese Salad
(serves 2)
- 3-4 big handfuls of baby arugula, washed and dried
- 1 cup red grapes, cut in half
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely shredded
- 1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese
- 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
- 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, chopped

Honey Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon good quality honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Place all ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a lid. Shake it up well to make sure all that honey blends with the oil and vinegar.

Pour dressing over salad, toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

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