PITTAS TO DIE FOR!

Baking, Bread, Healthy, Sandwich, Side Dishes, Snack, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

pitta bread main

Preparation & cooking time: 1 hour 30 mins (includes proving time)
Makes: 4 large or 6 regular pitta breads

If, like me, you love a good old sandwich and you especially love having a stuffed pitta bread, then look no further! This recipe is so awesome! It is easy to make and it tastes so, so good. Making homemade bread is so enjoyable and it really will make your sandwiches and meals taste so much better (and it is also a good way to show off to friends and family a little!). Pitta breads may sound difficult to make, but it is quite the opposite; once you have the dough made and proved, cooking them only takes 5 minutes. You cook the breads on a really high heat which gives them the amazing hollow effect as they puff up! You can flavour the dough with anything you want; in the recipe below I have used chia seeds in them which gives a lovely crunch, but putting toasted spices into the dough is a great way of getting extra flavour into your pittas.

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 160ml water
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g chia seeds (or any seed or spice of your choice)

Pitta CollageIn the picture above, I filled the pittas with stir fried vegetables, baba ganoush and a generous serving of coriander. It was AMAZING!

Method:

1.   In a large bowl put all of the dry ingredients. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other side of the bowl. You need to make sure the salt and yeast aren’t combined as the salt will kill the yeast. Add 120ml of the water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil to the bowl and mix together using your fingers. Whilst mixing, slowly add the rest of the water (you may not need it all) and the olive oil until you have a soft dough and all of the flour has come off of the side of the bowl.

2.   Pour a little oil onto a clean work surface and place your dough on top of the oil. Knead the bread for 5-10 minutes. The dough may seem a little wet to start with but keep working at it and you will get a lovely smooth dough. Once you have a smooth dough, place it in a clean, oiled bowl and cover it with cling film. Put the bowl in a nice warm place; this will help the help the dough to rise. Leave the dough to prove for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

3.   Preheat the oven to 250 C and place a clean baking tray on the middle shelf to get nice and hot.

4.   Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a flour dusted surface. Knock the dough back (all this means is to push all of the air out of the dough) by folding the dough in on itself and pushing the dough down over and over again until you have knocked all of the air out. This won’t take long to do, maybe a minute or so.

5.   Split the dough into 4 or 6 equal balls and roll out each ball, with a dusted rolling pin, until they are 5mm thick. Dust each pitta with a little flour just to make sure that they do not stick to the baking tray. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place as many pitta breads as you can on the tray (you may have to cook them in batches). Put the tray in the oven and cook the pittas for 5 – 8 minutes or until they start to get some colour. Don’t be tempted to leave them in the oven to go completely brown as you will end up with a brittle pitta bread that will break up as soon as you try to cut into it. Once the pitta breads are cooked, place them onto a chopping board and cover them with a clean cloth until they have cooled down. Once they have cooled the pitta breads should be soft and easy to open and ready to be filled with amazing ingredients!

I made these last weekend for my girlfriends family and they went down amazingly. I served them with a potato curry and a nice salad. The thing I love about these breads is that you can have them with so many different fillings!

I hope you like the recipe. Let me know if you try them out 🙂 

 

Aubergine Burgers, Roast Potato Chips & Homemade Barbecue Sauce!

#MeatfreeMonday, Healthy, Herbs, Roasted, Sandwich, Sauces, Side Dishes, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

DSC_0004Preparation & cooking time: 1 hr 20 mins
Makes: 2 big burgers and a good portion of chips

Ingredients:

For the Burgers:

  • 1 large aubergine, slice two 1 inch thick rounds from this
  • 2 Nice burger buns
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • A handful of spinach 
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, sliced
  • A small handful of coriander leaves

For the chips:

  • 2 large potatoes (Maris Piper potatoes are great for roasting), peeled and cut into thick chip shapes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • A handful of thyme sprigs
  • A dash of cider vinegar
  • A  few good glugs of olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 40g olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 250ml tomato ketchup
  • 120ml red wine vinegar
  • 50ml of really good espresso

Method:

1.   Preheat your oven to 200 C. Put the potatoes into a large pan of cold water (add a good pinch of sea salt to the water) and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook the potatoes for a further 10 minutes and then drain in a colander and leave to steam dry for 10 minutes. Add a good couple of glugs of olive oil to a large roasting tray and place the tray into the oven to get the oil nice and hot. Give the potatoes a toss in the colander to give them a nice ‘frosted’ effect, this will help the chips become really nice and crispy when roasted. Take the tray out of the oven and carefully put the chips into the oil and put the tray back in the oven.

2.   Now you can prepare the barbecue sauce. In a large frying pan (over a medium to high heat) fry the onion and garlic in the oil until they are nice and soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the sauce has become nice and thick. Once the sauce has thickened you can blend it to make it nice and smooth or you can be old school & rustic and leave it with the slices of onion and garlic in it. Pour the sauce into a sterilized jar/container. This sauce will keep for up to a month in a fridge, but trust me it will never last that long as (if you like it like I do) you will want to put it on every meal you have!

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3.   Place the slices of aubergine in another roasting tray and spoon over a few generous tablespoons of the amazing barbecue sauce that you have just made and make sure you coat both side of the aubergine with the sauce.

4.   After the chips have had half an hour in the oven, take the tray out and add a good pinch of salt and pepper, a dash of of cider vinegar (it may seem strange to do this, but trust me it really makes a difference!), the garlic cloves and the thyme sprigs to the tray and gently stir to get the chips coated in all of the goodness. Place the tray of chips and the tray with the aubergine burgers into the oven for half an hour. After 15 minutes, using a pair of tongs, flip the aubergine slices so that both sides get cooked evenly.

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I hope you have enjoyed this recipe! It is a great way to get involved with #meatfreemonday and help you and your family have a healthier diet. Honestly, this recipe is so tasty (and tried and tested on meat eaters) that you will not miss eating meat if you try it. Let me know what you have cooked for #meatfreemonday as I would love to hear about all of your different recipes. 🙂 

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Bruschetta, 3 ways!

Healthy, Sandwich, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

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Plain and simple, bruschetta is great! It is so convenient and easy to make that you can rustle it up so quickly with practically anything that you have lying around in your fridge and cupboards (you can even use stale bread!). You can be as creative or as simple as you would like, which is why for this post I have created three of my favourite recipes to show you some different ideas that you can use and hopefully give you some ideas so that you can make your own bruschetta!

 Tomato, Basil & Avocado Pesto Bruschetta

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Makes: 3 Bruschetta (with plenty of avocado pesto left over!)
Preparation & cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 2cm slices of ciabatta (or whatever bread you prefer)
  • A handful (6-10 depending the size) of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • A drizzle of garlic oil (or extra virdin olive oil)
  • A drizzle of lemon juice
  • A large bunch of basil (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
  • 2 avocados (peeled and pitted)
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Method:

1.   Place the slices of bread under a really hot grill to get nice and crunchy. When the bread starts to colour rub it with a peeled clove of garlic and then flip it over for the other side to get toasted and when this side has colour rub it with the clove of garlic. Rubbing the garlic on the bread will give it such an amazing flavour! Once toasted take the bread out and leave to the side whilst you prepare the topping.

2.   Half the cherry tomatoes and then slice the halves roughly and put them into a bowl. Slice a few leaves of basil and put into the bowl with the tomatoes. Dress the tomatoes with a good drizzle of garlic oil (this is really easy to make, just peel and slice 6 garlic cloves in half and put them into a jam jar and then top this up with extra virgin olive oil. After a day or so this will start to have an amazing garlic flavour and is great to use in dressings!) or extra virgin olive oil will be great, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3.   To make the avocado pesto, place the remaining basil leaves (leave 2 for garnish) , avocados , pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and blend until it is really smooth. Once the pesto is creamy and smooth season it generously.

4.   To prepare the bruschetta, place a spoonful of the tomato mixture onto a slice of the toasted bread and top this with a few large drops of the avocado pesto. To make it look pretty, slice the left over basil leaves finely and sprinkle over the top and voila, you have a delicious bruschetta made really quickly! You can use the leftover pesto as a topping for pasta!

Balsamic dressed beetroot with herby bean cream

025Makes: 3 Bruschetta (with plenty of herby bean cream left over!)
Preparation & cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 2cm slices of ciabatta (or whatever bread you prefer)
  • 1 large beetroot, boiled, peeled and sliced into cubes
  • A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar
  • A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can of cannelini beans, drained (or any other white beans that you can get)
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A bunch of dill (or the herb of your choice)
  • Sea salt & frshly ground black pepper

 Method:

1.   Place the slices of bread under a really hot grill to get nice and crunchy. When the bread starts to colour rub it with a peeled clove of garlic and then flip it over for the other side to get toasted and when this side has colour rub it with the clove of garlic. Rubbing the garlic on the bread will give it such an amazing flavour! Once toasted take the bread out and leave to the side whilst you prepare the topping.

2.   In a bowl, dress the diced beetroot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3.   To make the herby bean cream, blend the can of beans, oil, water, lemon juice, garlic cloves, dill and salt & pepper in a food processor until you have a silky smooth mixture.

4.   To make the bruschetta, place a big spoonful of the beetroot mixture on top of a piece of the toasted bread followed by a nice dollop of the bean cream. Slice some parsley or dill to sprinkle over the top of the bruschetta. There you have a delicious bruschetta ready. You can use the remaining bean cream as a dip with some warmed pitta breads or some steam veg and it is excellent!

Pea & Mint Bruschetta

032Makes: 3 Bruschetta
Preparation & cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 2cm slices of ciabatta (or whatever bread that you prefer)
  • 280g frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (a little reserved for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1.   Place the slices of bread under a really hot grill to get nice and crunchy. When the bread starts to colour rub it with a peeled clove of garlic and then flip it over for the other side to get toasted and when this side has colour rub it with the clove of garlic. Rubbing the garlic on the bread will give it such an amazing flavour! Once toasted take the bread out and leave to the side whilst you prepare the topping.

2.   To prepare the pea and mint topping, blend the peas in a food processor until they are roughly chopped. Stir in the mint, oil, salt & pepper. Place a spoonful of the pea and mint mixture on top of the bread and top with a sprinkling of the chopped mint. With the leftover pea and mint mixture you can make a delicious risotto!

I hope you like the different bruschettas; let me know what your favourite types of bruschetta are! 🙂

Hummus, balsamic caramelized onions & roasted pepper open sandwich!

Healthy, Sandwich, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

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Makes: 4 large open sandwiches
Preparation & cooking time: 40 minutes

I love this recipe, it is very simple to make and each element of the dish can be made in large batches (and kept in the fridge for up to a week) so that you can use them in a lot of the meals you make over the course of a week.

Hummus really has become a staple food in my diet because it is so damn tasty, so quick to make and it goes so well with so many different foods. It is great as a dip with crudités and toasted pitta breads, it is an amazing sandwich/wrap filling and my personal favourite is when you have a large bowl of hummus accompanied by a pile of falafel, warm pitta breads and delicious chilli jam! If you fancy, you can even use the roasted peppers in this recipe to make a roasted pepper hummus! All you have to do is blend some roasted peppers into the hummus and it adds a lovely sweet and smoky flavour to the versatile spread.

Ingredients:

  •  1 large ciabatta/baguette/loaf of your choice
  •  1 large red/yellow bell pepper
  •  3 red onions
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  2 tablespoons brown sugar
  •  2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •  1 tin of chickpeas (425g)
  •  60 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (around 1 large lemon)
  •  60 ml tahini (sesame seed paste)
  •  1/2 large garlic clove (roughly chopped)
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  1 teaspoon sea salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  2-3 tablespoons of water

Method:

1.   For the onions; heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of sea salt and cook slowly for 15 – 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on them to make sure that they do not catch or burn (if you think they are cooking to quickly, then lower the heat even more). When the onions are  soft and deliciously golden, add in the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Cook this for a further 5 – 10 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is nice and caramelized. Once cooked leave to the side.

2.   Whilst the onions are cooking, you can get on and make you roasted peppers and hummus. Put your grill onto the highest heat it can go to (or if you have a gas hob, then you can use the flame for these). Slice your bell pepper into quarters (leave it whole if you have a gas hob) and place it onto some foil, skin side up, and place under the grill until the skin of the pepper is completely charred (completely black all over). This should take about 10 minutes. If you are using your gas hob then put the pepper straight onto the flame and turn it as the skin chars. Once the skin is completely charred put the pepper into a bowl and cover the bowl with cling film. This will steam the peppers and make it much easier to peel the skin off. After a few minutes, the peppers will have cooled and you can take the skin off easily, leaving you with a deliciously sweet roasted pepper.

3.   To make the hummus, combine the tahini and the lemon juice in a food processor and blend for 1 minute, scrape the sides down and blitz for a further 30 seconds. This will really help loosen the tahini and make it as creamy and light as possible. Add the olive oil, garlic, cumin and salt to this mixture and blitz for a minute until all of the ingredients have combined. Open the can of chickpeas and rinse them well in a colander. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and blend for a minute. Scrape the sides, add the remaining chickpeas and belnd for a further 1-2 minutes until you have a nice smooth mixture. The hummus may be a bit thick at this point so turn the food processor on and slowly add the 2-3 tablespoons of water until you have a velvety smooth hummus.

4.   All the elements for the open sandwich are now ready. All that is left to do is to cut four large pieces of bread and toast them on a smoking hot griddle pan. Once the bread has toasted rub it with a slice of garlic, this creates an amazing flavour on the bread. Now you are ready assemble your sandwich! Smother a good spoonful of hummus onto the top of the bread, followed by a generous helping of the caramalized onions and then top it off with a quarter of the roasted pepper.

There you have it, my first recipe. I hope you like it and I can’t wait to share my next recipe with you!

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