Main Meals · Vegetarian Recipes

Halloumi and Vegetable Couscous with Tzatziki

Halloumi and vegetable couscous with tzatziki is a summery dinner all your friends and family will love. It’s super tasty and easy to make!

Originally posted in June 2014, recipe, writing and photographs updated August 2019.

Lately I’ve been baking so many sweet treats that I felt like posting something different and sharing a savoury creation of mine.

I’m constantly dreaming of all the recipes I can bake and create! Any spare moment I have I’m constantly scribbling down any recipe idea that pops into my head. I remembered a dish I used to make for dinner frequently that’s inspired by my travels and love of Cypriot and Greek cuisine.

I’ve been making this dish for a long time now and having first posted the recipe all the way back in 2014, I’ve meant to update the recipe and photographs for a while as I’d adapted it since then and the photographs didn’t do this recipe justice.

Eating a plate of this takes me back to sunny and warm evenings on holiday, one taste and I could be back in Cyprus or on a beautiful Greek island and that’s exactly how I want you to feel when you eat this beautiful dish.

This recipe combines two recipes I’ve previously shared: my Roasted Vegetable Couscous and traditional Greek-style Tzatziki. I’ve added some fried halloumi cheese to make this into a summer dinner all your family and friends will love. I’m yet to meet someone who dislikes halloumi, it’s quite possibly my favourite cheese simply served with a sprinkling of dried oregano and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon!

The dish is served with tzatziki, I find halving my recipe makes just enough to serve four people with maybe a little leftover. Sometimes we serve this dish part of a mezze and serve it with falafel, hummus, olives and homemade pitta bread.

Another recipe update completed. I hope for everyone who missed this the first time round will enjoy making and eating it!

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Roasted Vegetable Couscous: 

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 dried couscous

1 vegetable stock cube (optional)

Boiling water (see method for instructions)

Halloumi:

2 x 225g packs of halloumi cheese (see recipe method for instructions on slicing)

Olive oil, for grilling/frying

Dried or fresh herbs (I personally love seasoning mine with fresh thyme or dried oregano) – this is optional

To Serve: 

1/2 x tzatziki recipe

Fresh lemon wedges

Method:

  1. To make the couscous: 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 (go easy on the salt as the stock cube is very salty) 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.
  4. To prepare the halloumi: Heat a small amount of olive oil in a griddle/frying pan. Take the halloumi and slice each block of cheese directly down the centre widthways, then slice each half into four slices (you’ll have eight slices in total – so four slices per person).
  5.  Sprinkle each side of the halloumi with herbs (if using) and then grill/fry the halloumi until it’s lightly golden and cooked to your liking – some people prefer their halloumi slightly softer, whereas others like it on the crispier side.
  6. To serve, divide the couscous between four serving bowls or plates, along with the cooked halloumi and serve with the tzatziki and fresh lemon wedges.

Enjoy!

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Main Meals

Chilli Con Carne

Delicious and warming chilli con carne with a meat-free option included in this recipe. This family favourite is sure to impress anyone who tries it! Serve with rice, atop a jacket potato, nachos or with a side of homemade cornbread. 

I’m sharing another of my family favourite dinner recipes. Who doesn’t love a big, steaming bowlful of freshly homemade chilli con carne, it’s the ultimate Tex-Mex comfort! It’s only recently that I’ve started to make my own chilli con carne completely from scratch and after several attempts I’ve developed a great chilli spice blend. I make this spice blend all the time and keep in a jar in my kitchen store cupboard ready for whenever I want to make a batch of chilli – my secret for authentic chilli flavour is adding lots of cumin.

Below is a tasty vegan chilli sin carne I made using my original recipe.

I took a butternut squash (roughly 1kg) and it chopped up leaving the skin on and deseeded it – keep the seeds and bake those to make a nutritious crunchy snack. I roasted the butternut squash along with 4 bell peppers (use any colours you like) with a tablespoon of oil, salt and black pepper for approx. 40-45 minutes until they start to pick up colour and the veg is soft.

While the veg was cooking I had my sauce on the stove top cooking away. Once the vegetables were cooked, I transferred them to the sauce along with a can of kidney beans and simmered everything for a few more minutes.

We served our chilli with rice, salted tortilla chips, a spoonful of vegan sour cream/mayonnaise and a wedge of lime to squeeze over the finished dish.

This chilli recipe always gets great reviews from anyone who has tried it, whether a meat eater or not!

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

Spice Blend:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander/cilantro

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Generous pinch of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika (I use smoked for the best flavour)

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt/powder

1 teaspoon mild chilli powder – omit if using fresh chilli

Chilli:

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 red or white onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

400-450g (approx. 1lb) lean minced beef (I tend to go for 5% fat) – you can use a meat alternative instead if preferred

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1-2 green or red chillis, deseeded and finely chopped (optional) – adjust depending on how spicy you want the chilli

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

400g (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

200ml beef stock (if making vegetarian/vegan you can use a meat-free beef stock cube)

Juice of 1 lime

400g (14 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed – you can also use kidney beans in chilli sauce if you want

Method:

1. Sauté the chopped onion and red bell pepper until soft on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the minced beef and cook until browned and starting to colour – this will take about 10 minutes. Add the tomato purée, chopped chilli (if using), garlic and the spice mix. Cook for a further minute or two until fragrant.

2. Now add the chopped tomatoes and the sugar. Add the stock and the lime juice, bring the pot up to the boil and then cover and simmer for an hour stirring occasionally. After an hour remove the lid and continue to cook for another 30 minutes until glossy and all the stock has been absorbed. Finish by adding the beans and stir until they’re heated through.

3. Serve the chilli piping hot with rice, atop a jacket potato, with nachos and your favourite dips or with cornbread.

Love Mexican food? Try this Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo) next!

Cheddar Jalapeño Cornbread


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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes

Spaghetti with Courgettes, Chilli, Garlic and Lemon

I will take any excuse to eat pasta for dinner every night of the week. When I was on holiday in Sardinia we ate pasta every single night! I think pasta is amazing and it’s extremely versatile as you can combine so many different amazing flavours into one dish. This pasta dish is a firm favourite of mine and my family. We love eating it in the spring or summer because it’s super fresh, incredibly quick to make and tastes delicious! In 3 easy steps, you’ll have a flavourful pasta dish on your table in under 15 minutes!

Ingredients:

400g spaghetti (you can use whatever pasta you like, penne works really well too)

2 large courgettes, chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2-3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

Zest of 1 large unwaxed lemon

65g unsalted butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Put your pasta onto boil and cook according to the packet instructions – I like my pasta served al dente.

2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil into a large frying pan, sauté the chopped courgette for 5 minutes on medium heat, then turn up the heat and cook for a further 3-4 more minutes. Now add the garlic, chilli and lemon and cook for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Finish by adding the butter and cook until all the butter has melted. Season and then toss in the cooked and drained pasta.

3. Mix the pasta through the sauce, then mix through a generous amount of Parmesan. Serve in pasta bowls and finish with an extra grating of Parmesan. you can never have enough in my opinion!

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Baking · Light Lunches · Main Meals

Classic Quiche Lorraine

Today’s recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks. For me quiche Lorraine is one of those timeless classics and makes a great dinner recipe. I love this recipe from TV chef  and cookbook author Rachel Khoo. Rachel’s recipe is really simple to prepare and uses just a handful of ingredients. I love serving the quiche with some fresh, crunchy salad which has been mixed together with dijon vinaigrette. If you want to master perfect shortcrust pastry and the perfect quiche lorraine then you need to try this recipe!

classic quiche

quiche lorraine recipe

quiche

Recipe inspiration from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo 

Ingredients:

Shortcrust Pastry – 

90g softened unsalted butter

1 teaspoon sugar

Large pinch of salt

180g plain flour, sifted

2 large free-range egg yolks

2-4 tablespoons ice cold water

Quiche Lorraine Filling –

300ml double cream

150g good-quality bacon lardons or pancetta

4 eggs plus two egg yolks

Salt and white pepper, to taste

Method- 

1. To make the pastry: Start by creaming the butter, sugar and salt together until light and just combined. Add flour, egg yolks and the ice cold water and combine together using a spoon. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight if you can. Take out of fridge half an hour before you want to use it – this will make it easier to roll! Roll the pastry out to fit a 23cm fluted tart/quiche tin and gently press into the tin. Then trim away any excess pastry, brush the base with some egg white and chill in the fridge whilst you make the filling.

2. To make the filling: Fry the bacon in a frying pan or bake until crispy in the oven. Scatter evenly in the pastry case. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake at 170 degrees Fan/190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 4 for 40-45 minutes or until golden on top.

3.Serve the quiche hot or cold. It’s really enjoyable served with a dressed salad.

quiche easy recipe

Enjoy!

jess

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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes

Creamy Porcini Mushroom Pasta

Spaghetti with porcini mushroom cream sauce. A great dinner recipe that takes only 15 minutes to prepare. 

DSC06401

I’m sharing an easy and quick recipe that would be brilliant for dinner any night of the week. This creamy porcini mushroom pasta is one of my family’s favourite savoury recipes. I love using porcini mushrooms because they have a unique earthy and slightly nutty flavour. A small amount of porcini goes a very long way and just a couple of small handfuls transform this simple cream sauce into something extra special! Porcini are delicious in all kinds of Italian recipes, such as risotto, broths and soups and sauces.

I love making this dish on busy weeknights when I don’t have the energy or time to cook something extravagant for dinner because it takes hardly any time at all to prepare.

The recipe serves 4 very hungry people or 6 for a lighter meal or starter portion. It’s rich, comforting and perfect meal for all seasons! Just make sure you cook your pasta until it’s al dente (it should have bite and be slightly firm) and don’t forget to serve the dish with lots of freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

400-500g dried spaghetti or any other pasta shape

Knob of butter

Good drizzle of olive oil

1 small shallot or onion, finely diced

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

25g dried porcini mushrooms

300ml double cream

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Place the dried porcini in a small bowl and pour over 200ml of boiling water. Allow them to rehydrate for 5 minutes.
  2. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions.
  3. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan or saucepan. Sauté the diced shallot/onion and garlic until it’s soft and has become transparent.
  4. Drain the porcini from the mushroom stock and set the liquid aside. Finely chop the drained porcini and add to the pan. Add the mushroom stock and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the stock has slightly reduced.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and add the cream. Allow the cream to simmer for a few minutes until it has thickened. Finally, add the drained pasta to sauce and toss to coat. At this point I like to toss through a nice handful of grated Parmesan. It adds gorgeous salty flavour! Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes:

  • For my original recipe posted in March 2014 I used homemade pasta, however dried or fresh pasta can be used.
  • I recommend cooking the pasta until it’s al dente, so a few minutes less than the packet instructions advise.

DSC06404

 Enjoy!

jess

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Italian Cuisine · Main Meals · Pasta Recipes

Spaghetti Gamberi

I came up with this recipe when I was on holiday in Sardinia last year where the majority of our meals were based around the fresh seafood on offer. This dish is perfect to eat anytime of year. My family loves the dish this time of year because it’s a delicious reminder of the summer and the al fresco meals we enjoyed whilst on holiday. I love this recipe because it tastes so fresh and flavourful and takes less than 15 minutes to make!

Spaghetti Gamberi- Simple Italian food but extremely tasty

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

500g dried spaghetti

225g raw tiger prawns, cleaned and de-veined

75g butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method:

1. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water according to the packets instructions.

2. Once the pasta is near enough cooked (al dente), add the olive oil to a large frying pan. Cook the prawns along with the garlic, chilli and lemon zest for about 3 minutes or until they start to turn pink in colour.

3. Then add the butter and cook for another 3 minutes on a low-medium heat to warm the prawns completely through and melt the butter. Serve the prawns and butter sauce on top of the cooked and drained pasta in a bowl and before serving add a good squeeze of fresh lemon.

Enjoy!

jess

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Main Meals

Gallini’s Beef Stifado

I first tried beef stifado whilst on holiday in Vasilikos on the beautiful island of Zakynthos. We arrived only to find most restaurants had closed due to an all inclusive hotel. After walking for about 30 minutes on a long dusty track we stumbled upon the most amazing family restaurant. Gallini’s offered delicious authentic Greek food. This memory has never been forgotten and this recipe is one my mum has created inspired by the flavours we tried at Gallini’s and it’s a recipe we’ve been cooking for many years.

Authentic Greek Stifado

Ingredients:

500g lean stewing beef, cut into small cubes

500g baby onions

1 litre tomato passata/chopped tomatoes

1 small wine glass of red wine (approx. 150ml)

2 tablespoons olive oil

150ml water, plus extra if needed

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

Small handful whole peppercorns

Large handful fresh thyme leaves

4 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

100g feta crumbled

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients apart from the feta cheese in a large deep baking dish. Stir and then cover with tin foil. Cook in the oven for an hour at 180 degrees Fan/200°C/450°F/Gas Mark 6.

2. After an hour, turn the oven temperature down to 160 degrees Fan/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and cook the stifado for further 4 hours or until the sauce is thick and glossy and the meat is fork tender. Add a splash of water to adjust the consistency of the sauce if needed.

3. Half an hour before serving, crumble and stir in the feta cheese. Place back in the oven for another 30 minutes and then serve piping hot with some cooked rice or orzo.

Enjoy!

jess

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