Minty Cucumber and Tomato Salad

It’s SO hot! I have loads of baking recipes I want to try out, but I think putting on the oven today might actually kill us.

We’ve been having lots of salads in this hot weather and this one is cool cucumber with sweet cherry tomatoes, peppers and cooling mint. I really like to make my chilli and cucumber salad too, but this with the mint is super cooling on yet another hot day.

Minty tomato salad1

When I add cucumber to a salad, I always scoop out the wet seeds. I never peel them either; I think the nice green skin is the best bit.

This is a very colourful salad with red and yellow peppers and sweet cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes tend to be nice and sweet all year round, so this is a good recipe for anytime. Feel free to add in some thinly sliced red onion too, that would work well here – IF you like eating raw onion that is!

This super simple recipe can be made more substantial by adding cubes of cheese, such as feta, or served as a side salad, alongside some grilled fish or chicken. It’s quite portable too, so a very good salad to take on a picnic.

I don’t like to add too much dressing to this, but extra can be served on the side.

Ingredients:
1 cucumber
1 pack of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper

Dressing:
2tbs olive oil
1tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs lemon juice
10 mint leaves, finely chopped
Tiny pinch of salt and pepper to taste

To serve:
Extra mint
Cubes of eta cheese (optional)

Method:
Halve the cucumber lengthways and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, then slice and add to a large bowl.

Chop the cherry tomatoes into halves, or quarters and add them to the cucumber slices.

Cut the ‘cheeks’ off the peppers, leaving the core and seeds behind and slice and dice, before adding to the bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.

Minty tomato salad

Pour over enough dressing to moisten the vegetables and scatter over a little more mint if desired. This is really good with the addition of feta cheese to make a really colourful and cooling summer salad.

Prawn and Avocado Summer Rolls

Its been a long, hot summer so far with no signs of it ending anytime soon. For a summertime meal that is light, flavourful but substantial too, summer rolls are a good choice.

Summer roll ingredients

You do need to buy a specialist ingredient to make these, but the rice wrappers are quite readily available in the supermarket, along with the rice noodles and on Amazon too.

Once you have your ingredients ready, they are quick and easy to make and no deep frying required like with spring rolls.

My family really enjoyed them and you can leave out the fresh herbs, if you want to serve them plain. The juicy prawns and fresh, crunchy vegetables are a nice alternative to a salad and just the thing for yet another hot day.

Is anyone else ready for Autumn, or just me!?

Ingredients:
Vietnamese rice wrappers – available at most supermarkets or Amazon
Approx 100g vermicelli rice noodles
1 pack cold water prawns/shrimp
1 avocado
1 x red and yellow pepper
1 carrot
1 Romaine lettuce
Fresh coriander/cilantro and mint leaves
1 large lemon
Sweet chilli sauce to serve

Method:
This is mostly an assembly job and you need to have everything ready and to hand before you can make the rolls.  My ingredients made 8 rolls, but you can easily scale this up for more people.

Summer roll veggies

Start by preparing the rice noodles as per the packet and leaving to cool.

When they are ready, prep all the veggies by very thinly slicing the peppers and carrots into matchsticks. Thinly slice the avocado and toss in lemon juice so it doesn’t discolour. Tear the lettuce into large pieces.

Toss the prawns in lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.

Summer rolls2

In order to soften the rice wrappers, they need to be submerged into warm water. I used a shallow pan and gently heated the water, but you could just use warm tap water in a large enough dish. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the packet.

When you have everything ready, you need to work quickly.

Submerge the wrapper into the warm water and leave for around 10 seconds, it will quickly soften and become very pliable.

Place onto a board and stuff with a little of everything, taking care not to overstuff.

Summer rolls4

As you can see the ingredients through the wrappers, you can place the herbs on first so they can be seen. Some people get very artistic!

I used coriander for some and mint for the others as my husband loves mint, but isn’t a big fan of coriander (like me!)

Summer rolls

I started with the herbs and lettuce then added the noodles, prawns, avocado, peppers and carrots. Place the sticks of vegetables all pointing the same way in the centre of the wrapper, fold over the sides and roll away from you like you would a burrito.  Roll fairly tightly, but gently, folding in the ends as you get to the end of the roll.  The ingredients will be fully enclosed in their see through parcel.

While assembling the rest, place the summer rolls seamside down onto your serving plate, keeping them separate as they will stick together if they are touching.

Carry on until you have used up all your ingredients, then cut in half diagonally and serve immediately.

Summer rolls zoom

Enjoy with a dipping sauce, either home made or a good one from the supermarket. I have used a sweet chilli one, but hoisin or a peanut sauce is really good too.

These make a really delicious and light summer lunch or supper and are really worth trying.

Stilton, Spinach & Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms

I don’t care what people think, life is definitely not too short to stuff a mushroom!

Stuffed mushrooms2

I love stuffed mushrooms and these meaty, Portobello ones have delicious Colston Bassett Stilton cheese, fresh spinach, walnuts and sage.  They make a really nice lunch that’s perfect for this time of year and make a great side dish for nice juicy steak.

I have also made smaller versions of this recipe, using chestnut mushrooms and served them warm as a canapé.

Stuffed mushrooms

Serves 2

Ingredients:
3 Portobello Mushrooms, with stems removed
1tbs olive oil
Knob of butter
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
Freshly chopped sage
Large bunch of fresh spinach leaves
180g Stilton cheese, broken up into large crumbles
Handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
Two slices of lightly stale white bread, just leave it out for an hour. Remove crusts and whizz up in the food processor until you have crumbs
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
4tbs double cream

Stuffed mushroom

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Add the parsley to the breadcrumbs and stir to combine and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick pan.

Very finely chop one of the mushrooms and add to the pan, along with the chopped onion, sage and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until the onion has softened, add the spinach until wilted and then stir in the cream. Cook for a further minute, before turning off the heat. Stir in the stilton, walnuts and herby breadcrumbs.

Stuffed mushroom closeup

Using a spatula, gently press the mixture into the mushroom caps, dividing the mixture equally between the two mushrooms.

Stuffed Mushroom slice

Bake for around 30 minutes, until melted, golden and crisp. Serve as a first course with salad, or on the side of a steak.