easy imam bayildi

This aubergine recipe is absolutely one of my favourite things ever. It’s an ancient Middle Eastern recipe that is so delicious I could eat it every day. I serve it with warm flat breads, Greek yogurt (or Oatly crème fraîche if you are dairy free) and salad and it’s the perfect lunch or starter. It’s brilliant with my Baked Falafel too. Sometimes I add toasted pine nuts on top with the mint and parsley leaves. My friend Giada and I had it for lunch on toast with hummus and it was delicious.


Ingredients

Serves 3-4

  • 2 aubergine sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices lengthwise 
  • 1 small onion finely chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp of red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (I think it needs quite a lot) 
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • Small bunch of mint
  • Small bunch of parsley 
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

How:

Preheat the oven to 180c or 350f.

The cut aubergines can be salted and left to drain for twenty minutes then washed before use, however they have bred the bitterness out of some of them so I generally find it unnecessary. 

Fry the aubergine slices in a big glug of olive oil, on both sides till golden. Set aside. Fry the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil till it’s starting to go golden and add the garlic, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and cook for a further minute. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and  gently cook till the sauce, about 5 minutes. 

Place the aubergines in an oven proof dish or pan and pour over the tomato sauce. Cover with a lid or tightly with foil and bake for about for about one and a half hours or until the aubergines are tender. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and leaves of the mint and serve. They are even better the next day after a night in the fridge. 

My serving suggestion below is with warm pita bread, salad, Oatly crème fraîche and lots of the herbs.

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Waitrose
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Tesco
Lidl

shaved courgette salad with lemon, parmesan and herbs

I think this might be my favourite salad now. I found it on Epicurious and tweaked it to my taste. It’s so delicious and easy to make, it’s kind of summery, although I would eat it all year round, and has the best flavours with toasted pine nuts, lemon and a tiny hint of hot from the dried chilli, but not so you would notice. The chilli makes the dressing unbelievably delicious. It would be perfect with a barbecue or with roasted fish or just on its own for lunch with crusty bread.

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savoury stuffed apples with rice pine nuts and currants

I adore sweet and savoury flavours together and this recipe from The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking nails this perfectly. I have tweaked it a bit because the first time I cooked them the cooking apples burst and so I had to start again even though they tasted amazing, so I went with Braeburn apples instead. I have also added more pine nuts and currants as I thought the recipe needed it and replaced the sugar with maple syrup as it’s low GI and used basmati rice. They are perfect as a side to a roast instead of stuffing or cold with a salad.

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avocado, mint, and ricotta bruschetta

This super healthy easy recipe for avo bruschetta is great snack, starter or light supper. People have even told me they have it for breakfast because they like it so much. The combination of flavours is really fresh and delicious and it’s creamy crunchy minty and zesty, so it tastes really fresh. The ricotta can be replaced by vegan cream cheese or peanut butter if you don’t eat dairy.

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fresh nectarine salad

This salad is simple and sweetly delicious and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I really love salads that are using just one main ingredient. It’s the zen way. Also I have always secretly put vinaigrette on my fruit salad when it’s just for me. So this recipe, which could also use peaches, hits the sweet and savoury thing on the head, if you like that sort of thing. I love the sweetness of the nectarine with the zingy dressing. It’s particularly lovely with my winter slaw. A friend of mine makes it all the time…she’s completely hooked on it.

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greek salad tartines

What could be nicer… an open salad sandwich always does it for me and my girlfriends. We love that combo of crunchy bread and salad. It’s healthy clean food and perfect for lunch or as a starter. This version of Greek salad is taken from all the most interesting recipes I could find for Greek salad and I mixed them up. I also cut the vegetables very small so it’s easier to stick the bread in your mouth if you want to eat them without a knife and fork, like I do. If you prefer it without bread just double the ingredients and make it as a salad.

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burrata salad with peas

I don’t eat a lot of cheese but when I do it is usually pecorino, Parmesan or on spesh occasions, burrata. Once you try burrata you wonder why you have never ever had it before because its one of the most delicious things in the world on every level. It’s a soft pillow of creamy, delicately flavoured gorgeousness, a mozzarella which has stepped up its game and become the beautiful twin. It has double cream in the centre of it, so when you break it open with your fingers the middle flows out of it like the sauce escaping from a hot chocolate fondant pudding. Peas are great too, so I married them off to each other and added a simple dressing with lemon. This salad should take minutes to make and makes a great starter or snack…or as a side dish with my midnight spaghetti.

Recipe

Serves 2 or one as a main course.

Ingredients: 

1 lemon juiced
1 or 2 burrata or mozzarella balls
A sprig of mint very finely chopped
A cup of thawed frozen peas (no need to cook)
Crunchy salad leaves (I use red chicory or treviso radicchio)
Salt and pepper to taste
½- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil


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fattoush

This really delicious Lebanese salad is made with toasted pitas and a mix of salad vegetables and herbs and has the most delicious fragrant sweet dressing. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and sour and crunchy and soft combined. You can add radishes, carrots, olives, peppers, shredded red cabbage, feta or what ever you fancy, it’s perfect for using up vegetables in the fridge. It’s a sort of Middle Eastern version of panzanella and its really gorgeous. You can serve it as a starter, or with meat or fish and it’s perfect picnic food and pretty healthy too. I like it as a healthy lunch made with wholemeal pitas and a side order of humus and more pita bread. Over to Ralph…

Ralph here……It tasted amazing! Took me right back to my mum’s Lebanese kitchen.

Serves 2-3

Recipe

Ingredients:
Dressing:
2 teaspoons of sumac, soaked in 2 teaspoons of warm water for 10 minutes
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
1 clove of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of wine vinegar
1/3 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
A couple of pita breads, lightly coated in olive oil and roasted in the oven till crispy then broken into smallish pieces
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Half a cucumber, skinned and diced
Half a red onion finely sliced
1 little Gem or baby romaine lettuce, shredded
A sprig of finely chopped parsley
A sprig of finely chopped mint

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pea mint and feta salad

I’m a pea-a-holic and nothing thrills me more than peas in a recipe, so I made this salad as a homage to the pea, which incidentally,  is one of the highest fibre vegetables.
I eat this on home made bruschetta but if you do eat meat, it’s excellent with Lamb chops or roast chicken.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:
1 cup of frozen petit pois, thawed overnight in fridge (by the way, they don’t need cooking)
1 small bunch of fresh mint finely chopped
1 shredded cos lettuce
Juice and zest of a lemon
2 teaspoons maple syrup
50 ml of olive oil
1 clove of crushed garlic
½ block of crumbled feta cheese

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blood orange and radish salad with pistachios

A really easy salad that can be made in minutes and looks really pretty, and tastes divine.

Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:
4 oranges (blood oranges if available), peel, pips and pith removed, cut into thin slices
A bunch of mint finely chopped
A large handful of pistachios roughly chopped
A bunch of radishes, washed and shaved into thin slices
Some salad leaves (optional)

DSCF0664

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