Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Root vegetable soup with barley

Ah December. What a busy, overindulgent month! This is a recipe to soothe troubled tummies, as it is pleasant, yet also bland and comforting, being filling without being rich. It does take quite some effort to prepare the veg though, as they are woody, hard things, so make sure you have a good knife. It actually has a texture more akin to stew, so feel free to add some dumplings if you wish.

Root vegetable Soup with Barley

Serves 4

Takes about an hour to actually cook, but preparing the veg can easily take an extra 15 minutes

2 medium carrots

1 medium parsnip

1 leek, trimmed to leave mostly the white

1 small onion

1 small swede

100g dried pearl barley or other grain mix if you choose

1.2L of good vegetable stock

2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced (or 2 decent tsps of minced)

2 tsp dried herbs of your choice of - savory, thyme or rosemary

A splash of seasoning sauce, such as mushroom ketchup (the bottle just seen on the left in the picture)

* Scrub or peel the carrots or parsnips, peel the swede, peel the onion. Chop all the vegeables into neat little chunks around 1.5cm-2cm, except for the leek and onion which need to be sliced thinly.

* Heat some oil in a large pan, then fry the leek, onion, garlic and herbs for 5 minutes or until softened, but not coloured.

* Chuck in the rest of the vegetables and cook until slightly softened, around 10 minutes.

* Add the stock and the barley, bring to the boil, then simmer for around 40 minutes.

* After the time has passed, check to see that everything is tender. Mash the soup roughly with a potato masher and serve. Add the seasoning sauce into the individual bowls to taste.

Serve with a good bit of white bread.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Feta, Walnut and fig salad

I fancied a salad, but something really tasty and filling, not light as a salad perhaps should be! This one has a tasty contrast of salty cheese, sweet figs, garlicky beans and tangy lemon dressing, with a bit of crunch from the walnuts. It's quite garlicky, so adjust the amounts of garlic used to fry the beans accordingly. The red sticks you see in the picture is beetroot, which came in the bagged salad I chose.

Feta, Walnut and Fig salad

Serves 4

Takes.. I can't remember :( but really not long. Half an hour should be perfectly fine.

300g of ready-packed salad, to ensure a nice variety of leaves.

4 figs

300g feta cheese

100g walnuts, crushed

200g green (french) beans

3 tsp minced garlic

Handful of chives, chopped

3 tbsp good quality olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Optional splash of balsamic vinegar to add a bit more sweetness

* Boil some water for the beans. While this is heating, prepare the other ingredients - cut the green beans in half, the figs into slices, the feta into bitesized cubes, the chives into small pieces and crush the walnuts in a plastic bag if they are not already in pieces.

* Once the water is boiling, cook the beans for about 4 minutes. While the beans are cooking, empty the salad into a large mixing bowl and add the feta, figs, chives and walnuts. You can also add the olive oil and lemon juice now, as it will all get mixed together shortly.

* Once the beans are cooked, drain them then add oil to the pan (make sure there's no water left!) and fry the beans with the minced garlic. Fry these for a good few minutes, until they look a bit wrinkly and nicely browned.

* Add the beans to the rest of the salad and toss vigourously to ensure thorough mixing. Whether you serve it right away with hot beans or cool it down for later is entirely up to you.

Serve with a slice of good bread, or just on it's own.