Red Lentil Spread

Here I got a sweet little recipe for you. It was all made with things I had in the pantry and fridge so that’s always a plus. Plus it’s healthy AND I can use my new foodprocessor to make this!!! That was really the most important reason to create this recipe. We ordered this foodprocessor a few weeks back and I have been using it non stop. It does everything! Grate, cut, blitz, juice, grind… loving it! Especially the juices me and my boyfriend Bas now drink daily makes us happy and feel super good and healthy. So it’s a win win it seems. It only takes a little time to clean all the elements afterwards, but that’s ok.

So this spread or dip is delicious in many ways. I had it for lunch on a piece of toast, topped with some avocado and some melted cumin cheese over the top. To die for! It’s also a  great addition when you are creating a little cheese and/or charcuterie platter. Or on a wrap, just add some crunchy greens and spicy chicken strips and you’ve got yourself a dinner!

Let’s cut to the chase:

  • 1 small cup of red lentils
  • One small or one half a clove of garlic
  • Bottom tip of a chili pepper
  • Ridiculously big spoonful of Turkish/Greek yogurt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • fresh or ground coriander
  • fresh parsley
  • pinch of paprika powder
  • Dash of olive oil
  • Half  of a vegetable stock cube
  • Zest of half a lemon (can be replaced with a dash of vinegar)

You’ll need a food processor or blender for this. :D.

Add the lentils and stock cube to a pot of boiling water and cook the lentils until soft. Meanwhile start adding your ingredients to the foodprocessor. I felt half a clove of garlic was enough because you add it raw. I also cut of the bottom tip of chili pepper for a bit of a kick. (ofcourse add more if you desire a bigger kick!). spoon in some yoghurt, the herbs and spices. Don’t forget to add a little sourness, like lemon zest or vinegar. Add the lentils and a dash of olive oil. Then start processing! Should take you but a few minutes.

Taste it and add more spices and/or herbs if you like. I always like to ground over some fresh black pepper. Be careful with addaing any extra salt because when you cook the lentils in stock they become a little salty. Sometimes that can be salty enough.

Enjoy again guys. Next week I am definitely posting something with meat muhahaha.

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Spanish style

So we just got back from Spain. I can’t wait to go back there again. Seriously, I want to live there! If anyone knows of a job opening there… I am game!

I thought I might add a recipe to my blog while we were in Andalucia, but I was really to busy, with, well, enjoying all that Spain has to offer. I am talking food and wine ofcourse, but also sun, loads of sun, nature, history, flamenco music and dance and brushing up on my Spanish and talking to the local people. Upon arriving back home the temperature was a lot less agreeable and it was pouring with rain… I really don’t know whether to post some sort of hearthy stew or other warming dish, or write about sunny Spain and it’super tasty foods and tapas… Well it is going to Spain, what else?!

All the foods we had there… loads of meat, what else. I am talking ham, chorizo and lomo. Delicious pork. Not a lot of chicken and beef to go around, they do love their pork. If the pork here would be as tasty as in Andalucia, I would eat it all the time, now I rarely eat pork. Then there is the manchego cheese, queso fresco, queso de cabra… Then we move to the warm dishes such as fried eggplant – OMG never had eggplant that good. Of course it is fried and covered in syrup, but it is so finger licking good, worth every calorie! I plan to recreate this dish soon! We also have the abundance of homemade croquettas, which I fear will be a bit harder to make, but I will attempt those too! Let’s not forget about the soups: warm garlic soup, cold gazpacho and salmorejo, silky smooth gazpacho made with white bread. Seeing we had days as hot as 30 degrees celcius, that cold soup tasted amazing! I really wanted to make salmarejo today, but it is pouring with rain. No cold soups. What then…. Maybe we will just have it easy tonight and feast on all the delicious things we brought with us: some heartwarming red wine, delicious sausage, cheese. The only think I will make are roasted red peppers, or pimientos in Spainish. This is easy and quick, and a perfect accompaniment for every tapas board. I also love it on a manchego sandwich or on a green salad. With some nice olive oil, sherry vinegar and a good glass of red wine perhaps?

OK I must run to the gym as soon as possible, looking back on our stay it looks like all we did was eat… But we walked a lot to, discovered Seville, Cadiz, Jerez de la Fronterra, Arcos the la Fronterra, Ronda, Grananada… All beautiful villages, cities and nature. Some of these places I had actually visited before, but I never tire of strolling through Seville, driving around and for miles and miles, just seeing olive trees and cork oaks. Strolling through the Alhambra palace again it took my breath away, just like it did the first time, just like it would do on another visit.

So please, get going. To Spain. Bring me some jamon while you’re at it.

Spanish roasted red peppers 

The red peppers in Spain are enormously huge. I never knew peppers could grow so big, and be so sweet as well! They are just perfect, but I think our own red peppers will do nicely too.

Ingredients:

– 2 large red peppers

– salt, pepper

– good quality olive oil

– vinegar of your choice

Heat your oven to about 250 degrees Celcius, or as hot as it can get. Put your peppers on a tray and into the oven. You don’t have to do anything with them, just turn them every five minutes. Check after 20 minutes if they are blackened en the skin is starting to come of. If so, take them out. I have noticed that in some ovens this will go a bit faster or slower, maybe also depending on the peppers. Give it more time if needed, do not worry if it blackens. There are other ways to roast peppers, but I prefer this one, just too simple!

Leave them to cool slightly so that you can touch them, then start pulling of the skin. This should be fairly easy. If the skin does not come off, they need more time in the oven. When you remove the skin, you automatically remove the black bits. Remove the seeds as well.

Cut up the peppers in long small strips. Put them in a bowl and grind over fresh salt and pepper. Use a good drizzle of olive oil and vingear. I like mine quite sour because of the sweetness allready in the peppers, but add vinegar and oil to your own flavor. Also, there will be juice coming from the peppers. No need to throw this away, just mix it in.

There you have it allready, something typically Spanish, but also something fast, delicious and not super unhealthy ;-). Disfruta! (Enjoy:-)!)

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Chilli con Quinoa

Time for some hearthy food! Chilli time! We have been trying to have some veggie and fish days as well, and not just eat meat everyday. I don’t think we succeed every single week, but I do try. That’s why I opted for a veggie chilli this week. Goes perfect with the Paraguayan cornbread from my last post!

Quinoa is all the rage I know, and quite healthy too. But you can definitely substitute it with amaranth or bulgur or something like that. Quinoa is a great superfood, but we noticed first hand what the downside is of us now liking quinoa so much: the locals don’t get to eat it anymore! For hundreds of years quinoa been a staple in their diets. I am talking about people from Peru and Bolivia mostly. They make bread, soups and even apple juice with quinoa. Delicious, super healthy and part of their tradition, diet, culture and lifestyle. Now it’s much more profitable to just sell quinoa for about ten times as much too us foreigners then to eat it themselves. And there is only so much quinoa to go around (because it can’t simply grow everywhere) meaning that we basicly eat their quinoa. When we were over there it felt kind of wrong. On the other hand they do really need the extra money that quinoa brings to their country… so what to do here? I really don’t know. We eat quinoa from time to time,not a lot, but I don’t ban it from my kitchen either.

The choice is up to you! I don’t think it’s a bad idea to realize from time to time where your food actually comes from. Is it local, is it seasonal? I have mixed emotions about quinoa, so for the rest of my dish I used local, seasonal veggies from the market here. I also made this dish once with amaranth wich turned out just great as well. Amaranth cooks faster then quinoa, and it’s also a plant from South and Central America.

Time for the musing to stop, let’s start cooking!

Ingredients (servers about 4)

  •  350 grams of cooked quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli or jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, or the equivalent in fresh, chopped tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 100 ml of water
  • 200 grams of corn
  • 200 grams of beans
  • 400 grams of seasonal veggies (carrots, cilantro, leeks, celery, bell pepper… whatever there is and whatever you feel like!)
  • seasoning:
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • salt, pepper
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp cilantro or coriander
    • 1 tsp of paprika powder
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
    • good splash of worchester sauce
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • juice of one lemon (or lime)

 

Cook the quinoa as instructed. Start chopping your veggies of choice. Drain the quinoa once cooked and set aside. Once you have chopped everything up we start on the chilli.

Put a pan on the stove and heat some oil. Add the onion, when the onion starts browning add in the garlic and finely chopped chilli or jalapeno. I always remove the seeds from my chilli, otherwise it is too hot for me. Feel free to add them with the seeds – all at your own risk! Give it a stir and mix in the other veggies.

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When everything has browned slightly, stir in the tomato paste. Then we add the water and diced tomatoes. Time to add all of your seasoning as well. As always, free feel to adjust it to your personal preferences and tastes. Make sure all the veggies are covered with the sauce, add the lid, and let it simmer for about ten minutes.

After ten minutes, stir and taste. How is the flavour? Are your veggies cooked? If necessary add more herbs, stir and cover again to let it simmer some more. Repeat this process. Are you happy with the flavours? Then we are almost there! Add the cooked quinoa and let it the quinoa heat up in the sauce. It will absorb some of the chilli flavours, lovely!

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Taste one more time. Happy? Let’s eat! Serve with some cornbread and a fresh salad, for example. If you have any leftovers, save them for tomorrow or freeze in a container for an evening you  need a quick, healthy meal. Just a few minutes and the microwave and there you go!

 

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Salad Frenzy

I have been on kind of a salad frenzy lately. I still love baking bread but lunch equals salad right now. And there are so many salads to be had! It’s not just some lettuce, tomato and cucumber but couscous, bulgur, quinoa, coleslaw, carrot, mexican, veggies, tunasalad … well all sorts of variations are possible. And a lot of the times my salad is just a ‘whatever I have left in my fridge’-salad. Waste nothing! Seriously, don’t throw away any leftovers from last nights dinner. Even if it ‘just’ half a tomato and a spoonful of couscous. All you do the next day is chopp op some dates, roast some nuts, add some fresh herbs, top with olive oil and you are golden.

Here follows a recipe for a salad or side dish I recently created for some friends. It has sweetness but some light spicyness as well. Feel free to experimate with all the elements and flavours!

Ingredients (serves about 2)

  • 300 grams of Bulgur. (I bought a coarse, wholegrain bulgur)
  • 1 sjalot, finely diced
  • small handfull of dried dates, nice, big juicy dates, roughly chopped
  • handfull of fresh coriander
  • small handfull of your favourite nuts (mine is a mix of pistachios, pinenuts and almonds)
  • two heaped teaspoons Za’tar seasoning
  • one teaspoon of curry powder and/or curcuma
  • 250 grams of pumpkin, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic

First you bake the pumpkin in the oven. Chop it up in cubes, add one crushed clove of garlic and cover with some pepper, salt, olive oil and za’tar seasoning. za’tar is a new herb mix I came across at my local middle eastern deli. Mildly spicy and aromatic, it generally contains herbs such as oregano, thyme, coriander and sumac.

Put the oven on a 180 degrees Celcius and in goes the tray with pumpkin cubes. Now onto the bulgur. Are you all familiar with bulgur? Bulgur is again a Middle Eastern ingredient, maybe a bit similar to couscous, only a bit bigger. Both couscous and bulgur are wheat. Couscous will be done quite fast. This bigger bulgur needs a few minutes more.

Put the bulgur in a pan, add the dates and sjalot and give it a stir. No oil needed. Add boiling water, make sure you completely cover the bulgur. Now stir in the curry powder and/or kurkuma. This is not just for flavouring but for some yellow colouring as well, which I personally love. Add some za’tar to this mixture as well. I use it both for the pumpkin and the bulgur to bring the flavours together. Stir again, cover with a lid. Let it simmer for about five minutes.

Toast your nuts in a dry pan. No need to add any oil or butter! Put them aside.

Check on your bulgur. This means taste! If it is still too hard, it needs more time. I like it ‘al dente’, with a little bite to it. It is not as soft as couscous, so don’t expect that soft texture when you taste it. Drain it once cooked.

Check on your pumpkin. Remove from the oven once done. Take out the garlic clove

Time to serve. Bring out a nice bowl or serving dish, pour over the bulgur. Top with the pumpkin pieces, nuts and then the fresh coriander. Sprinkle over some good quality olive oil for some moisture

This would make a great combo with the lamb koftas I posted last month. Instead of bread serve the koftas over the bulgur and accompany it with some green leaves for some fresh crunch.

And I stress again, do not throw away any leftover bulgur. I had it the day after chopped with some fresh veggies, olives and some lovely fetacheese.

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Leftover Bulgur from yesterday creates a whole new salad for today!

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Colourful Caprese Salad

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Couscous, kale, pinenuts and yellow and red tomatoes. Topped with my fav harissa-yoghurtdip.

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Radishes – so healthy!

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Couscous and kale again! Little bit of a photography experiment going on here.

 

Sopa de Paraguay

I am reminiscing about our South American travels. What a wonderful trip we made this year! Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay…

So we went into this café, advertising Sopa de Paraguay and other local dishes outside. I could eat some soup! I tried ordering this Parguayan soup, but they didn’t have any soup, the owner of the café exclaimed! What is this soup I keep reading and hearing about, I exclaimed in return. He showed us this dish is nothing like a soup, more like a cornbread. Allright, now we got it! Turned out that the soup that wasn’t a soup tasted darn delicious and we ended up eating it numerous times, for lunch, as a snack or as a side dish during a real South-American parilla, aka enormous BBQ time!

They make all kinds of varieties, I think they just sneek in some leftover meat from last night’s parilla, or some fresh veggies they have lying around. It’s all good! They really do have wonderfull produce over there. And so much corn, it’s unbelievable. The basic version of sopa contains …. cheese! Perfect combo no?! You can eat it warm but it’s delicious as well the next day with some butter on it. (What is not delicious with butter I think….)

The recipe is for a medium tray. Sopa de Paraguay is something best shared with friends while grilling enormous amounts of meat, the Paraguayans feel.  This recipe is for a slighty more managable amount. I did stick to the most basic version: The cheesy kind.

Ingredients – serves 4:

  • 4 eggs – seperated
  • 200 grams of fresh corn kernels (otherwise from a tin)
  • 200 grams of fine polenta or cornmeal
  • 150 ml of milk
  • 150 grams cheese of your choice, grated. (Cheddar, Feta, Dutch Farmer’s Cheese, Swiss cheese… )
  • A pinch of salt, pepper and cayennepepper
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 75 grams of soft butter

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Finely chop the onion and bake in a tablespoon of butter until soft. Add a small pinch of salt, pepper and cayennepepper.

Mix the remaining butter with the onion and cheese in a bowl. For the cheese I used about 50 grams of crumbled feta and 100 grams of grated Dutch farmers Cheese. Other cheese will work nicely too. I don’t really know what kind of cheese they use exactly in Paraguay, but I am quite sure we don’t get Paraguayan cheese here.

Add the polenta or cornmeal and cornkernels and stir it all together. You can season with a little more pepper and salt. It’s time for the milk to go in there as well.

Seperate the eggs. Add the yolks to the cheese mixture. In a clean bowl whip up the eggwhites until stiff. So now you have got the cheesemixture and your eggwhites. Get a spatula and carefully fold those two together. The sopa we had over there always was quite light, despite the cheese or other fillings. I think the whipped up eggwhites ensure a little lightness in the mixture.

Grease an ovendish with some butter, sprinkle in some polenta or cornflour instead of breadcrumbs. In goes the mixture. Add some extra cheese on top. At least that’s what I always do when cooking with cheese – more, more, more!

A sopa this size will need at least 30 minutes in the oven on a 175 degrees Celcius. After 30 minutes check if it’s done with a wooden skewer: if it comes out clean, it’s done!


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Some impressions from our trip:

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South American Parilla

 

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Dinnertime @ La Granja