Blackened Chicken, Tangy Feta Salad, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Potato Salad and Roast Peppers.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Spring has officially sprung. For the last few days the weather has been positively glorious. I spent some time in the garden this afternoon, the daffodils are raising their sunny faces up to the sky, the buds on the trees are green and almost bursting, the noisy croaking frogs in the pond are peeking out of the water…it’s just so bloomin’ lovely! (See what I did there?!)

Since spending over a year in an almost perpetually sunny country, my body now craves that big yellow ball in the sky more than ever before. I just love it when the sun comes out, and not just for the heat, I love seeing people smiling! Everyone is outside, playing, drinking, eating…just soaking up the rays.

Speaking of eating, that telltale smell of barbeques has started wafting into the garden these last few evenings, and though we haven’t had one ourselves, I did decide to cook up a Spring time feast today! This is the first recipe I’ve ever written in a blog and as you’ll come to realise, I’m not very good with quantities or proportions, I’m a ‘throw it in and see if it works’ kinda girl. I will try and make it as clear as possible though. OK, here goes…

Whenever I make a meal with hot and cold elements and I have a few hours to do it, I like to start with the cold stuff first. Especially when there are so many flavours like with these salads, because once they’re done you can leave them in the fridge so all the lovely flavours mingle and soak into each other. With that in mind I started with the Fresh Tomato Salsa.

This meal easily served four of us, and could probably stretch to five.

Here’s what you’ll need –

Fresh Tomato Salsa

About 8 salad tomatoes (medium sized)

3 spring onions

1 clove of garlic

half a small lime

a generous splash of olive oil

a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

ground chillies

salt and pepper

OK, first things first. Chop the tomatoes down to juicy bitesize chunks. Chuck them into a bowl. If you’ve got your own homegrown tomatoes or ones from a local farm I always recommend using them, you can’t beat the flavour of homegrown tomatoes. Unfortunately, this is the wrong time of the year for them so I used shop bought – it still worked a treat. Chop the spring onions too – just the thick bottom half, into 1cm(ish) wide rounds and add them to the tomatoes. Use a garlic crusher to crush the garlic (in a lot of recipes I favour chopping the garlic, but for this crushing works best because it’s raw and you get a better distribution of flavour) then add that to the bowl too.

Next add a generous sprinkle of salt. Salt is the best friend of raw, chopped tomatoes. Something magical happens when you add the two together and it’s essential in this dish. Stir everything together well at this point to make sure the salt is well spread out. After that everything else can pretty much be added in any order, so sprinkle on ground black pepper to taste, the juice from half a lime, a good splash of olive oil, a pinch of ground chillies (can omit or add more depending on your heat preference) and the fresh, chopped corriander. Mix it all together and voila! You’re all done! Stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve up.

Because they’re going to be in the oven for about an hour, I’d do the peppers next –

Roast Peppers

2 red peppers

1 yellow pepper

1 green pepper

salt and pepper

olive oil

ground chillies

You can change the colour or quantities of the peppers to your preference, but I like red best and this amount was perfect for the four of us.

This is so easy to do. Preheat your oven to 170c/160c fan. Slice the peppers into halves, then slice each half into four. Spread them out over a baking tray, pour over olive oil then season with salt, pepper and a small sprinkling of crushed chillies. Give them a quick stir round to make sure they are evenly covered then put them in the over for 45 minutes to 1 hour. They’re ready when they’re soft and blackening at the edges.

Potato Salad

This was a last minute addition to the meal because our last potato harvest from the ones we planted last year needed eating, but it worked really well with the other dishes so I’m posting the recipe anyway.

about 200g baby/new potatoes

3 generous tablespoons mayonnaise

juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard

Chop the potatoes into bitesize chunks. Put them in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, they need to be soft but don’t let them over cook and start falling apart. Drain the water and refill the pan with cold water, let them stand in that to cool down.

Once they’re cold, mix in the mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard. Stir well, then transfer to a bowl and you’re all done! If you’re not ready to serve up yet, put the bowl in the fridge until you are.

It’s time to make the chicken marinade. This is how to do it –

Chicken marinade

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1teaspoon ground corriander

1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika

a big glug of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

juice of half a lime

four chicken breasts

For the marinade just whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, when it’s thoroughly mixed together place the chicken breasts in a bowl big enough for them all to lay next to each other and pour over the marinade, turning them to make sure they are fully coated. Cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the fridge to cook later.

Now it’s time to make the feta salad.

Tangy Feta Salad

Half a block of feta

1 large red onion

half a large cucumber

handful of black olives

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

half a lemon

dried mixed herbs

Finely chop the red onion and put it in a bowl. Chop the cucumber to about 1cm cubes, add that to the onion. Crumble or chop the feta, whichever you prefer, and add that too. Slice up the olives into halves or quaters and add to the mix. Give it all a good stir. Now make the dressing –

In a seperate bowl mix together about half and half balsamic vinegar and olive oil (tip – add a splash of water to stop them seperating). Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and and a pinch of dried mixed herbs. Mix it all together with a fork or small whisk. Pour it over the salad whle stirring to get even coverage. Once it’s all mixed up nicely, put the bowl in the fridge. The feta is going to soak up that lovely dressing and taste amazing!

 And finally it’s time to cook the chicken! We have a Tefal Optigrill which cooks meat perfectly and is what I used to make this. If you have the same or anything similar I recommend using it, otherwise you can use an oven grill but It would take longer, and you might not get that lovely blackened top.

You literally just let the grill heat up then slap the chicken breasts on the plate, close the lid and let it do the rest for you!

When the chicken is done, put it on a plate, sprinkle some fresh corriander leaves over the top and serve. Once you’ve got everything on the table and you’ve loaded up your plate, try and get a bit of everything on your fork, the flavours work so well together! Now you’ve done all the hard work, sit back, enjoy and make sure someone else does the washing up!!

Feel free to let me know how I did with this recipe or to ask me any questions, just fill out the form on the Contact Page. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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