Cajun Grilled Chicken Salad with Sour Avocado Dressing

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing
My last recipe before Halloween and it’s not a bit on theme, except that it’s a very green salad so in theory you could serve it up at your bash, or am I trying too hard? The truth is, this is the salad I’m eating today and I wanted to tell you about it right now.

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing

In fact I was going to post about something totally different today but I still needed to take the photos and I was hungry so I thought, I know I’ll have lunch first and then I won’t be tempted to eat the subject during the photoshoot. Then before I knew it I was photographing making my lunch and then it looked and tasted so yummy that I thought it only fair that I photograph the finished dish, and then as I was taking the photos and my stomach I was rumbling I suddenly remembered what the point of making lunch first was. So that’s why you’re getting a salad instead of the pumpkin soup that I had actually intended.

I include a lot of salads in my newsletter as I eat one most days for lunch but I rarely blog about them as they can be a bit of a thrown together affair without much of a recipe. Today though, I knew exactly what I wanted. A creamy sour dressing lathered over chunky vegetables and spiced juicy chicken.

Claiming to want a sour dressing rather than just screwing it up may seem a bit odd but this is for the days when you want a very vegetably salad. Some dressings which are drenched with honey or smattered with sugar can drown the taste of the individual vegetables a bit and I wanted something so savoury but also perfectly balanced. Here, I deliberately wanted to abstain from any sweetness but if you taste the dressing and feel the need then by all means add a pinch of sugar.

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing

The sour avocado dressing is bolstered by my use of green pepper. Green peppers are unfairly maligned in my opinion, I think they are the jewel of the bag of mixed peppers you buy from the supermarket and I’m always looking for the bags with more green peppers than red. Green peppers add a lovely counterpoint to the salad as there is no mistaking their grumpy presence. They have none of the overpowering sweetness of the red or yellow pepper and instead add a peppery flavour. Green peppers are used a lot in cajun and creole cooking as part of the holy trinity along with onion and celery which is their version of the mirepoix. That’s why it goes so well with the grilled cajun chicken that beds down on the greenery.

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing

Cajun Grilled Chicken Salad with Sour Avocado Dressing
Serves 2

2 Chicken breasts
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning (see below for the recipe)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 little gem lettuce, shredded
½ cucumber, seeds removed and batoned
2 celery sticks, batoned
1 green pepper, seeds removed and sliced thinly
1 avocado, peeled and stone removed
75ml sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon English mustard
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

  1. Pre-heat the grill to the highest setting.
  2. Using a mallet, bash out your chicken breasts until they are of even thickness. Rub the cajun seasoning, olive oil and some salt and pepper on the chicken breasts and place under the hot grill. Grill for about 4 minutes each side until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile prepare your salad by placing the lettuce, cucumber, celery and green pepper in a bowl and tossing together. Set aside.
  4. To make the dressing place the avocado, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, paprika and seasoning in a blender and whizz up until smooth.
  5. When the chicken is cooked, slice thinly, toss with your salad and then drizzle with the sour avocado dressing.

Cajun Seasoning

1 tbsp onion salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground black pepper

Mix together thoroughly and store in a small airtight jar.

Sesame Salmon Tartare: Day 22 of Whole30

Sesame Salmon Tartare
So I am finally on my last week of Whole30. I will not lie to you, it has been difficult. It isn’t so much the everyday eating which is all well and good as I love a bit of a salad, I am happy to eat my fair share of protein and I will wolf down pretty much any vegetable you put in front of me. However, I have felt a bit out at sea when I plain don’t want to cook or am out and about and have to rely on someone else’s cooking.

Salmon Marinade  |  Stroud Green Larder

Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

Good luck to you if you want to eat at a restaurant on the Whole30, it’s not an easy prospect due to restrictions on carbs, dairy, legumes and sugar but I just about managed it this weekend due to The Maynard in Crouch End’s hog roast stall. It was a bit of a palaver as I had to order the two components of my meal separately. I went into the pub to order the side salad off their normal bar menu and then once it had arrived I went out to the front of the pub to the special hog roast stall they had set up that day to order my pork sans brioche burger. It worked well in my favour though as I think he took pity on me for just ordering a pile of meat and served me the biggest portion of pork you can imagine. It ended up being a delicious lunch but it was the third pub we had gone into to try and find food and my hunger was beginning to turn me into the Hulk.

Dressed Cucumber  |  Stroud Green Larder

Black and White Sesame Seeds  |  Stroud Green Larder

In my normal every day life I eat out at restaurants a lot. I like to try new food, sample the extraordinary dishes of talented chefs and also, since I spend so much time in the kitchen myself, I am always looking for a bit of a break where someone else can cook for me. It is my absolute bugbear, therefore, that when I am trying to watch what I eat there is so little catering for that in the big wide world. So excuse me if I have a mini tantrum; feel free to skip down to the part where I discuss the recipe below if you can’t bear it, I have some nice things to say about my new salmon invention. Still reading, okay, you were warned. I look forward to the days, as I know they will arrive soon, when more UK restaurants and pubs understand that you don’t need carbs to have an enriching, complex and exciting meal. Salads and vegetables should be celebrated and treated like the main event and not an afterthought or a side dish. I know I can eat like this at home so is it so difficult to eat like this out of home? A few restaurants already understand this kind of cooking implicitly, the Ottolenghi restaurants always have queues stretching out the door and round the corner and it’s no wonder, the sheer variety in their ingredients and flavours is outstanding. Bruno Loubet’s Grainstore in Kings Cross also prides itself on giving vegetables equal billing, if not the starring role, to the meat and their menu is always fantastic and innovative. However, until these kind of restaurants become more prolific and pubs offer a more diverse menu then we will have to satisfy ourselves at home.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

This sesame salmon tartare is a wonderful example of a carb free, sugar free and dairy free recipe which is just so satisfying and bounteous with all kinds of levels of flavour. It seems a bit fancy but it is really just a gussied up salad with no more skill required than just a bit of chopping and stirring. But then you taste it and you come right back to fancy again.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green LarderWhen you mention raw fish you tend to think of sushi or ceviche which can sound a bit clever and terrifying as you are dealing with raw fish. However, just make sure you trust where your fish is coming from and you’ll be fine to prepare either one at home. This recipe lies more on the ceviche side than the sushi side as the lime juice in the marinade ‘cooks’ the fish. The salmon is absolutely delicious on its own with a definite hint of umami but with the addition of lightly dressed cucumber and naked avocado it becomes a proper event. It’s the kind of food that requires you to sit at the table and savour every mouthful. Don’t skimp on the sesame seed garnish either, if you can’t get hold of the black sesames just use the white ones, as they provide such a welcome delicate crunch to compliment the soft salmon and the creamy avocado.

Sesame Salmon Tartare  |  Stroud Green Larder

This recipe is perhaps a tad too much for two but if you serve it for four then it’s an excellent starter if you are having people over to dinner.

Sesame Salmon Tartare
Serves 2-4

350g salmon fillet, skin removed
Juice of 3 limes
25ml sesame oil
25ml coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you are not Whole30)
1 chilli, sliced thinly
2 avocados
½ cucumber
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp light olive oil
1 tsp black sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 tsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix together the lime juice, sesame oil, coconut aminos and chilli.
  2. Then dice the salmon into small cubes and submerge into the marinade. Stir everything together so the marinade can fully absorb into the salmon then put cling film over the top and place into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, peel, de-stone and slice the avocado thinly, arrange it at the bottom of your serving dishes.
  4. Then prepare the dressing for the cucumber by mixing together the rice vinegar and olive oil.
  5. Peel and scoop out the seeds from the cucumber. Dice it very finely then add it to the dressing, mixing it all up thoroughly. Pile the cucumber on top of the avocado on your serving dishes.
  6. Then arrange your salmon on top and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

Halloween Party Dips

Halloween Party Dips

I wonder sometimes if my body is made up of mostly houmous. I eat it by the bucketload and there is usually more than one variety in my fridge just so I have a choice between smooth or course. I count myself very lucky that I live in Haringey where Turkish food is prolific, although that certainly doesn’t help my addiction. I read recently in the Guardian that more than 40% of Britons have a pot of houmous in the fridge and it is now seen as a grocery staple. So that makes me feel much better that I am not alone in my affliction.

It was whilst I was stuffing my face with houmous last night that I considered whether there may be an alternative. Dinner parties at home, Christmas morning, late night board games are always accompanied by a pot of houmous and it’s not that I’m getting bored of it. Never!!! But perhaps those around me might. So, keeping in mind the bunches of parties coming up, I am challenging myself to have a houmous free existence for the next few months so I have had to come up with some different options. After all, dips are still a necessity, aren’t they?

Avocado HoumousSo, at the end of an afternoon filled with chopping, whizzing, spicing and tasting I actually think I have cracked it. These dips are not only much more attractive than the rather dour chickpea beige but they are also sublimely moreish which is exactly what you want when trying to polish off a bag of kettle chips. Although technically one of the recipes isn’t mine and belongs to the divine Silvena Rowe and don’t worry that one contains tahini, lemon juice and garlic so it’s practically houmous anyway.
Butternut Squash DipThe butternut squash dip is made by roasting the lovely orange flesh with lots of spice which makes it deliciously rich. The chorizo is by no means essential, you can quite happily make a veggie version and you won’t be missing out at all. Or you could pair the butternut squash with some lamb chops to make a wonderful accompaniment as part of a main meal.

I will usually devour dips indefinitely with a packet of Clearspring’s sticky rice crackers assisting me in the task which I think you can get in most supermarkets now. They are a slightly healthier alternative to those kettle chips.

Butternut Squash with Chorizo Dip

60ml olive oil
1 x butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Grated zest of ¼ orange
1 tbsp Fino or other dry sherry
Plenty of salt and pepper
2 x chorizo sausages, diced small

  1. In a large baking dish mix together all the ingredients, bar the chorizo, and place in an oven preheated to 180°C. Roast for 45mins – 1 hour, giving it a good turn over halfway through until the squash is soft. Remove from the oven.
  2. Pulse the butternut squash in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Place the chorizo in a small saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to crisp up.
  4. Serve the butternut squash dip with the chorizo piled on top.

Silvena Rowe’s Avocado and Sumac Whip

2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 small lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tahini
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sumac
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Scrape the avocados from their skins and blend in a food processor with the lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until thick and smooth.
  3. Serve with the sesame seeds scattered on top.

Tex Mex Salad

Tex Mex Salad

I have a confession to make. I might be slightly addicted to this salad. I have had it three lunchtimes in a row. So I think it is only fair that I get you addicted too.

This has always been one of my favourite quick bites in town and I can often be seen lurking around Freebird Burrito, who have stalls throughout London. Their burritos are the best in the city I think and I have given it a jolly good go to try most of them. However, the salad is the buzz as the greenery makes you feel like you are doing your body a favour even though it’s disguised under a mass of creamy avocado and cheese. Their salad comes loaded with rice and beans as well which although scrummy I didn’t feel was necessary here as there’s so much going on already.

IMG_2034

The best salads are quick to throw together, involve fridge staples so you don’t have to make a special trip to the shop and have lots of different flavours to keep you interested. You can say what you like but this salad is never boring. I used leftover pork from the roast I made a couple of days ago and tossed together with new spices it was completely rejuvenated. However, this is so delicious that I would happily fry off a bit of chicken especially to make it as well. Whatever gets you that tex mex fix.

IMG_2033
chipotle

 

I love this chipotles in adobo which is from the Cool Chile Co., it really adds a bit of smoky Mexican authenticity to the dish. I use it all the time, it keeps for ages in the fridge and can be added to absolutely anything. It peps up tomato sauces and is an absolute staple when you are making chilli.

Tex Mex Salad

Serves 2

Leftover Pork / Chicken / Beef / Whatever
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
½ red pepper, sliced thinly
½ green pepper, sliced thinly
1 tsp chipotle in adobo
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 avocado
1 tbsp sour cream
Grated cheese
Coriander, chopped roughly
½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
Olive oil to dress

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and stir fry for about 5-10 mins until they start to soften.
  2. Add your leftover meat, the chipotle, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and seasoning and stir together until the meat is completely heated through. Remove from the heat and set aside whilst you assemble the salad.
  3. Peel and de-stone your avocado. Mash the flesh through with a fork and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir in the sour cream.
  4. Now you just need to assemble. Start with the bed of romaine lettuce, then the meat, then a large dollop of avocado and then the cheese. Finish off with a squeeze of lime and olive oil.