Salad therapy – Anna’s Surprise

My niece Nikhita was in town for a couple of days and I was keen to get her to like this salad as she is not too fond of fruits.  The first time I made this salad I threw in the remaining fruit in my fruit bowl and was surprised at how well it went with the dressing.   A few tweaks later I’ve rechristened it Anna’s Surprise to dedicate it to my better half (surprised her and others with the combination).   Having served this to Nikhi I think I have succeeded in getting her to eat fruit beyond bananas as she appreciated the salad.


What do I need to make it?

  • 1 big bag of mixed salad leaves
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 pear  (the firmer the better – gives a bit of a bite to the salad)
  • 1 firm ripe mango
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 large cucumber de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 large mozzarella ball cubed
  • 5 artichoke hearts quartered (used the tinned variety)
  • 6-8 sun dried tomatoes in oil chopped
  • Handful of green and black olives
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make?

Chop all the fruit, veg and cheese into bite size pieces.   Wash and drain the salad leaves and place in a large bowl.   Add the fruit, vegetables, cheese and olives and season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad and toss gently.  Transfer into dishes and enjoy.

Suffed Portabello mushrooms

A versatile mushroom which works a treat as a vegetarian option on the barbecue (sprinkle salt, pepper, dry herbs, twist of lemon and a knob of butter and grill).  I baked some for dinner the other night and stuffed it with a mushroom duxelle of sorts.  The finished article had bags of flavour and will definitely feature on future barbecue sessions.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 4 portabello mushrooms skinned
  • 3 closed cup mushrooms finely chopped
  • 3 chestnut mushrooms finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 sprig of green onion chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
  • 10-12 green olives finely chopped
  • 6 sun ripe tomatoes drained and chopped
  • small handful chopped tarragon
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (thyme, parsley and marjoram)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • small knob of butter
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  •  Salt to taste

How do I make it?

Heat pan and add oil and butter.  Once melted add garlic and stir for a couple of minutes before adding onions and celery.  Saute for 5 minutes before adding the chopped mushrooms and spring onion.  Add herbs and chili flakes and season with a bit of salt.  Once mushroom has cooked down add the sun dried tomatoes and olives and warm them through before garnishing with fresh chopped tarragon.

To prepare the portabello mushrooms for baking remove the skin and place on baking sheet.  Scoop a bit of the mixture and fill the cups of the portabello mushroom.  Finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese before baking in a 220 degree centigrade oven for 25-30 minutes.

Gluten free pasta with tomato and basil sauce

Ever since Anna & I have switched off wheat and gluten (lifestyle choice) our consumption of pasta has plummeted.  It wasn’t until recently that we tried gluten free pasta (made from rice and maize flour) and we quite liked it.  Contrary to popular belief that gluten free means tasteless – you can dispel this myth – it’s a lot lighter than normal pasta and the texture is slightly different but once mixed with a good sauce it is delicious.  Last night I prepared a tomato and basil sauce pasta with a medley of vegetables and finally garnished with some fresh basil grown in my sister’s garden (never expected to  find fresh herbs in a garden in Dubai!!).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms gluten free pasta of your choice
  • 500 ml tomato passata
  • 1/2 each yellow and red pepper – washed, de-seeded and cubed
  • small onion peeled and sliced
  • 5-6 baby corn cut into pieces
  • 7-8 closed cup mushrooms quartered
  • 7-8 broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  •  4 tbsp sliced black olives
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 3-4

How do I make it?

Crush the garlic and red chili flakes in a pestle and mortar.  Boil and cook pasta with a little salt till done – strain and keep aside.

Heat big saucepan and add oil and garlic/ chili paste – fry for 30 seconds and then add onions and peppers.   Stir constantly for 5 minutes before adding remaining vegetables.  Cook for five minutes before sprinkling Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and salt.  Then add the tomato passata and cook for another 5 minutes – add some water if the sauce is too thick.  Once done adjust seasoning and add the pasta and give it a good mix.   Garnish with freshly chopped basil and serve hot.

Salad therapy

Ever so often we get tired of eating cooked food and look for salad options that not only please the palate but are visually appealing.  This evening was one of those nights that we decided to have a salad and a bowl of fruit for dinner.  I enjoyed putting both together and hope you do too.


Aple of my Eye 😉 Salad

What do I need to make it?

  • 75 gms rocket leaves (small packet)
  • 75 gms baby lambs lettuce (small packet)
  • 50 gms Greek salad cheese (feta can be used)
  • 1 gala apple thinly sliced
  • 8-10 queen size green olives pitted
  • 4-6 purple olives
  • 8-10 baby plum tomatoes cut in halves
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sprinkling of crushed black pepper
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Enough for 2 as a main dish

How do I make it?

Wash the leaves and place in bowl.  Sprinkle remaining ingredients around the leaves.  Dress the salad with oil and apple cider vinegar.  Use your hands to  toss the salad (great tip from Jamie Oliver).  Dish up and enjoy.