Couscous-stuffed Red Peppers

Over the course of this term I have realised that cucumber, tomatoes and feta are approaching Holy Trinity ingredients for me. They pop up in my cooking together time and time again: in pastas, in couscous, accompanying salmon or chicken. They are my go to staples to flavour a salad and make a side dish more flavourful than just leaves. Lemon juice and olive oil are never far behind. They make me feel healthy without being too in my face and I always have them in my fridge, just in case. Today I wanted to try something slightly different then a regular salad – so I took my standard couscous and popped it in a pepper. Super simple, only takes five minutes longer than making the couscous itself and adds an extra portion of veg into my lunch (two if you serve it with green beans like I did). I’m not always a fan of red peppers (something about their squeaky texture) but cooking them like this keeps them super juicy and, well, plenty of feta can help just about anything. Enjoy!

Couscous-stuffed peppers

  • 2 red peppers
  • 100g couscous
  • 3tbsps olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g feta
  • 10cm cucumber
  • ½ red onion
  • small handful of basil

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Half the peppers and deseed, keeping the stalks intact for presentation if you like. Place on a microwaveable plate and microwave for 5 minutes until beginning to soften.

Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large bowl and just cover with boiling water. Place a lid or plate on top and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until the couscous is fluffy and absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork to separate the grains. Add the remaining ingredients, mix to combine and season generously.

Lightly oil a baking tray and place the peppers on it. Fill each half of the peppers generously with the couscous. Bake for 5-10 minutes until the peppers are fully soft and the couscous is just beginning to go golden. Serve warm.

Shakshuka

Let’s talk about what makes brunch so great. Aside from half a tin of fruit cocktail in primary school (fighting with my sister over the cherries) and a brief flirtation with brain-food muesli during exams, my mornings tend to be noticeably absent of food. Breakfast, with its connotations of 7am alarms, mainlining coffee and choosing between the early bus or an extra slice of toast, has never been something I’ve quite mastered. Brunch, on the other hand, is something I can get on board with.

Shakshuka

Lazy Sunday brunches can take many forms. Debriefing with friends about all the gossip from the night before. Refusing to move from bed, reading the papers and cuddling a reluctant kitten. Planning an elaborate day of plans before abandoning them all in favour of Netflix. Whatever your Sunday style, all these options can benefit from the inclusion of a big bowl of shakshuka. My version is super simple, with the chorizo being the secret ingredient that adds depth and flavour to your sauce without having to simmer it for hours. The feta adds salty tang, the mint gives freshness and of course, no breakfast is complete without the perfect insta-worthy oozing egg yolk. Make this next weekend – you can thank me later.

Shakshuka

Serves 2

  • 1 onion
  • 250g chopped chorizo
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g feta
  • small bunch of mint, finely chopped

Finely chop the onion and fry in a frying pan over a medium heat in a generous glug of olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add the chorizo and continue to cook until it goes crispy. Crush the garlic clove and add to the mixture and fry for a minute to cook out.

Add the tinned tomatoes and season generously with salt and pepper (you could also add a pinch of dried chilli flakes at this point if you like a bit of extra heat). Simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened slightly.

Make two wells in the tomato mixture and crack an egg into each one. Cover with a lid (or baking tray if your frying pan doesn’t have one) and leave for 3-5 minutes until the white is cooked through but the yolk is still soft.

Remove from the heat. Crumble over the feta and sprinkle with the mint. Enjoy!

Courgetti, feta, pine nuts

I know the last thing the internet needs is another courgetti recipe. I resisted making and trying this for a long time, determined to stay away from the clean eating craze and thinking a bowl of sliced courgettes really couldn’t taste that good. But here’s the thing…it really can!

IMG_1030

The trick to fab tasting courgetti is to make it fried in plenty of butter and topped with a generous amount of cheese. That way there’s no denying that this dinner is healthy, quick, requires minimal ingredients and is still delicious! At uni I don’t have a garlic crusher let alone a spiralizer, but even when slicing the courgettes into strips by hand this still comes together under 15 minutes (and in just one pan). Whilst the butter and cheese are great, I think that the key to the recipe is the garlic – it perks everything up, swaps some of that healthy courgette flavour for some garlic bread scented deliciousness and transforms the whole dish. I wasn’t sure I even liked courgettes before this and now I can happily eat bowl after bowl – it’s a winner!

Courgetti, feta, pine nuts

Serves 1

  • 1 courgette
  • butter for frying
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • scattering of pine nuts
  • 50g feta, crumbled

Slice the courgettes lengthways, then cut each length into thin ribbons. Heat a splash of olive oil and large knob of butter in a frying pan.

Add the courgettes and fry over a medium heat. They will take a while to get going but gradually will soften, become more transparent and start to caramelise just a little on the bottom. If you’ve spiralised them this will only take 1-2 minutes, if you’ve cut them by hand it will take 5-8.

When the courgettes are nearly entirely cooked through, add the garlic and cook out for 1-2minutes. Move the courgettes to the side of the pan. In the space, fry the pine nuts until golden. Scatter over the feta and stir everything together. Tip into a bowl to serve and feel smug about your healthy dinner!

Lamb and feta meatballs

I’m just no good at health kicks. At the end of this term here in Cambridge, we have May Week – a week in June (confusingly) of grand balls that go on all night – involving food stalls, live music and fairground rides it is like a week of mini festivals, providing the motivation to get through the exams that precede them. They are the fanciest events I’ll have ever been to – requiring long dresses and an entire afternoon to get ready. As a result, I am currently surrounded by a lot of people on health kicks. Eating salads, cutting out carbs, going high protein: the methods vary but the aim is the same. Whilst I completely admire and understand this, it leaves me and my supplies of rocky road for the gang a bit lost. I’ve never been good at a health kick: I can last two days of Greek salad before getting bored. And the way I make a Greek salad, with generous amounts of feta and good olive oil, probably aren’t that great for you. Nevertheless, I kept finding myself with a half-packet of feta languishing lonely at the back of my fridge. This was the recipe to solve that problem!

Lamb feta meatballs

I understand that most people out there, even students, don’t have a hob like me that turns off every seven minutes and so this recipe is for you! For me, this recipe means half an hour of standing in my tiny kitchen setting an alarm to remind myself to turn the hob back on the five times that it shut off whilst my meatballs cooked. For everyone else, this recipe can bubble away for half an hour on the cooker whilst you leave it to do some work (or watch an episode and a half of New Girl, whichever is more likely). Hob faff aside, the results are definitely worth it! I’ve had the basic premise of this recipe saved from the Smitten Kitchen blog for over a year now and I’m so pleased I finally got round to it. I simplified it a fair bit for my student budget, storage capabilities and timescale but I’m sure the extra herbs and red pepper involved in the original recipe would be equally delicious.

Lamb and feta meatballs in tomato sauce

For the meatballs:

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 55g feta, crumbled
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsps dried oregano
  • 2tbsps olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tsp dried oregano

Mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl with plenty of salt and pepper. Shape into balls slightly smaller than a ping pong ball – I got about 16. Heat a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat, add a tbsp of oil and evenly space the meatballs in the pan: I tend to arrange them like a clock face so you know which ones to turn first. I did mine in 2 batches. Brown the meatballs all over, then remove to a bowl while you make the tomato sauce.

Wipe out all but a 1tbsp of oil from the frying pan and add the onion. Fry on a medium-low heat until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and let cook out for 30 seconds before adding the tin of tomatoes, salt and pepper. Return the meatballs to the sauce and simmer gently for 10-15minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Serve with rice and some extra crumbled feta. Serves 2 generously, or one plus lots of leftovers!