Tag Archives: Olive oil

Easy Homemade Hummus

Homey Hummus









Wishing my kooky readers a very Healthy and Happy 2014.

The theme of our New Year’s day menu was Persian. For starters, I served a healthy plate of crudités with hummus I made at home. Now I am not sure whether Iranians eat hummus but I thought it went with the given theme!

Here’s my low-fat version of the popular chickpea dip made with homemade tahini (of course, you can substitute with shop bought one instead).


1 Cup uncooked chickpeas

2 – 3 Tablespoons tahini

1 Head garlic

Juice of 2 limes or lemons

1 Tablespoon olive oil (for when pureeing chickpeas)

1 Tablespoon olive oil (to drizzle on hummus when serving)

Salt to taste


  1. Soak the chickpeas for 8 to 10 hours. If you are short of time, you can use this method to speed up the process.
  2. Boil the chickpeas in salted water till very soft.
  3. Drain them and retain about a cupful of the water.
  4. Peel and chop the garlic.
  5. In a food processor or a blender, make a puree of the boiled chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  6. If you find the mixture too firm, add some of the reserved water till you get a smooth paste like consistency.
  7. Transfer to a plate and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

I had served hummus with some raw cauliflower, carrots and mooli.

Crudités with Homey Hummus










Warm Couscous Salad the Kooky Way

Couscous the Kooky Way









Today’s post is the result of a homemade salad dressing which I wanted to finish. Was trying to think of ways in which it could be used to create a warm dish and this couscous salad is the result.

couscous recipe
couscous recipe (Photo credit: ukcider)

The salad dressing recipe is my sister’s, the kidney beans give this dish a Mexican touch and the vegetable base and seasoning are Mediterranean.

a bit of a kooky recipe with multiple influences

You can adapt this warm salad to whatever you have lying around in terms of vegetables, protein (beans or poultry) and dressing; it is totally flexible.

Ingredients for my Sister’s Signature Salad Dressing

1 Tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon prepared mustard (I used Colman’s original English mustard)

Juice of one lime or lemon

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Put all the ingredients in a screw top glass jar.
  2. Shake well till amalgamated.
  3. Will stay good in a refrigerator or in a cool environment for up to a week.

Ingredients for Couscous Salad

1/2 cup boiled kidney beans

1/2 cup cooked couscous*

2 Onions, finely chopped

1 Courgette

1 Yellow pepper

3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds, toasted

One tablespoon anchovies in olive oil*

One tablespoon Laura Santini Taste #5 Umami Paste (optional)*

One tablespoon crumbly, piquant cheese (I used Manchego)

Salt to taste


  1. First, we need to “marinade” the salad base. Add salad dressing to the boiled kidney beans and finely chopped onions. Cover tightly and keep for 4 to 5 hours. Do this in advance so that the flavours develop.
  2. When you are ready to prepare the salad, wash and chop the courgette and yellow pepper in medium sized chunks.
  3. Heat oil, add the courgette and pepper chunks along with a bit of salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Throw in the chopped parsley and seasoning of choice. Mix well, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. By the end of this cooking time, the vegetables should be cooked but still have a bite to them. You don’t want them too soft or mushy.
  5. Leave them covered while you prepare the couscous according to instructions on the packet.
  6. Now add the vegetables, couscous, toasted seeds and crumbly cheese to the onion and kidney bean mixture.
  7. Mix well and serve.


  1. Cook the couscous according to packet instructions. You can add a stock cube to the boiling water for a bit of flavour if you like. I didn’t because I had boiled the kidney beans in chicken stock.
  2. You can use plain olive oil or flavoured oil to cook the vegetables.
  3. The choice of seasoning is entirely yours. I used umami paste since I thought it would go well with the other Mediterranean flavours.

a few drops of hot sauce over the salad takes it to another level

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, The Asian Way

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, The Asian Way









This spaghetti almost didn’t get made since it was time for my dad to leave. Luckily, there was a change of plan and his stay got extended. On dad’s suggestion, I decided to replicate my signature spaghetti of olive oil, garlic and basil with currently-very-much-in-season fresh green garlic and coriander.

it is totally heavenly

I love the scent of fresh green garlic. It is more subtle and less pungent compared to the garlic we normally use. At the same time, it makes its presence felt in any dish you add it to.

Green garlic is a bit fiddly to clean and requires a lot of patience! But the end result is worth the effort you put in. If you can get your hands on some of this fresh vegetable, I would strongly urge you to try today’s recipe.

The following serves 2 persons.


250 Grams fresh green garlic

2 Packed cups fresh green coriander

2 Green chillies

200 Grams spaghetti or linguini

1/4 Cup good quality olive oil

Salt to taste

2-3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Firstly, clean the garlic. For this, you need to simply remove the hairy bits on the top of its head. Do this one garlic at a time. If the green stalk is fresh, retain it. Discard any yellow stalk.
  2. Next, chop the garlic and stalk, wash and keep aside.
  3. Clean and wash the coriander. If the stalk is tender, keep it.
  4. Wash and finely chop the green chillies.
  5. Place the olive oil, garlic, chillies and salt in a pot. Cover.
  6. Cook the spaghetti according to instructions given on the packet.
  7. When you put the spaghetti in boiling water and are timing it, get started on the sauce.
  8. Place the pot with oil, garlic and chillies, with the lid on, on a very low heat. The idea is to cook the garlic very gently. You don’t want to brown it or burn it. Keep an eye on it, stirring it occasionally.
  9. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and retain 1/4 cup water.
  10. Add the spaghetti, coriander and water to the oil and garlic.
  11. Mix it well, cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  12. Transfer to spaghetti bowl, sprinkle some Parmesan and serve hot.


  1. I was out of spaghetti so used linguini instead. It worked just as well.
  2. You can use more olive oil and skip the water if you prefer.
  3. If you would like it spicy, add more green chillies.
  4. Don’t compromise on the quality of the olive oil you use in this recipe since it forms the base for the sauce.

This is what green garlic looks like as is and cleaned.

Green Garlic Waiting to be Cleaned  Green Garlic Cleaned








Doesn’t this Spaghetti Aglio e Olio look tempting?!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Aromatic Lentil & Bean Broth with Radish

Aromatic Bean Broth with Radish









I have been an internet user since back in the days when everything was still in DOS mode (or looking back, so it seems). Over the years, I have witnessed the way technology has changed and the way the internet has revolutionised how we conduct our lives. Yet neither have managed to figure out how to send a smell across networks. If it were possible, your nose would be leading you to today’s post!

Base for Aromatic Bean Broth with RadishThis broth was made with what was in my kitchen cupboard (brown lentils and haricot beans) and what is seasonal (radish). By creating a base of onions, celery and parsley, you get a wonderfully fragrant and substantial meal which doesn’t require anything accompaniments.

if only these pages could emit its bouquet

So let’s go into the kitchen


3 Tablespoons brown lentils*

2 Tablespoon haricot (cannellini) beans”

Stock cube (chicken, vegetable or beef)

One teaspoon Marmite (optional)

2 Onions

One head garlic

3-4 Stick celery (include leaves if possible)

One bunch parsley

2 Tomatoes

One carrot

4-5 Radish

One tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste


  1. First we prep the beans. Wash and soak them in water for 24 hours.
  2. When you are ready to prepare the soup, get working on the vegetables.
  3. Peel, wash and dice the onions.
  4. Peel and chop the garlic.
  5. Wash and chop the celery (and leaves, if using).
  6. Wash and chop the parsley (including stalk, if tender).
  7. Wash and dice the tomatoes.
  8. Wash and dice the carrot.
  9. Wash and chop the radish.
  10. Heat oil in a soup pot (or equivalent).
  11. Once the oil becomes hot, throw in the onions, garlic, celery, parsley (leave some for garnish) and carrots.
  12. Stir around a bit, add salt, stir once again, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.
  13. Open the lid, add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes till they soften.
  14. Add the beans (along with the water they were soaked in). Add more water if necessary.
  15. Stir in the stock cube and marmite.
  16. Mix everything well, bring it to boil.
  17. Once you see bubble appearing on the surface, lower the heat, cover and let it cook for about 40 minutes.
  18. After this, open the lid and bung in the radish.
  19. Cover and let it cook for 15 minutes more. The beans and lentils should be cooked by now.
  20. Take it off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  21. Garnish with parsley and serve.


  1. You can use canned beans if you prefer. Reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes.
  2. The radish I used were quite pungent so I didn’t feel the need for black pepper. But if yours are mild, you can add some freshly pounded black pepper before serving.

This is what the broth looked like while it was simmering away.

Cooking Aromatic Bean Broth with Radish

Quinoa, The Italian Way

Quinoa, The Italian Way









I think quinoa has become a victim of its own success. It has swayed from being THE food on all the foodies’ list to THE food a lot of people don’t want to know or read about. A pity because it is one of the most versatile, healthy grains to keep in your kitchen cupboard and works well in soups and casseroles, in salads, for stuffing, to make fritters and burgers and even in desserts.

Today’s recipe has an Italian influence courtesy anchovies, pine nuts and basil. Co-incidentally, I had timed my cooking to an episode of The Sopranos (TS) (the one in which Tony & Co. host a card game and Frank Sinatra Jr. makes a guest appearance). 20 minutes of TS, 15 minutes of cooking the vegetables, 8 minutes of cooking the quinoa, finish TS while quinoa is resting.

I wonder if Tony ever ate quinoa

Probably not, looking at the kind of food they showcase. But hopefully, the late amazingly great Mr. Gandolfini did.

So onwards with today’s Italian inspired quinoa.


1 Cup quinoa

2 Cups water

Stock cube (chicken or vegetable)

One tablespoon olive oil

One tablespoon anchovies*

One courgette

10-12 Cherry tomatoes

One yellow pepper

One large onion

One head of garlic

One tablespoon Italian seasoning*

One tablespoon piquant cheese*

A handful of basil leaves

1-2 Tablespoons pine nuts

A handful of black olives, sliced

Salt to taste


    1. Put the quinoa in a saucepan along with the water and stock cube. Ratio of quinoa to water should be 1 : 2 (one part quinoa, two parts water). Cook for about 15-20 minutes (or according to instructions on your packet).
    2. Once the quinoa is cooked, let it rest for 5 minutes and then fluff it with a fork. Keep aside.
    3. Now prepare the vegetables. Peel, wash and chop the onions.
    4. Peel and slice the garlic.
    5. Wash and dice the yellow pepper.
    6. Wash and dice the courgette.
    7. Wash the cherry tomatoes.
    8. Wash and shred the basil.
    9. Heat a skillet. Once hot, add the pine nuts. Stir them for 2-3 minutes till they are nicely toasted.
    10. Remove the pine nuts to a plate.
    11. Put the skillet back on heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the chopped onions and sliced garlic. Add salt, give it a stir, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
    12. Once the time is up, open the lid and add the yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes and courgette along with the anchovies, seasoning and basil. Mix well, cover and cook for 10 more minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, once the vegetables are cooked, you may see some of their juices. That is perfectly fine.
    13. Next, add the cooked quinoa, olives, pine nuts and cheese.
    14. Combine well, cover and cook for 10 minutes so that the quinoa is heated through and absorbs all the juices.
    15. Turn off the gas, let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.


  1. I used anchovies marinated in olive oil and used this oil this for cooking.
  2. You can cook the quinoa ahead of time. Mine was cooked a few hours beforehand.
  3. I had used Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bullion powder. You can use chicken stock cube if you prefer.
  4. For seasoning, I had used Laura Santini Umami Paste No. 5.
  5. I find that slicing garlic along its length is much more flavourful than in roundel. Not sure the reason why.
  6. For cheese, I went the Spanish way since I had Manchego in the fridge. It worked as well as goat’s cheese. Use any piquant cheese. A little bit is all you need.
  7. If there is any leftover, you can use it to stuff aubergines or add it in a soup.

A look at the vegetables I used for this Italian inspired quinoa.

Vegetables for Quinoa









Vegetables being cooked. Aren’t they a picture of health?!

Vegetable Base for Quinoa









This is the end result. Not sure why it photographed as yellow since the quinoa was white (as you can see from the photo at the top of this post).

Italian Style Quinoa









Multicoloured Salad

Balanced Salad









I hadn’t prepared anything for last night’s dinner because I was supposedly going for a Thanksgiving dinner. Turns out I had got my dates mixed up – doh!!! So had to come up with something quick to cook yet healthy and this is the end result.

Think of it as a balanced meal: balance of colours (white, purple, orange, yellow, red and green) and balance of carbs, protein and vegetables.

This salad is very easy to make and you can substitute with whatever is fresh, available or you have in your refrigerator.

have it as soon as it is cooked to enjoy a warm winter salad or chill and serve during summer months


3-4 potatoes

8-10 Cherry tomatoes

0.5 cup Sweetcorn kernels

1.5 cups French beans

2 Carrots

A couple of handfuls of salad leaves (I used amaranth, hence purple)

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise (I used the diet kind)

1 Tablespoon prepared mustard (I used Colemans)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Juice of half lemon or lime

1-2 Teaspoons freshly ground black peppercorns

Salt to taste


  1. Wash the potatoes and steam them for 15 minutes or till soft. Once done, cut them in two. I had left the skin on, you can peel them if you like.
  2. Wash the french beans, snap them in half and steam them. Wash sweetcorn kernels. Steam the corn and beans together for 10 minutes or till just tender. I have a double decker steamer so I had put potatoes in one deck and french beans and sweetcorn in another and steamed them all together in one go.
  3. Wash and dry the salad leaves.
  4. Wash and coarsely grate the carrots.
  5. Wash the cherry tomatoes.
  6. Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  7. Put the salad leaves on a serving plate.
  8. Mix together the potatoes, french beans, sweet corn, carrots and cherry tomatoes along with the dressing.
  9. Put this salad on top of the leaves and enjoy.

serve with a glass of full-bodied red wine


Courgette/Zucchini Steak with Bean Salad & Avocado dressing on a bed of spinach

Courgette Steak

For dinner last night, I fancied only vegetables. At the same time, I wanted to make something warm since the weather’s getting cold.

A ripe avocado (given by the same friend who had given me the hass one) was urging me

use me

There is no recipe as such but the following is how I put together a healthy, cosy but what looks like a sumptuous meal.

Courgette Steaks

Courgette jaune
Courgette jaune (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Washed and cut in half (along its length) a yellow courgette. Then, I marinated it in some umami paste along with lemon juice and olive oil. Just before cooking, I put everything in a hot pan. Cooked courgette for 10 minutes each on both sides. The end result was a lovely steak like vegetable. The reason I used yellow courgette was because they tend to have thicker skin which works well for such cooking method.

Bean Salad

Washed, soaked and boiled a cup of kidney beans with a pinch of salt. Rinsed them in cold water and doused them with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and salt. Added two very finely chopped onions and let the salad sit for some 8 hours for the flavours to blend. Before eating, added some steamed sweetcorn kernels.

Avocado Dressing

Whipped 3 tablespoons plain, mild yoghurt with Coleman’s mustard and a couple of cloves of minced garlic. Added diced avocados. Left this outside for a couple of hours so that I could have it at room temperature.


Washed a bunch of spinach and put it in a saucepan with a lid. Cooked it with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes.

Bringing it all together

The spinach was sat on a plate on which came the courgette steaks along with the bean salad and avocado dressing.

A delicious, healthy, low-fat dinner.