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Classic Spanish Omelette: The Tortilla

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Hello folks, I’m back! Did you realize I disappeared? I missed blogging and cooking quite a lot but since I was in the middle of a big-ass relocation I could not help but focus on finding a new home and settle down in Northern Ireland. After more than a week spent in the hotel I finally found a beautiful flat with lovely views on the river and large windows. I am now trying to get used to it (a tad too big for me, I have to walk from the kitchen to the bedroom which is uncommon if you rent in London).

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On top of the relocation, I had to start a new job. Am I excused now for not being a prolific blogger?

I arrived here the day before St. Patrick’s day which is, you might agree, a very good timing. My first impression is that the atmosphere is significantly warmer than in the mainland. In the streets, I heard quite a few people wishing me “good morning” (What?!? Do I know you? I was incredulous). People are generally more relaxed than in London (after all Londoners are always busy and in rush, they don’t have time to be straightforward and kind).

But the local accent? “Could you please repeat it once more?”.  “I know it’s the tenth time you repeat this intelligible word but I am about to get it“. And the food? “Vegetables of the Day means frozen veggies, seriously?!. Ah”.

Yep, I still have to come to terms with the language and the cuisine. Aye.

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During my comfortable hotel stay I had to eat out every day. I tortured my delicate stomach on a few occasions (fries, weird extra sweet Indian food, fries). Now that I finally have a kitchen again I can cook something healthier and possibly Mediterranean, according to the type of cuisine/diet that I like the most.

Tortilla is a Spanish recipe my Spanish best friend introduced me to a few years ago when I moved to London. We were in Paddington, West London, when she cooked this heartwarming omelette as appetizer for an abundant portion of Paella Valenciana. I am kind of nostalgic of those days, when I had nothing but curiosity and a sense of adventure.

It was an about-face moment: for the first time I was leaving my parent’s house, my friends, my country. This recipe is impressed so strongly in my memories for this reason. And this might be also the reason why now that I am moving to a new city again, the Tortilla Espagnola comes up vividly to my mind. Maybe I can call this “my life changing recipe”.

p.s. I already blogged about tortilla here. This time, inspired by my recent trip to Malaga, I sliced the potatoes thinly using a mandolin slicer. This made the recipe a lot quicker and the potatoes easier to cook. I served the omelette with a broccoli and chickpeas quickly marinated in extra virgin olive oil.

Now tell me:

Do you have a life changing recipe, a dish that has important memories associated with? 

Have you ever moved to a new city?

Have you ever struggled to get to grips with a local accent? 

Classic Spanish Omelette: The Tortilla

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized potatoes (700-800 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 big onion, finely sliced
  • rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash and peel the potatoes, then sliced them using a mandolin for thinner slices or a sharp knife for thicker ones. Finely chop the onion (I sliced it).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook potatoes and onion, continuously stirring, until potatoes are cooked but not too tender.
  3. Remove the excess oil and keep aside.
  4. In a bowl, beat the eggs with salt and pepper. Transfer the cooled down potatoes in this bowl. Mix well add rosemary.
  5. Warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the frying pan and cook the mixture potatoes/eggs for 5-8 minutes or until golden. Do not stir. Then with the help of a flat plate flip the tortilla of potatoes and cook the other side.
  6. Serve warm or cold, cut into slices or cubes, together with a salad.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/spanish-tortilla-potatoes/

 

Soba and Yellow Split Peas Salad

soba-dal-0389 I lived without Soba noodles for decades. Until one day I decided to move to London. Now the famous japanese buckwheat noodles are in my life and the universe of ingredients and flavours I have discovered in the British capital makes me feel lucky every day.

Warning: I’m going to open the chapter “heart-wrenching litany on my nostalgic London memories”.

soba-dal-0398 Ah ah no, just kidding. I’ve already “cried” a lot here and here.

I’d rather attempt to convince you that this dish is really great. If you, like me, are a fan of soba noodles, then we can together confidently venture the word ” delicious” for this unconventional salad. Just so you know: this is not “delicious” like a saturated fat bomb Mac and Cheese or a yummy lasagna but rather like “a very healthy dish that tastes much better that you could think”. Nothing more than a surprisingly good combination of two wholesome ingredients such as split lentils and soba noodles in a quick recipe inspired by a Naturally Ella salad.

soba-dal-0399 I let the facts speak for themselves: yellow split peas are rich in two of the energy-yielding nutrients, protein and carbohydrates; 100 grams yield around 50 and 20 percent, respectively, of the recommended daily value (2,000 calorie diet). We don’t need more words; we need more action, so let’s go make ourselves a healthy salad!

As for me, I keep thinking that as long as I’ll be able to cook my favorite noodles some of my nostalgic feelings will be mitigated :).

p.s. Soba noodles lack some B-complex vitamins, iron and selenium found in wheat pasta so you may want to add some vegetables as sources of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Some tofu would work too!

Soba and Yellow Split Peas Salad

Yield: Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 9-1/2-ounce package soba noodles
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger

Instructions

  1. Whisk together oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, ginger, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Sort through and rinse split peas. Add to a pot with water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and then let cook for about 30 minutes until tender but still firm.
  3. While the peas are cooking, prepare the soba noodles according to the instructions on their package, (I usually cook in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes). Drain them and then rinse with cool water the noodles are at room temperature. Drain off excess water.
  4. Add peas, noodles and tomatoes to the dressing. Add more oil if, necessary. Serve at room temperature.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/buckwheat-noodles-peas/

Summer with a Caprese Salad

italy-caprese-1224 This is not a recipe but many things more than that. First of all, it’s a bit of me when I’m hungry and there is sun outside and even though this sun is shining over London and not over Napoli it still feels like summertime.

It’s another blinking summer here, one day you could go to the beach (if there was one) and the day after you wear a warm jumper under the rain. This mozzarella, tomatoes and basil leaves salad is a celebration of the glorious “ON” in this intermittent summer with too many OFFs so far.

italy-caprese-1229 This is also my Italy and many memories associated with it. The dish represents the marriage between taste and simplicity; it is also what the Italian heat of July calls for: light food you don’t need to cook.

July in Italy. Remember, it’s the time of the year when you spend long afternoons indoor because outside it is scorching hot. You would get insane otherwise; a curfew applies, it’s what we call “controra”, a siesta that is, the moment of the day when you are allowed to sleep while mosquitoes are allowed to work on you (obviously they’re on duty when you’re on holidays).

My mum would come back from work tired and starving, she wouldn’t cook anything requiring stove and fire that could make her sweat even more. In some lucky days, she would bring “mozzarella di bufala”, the only cheese that deserves love and devotion usually accorded a deity. And there’s peace all around, in my feelings and in my mind.

italy-caprese-1237 When we try to fight against the heat with fans and air conditioners we are defeated already. We use curtains to stop the rays of light that are burning the grass outside. We don’t hear a sound coming from the streets because no one dares to challenge the curfew. There’s no remedy to the heat. Life has to slow down. We let time pass by, we sleep and eat fresh foods. There’s lots of siesta for us that comes with lots of dreams. Oh Italy.

italy-caprese-1250 Don’t ask me a recipe this time. I’d like to give you just two useful instructions.

Instruction number 1: buy the best ingredients you can. Fresh, high quality ingredients: mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil.

Instruction number 2: slow down and taste slowly. Like if you were getting ready for a shamelessly long siesta.

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Giant Whole Wheat CousCous and Butter Bean Salad

giant-couscous-0786 I feel much better. Thanks for all your well wishes!

A couple of days with high temperature did not bring me down as much as a few hours of acute laryngitis that left me 100% mute. No voice through my vocal chords.  Someone here might have enjoyed the tranquility originated from my temporary mutism but for me… well, it was a pain not being able to sing O Sole Mio.

Can you hear my loud writing now? I’m back and I’m healthier than ever. Or at least, I am trying to be. Since I’ve got 2-3 kg to get rid of I started visiting a gym, keeping my meals light and eating (almost) daily the ice cream cone with chocolate flake, 99 p style.

giant-couscous-0798 C’mon, don’t judge me. Maybe you think that an ice cream a day doesn’t fit in a low calorie diet. Of course, it doesn’t!  I know for a fact that most of us want to get slimmer (it’s a classically conceived axiom) and each of us has a strategy. Mine is an ice cream that fits perfectly with my quest for happiness. That’s enough, for now. For all the rest, there’s a giant CousCous salad and my new workout plans. There’s this infernal rowing machine that will help me sweat off some fat.  Something like that.

Anyhow, at the end of the day it’s not my fault if there’s a 24 hr McDonald’s 2 minutes far from home. Sigh.

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Giant Whole Wheat CousCous and Butter Bean Salad

Yield: Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 100 g cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 1 cup giant couscous
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 can butter beans, drained
  • 1 cup curly kale leaves
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a pan, cook the beans with 1 Tbsp olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Boil the giant couscous for 6-8 mins. Meanwhile, combine 2 tbsp olive oil with the lemon juice and pour over kale.
  3. Drain couscous and mix with dressing, kale, tomatoes and butter beans. Serve with a small handful roughly chopped basil leaves on top.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/giant-whole-wheat-couscous/

Skinny Egg and Avocado Salad

yogurt-egg-salad-0163 Et voila’, I finally managed to add the word “skinny” to one of my recipes! It took me a while, my dear friends. Not that my recipes are usually fatty and greasy.  You know, I never go for stuff like bacon-wrapped stuffed sausage (also because I don’t eat meat) but I like my generous touch of grated Parmesan on my Arrabbiata and all the things that make life better such as olive oil and mozzarella.

yogurt-egg-salad-0131 There’s this demon in my life called pasta, there’s this endless love affair going on with flour that I would love to quit at some point. In this period of my life pizza is on my table even at breakfast,  pasta is in my DNA (Shall I say I’ve got genes of pasta?) and a slice of bread with melted cheese on top strikes a chord making me light-hearted (but heavy somewhere else). It must be possible to follow a low carb diet but I ignore why how.

yogurt-egg-salad-0134 The best I can do is to buy German bread (or Danish? Swedish?), whole grain rye bread, sometimes filled with hemp nuts, sometimes full of coarse grains that it takes me ages to chew. I usually cut a tomato and peppers in thick slices, spread the bread with hummus and season with salt and olive oil. It’s kind of good. When I want to make a more-than-a-meteorite  dense slice of “black” bread taste wonderfully then I resort to Greek Yogurt. Believe me, if you got Greek Yogurt, you’re on the right track to make the best egg salad of your life without the calories of mayonnaise.

yogurt-egg-salad-0163 If you think about it, coating eggs with a creamy spread made with eggs (aka mayonnaise) is an operation of culinary “overabundance”. Just like my carbs on carbs meals or the British take on Italian food consisting of Lasagne with garlic bread. Instead, this healthy egg salad is good and yet balanced with the good fats from the avocado. As tasty as the unhealthy one, so that you won’t miss the mayo, I promise. An egg salad able to quench my carbs craving, a spread I could dollop on a green salad and eat even without the German bread. A great starting point for my carb detox plans.

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My Ultimate Egg and Avocado Salad (Greek Yogurt instead of Mayo)

Yield: Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, boiled
  • 3 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Boil the eggs for 7-8 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, combine yogurt, olive oil, salt, black pepper to taste.
  3. Add chopped eggs and gently stir to combine all ingredients together.
  4. Serve in a sandwich or on crackers.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/ultimate-egg-avocado-salad-greek-yogurt-instead-mayo/

Greek Salad, My Favorite Mediterranean Raw Food Recipe

greeksalad1-1076 I ate a similar Greek Salad almost everyday during my itinerant trip in Greece last summer. When we checked in the first apartment of the trip, we finally took a break from “restaurant food”. We were in the beautiful island of Poros when we prepared this salad. Very simple, easy to make and packed with vitamins and antioxidants, this is a symbol of one of the most fertile lands in Europe, blessed by sunny days many months a year. 

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I knew this salad well before our trip to Greece. However, in the land of Jacket Potatoes and Caesar salads I had probably forgotten how tasty can be the simplicity of tomatoes seasoned with olive oil and mixed with other few Mediterranean ingredients (p.s. good tomatoes need 6-8 hours a day to grow, this is why in north Europe they are never tasty enough. Or at least, never as tasty as the ones we ate in Greece).

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Tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil, sliced red onion, green pepper, kalamata olives and crumbly feta cheese. Here is the Greek salad in its most popular version abroad. I discovered during this trip that if you do not crumble the feta cheese but rather top the salad with a pretty thick slab of feta, then – and only then – you have a real Greek Salad, the one you get served in authentic Greek taverns and ouzeri. Less sophisticated, more rough and rustic. Just like I want my homemade healthy food to be.

Greek Salad

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4-6 tomatoes - cut into wedges
  • 3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion,
  • 1 cucumber - sliced
  • 1 small green pepper, cut into thin rings
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olive
  • 300 feta cheese
  • salt to taste
  • Dressing
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Whisk dressing ingredients together until blended (keep a bit of oregano aside).
  2. Combine all salad ingredients, except cheese, in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine just before serving. Cut the feta in slabs.
  3. Top with the block of feta, a sprinkle of oregano and serve.

Notes

Notes: Gluten-Free, Vegetarian

http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/greek-salad-raw-food/

 

On Summer Pasta Salad and on Why you Should Not Rinse Pasta with Cold Water


Pasta is my favorite dish, so quick to cook and easy to season that would be on my table every time I can cook at home. If I only didn’t need to feed my body with nutrients other than carbs!

It’s (also) a matter of laziness, I guess. To try out new and more exotic recipes I need to go through different preparation steps and have quite a few ingredients on hand. Moreover, I don’t know about you, but in my pantry there’s always (ALWAYS) one fundamental ingredients that doesn’t show up. No response.

So I would hardly give birth to any recipe if I didn’t have to share with you my culinary adventures. It’s because of my blog (and you) that my diet is not all about pasta and pizza (or rice. I have a past of addiction to rice, but this is another story…). I am training myself to be flexible (as much as an Italian can be) for the good sake of my space here. Since I blog I even write down a shopping list. Sometimes.

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At this point you already know that my cooking routine in the kitchen quite often doesn’t require many ingredients. Doesn’t happen to you too to be too hungry to commit yourself with elaborate recipes? Pasta is perfect for those evenings when you’re starving (I say STARVING) but a drop of energy still stops you from going for a ready meal. Pasta it is my healthy fast food.

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While cooking this pasta salad I asked myself: what’s wrong with sharing something really easy and familiar to me? Something so simple that I never thought to blog about. I could not find a sensible answer so I grabbed my camera and took a few shots of my homie meal.

p.s. You may have noticed I don’t complain about weather conditions anymore. I complained enough when I shared my recipe of the homemade yogurt ice-cream, and the vegetarian burrito, and the coffee banana smoothie… ok, ok, I might have expressed disappointment about the weather in 80% of my blog posts (!). But you know what? I’ll stop.

I moved to Canada! I’m going to stay in this amazing country for a few weeks. Sky is clear blue with fantastic fairy-tale kinda bright white clouds and a very hot breeze. A breeze almost not breathable. I think next blog post deserves an accurate complain about the level of humidity in Ontario :).

p.p.s. Some people suggest to “Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water”. Rinse with cold water? I wouldn’t do that. Sure, you would quickly cool down your pasta by rinsing it under cold running water. However rinsed pasta would lose its quality, both in terms of flavor and nutritional properties. I would rather wait a bit or store it half an hour in the fridge before serving it. This is a top secret tip, so let’s keep it between me and you ;)!

Summer Pasta

Serving Size: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 200 gr pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, for juicing over the salad
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and stir in the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain with a colander and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cut all the veggies.
  3. In a large bowl, mix pasta with all the ingredients. Pour olive oil over pasta salad and stir until salad is well coated. Season with salt and squeeze fresh lime juice over. Serve at room temperature or chilled (store it half an hour in the fridge before serving it).
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/summer-salad-pasta-never-rinse-pasta-with-cold-water/