There comes again this time of the year when Spring is kicking out Winter, and I am trying and kicking out a few kilograms. When the weather gets less cold and the body needs less heat thus calories, it is indeed the best time of the year to get back to a healthier diet, and for me it also means trying new things in order to reactivate my interest for simple veggies through new recipes, new seasonings, and new ways of cooking.
My first rule is: however light, healthy or diet-like the result aims at, do not cut back on the flavors. Usually, when on a weight-loss diet, one must avoid for some time all fats and sugars. The trick to keeping flavors awake is to rely on herbs and spices, with the necessary yet reasonable amount of salt, a bit of heat and sometimes an acidic addition to the dish.
I have recently found out about the chef Samin Nosrat through a Netflix TV cooking documentary of 4 episodes, and have confirmed what I knew before about tickling our taste buds by being creative. In my opinion, she is going a bit over the limits as far as salt and fat are concerned, nevertheless her love for good ingredients and fresh vegetables convinced me that it would be the route I’m going to take this Summer.
There is – first of all – this fresh, tasty, exquisitely flavorsome carrot and feta cheese salad that I meant to write about for some time, because it just takes your usual carrot salad to the next level. It’s vegetarian, but you could totally go vegan with a vegan cheese of your choice that is close to feta in texture with a light salty aroma. I advise against not opting for cheese at all, because it is here to balance the heat of the garlic and sriracha sauce this salad sits in.
And then, there are these delicious grilled mushrooms skewers that are so simple to prepare. The seasoning does it all, but to enhance the flavors and give a bit more richness to the overall consistency of the dish, I added a nice fresh dip made of yogurt, sea salt, pink pepper berries, lemon, basil and mint. No need to say more.
- 1 large tsp of butter
- basil, mint, parsley
- Salt and pepper
- 200 grams of white button mushrooms, fresh
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5 carrots
- olive oil
- about 1 tbsp of sriracha hot sauce
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 1 Greek yogurt
- 100g of Feta cheese
- Melt a bit of butter in a small bowl, season with salt and herbs of your choice (I went with basil, mint and parsley).
- Peel and rince the mushrooms, and dice the bell pepper.
- Prepare as many skewers as you like, alternating a mushroom with a dice of bell pepper.
- Heat a bit of olive oil in the pan (or the plancha if you own one), and while it’s getting hot in there, brush the skewers with the aromatic melted butter.
- Put the skewers onto the pan and start grilling. Grill on all four sides, turning the skewers by a quarter each time.
- Control the heat, as you want the veggies to grill, cook, but not get burnt. Stop the heat when ready, and leave the skewers inside the pan so that it stays a bit warm.
- In the meantime, prepare the dip by combining the yogurt with salt, pepper, basil, mint and lemon juice. Reserve in the fridge until it’s time to serve.
- Now onto the carrot salad. Start with the sauce. Mince the garlic and quickly fry it with a bit of olive oil for a few seconds (do not let them turn golden brown), add sriracha to taste, and add the juice of half a lemon.
- Peel the carrots, rince them, and peel them with the veggie peeler instead of grating them (we like nice ribbons of carrot). Toss them in the hot sauce, , add parsley, combine evenly and let them sit up to an hour before serving.
- When it’s time for dinner, add the feta cheese crumbs on top of the carrot salad, and serve along with the mushrooms skewers, green leaves, and the yogurt dip sauce.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2019 All Rights Reserved.