A simple Dinner

It’s been a while.. again.. I feel I owe it to myself more than anyone..

So much to say.. Not sure where to start..
Write about what I’ve learnt.. Or just follow the heart..
They say being a female.. I’m supposed to multi-task..
Surely I don’t fit this image.. So what job should I prioritise..?

Well leaving the usual cliché to one side, apart from multi-tasking at a leisurely pace in the kitchen, I seem to be absolutely terrible fitting around other tasks. So keeping things simple, I’d like to share my colourful dinner plate.. bursting with flavour, simple to prepare, and utterly delicious. Very filling too I may add. 

herb salad

Jacket Potato, Aubergine and Tomato Towers with Herb salad – Serves 4-6

Jacket potatoes are simply large potatoes brushed with olive oil and seasoned well with salt and black pepper. Then baked on a hot oven shelf for a good 30 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crispy – yum!

To ensure the potatoes are well cooked and soft inside, cook in a microwave for 5 minutes. If you don’t have a microwave, the potatoes may need an extra 10 more minutes in the oven. I personally don’t use the aluminium foil method..

Aubergine and Tomato Towers

Ingredients:

  • 2 large aubergine – “zebra peeled” and sliced into thick circles
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes – sliced into thick circles
  • salt and pepper to season
  • olive oil
  • ground cumin, optional
  • 30 Parmesan cheese, finely grated (or any other strong cheese)
  • A few basil leaves, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment (you may need two trays), arranging the sliced aubergines. Brush with olive oil, season lightly with salt and bake for 20-25 minutes until soft and slightly browned. Leave aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive in a large frying pan over a medium heat and carefully add the sliced tomatoes, being careful as the oil will splatter. Sprinkle lightly with salt, black pepper and a small pinch of cumin, if desired. Fry for 1 minute on each side – ripe tomatoes easily squash. Repeat the process until all the slices are gently fried. Set aside.

Once the aubergines and tomatoes are done, you are ready to stack them up. On a platter or large plate, start off with a slice of aubergine, sprinkle with Parmesan, add a sliced tomato, sprinkle with Parmesan, add a couple more slices and finally add a basil leaf securing with a cocktail stick. Repeat the process until are the slices and cheese are used up.

Herb and Leaf Salad with Almonds

Side note: This salad was referred to ‘grass bunny salad’ by someone..! There is no hard rule to which herbs or green salad leaves you use, I simply used up what I had in the fridge. However, I would say that dill is the essential herb that will bring the whole thing together.. basil may come close. Dry washed and drained herbs in a clean kitchen towel. They keep well in the fridge wrapped in the towel for 2-3 days.

Ingredients:

  • 90 g, 3/4 cup whole or blanched almonds
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika or cayenne pepper
  • 30 g, 2 large handfuls of green salad leaves (rocket, spinach, watercress) – washed and dried
  • 30 g, 2 large handfuls of flat leaf parsley – washed and dried
  • 20 g, 1 large handful or dill – washed and dried
  • 10 g, small handful of basil leaves – washed and dried
  • Juice of half a lime

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan, add the almonds, add seasoning and paprika or cayenne, and gently fry over low heat for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Alternatively coat the almonds with oil and seasoning and spread evenly on a baking tray along with the aubergines. Note – be careful if using blanched almonds as they burn quicker compared to the whole ones. Always keep an eye on them. Once cooled, roughly chop them into bite-able pieces.

For the dressing, mix the juice of half a lime with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Leave aside.

Once you are ready to serve, roughly chop all the leaves and herbs and arrange in a large bowl. Add almonds and dressing, mix and serve immediately.

Enjoy with a hearty warm baked potato, aubergine stacks and any other accompaniments you fancy – more cheese, baked beans, butter.. the list goes on 🙂

Jacket potato

Zayneb

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