Recipe: Chicken Tikka Salad

Sometimes you just want something light for dinner, especially when the weather is so warm, but the thought of a salad can be depressing. This is where you need to up your game and inject some funky flavours and textures into your salad to make it exciting and exotic. This is a great weeknight recipe as it can be ready in around 15 minutes and is easy to eat in front of the TV should you want to.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bitesized pieces
  • 3 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 tbsp tikka seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp mint sauce
  • 1 pepper, cut into bitesized pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
  • a few slices of cucumber
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 ready to eat poppadoms

What you do:

  1. Put your chicken breasts into a bowl along with one tablespoon of yogurt, a good squeeze of lemon, the garlic, the tikka seasoning and some salt. Stir well and leave this to marinate for as long as you have. 10 minutes is better than nothing but overnight is best.
  2. Mix together the remaining two tablespoons of yogurt with another squeeze of lemon, the mint sauce and some salt and leave this to one side to drizzle on the salad later.
  3. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and add in the pepper and onions, tossing regularly and cooking until they start to char. Remove these from the pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, cook the chicken pieces, turning regularly and scraping any marinade from the pan to coat the chicken. Let the chicken catch slightly to give a lovely flavour.
  5. To assemble, put 2 handfuls of salad leaves into each waiting bowl then top with some cucumber. Sprinkle over the warm peppers and onions then add the chicken slices. Drizzle over some of the mint yogurt sauce then top with a crushed poppadom each and a sprinkling of spring onion before finishing with a little more sauce if you like.

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Enjoy!

Recipe: Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Risotto

I wish I was an Italian. I think I would make a good Italian housewife, standing stove-side for the day conjuring up delicious recipes whilst my husband whizzes around the city on a Lambretta. See, this is what happens when I make a risotto and my mind has time to wander whilst I stir, calmly and serenely. I never used to like risotto, thinking it was bland and boring with every mouthful tasting the same. Whilst true that every mouthful does taste the same, it’s a good thing as the flavours are in no way bland and if made and seasoned correctly a risotto can be a thing of beauty. A steaming bowl of creamy, buttery rice is the epitome of comfort food and will make any woes disappear. Apart from any woes regarding your weight, this isn’t really gonna help in that department but who cares?

Serves 2-3

What you need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • A large knob of butter, about 50g
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of grated parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Start by roasting the chicken breasts. Pop them into a roasting tray with 1 tsp of the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper and cook them in an oven pre-heated to around 180°c for around 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  2. Heat the other tsp of olive oil in a heavy based pan or casserole dish along with half of the butter. Once hot, add in your sliced mushrooms, leek and garlic and cook until the vegetables have softened. You don’t want any crunch in this risotto, everything needs to be meltingly soft.
  3. Once the vegetables are soft, add in a cup of arborio rice. I used an American cup measure, but you can use a coffee cup or similar. Measurements are not particularly important here. Stir the rice through the buttery vegetables for a couple of minutes to start the cooking process, then add in your cup of wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Now the part that I love, the constant stirring. Adding the stock a ladleful at a time, keep stirring the rice to allow the startch to be released. This is why you need to use arborio rice as regular rice will never create the same creamy texture. Don’t add the next batch of stock until the previous has been absorbed. The whole process should take around 20 minutes, you may need less stock, you may need more. You need to be intuitive and keep testing the rice to see when it is cooked. When you reach the stage where it looks perfect, shred in the roasted chicken, add the zest from half a lemon and the juice from both halves, the rest of the butter and a handful of parmesan. Add a little extra stock and stir gently with the heat turned off until you achieve a creamy texture with no wateriness.
  5. Season the risotto carefully and serve in bowls with a little extra parmesan on top.

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Comfort in a bowl, Italian style.

Recipe: Courgetti with Pesto Chicken, Mushrooms and Goat’s Cheese

Don’t hate me for owning a spiralizer, I’ve not completely lost my mind and travelled over to the dark side of the clean eating brigade. I just don’t like to be left out of any trend so obviously had to purchase this weird little device that makes noodles out of vegetables. I’ve had it since last year and have only used it a few times, but I can honestly say that I do rather like courgetti, or in other words courgette that’s been made to look like spaghetti pasta. If you don’t have a spiralizer fear not for you can now buy courgetti in large supermarkets, such is now the trend. Alternatively, you can use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons from your courgette, which is just as lovely. Whatever magic you create with your courgette, this recipe is a delicious way to increase your veg intake with lovely summery flavours.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 3 courgettes
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp green pesto
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 slices of soft goat’s cheese
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

What you do:

  1. Start by fashioning your courgettes into ribbons or noodles using whatever tools you have. I have the handheld type of spiralizer that leads to an injury every single time I use it, but makes nice long strands of courgetti. Leave these to one side but have a pan of boiling water ready.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and once hot, add the diced chicken and mushrooms. Fry off for a few minutes until they are cooked through and starting to brown, then add in the pesto and zest and juice from the lemon. Stir and cook gently to create a nice sauce for the chicken and mushrooms.
  3. Just before the chicken and mushrooms are ready, plonk your courgetti into the pan of boiling water and cook just for a minute or two to warm through. Drain very well and place in to two waiting serving bowls. Top with the pesto coated chicken and mushrooms then immediately add a slice of goats cheese and a scattering of toasted pine nuts over the top. Drizzle any pesto juices from the pan artistically around the plate to make it look a bit spesh.

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The goat’s cheese will melt into the chicken and mushrooms and provide a welcome tang against the earthiness of the herby pesto. The crunch from the pine nuts works great with the soft courgette. This is a lovely, well balanced dinner perfect for a warm summer evening.

Injury count: 1 – I got my thumb caught in the spiralizer which led to screaming, crying and a bloody mess in the kitchen. But I got lots of attention afterwards which always makes an injury worth it.

Recipe: Chicken Burgers

I’ve mentioned once or twice that I love burgers. By once or twice I mean maybe a couple of hundred times. Yes, that was a Bieber reference. Is it too late now to say sorry? I don’t care anyway, I’m a Belieber and I’m not sorry. Anyway, this is a chicken burger, with bells on. Enjoy.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 4 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 2 rashers smoked back bacon
  • 50g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ciabatta slipper, halved or two ciabatta rolls
  • Other delicious things to fill your burger with

What you do:

  1. Start by laying your chicken breasts on a board, cover them with clingfilm and bash them so that they are flat. I have a meat mallet for this, but you could use a rolling pin, a heavy frying pan, your boyfriend’s face, the options are endless. You want the chicken to be quite thin.
  2. Mix the flour and mustard powder together with some salt and pepper on a plate. Now, dip each chicken breast into the flour mix and coat evenly, then dust off any excess.
  3. Next, you want to give your chicken a bath in the whisked egg. I always feel guilty mixing chicken with eggs, like ‘here chicken meet the child you never had’, but I’m afraid this is essential to the recipe. Make sure the chicken is nicely coated in the egg.
  4. And now for the next stage. Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika and plonk your eggy chicken breasts into them and coat well. I use Panko breadcrumbs as they are extra crispy, but use whatever. You want a good coating on your chicken so use more breadcrumbs if you need to. The flour we initially put on the chicken meant that the egg would adhere to the meat, and the breadcrumbs will stick to the egg. Science.
  5. Heat up a frying pan big enough to fit both chicken breasts in. You need to add enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan, so how much you use will of course depend on the size of your pan. Size absolutely does matter here. Cook your chicken for about 4 minutes per side until the breadcrumbs are lovely and golden and the chicken is cooked through. Just check it carefully because the time needed to cook the chicken will vary depending on how thinly you bashed it in step one.
  6. Whilst the chicken is cooking, fry your bacon in another pan with a tiny amount of oil until cooked and crisping up at the edges.
  7. Once the chicken and bacon are done to meaty perfection, you can start bringing everything together. But first; cheese. Lay your chicken breasts on a baking sheet, sprinkle a little grated cheese over each one, add a slice of bacon to each then add the rest of your cheese. Pop into a moderate oven for 5 minutes alongside your ciabatta, which has been halved lenghtways and perhaps drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil if you fancy.
  8. Once your chicken burgers are now covered in bacon and melted cheese and the bread has started to crisp at the edges, it’s construction time. Spread some kind of sauce on the bottom half of the ciabatta. I went for a spicy Cajun sauce but you could use mayo, ketchup, whatever. Then add a handful of mixed leaves if you like before topping with the chicken breast. Next, add either some sliced gherkins or sliced tomato, you want something a little acidic, finish with a little more sauce and top with the other half of the bread.
  9. Now, apply to face.

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This may seem like a long winded recipe, and yes there are a few stages, but they are all easy and deliver amazing results in less than 20 minutes. Give it a go!

Washing Up Score: 8/10 – not gonna lie, it was horrendous.