Harvest Salad Bowls

I picked up some great seasonal produce this weekend, including some seriously delicious, fresh corn. Rather than simply boil and serve on the cob, I decided to grill it and make a summer salad. The slight charring you get, makes for a really nice, slightly smoky flavour.

Harvest Salad

This salad also has my favourite Cavolo Nero kale, crisp red apples, roasted sweet potato, beets and goats cheese with a balsamic dressing. This makes enough for two large salads with leftovers for a lunchbox the next day.

Harvest salad bowl

Ingredients:
1 sweet potato
2 small beetroots
2 corn on the cobs, husks and silk removed
A small bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn intp pieces – I used Kavolo Nero
Small bunch of mixed salad greens
Goats cheese – I used two small individual cheeses broken into large pieces
1-2 crisp apples
1 lemon, halved

Harvest salad bowl2

Dressing:
3tbs olive oil
2tbs balsamic vinegar
1tsp maple syrup
1tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method:
Start by peeling the sweet potato and chopping into bite sized chunks. Rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast at 220°C/425°F for 30-35 minutes, or until tender and the edges are just starting to catch.

Sweet potato

Do the same with the beets, but I like to roast them separately to keep the colours separate. Beets do like to turn everything red!

To grill the corn, heat a griddle pan and rub each cob with a tiny amount of oil and place onto the hot griddle, tuning until cooked all the way around. You can also do this on a barbecue. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off and set aside.

Grilled corn

While the vegetables are roasting and the corn grilling, massage the kale in one half of the lemon juice. This tenderises it a little and helps to bring out the vibrant colour too.

Harvest salad bowl3

Chop the apple into bite sized pieces, leave the skin on, and toss in the rest of the lemon juice to avoid it discolouring.

When the vegetables are cool, assemble the salad by adding the massaged kale to the other salad greens, roasted sweet potato and beets, apples, crumbled goats cheese and the grilled corn. Gently turn the salad to combine everything together.

Harvest salad bowl1

Whisk or shake the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the top.

Harvest salad bowl4

Top with toasted pumpkin seeds or pecans if you like a bit of crunch. This late summer salad is full of flavour and perfect to enjoy on a warm afternoon in the garden.

Southwestern Salad Bowls

With the lengthening days, blue skies and sunshine, thoughts turn to salads, barbecues and eating alfresco. That’s the fantasy anyway. My reality is as soon as the sun comes out and the trees have their beautiful blossom, my horrible hay fever with huge sneezes and itchy eyes kicks in!

Southwestern Salad1

This salad is particularly summery, full of flavour and good for you too. The chicken is coated in taco seasoning, so it’s a little spicy and the cool, creamy dressing is a perfect accompaniment.

I’ve made my own taco seasoning as it’s not so readily available in the UK, but I like to make my own spice blends anyway as they will always be fresher than anything you can buy in the shop and you can customise and add a little more chilli if you like it spicier. However, my taco seasoning isn’t too hot as I was making it for the family, but it does have a bit of a kick.

Taco seasoning also goes amazingly well on anything that is good grilled or roasted – prawns, fish, vegetables and steak kebabs!

Southwestern Salad5

You can serve the chicken on this salad warm or cold and I sometimes scatter hot crispy, smoked bacon over the top and a scattering of grated cheese for something extra!

I tried a few variations for the dressing and decided that I liked half greek yogurt and half sour cream, but it really could be all of either. I included a tiny squidge of honey too, just to balance out all the flavours.

This recipe is enough for 4 large chicken breasts, but can easily be halved to serve 2. I like to cook extra for leftovers, or to take to work for a packed lunch.

Taco seasoning :
4tbs chilli powder – I used hot chilli powder
2tbs cumin
1tbs paprika – I used smoked paprika
1tsp salt
2tsp dried onion flakes
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp dried oregano – you could use Italian seasoning if you don’t have any

Simply mix everything together and store in an air tight jar until you are ready to use.

Taco Seasoning

Dressing:
3tbs sour cream
3tbs Greek yogurt
1 medium sized bunch of coriander/cilantro including the stalks
Zest and juice of one small lime
Pinch of salt and pepper
1tsp (tiny squidge) of honey

Blend everything together until smooth, taste for the seasoning and refrigerate. I just used a hand blender as I didn’t want to get my main blender or food processor out!

Coriander dressing.jpg

Ingredients for the salad:
2tbs taco seasoning
Pinch of salt
1.5tbs olive oil
Juice and zest of one small lime
4 skinless chicken breasts
2 Romaine lettuces, roughly chopped or torn
2 avocados, skinned, sliced and tossed in lemon or lime juice
1 punnet of tomatoes – I used multi-coloured ones
1 can of sweetcorn, rinsed and drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
A few coriander leaves and lime wedges to garnish

Southwestern Salad2

Method:
Mix together the seasoning, salt, lime and oil together and thoroughly coat the chicken. You can do this in a plastic bag, or in a dish covered with cling film. Refrigerate and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is even better.

Grill the chicken on a griddle pan or frying pan until cooked through – 4-6 minutes on each side depending on how big the pieces are. You might need to add a little more oil and then leave to rest if using it warm, or leave to go completely cold, before slicing and preparing the rest of the salad.

Southwestern Salad3

When ready to serve, place a bed of lettuce into each bowl, top with the sliced chicken and then arrange the tomatoes, avocado, beans and corn around the chicken. You can also toss everything together before placing the chicken on the top.

Garnish with a few coriander leaves, before pouring over a little of the dressing. Serve the salad with extra dressing and my husband likes the addition of crispy bacon and cheese too.

Southwestern Salad2

I always like to make enough so I can take a lunchbox to work the next day with the dressing in a little screw top pot. Just remember to toss the avocado in juice or it will discolour.

Southwestern Salad lunchbox

Roasted Acorn Squash Quiche with Chestnuts, Bacon and Stilton

There are so many lovely pumpkins and squashes around at the moment and I love trying as many as possible.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche

I think my favourite way of cooking squash is to roast it in the oven. Either simply with olive oil, salt and pepper, or adding spices and chilli.

These quiches contain roasted Acorn squash and I have left the skins on as they are fairly thin and roast up really nicely. Sometimes the older and bigger squashes have very thick skins and I tend to peel those.

Along with the squash, these quiches have crispy, smoked bacon, chestnuts and plenty of Stilton cheese, so lots of big flavours going on. I don’t add any salt to the eggs and cream as I think the bacon and Stilton add enough salt of their own, but this is my preference.

This recipe makes four individual quiches. I used 12.5cm, deep fill tartlet tins with removable bases, but you can easily make one large one.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche2

Crust:
400g all-purpose flour
1 pinch of salt
230g very cold butter cut into cubes and chilled again
95ml iced water

Ingredients:
2 Acorn squashes, topped, tailed, halved and seeds removed
5 extra-large eggs
¾ pint double/heavy cream
300g Blue Stilton cheese broken in to large crumbles
320g Good quality smoked streaky bacon
180g pack of prepared sweet chestnuts, roughly broken up
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs olive oil

Method:
Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas, or rough breadcrumbs. Add the iced water a little a time while pulsing the food processor, just until the dough just comes together. You might not need all of the water.

Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Leave to chill for 30 minutes.

On a floured board, roll out the pastry and then, taking care not to stretch the dough, line the tins with the pastry, re-rolling until all the tins are done. Place the pastry cases in the fridge and chill for another 30 minutes.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche3

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F

Line the pastry cases with parchment paper or foil, fill with baking beans and place in the oven to blind bake for 15-20 minutes. Take the pastry shells out of the oven, remove the paper and beans and then return to the oven for further 5 minutes or until the pastry feels dry. Leave to cool before adding the filling.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche1

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/430°F

Cut the halved squashes into slices, just over 1cm thick and rub them all over in 1tbs olive oil with 1tsp of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Roast them in the oven until the squash is tender and catching on the edges. This will take around 20-25 minutes, depending on how thick the slices are.

While the squash is roasting, fry the bacon until the fat renders out and it is crisp, set aside on kitchen paper to cool before chopping into small, bite-sized pieces.

Lower the oven to 180°C/360°F

Place the blind baked pastry shells on a baking tray to make transporting to the oven easier.

Place a couple of slices of squash in the bases of each quiche, then layer over the bacon, chestnuts and chunks of Stilton cheese. Divide the filling between the 4 cases and top each one with another couple of slices of the squash.

Whisk the eggs, cream together with more freshly ground black pepper and pour over the quiches until each one is full.

Taking care not to spill, place the tray with the quiches in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes or until just set in the middle. The quiche will be nicely puffed and golden brown and will smell very good indeed.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche slice

This quiche is really good hot or cold and half of one of these makes for a really nice lunch with a little salad.

Squash, bacon & Stilton Quiche plate1

The big autumnal flavours of the quiche make it perfect for an autumn party, picnic, Thanksgiving or Christmas and just the thing for a lunchbox.