I’m always complaining that I lack inspiration for lunches. Weekdays are worse because it has to be packable for Hubby, but even for weekends I struggle to come up with something that requires a wee bit more effort that doesn’t end up feeling like a dinner meal. Which is why I generally try to conspire to be in charge of suppers at the weekend 😉 and leave the lunches to Hubby, who always has better ideas for it than me anyway. Like this! It’s such a perfect summer lunch – the puff pastry base makes it much much lighter than a pizza, the abundance of tomatoes makes it really fresh, and there’s no slaving over a flame in this heat (yes, even in Scotland!) as you just pop the whole thing in the oven.
We’ve tried this with big fat vine tomatoes and with little sweet cherry tomatoes, and it’s good either way or using a mix of both. And as we’re right in the middle of the British tomato season you can literally have your pick of them 🙂
We’re really lucky in that we have access to some fabulous tommies either from our local, Real Foods on Broughton Street, or if we pop up to the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market on a Saturday the amazing selection from the peeps at Clyde Valley Tomatoes.
As well as struggling for lunchtime ideas I also suck at ‘Summer’ food, which is why the blog has been a wee bit quiet recently… But I’ve been trying a few new things out though so will hopefully be back to posting a little more regularly!
Easy Summery Tomatoey Tart
A Summery alternative to pizza, loaded with sweet seasonal tomatoes.
chilli infused rapeseed oil (we used Supernature’s) (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Line your baking tray with baking parchment before drizzling some olive oil over it and smearing it over the parchment with your fingers (or some kitchen roll) until the oil is fairly evenly spread. Unfurl the puff pastry sheet and centre it on the parchment. Score a 1 inch/2.5cm border around the edge of the pastry without cutting all the way through. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes, or per the instructions on the box, which give you more than enough time to slice up the tomatoes and…
…make up the sauce, by combining the tomato puree, ketchup, garlic, balsamic, sugar, salt and pepper, and Magi (if using) and mix well – you’re wanting the sauce to have a paste-like consistency. Spread the sauce all over the pastry, taking care to keep it all within the border (otherwise the border won’t rise up).
Drain the mozzarella, tear it into small chunks and then scatter evenly over the sauce. Scatter the diced red onions over the cheese. Tear the parma ham (we found thirds worked well) and dot these all over the sauce. Finally, lay a generous spread of tomato slices on top and then season the lot with salt and pepper.
Brush the border of the pastry with milk to glaze and then pop into the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the pastry border has risen up and is a lovely golden brown. Before serving, scatter some torn up basil over the tart. Hubby says to get the best flavour from fresh basil, tear them from the stems and lightly clap the leaves between your hands a few times to release the oils, and then tear into smaller pieces. Alternatively, frozen pre-chopped basil works really well too – I don’t know about you but there’s always way too much basil in a packet for me to actually ever finish so being able to grab a handful out of the freezer makes me not twitch about food waste!
Finally, drizzle all over with a bit of olive or rapeseed oil before slicing and serving. We are big fans of Supernature’s lovely chilli infused rapeseed oil which compliments all those lovely tomatoes while adding a subtle kick to the whole thing.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m properly fussy when it comes to fish. I like the expensive stuff (like lobsters, and big prawns, and scallops) or the meaty stuff (monkfish, I’m looking at you!) but can’t do anything that actually smells or tastes fishy, or hasn’t actually been cooked (smoked salmon is my nemesis…). But I’ve got a couple of months of dental work lined up so I’m on a quest to find “easy” things to eat, and fish is one of the most obvious candidates. Only I don’t eat it often, and have probably only ever cooked it from scratch once. Ever. So yeah. This was going to be tough! But I saw this recipe in Olive magazine and remembered various people raving about fish tacos so figured it was worth a shot. OM(G!) NOM NOM!!!!
Seriously, what is not to love about this recipe! Lovely fresh homemade salsa that is a total doddle, and despite frying the fish it was properly light and flakey with just that wee bit of spicey crunch from the seasoned flour coating. And eating it all felt all kinds of virtuously healthy!
This is yet another crazily imbalanced taste to effort ratio recipe – the salsa takes longest (ha!) and if you can do that in the afternoon then all you’re left to do in the evening is the fish, and that really does take next to no time. Honest. Given how terrified I was at the thought of cooking fish this was a good recipe to start with. And when the weather gets warmer this will be the perfect light supper to rustle up quickly, more so if you cheat and buy ready made salsa 😉
Lightly battered bites of spicey fish, topped with fresh zingy salsa, all wrapped up in a warm tortilla.
300g sustainable firm white fish, cut into bite-sized pieces
Stuff you’ll need for the salsa…
3 ripe tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
1 small avocado, diced
1/2 lime, zest and juice
handful coriander, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped (optional)
Stuff you’ll need to finish it…
Tortilla wraps (4-6 depending on how stuffed you like your wraps)
1 lime, quartered
If you can, make this a couple of hours ahead of time as it will give the salsa time to develop.
The best salsa, according to Hubby, is made by skinning and gutting your tomatoes first, so… fill a deep bowl with boiling water, and the sink with enough cold water to cover your tomatoes. Cut a wee cross at the top and bottom of each tomato and then one by one plunge into the boiling water first for about 30 seconds, fish out with a slotted spoon and drop into the cold water in the sink. The skins should now peel off really easily. Once you’ve peeled them, quarter, and then pull/scoop out the seeds and liquid and discard. Dice up what’s left and pop into a bowl, and then mix in all the rest of the ingredients and give it a good stir about. Place in the fridge until you’re ready to eat – the lime juice will keep the avocado from turning colour so make this as ahead of time as you like.
Mix the flour and cornflour with the spices and season really well (seriously, do not be shy with the salt here!) and put on a flat plate.
Crack your egg into a shallow bowl and beat.
Heat a large saucepan with 2cm of oil. When you can brown a cube of bread in 30 seconds then its ready.
Toss all the fish in the beaten egg until it’s well coated, and then toss it in the seasoned flour until, again, it’s well coated (I slapped on the CSI vinyl gloves and got stuck right in!). Fry for 2-3 minutes until the pieces have turned crisp and golden – depending on the size of your saucepan you may need to do this in two batches - and then “fish” out (sorry!!) and drain on kitchen paper.
Try a bit when it’s cooled down enough and salt if required.
Warm some tortillas up, pop three or four bits of fish down the middle, spoon over the salsa, squeeze a bit of lime all over, wrap it up and eat it up!
I love Mexican food. Maybe it’s because I’m an American, and we’re deluged with fantastic eats from our southerly neighbours. Or maybe it’s because I lived in Texas for awhile, and really came to love the Tex-Mex flavours you get down there. I like to think, really, it’s because Mexican food, done right, makes the best of fresh ingredients and gives you a dish that zings with flavour.
Fifi, on the other hand… Let’s just say that it’s been a trial getting her, shall we say… accustomed, to my enjoyment of Mexican food.
So, I bribe her with this guacamole. Maybe that’s cheating, but when you’re married, sometimes happy compromise involves being the sneakiest little bugger you can be, and finding every advantage you can. Thus, a bowl of this stuff.
It’s amazingly zingy with lime, and has a light freshness with coriander and tomato. Enjoy it with tortilla chips, or with your favourite Mexican food – we served it here with an impromptu lunch, born of having too many black beans for dinner-burritos, which I made into rather-nice-if-I-say-so-myself quesadillas.
But, without further ado, here’s the recipe. It really is simplicity itself.
Rustic homemade guacamole, all zingy with the lime. Definitely one of my favourite things!
1 medium tomato, peeled. (Cut a cross into the top and bottom, immerse into boiling water for about 20 seconds, then just peel the skin away with your fingers. Cut into small cubes.)
½ – 1 red chilli, de-seeded (also excellent when roasted!)
1 tbsp sour cream
As the avocado will begin to brown when exposed to air, juice your limes first. One juicy lime will usually be enough, but often it takes 1 and ½ to 2 before you have enough.
Add a pinch of salt to the lime juice and mix, this will help the seasoning get through all of your guacamole.
Cut your avocados in half length-wise and remove the stones. Then take a spoon to the flesh and just scoop out spoonfulls of avocado straight into the mixing bowl. Pour your lime juice and salt mixture over the avocado to keep it fresh.
Now coarsely chop a good-sized handful of coriander and add to the bowl.
Next add your garlic, ideally put through a garlic press, or chopped very finely, followed by the tomato, red onion and chilli.
Take a potato masher and give everything in the bowl a good bash. Follow with a fork and use that to do a bit finer mashing, while still keeping things fairly thick.
Next, add a bit of sour cream - you don’t want a lot as this can dilute the flavour. About 1 tbsp with these proportions works great, and adds a bit of tangy creaminess that, I think, really compliments the guacamole blend nicely.
All that's left is to decant into to a smaller container, cover, and give it some time to chill in the fridge. I usually do it for a few hours, but its fine to eat after just an hour if you can’t wait (fifi usually can’t!)
Don’t be tempted to do any of this in a food processor, it just doesn’t work, and you really want it to have a nice ‘rustic’ feel to it with random chunks of avocado in amongst the mash. It’s also much better for scooping onto tortilla chips that way.
You really can’t go wrong with Delia, and this recipe is as wonderfully tasty as it is easy. I tried it for the first time about a year ago and it’s become a firm favourite in our house. The prep may seem like a bit of a flaff, all that chopping of endless green, but it’s totally worth it. The lime starts to cook the chicken while it’s marinating, and coupled with the literal flash-in-the-pan cooking time results in amazingly tender chicken that is just bursting with that fresh zesty lime flavour.
Quick to cook and satisfyingly savoury!
Delia's Stir-Fried Chicken with Lime and Coconut
A bit of prep work but this quick-cook dish is fresh, zingy and amazingly tender.
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (if you want a little more kick add another half chilli)
4 heaped tbsp fresh coriander leaves
4 spring onions, sliced into rounds, including the green bits
2 tsp / 10ml Thai fish sauce (Hubby likes a wee splash more, but be careful as this stuff is PO-TENT!)
Oil for cooking
Rice (Thai fragrant rice is perfect for this)
First things first, get that marinade going! Zest and then juice your lime into a bowl (the smell alone is worth the zesting!). Chop your chicken into bite sized pieces and then add to the lime in the bowl. Stir to coat the chicken, and then leave to marinate for 1 hour.
Snip the ends off your spring onions and slice into rounds (or at a slight angle for ovals if you're feeling artistic!), deseed and finely chop the green chilli (fifi's top tip! I highly recommend getting some vinyl gloves, or CSI gloves as our family calls them, to keep your fingers safe from accidentally transferring that raw chilli heat elsewhere – they make pepper-spray out of this stuff, and for good reason!), and finely chop your coriander leaves.
I generally put my rice on at this point, and then go and sit down for 45 minutes 🙂
Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat.
Fish the chicken pieces out of the marinade and add them to the wok – if a little marinade goes in too it’s no biggy, but too much and you’ll end up poaching your chicken instead of stir-frying.
Speaking of which, stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until they chicken is golden and starting to brown a little in places.
Then add the chilli and stir-fry for 1 more minute.
Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and almost all of the coriander and spring onions (you really only want to hold enough back for garnishing) and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Serve with rice, and scatter the remaining coriander and spring onions over everything.