I am by no means a health freak, nor am I one of those girls who wastes her time constantly checking the calorie content of every packet I pick up. However, and because I believe in a balanced and healthy diet, and because yesterday’s puff pizza was as sinful as can get, I decided to get some veggies into me.
I’ve never cooked pearl barley before and thought, why not give it a go. It was definitely worth it. The stew ended up being like a creamy risotto - without all the butter and cheese.
The label will most probably tell you to rinse the barley before using it in order to get rid of any excess starch. I decided against it, which helped my stew thicken beautifully.
This dish will take a little while to cook. And that is: to cook, not to prepare! It is one of those meals that require zero of your attention, apart from the occasional stir. So go off, pour yourself a glass of vino and watch an episode of CSI and tadaaa… dinner’s ready. Enjoy!
PREPARATION 10 mins
COOKS 60 mins
- 200g pearl barley
- 450-500g chicken thigh fillets, diced (you can also use chicken breast),
at room temperature
- 2 baby leeks, sliced (or one big leek)
- 150g frozen peas
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large glass of white wine
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
- Parsley to garnish (optional)
- Fry your garlic, carrots and leeks in a little olive oil until soft then add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add the pearl barley and stir until it’s coated with the olive oil and the juices from the chicken. Pour in the wine and leave to reduce to half. Add the thyme and bay leaf and top up with the stock.
- Leave to simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure your mixture doesn’t dry out. If it does, add a little water.
- Add the peas and Worcester sauce, mix thoroughly and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with a garnish of parsley if you want.
This dish is comfort food as comforting as it gets, super healthy and just incredibly good.
I am sure that you have noticed by now that I am a great lover of the chicken leg. It’s succulent, super flavoursome, versatile and so difficult to get wrong. Oh and did I mention, much better than an anaemic, dry chicken breast (no offence).
I spent quite a lot of time in Portugal a few years ago and Piri-Piri chicken reminds me of that time - of sunshine, cold beers, sangria, barbecues and the beach. It’s crispy and zesty and mouth-wateringly delicious and very easy and quick to make!
Because it’s spring now and spring means it’s almost summer (so excited!) I have been collecting some lighter recipes to share with you and to welcome the warmer season… and this one’s the first one.
We had the chicken with a tangy and sweet potato and feta mash but feel free to pair it with potato wedges, chips or a mixed salad and crusty bread. Scrumptious either way!
PREPARATION < 10 mins
COOK 45 mins
For the marinade
- small red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 red chillies (I used bird’s eye)
- 1tbsp smoked paprika (ideally the sweet one)
- 1 lemon (juice and zest)
- 2tbsp cider vinegar
- 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- a handful of basil leaves
For the chicken:
- 4 large chicken legs
- 2 peppers (ideally red and yellow), de-seeded and quartered
- 6 sprigs of thyme
For the potatoes:
- 1 potato (floury, such as Maris Piper or King Edward)
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 50g salad cheese or feta, crumbled
- a handful of chopped coriander (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and fry your chicken legs for approximately 15 minutes, skin-side down.
- Half your potatoes and place into a large microwaveable dish. Cover with cling film (pierce the cling film) and microwave on full power for 15 minutes.
- Chuck all you’re marinade ingredients + a lug of water into a liquidiser and whiz away until your marinade is smooth and liquid (you might have to stop half way through and give your liquidiser a shake to make sure everything gets mixed properly).
- Turn your chicken around with the skin-side up and fry for a further 5 minutes. Then place in a baking tray and pour over your marinade. Tuck the sliced peppers between the chicken and sprinkle with the fresh thyme. Cook in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes until the marinade has significantly reduced and your chicken soaked up all the lovely flavours.
- Take your potatoes from the microwave. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon (careful it’s hot) and stir everything with a fork, chopping the potatoes into bits as you go. Crumble the cheese and chopped chilli over the potatoes and continue mixing until your potatoes resemble a chunky mash. Season with salt and pepper. At this point you might want to sprinkle some coriander on top. I didn’t do so as, unfortunately I am one of those unlucky people whose palette cannot handle the trendy herb.
Serve the Piri-Piri chicken and peppers with the mash and enjoy with an ice cold bottle of lager or a light white wine.
Once the barbecue season has actually arrived, try marinading your chicken in a Tupperware the night before and take to a barbecue the next day.
Piri-Piri chicken recipe taken from Jamie Oliver and adapted by Toni.
….. And the following day I made this with the left-over chicken.
PIRI-PIRI CHICKEN SALAD
Mixed greens, Piri-Piri chicken, peppers, olives and cucumber with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing and toasted pitta bread. So simple and soooo yum!
This one’s another one to add to my quest in finding yummy and easy marinades. I love using honey with a bit of lime and soy sauce as a base for my marinades but find it chars when fried for a little longer. But don’t despair, I think I might have found the perfect solution: GOLDEN SYRUP. This marinade ended up being beautifully sticky, resembling Terriyaki sauce and went so well with a simple mixed salad and crusty bread roll. Try this one for a quick and healthy dinner.
PREPARATION 15 mins
COOK 25 mins
- 400g chicken thigh fillets, diced (at room temperature). If you are very health conscious and want to go for the super low fat option chicken or turkey breast fillet will work great, too :)
For the marinade
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
- 1 tbsp balsamic vingar
- 1 tbsp Golden Syrup
For the salad (these are the ingredients I used, but feel free to add anything you fancy to the salad)
- 1 bag of mixed leaves
- 1/2 pepper, sliced
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cucumber, sliced
For the salad dressing
- 50ml balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp mustard powder or English mustard
- 50ml olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs
- Mix your marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. The golden syrup will initially stick to your whisk but it will start to dissolve once the mixture starts to warm up a little. Add the diced chicken and mix everything until the meat is well and evenly covered with the marinade. Set aside and leave to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
- Once your chicken has rested heat up some olive oil in a large frying pan until very hot. Add your chicken ad fry for approximately 3 minutes on each side until brown. Continue cooking until your marinade starts to thicken and your chicken is thoroughly cooked. This will take another 15-20 minutes, depending on the heat of your hob.
- Once the chicken is cooked take it of the heat and prepare your salad. For the dressing add all your ingredients into a jar and shake thoroughly (lid on of course) until all the ingredients are well combined and the mixture starts to thicken. Mix your leaves and veg in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix well making sure the salad is well covered. I use my hands for this - it definitely work better than any salad cuttlery.
- Serve the warm chicken on your dressed salad and enjoy with a crusty bread roll.
Tadaaa and here you have a healthy super yummy dinner. Enjoy!