Tahini chopped salad with quinoa and beluga lentils

Tahini chopped salad with quinoa and beluga lentils

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This post is coming to you from my borrowed desk at my best friend Naomi's house. We both realised some new walls to write from would be good- so I've got a new (temporary) desk south of the Thames. It's great what a change in scenery can do to your work outlook. Yes, there's been a few Jimmy Fallon video sessions, not gonna lie, but it is nice to write from somewhere new!

With working-in-home in mind, this chopped salad is great for making when there's a run of work-from-home days. Leave the dressing separate from the salad in the fridge and it should last for around three days. 

I adapted this recipe from Dolly and Oatmeal... who originally adapted it from an Ottolenghi's Jerusalem, so as with the best recipes, it's done the rounds. I decided to simplify the flavours a little because to me, tahini, lemon juice, mint, pine nuts and tomatoes are already quite competitive! But just add whatever you think would taste best.

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Makes enough for 4

Ingredients

Handful of chopped salad leaves

Handful of green beans, cut in half

Handful of heirloom or baby tomatoes (any tomatoes you can find will work fine, I just like the different colours of the more unusual varieties).

Handful of cucumber, chopped

2-3 tbsp dry-toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves

Salt and pepper

Paprika to taste

2 cups cooked quinoa  

1 cup cooked beluga or puy lentils  

 

For the dressing: 

1/3 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 small garlic clove, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

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Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl. For the dressing, mix together the tahini, water, lemon juice and garlic in a separate bowl, then season to taste. 

Plate up, sprinkle with a little more paprika, salt and pepper, then pour over the tahini dressing so all the salad components are flavoured with it- it's a strong flavour so you won't need all the dressing in one go, so just grab a fork and tuck in. 

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Smashed guacamole

Smashed guacamole

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It was only when putting a new website together for Guac that I realised I have never done a guacamole recipe. So here's my take on guac.

I hate it stodgy and creamy, that heavy mixture that reminds me of a neglected salad table at a barbeque. Instead of blending, I just mash guac with a potato masher, after chopping all the ingredients apart from the avocado really small. I like being able to see what I'm eating with guac.

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This recipe is fresh and juicy.  If I've put a chili in anything else I'm serving I'll usually leave it out of the guac, so it can be refreshing against any heat, but add or takeaway to your own taste. 

Enough for four

Ingredients

3 ripe avocados

1 small red onion, finely chopped

Juice 1 lime

1 chopped garlic clove (chopped down very small or smashed up in a pestle and mortar and then chopped) 

Splash of olive oil

About 2.5cm of cucumber, cut down small

Salt and pepper

Add everything to a large mixing bowl and mash, then season to taste. Thumbs up!

French bean and pesto risotto for ships in the night

French bean and pesto risotto for ships in the night

 

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Some weeks my boyfriend and I don't share an evening off, let alone a day. I know a lot of people that have weird ships-in-night schedules to deal with- so when these weeks come around, I try and make dinners that are just as good at 7pm as they are at 1am. And, of course, for boxing up and surviving a cycle to work the next morning for lunchtime. 

This risotto isn't super heavy on rich flavours- you could add stronger to your taste- but I was looking for something that would be fresh and reasonably light while London stays as hot as July. The green beans add crunch, the toasted pine nuts a smoky scent and the rocket pulls it all together. I've used some pesto right at the end, but again, you could add this nearer the start of cooking if you want something a bit bolder.   

Oooh and thanks very much to my Mum and Dad for letting me raid their cupboards to bring back these ingredients... grazie mille!

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Makes enough for 6

Ingredients

2 small or 1 medium white onion, chopped small

Olive oil

Salt and pepper 

1 vegetable stock cube to make 1.5 litres of stock

500g arborio rice

2 large handfuls of french green beans or runner beans, with the tips cut off and cut in half or thirds so they are bitesize

Handful of pine nuts

2 tbsp vegan pesto  

Handful of rocket or other spicy salad leaves

Risotto is just a game of patience, so only make this if you have 30-40 minutes to spend on dinner. The pan needs you more than ANYTHING ELSE.  

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, and add the chopped onions. Cook on a low heat with a little seasoning until the onion starts to go translucent at the edges and it smells really good. While this is happening, boil the water for the stock and add to a jug that's easy to pour from.

Once the onion is ready, add in the rice and stir to mix in the onion and oil. Add a little more oil if you think it needs it, and then pour in a small amount of the stock, just to take the heat off the bottom of the pan and stop the rice from sticking. If you haven't made risotto before you'll soon get a feel for it, but you must keep stirring pretty much constantly while the rice cooks. Once you can't see the liquid at the bottom of the pan as you stir, it's time to add a small amount of stock again. 

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Carry on doing this until you're reaching the end of your stock. If you finish your stock and the rice isn't done, just carry on adding hot water. You'll know when it's done when the rice mixture has more than doubled in size, and is no longer crunchy to taste- it should have a bite but should nearly be melt-in-the-mouth for texture. Add more seasoning to taste, and when you think the rice is about 5 minutes away, add in the green beans. 

When it's finished, I like to leave it for a further five minutes just for the risotto to develop its flavour a bit more- so add another round of seasoning and a little more olive oil, and then turn off the heat but put a lid on the pan. In this time you can fry the pine nuts in a dry pan, just so they are lightly toasted. 

Plate up with the rocket leaves, a few dollops of pesto, the pine nuts and maybe another splash of olive oil. Just as good at dusk, sunrise and midday!

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