Lazy lunch treats

Food

Lunch is the new dinner, especially during the long summer days. Here are a few ideas for some modern lunch recipes that are easy to make. I hope that you might try them out at home.

Waldorf salad with a light yoghurt dressing

First up is a modern Waldorf salad, instead of raisins, I cook seasoned grapes in a hot oven, toast the walnuts and use substitute yogurt for mayonnaise.

Ingredients

150g grapes

1 lemon

Olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

60g shelled walnuts

1 teaspoon English mustard

250ml fat-free natural yoghurt

6 sprigs of fresh tarragon

2 sticks of celery

2 crisp eating apples, such as Braeburn or Cox

1 Cos or Romaine lettuce

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the grapes on a baking tray, finely grate over the zest from half a lemon, and drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then add the walnuts and roast for a further five to 10 minutes, or until the grapes are soft and caramelised and the walnuts are golden.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Place the mustard and yoghurt into a bowl and whisk well. Pick, finely chop and add the tarragon leaves, squeeze in the lemon juice and mix well, then season to taste.

Trim and chop the celery into 1cm chunks, slice the apple into large matchsticks, then place into a large bowl. Discard the tatty outer lettuce leaves, then roughly chop and add to the bowl. Pick the grapes off their stalks and add to the bowl. Drizzle over the yoghurt dressing and toss well. Place on to a platter, roughly chop and sprinkle over the walnuts, then serve.

Summer tomato tart

This is another great summer treat that's not that hard to whip up.

Ingredients

350g mixed, ripe tomatoes, sliced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs

400ml double cream

150g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

40g butter, melted

200g ready-made filo pastry

1 small bunch fresh marjoram or oregano

Olive oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the sliced tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Adding salt to them will bring out their flavour and also reduce the amount of moisture that seeps into the tart. Leave the colander over a bowl or in a sink while you get on with the rest of the tart.

To make the filling, beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the cream, grated cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together well and put to one side. Take a large tart tin (either a 10” round tin, or roughly 8” x 11” rectangular tin ) and brush it with a little of the melted butter. Cover the tray with a layer of filo pastry, overlapping the sheets so there are no gaps. Brush this base layer with more of the butter and repeat four or five times until you have a sturdy base for the filling.

Pour the cream mixture on to the filo base and make sure it is evenly spread over it. Lay your tomatoes on, then season it again. Pick the leaves from the herb sprigs and toss them in a little olive oil to lightly coat them. Sprinkle these over the tart, then place it on the bottom shelf of the hot oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes then serve with a simple, fresh, salad.

Chocolate mint pudding

Just because it is lunch time does not mean there is not time for some dessert.

Ingredients

3 cups fat-free milk

Fresh mint leaves (a good handful )

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornflour

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ounces chocolate, chopped

Mint sprigs (optional )

Method

Heat the milk over a medium-high heat in a small, heavy saucepan until tiny bubbles form around the edge (do not boil ). Remove from the heat, then add the mint leaves. Let the mint leaves infuse into the milk for about 15 minutes and then strain the milk mixture through a sieve into a bowl, reserving milk. Throw away the mint.

Return the milk to pan and stir in the sugar, cornflour, cocoa, and salt. Return the pan to a medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens. Place the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add half of the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add the egg mixture to pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute or until thick.

Remove from the heat then add vanilla and chocolate, stirring until the chocolate melts. Pour pudding into a bowl. Cover surface of pudding with cling film and chill. Garnish with mint sprigs.

I hope that you enjoy these easy lunch treats, and will give them a go. If you have any culinary questions, or want to promote any upcoming food related events in Mayo, feel free to contact me on [email protected] and I will do my best to help you out. Talk to you next week.

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