Vic-terranean Salad

Do you know what else I love?

A really good lunch.

Once, at a work meeting, the venue we went to supplied us with a very fancy lunch and on that day I had the most incredible Mediterranean Salad. It took me like three days to stop talking about it and even longer to stop thinking about it and I knew it was only a matter of time before I attempted to recreate it with a twist of my own.

[Enter: meat, meat and more meat]

Honestly, can you really say you’ve eaten anything if there’s no meat inside? 
(Please vegetarians/vegans shouldn’t come and kill me- you don’t have to add meat to this salad)

If you do decide to add meat, however, I’d suggest white meat or fish. The venue served the salad with salmon (which was delicious) and it also went really well with the pork belly I made (even though pork is technically red meat). I imagine it would also go very well with chicken or turkey.

The thing that excited me the most about this recipe was the use of nuts!

I usually only eat nuts on their own as a snack, or in food like cereal or chocolate but other than in a few Asian dishes, I’ve never really eaten nuts as part of the main meal. So this definitely added to the appeal of trying to recreate the recipe as it would be something I hadn’t cooked before.

And let me tell you; it was sensational.

And super quick to make!

salad

Ingredients used:

  • Pork Belly, cut into bitesize chunks
  • Broccoli, top cut into small florets
  • 25g Sundried Tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • A handful of mixed nuts, ground in a pestle and mortar briefly to break up into smaller chunks
  • Seasonings
    • 1 tsp Rapeseed Oil
    • 1/2 Garlic Clove, chopped finely
    • Rosemary, sprinkle
    • Black Pepper, using a mill
    • 1 seasoning cube (Maggi/Knorr)
    • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
    • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 tbsp Manuka Honey
    • Italian Herbs

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. In a bowl, place the pork belly and season with rapeseed oil, garlic, rosemary, black pepper and seasoning cube.
  2. Mix together and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the salad ingredients as listed above (do not mix together yet).

Cooking time – 25 mins

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the pork belly on a foil-lined oven tray and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then turn the pork belly and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 4 minutes and drain well.
  4. Mix the broccoli together with the sundried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and mixed nuts in a bowl.
  5. To create the dressing for the salad, mix the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, manuka honey and a pinch of Italian herbs.
  6. Once the pork is ready, serve with the salad and drizzle the dressing on top.
  7. Enjoy!

Extra tip: if you like sweet meats as I do, when you take the pork belly out of the oven to turn over, glaze with some honey for an extra kick.

Pesto Tagliatelle

You ever get those days when the only thing you want to eat is creamy, cheesy and carb-loaded?

This was one such day.

This meal is so delightful, and each calorie-filled bite is as decadent as the next.

Truly a hearty meal to curb any carb craving.

pesto carb

Ingredients used:

  • Fresh Egg Tagliatelle (500g pack)
  • Bacon Lardons (155g pack)
  • Smoked Back Bacon (6 rashers)
  • Chestnut mushrooms (4 or 5)
  • 1 large onion
  • Crème fraîche (300ml – you can use normal cream instead, but I happen to find it a little too sweet to use in cooking)
  • Seasonings
    • Vegetable oil – 1tbsp
    • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • 1 stock cubes (maggi/knorr)
    • Black pepper (I use a pepper mill)
    • Pesto – 3 tbsp
  • Parmesan cheese

Prep time – 5 mins

Method:

  1. Chop the onion and mushrooms and put into a bowl
  2. Slice the bacon rashers vertically and keep together with the Lardons

Cooking time – 25 mins

Cooking:

  1. In a large wok, fry the bacon and Lardons in vegetable oil until almost cooked. Then add the chopped onion and mushrooms to the wok.
  2. Season with the garlic, stock cube, black pepper and pesto.
  3. Add the Crème fraîche to the mixture and leave to simmer on low heat.
  4. In another saucepan, cook the Tagliatelle (follow the instructions on the packet).
  5. Once cooked, drain the water from the Tagliatelle and add the pasta to the wok.
  6. Stir in the pasta until all of it is covered by the creamy sauce.
  7. Leave to simmer for a further two minutes
  8. Serve

Extra tip: grate some Parmesan cheese over the pasta after serving and sprinkle some dried mixed herbs for aesthetics 

Spicy Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

Fun fact about me: I love meat. I really, really do.

I don’t think I’ve ever made a vegetarian meal in my life (at least willingly).

While I enjoy eating and cooking copious amounts of meat, I find that chicken is always at the bottom of the list of meats I make. It’s a little boring to me and prefer playing with red meats.

However, every once in a while a very silly craving for chicken will hit me and it won’t go away until I have done with it what my soul desires.

Thus we have this post.

I wanted chicken, I wanted Caribbean food and I wanted it immediately.

So I made it.

jerk chicken

Ingredients used:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Seasonings
    • Vegetable oil – 1tbsp
    • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • 2 stock cubes (maggi/knorr)
    • Crushed habanero chilli flakes or 2 scotch bonnets
    • Jerk seasoning (Dunns River is my favourite to use)
    • Thyme
    • Salt
  • 3 cups of rice (any type is fine- I only had basmati available)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of coconut milk

Prep time – 15 mins

Method (chicken):

  1. This step is optional but I always wash all my meat in warm water with a splash of vinegar
  2. Put the chicken, vegetable oil, half the chopped garlic, stock cubes, chilli flakes/scotch bonnets and jerk seasoning into a mixing bowl and mix together until all the chicken is covered.
  3. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Method (rice):

  1. Wash the rice by putting the rice in a bowl, submerging in warm water and stirring. Tilt the bowl to pour out the starchy water. Repeat this step until the water remains clear.
  2. Put the rice in a large saucepan.
  3. Pour the red kidney beans into the saucepan.
  4. Use a measuring cup to pour the coconut milk into the saucepan. (It’s usually about 2 cups). This step is important because you will subtract this number from the amount of water you put in the rice.
  5. Season with salt, thyme and the remaining garlic.

 

Cooking time for rice – 20 minutes

Cooking time for the chicken – 30 minutes

Cooking the chicken:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees(gas mark 5)
  2. Place the chicken on a foil-lined oven tray skin side down and leave to bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn the chicken thighs so the skin is facing upwards and leave to cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven once the juices run clear and the skin is nice and crispy.

Cooking the rice:

(For every cup of rice, use 1.5 cups of water to cook)

  1. Boil water in a kettle
  2. Add the boiling water to the rice (subtracting the number of cups that was used to add the coconut milk- so if 4.5 cups of water is needed to cook 3 cups of rice, and 2 cups of coconut milk was added to the rice, only 2.5 cups of water needs to be added to the rice).
    Who knew cooking required so much maths?
  3. Once the rice starts to boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
  4. Leave the rice to simmer for about 15-18 minutes then remove for heat and leave to steam in the saucepan for a further 2-5 minutes..
  5. Use a fork to fluff the rice and mix the kidney beans throughout.
  6. Serve.

Extra tip: use the stock from the chicken as a sauce for the rice.

Roasted Honey and Black Pepper Pork

Pork is probably my favourite meat.

I find it so versatile and it easily and readily absorbs the flavours of your desired cuisine.

My go to with pork is usually some sort of Asian flavour but one day I had a hankering for pork belly that I knew wouldn’t be satisfied with the Asian flavour.

So I went into my kitchen and let the spirit lead me.

IMG_2196

Ingredients used:

  • Pork belly (a pack bought from the supermarket)
  • Seasonings
    • Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
    • Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
    • 1/2 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • Chopped ginger (not much is needed)
    • 1 Stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • Crushed chilli flakes
    • Honey – 5 tbsp
    • Crushed black pepper

Prep time – 20 mins

Method:

  1. Cut the pork belly into bitesize chunks and put in a mixing bowl
  2. This step is optional but I always wash all my meat in warm water with a splash of vinegar
  3. Put the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes and stock cube into the bowl with the pork belly and mix together until all the pork is covered. For an extra kick, you can add half a scotch bonnet.
  4. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Cooking time – 25 minutes plus 5 minutes

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the pork belly on a foil-lined oven tray and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then turn the pork belly and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Take the pork out of the oven and coat with the honey and crushed black pepper.
  4. Increase the heat of the oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 5) and cook the pork for a further 3-5 minutes.
  5. Serve with steamed black kale and broccoli for a delicious and nutritious dinner.

Extra tip: if you’re feeling super hungry, this meal can also be paired with steamed rice.