Bringing a “plate” to my friend’s BBQ.

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My friend Kim hosted the second BBQ of the season on Sunday. She’s always a great host but has no confidence in the kitchen and can barely work her own oven, let alone sharpen a knife. Bearing this in mind, I was all too happy to bring a couple of salads along when she asked and took the opportunity to cook things that might be a bit higher in fat than I’d usually make. I made myself feel better about this with the knowledge that they were going to be shared around so, Alex and I wouldn’t be finishing them by ourselves.

Mixed Grain Salad
100g red quinoa, rinsed
100g white quinoa, rinsed
100g French green lentils, rinsed
100g pearl barley, rinsed
30g butter
2 cloves garlic. crusned
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
25g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
25g chopped almonds
1/4 bunch mint
1/4 bunch parlsey
2 spring onions, sliced
Sherry dressing
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
120ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

For the mixed grain salad, place red and white quinoa in separate saucepans, cover with cold water to come about 1cm over quinoa. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook lentils in a saucepan of water for 15 – 20 minutes until tender, then drain. Toast pearl barley in a dry frying pan until golden, then transfer to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until tender, then drain.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and when foaming add garlic, thyme, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds and cook until toasted. Remove from heat and cool. Coarsely chop mint and parsley. Combine grains, seeds and almonds in a bowl with chopped herbs.

For dressing, combine vinegar, sugar and oil in a small bowl and whisk well. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with spring onions.

Serves 6

Dinner

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Dinner

Along with the chicken I served Stuffed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce and some steamed greens on the side. The eggplant is another Neil Perry recipe and absolutely stunning. I adjusted things a bit as they only had large eggplants at the supermarket and I can’t bring myself to deep-fry things while I’m trying to lose weight. I also omitted the cornflour which it didn’t really need.

I ended up roasting my larger stuffed eggplants for an hour at 180ºC under foil and then at 230ºC with no foil for 20 minutes to crisp up the meat a little. This was so delicious, much better than I ever expected. I strongly advise you to click on the pic for the recipe.

Dinner

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Dinner

Marinated Chicken Breast with Spicy Tomato Sauce. I adapted this from a Neil Perry recipe for barbequed wings as they had none at the supermarket and rain put a stop to my BBQ plans. Instead I marinated the breasts, seared them and put them in the oven. Still pretty tasty. As usual, I left out all the oil and only used a spray in the pan first. Click the pic for Neil’s recipe.

Dinner

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Dinner

Tabouleh
140g bulgar
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed and diced
6 spring onions, chopped
1/2 big bunch parsley, stems and leaves chopped
1 small handful mint leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon depending on your taste
salt, pepper
spray of olive oil

Soak the bulgar in a bowl with enough water to cover for at least 1 hour. Squeeze out the excess water and add all the other ingredients, mixing well.

Serves 4

I served this with marinated chicken and it was really yum. A nice marinade could be a combo of chillies, thyme, garlic, crushed coriander seeds, crushed cumin seeds, crushed peppercorns, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Char-grilled lamb is also a good combo and you could marinate that for some extra flavour too.

Next time I might include a red or green chili in the tabouleh and maybe add some feta too. It’s also nice to serve with Greek yoghurt mixed with garlic, cucumber, salt, pepper, mint, parsley, dill and maybe a green chili in there too if you’re feeling up to it.