Couscous salad with zucchini n corn

November 21, 2011 in Appetizer, Middle Eastern, Pasta, Salads

If you have never tried couscous, then you must put it right on top of your food-to-try list! A couscous salad makes for a delicious meal or even an appetizer…..hearty and light at the same time. And it is simple. Really simple. And quick. As long as you get the flavours right, there is very little that you can do wrong with a couscous salad. It’s also a great option when you’re cooking-for-one! It is one of my go-to food when the husband is traveling and I’m eating by myself.
Couscous is a healthy and light alternative to pasta. It is in fact a type of pasta, but much healthier in terms of nutrients. Extremely popular in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, it can also be used in stews and sauces apart from in salads. You can really play with different ingredients as far as flavours go. Lemon and mint or lemon and parsley are good basic seasonings. You can then add any few vegetables of your choice, ranging from zucchini, bell peppers, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, beans, olives, avocadoes … get the picture! Feta cheese is also a great topping to a couscous salad, as are some pine nuts.
Couscous is best made shortly before it’s served. You can keep all the veggies chopped and ready. Cook the couscous and add the veggies and seasonings. Keep covered for 15-20 mins so all the flavours can soak in. Then serve at room temperature.
For 4 servings:
1 cup instant couscous
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsps olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped small
1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp chopped parsley
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
Place couscous in a big bowl.
Heat water in a pan. Add the olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Remove from heat as soon as it reaches a boil, and pour over the couscous. Cover with a lid and leave for 10 mins.
Remove lid and fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the zucchini, corn, parsley, lemon and pepper, and mix lightly. Keep covered for 15 mins. Garnish with tomatoes, and serve at room temperature.
© Veggie Wiz | All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated

Marinating Feta cheese

August 12, 2010 in Appetizer, easy, Good to know, Greek, Ingredients, Quick, Salads, Useful tips

In life, the simplest things are sometimes the ones that bring you the most pleasure. Marinated feta cheese is one of them! Apart from it’s texture, I just love the fact that it is so versatile. You can use it for salads, pastas, pizzas, sauces, dips, sandwiches, crumbled on top of grilled vegetables, or by itself as an appetizer. This recipe is so ridiculously simple and so delicious that you’ll want to make it over and over again! And the left-over oil is great for marinating olives!
Though you don’t really need to follow exact measurements for this, here’s what I used:
Olive oil
200 gms Feta cheese
1/2 tsp garlic flakes
1 tbsp dried herbs of choice
1 dried red chilli
Note: It is not advisable to use fresh garlic here, as tempting as it might be. The reason being Botulism – an illness caused by raw garlic that’s been stored in olive oil at room temperature. I really wanted a garlicky flavour for the feta and hence used garlic flakes, as they do not react with the oil. And I stored it in the fridge to be safer!
Start by chopping the feta into big cubes. Place them in bowl. Sprinkle the garlic flakes and herbs on top, then toss it gently such that the cubes don’t break. Transfer the feta to a glass jar of any other container that has a tight lid. Place a dry red chilli on top. Pour olive oil into the jar until all the feta is completely covered.
Though marinated feta  completely submerged in olive oil can be left at room temperature, I suggest you keep it refrigerated unless you plan to consume it within 2-3 days. Use it on salads or pizzas…..or put some cubes in a bowl, stick some toothpicks in it and serve as an appetizer.
© Veggie Wiz | All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated

Potato salad with homemade eggless mayo

July 7, 2010 in Appetizer, Condiments and preserves, Dips and sauces, Dressings and vinaigrettes, Ingredients, Salads, side dish

Ever since i saw this recipe for eggless mayonnaise by David Lebovitz, I’ve been waiting to try it out. I was quite excited about the prospect of making a milk-based mayo! But somehow I never got around to making any dish that required mayonnaise. (I’m not really fond of mayo cos of its eggy smell….so am not used to cooking with it). Until my curiosity took over and I decided I’d make the mayo and then decide how to use it. I figured once it’s there in front of me, it’d naturally be used up! And as expected, once the mayo was made, a creamy potato salad followed……as is the natural order of things!
Both the salad and the mayo were delicious! I used only olive oil for the mayo, which gave it a pretty yellow color…..but next time I’d stick to regular oil or a mix of the two, as the smell of olive oil became too strong. Nonetheless, this is definitely one recipe I’m sure I’ll go back to several times. I never expected to be able to make thick mayo without eggs and this recipe gave a thickness that I was quite satisfied with. The oil and milk emulsified beautifully. Try it!
For 2 servings of the potato salad:
3-4 small potatoes, cubed and boiled
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
In a small bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well.
In another big bowl, toss the potatoes and the mayo dressing until evenly mixed. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot or cold as per your taste.
For the mayonnaise
To make a cup of mayonnaise:
1/3 cup (80 ml) cold whole milk
1 1/2 tsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3/4 cup (180 ml) oil
3/4 cup parsley (can use any other herb as well)
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the cold milk, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper in a blender. Whiz on high speed for thirty seconds, until light and frothy. If using a hand blender, make the mayonnaise in a tall glass measuring cup.
With the blender on high speed, very slowly begin to drizzle in the oil, drop by drop, until it begins to thicken and become emulsified.
Continue to add the oil, in a very thin stream, until the mayonnaise is thick and smooth. Do not try to make this too quickly; the process of slowing incorporating the oil should take several minutes.
Finely chop parsley and add it to the mayonnaise, along with the salt. Taste, adding more salt and lemon juice, if desired.
Serve the sauce at room temperature. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week.
© Veggie Wiz | All rights reserved unless otherwise indicated

Sweet potato and mint salad

February 4, 2010 in easy, Quick, Salads

Yes. These are sweet potatoes. I know….you’d normally expect a bright orange color when you read ‘sweet potato’, but the sweet potatoes we get in India are pale yellow in color. Of course, it doesnt look as beautiful as the more prevalent orange one, but it tastes just as good!
This is the first time I tried a sweet potato salad. I normally love all things made with the sweet tuber, so I knew I could not go wrong here. But I loved this salad more than I expected! The fresh mint made all the difference. Lovely flavor!

For 4 servings:
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped in big cubes about 1/2 inch thick
1 small red onion, chopped length-wise
1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsps olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsps chopped walnuts
2 tbsps fresh mint, finely chopped
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet and roast the onions until they start turning brown, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the onion from the pan and keep aside. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and pan-roast the sweet potatoes until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Make sure to turn them in between. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
Put the sweet potato pieces in a big bowl. Add the onion, along with all the other ingredients. Mix lightly. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Baby spinach and strawberry salad…simply delightful!

October 15, 2009 in Quick, Salads

OK…so the break was longer than I expected…and it’s not yet over! It’s been a month being back in India now, and I’m enjoying all the luxuries of life here that I missed in Paris. Of course, I miss Paris as well (especially the grocery-shopping bit). I wish there was a perfect world with the best of both! Alas!
I’m not back to cooking full-swing yet (as I still don’t have my own kitchen) but I was missing this blog, and since it will be another 2 weeks before we know where we will be moving, I thought why not share something that I made before coming here….something that I so badly miss…baby spinach and strawberry salad! Don’t know when and if I’ll ever find baby spinach here. I just love the combination of baby spinach with strawberries…it’s simply delightful!
For 2 servings, you need: 
60 gms baby spinach
12 ripe strawberries, halved
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tbsp chopped pecan nuts
2 tbsp vinaigrette (use whole-grain mustard)

Mix the spinach, strawberries, basil and pecan nuts in a big bowl. Add the vinaigrette and mix well.  

Super-easy and yummy green bean salad

September 8, 2009 in Dressings and vinaigrettes, easy, Quick, Salads

This has got to be one the yummiest tomato and green been salad i have ever had! And it’s so easy to make! The magic ingredient? I used roasted pecan nuts this time…they really give a unique flavour to the salad. And as usual, parmesan shavings add to the magic. 
So, to get started, you need for 4 servings:
400 gms green beans
100 gms cherry tomatoes
50 gms roasted pecan nuts
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tsps old-style mustard (whole-grain)
parmesan shavings
Trim the beans and boil until tender. Drain and run under cold water. Halve the tomatoes and crush the pecans coarsely. Carefully mix all three together in a big bowl. 

Make the dressing by whisking the vinegar and mustard into the olive oil. Add salt if desired. 

Gently toss the bean salad with the dressing and serve garnished with parmesan shavings. 

Using left-over bread

August 21, 2009 in Bread, Salads, Useful tips

No ducks to feed your stale bread to? Guilt-tripping about having thrown it? Save yourself the guilt of wasting food……for there are many delicious uses of left-over bread! Too small a piece to be used? Keep storing bits and pieces of different breads in a Ziploc bag in the freezer until you have enough! Here’s the best few ways i know of to use old bread…
Croutons- Homemade croutons are way healthier than the store-bought ones. Simply brush the bread with some melted butter or olive oil, cut into desired-size cubes, and bake for 10-15 mins or until brown. You could also season the bread with garlic salt and herbs to add more flavour. Use in soups and salads.

Bread crumbs - It can’t get easier than that! Tear into pieces and grind away in a blender. Store in the freezer. Great for stuffings and of course, for coating fried food in.

Fondue – Perfect for cheese-lovers. Bread & cheese…one of the many delicious sins!

French Toast - The classic french way of using stale bread! The french call it ‘Pain Perdu‘ which means ‘lost bread’. Here’s an eggless version that works really well.

Bread Pudding – There are many ways to make bread pudding. Here’s one i came across that i really liked.

Panzanella- An italian salad made with bread, tomatoes, cucumber, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

My personal favorite – A version of panzanella in a way. I drizzle a few spoons of cream over cubed bread, sprinkle some garlic salt, pepper, and herbs. Then i let it soak for 30 mins before toasting them golden-brown in a large non-stick pan.

I top many different salads with them….and they always taste great! I also make bread sticks in this way….to serve with dips.
I’m sure there are many more ways that can be added to this list. I’d be keen to hear if you have any other interesting thing that you do with old bread.

Baby Spinach, Apricot and Mirabelle salad

August 8, 2009 in Dressings and vinaigrettes, Fruits, Salads

Laid my eyes for the first time ever on these gorgeous-looking Mirabelle Plums (aka Mirabelle Prunes) in the supermarket, and being the fruit-crazy person that i am…i couldn’t not buy them! I popped one in my mouth as soon as i reached home…and was instantly in love with them! Normally i am not too fond of plums, but this was an exception. The tiny yellow fruit has a taste somewhere between a cherry and a plum…sweet and full of flavour.
A specialty of the french region of Lorraine, it is mostly used to make jams and pies, and also brandy. But since i didn’t have the patience to make any of them and really liked its natural taste, I tossed it into a baby spinach and apricot salad. The result was simply amazing…I’ve got a new favorite salad! Baby spinach works so well in salads…add a fruit or two and the combination is perfect! Another excellent version is baby spinach and strawberry salad…really divine! Even pear goes very well with spinach.

For 2 servings:
60 gms fresh baby spinach
2-3 ripe apricots, pitted and cut into wedges
8 mirabelle plums, pitted and halved
10 cherry tomatoes
50 gms feta or goat cheese

Wash and dry the spinach leaves. Spread them on 2 plates, followed by the apricot wedges, tomatoes and plums. Top with the cheese.

Serve with a honey-mustard dressing:

2 tbsps olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped basil
a pinch of salt and pepper

Combine everything in a bowl, cover with cling-film, and keep aside for 15-20 mins to let the flavours mix.

Pink grapefruit and rocket/arugula salad

July 28, 2009 in Dressings and vinaigrettes, Fruits, Quick, Salads

Time for yet another luscious-looking summer salad! Pink grapefruit and rocket salad greens served with vinaigrette dressing. The citrus flavour of the grapefruit and the bitter edge of the rocket combine to give a perfect balance!

For 4 servings, peel 2 medium grapefruits, carefully removing all the white pith from the slices. Rinse 100 gms of rocket leaves and pat dry. Deseed and chop 1 large tomato into big squares. Spread a bed of rocket leaves onto plates, and follow with the tomatoes and grapefruit slices. Sprinkle some grated parmesan on top (or even better, parmesan shavings, if you have it). Serve with a vinaigrette dressing.

1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Whisk all ingredients of the dressing together and keep aside for 30 mins for all the flavours to soak in.

Carrots & Beans made yummy!

July 24, 2009 in Appetizer, Salads, side dish

A simple, quick and delicious combination of carrots and beans….2 vegetables that are not quite liked by a lot of people! Can be served as a salad or side dish.


What you need for 2 servings:
250 gms green beans
4 medium carrots
2-3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsbp pine nuts
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
4 small slices gouda cheese (i used gouda with cumin, but plain gouda is fine if you cant get cumin gouda)
1 tbsp grana padano cheese, grated (can be substituted with parmesan)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Peel the carrots and chop length-wise into thin strips. Trim the ends of the beans. Then heat the olive oil in a big pan. Add the pine nuts and roast them for a minute until they start turning brown. Remove them from the pan and keep aside. Add the garlic to the pan and toss in the beans and carrots. Sautee for 10-12 mins, stirring in between, until they become tender. Turn off the flame and add the sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper.
Mix everything well and divide on 2 plates. Top each with 2 slices of gouda and sprinkle 1/2 tbsp grana padano. Voila….a colorful and yummy carrot-bean salad/starter!