Even though Autumn has now arrived and we saw the equinox appear on Friday, we are still in that “in-between stage” as I call it certainly food wise.
I cooked this recipe on my regular BBC Radio Leicester slot with Ben Jackson a couple of weeks ago. I came up with the recipe because we are still having lovely bouts of sunshine and like in my garden, I am still harvesting the last of the summer vegetables. I still have Courgettes, baby leeks, carrots, beans, lots of herbs and many more to list. Great for me to create even more recipes with in the next few weeks.
I feel at this time of year we are in the middle of wanting comfort food but maybe somedays you still want food that is quick to prepare, healthy and feels light when eating.
This is a great recipe also for using up leftover Roast chicken. So if you usually have chicken for a Sunday Roast, or in midweek then this is a perfect meal to come up with after. I also wanted to showcase how to use pearl barley in a different way rather that just in stews/casseroles and highlight the lovely herbs in this dish. Pearl barley is inexpensive and you don’t need to use a lot of it.
Click here to hear me with Ben Jackson on BBC Radio Leicester showing you just how quick and simple this meal is to prepare.
Warm pearl barley salad with courgettes, leeks and chicken.
- 75g of cooked pearl barley , I cooked mine in a little chicken stock and seasoned with cracked black pepper and sea salt once cooked.
- 2 tbsps of rapeseed Oil.
- 2 knobs of unsalted butter.
- 1 1/2 – 2 Courgettes sliced to the thickness of a one pound coin.
- 2 baby leeks or 1 small leek finely sliced.
- 1 large spring onions or 2 small sized ones finely sliced.
- 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped .
- Approximately 100g of leftover roast chicken, shredded. ( I used chicken thighs and cooked mine in rapeseed oil with garlic, lemon thyme, oregano, sage, dill and fennel. Plus seasoned. I also added a few slices of lemon.)
- A good handful of fresh herbs such as dill, fennel fronds, fennel pollen and mint finely chopped.
- A few Squeezes of fresh lemon.
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper to season.
- If you want to keep this recipe vegetarian then simply leave out the chicken and chicken stock.
- Fry off your courgettes for a couple of minutes in rapeseed oil.
- Add in your garlic and stir. Then pop in your leeks and cook for a further minute. Again stirring or tossing around the pan allowing your garlic not to stick or burn.
- Add the white parts of your spring onion, stir and then add in your butter. Cook for a further minute.
- By now the courgettes will be cooked and glossy with the butter. Season with cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt .
- Add to this mixture your green part of the spring onions and take off the heat.
- Sprinkle in your fresh herbs but save some dill and fennel fronds for serving.
- Pour your mixture into a bowl, add to this then your shredded chicken and pearl barley, Squeeze a little fresh lemon into the mix and give it a good stir.
- Serve into large bowls, add the remaining dill and fennel on top and a little extra squeeze of lemon ( if you like it extra zingy ).
- You can serve this on its own or with some toasted bread ( a batard type ). Use the same frying pan to lightly toast your bread if you do and it will give it wonderful flavour.
There’s nothing more I like that cooking outdoors. Wherever I can do it, I will. Yesterday was in my lovely little garden which is great as I can pick whatever herbs, fruit and vegetables I want. I get really bored of typical bbq food, i.e. burgers, hot dogs, sausages etc…that a lot of us Brits do. So if you are like me and want to cook something easy but a little more adventurous then this recipe will be for you. Especially if you like seafood!
The only thing I would stress is that cooking outdoors, some bbq’s, fire pits, outdoor ovens with have different strengths to how hot they are and how quick things will cook. It also will change in time to how much other ingredients you put in there along with the mussels.
( Serves two as a main course portion )
- A 1kg bag of fresh Mussels ( Mine were Scottish )
- half an onion diced finely
- 1 small courgette diced finely
- A good handful of tomatoes. Sliced in half. I used my own homegrown ones which were golden ones and some piccolo red ones.
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- A few slices of a funnel bulb diced finely and also a few fronds
- A handful of parsley ripped roughly
- a pinch of sea salt
- A good splash of white wine. I used Sauvignon blanc. Plus a good splash for yourself!
- 2 knobs of unsalted butter
- Also I used a branch of bay, thyme and Rosemary to smoke underneath the embers. The smell is amazing!
- De-beard and clean your mussels including taking off any barnacles. Rinse them under cold water.
- Make a bag/parcel with foil and place in your Mussels plus all other vegetables and herbs. Add your wine and place the butter over everything.
- Close up your foil parcel and place onto your bbq.
- This will Cook for roughly 12-15 minutes ( Times may vary ) If you are cooking with just the mussels, it will take less time.
- After half way through take off and check how far it is cooking. Stir will a spoon and place back on the bbq.
- When everything is cooked through, take off, pour into large bowls and serve with some crusty buttered bread.
Wild garlic is at is peak now for foraging and should be in most places over the UK in flower. I Love wild garlic and this year I have been experimenting more with it. I think people who come into my kitchen recently must be sick of smelling it, or even on me for that matter! ( Never thought about that until now! ) Also what is coming up great in my kitchen garden are the herbs. My fennel has lasted all through winter and is still going strong.
One recipe that really stood out through developing was this one on how quick it takes to prepare and cook. Plus it is super healthy.
I don’t usually buy salmon purely on its cost and sustainability but I couldn’t get Loch trout which I would have used instead. I managed to find some Scottish salmon that was MSC certified which had a lovely taste.
Combining the lovely subtle fresh flavours of the wild garlic and herbs in the couscous makes this dish so light. I didn’t overpower the salmon either, just gives it a little gentle heat against everything else. This dish is perfect for lots of occasions and especially with Easter coming up it’s a lovely alternative if you don’t want to have Lamb or any other meats. One key factor to remember…Do not overcook the Salmon then it will keep it’s lovely flavour and just flake away nicely.
I paired this up with some lovely British tomatoes that look fantastic on the dish but if Im completely honest I don’t think they go with the rest of the dish. They have a beautiful taste roasted though. So that’s your choice on whether you put them on the dish or not.
- 2 responsilbly sourced Salmon fillets ( I used Scottish )
- 1 tsp of dry Harissa spice mix/rub ( I use Spice Kitchen )
- 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil
- Sprinkle of sea salt to season. I use pink himalayan salt on mine but any good quality will do.
Wild garlic and herb Couscous:
- 150g of Couscous ( you might even have more left over for Lunch the next day )
- 250ml of vegetable stock ( boiling water )or enough to just cover the Couscous
- a handful of freshly picked wild garlic leaves, stalks off, washed and finely chopped ( Chiffonade )
- A good handful of fresh herbs finely chopped such as: Chives, mint, green fennel or fronds of, chervil and parsley. If you can’t get the fennel or chervil use a little tarragon or dill.
- A little salt and cracked black pepper to season if needed.
- 1 small red onion roughly diced
- 1 small red pepper diced roughly
- 1 small yellow pepper roughly diced
- 1 stick of celery chopped roughly
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- Small handful of lemon thyme, (if you can’t get this use normal thyme and a little lemon zest at the end of roasting)
- Salt and cracked black pepper to season.
- British Vittoria tomatoes on the side ( optional )
- Preheat oven to 180c fan.
- Place vegetables in a roasting tin/dish with the lemon thyme and place in oven for 5 minutes.
- Place Salmon after 5 minutes in a roasting dish, smother the harissa and oil over it, season and place in the oven also for approximately 12-15 mins or when salmon is cooked.
- Continue cooking the vegetables also.
- Whilst these are in the oven together Pop your dry couscous into a bowl, cover with the vegetable stock and cover with cling film for 10 minutes. Leave aside.
- At this point pop your tomatoes in the oven if you want to use them.
- Then when all is ready in the oven, flake your couscous with a fork and will be fluffy at this point. Then add in your herbs and wild garlic, stir and leave to stand until all dished up together.
- Serve altogether and enjoy!
Salads aren’t always for just Summer or when you are trying to loose an odd pound or too. They can be very exciting and that is what I wanted to show you this week and maybe introducing you to some flavours you haven’t tried yet.
I love this time of year for Comfort food but in-between I have to eat things like this to give me a little break. Plus theres going to be some more indulgent foods in a couple of weeks so this recipe might help to keep you feeling lighter along the way.
The key to this recipe is using lots of fresh herbs in the salad but if you cant get some of them, I’ve given alternatives. The sumac in the cous cous gives a lovely citrus vibrancy and along with the Harissa chicken will still give you a warming touch. A light dish but yet still very comforting.
Harissa Chicken with sumac cous cous salad:
- 2 boneless and skinless chicken thighs (add more if you want it )
- 2-3 tbsp Rapeseed oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, bashed
- 1-2 tsp Harissa spice, add more if needed ( I use Spice Kitchen )
- 200g Cous cous
- 400 ml chicken stock or to just cover the cous cous
- 2 tsp sumac ( I use Spice Kitchen )
- Handful of chopped cucumber
- handful of cherry/baby plum tomatoes quartered
- 1 small red onion sliced
- 1/4-1/2 fennel sliced thinly
- 75g white cabbage shredded
- a couple of handfuls of baby leaf salad such as spinach, rocket, red chard, red ruby chard etc…
- Selection of herbs chopped (a good sprig of each, the more the merrier)
:- Lovage (Use celery leaves if cant get)
:- Lemon verbena (use lemon zest if cant get)
:- I also used Salad burnet (which tastes like cucumber, I got mine from my local garden centre)
- Cracked black pepper to season
- sea salt ( I used pink himalayan salt ) to season
- a good sprig of chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Some fennel fronds
- drizzle of rapeseed oil
- In a bowl cover your cous cous with the stock just so its covered and cover the bowl with foil. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle your chicken thighs with the Harissa spice and place into a hot frying pan. Cook until your chicken is cooked throughout. Whilst your chicken is cooking throw in your 2 bashed garlic cloves to the pan.
- In the mean time whilst this is cooking, go back to your cous cous. By now it should be nice and fluffy.
- Place the cous cous into a mixing bowl along with all other ingredients. Mix well.
* When your chicken is cooked, Place the cous cous salad onto a plate or bowl, slice up the chicken, add your “to finish ingredients” and done.
This may seem like JUST a Roasted vegetable salad to you, but to me it screams out a whole lot more. One might say this resembles a Panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad with tomatoes, olive oil and herbs served in summer, maybe it is?
Throughout summer I always roast off a medley of these vegetables as the produce is pretty much all in season now and to me its just like summer in a bowl. I love the colours it gives off and the flavours are just immense. Another great thing regarding this little dish is that if you are a Kitchen gardener like myself, at some point, such as now in summer some of your homegrown vegetables will be used in it if not all. Its great for a glut of tomatoes, courgettes or peppers.
Roasting mediterranean vegetables can be the basis of creating so many other dishes from it. Here is just a short list of examples for you:
- Use it as a topping for Pizza or on bruschetta’s
- Turn into a gratin by adding cheese on top and placing back in the oven
- Make quiche or tarts
- Add chickpeas and some Moroccan spice or Indian spices to make a curry
- Also adding feta cheese and olives gives a greek feel
- Mix through Rice
- By adding it to Pasta, popping on a rich cheese sauce with some dijon mustard in will make an amazing Pasta Bake.
- I could go on…
Or simply of course this dish can be the great accompaniment for barbecued/grilled meats or fish.
However going back to the dish alone, Ive added fennel to mine and lots of herbs which give it that extra flavour. I personally love to sit outside with a big bowl of this and of course a large glass of wine to wash it down. As I said…Summer in a bowl.
- 2 tbsp Rapeseed oil or Olive
- 2 Cloves of Garlic roughly chopped
- 1 small courgette trimmed
- 1 red pepper and yellow pepper
- 1 Baby fennel trimmed , cut through the middle into 4-5 pieces
- 2 handfuls of cherry/baby plum/piccolo tomatoes halved, I used British Vittoria ones
- 1/2 Aubergine trimmed
- 1-2 red onions
- Handful of fresh herbs finely chopped: Oregano, Lemon thyme or normal thyme, Basil, parsley
( If you don’t have Lemon thyme, use normal and then grate about a 1/4 of lemon zest)
– Sea salt and cracked black pepper to season
Croutons for the Salad
- 2 Slices of Bread ( couple of days old) chopped into squares
- 1-2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
- 1 clove of garlic bashed
- Salt and cracked black pepper to season
- Sprig of Rosemary finely chopped
- Chop all vegetables into similar size chunks, 2-3 cm
- Place all vegetables ( not tomatoes )into an oven proof dish add the oil, garlic and season. mix through with your hands
- Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
- Drizzle oil over croutons, season and coat with the rosemary. Dry fry in a pan until golden brown.
- After 15 minutes add your most of your fresh herbs and tomatoes and pop back in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until cooked through.
* Toss the croutons through, add the rest of your herbs, a good drizzle of oil and serve in a large bowl.