These are just perfect to make on a rainy afternoon, and eat them all up whilst they are still lovely and warm. I have a very picky toddler and seems like my baby girl is following her big brother’s footsteps. Lucky me. Not. I was hoping that at least one child of mine will eat properly. Nope, I can keep envying other parents with their small children eating raw carrot stick and steamed broccoli, but non mines. Anyway, that is why I try to smuggle some extra healthy ingredients into their dishes and also hoping that they will venture beyond the usual tastes and textures.
Muffins, both sweet and savoury are usually big hits in our house. I normally need to avoid whole pieces of vegetables being visible and use lots of cheese, for the savoury muffins to get green light. This recipe meets both criteria. Also contains more of the “friendly” veggie (butternut squash) and less of the “unfriendly” one (broccoli). Great for snack or even as a lazy main meal with some more cheese or healthy spreads like hummus.
Tip: by adding lots of fresh rosemary instead of chives, these muffins can be turned into more of a grownup’s snack.
Yield: 12 muffins
250g plain flour
100g butternut squash diced
80g broccoli (4-5 small florets)
1,5 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
50g butter melted
100g feta cheese crumbled roughly
half a tsp salt
1 tbsp of chopped chives
some grated cheddar to sprinkle on the top (optional)
Steam the vegetables until they’re tender. With a hand mixer, blend the butternut squash into a smooth paste. I guess it could work with just mashing it with a fork. As a smooth paste, it adds some extra liquid to your batter (so does the broccoli). After this, I normally just add everything one by one in no particular order and just mix it quickly (with a wooden spoon, by hand).
Preheat oven to 160C. I found that because of vegetables, they bake a bit slower than without them, but they can burn just as easily. Therefore, it’s better to keep it around 160C instead of 180C. So the baking time is slightly longer than with normal muffins: 12-14 minutes.
They are lovely warm or cold, or even reheated in the oven.
I fell in love with farro a few years ago and it was love at first taste. Similar to (and often interchangeable) pearl barley and spelt, but it’s more chewy. I love it for its neural taste. I only used it in salads so far, more to explore with soups. I normally buy the quick cook version, otherwise it needs soaking (don’t have time for that, nor am I so well organised. More into impulsive cooking 😀). For vegetarians and vegans it’s a great source of extra protein and iron but also an excellent source of high-fibre too.
This salad is just as tasty as easy, a bold combination of the flavoursome greek salad and the nutty farro.
200g quick cook farro
1 litre vegetable stock
2 vine tomatoes deseeded and chopped finely
1 sweet red pepper deseeded and chopped finely
1 medium cucumber deseeded and chopped finely
1/2 red onion chopped finely
2-3 handful of fresh basil chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
200g feta cheese cubed (I used Apetina cubes this time)
For the vinaigrette:
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon’s juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove crushed
salt and pepper to taste
Bring the water to boil in a saucepan, add farro and the stock cubes. Cook until they tender. (You’re still looking for some firmness, like with rice.) Drain it, set it aside and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Chop the veggies into very small, fine pieces. Prepare the vinaigrette. Combine everything adding the cheese at the very end so that you don’t crush your neat little cubes. I like the feta cubed, it’s somehow more significant in the salad then crushing it. And that’s it, enjoy it.
I’m a big fan of salads combining fruits, vegetables and cheese. I could eat them every day. When you’re having guests and you want to prepare something different from the usual green salad, this could work very well as a good-looking, tasty and not your everyday starter dish. There’s not much work with it either, ready in 15 minutes. The kids will love it too as it’s got sweet tasting fruit in it. Serves 4 adults.
For the salad:
150g baby or young spinach
2 ripe but still firm sweet pears cored and sliced.
Half a pomegranate’s arils
50g feta cheese crumbled
50g dried cranberries
50g walnuts, chopped and toasted
For the dressing:
80ml apple cider vinegar
1 tsp of clear honey
1 tsp of dijon or wholegrain mustard
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
Hint of freshly grounded pepper
Wash and drain the spinach leaves and place them into a large salad bowl. Toast the walnut pieces and prepare the dressing. Add all the ingredients and the dressing and combine well. I like it when the feta cheese covers the salad with a fine cheesy film, but if you prefer them in cubes or in bigger pieces just add them after you combined everything else and serve the salad with feta cheese topping.