Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken and Broad Beans

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beansI spent a glorious weekend on the stunning and historic South Downs in Sussex. A friend had been planning a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend since January – it was a big one and to say that she pulled it off would be an understatement! How Lucie managed to not blurt out anything and also plan the timing on the Friday so that everyone was at the venue as she walked up (slowly) with Adrian from the pub, (as cars full of late guests whizzed by them) is a testament to her resolve and organisational powers! Factor in no mobile phone signal at the venue, guests arriving late from London on trains who needed collecting and you can imagine some of the problems that needed to be surmounted.

Riverdale House, AlfristonLucie’s parents, Richard and Judy, own and run a beautiful Victorian Bed and Breakfast, Riverdale House, in Alfriston. It’s set in quintessential English gardens and overlooks the South Downs from the front and the Cuckmere Valley to the rear. Beautifully presented with the most comfortable bed I have EVER slept on, crisp white sheets, plenty of  fluffy white towels, lots of toiletries in the bathrooms, tea/coffee making trays in each room, a flat screen TV, a fridge and lots of room to unpack and hang up your clothes – it is a world away from the stereotype of English B and B’s! If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen some of the photos (one of which was liked by Bear Grylls – imagine!!) I was posting when the Wifi kicked in .

IMG_8795Richard and Judy are absolutely lovely – they could not have been more hospitable and welcoming. They left us to it after Richard had cooked the main course on Friday, giving us the run of the house for the weekend.  So on Friday evening, after surprising the the birthday boy, we had few glasses of champagne  on the front lawn, admiring the view and catching up with everyone, before repairing to the dining room which was set up for a sit down dinner for 14 people. I had made a chicken terrine the night before in London, for the first course. The second course was sea bream with seafood pasta, cooked by Richard, which was absolutely gorgeous. Lucie had been to France and brought back wheels of cheese, which she stacked up like a 6 tier cake and lit up with candles. There was this amazing chocolate mousse cake with a hazelnut wafer base from a patisserie in Brighton which is one of the best things I have ever eaten! I normally pass on the pudding course as I prefer cheese but not this time – I missed out the cheese entirely!

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beansA barbecue was planned for Saturday evening for which Catherine and I were making the salads. Catherine had an adorable little helper, Emily who is 5, and they made the most delicious potato salad which Catherine’s grandfather used to make. She also make a couscous salad: a celery, chickpea, feta  and cumin salad; an orzo salad with rocket, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto plus a garlicky tzatziki and  pita chips flavoured with rosemary. I marinated a couple of chickens; boned a leg of lamb, butterflied and marinated it (and was quite proud of my boning efforts which gave rise to plenty of  bawdy comments) and made a pea, spinach and feta salad with a lemon, mustard and garlic dressing as well as a grated courgette and mint salad, dressed with lemon, olive oil and garlic. No danger of vampires that evening!

Alfriston VillageSunday morning was spent pootling around picture perfect Alfriston Village followed by a quick lunch and then very reluctantly we were London bound.

IMG_8937My homecoming was brightened up by the sight of a parcel from Essential Cuisine who have sent me some stock powders to try out and review. A rummage in the fridge and the cupboards provided all the ingredients necessary for a lovely summery pasta salad over which Jake and I caught up on each other’s weekend news and prepared for the week ahead.

I used some of the Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock to season and flavour the pasta salad and have to say that it is absolutely delicious – seriously full of rich, deep chicken flavour and as it is a powder, it dissolves and blends in quickly and perfectly. It is also low in salt, has no artificial additives or preservatives and is  gluten free. Each 96g pot makes about 8 litres of stock so it is really very good value too.  No more sticky, hard, salty stock cubes for me – this stock powder is quite special and I am so looking forward to cooking with it. If  you are in the UK, do take a look at the Essential Cuisine HomeChef website – it is full of really useful tips and recipes and you can also purchase the stock powders directly from them. Their range includes Veal, Fish, Lamb, Beef, Chicken and Vegetable.

(Disclaimer – Although I was sent the stock powders to try out, these views are entirely my own.)

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beans

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beans

Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken and Broad Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • i medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 100 g of spanish chorizo, sliced into ½ cm chunks
  • 1 courgette/zucchini sliced into half moons
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 300 g of dried pasta – I used penne
  • The podded beans from 10 pods of broad beans
  • 1 tsp Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock Powder mixed with 100 ml of hot pasta water
  • 4 Tbsp of olives – I used a mix of green and black
  • 200 g of left over roast chicken, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • A bunch of basil, torn or sliced
  • 1 fresh mozzarella ball, sliced  or torn into chunks

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Fill the kettle and put it on.
  2. Set a large shallow pan over a medium flame and heat up the oil. Add the sliced onion and let this soften for a couple of minutes. Stir in the chorizo and let this cook for a minute or so, just long enough to start releasing those smokey paprika oil. Stir in the courgettes and leave for a couple of minutes to caramelise before stirring to turn them over and caramelise the other side.
  3. Fill a large saucepan with the just boiled water and let it come to a boil again. Add a good measure of salt and tip in the pasta. I like my pasta really, very al dente so for dishes where the pasta will be stirred in to finish cooking with the rest of the ingredients, I normally cook it for 6 minutes. In this case, I set the timer for 3 minutes after the water had come back to a boil once the pasta had been added and then added the broad beans and set the timer for another 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, fish out the broad beans and then drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water.
  4. While the pasta and beans are cooking, stir in the cherry tomatoes, the chicken and the olives to the chorizo and courgettes. Add the stock and give it a good stir.
  5. Add the drained pasta and stir this in to coat with all the lovely pan juices, adding a dash of reserved pasta water to bring it all together.
  6. In the meantime, pinch and squeeze the broad beans out of their skins and stir these into the pan together with the basil.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. There is plenty of flavour in the chorizo and the stock and there is salt in the pasta water so taste before seasoning…
  8. Top with fresh mozzarella cheese and serve.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-SauceI came across this recipe which originates from Puglia, in the early 90’s, in a copy of Elle Decoration – a magazine I adored. The issue is long gone but I have never forgotten how wonderful this sauce tasted.  I can remember feeling genuinely surprised that something so simple and uncooked could have such depth of flavour. Well, that will be the anchovies – when blended like this, there is no fishy odour or taste – just a deep, satisfying undertone to a bright and summery sauce.

Now, I haven’t tried this but I am pretty sure that you can substitute tamari sauce for the anchovies – this would make it vegan/vegetarian and keep it wheat free too. Tamari and Soya sauces are both made with fermented soybeans but soy sauce includes wheat and is saltier.

The recipe does require a lot of herbs but these can be bought so easily nowadays – in the supermarkets, in the green grocers and in the ethnic food shops too and they add so much flavour and colour to other dishes that you won’t regret it. Trim the stalks and keep them in a vase/tumbler of water and they will last quite a while.

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

As daffodils and cherry blossom are coming into bloom, this bright, zingy sauce seems just the thing to herald the much anticipated Spring season. This Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Sauce would also be delicious slathered on fish or lamb.

29 May 2014 – I am really thrilled to say that this recipe is a Community Pick over on Food52 and that California Walnuts have asked to use it on their website!

Walnut-Herb-and-Anchovy-Sauce

Walnut, Herb and Anchovy Pasta Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts
  • 6 anchovies preserved in oil (or substitute Tamari sauce starting with 1 Tbsp and adjusting the flavour to your palate)
  • 100 g flat leaf parsley including the stems
  • 40 g basil leaves
  • 40 g mint leaves
  • 20 g tarragon leaves
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ¼ c water
  • lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whiz the toasted nuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add the anchovies, herbs, garlic, shallot, water and pulse until it becomes a coarse puree.
  3. Then add the olive oil and whiz until combined.
  4. Stir in 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.
  5. Taste and adjust the flavour, stirring in additional lemon juice, salt and pepper to make the sauce sing.

Uses

  1. Toss into hot pasta, thinning with a little of the pasta water and finishing with a drizzle of good EVOO.
  2. Slash a whole fish and slather in the cavity and in the slashes; roast in the oven or cook on the barbecue.
  3. Top fish fillets or steaks with a spoonful of sauce and a dribble of wine; bake in parchment (thanks Tish!)
  4. Serve on the side with roast lamb or fish steaks.
  5. Spread baguette slices with a creamy goats cheese and top with a slice of roasted red pepper and little of the sauce; finish a drizzle of EVOO.

Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Rosemary

chicken-mac-n-cheeseI suffered with fairly severe eczema and asthma as a child and of course, it was ALL triggered by food. The list of foods I could not eat included ice-cream (the cold set off my wheezing – imagine living in Nairobi and not being able to enjoy the icy creations from  Snow Queen!), cold drinks, fish, shellfish, oranges and passion fruit. I am not sure how scientific any of this was but it was what my mother and I felt set off a bout of up-all-night-wheezing or scratching. While she sat up with me holding my hand through another breathless night, we would discuss what I had eaten that could have triggered it off.  The list grew quite lengthy. For some reason, left-overs were deemed to be a culprit too, so all my food was freshly prepared.

Today, left-overs are something that I practically plan for – they speed up after-work cooking and stretch the food budget without any hint of parsimony. My favourite is left-over roast chicken. No matter how I have cooked it, I always strip what is left on the carcass while it is still warm as this yields the most flesh. I also break up the bones for a simple stock that I start for an hour or two on the Sunday evening or pop the bones into a freezer bag for another time. And I save all the cooking juices, gravy and vegetables. Favourite left-over chicken meals include risotto with any left-overs being made into oven baked  arancini the following day which we have with a spicy tomato sauce and a rocket salad; there are pot pies in the winter and pasta salads in the summer, also soups, green curries and stir fries. Left over roast chicken is one of my favourite ingredients!!  (And just in case you are wondering – when we moved to Winnipeg all my allergies disappeared completely, only to return when I moved to London. Today if anything flares up it is usually due to stress or damp.)

chicken-mac-n-cheese

At the weekend I made my version of this braised spatchcock chicken which left me with a lot of gorgeous pan  juices as well as about half a chicken. For quite some time, I have been meaning to try  this chicken lasagne recipe. But when I read it through again, it seemed very heavy on the cheese and in any case, I didn’t have any lasagne sheets but I did have a packet of macaroni pasta. So my Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese evolved and I have to say that it was absolutely lovely; total comfort food with not too much fuss.

chicken-mac-n-cheese

If you are starting from scratch, without any pre-cooked chicken or pan juices, I would suggest braise roasting  3 or 4 chicken thighs while you make the béchamel. All instructions below.

chicken-mac-n-cheese

Chicken Mac 'n' Cheese with Rosemary

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the braise roasted chicken:

  • 3 or 4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • 2 banana shallots
  • 4 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • ¼ c of  black olives – I leave the pits in and warn everyone
  • 150ml of a dry white wine
  • 250ml stock or water with a stock cube mixed in (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper

Or if you are using left-overs:

  • 250 g cooked and shredded chicken
  • 200 ml of pan juices  

Plus:

  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 cup of frozen spinach, thawed
  • 250 g macaroni or elbow pasta
  • 20g grated parmesan cheese.

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 60g butter
  • 60 g flour
  • 700ml/3 cups milk
  • ⅓ of a nutmeg
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 heaped Tbsp finely chopped rosemary needles
  • 200g grated cheddar cheese separated into 150g and 50g – just eyeball it!
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F.

MAKE THE BRAISE ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS

  1. Slice shallots into long half moons and sauté gently in a pan with a little olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the whole garlic cloves, the chicken thighs, the anchovies and the olives; stir it around, letting it all get a little caramelised – about 7 or 8 minutes. The anchovies will dissolve and add a deep savoury note to the pan juices. Remove the chicken to a plate. Deglaze pan with the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom.
  2. Place rosemary stalks in a snug fitting roasting dish and scrape in the savoury shallot/garlic/anchovy/olive mix over them. Nestle the chicken thighs on top and squeeze over the lemon juice and pour round the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove rosemary stalks and discard. Remove chicken from the pan juices and leave on plate until cool enough to handle; shred the meat and mix it back into the pan juices.

MAKE THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  1. Make béchamel by melting the butter over a medium heat. Sprinkle over the chopped rosemary and the flour and cook, stirring madly for about 5 minutes.
  2. Take off the heat and slowly add in the first cup of milk, stirring all the time to avoid lumps and then add the other two cups, stirring well after each one. Pop in the bay leaf and grate in the nutmeg.
  3. Let this just come to the boil (scald) and then turn down the heat and keep it on a low flame, to thicken which should take about 5-10 minutes. You will have to keep stirring to stop the bottom from catching.
  4. Once it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stir in 150g of the cheddar cheese and the mustard.
  5. Take it off the heat and set aside to cool a little, stirring occasionally to stop a skin from forming – it will thicken even more as it cools.

COOK THE PASTA

  1. Cook the macaroni pasta in lots of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. It will carry on cooking in the sauce in the oven so resist the urge to cook it any further otherwise you will end up with pasta the texture of baby food in the finished dish.

ASSEMBLE THE DISH

  1. Place the cooked chicken, the pan juices, including the shallots, garlic and olives; the spinach and peas in a mixing bowl (or even the dish you are going to bake this in) and mix well to combine. Check on the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, ladle the pasta and some of the water that will be clinging to it, into the chicken mix. Stir in just over half the béchamel and mix well. It will be quite sloppy which is what you need to finish cooking the pasta. Check on the seasoning and adjust.
  3. Spread the pasta mixture out evenly in your baking dish.
  4. Using a tablespoon, dot the remaining béchamel evenly over the pasta mix and smooth out.
  5. Scatter over the grated cheddar and  parmesan and bake in the oven for about 30 – 40 min. It should be bubbly and golden when it is ready.
  6. Leave it to rest and settle for about 10minutes before digging in.

Perfect with a salad.