Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's TableA couple of times a year, four of us get together and spend the day wandering around a food market, shopping and then repairing to one of our homes to cook a tasting style menu. Usually, friends and family will turn up later on for dinner – it’s such a lovely and convivial day – I wrote about it in a little more detail, last year.  I suppose it is an echo of days gone by when families, friends and neighbours would gather to celebrate a harvest, cooking and eating together. Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola SaladThis time, M suggested that we visit a Sardinian store called Vallebona, to which she had taken me before. I am not sure that I can find the words to describe the Vallebona experience but I will try. It’s like stumbling upon the most wonderful secret and realising that you have just joined the best club ever. It is family owned and run with great, enthusiasm, knowledge and style – visiting is just an utter delight and pleasure. Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's TableVallebona in the middle of an industrial estate in Wimbledon, so finding it is the first challenge. Upon pulling up, it’s all forbidding burgundy coloured steel doors with only the signage to indicate that you are in the right place.

Upon pressing the buzzer to gain entry,  the door swings open into a stunning white space, filled with stylishly arranged Sardinian groceries and wine. The rooms have a distinct warehouse vibe with white painted brick walls and vintage shelving and accessories.

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's Table

Nibbles in wooden cones

You are pretty much handed a glass of wine and a few nibbles shortly after walking in which makes it a very enjoyable way to browse through the stunningly arranged warehouse rooms.

There is the most fabulous climate controlled cheese and meat room and also a kitchen from which they produce samples of their food to try and where they also cater for lunches and dinners.

Vallebona have recently started stocking fresh fruit and vegetables so it was the perfect food destination from which to make up our menu.

There were recipe suggestions galore so we decided on Spicy Sausage and Fregola main dish, a fabulous selection of cheeses and this gorgeous Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad. Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's TableFor this recipe, you will need to segment oranges. It is really easy to do so give it a go if you haven’t tried this before. The video below shows how easy it is.

Fregola is similar to the giant Israeli couscous except that it is lightly toasted so has a wonderful flavour. Cavalo Nero is related to kale and cabbage and is used to make the classic Tuscan Ribollita Soup.

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's Table

Dan Lepard’s Rye Crackers

I always make something to take with me and this time I made Dan Lepard’s Rye Crackers to have with the cheese that I knew we would buy. They were delicious and easy to make but really showed up the hot spots in my oven! The recipe is in his book Short and Sweet which I highly recommend if you enjoy baking.

This Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad is a delicious marriage of flavours; sharp, sweet, salty, toasty and green. and perfect with fish too. If you can’t find blood oranges, use regular ones instead. Walnuts would also be the perfect substitution for the toasted sliced almonds. I am taking this to the virtual table at Fiesta Friday #58, hosted by the talented Angie of The Novice Gardener. Last week was sugar fuelled so a salad like this is sure to balance things out! This week we have Caroline @Caroline’s Cooking and Elaine @foodbod to thank, as our co-hosts. Both are fantastic cooks and have a wealth of recipes on their sites – do go over and take a look. If you blog, please do join in, reading the the guidelines first to get you going.

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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adapted from Vallebona’s recipe for Cavalo Nero, Blood Orange and Almond Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g dried weight fregola,
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 200 g Cavalo Nero (also known as Black Kale or Black Cabbage)
  • 1 tsp flakey sea salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • handful of sliced almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak the Cavalo Nero in plenty of cold water.
  2. Cook the fregola in lots of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes; drain, rinse and set aside.
  3. in the meantime, segment the oranges by slicing off the top and bottoms, then vertically running a knife between the flesh and the pith, following the curve of the orange. Then segment by slicing out the flesh from between the membrane. Cut these segments into 2 or 3 pieces each and set aside.
  4. Squeeze all the juice out of the membranes into a separate bowl. Juice the lemon into this bowl too and set aside.
  5. Drain the Cavalo Nero and remove the stalks and discard. Slice the leaves into 1 inch pieces then chop a couple of times.
  6. Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the Cavalo Nero then pour over the combined juices. Massage (squelch) the leaves with the mix of salt, sugar and citrus juices for 4 or 5 minutes to break down the fibres and soften the leaves. Pour over the olive oil and massage again for a minute or so then set aside for 15 – 20 minutes.
  7. Toast the almond slices until golden brown.
  8. When ready to eat, toss the Cavalo Nero with the blood orange pieces, the cooked fregola and the toasted almond slices. Toss and serve.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. 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.

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.

 

Caesar Dressing

caesar-dressingMy lovely 16 year old son has become a salad eating afficiando – he absolutely loves them and has a huge portion after every meal. Yesterday, I didn’t feel like cooking – we had some left over chicken from the night before but I really fancied a herby Greek salad type meal with lots of chopped cucumber, feta and mint. So when Jake came bounding down the stairs and asked what was for dinner as he couldn’t smell anything (!), I replied “A chopped Greek salad” and waited for him to say “Oh great  – how long until we eat?!”  Instead he paused and then said – “Hey Mum, can we have a chicken Caesar salad instead? It’s my new favourite salad.” Well, how could I refuse?

I used to love Caesar Salads when I lived in Canada – crisp salad leaves, crunchy croutons, grainy parmesan cheese and a dreamy, creamy, pungent sauce – I was in! I was also butterfingers yesterday, managing to drop a fresh roll of paper towels into a sink full of dirty water, which really, really annoyed me! That was just before I knocked over a bottle of oil which dripped onto the smooth tiled kitchen floor, ensuring that I had to stop and have a huge clean up and wipe down. At that point, I didn’t like my chances of ending up Humpty-Dumpty-like, on that floor!

caesar-dressing

Chicken Caesar Salad

I know that the dressing traditionally has a raw egg in it but decided that mayonnaise would be a good substitute as it is already egg and oil based and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the result as was Jake. Don’t miss out the anchovies – they add a deep umami flavour that cannot be replicated by salt alone. You could probably substitute with some fish sauce or anchovy paste – you will have to add a little at a time until you get the flavour you like. This makes quite a lot of dressing but it keeps very well and the recipe can easily be halved too.

From the comments below, a few of you have asked about substitutions;

  •  for mayo – I had a google and Jamie Oliver uses Greek yoghurt – it you try it, do come back and let me know and I will update the post with a credit to you and your blog.
  • vegetarian substitute for anchovies – I suggest tamari or soy sauce – start with one teaspoon and see if that adds enough umami – again, do come back and let me know and I will update the post.
  • vegetarian substitute for the chicken – try marinating firm tofu slices in smoky paprika, a little lemon juice and oil, then griddle or barbecue.

caesar-dressing

Caesar Dressing

  • Servings: 300 ml
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise – don’t skimp on the quality here
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of one lemon – about 50 ml or so – see my Tips and Tricks page on how to get the most juice out of a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 anchovies preserved in oil
  • freshly ground black pepper – about ½ tsp
  • 120ml/ ½ cup mild olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp oil from the anchovies – optional but good!
  • 35 g parmesan cheese grated

To serve (for 2 people)

  • 1 large slice of  sourdough or ciabatta bread cubed into croutons
  • a little olive oil
  • Half a romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • 2 cooked  and sliced chicken breasts – barbecued or cooked on the griddle is the tastiest. Ours was room temperature.
  • grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies and black pepper in the bowl of a small food processor and blitz until smooth.
  2. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and the anchovy oil to emulsify the sauce. Add the oil slowly – this is the key to the dressing emulsifying and not splitting – the mustard really helps with this process in any case.
  3. Taste and adjust the flavour (not the salt though as the parmesan goes in next). More garlic? Add another crushed clove. If it’s too sharp from the lemon, add a little more oil but we found that the above measurements were perfect.
  4. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese (or you could carry on blitzing in the food processor but I was using my really small one and didn’t have enough space!)
  5. Taste again and make any final adjustments to the flavour.

To serve

  1. Toss the bread cubes in a little olive oil and either cook them in a dry non-stick frying pan or toast in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  2. Tear up the romaine leaves into manageable pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Top with the chicken/tofu and croutons.
  4. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of the dressing and toss well to coat. Add more if you like more dressing on the salad.
  5. Scatter with some grated parmesan cheese, dish up and enjoy, hopefully alfresco with a large glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc!

© 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.

Cook the Books – Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad

 

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladThis recipe caught my eye the other day and I have been desperate to try it – there are still lots of gleaming white cauliflowers around as well as large glossy, ruby pomegranates too so I determined to pick both up, sooner rather than later.  I was intrigued by the ‘spicing’. It’s almost Christmasy, warm, with maple syrup, allspice and cinnamon but with the fresh flavours of sweet, slightly tart pomegranate arils (seeds), crunchy celery and  grassy parsley, perfectly complemented by the roasted hazelnuts. I made it for an impromptu lunch yesterday and  two teenagers gave it a huge thumbs up. It’s a lovely way to eat cauliflower and would be a stunning addition to the Easter table.

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladThis really is a fabulous recipe book, full of gorgeous flavours and so much history too. Yotam Ottolenghi also writes for the Guardian at the weekend so you can catch up with his cooking there and be amazed at some of the vitriol in the comments section – I hope he doesn’t read them – from people who are sitting on their backsides contributing nothing at all to society…

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladPomegranates are an ancient fruit most likely originating from Persia – modern day Iran. Also mentioned in Babylonian texts, The Book of Exodus, The Q’ran and the Homeric Hymns, their history is quite amazing – do click on the link which will take you to the Wikipedia page, if you want to know more. Incredible that one was found in the tomb of the butler to Queen Hatsheput – makes one feel quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things!

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladNotoriously fiddly to extract, the arils can range from sweet to sour so do taste yours to see if you need to adjust the dressing. The best way to extract the arils is to cut a fruit in half then in half again. Bend backwards slightly, to loosen then, place skin side up in a high sided bowl and paddle (whack) the leathery skin with the back of a wooden spoon. The juice does get everywhere so don’t wear white like I did! Their pith is really bitter so do pick out any stray bits that may jettison with the arils.

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladStrip the leaves off the cauliflower, saving the best ones for the veggie-soup-making bag in your freezer – I know you have one! Insert the point of a sturdy knife into the edge of the core at the bottom and carefully tunnel out as much of the core as you can. The florets are easy to break off then. Cut any really large ones in half and spread onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and tumble them around to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about half an hour ’til golden and crispy in places – I turned them halfway through.

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_saladMake the dressing while the florets are roasting – I added a little pomegranate syrup for a sharper flavour. Extract the pomegranate seeds and chop the celery and parsley. If you soak the chopped celery in a little bowl of cold water they will become super crispy – a trick I learned from my mum! When the florets are done, turn the heat down and pop the nuts in to roast. Once the nuts are done and cool enough to handle, chop coarsely then assemble and dress the salad.

roasted_cauliflower_and_hazlenut_salad

I am taking this delicious, healthy salad over to the Savouring Saturdays Linky Party – hosted by

Raia from Raia’s Recipesfacebook twitter pinterest google plus rss
Eva from Whole Food Mom On A Budgetfacebook twitter pinterest google plus rss
Danielle from It’s A Love/Love Thingfacebook twitter pinterest google plus rss
Trish from Keep the Beetfacebook twitter pinterest rss youtube

Take a look to see the fabulous recipes on offer!

Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted slightly from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of cauliflower broken up into small florets about 660g (mine was about 800g)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (separated)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 sticks of celery cut on an an into ½ cm slices about 70g
  • 30g hazelnuts with skins (I also used a few walnuts)
  • 10g small flat-leaf parsley – leaves only
  • 50g pomegranate seeds (about half a medium pomegranate)

Dressing

  • ⅓ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ tsp allspice
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp of pomegranate syrup)
  • 1 ½ tsp maple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F
  2. Slice any really large florets in half and place on a baking tray. Drizzle over 3 Tbsp of oil over them and season with salt and pepper. Toss them about to coat in the oil, then spread out in an even layer and roast for 25 – 35 minutes, until the cauliflower is crisp and golden brown. I turned them over after 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl or plate to cool down.
  3. While the florets are roasting, make the dressing by mixing the ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
  4. Chop the celery on the diagonal and very coarsely chop the parsley.
  5. Turn the heat down to 170C/325F . Spread the nuts onto a baking tray and roast for about 10 to 15 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, rub off any loose skins and chop coarsely.
  6. In a large bowl, gently mix together the cauliflower, celery,  parsley and nuts. Turn onto a serving plate, drizzle with the dressing and scatter over the pomegranate seeds.
  7. Serve at room temperature.

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot SaladI knew that with carrots as fresh as the ones in my veg box from Sutton Community Farm, a scheme I waxed lyrical about in my last post, I would have to make some sort of salad with them to make the most of their sweet, just picked flavour. I grated the carrots, nestled them reverentially on a handful of rocket leaves and then made up a dressing which was citrus sweet’n’sour, rich with cumin and humming with a little cayenne pepper. It was delicious!

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot Salad

An Exotic Carrot Salad

  • Servings: 4 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 carrots, scrubbed. Only peel then if they are not organic or if they are old as the skins can be bitter
  • handful of rocket leaves (or use other salad leaves if you have them)
  • 5 or 6 toasted walnuts halves
  • 1 tsp Za”atar spice mix

For the dressing

  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • juice of half an small orange
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Grate the carrots and place in a salad bowl on top of a handful of rocket leaves.
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the dressing – it will be a loose affair rather than an emulsified one. Don’t add all the lemon juice at once though – taste as you go along and adjust the flavours/seasoning to your palate.
  3. Pour the dressing over the grated carrots and rocket leaves and toss.
  4. Top with crumbled toasted walnuts and the za’atar and toss again.
  5. Serve immediately.