Sesame Courgette Noodle Salad

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I have just got back from a wonderful fortnight holiday in a surprisingly sunny Ireland and am feeling the inevitable holiday comedown and heightened Sunday night-itus that is the knowledge that I am back to my normal 9 to 5 tomorrow. Still the sun is shining and there is still plenty to look forward to with a family wedding next weekend. I find the best way for me to combat down days is to get lost in doing something creative – to that end I have spent all day sewing – which I will blog about soon – and cooked a summer salad this evening to complement the weather!

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We have had our griddle for about 4 months now and I am in love with it. It feels like it will last forever as it is made out cast iron – so much better than our non-stick pans that just give up the ghost after a couple of years – I have the feeling that this will just keep getting better with age. Despite my love affair with the griddle I could have just as easily used a grill to do the courgettes – I love them when the get charred on the outside and gooey on the inside, I’d just need to watch the grill a bit more carefully to make sure they didn’t turn to cinders!

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The sesame in this posts title comes from the tahini in the dressing, although if you wanted a bit extra I am sure some toasted sesame seeds mixed in would be delicious. I have outlined the recipe below for future reference and if anyone else would like a go ­čÖé Thanks for reading xxxALT

Sesame Courgette Noodle Salad Recipe

Serves 4.

Dressing Ingredients
Small Clove of Garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3tbsps olive oil
2tbs of tahini
1 tbs of honey

Salad Ingredients
250g of rice noodle cooked as per packet instructions
1.5 courgettes sliced
125g of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
100g feta cubed
large handful of black olives
100g of rocket or your preferred salad
1 tbs olive oil

Directions
1. Crush the garlic with some salt and mix in with the lemon juice and zest leaving to sit for at least 5mins.
2. Chargrill your courgette slices either under the grill or on a griddle until  nicely coloured.
3. Mix together the rest of your salad dressing ingredients and season to taste.
4. Coat the noodles in 1tbs of olive oil to prevent them from sticking together and then coat with the salad dressing. Chargrill your courgette slices either under the grill or on a griddle until  nicely coloured.
5. Add the rest of your salad ingredients to the noodles except the salad leaves and mix well.
6. Plate up by putting a handful of salad on each plate and then adding the noodle mix on top*.

* By not adding the salad leaves into the rest of the salad you can keep them separately in the fridge over night making it suitable for a pack up the next day – if you are planning on eating it all at once though you can mix the salad leaves or rocket in with the rest of the ingredients.

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Ricotta Pecan Butternut Lasagne

I have seriously been feeling uninspired about cooking recently, but today on finding a not very well sealed bag of pecans in my bag at work and thinking they probably needed using up quickly I started employing the joys of the internet to help me find something tasty for dinner. I stumbled across this recipe on the BBC and thought ooh , but there was no way I was going to attempt gluten free pastry on a work night so I came up with the idea to try and turn it into a lasagne, and though I do say so myself, it worked pretty well!

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It is amazing what a difference enjoying cooking makes to an evening. Rather than be knackered out from the chore of making up something edible I feel full, happy and energetic! What a difference a bit of inspirations makes.

waiting to be roasted

waiting to be roasted

This is probably quite an autumnal recipe with the squash and the nuts, but hey, whatever inspires you right? I expect you could use any type of squash in this recipe, a pumpkin might result in a more watery consistency once mixed altogether with the ricotta but that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

building lasagne

building lasagne

For this recipe I used gluten free lasagne sheets – my only problem was that they didn’t have cooking instructions on them. I wasn’t sure if they were the sort I could stick straight in or if they needed par-boiling first. I compromised by soaking them in boiling water for about 5 mins. This worked fine for the ones on the top that were covered by tomato sauce but the ones on the bottom got very stuck even though I greased the pan.

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My butternut ricotta mixture was not very moist which didn’t help, so I would recommend soaking the bottom ones for longer if you are not using ready bake lasagne sheets or adding some more water to the filling.

now its getting good!

now its getting good!

The tomato sauce used on top was adapted from HFW’s roasted tomato sauce┬árecipe left over from last nights dinner, which I can see becoming a firm favourite. You could use any cheese you had in the fridge to sprinkle over the top, cheddar would work well but stilton seemed like the perfect partner for today along with some parmesan. I left the edges sauceless because I love it when they go crispy.

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I’ve written up a brief recipe below that you could experiment with if you fancy. Thanks for reading xxxALT.

Ricotta Pecan Butternut Lasagne Recipe

Ingredients
2 small butternut squashes, peeled, deseeded and cut into small pieces
one onion thinly sliced
3tbsps olive oil
10 sage leaves shredded
250g ricotta
150g pecan nuts
12 sheets of gluten free lasagne
350ml of tomato sauce
cheese to sprinkle/grate on top

Directions
1. Mix together the squash, onion, sage and olive oil, season and roast at 200°C. While this is cooking you can par boil your lasagne sheets if you need to.
2. Once your squash is cooked through let mixture cool slightly and then add the pecans and ricotta, mix together carefully so that the squash doesn’t just become a puree.
3. Layer up your lasagne sheets and squash mixture in a greased dish and spread the tomato sauce on top then sprinkle with cheese.
4. Bake at 200┬░C until cooked through and browning on top, approx 25 to 35 mins.