My kitchen has been quite a busy place in the past few weeks. I focused all my dinner and lunch-making efforts in preparing for this post, and here we are now: it’s time to publish my first Recipe Roundup.
For those who missed the first announcement, here’s how the whole project works: I plan to try at least one new savoury recipe from other cooks and bloggers every week, and post a monthly roundup of the results. Besides adding variety to my weekly meal plans, it’s a great way to discover new food blogs and recipe websites: I’ve gotten into the habit of pinning inspiring recipes on a Pinterest board, which makes it much easier to retrieve them.
As far as the first month’s concerned, I’m pretty satisfied. All the new dishes I tried were very tasty, and better still, healthy. Enough, at least, to make my Healthy Eater Conscience beam with pride – which has never been the easiest of tasks!
1. Kalyn’s Kitchen’s Lebanese Lentil Salad
Many people ask me if I cook every day. Some don’t even believe that I can cook – read my Grandma, who marvels at every recipe I make that’s more complex than a boiled egg. In any case, yes: I cook every day. My partner and I make dinner on most evenings, and while we wait for it to be ready, we also prepare our packed lunches for working days.
Our lunch options have been limited to a range of four or five dishes so far. Repeat for the past two years, and the result is boredom: I’ve had the same cous cous and pulse salads so many times now, that I could make them blindfolded and with one hand (not that I’ll ever try!). In fact, looking for new lunch box ideas is what gave me the idea of Recipe Roundups in the first place.
My first experiment was a Lebanese Lentil Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen. It proved very easy to make, and I loved how the cumin and mint dressing enhanced the taste of the lentils. However, and quite sadly, it didn’t fill me up at all. My stomach was still rumbling at the end of my meal, and I soon found myself tucking into a box of caramel shortbreads that a colleague had carelessly placed in front of my desk. Which led to guilt feelings, because I don’t like to snack between meals. Which led me to cross this recipe out of my lunch menu, and reconsider it as a side to a more filling main dish. All in all, I’m happy to have tried it, even though it may not make it to my kitchen very often.
2. Hungry, Healthy, Happy’s Hasselback Potatoes
You’d think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to bake potatoes; however, I’ve witnessed every possible recipe malfunction you can imagine. My mum has been trying to get it right for years, and hasn’t yet succeeded: her potatoes come out flaccid when she intends them to be crispy, burnt when she intends them to be golden, rock-hard when she wants them to be soft. I’ve been treading her path of errors more than once, slowly coming to terms with the fact that I may never crack the code of diced baked potatoes.
Hasselback Potatoes are quite another story: completely, absolutely foolproof. Not only they’re much quicker to prepare; they’re also less demanding, as once they’re in the oven, there’s no need to stir and check them regularly.
I made them twice this month. The first attempt combined the simple seasoning of Hungry, Healthy, Happy’s recipe, and the quicker cooking times of The Culinary Chronicles’s version. It was a successful first try, although 40 minutes in the oven weren’t quite enough with my oven. The second time round, I followed Dannii’s recipe from start to end, and found that her cooking times worked much better. Exit chunky dices, enter thin slices: it’s safe to say that I now have a new favourite baked potato recipe.
3. Zest Magazine’s Stuffed Aubergines
This stuffed aubergine recipe was the true highlight of the month. My favourite recipes combine balanced eating with hearty portions and rich flavours, and this one ticked all the boxes: it’s definitely healthy, reasonably filling, and tastes incredibly good.
The combination of baked aubergines and quinoa stuffing looked quite odd to me at first, but after trying it, I’m sold. Mint enhances the delicate flavour of aubergine flesh and quinoa, and melted mozzarella (replacing feta, of which I’m not a huge fan) gives it a pleasant, almost unexpected softness. I will be making this again, and again, and again.
4. Better Homes and Gardens’s Skillet Sausages and Potatoes
When I set about preparing these Skillet Sausages and Potatoes for dinner, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Are twenty minutes really enough to sauté potatoes to perfection? I had my doubts about it, and indeed, cooking took a little longer than the recipe stated. In the end, however, the result was near perfect: a combination of tender potatoes and tasty sausages, made glorious by a sprinkle of thyme and cumin. Again, something I look forward to eating more of.
If you’re thinking of trying it in your kitchen, avoid embarking in a hopeless quest for turkey sausages. While most supermarkets sell a million different variations on the classic pork sausage, one or two types of beef sausages, and perhaps a few packs of lamb sausages, poultry sausages are a rare find. After visiting four chain supermarkets, I stumbled across Marks and Spencer’s new chicken sausage range: not quite turkey, but close enough. Much lighter than pork, it was a perfect fit for the recipe, and will be my first choice the next time I make it.
My to-cook list is getting longer and longer, and I’m constantly on the lookout for new inspiring dishes. if there’s anything you think I will like, feel free to share it in a comment: you can be sure that I’ll get cooking very soon!