tagged ‘spinach’

Mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad

in Savoury, Taste -

Colourful and filled with flavour and textures, this mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad is a super star all around. 

Mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad

It’s not always clear to me how a recipe comes to happen; often it’s something I crave or miss- usually my mom’s food or a dish I’ve tried in a restaurant and left a lingering taste in my mouth. Other times inspiration stems from recipes seen in cookbooks or online. More often than not though, everything starts with ingredients: it can be something not very exciting I have in the fridge or cupboard, or fresh seasonal produce first making a timid appearance in market stalls. These are my favourite ones: I feel almost haunted by colours and shapes, I touch and smell and a dish, or a faint outline, more like a desire, starts coming together. For this salad, it all started with mandarines- of which I used to not think much  for quite a long time. Then suddenly, a while ago, I started finding them utterly irresistible. I love when that happens- it’s like having a new friend and start making all sorts of exciting plans for adventures to share together.

Mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad

This fall, ever since I laid eyes on the first mandarines of the season, they became a staple: I’d have them for breakfast, snack or lunch, on their own or alongside thick yogurt, crunchy nuts of even dark chocolate. And soon enough they made an appearance in savoury dishes too. I can’t decide what I love most about them- their gorgeous colours and sweet acidity, soft flesh or how beautifully they pair with all sorts of ingredients, from fresh leaves to salty cheese and root vegetables. And speaking of gorgeous colours, they’re in such great company with the deep hues of earthy beets and striking baby spinach.

Mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad

So a salad was in order, one of my favourite dishes to make. Fresh and filling, put together in such an uncomplicated way, yet yielding such a beautiful sight and inviting taste. Made with lots of vegetables, cooked barley (though faro would also be a great alternative), a bright and slightly sweet vinaigrette and finished of in the way I usually prefer: crunchy nuts and a good cheese.

Mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad

Mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad

Mandarine, beet & pistachio barley salad

WHAT

200g cooked pearl barley*

4 mandarines, thinly sliced

2 medium-sizd beets, cooked**, thinly sliced

for the dressing:

juice of 1 mandarine

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper to taste

to serve:

2 tablespoons pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped

parmesan flakes, to taste

WHAT

  1. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients; taste and adjust accordingly- taste your fruit, if it’s too sweet, you may need less honey or an additional pinch of salt.
  2. Place the cooked barley on a serving platter and add the sliced mandarines, beets and spinach leaves. Add the vinaigrette and toss lightly.
  3. Before serving, top with the chopped pistachios and parmesan flakes.

* To cook, combine the barley with 675ml water (3 cups) in a saucepan, along with a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for about 25′- it will almost triple in volume and will become soft, but still holding a bite. Drain if necessary and let cool before using in the salad.

** You can use pre-cooked beets (just make sure they are not cooked in vinegar), or scrub fresh ones clean, wrap them in foil and cook them in a preheated oven (200°C, 1800°C FAN) for about 40′ to an hour. To make sure they are done, poke them with a fork- you should be able to insert it easily. Remove from the oven, unwrap and let them cool.

 

Smooth pea & spinach soup with lemongrass, ginger & fresh herbs (and a giveaway!)

in Savoury, Taste -

This delicious and filling smooth pea & spinach soup with lemongrass, ginger & fresh herbs lives almost exactly between winter and spring.

Smooth pea & spinach soup with lemongrass, ginger & fresh herbs

Winter had made an unexpected and very prominent come back to London this week. The days are very cold, deceivingly sunny and filled with beautiful snow. It seems like the seasons are at odds with each other: spring is attempting an early take over, gifting us with persistent brightness, while winter is firmly standing its ground with temperatures below zero and bitter gusts of wind. I love it all the same. The days are longer already, the snow is as always a sight for sore eyes and the cold nights beg for warmth and comfort. These may come in different forms (I love a fragrant hot toddy, a warm bowl of morning goodness and of course a slice of seasonal delight) but soups are almost always my go to. [READ MORE]

Barley salad with orange, fennel & black olives

in Savoury, Taste -

This barley salad with orange, fennel & black olives is great both as a refreshing side dish or a light main for those hectic pre-holiday days. 

Barley salad with orange, fennel & black olives

It happens almost every year, around the same time: before the holidays, just when the weather starts getting wintery and the lists of things to do a little longer, as the light each day fades a little earlier. It happens and I am now almost at peace with the almost bizarre combination of feeling at once exhausted and filled with energy. I find myself under the covers often before 11pm, barely able to read more than a page (even though I have this in hand and it is pure pleasure), yet most mornings I get up excitedly, well rested and impatient. There’s meals to plan and gifts to be considered (thought I wait till the 1st of December to do any holiday shopping), cards to be made and outfits to be put together for upcoming festivities. I love all of the above and that too, that weird and exhausting and exhilarating amalgam of  energy and slumber. [READ MORE]

Spinach, dill & lemon basmati rice (spanakorizo)

in Savoury, Taste -

Spinach, dill & lemon basmati rice (spanakorizo)

This spinach, dill & lemon basmati rice is my friend Zoe’s version of spanakorizo (spinach rice) a Greek dish which is both widely loved and loathed. I used to belong to the latter category; I passionately despised spanakorizo, even when it was prepared by my mom, a truly exceptional cook. I expressed and emphasized my dislike at any given opportunity, but that never phased her (she’s had years of intense practice not paying much attention to most dramatic declarations occuring at home): instead, it was the dish she’d prepare for my sister and me every time we’d return home from London. I mean, every.damn.time. And every damn time, I’d give it a try and every damn time, I’d dislike it even more. [READ MORE]

Spinach, swiss chard & feta pie (spanakopita)

in Savoury, Taste -

SpinachPie-620-4

I left home when I was 18; I’ve been gone many years and food, as much as it is important to me, is not at the top of the list of things I miss. I miss my sister most of all and my parents too; I miss the frequent arguments we used to have and the almost instant truces that followed -although, in keeping with the family tradition, we still have plenty of those every time I go back. I miss the gorgeous house I grew up in and its beautiful balconies, filled with flowers, herbs and small trees and the views to the Acropolis and Lycabettus hill. [READ MORE]