Minced Chicken and Rice Kebabs

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Easy and healthy … a complete dish on a stick, especially with the addition of carrots, parmesan cheese and herbs, which make them more appetising!  Serve them with any veggies or salad of your own choice.  The quantity of the ingredients used can be adjusted accordingly … I usually prepare enough mixture to have that extra amount left, which I could then use to prepare patties for lunch!

Makes about 14 generous kebabs in all (or as many kebabs as you might need plus extra patties!)

Needed

Enough bamboo skewers, which should be soaked in water for around 1 hour before using.

Ingredients

600g minced chicken

250g long-grain rice

1 medium onion

60g fresh breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 to 3 cloves garlic

approximately 2 tablespoonfuls chopped parsley

2 level teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 carrot, peeled

salt and pepper

sweet chilli sauce to serve

Method

Cook rice until tender, draining any excess water.

Process all the remaining ingredients together until you end up with a homogeneous mixture.  Transfer mixture into a large bowl and, using your hands, mix in the cooked rice.

Shape the mixture around the bamboo skewers.

Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan and cook the kebabs slowly, turning frequently until browned all over and cooked through.

Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Enjoy!

Broad Bean with Bead-like Pasta Soup (Kusksu)

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A hearty yet simple soup, exploiting broad beans when they’re in their season or even frozen ones.  The name “Kusksu” sometimes gets people confusing it with couscous.  Maybe, it’s because the type of pasta used in this soup is shaped liked small beads (as shown in the picture), resembling bigger particles of couscous … maybe not … but this is how I like to prepare this traditional soup of ours!

In my soup I only like to add eggs at the end but the more traditional recipes also allow the addition of soft cheeselets or chunks of ricotta.  Also, I totally find that this soup is best made an hour or two in advance, if possible, for a denser end result.  Moreover, this standing period would also allow all the flavours to better combine and the bead-like pasta, which tends to remain a bit hard, to get the chance to soften and plump itself up.  All that would be needed is to reheat it a bit before serving, stirring gently in order not to break the eggs.

Serves 4 abundantly

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

150g broad beans, already peeled from both shells

150g frozen peas

2 large onions, sliced thinly

2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

150g pasta beads

4 eggs, or according to the number of persons to serve (1 egg per person)

Water

Method

Heat the oil and fry the onions gently on low heat until softened.  Add the tomato paste and stir whilst still cooking for around 1 minute.

Chuck the broad beans and the peas in the pan, over the onions, and pour enough water to cover them.  Bring the water to the boil and continue cooking the vegetables for approximately 15 minutes, taking care that the liquid wouldn’t evaporate completely.

Add more water (approximately 1-1.5 litres, according to how much dense you’d wish the soup to be, or how much you’d like to stretch the recipe for more servings), the sugar and the salt and pepper and bring to the boil again.

Add the pasta in and continue boiling for another 15 minutes, stirring every now and then so as the pasta won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Carefully crack the eggs into the soup close to the surface, taking care not to break or overlap them. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes without stirring.

Turn off the heat and leave to stand covered for that hour or so.

Reheat if needed and serve, putting an egg on the top of the soup in each plate.

Enjoy!

Salmon Head and Tail Soup

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Light and healthy, packed with Omega-3 and not discarding anything from such a magnificent fish!  Also so easy and quick to do with no extra oil or frying involved except from the natural oil of the same salmon.

This recipe is derived from our traditional fish soup, which I tweaked up, as usual!

Serves 4 abundantly

Ingredients

1 salmon head and tail

1 large onion, sliced

About 2 tablespoonfuls chopped, fresh mint

1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes

1 fish stock cube

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon sugar

water

150g white, long grain rice

lemon wedges, for squeezing and decorating

Method

In a large pot put the sliced onion and the chopped mint and pour enough water to just cover them.  Bring to the boil and cook until the onions are almost soft and the liquid evaporated, adding more water as needed if things dry up before.

Add around 1-1.5 litres of water (depending on how dense you’d wish the soup to be), the chopped tomatoes, the fish cube, the sugar and the salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil again and carefully dip in the salmon head and tail.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully scoop the fish out and leave it to cool for a little while until good enough to handle.  Add the rice to the pot whilst the liquid is still boiling, lower the heat and simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes until the rice is completely cooked.

In the meantime pull any meat away from the carcasses and flake, taking care not to leave in any bones.

When the rice is cooked, take the pot off the heat and add the flaked salmon.  Stir and leave to stand for a few minutes.

Squeeze some lemon juice into each soup plate and pour the soup in to serve.  I don’t mind leaving the squeezed lemon wedge in the soup to give it even more flavour!  Decorate with another lemon wedge if you wish.

Enjoy!

Dorado (Dolphin-fish, Lampuki, Mahi-mahi) cooked in Wine

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Simple, quick and healthy.  No frying, baking or preparing sauces … just toss everything in a saucepan and let the fish cook for just a few minutes, just in time to absorb some wine and seasoning.  Ideal for those busy days or when you lack energy!  Obviously, the best thing is to have the fish already cleaned and filleted for you by the fishmonger!

Normally, and in earlier days, fresh rosemary sprigs and peppercorns were tied into a muslin bag.  This can surely be done just the same but, if you don’t mind some rosemary bits and peppercorns remaining attached to the fish and falling into your plate like me, take this lazy approach of mine! 🙂

Ingredients

1 large or 2 medium Dorado fish (Lampuki), cleaned and filleted and cut into pieces, the size of your liking

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

300ml red wine

150ml water

salt

Method

Put the fish pieces in a large pan and add all the other ingredients.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the fish is cooked, making sure that you don’t overcook it.

Remove the fish from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve immediately with a fresh salad, discarding everything else.  A good dollop of tartar sauce won’t harm!

As easy as that!

Enjoy!

Wholemeal, Lemony Spaghetti with Surimi and Vegetables

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A fresh, colourful and easy recipe that’s meat-free but substantially satisfying just the same!

Influenced by various recipes I came across, this is what I’ve come up with to meet our personal taste-buds!  The only thing that one might take into consideration is to try and take some time to slice the vegetables thinly and lengthwise to camouflage themselves with the spaghetti shape, both for aesthetical and kid-friendly reasons!

Serves 4-6 persons

Ingredients

500g wholemeal spaghetti

1 large onion, diced

¼ cup (I use a 250ml cup) chopped, fresh basil

1 large courgette (cut into julienne or the nearest to resemble thin strips, as shown in the picture!)

1 jarred sweet, red pepper cut into long, thin strips (in this recipe I used some of the contents of a jar of sweet, red peppers in vinegar, as this was what I had at hand and it worked really well too!)

250g surimi (artificial crab sticks), also cut into thin strips

1 cup dry, white wine

2 cups water

1 chicken stock cube

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornflour

2 tablespoons light butter

4 drops Tabasco

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Method

Combine wine, water, chicken cube, chopped onions and basil into a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and leave uncovered until reduced by half.

Strain the liquid concoction and return to the same saucepan, discarding the onion and the basil.  Drop in the two tablespoons of butter and stir to melt whilst bringing to the boil again.  Mix the cornflour with the lemon juice and add to the liquid mixture just as it boils.  Simmer for about two minutes, stirring continuously until it thickens slightly.  Add some freshly ground black pepper and the Tabasco and remove from the heat.  Cover the pan.

Cook the wholemeal pasta as per package instructions, only keeping the time well to be able to throw in the julienne of courgette two minutes before the complete cooking time, so as it could be blanched in the same water the pasta would be cooking in for those last couple of minutes.  In the meantime, stir gently to incorporate the courgette strips into the spaghetti.

Drain the spaghetti well, along with the courgette, and return to the pasta pot.  Add the sliced, sweet red pepper, the surimi, the sauce and the fresh parsley.  Stir gently and well not worrying about the sauce being too runny, as this could be spooned over the pasta when plated to add to the freshness.

Serve immediately, even though it’s also good when eaten cold, with some more freshly ground black pepper.

Enjoy!

 

Easy Spinach Tuna Bites with Hummus

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Delicious meat-free balls that are easy and fast to make whilst swaying to the healthy side!  Trying to watch what we eat after all the festivities!  I like to serve these with white or herbed rice and veggies but they’re also very good on their own, as a snack or for lunch with some salad.

Ingredients for the Hummus (the egg-shaped thingy, also called as a quenelle, which is sitting on the rice in my picture above)

1 (400g net weight) tin chick peas or butter beans, drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh mint, or 1 tablespoon dried mint in case you don’t have fresh mint available

1 small chillie, deseeded (optional)

Ingredients for the Tuna Bites

2 (160g net weight each) tuna in oil, drained

1 (50g net weight) anchovies in oil, drained and chopped

4 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed

approx. 170g frozen spinach, already thawed, squeezed from the excess liquid and chopped

1 medium onion, very finely chopped

1 egg

plain flour to coat

lemon wedges

Method

First make and have the Hummus ready by processing every ingredient listed altogether until forming the desired texture of paste.  I like mine a bit lumpy.  Set aside.

For the Tuna Bites … combine tuna, anchovies, potato mash, onion, spinach and egg in a bowl and mix well.  Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls with your hands until all the mixture is used.  Toss each ball in flour, shaking away any excess of it.

Heat some vegetable oil into a pan and cook the bites, occasionally turning very gently due to the soft texture, until browned all over.

Serve hot with the Hummus and with a squeeze of lemon on top.

Enjoy!

Tangy Chicken and Spinach Meatloaf

Do you love meatloaf but wish it to be healthier but simultaneously moist and tasty?  Here’s a tweaked version of an old recipe … one of our established favourites at home!

Serves 4-6 persons (Please note that I use a 250ml cup in my recipes)

Ingredients

500g ground chicken

250g frozen, chopped spinach – thawed and squeezed of any excess liquid (I must admit that the day I made this recipe for the blog I had been caught a bit out of time and have left tiny specks of ice still attached to the spinach after squeezing it!  I don’t know if this hurried process of mine might have contributed or not but the meatloaf did turn out even moister than usual! 🙂 )

75g white breadcrumbs, preferably a day old

2 small or 1 big onion, finely chopped

2 eggs

½ cup skimmed milk

1½ teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

½ cup ketchup

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and lightly grease 1 large or 2 small loaf pans.

Gently fry the onion in some vegetable oil until translucent.

Put milk, eggs and basil in a bowl and whisk together.  In another, big-enough bowl put the chicken, the spinach, the breadcrumbs, the onion, the salt and the pepper.  Add the milk mix together with the lemon juice.  Mix thoroughly until well combined.

Press the mixture into the loaf pan/s and level the top/s.  Brush the top/s with half the amount of ketchup, leaving the other half for afterwards.

Bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven and brush with the remaining ketchup again.  Bake for a further 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes.

Turn out on a serving plate and slice to serve.

Any leftovers are amazing, either warmed up or eaten cold in a sandwich!

Enjoy!

Cooked Salmon Filling

Have you ever found yourself with the equivalent of an extra, cooked salmon cutlet because either your kids didn’t want to eat the whole portion or because the fishmonger chucked that extra piece or trimming in your bag?  Or even if you might just have wished to order that extra cutlet for the sake of making a healthy filling for a bun, which is ideal to pop into any lunch bag!  Here’s my quick recipe for a tasty, salmon filling full of Omega-3!

Approx. 4-5 portions

Ingredients

Approx. 1 salmon cutlet seasoned with salt and pepper, dry fried in a griddle pan and flaked (be sure not to overcook it so as it stays moist)

1 tomato, seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped

2 tablespoons sliced, green olives

2 tablespoons chopped capers

Chopped fresh basil or a pinch of dried basil to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

Tomato Paste

Any type of fresh bun or bread roll

Method

Simply put the first seven ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  Add a good dollop of olive oil, as much as desired, to enable the rest of the ingredients to cling together and to produce a moist texture.

Cut the bread in half horizontally and spread lightly with tomato paste.  Fill with the mixture and close.

Enjoy!

Garlicky Barley with Walnuts

When encountering common and modern health problems it’s a good thing to improve your diet and to implement ingredients that are beneficial for you and your family in your cooking.  That’s what I try to do every now and then, even if it’s very difficult to spend a lot of time planning healthy meals nowadays, with such a hectic life.

Barley and walnuts are both known for their qualities to help in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.  Barley is a grain that contains the same soluble fibre found in oats but, let’s tell the truth!  How many people like the idea of eating barley?  Either you love it or you hate it!  It doesn’t bother me much, though, so I try to incorporate it in my recipes as much as possible, especially on those cold, wintry days and mostly in soups, as most people do.  But, what about the rest of the year?

Here’s a recipe I’ve created using both barley and walnuts with the added bonus of all the benefits that come along with garlic, which I also like to use a lot!  This recipe is good to make all year round.  You might either wish to serve it warm or cold as a side dish or even by itself, and it’s so easy to make!

Serves 4-6 persons

(If you end up with leftovers, don’t worry!  Just store in the fridge in an airtight container.  I’ve found that it kind of tastes better the day after if eaten cold!)

Ingredients

250g pearl barley

50g walnuts

2 cloves garlic

4 sprigs of parsley (I mostly use flat leaf parsley)

Olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

As if you were cooking rice, put the barley and twice its amount of water in a saucepan and add some salt.  Bring to the boil, stirring from time to time, and lower the heat to low.  Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes or so, or until all the liquid is absorbed, whilst stirring only occasionally, taking care that the barley won’t stick to the bottom.  The barley should remain al dente, but before taking it off the heat do taste it and add a small amount of hot water to it if it would still be undercooked and continue the simmering process until the desired texture is reached.  Take off the heat and keep warm.

In the meantime, simply put the walnuts, the garlic and the parsley in a food processor and process until almost a thick paste is reached but leaving the mixture a bit grainy for a bit of crunch.

Add the walnut and garlic mixture to the warm barley, together with some freshly ground black pepper and a good dollop of olive oil.  Stir well but carefully without mashing, the olive oil helping to separate the grains.  Add more olive oil, a small amount at a time, if you might deem that the mixture would still be a bit lumpy for you.

Enjoy!