Cumin lentils and honey pumpkin salad

At the last moment last night, we decided to braai.  There wasn’t a lot in the fridge or cupboard to make up a side dish (it being almost the end of the month).  That, for me, is the perfect challenge and a great opportunity to be creative. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a lot of frozen Hubbard squash in my freezer (one Hubbard and two people means at least 4X 500 grams frozen portions of squash that takes a while to work through).  Some lentils, and beautiful baby Swiss chard from my garden plus a basil vinaigrette as well as the squash does make the salad!

A perfect companion to grilled mustard pepper steak, or as a meal on its own. This salad really stole the show and can easily serve four.

3/4 cup brown lentils, cooked

1 tablespoon roughly grounded cumin

1 tablespoon roughly ground coriander

2 tablespoons olive oil

350-400 grams cubed cooked squash

2 tablespoons heated, runny honey

8-10 leafs baby spinach/ Swiss chard

Parmesan slivers and chives for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the cooked, cubed squash in a greased baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and honey.  Flavour with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove for the oven, and allow to cool.

In the meantime, heat a dash of oil over moderate heat.  Add the cumin and coriander and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and fry for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from the stove, and allow to cool.

Basil vinaigrette:

50 ml olive

50 ml balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

5 ml white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil

Mix all the ingredients together, and whisk well.

Assembly of the salad:

Rinse the baby spinach/chard and place in a salad bowl. Add the cooled pumpkin and lentils and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss lightly and serve immediately.

Cumin chickpeas and aubergine with cous cous

Another chickpea recipe!  In a previous post, I mentioned how versatile chickpeas are. And how very underrated!  Chickpeas, like aubergine (eggplant) tend to soak up the tastes around them, and as I couldn’t quite decide what I felt like for dinner, this is what I came up with.  I started off with typical Moroccan flavours for the chickpeas, which meant frying them in olive oil with cumin, chilli and coriander, when I discovered one lost aubergine in the fridge.  I added the aubergine, then balanced the flavours with canned cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley. The result?  A fresh, well-balanced, satisfying meal with a hint of chilli!

This recipe gives 4 portions:

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for 6-8 hours, rinsed and cooked for another hour.

1 medium aubergine, cut into cubes (no need to salt beforehand if the aubergine is fresh and firm), skin on

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2-3 chillies (depending on taste)

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or very finely chopped

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped coriander

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1 can cherry tomatoes

cous cous, made according to manufacturer’s instructions

Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan over moderate heat.  Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and chilli for 5 minutes, before adding the chickpeas. Fry for another 5 minutes, add the aubergine cubes, and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato, place a lid on the pan and allow to reduce for approximately 20 minutes or until most of the fluid has evaporated. Add the basil and parsley, as well as salt and course black pepper to taste and set aside. Prepare the cous cous in a separate pot according to the instructions on the box.  Serve the cumin chickpeas and aubergine hot on a bed of cous cous and garnish with fresh parsley. Dinner in 30 minutes!

Spice, rice and lentils

This recipe is based on a Lebanese mujadara (rice, lentils and caramelized onion) recipe ( but I have changed the recipe to add more flavour and spices. It is a highly adaptable recipe that can be made to taste and whatever you have available in your cupboard. It requires little effort, is economical and great for meat-free Monday! Leftovers also make great lunch the next day.

This recipe gives 4 main portions


2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup lentils, cooked according to instruction

1 brown onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed/finely chopped

1 cup rice (I used brown rice, but any type should do)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon good quality paprika

1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

4-6 leaves mint, finely chopped (optional)

1 cup frozen peas

1-3 chillies, finely chopped (optional)

4-5 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan over moderate heat and sauté onions until softened. Add garlic, fry for another minute or two, then add the cumin, coriander, paprika and turmeric. Fry for another minute, then add rice. Fry for another 2 minutes, then add 2 cups of water. Turn down the heat, do not cover, and let simmer for approximately 40-45 minutes, adding water throughout (every 15 minutes on my stove) to prevent it cooking dry. Simmer until rice is cooked.  I added my peas, lentils, chilli and mint at 35 minutes whilst there was still fluid in the pan left and simmered it until dry (keep an eye during this last stage to prevent it from burning!). Serve hot with a fresh green salad and garnish with fresh parsley. The water can be replaced with stock if so preferred.