Cucumber Salad with Chilli & Lime

Today I have a basic cucumber salad recipe for you. Don't let the word 'basic' put you off, as it's very, very good - tasty, crunchy and quite delicious, plus it doesn't go soggy in the fridge overnight, so I often make a big bowl-full and use it to supplement my meals for a couple of days.

I've eaten this with a frittata; it's quite delicious for breakfast, piled onto a piece of toast spread with avocado; and I've also stuffed it into rice paper rolls, together with some panfried tofu. I reckon it would go well on top of a bowl of ramen soup, or tossed through some cooked buckwheat noodles and topped with an olive oil fried egg.

Cucumber Salad with Chilli & Lime

Essentially, to make this salad, I thinly slice the cucumbers, season with salt and add a pinch of chilli flakes, some lime juice and sesame oil. That is it. Ingredient quantities and proportions are very loose, so feel free to adjust according to your taste buds. These quantities make about enough for a side salad for two people, although I'd happily eat the whole lot myself.

Ingredients:

3 small cucumbers
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 fresh lime

The ingredients you'll need, together with a pinch of salt.

The ingredients you'll need, together with a pinch of salt.

What to do:

Prep the cucumbers: Thinly slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl - I use a mandolin to slice the cucumber, as it's faster and I like the really thin slices it gives. However, a knife and a tinge more patience would also work.

Add the rest of the ingredients: Add a pinch of salt to the cucumbers, together with the dried chilli flakes and sesame oil. Squeeze over the lime juice and then, using your hands, toss the ingredients together making sure the cucumber slices are thoroughly coated with lime and sesame oil.

Serve immediately or place in the fridge for up to 48 hours.

I love my mandolin for the thin slices it makes.

I love my mandolin for the thin slices it makes.

Cooking Notes:

I do find tossing the salad with my hands makes a difference. There's something about slightly massaging the ingredients into the cucumbers that makes the flavours more delicious.

There are loads of ways to vary this salad. I think some chopped coriander would make a lovely addition, as would a little grating of fresh ginger. A splash of shoyu instead of the pinch of salt would work and you could replace the lime juice with rice wine vinegar.

Nutrition Notes

  • Vegetarian and Vegan friendly.
  • Suitable for gluten intolerants and lactose intolerants.
  • Unfortunately, I think the pinch of salt is important, so I am not sure I'd recommend for those following a low salt diet.
  • Low in FODMAPs.
Using the cucumber salad in rice paper rolls is a  very  good idea.

Using the cucumber salad in rice paper rolls is a very good idea.

Friday night pasta

In our house, Friday night is pasta night. It's a tradition that's been going on for years and years and it just doesn't feel like the end of the week without a bowl of pasta and a glass of red wine.

R usually cooks on Friday night and his pasta is covered with a rich tomato sauce, flavoured with garlic, olives and oregano, that takes well over an hour to cook.

If I'm in charge of dinner, then I want something much, much simpler.

My version of Friday night pasta is a one pot pasta, made with fresh tomatoes and spinach. It's a recipe I spotted on the clever Lottie and Doof's website and it originally comes from a Martha Stewart magazine, of all things.

Crammed into one pan it's hard to believe this can make a delicious meal...

Crammed into one pan it's hard to believe this can make a delicious meal...

It's a clever recipe, where both the pasta and the sauce are cooked in one saucepan. It seems to break every rule of pasta cooking and I'm sure I can hear the purists tutting already, but it's really, really good. The pasta exudes a starchiness, which combines with all the vegetables to make a delicious sauce.

My version, of course, has a lot more vegetable than the original - 340g of tomatoes and a bit of onion just doesn't cut it for dinner in this house. So I've upped the amount of tomatoes I use, added in some spinach and I also sneak some lentils or chickpeas in there, for extra veg and protein. All of this can be done, with no negative impact on flavour.

I love this meal, love how it tastes and love the simple alchemy that occurs in the saucepan.

One Pot Pasta with Tomato & Spinach

To make this meal you just pile all the ingredients together in one pan, add in some water, cover with a lid and then leave to cook slowly, for about 10 minutes. As with all my favourite recipes, it's very flexible - as long as you have tomatoes and pasta, you can make this meal. I frequently add in frozen spinach instead of fresh, swap between chickpeas and lentils and use garlic instead of onion. In the picture above I've added dried oregano, but at other times I'll sprinkle in some dried chill flakes, chopped olives or capers for extra oomph.

Makes 3 - 4 serves, depending on your appetite. I always make extra, as it's quite delicious the next day.

The main ingredients for One Pot Pasta

The main ingredients for One Pot Pasta

Ingredients:

1kg tomatoes

1 onion

1 large handful fresh spinach - see notes below

150g pasta

1 cup cooked or canned lentils or chickpeas

1 tablespoon olive oil

Extra flavours - see notes below

100g feta or parmesan

What to do:

Prep the vegetables: Wash and then roughly chop the tomatoes. Add these to a large saucepan (with a lid). Cut the onion in half and then thinly slice each half. Thoroughly wash the spinach. Add both the onion and spinach to the tomatoes.

Add the rest of the pasta & sauce ingredients: Add the pasta, lentils / chickpeas, olive oil and any flavourings to the pan, together with 2 cups (500ml) of water. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta: Cover the saucepan with a lid. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened. I use a pair of tongs to turn the pasta a few times, during cooking, to prevent it sticking.

Serve with the feta or parmesan sprinkled on top.

Not the prettiest meal, but quite delicious.

Not the prettiest meal, but quite delicious.

Cooking Notes:

You don't have to be careful when chopping the tomatoes, a rough chop is fine. The original recipe uses cherry tomatoes, which would be lovely, but a kilo of regular tomatoes is generally so much cheaper than a kilo of cherry tomatoes, so the regular tomatoes win.

If you don't have any fresh spinach, you could also make this with a couple of nuggets of frozen spinach

I always add some kind of extra flavour to this meal. Either a tablespoon of dried oregano, a large pinch of dried chilli flakes, some chopped olives, a spoonful of capers, fresh basil - all are delicious.

This meal keeps really well in the fridge overnight - the flavours meld together and it's quite delicious the next day. I wouldn't freeze this meal.

It's also quite delicious topped with a poached egg!

Nutrition Notes:

  • Suitable for vegetarians

What's your Friday night go-to meal?