The Herb Diaries

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Roasted Garlic and Pea Soup

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I had such a brilliant weekend. Saturday was for seeing friends and sleeping in after a big Valentine’s Day dinner party at my friend Amelia’s, which meant that on Sunday I woke up fresh and ready to go. After I had got my run and a yoga class out the way I settled into the kitchen. I figured that having complained about being oven-less for so long, I really ought to post some baked and roasted recipes, so this soup is the first of three to come…
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It sounds bizarre to go on and on about an oven and then straight away choose to make soup, but the roasted garlic makes the recipe. It gives it the most delicious caramalised flavour, making it taste more warming and winter-y than my usual pea soup recipe, which is definitely more fresh, light and summer-y. The idea comes from a soup that my aunt made for me years ago which I absolutely adored, but never got around to making, so whilst this is my take on her recipe I sadly can’t claim any credit for the (delicious) idea.
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Having mentionned in my recipe for Gooey Chocolate and Caramel Bars that I have a serious chocoholic in the family, the rest of them are pretty mad about garlic… There is one who loves it more than any of us, so I have a feeling this soup may be on the menu when I go back home and see him in two weeks. DSC_0764 Garlic is used world wide to flavour food, and there are definitely very few things in my kitchen that manage to escape it. Not only is it so versatile and incredibly delicious, but thanks to a compound called allicin found in it, it actually has antibacterial properties. Whilst it contains small amounts of numerous vitamins and minerals, its most notorious health benefits come from its antioxidants (which help prevent heart-disease), immune-strengthening effects and anti-cancer properties. As if he needs encouraging… DSC_0767 Ingredients:
Serves 4

2 bulbes of garlic
1 onion
2 cups of frozen peas
1 big handful of basil
Olive oïl
Splash of cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Rocket

Method:

Chop onion into quarters and place the wedges along with whole bulbs of garlic into a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oïl and a sprinkling of salt and roast at 180°C for 30 mintues. They may need turning/stirring in that time so keep an eye on them – it is very important that they don’t burn or even brown too much, as this will give your soup a nasty bitter taste.
In the meantime, Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook your peas, then drain and allow to cool. When the onion and garlic is ready, leave to cool for a few minutes then peel of the skins. The cloves should be cooked and sticky (and smell AMAZING). Add all ingredients (except the rocket) to the blender with some water, and blend until completely smooth. The amount of water you add depends on how thick you likek your soup – I would start with 2 cups of water and see how it goes.
Heat on the stove just before serving, garnish with rocket and a drizzle of olive oïl (some parmesan or pecorino shavings might be good here for those not avoiding dairy!) DSC_0767

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Baked Kale and Parsley Falafel

DSC_0289 I can’t believe that about two years ago I had never even tried falafel! One of my best friends, Sophie, is a MEGA fan, but I was always a bit skeptical. I can’t remember exactly when it was that she gave me a big bite of her falafel wrap in our favourite lunch spot, but it was proof that she is a legend because the falafel in that place is seriously too good to share. DSC_0266 Whenever people come to Paris they go mad for the falafel on Rue des Rosiers in the old Jewish quarter. It is such a pretty little street with delicious bakeries and so many falafel stalls, serving the most amazing pittas stuffed with red and white cabbage, tomatoes, baked aubergine, pickled jalapenos, crispy falafel and a really big dollop of creamy hummus, they are insanely good. The problem is that the falafel is deep fried, and the idea just doesn’t sit that well with me. So I decided I had to make a healthier, fresher version. DSC_0281DSC_0282 I had hoped my baked falafel would stay a bit rounder… but despite their funny flat shape, they crisped up well and make an awesome change from the heavy baked version we are all used to. They will provide you with tons of wonderful plant protein, loads of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and a big boost to the immune system thanks to the chickpeas, kale and garlic.

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 big handful of kale
1 handful parsley
1 tsp each of cumin and paprika
2 tbsp of olive oil
salt and pepper
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Method:

Blitz the kale and parsley in the blender until it is in tiny pieces. Chop the onion and garlic. Add all the ingredients into the blender and pulse until the chickpeas are almost completely broken down and the mixture begins to stick.
Bake at 200 degrees celsius, turning the balls every 10 minutes until the are cooked. This should take 30-40 minutes. Serve with lemon tahini dressing (get the recipe here) in a wrap, on a salad, as a snack….
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Sticky Ginger Oat Cookies and a Festive Shake

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It is so nearly Christmas! I am so excited, not just for Christmas, but to go back to England for a few days. I can’t wait to see all my friends and family, plus it will be so good to get out of the city, have some fresh air and be able to use an oven! Even more exciting than all the parties and delicious food is the fact that I get to see someone who I haven’t seen in far too long… I CANNOT wait to see this beauty.
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There doesn’t seem to be such a festive buzz in Paris as in London, and I just don’t feel Christmassy yet. Rosie and I watched Love Actually last week and even that didn’t really help, so I have been trying to help the festive feeling along with lots of Christmas flavours. I have made this shake everyday this week and I LOVE it. I would love to have made the cookies everyday too, but I can’t make them quick enough for how quickly they disappear.
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Everyone is in such a mad rush with the lead up to Christmas, so I made this recipe super quick, with only a few ingredients each. It is all raw and can be made both gluten-free and nut-free but switching almond butter for your favourite plant milk, and swapping the oats for gluten-free ones. Christmas is not a time to be preachy about healthy eating, but with these its irrelevant, because they contain only natural, clean ingredients – so tuck in!
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Sticky Ginger Oat Cookies:

Blend 12 pitted medjool dates until smooth caramel forms. Add in 1-2 tsp of ground ginger, 1-2 tsp of cinnamon and 1-2 cups of oats and blend for a few more seconds. (You can blend them longer if you want a smoother consistency, but I like having whole oats in there). Roll into balls, squish them down a little with your hand, then put in the fridge until serving.

Festive Shake:

Blend 1 banana with a spoonful of almond butter, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1-2 cups of water until completely smooth. These quantities are for one, so times them by the number of shakes you want to make. I like my shake quite cold, but they are also delicious warm before bed.

Happy Happy Christmas everyone!IMG_1232
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My Favourite Brunch

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Living in Paris, it is very important for me to find healthy and exciting brunch ideas, because with three bakeries on my road alone, the temptation is crazy. The smell is incredible and the pain au chocolats will put anything you’ve ever tried in England to shame. Bread has never really been my thing, but since I have been here I find myself eating more and more of it. My favourite bakery near my apartment does a different “bread of the day” every day and I already love their buckwheat bread, but I was so excited this weekend to try their pain Baltik – a mixture of rye and whole grain, with the dark nutty taste of rye bread, but a far lighter, less dense consistency.

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You can make this brunch in the time it takes the kettle to boil, and thanks to all the healthy fats in the avocado and olive oil, it will leave your skin glowing, your hair shining and your tummy full and happy all day long. I first had this in London – I had just got the Eurostar from Paris, and as soon as I arrived my brother in law very sweetly took me out for breakfast! I think that time it was actually on sourdough bread, but I love all the seeds in this rye bread.

 

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Before I get on with the recipe I would just like to share the link for my friend’s blog. I met Sandra a few years ago when I spent the summer working in the South of France, and I have only recently found out that we have a lot of shared interests! If you have some time to look, her blog is  gorgeous – there are loads of healthy recipe ideas, stunning photos and great articles on positivity, wellness and self-care. Click here to see Sandra’s blog.

 

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Ingedients:

Serves 2

2 avocados

2 big handfuls of rocket

2 slices of your favourite bread

juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

 

Method:

Wash the rocket then mix with chopped avocado, a drizzle of oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Spoon onto a slice of bread, pouring over any lemony oil left in the bottom of the bowl, and tuck into the simplest (but most delicious) breakfast/brunch/lunch!

 

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Coconut Granola with Nuts, Seeds and Raisins

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Ever since I started to change my eating habits, I am loving breakfast more and more. I have never been one to skip it all together, but I used to grab a quick piece of toast and run. Now I like to wake up a little bit earlier and take the time to make something delicious and healthy. Smoothies are great because they are super quick and packed full of goodness, and pancakes are my favourite at the weekend when I’m not in a rush, but I wanted to make something a bit different, but still speedy, to give me some variety during the week.

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I used to like granola, and now I absolutely love it! I can’t believe I didn’t realise sooner how easy it is to make,  and how much better it tastes when it is homemade. You can make it with whatever combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit you like – I could only get raisins but I am busy thinking up more exciting combinations for next time. Since this recipe contains so many different types of nuts and seeds, each mouthful is packed with Vitamin E, Vitamin B, iron, calcium, selenium, plus lots of healthy fats.

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Ingredients:

2 cups of oats

1 cup of mixed nuts (I used cashews, almonds, hazelnuts and brazil nuts)

1 cup of mixed seeds (I used sunflower and courgette seeds)

1 cup of raisins

1 tbsp of coconut oil

1 tbsp of agave syrup

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Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the nuts and seeds in a blender and pulse once or twice to break them up a little. Melt the coconut oil and agave, then stir in the nuts, seeds and oats. Once they are all evenly coated, spread the mixture onto a baking tray and put in the oven. They will take about 10 minutes, but make sure you check them regularly and mix them around so none of the mixture burns. 

When the granola is ready, transfer onto a plate to cool and then add in the raisins. Store in an airtight jar. Serve with nut milk and berries or sprinkled on top of your smoothie.

 

 


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Roasted Butternut Squash Filled with Fresh Pesto and Quinoa

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First I would like to say thank you so much to Niki at The Jolly Beetroot for nominating me for the Liebster Award! It is so exciting and finding out was the best start to my weekend. The other really exciting thing this weekend was that today I went over to a friends apartment to use his oven! I roasted vegetables for my lunches this week, I made my first ever batch of homemade granola (which I will be sharing the recipe for later this week) and we had this baked squash for lunch followed by a warming apple crumble. It was the perfect comfort food for a cold, dark Sunday afternoon. This recipe is for my big sis who is always telling to post more savoury recipes and main courses – she doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. I am pretty sure if she had been there at lunchtime she would have told me she loved it, but it would be better with some goats cheese melted on top. If you aren’t avoiding dairy, give it a try – she is a seriously awesome cook so I would fully trust her judgement!

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Not only is butternut squash really delicious, it is also packed full of vitamins to support both your nervous and immune systems. It contains a high level of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, and supplies your body with loads of dietary fibre. It tastes so so good roasted with olive oil, salt and lots of garlic, that when I had to chance to use an oven for the day it was an obvious decision. I think the Sunday cooking is going to have to become a bit of a weekly event – I get the oven, a bigger kitchen than mine, and a fun lunch with my friends! Plus, now that December has started it really has got cold, and there is no greater comfort food than mixed roasted veg.

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I could only get one butternut squash at the market so I got a few of the little round courgettes and stuffed them too. It worked just as well, they were yum, but you don’t need to pre-roast them before stuffing then like you do with the squash.

 

Ingredients:

Serves 3

1 butternut squash

3 round courgettes

1 cup of uncooked quinoa

2 leeks

6 mushrooms

1 bunch of basil

1 bunch of coriander

1 cup of hazelnuts

3 cloves of garlic

olive oil

Cherry tomatoes

 

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Method:

De-seed the squash, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 180 degrees until tender (about 30 mins). While that cooks, boil some water and cook the quinoa. Put all the herbs, hazelnuts and 2 cloves of garlic into a blender and mix, slowly adding olive oil, until you reach your desired consistency. I would also add some salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Next, chop the mushrooms and leftover garlic and fry them in a little olive oil for a few minutes. You could also fry the leeks at this point, but I boiled mine for a few minutes. When they are cooked, mix them with the mushrooms, quinoa and pesto.

Scoop the middles out of the courgettes and stuff them with the quinoa mix. Remove the squash from the oven, fill the two halves with quinoa, and then bake the squash, courgettes and cherry tomatoes for another 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

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Beetroot, Ginger and Cucumber Juice

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I went back to England this weekend and found our garden full of apples. There were so many that my mum had to borrow her friend’s juicer as a way of using them up before they went bad. This was really exciting for me, since I am still researching all the different types of juicer before choosing which one to buy. My best friend came over to see me on Friday night, and as soon as she was up on Saturday morning she was out collecting apples

Our juice making got off to a bit of a dodgy start, with a lot of brown foam, and even a bottle that just tasted like water! (It looked like apple juice and tasted like water – if anyone has any idea what happened here please tell me, because my whole family are so confused!!) By the third attempt we has sussed it out and the apple juice was delicious, but whilst we had the juicer there I had to try and make my favourite juice, so that I could share the recipe with all of you.

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It is a combination of two of my favourite juices I have found out here in Paris (although I have had a bit of a guess at the ingredients so I can’t be sure how accurate it is). The first is the Purple Power juice at Sol Semilla – mine and Rosie’s favourite vegan restaurant in Paris. The second is a delicious cocktail at Le Comptoir General – a very funky bar just off the Canal Saint Martin – which is a mixture of vodka and a very cucumbery purple juice.

So this is my best guess at what a mixture of the two would taste like, and I think it is yum. It is good enough that I am definitely going to have to get a juicer! The beetroot and apples taste like autumn, and the cucumber makes it so refreshing, but the ginger is my favourite because it is so spicy and warming. I really love spicy food, but you might want to use less ginger if spice isn’t your thing.

 

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Ingredients:
(Serves 2)
1 cucumber
2 carrots
4 beetroots (peeled)
4 apples
Thumb sized piece of ginger

Method:
Wash/peel/top and tail fruit and veg as necessary and pass them all through your juicer. Cucumber straight out the fridge makes the juice very cool and refreshing.
 
 
I would really love to know what juicers you are all using and what you think of them, before choosing one myself, so please comment and let me know!