Jamie Oliver’s Pukka Yellow Curry

photo (9)

Let me tell you something.  Mr. Oliver makes a damn good curry.  I am in shock!!!  Most of the time, when I try Indian food recipes that aren’t from India, I get very, very disappointed.  This dish has now gone into my hall of fame of favorite curries.  It has a lovely sweetness to it, from the yellow peppers,  but just the right kick from the chillies.  I am happy I made enough for both my daughter and I to have leftovers tomorrow!  Unfortunately the hubs won’t be able to try, but he doesn’t like chickpeas anyway.

As I usually do, I tweaked the recipe here and there and added some store-bought curry paste I had in the pantry.  I will give you the recipe I made, but if you want to make it just like Jamie’s, you can find the recipe here.

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs

2 onions

4 garlic cloves

2 yellow peppers

1 thumb sized piece of ginger

1 cube chicken stock

1 jalapeño pepper

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp curry powder

2 tbsp mild curry paste

1 tbsp tomato paste

500ml of boiling water

400g canned chickpeas

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup basmati rice

Peel the onions, garlic and de-rib and de-seed the yellow peppers.  Cut into quarters, and add to a food processor and pulse until chopped.  Add the ginger, crumbled chicken stock cube, the jalapeño pepper, cilantro stems (reserve the leaves for later) ,spices and honey.  Pulse until you have a thick paste.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, add the chicken thighs, skin down, and cook for about 5 minutes, turn and cook another 5 minutes.  Put the chicken on a plate and reserve, lower the heat.  Add the curry paste and tomato purée, and cook, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes.  Add the pureed vegetables, and raise heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the boiling water, drained chickpeas and chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to make sure they are mixed well, cover and cook for about an hour, or until most of the cooking liquid has evaporated.

20 minutes before it is done, place the cup of Basmati rice in 2 cups of water, boil until all the liquid has evaporated.

Serve together, and if you have some Naan…..please use it.  You will be sopping up this curry!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

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Warm Chickpea Panzanella Salad with Torn Basil

Chickpea Panzanella SaladAs summer begins to wind down, and it’s just that teeny little bit cooler, I feel my body asking for warmer things.  Not your fresh lemony bright food, something with more of a consistency, and warmth.  It’s funny, before I moved to Spain, there were two things that I would have never eaten.  Cold Soup and Warm Salad.  They were just weird to me.  But, as I see that living in Barcelona is coexisting with your environment perfectly, a.k.a. no air-conditioning, you find more creative ways to cool yourself off.  Hence the cold soup.  Now, with the wind just a bit chillier, and not yet time to put on the heating, the warm salad.

Panzanella is such a simple salad, it literally is the epitome of ease.   The large crusty bread chunks soak up the vinaigrette.  I wanted to add some chickpeas because 1) I LOVE EM!  2) well, they elevate this salad from side dish to main dish in my book and 3) they’re healthy!  And what is better than having a few friends over and all you have to do is fry up some bread, and toss some dressing on to the greens?  Nothing, in my book.  It just gives you more time to spend with them.

chickpea panzanella salad

 

Apart from adding some torn basil into the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and chickpeas, I also fried the bread with some basil leaves and cracked pepper.

bread cubes

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

1 baguette, cut into cubes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large bunch basil, 3/4 of  the leaves torn, the rest left intact

200 g cooked chickpeas

1/2 cucumber, diced

10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 head of romaine lettuce, cut

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice

Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large frying pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and warm up.  When hot, add the bread cubes, some cracked pepper and the intact basil leaves.  Fry the bread until crispy on all sides.  Keep warm.

In a large bowl, add the rest of your ingredients up to the romaine lettuce.  Drizzle with the olive oil, and the lemon juice (however much you like) and garlic salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Add the fried bread and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Two “Bean” Salad with Corn, Avocado, Mango and Salsa Verde Vinaigrette

Again, after such a food extravaganza, my body was craving something delicious and healthy.  This Sunday, we had a barbecue at a friends’ house, and I was asked to prepare the side to her ribs.  Corn always comes into my mind, but I also wanted something that was healthy and colorful.  I feel that the more colors you put in a salad, the more nutrients you are giving your body.  I also knew I didn’t want your typical lettuce and tomato salad that is prevalent in almost every menu here.  It’s funny, Spaniards are not big on salads, and it baffles me that the variety of produce that you get here aren’t translated into a cornucopia of a salad bowl.

This “salad” was delicious, full of black beans, chickpeas, corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado, mango and then a slightly tangy Salsa Verde (made from tomatillos) vinaigrette, and some fresh cilantro.

Really easy to make, gorgeous to present, and you have a filling, healthy side to any lunch.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

1 can Black Beans, drained

1 can Chickpeas, drained

1 small can Corn, drained

1 avocado, diced

1 large slice mango, diced

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp cilantro, chopped

For the vinaigrette:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp salsa verde

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Fresh ground Pepper

Just mix all the ingredients, except for the avocado if you aren’t serving immediately.  When you are ready to serve, then dice and mix in the avocado, if not it gets all brown.  And it’s that easy!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Pretty in Pink: Beet Hummus

I find it amazing how few ingredients are pink.  And most people (including myself) are surprised when something pink does arrive on their plates.  I have 3 instances.

1) My mom’s beet and carrot salad.  Gorgeous fuchsia hue…..super delicious,but super weird.  Alas, it served me well convincing my then 5-year-old daughter to eat a salad because it was “pink”.

2) Chicken Shalimar.  Shalimar is a great Pakistani restaurant here in Barcelona.  They have their house dish that is chicken that comes in a bubble gum pink sauce.  It tastes like coconut, so the only thing I can imagine is that it is a beet and coconut sauce.  It’s ridiculously good, if you’re wondering.

3) Beet hummus.  I made this a while ago, and thought it was just divine.  The addition of beets turns the hummus this beautiful, deep pink, and makes it oh that much more healthy.  It still surprises me every time when I make it though, kind of like, wow……this is interesting.

So, those are my surprising moments.  I have eaten hummus my entire life.  It’s a staple in my family, being of Syrian/Egyptian descent, but beet hummus?  I started eating that recently.  So, since this week I call my get back to a more simpler healthy state week, I made this hummus.  And the whole family loves it.  It’s great as a dip, topping, or side, but my favorite is to stuff it into pita bread, or a wrap with a whole bunch of fresh veggies, such as cucumber, carrot, tomatoes, sprouts and avocados.  Add a little lemon and oil, and you’re good to go!  A perfect pink pita (or wrap).  Heee…that makes me smile. I hope it will make you smile too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

400g cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup tahine (I like a lot, feel free to add less)

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 garlic clove, minced

Juice from one lemon

1/2 beet, chopped

1/4  cup olive oil (I say this much, because it always depends, you can use up to this much, but usually less.  Have it on hand when you are blending, if you like it chunkier, add less, smoother, add more.)

1 tsp cayenne powder

Salt and pepper to taste.

In a blender or cup of an immersion blender, add the chickpeas, tahine, cumin, garlic, beet and 2 tbsp of the olive oil.  Puree until smooth.  Add the lemon juice a little at a time, tasting to see how much you want in it.  Same with the oil, if it’s too chunky for you, add some more olive oil.  When you get it to your desired consistency and acidity, add the cayenne, salt and pepper.

So easy, so healthy.  So so so delicious!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Green bean and Chickpea “Stew”

Chickpeas to me is comfort food.  My father’s side of the family being Egyptian/Syrian/Turkish, I have grown up eating this grain and it is a staple in my diet.  A couple of months ago I received my favorite magazine in the mail, Saveur, and I came across this recipe.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it.  Generally I like my vegetables barely cooked, fresh and crispy.  But this article praised slow cooked veggies.  I figured I would give it a try, thinking that I wasn’t going to be that thrilled with it.  What a surprise!  I fell in love with it.  It is really simple, flavourful, and the one word that comes to mind, is comforting.  It was so reminiscent of the flavour profiles that I grew up with, that instantly I knew I was going to make this dish again and again.

It is quite heavy on the cumin, which I love, but the original recipe calls for an hour of cooking time.  I reduced that to 35 minutes, because I wanted more tomato sauce than Saveur’s.  This is a perfectly simple and delicious meal that can be enjoyed on it’s own with a loaf of crusty bread, à la girl in a food frenzy’s.  But you can always have it as a side dish as well, with something simple, like grilled fish or steak.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Saveur Magazine

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. paprika
1 ½ lb. green beans, strings removed
1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and paprika, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste is lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 35 minutes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Nicoise Salad

How can you not love this salad?  It’s not really a salad, it’s a complete meal.  Of course, there are thousands of variations of Nicoise, and I don’t pretend mine to be the authentic one.  But, it’s my take, and I loved every bite of it.

When summer rolls around, I crave something that is cold, yet hearty.  But just the connotation of the word hearty to me is warm food.  But I think this is the equivalent of that for summer.  It really is a whole meal on a plate.  My version is chock full of vine ripe “Raff” tomatoes, green beans, new potatoes, red onion, tuna, boiled egg, and chickpeas (yum!), topped with a parsley pesto vinaigrette.  This combination is so satisfying and nourishing.  I truly enjoy making and then gobbling up this “salad” with a nice piece of crusty bread.  And really, it is quite easy to make.  Yes, you have to boil ingredients separately, but if you prepare beforehand, it is simple.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 2

2 hard-boiled eggs

3 new potatoes

80 g string beans

1 can of tuna, oil packed, drained

1 small red onion, sliced

100 g chickpeas, boiled and cooled. (or from a can or jar)

1 tomato, sliced

For the parsley pesto vinaigrette:

1 large bunch Italian parsley

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

4 tbsp grated Parmiggiano Reggiano

1 tsp lemon juice

1/8 cup olive oil

juice from 1 lemon

Arrange all the ingredients for the salad however you want.  I chose just for the picture to separate them, but it makes a really nice presentation if you have guests over.  You can even bring it out to the table without dressing, and then add the parsley pesto.

In a blender, pulse the parsley, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, the garlic, salt and pine nuts until a fine paste.  Then add the parmesan and lemon juice.  Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of this over the veggies, and then dress with the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice.  Toss to coat.

Reserve the rest of the pesto to use on bruschetta, fish, pasta, whatever your heart desires!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do, and you can feel good, because its super duper healthy!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla