Roasted Vegetable Couscous

A simple and easy recipe for couscous with roasted vegetables. This is great eaten on its own or you can make it into a meal and serve as a side dish. Colourful, healthy and ready in less than 30 minutes! 

DSC02730

Eating healthy and sticking to a budget each week can sometimes seem tricky. I always believe delicious and nutritious food doesn’t have to be expensive, hard to make or take an eternity to prepare.

Couscous is one of my favourite ingredients to use in savoury cooking because it’s so convenient. I always have it in my kitchen cupboard along with rice and pasta. If you’re not familiar with couscous, it’s a grain that’s common in North African cuisine and is usually served with tagine and stews.

Preparing couscous is really simple and unlike most recipes I don’t even worry measuring out the water/stock I add. I usually just place the couscous in a bowl, crumble over a vegetable stock cube and then just pour enough boiling water to cover the top. I’ve always used this method of making the best fluffy couscous and it hasn’t let me down yet. What I love most about making savoury recipes is the fact you can freestyle unlike baking which is a science and where the measurements have to be exact.

DSC02656

DSC02645

Roasted vegetables are my family’s favourite and recently we’ve all made a concerted effort to eat less meat (and cake!) each week. Lately our meals have been based around using fresher ingredients and we’ve been exploring healthier vegetarian options.

I usually get fed up of vegetables like broccoli, carrot or peas that we eat so often with roast dinners. I eat roasted veggies probably two or maybe three times a week. They’re pretty much a staple part of my diet nowadays! I just love the vibrant colour and beautiful flavour when they’re all golden and roasted.

DSC02696 (1)

We love serving this roasted vegetable couscous with either chicken or halloumi. Both of which would be super tasty served with my homemade tzatziki! Also, I think the couscous would be fabulous to bring to a late summer BBQ, potluck or even as part of a mezze platter.

DSC09114

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 mixed colour bell peppers, deseeded and cut into medium chunks

8-10 small mushrooms (such as button or chestnut), cleaned and quartered

1 red onion, chopped into small chunks

1 courgette, halved lengthways and sliced into 1/2 inch quarters

Salt and black pepper, to taste

200g (1 cup) dried couscous

1 vegetable stock cube (optional)

Boiling water (see method for instructions)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Evenly spread the vegetables out onto a large baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables until they’re all coated well in the oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until soft and starting to colour slightly.
  2. Once the vegetables are near enough cooked, start preparing the couscous. Place the couscous in a large bowl that will be big enough to mix up all the vegetables in too. Crumble the stock cube over the top of the couscous, season with salt and pepper and pour over just enough boiling water to cover the top of the couscous. Cover the bowl with some clingfilm/plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes (I always leave mine for the full 10 minutes).
  3. Now using a fork, fluff the couscous and then mix through the roasted vegetables. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. Couscous can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • You don’t have to use olive oil when roasting the vegetables, you can use any light flavoured oil you have in such as canola/vegetable oil.
  • If you’d like you can season the vegetables with your favourite herbs and spices before roasting. Sometimes I add some garlic powder or a pinch or two of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika. Dried oregano and thyme would also taste great with the vegetables.
  • The vegetable stock cube is optional. I find it adds extra flavour to the dish but feel free to leave it out if you want.
  • Swap around the vegetables. If you’d prefer to add more of a certain vegetable that will work just as well.
  • Just an idea, you could crumble a little bit of Greek feta cheese into the couscous prior to serving. I’m going to try that next time I make this!

DSC02729

Enjoy!

jess

Keep up to date with me on:

Like my Facebook page here

Instagram: @whatjessicabakednext

Twitter: @jessbakednext

Pinterest: @jessbakednext

Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread

Cornbread with a delicious savoury addition of mature Cheddar cheese and spicy jalapeño chilli peppers. Dunk into a warm bowl of chilli con carne, soup or spread with butter. 

DSC00797

Cornbread is the epitome of summer picnic food for me and I love that it pairs well with so many different dishes, dipped into a bowl of chilli con carne, served alongside barbecue ribs, grilled chicken or simply served as it is.

Cornbread isn’t really that popular where I’m from, but I don’t know why as this classic American quick bread is truly amazing.

I first made this recipe about a year ago, I was enjoying a lazy day watching a Barefoot Contessa marathon and on one of the episodes Ina was preparing cornbread with a twist. The delicious twist was the addition of sharp, mature Cheddar cheese, spicy jalapeño and spring onion (scallions). As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to bake some for myself as I loved the sound of all those flavours combined together.

DSC00839

I especially love this cornbread served warm with butter. It’s incredibly tasty! 

Even though I’ve said this cornbread is brilliant for packing up for a picnic, it’s also fantastic in the cooler months enjoyed with a bowl of chilli or soup for those times when you’re in need of some comfort food. Cornbread is pretty much perfect for all seasons, which is especially great at the moment as the UK summer seems to have mysteriously disappeared yet again and all I’m craving is warm winter foods.

I’ll have my fingers crossed hoping summer will make a reappearance sometime soon… 😉

This cornbread has just the right balance of sweetness and it’s deliciously moist without being too crumbly like some cornbreads tend to be. I’ve spent some extra time with this recipe translating the cup measurements into grams as everyone needs a good, trusty cornbread recipe in their repertoire and it definitely needs to be this one!

(Makes 12-16 large pieces)

Ingredients:

360g (3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

125g (1 cup) cornmeal or polenta

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

50g (1/4 cup) caster or granulated sugar

480ml (2 cups) milk

3 large free-range eggs

225g (2 sticks/1 cup) butter, melted and cooled slightly

225g (8 ounces) mature Cheddar cheese, grated

4 or 1/3 cup spring onions (scallions), chopped – use both white and green parts

1-2 large jalapeños, seeds removed and minced (you can add more if you’d like)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking tray with parchment paper then set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal/polenta, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until no lumps of flour remain. Be careful not to over mix.
  4. Fold through 2/3 of the grated cheese along with the spring onion (scallion) and jalapeño. Leave the cornbread batter to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. After resting spread the cornbread batter into the baking tray and top with the rest of the grated cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean without any uncooked batter remaining. Leave to cool completely in the baking tray, then slice up into 12-16 large pieces or alternatively pieces of any size you like. Cornbread will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Serve cold or warm.

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home

DSC00764

Looking for more bread recipes? Try this Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia next!

DSC09075

Enjoy!

jess

Keep up to date with me on:

Like my Facebook page here 

Instagram: @whatjessicabakednext

Twitter: @jessbakednext

Pinterest: @jessbakednext 

Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Dip)

My take on Greek tzaztiki dip – it’s fantastic served with pitta or crusty bread and all kinds of dishes like gyros, souvlaki or part of a mezze. To make the best tzatziki you need to use thick and creamy Greek yoghurt and add lots of garlic!

DSC09091

I’m finally sharing one of my favourite Greek recipes with you! I’ve been eating and making this dip for many years now and I decided this recipe deserved a place on the blog. If you were wondering, Tzatziki is a Greek cucumber and yoghurt dip and it’s traditionally served with grilled meats like beef, chicken or pork in Greece and Cyprus. I personally love it drizzled over fried halloumi cheese. Try it sometime, it’s delicious! 🙂

When we visited the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus last summer we enjoyed some of the best tzatziki we’d ever had before. Most days lunch at our villa consisted of platefuls of Greek salad and Lebanese pitta bread to dip into bowls of tzatziki and hummus. Ever since tasting the tzatziki in Cyprus I knew when I got home I needed to recreate my own recipe so I could continue reminiscing about my holiday and the tasty Cypriot food.

DSC09100

I recently shared this roasted garlic hummus and sharing this family favourite tzatziki recipe was next on my list. It’s simply delicious and full of many light and beautiful flavours like tangy Greek yoghurt, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and dill. If you like Greek food or have had tzatziki at a Greek restaurant before, then I know you’ll enjoy this recipe a lot!

To make the tzatziki you will start by preparing the cucumber. I used a whole large cucumber for this recipe. You can choose whether you’d like to peel or leave the skin on the cucumber and whether you prefer it grated or finely diced. Next cut the cucumber lengthways and using a spoon scoop the watery centre out. You need to make sure you squeeze as much water out of the cucumber as you can as any excess water will alter the consistency of the tzatziki.

Also, I strongly recommend using full-fat Greek yoghurt. Don’t substitute with Greek-style or natural yoghurt because they won’t live up to quality of the proper Greek stuff! I always believe it’s better to spend a little extra on something like this once in a while rather than substituting with something that’s not quite up to the mark.

Tzatziki gets better with age so you will find after a day or so in the fridge it will taste even better than the day you made it. I don’t know about you but recipes that can be made in advance tick all the boxes for me!

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber

500g (2 cups) full-fat Greek yoghurt

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped dill (can be substituted with mint)

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (approx. half a lemon) or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Slice the cucumber lengthways and using a small spoon scoop out the watery centre and discard the seeds. Coarsely grate the cucumber or dice it. Place the cucumber in a sieve over a bowl and squeeze as much of the water out as you can. I always leave the peel on because it contains lots of flavour and texture, but this is just my personal preference.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine the cucumber, yoghurt, garlic, dill, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. The dip can be served straight away but it is best left to chill in the fridge for at least 2-4 hours in order for the flavours to develop and marry together.
  3. When ready to serve, place the tzatziki in a serving bowl or dish. It will keep fresh covered or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Give the tzatziki a good mix prior to serving.

image

There are so many different ways of serving this tzaztiki, my favourite is with pitta bread and a drizzle of olive oil. Simple but seriously tasty. 

DSC09114

Love Greek food? Try my Greek Orzo Salad next!

DSC09394

Enjoy!

jess

Keep up to date with me on:

Like my Facebook page here 

Instagram: @whatjessicabakednext

Twitter: @jessbakednext

Pinterest: @jessbakednext 

Paprika Roasted Potatoes

Crispy oven roasted potatoes seasoned with sweet smoked paprika and garlic. Serve as an appetiser or for lunch with your favourite dips. These potatoes are the perfect side dish to about pretty much anything!

DSC08610

I’ve never been a fan of fried food and I have always preferred baking to frying. Don’t get me wrong I love fries from fast food restaurants, but they’re not the healthiest because they’re loaded with calories and cooked in tonnes of oil which isn’t the best for you. I prefer baking because you can sit back and relax whilst the oven does all the work. 😉

My family usually enjoy these paprika roasted potatoes most weekends. They make a brilliant light lunch and they’re also a great sharing food.

As soon as the potatoes leave the oven they’re tossed onto a platter or bowl and served with dips like sour cream, classics like ketchup and mayonnaise or sometimes we like to serve them with sweet chilli or Sriracha for extra spicy flavour. At the moment we’re big fans of the sauces from Encona. Our favourites are the Mexican smokey jalapeño and Jamaican jerk BBQ.

image

 These crisp and golden potatoes are super easy and quick to prepare – they’ll be on your dinner table in less than half an hour! 

To make this potato dish all you will need is 5 ingredients, most of which I’m sure will already be in your kitchen cupboard. They take just 25 minutes to cook and after baking they’re perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside and not to mention super flavourful!

Ingredients:

900g (2lbs) new potatoes, halved

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules/powder (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Generous pinch of sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C Fan / 425°F / Gas Mark 7.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl, mix together with the paprika, garlic powder, oil and salt until evenly coated.
  3. Spread the potatoes out onto 1-2 large baking trays. Bake for 25 minutes until the potatoes are crisp and golden and cooked all the way through. Serve immediately with your favourite dips or as an accompaniment to fish or meat.

DSC08621

If you’re looking for something similar try my homemade Patatas Bravas next!

DSC04098 (1)

Enjoy!

jess

Keep up to date with me on:

Like my Facebook page here 

Instagram: @whatjessicabakednext

Twitter: @jessbakednext

Pinterest: @jessbakednext 

Tomato Parmesan Focaccia

I love making homemade focaccia. What’s not to like about delicious olive oil bread, crispy on the base, soft and airy in the middle and topped with sweet, aromatic tomatoes and Parmesan. I think breads like this one should be celebrated, they’re packed full of flavour, bright colours, are super simple to make and taste amazing! This focaccia recipe is the taste of summer but can equally be enjoyed with a big bowl of homemade minestrone soup when the cold weather arrives. Every single flavour works hand in hand, the sweet tomatoes with the fruity Parmesan and delicious herbs really create an authentic Italian taste.

tomato focaccia

The recipe was inspired by my time in Tuscany this summer. We tried this focaccia from a local panetteria near to where we we’re staying. We’d just got off our flight and were pretty hungry after an early wake up that morning (2 a.m and NO breakfast!). So by lunch time I was completely and utterly ravenous to say the least! But this focaccia caught my eye straight away. We continued to buy it for our lunch most days it was that good. So I knew as soon as I got back into my kitchen, I needed to recreate it!

This focaccia from my kitchen has exactly the same characteristics. Unbelievably soft and airy inside, with a subtle crispiness from the fragrant olive oil. A thin layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a layer of the sweetest tomatoes and then finished off with a good sprinkling of herbs.

DSC03058

Ingredients:

500g (3 and 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon) strong white bread flour

7g (1 packet) fast action dried yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

50ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

300ml (1/2 pint) warm water – make sure it isn’t boiling

Toppings:

25g grated Parmesan (or another vegetarian alternative)

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

1-2 teaspoons dried oregano

A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl add the flour. Add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other. Add the sugar and then mix to combine.
  2. Mix together the water and oil and then add the flour. Using a wooden spoon mix together until a soft and sticky dough comes together. Then lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough by hand until smooth and elastic for 10 minutes. You can also knead the dough in an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment for 5 minutes.
  3. Once kneaded, lightly oil a bowl and add the dough. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size – this will take around an hour.
  4. When doubled in size lightly grease a baking tin (approx. 22cm x 32cm) with olive oil (1-2 tablespoons). Add the dough and press out into the tin until even – it doesn’t need to look perfect! Cover the tray and again leave in a warm place until doubled in size. (45-60 minutes approx.)
  5. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Sprinkle the focaccia with the grated Parmesan and then poke the tomatoes into the dough. Sprinkle with the oregano and sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes then scatter over the thyme leaves and rosemary. Finish baking the focaccia for a further 5-10 minutes until it’s well risen and lightly coloured. Once the bread sounds hollow, remove from tin and cool on a wire rack. Cut up into squares and enjoy!

DSC03073

DSC03039

Enjoy!

jess

Keep up to date with me on:

Like my Facebook page here 

Instagram: @whatjessicabakednext

Twitter: @jessbakednext

Pinterest: @jessbakednext