salad

Avocado salad

A couple of weekends ago, when I was last in Cornwall, we visited this beautiful National Trust house and gardens, Trerice. It was one of those ones that’s small enough and so completely gorgeous that always makes me think, ‘I could live here!’.

And within the outbuildings of the house there was not only a very good cafe but also a second-hand bookshop - where I bought this book for 50p.

I mean, South-east Asian salads?! I cannot have enough of them!

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And one of the recipes in the book was for this Malaysia avocado salad that I’m making today - with a few little changes, as always, to make it exactly as I’m going to love it.

It’s so so good!

I’ll definitely be making this again (and again).

For a delicious light lunch for one, or as a side for two (I’m going to be having this with steak or grilled chicken soon), you’ll need:

1 nice ripe avocado

half a lime

3 dessert spoons or so of cottage cheese

1 dessert spoon or so of natural yogurt

1 very small - or half - a garlic clove, minced

1 green chilli, diced finely

some chopped chives - of, if you don’t have any but do have coriander leaves, use those (as I did)

1 spring onion, diced finely

some smoked paprika, chopped fresh mint leaves, and chopped lettuce - to serve


Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, and dice the flesh. Set aside and squeeze some lime juice into the halves.

Put all the remaining ingredients (except for the garnishes) into a bowl and mix thoroughly and add a little salt and pepper to taste, plus another squeeze of lime juice, and then fold in the avocado cubes.

Put this bowl into the fridge for 10-15 minutes to chill.

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When you’re ready to make the final dish, add some of the chopped lettuce into the avocado shells, then fill with the chilled mixture.

Add the rest of the lettuce to your serving dish, and top with the filled avocado shells.

Finish with a little salt and pepper if liked, and a powdering of smoked paprika plus a little chopped fresh mint … and eat!

This is just so fresh and easy and light and delicious, I’ll definitely be having it again soon.

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Rachel Redlaw avocado salad

I made it again the other day and instead of scooping it all into the shells, I just put the shredded lettuce on a plate and all the yummy avocado mixture on top!

It might not look that appetising, but it tasted amazing :)



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Yum talay (Thai seafood salad)

Sometimes I don't think what I do is really 'cooking'. Not 'proper cooking'!

I don't really weigh things out, it's never very precise, and you HAVE to taste and taste and see what tastes good to you. 

I see it as less 'cooking' and more 'faffing about playing with food'.

It's ALL about having fun and really ENJOYING making something good to eat - that's usually simple and quick too.

This recipe is a perfect example ... lots of playing and very little actual cooking. 

And it tastes really good.

I love seafood and I love hot and sour flavours - and the lemongrass and lime leaf makes this just really delicious - so full of flavour.

Thai seafood salad - let's get started.

I made a big bowl just for me - so adjust the quantities of course depending on how much you're making.


Here's a list of the ingredients I used, but read through the whole recipe and see where you might adapt or change according to what you've got and what you like.

frozen prawns and squid, defrosted

1 tablespoon demerera sugar plus 3 tablespoons cold water

1-2 birds eye chillies

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1-2 limes

1 carrot, peeled and julienned

a few slices of white onion

2 spring onions, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 stick of celery, chopped

1 stalk of lemongrass

1 lime leaf, torn to remove the stalk

extra wedges of lime, to serve


You can use any fish or seafood you like (or happen to have).  I always like to have prawns and squid in the freezer as it's just so easy then to make something to eat - and generally I have scallops too but not today. Defrost before using - seafood defrosts quickly in a bowl of cold water - then rinse with fresh cold water and pat dry on kitchen paper.

You need to cook the fish first before adding it to the salad - do this any way you like.

The quickest way for my prawns and squid to cook would be to drop them quickly into a pan of boiling water and cook for only about a minute or less ... I did do the prawns like this - they're ready when they've gone from raw grey to completely pink!

Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay

But I wanted my squid to have a bit more texture too it and I just like cooking it on the griddle and watching it roll up! (Yep, 'faffing about playing with food').

So I scored my squid tubes, opened them out and cooked them on a very hot griddle and squeezed lime juice over them as they cooked.

Once the fish and seafood is cooked, just leave to one side to add at the end.

The next part of playing with food is to make the dressing - I added one tablespoon of demerera sugar to three tablespoons of water in a little saucepan and brought it slowly to the boil, stirred to dissolve the sugar and removed from the heat to cool. You could stand the saucepan in some cold water in the sink if you want to cool it more quickly.

I pounded up two birds eye chillies (use 1-2 depending on your taste) then added a tablespoon of fish sauce and the juice of a really juicy lime, then the sugar/water mixture.

Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay

Stir it all together and taste - see if you need to add anything else. It might need a little more lime juice depending on how juicy your lime was! 

Do make this dressing to YOUR taste. I like it very spicy and very sour so use lots of chilli and lime, but you might prefer a sweeter dressing, so just taste and play and experiment.

Next - the salad.

Use what you like really!

I had carrot, some white onion, a couple of spring onions, a tomato and some celery - but you could use anything you like.

Very finely slice just the bottom third of a lemongrass stalk (having removed the tough outer layers) and also finely slice a lime leaf and add to the salad. 

If you can't get these then do make it anyway, but the lemongrass and lime leaf are SO GOOD do get them if you can! I'm lucky that my local supermarket sells them so hopefully yours does too.

Add the dressing to the salad, mix well, and tip out onto a plate or bowl and add the seafood

Serve with extra lime wedges to squeeze over.

Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay

And that's it!

One delicious, authentic, Thai seafood salad - easy and fun to make and very little actual cooking!



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Green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta

This is a really lovely dish from Rachel Roddy writing in the Weekend Guardian recently - an Italian warm vegetable sort of salad/stew with soft flavours of braised runner beans, tomatoes, olive oil, salt - all warm and beautiful on a summer's day served with some good bread.

I couldn't resist trying it immediately (nope, patience has never been a strong point of mine!) so I ended up making it slightly differently with the ingredients I had.

I still loved it and I'll be making it again, both the way I made it, and going back to try the original.

It's pretty much perfect in its simplicity just as it is, although would make a great accompaniment to any grilled / barbecued meats of fish too.

You'll find the original recipe HERE.

And because my local shop didn't have any fresh basil the day that I made it, and because I had fine beans rather than runner beans, I made some tiny changes to the flavours - without the basil it would need something so I also used a few slices of chilli pepper and some ground cumin.

If you have fresh basil, then omit the chilli and the cumin.

Note that you leave the dish to sit for an hour or two after cooking to be served warm, so factor that into your timings!

Or just eat it hot of course.

Or make it the day before you want it and reheat very gently to serve - I imagine the flavours will only get better when left overnight.

Here's how I made a big pot, enough for two.

You'll need: 

1 medium white onion, very finely sliced

salt

1/2-1 small red chilli, very finely diced

a couple of tablespoons olive oil (I used 20 sprays of my spray cooking oil and a splash of water when it needed it) 

equal quantities of green beans or runner beans, and ripe tomatoes - I think I used 200-300g of each (and use the very best tomatoes you can get hold of - ones with lots of flavour)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

a good chunk of Feta cheese to serve

Get the ingredients together

Get the ingredients together

Top and tail the beans and cut into small pieces

Top and tail the beans and cut into small pieces

Remove tough cores from the tomatoes and dice

Remove tough cores from the tomatoes and dice

Put the oil in a pan and when warmed, add the finely sliced onion and a small pinch of salt, and the chilli (if using) and cook gently over a low-medium heat until the onion is soft - if you use a spray oil like me, you'll need to add a splash of water or two as it cooks to prevent the onion burning. Cooking onions until soft always takes longer than I think it will - probably around 10 minutes.

Add the beans to the pan, stir well to combine with the onion, then cook - still stirring - for a 3-4 minutes.

Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta
Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta

Add the tomatoes, another small pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (if using) then cover the pan and leave for a couple of minutes. Uncover the pan and stir, then cover for another 4-5 minutes (have a look and stir if you like - and if you need a little splash of water add it - although the juice from the tomatoes should be coming out now as it has time to cook with the lid on).

Once the tomatoes are releasing their juice, uncover the pan and cook uncovered on a low heat, simmering gently, for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta
Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta
Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta

The beans will be really tender and the sauce lovely and thick.

If you have fresh basil add a handful of torn basil leaves now for a couple of minutes. 

Taste and see if it needs any seasoning, then remove from heat and allow to sit for an hour or two before serving warm with the piece of feta crumbled over and served with bread, if liked. 

 
Rachel Redlaw green beans, onions, tomatoes + feta
 


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Moroccan salad (with griddled chicken)

I was in Marrakech recently (again - one of my very favourite places and yes I really am going to write a quick post about it soon).

It was the most beautiful weekend away with my co-conspirator-traveller-niece. We shopped in the souks, sunbathed on the roof terrace of our riad, and ate a LOT of tomato + cucumber Moroccan salad.

We had it in the riad, we had it for lunch at the Henna Art Cafe and we had it every time we ate in the main square too. 

We had it with bread, with grilled smoky aubergines, with a chilli dip, and with skewers of grilled meats (well, I did; Mia's vegetarian). 

It's so simple too, I don't know why I haven't made it before now ... but now I have, it's going to be a regular thing at Tiniest Thai HQ! 

What makes it special, what makes if Moroccan is the addition of ground cumin - I'd brought some back with me too (along with Ras Al Hanout, that spice blend for stews and for tagines - will be using it next and making a tagine).

You can have the salad with whatever you like, but I did some simple griddled chicken for a light lunch for me and a friend yesterday. (I made the salad, she brought the Prosecco). 

So, first the salad (serves two).

Dice some tomatoes (take the tough cores out if need be). I used a mixture of two large tomatoes and then quartered a few cherry tomatoes too. Peel and de-seed some cucumber and dice that too. 

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato salad
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato salad

Chop half an onion very finely, and add it all to a big bowl with a handful of chopped parsley and a pinch of salt - and stir to mix well.

Then make the dressing. I used one and half lemons squeezed into a bowl (just squeeze them over your open hand so you catch the pips easily), 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tsp ground cumin and a shake of white pepper.

You could use a little olive oil too, but I prefer the taste of the lemon to really shine through.

Stir to combine and dissolve the sugar, then tip over the salad and mix.

 
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad
 

And for the simplest griddled chicken, I just opened out a chicken breast (actually it was one and a half chicken breasts) so they are thin and quite flat and will cook quickly.

My grocery shopping delivery that morning had included lemon thyme in replacement for lime leaves which they hadn't had in stock (yep, strange replacement, can only assume someone just saw the words 'lime' and 'lemon' and thought, 'that'll do'!), so I thought I'd use it with the chicken.

The chicken was sprinkled with cumin, some lemon/thyme salt I found in the cupboard (or just use salt) and the leaves and some sprigs of lemon thyme. You could use another herb, or just leave this out if you don't have any. 

And I added 2 teaspoons of oil and rubbed it all together to coat the chicken pieces.

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken

I heated the griddle until very hot (you could just use a frying pan or grill the chicken if you don't have a griddle) and added the pieces of chicken, which started sizzling (LOVE that sound!).

They took around three minutes each side ... but do slice into them to check they're properly cooked through.

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad / chicken

Serve with the chicken on top of the salad and with another little pinch of ground cumin over the top of it all.

Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad
Rachel Redlaw Moroccan tomato and cucumber salad

Simple, light and fresh tasting. So good! 


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Sunshine food / simplest souvlaki + Greek salad

A Bank Holiday in the UK often (like today) = a bit grey and cloudy.

So, nothing for it but to cook up THE most sunshine-y lunch I can think of right now - and that's an easy, delicious chicken souvlaki, with Greek salad.

And rose. Pink wine just says SUMMER!

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad

For two, I used one big chicken breast, cut into small cubes and put in a bowl to marinate for 30 minutes or so with:

the juice of 2 lemons

and the zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

then I used a teaspoon of this lovely salt with lemon and thyme, but you could use 1/2 teaspoon each salt and thyme

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki + greek salad

While the chicken marinates, make an easy Greek salad. 

I used:

1/2 red onion, sliced as thinly as possible

2 tomatoes (on the vine - you want the sweetest tomato-est tomatoes you can find), cored and cut into chunks

a piece of cucumber (I took off most of the skin as it was quite tough), cut into chunks

a few very thin slices of green pepper 

some black olives 

1 teaspoon each of red wine vinegar and olive oil (no need to mix first)

a good squeeze of lemon juice

some salt and black pepper

.. and then I tossed it all together using my (clean) hands to make sure it was all combined

 
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad
 

As I'm making this lunch while on my Tiniest Thai weight-loss diet I didn't put a big slab of feta on the top (I'm a bit addicted to feta) and just crumbled a little to make it go further - and sprinkled it with a little more dried oregano. 

Again, if I weren't on a diet, we might have had some nice hot toasted pitta bread too but ... I can't be trusted not to eat the rest of it once it's got in the house! 

Once the chicken's marinated, thread it onto wooden or metal skewers and cook.  I cooked mine on the hot griddle, adding the rest of marinade over the chicken, but you could also cook it under the grill or fry in a pan.

I cooked mine for probably 4 minutes each side, turning now and then, and checking it was cooked thoroughly before serving. 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad

Serve with the salad, pitta bread if you're having it and some lemon on the side to squeeze over.

And if you, like me, like a glass of rose when you're pretending it's summer, have one (or two) of those too!

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai diet souvlaki and Greek salad


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Does feta make everything taste better?

I'm currently obsessed with feta cheese.  But less as a cheese and more as a seasoning. 

It's slightly sharp and sour and salty, and a little crumbled over many dishes just makes them that little bit more special.

Experiment with any dishes you like of course, and I'd love to know what you found works, but my top three (this week anyway) are ... 

1. Salads

Rachel Redlaw feta

Any salads really.  

I've had a little feta in my lunchtime salads this week.  

All of them had a variety of leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and spring onions.  A couple of days I had avocado, and some black olives, another day I had some chicken that I'd stir-fried the night before with red and yellow peppers and some oregano.  

All with a little olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon. 

All with feta crumbled over at the end.

2. Omelettes 

Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta

Two eggs, beaten and a few pieces of diced butter.  One tomato or a mushroom, chopped finely.  

Heat the pan and add a little olive oil, tip in the airy beaten eggs and the chopped veg on top.  Season.  

Cook, tilting the pan, letting the uncooked egg run under where it starts to cook and right at the very, very end, crumble in some feta, fold the omelette and remove from heat.  

Eat ... 

3. Couscous and stir-fried things

Rachel Redlaw feta

I always though couscous was both incredibly bland and also a bit of a faff (with putting it into a bowl mainly so probably not that much of a faff really) until I saw this recipe in Jamie's 15 Minute Meals.

Ingenious, simple and tasty way of making couscous.

While the kettle's boiling, throw some spinach leaves in the food processor along with some mint leaves and a couple of spring onions.

Blitz up then remove the blade and throw in half a cup of couscous (for two people) and a whole cup (just double the water to couscous) of boiling water.  

Cover and leave while you cook the rest.

Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta
Rachel Redlaw feta

When done, just fluff up the couscous with a fork, squeeze over the juice of half a lemon (or to taste) and season with salt and black pepper.  Stir well.

For the topping, the original recipe was chorizo and squid, with red peppers stir fried with a drizzle of honey and some sherry vinegar.  I had chorizo but not the other things so did a stir fry with chorizo, garlic, chilli, red pepper then after about four minutes added some prawns and scallops that I'd found in the freezer.  A splash of water, a squeeze of lemon, a tiny pinch of sugar. 

I've made this couscous before with all sorts of toppings - chicken, chorizo, seafood, stir fried veg ... all good. 

Tip the couscous onto a plate or platter, top with the stir-fry and ... yep ... crumble over some feta cheese. 

Rachel Redlaw feta

These are just a few ideas, but I can't wait to hear what else you add feta to!



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