I am breaking into the salads today because I think we are all ready! After what seems like the longest winter on earth, I am pleased to say it's sunny, warm and barbecue time. And this salad would make a great addition to any barbecue.
Right, so how does everyone handle kitchen disasters? We all have them so let's fess up. What do we do under pressure when it's all going down the tubes fast? Honestly, my instinct is panic.
Yes, I am good that panicking in high stress situations. However, I have learned over the years to do it with a smile. And of course there is coming to a story. There is always a story.
This past Sunday, we invited some friends to lunch. Not a crowd, just a few of us. Friends I have known a long time and can feel comfortable around even in the height of any disaster. Right?
So I kind of enjoy cooking, that's probably evident through the blog. However, as I talked about more times that I can recount, at times I hate it. We all have love hate relationships with things we are passionate about. Fact. Well, my fact anyway. So, whenever I decided to invite people around, I am usually in a full on love of cooking mode. Another reason, I don't like to plan too far in advance. The mood could change you know.
The day before the lunch I made the menu and went shopping. I always like to do all this the day before any small event, just so there's no panicking in the moment. Who am I'm kidding, there is always an element of panic in my mind. And as much as I try, nothing can change that. But it's all good because I work better under pressure. Well, I think so.
So, I had a great menu planned and even I was looking forward to eating. Hands up to those us that cook all the time but hardly eat? Yes, that's my story. Always cooking and hardly eating. I do eat though, clearly.
I decided I was going to make my best cheesecake. I never ever make it because there isn't really anyone in my house that likes it. Yea, they probably all need help I decided. So, if I made it that would probably be the end of me. My best cheesecake has 2 lbs of cream cheese in it, so you can probably imagine. That recipe is on the blog from a few years ago and you can click here for that if you are interested. However, pretty much every time I make it, I do top it in a different way. The cake itself is always the same though. And it's a cheesecake worth making, promise.
So, I already knew the cheesecake was going to be a success. I baked it, decorated it and tried not to eat it for a whole 24 hours. Tricky.
The rest of the menu was all easy and straightforward. Which, to be completely honest, most food really is. It might be dressed up with a fancy name or an over the top "how to", explanation. But it's food not rocket science.
The main star dish I was planning was my Roasted Sirloin Pork Roast with a Cream Sherry Sauce. Always a winner and so easy to make. I thought, that's great for a Sunday lunch. The planning was done and now we just needed the execution. Easy.
On Sunday I was up at crack on dawn to get on with it all and have some stress free entertaining later on. You know that saying, "ignorance is bliss", well it might just be stupidity. Somehow in the back of my mind I should know that something will go wrong. It always does. Funny, how when I am just cooking for my own family nothing EVER goes wrong.
I was nearing the end of my preparations when I realised I didn't have a couple of ingredients. There are always ingredients missing. Most of the time, I would just say substitute if you can. But you can't make crostini without bread and you I couldn't make the sauce without onions. No worries, the husband happily volunteered to get my stuff. So I was saved a visit to the shops. Good. I carried on with what I was doing keeping a beady on the time and starting to wonder where my onions were. One hour later....one hour fifteen....one hour forty five! How long does it take! Now I was in panic mode because I needed the onions for the sauce and the sauce takes time and my time was running out. Yes he came back eventually. Casually walked through the door with not a care in the world. Iĺl leave off the part of my reaction of him walking in the door. Let's just say it was less than carefree. His explanation of being so late was that he deemed the ingredients on my list as "Not needed in a hurry". OMG.
I grabbed the stuff from him with a slight snarl. We agreed it was best for everyone if he just hung out in the garden for a while..ha!
I got to chopping onions for the sauce and bread for the crostini. Good, I can get this done. Easy. I had the oven already preheated and all the stove burners rocking away doing their thing. Calm and collective. I seared the meat and popped it in the oven, put together the crostini, and finished the sauce. Now to rip off the apron and pour myself a drink. Five minutes to the arrival of our lunch guests.
Not quite. As I was walking to the fridge to pour myself a very large glass of wine, everything started to flicker and there was this overpowering smell of ...ummm, yea that's it, electrical burning. Then out of the corner my my eye I can see sparks and smoke coming out of the electrical panel. So, now I start running looking for the husband that I banished to the garden. And of course, he is nowhere to be found.
Sorry this is going on forever, so I'm going to nutshell the end. I found him, the guests turned up, and he even managed to fix it! We got our electricity back but the roast had already suffered the damage. The cheesecake saved the day. All in all, I'll call it a success. Now to wait for the next disaster.
The salad! I am sure you are probably wondering if I had already forgotten about it. I know, I tend to get carried away from time to time.
I made this salad a few weeks back when the weather took a turn for the better. As fleeting as it was, it was lovely.
Salads make a great side or any spring for summer meal. I know many of you are probably thinking what spring/summer? I will come, I am sure of it.
Anyway, this salad was so flavoursome and honestly easy. I actually grilled the asparagus and mushrooms on the barbecue which is great for the summer months. However, you don't have to do them this way. You could just as easily sautee them on the stove. If doing it this way, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the mushroom and asparagus to the pan. Toss it around while it cooks. Probably 8 or 10 minutes. Then just remove it from the heat.
Apart from that, all the explanations are in the recipe below. Simple & easy fuss free food.
Happy cooking friends and if it all goes wrong, just pour yourself a drink and watch the madness unfold. That's what I did!
Grilled Vegetable & Chickpea Salad
Serves 4 / Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: 15 minutes
For the salad:
2 Cups/400 grams cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, diced
Handful of fresh arugula
Small bunch of fresh chopped parsley
2 Cups/150 grams button mushrooms, quartered
12 Asparagus spears, ends trimmed and cut into thirds
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon sea salt
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 Cup/120 ml olive oil
Juice of two lemons
Zest of two lemons
2 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 Teaspoon sugar
1 Teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
First make the vinaigrette. In a small jar or bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Shake or whisk well and set aside.
Put the asparagus and mushrooms on a large sheet of aluminium foil. Drizzle over olive oil and a bit of sea salt. Stir around to combine. Loosely wrap the foil over the vegetables and cook on a hot barbecue for about 10 minutes. Remove and open the foil to let the heat escape.
In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, onion, grilled vegetables and the vinaigrette. Stir to combine. Add the fresh arugula and chopped parsley. Stir again and serve. Can be refrigerated and served later.
Click the downloadable link below to print recipe!
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