Tag Archives: Salad

Sunshine food – Quesadillas

Quesadillas are something which I like to eat when I fancy a bit of sunshine –  I love them because they’re bursting with fresh and healthy ingredients and taste phenomenal for it. They’re also excellent barbecue fare for vegetarians. This is a recipe that I picked up from the excellent Otto Lenghi book ‘Plenty’ a few years ago and have written to my memory, making it time and time again.

(makes 8 quesadillas – sometimes less depending on how generously you fill them!)

1 pack of corn tortillas (the brand ‘Discovery’ do these in the UK – I always find they have them in Waitrose and make special trips to stock up on these!) – however, normal flour based ones will do the job too though if there is a corn tortilla deficit

2 ripe avocados
5 large ripe tomatoes (or lots of little ones, though these make the salsa a bit sweeter)
Half a red onion
3 spring onions (or thereabouts)
Juice of 1 lime
Crushed clove of garlic
1 fresh red chilli (finely diced)
pinch of salt
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 tbsps cider/white wine vinegar

1 tin of black beans (or equivalent in soaked weight)
1 bunch of fresh coriander (I often use  just one between the salsa and bean paste and add a little more ground coriander as my student budget prefers this)
1 tsp ground coriander
half a tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Juice of a lime

Soured cream (enough for a blob in each tortilla)
Grated cheddar (enough for a sprinkling on each tortilla)
Chopped jalapeno peppers  – also for sprinkling in the tortillas (the kind that come in vinegar in jars)

Chop the ends off the red onion, peel and then cut in half down the centre. Very finely slice this half to get neat little semi-circle slithers of onion. Place these in a large bowl (everything else will also go in here eventually) and mix with the vinegar. Then dice and slice all of the other salsa ingredients, finely chopping the leaves and stalks of the coriander and put these all in the bowl too. This is probably the most time consuming bit of the dish but well worth it!

For the bean paste, put all of the bean paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to form a lovely tasty paste.

Put a griddle pan (or failing that, a frying pan) on a good high heat whilst assembling the first 2 (unless you get several pans on the go, these cook 2 at a time). To assemble, put the tortilla on a plate, take a spoonful of the bean paste and spread it on the tortilla, leaving a good cm or two round the edge. Dollop some soured cream (or creme fraiche) in the middle of this in a little circle and then put a spoonful or two of salsa on. It’s best to go easy with the salsa otherwise it all ends up on the griddle pan which is rather upsetting. I find it’s generally better to serve it up with an extra spoonful of the stuff than overfill it and risk loosing it between the cavernous ridges of the griddle pan.

Once the salsa is on, sprinkle on some cheese and jalapenos then fold the tortilla gently in half  and put it on the hot griddle. Turn the griddle down to a medium heat so you don’t set the whole thing on fire and wait until the edges start turning the tiniest bit browned then flip the tortilla carefully and repeat (a few minutes on each side). If using a griddle this should result in lovely dark griddle lines across the tortillas.

I find that two of these alone is a good substantial lunch and one/two of these with a rice salad or some home made oven chips  is a substantial dinner.



Side Dish Steals the Show

Last night was a lazy one, I was cooking for myself and decided to keep it simple just do pasta and pesto with a little salad. However when I surveyed the cupboard for ingredients it turned out a standard salad was out of the question so I needed to get inventive. Therefore below is the result of what I did, it wasn’t until I sat down to eat it that I realised it was worth sharing (hence the dodgy photo after I’d started eating), and that it was in fact far more than a side dish; it was the best bit! There is no excuse for not giving it a go, took less time than the pasta to cook.

One lesson to take from this, for me anyway, is that when cooking with ‘healthy’ foods I should be bolder with my seasoning. I never shy away from using enough salt or oil when cooking a standard dish but the second part of my meal is to be healthy I under season and avoid cooking in butter. However I now realise I would eat such food more if I conceded even a little to putting enough taste in! Another idea to bulk this meal out into a main course would be the addition of lentils… easy enough.

Unexpectedly Good.. unlike my photography


  • 3 or 4 Big Handfuls of Spinach
  • Bit of Butter
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tomato – diced
  • Salt to taste


  1. Start by dry frying walnuts and seeds, quantity depends on how much you want (obviously)
  2. Then chop up your garlic and fry in a good knob of butter… on a low heat
  3. Before the garlic starts to brown put in the spinach with a dash of water – remember you are trying to wilt it not fry it. So you may even want to take it off the heat and just use the residual heat of the pan (or put a lid on)
  4. If you put too much water in the drain some off… no drama.
  5. Once the spinach has wilted and taken on the lovely garlic buttery sauce your pretty much there…. chuck in the diced tomato and seeds before seasoning to taste
  6. Enjoy!



Broccoli Winter Salad

A few weeks ago I found myself wanting something really fresh and garlicky and inspired by an earlier discovery of raw sprout salad, I decided to give raw broccoli a go, this is the resulting salad, made up largely of what happened to be around and it really seems to work – it’s certainly made my tastebuds happy. I found myself fancying this for lunch today, so am currently eating a big bowl of this salad whilst I type.

Serves 1

A very large handful of quite small Broccoli florets
A Handful of Cherry Tomatoes, or to taste
A Lump of Stilton Cheese (other cheese will do too)
Seeds – Pumpkin or sunflower
Curly Kale
A clove of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
Bread for croutons (optional)
Chilli (optional)

The ‘cooking’ part of this is more of an assembly –

1. Broccoli – This is lovely with completely raw broccoli but if you don’t fancy that or if your broccolis not looking at its best, I find that a very quick blanch in boiling water for no more than 1 minute leaves in crunchy but easier to eat. Be sure to run cold water over the broccoli the minute you drain it to stop the cooking process straight away and avoid soggy broccoli. The broccoli florets should be quite small – small enough that in a salad, you could spear broccoli and a taste of something else on your fork and still get it in your mouth!

2. Cherry tomatoes – quarter these to give nice little sweet hits throughout the salad.

3. Stilton – chop up very fine, the stilton adds nice little salty savoury touches to the salad – other types of cheese work great too – I sometimes have cheddar instead if there’s no stilton in the fridge.

4. Seeds – Toast these gently over a medium-low heat in a frying pan, being sure to move around regularly to avoid burning. After a few minutes they should begin to change colour and toast up nicely

5. Curly Kale – Tear the most tender and small looking bits up to give little penny sized bits of kale. Don’t cook this at all – as long as you go for only nice leafy bits (and no stalk) its really lovely raw. Don’t forget to wash it though!

6. Avocado – Chop smallish but not too small – do this last to stop it browning before you eat it!

7. Croutons – Chop bread into nice dainty chunks, coat in olive oil and seasoning and bake or grill until crispy. Make sure to check on these and turn them as required otherwise its easy to end up with a very burnt side and a not very cooked side on each crouton!!

8. Dressing – combine lemon juice, crushed garlic (about half a clove is plenty for 1 person), a good glug of olive oil (the amount of olive oil to put in should be roughly twice the amount of lemon juice) and add the sea salt and black pepper. If you like a chilli kick, add either finely chopped chilli to taste or a splash of tobasco at this stage.

9. Assembly – Mix together everything except the croutons, put in a nice wide bowl and sprinkle the croutons over the top.