A couple of things people often say to me when they find out about my alter-ego as a dinner snapping food enthusiast is that they would love to cook but ‘don’t have time’ or that it’s too expensive to buy all the ingredients these days.
I try and smile in agreement, but inside I’m wrestling with the urge to reply “bullshit”. I don’t of course, it would be rude, but the point stands that preparing decent food doesn’t have to be expensive, nor time consuming.
I swear other than a little bit of marinading, this took no more than 25 minutes (with a little attention) and cost no more than a fiver. We got two dinners and lunch out of it so that’s £1.66 per head. Now if people say they can’t be bothered, then fine, I respect that it isn’t for everyone, but this is very doable.
This warm salad, much like the Monarchy has a distinct Greek accent with yoghurt, lemon, oregano, tomato and olive oil but I’m not sure it features in any Taverna. I worry about these issues too much though as I was actually quite pleased with the outcome and think the balance of flavours was just about right. Healthy too if you go steady with the salt.
The superb honey I used was a gift to Helen by her colleague James, whose folks keep bees, so a gratuitous plug is due:
The rice, with a bit of kettle boiling, takes the longest to prepare. I will stick my neck out though and recommend that if time is tight, you could always use one of those pre-cooked packets. Before you start pelting me with cries of “hypocrite!”, the plain varieties are mercifully just rice, oil and salt….
A little yoghurt and mint dressing and some of the warmed honey drizzled over the top finished it off nicely.
- 2 chicken breasts, sliced thinly
- 100g brown rice
- 1 red chilli
- 1 medium green pepper, diced
- 1 medium red pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- A couple of handfuls of broccoli
- 3 garlic cloves
- Dried oregano
- Thyme (dried or fresh)
- 3 or 4 tomatoes, diced
- About 100g feta cheese, finely diced
- 1 lemon
- 3-4 heaped tbsp yoghurt
- 1-2 tsp mint sauce
- 3 tbsp honey
- Oil for frying
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
Marinade the chicken in the juice of half of the lemon, a little olive oil, the garlic (sliced thinly), salt, and about 1 tsp each of oregano and thyme. 20 minutes should do as a minimum.
Meanwhile cook the rice in salted water.
Prepare the vegetables, and the mint dressing (just mix the yoghurt and mint sauce with a little salt). Set aside.
Precook the broccoli a little by steaming a pool of shallow water until softened (but still firm). Leave to cool. Drain the rice and rinse under the cold tap
In a large pan or wok, fry the chicken/marinade ingredients in hot oil until coloured. Add the vegetables and season. Cook until the chicken is just done. Add the broccoli and rice to heat through. Taste and season some more if needed.
When just done, add the tomato, and other half of the lemon juice.
Mix well and plate up. Sprinkle over the feta and drizzle with the yoghurt. Heat the honey in a small milk pan and spoon a little over too (not too much or it will be too sweet). A final dusting of oregano and a little decent olive oil finishes it off.
See, not too bad?
People astonish me too – they’ll spend a fortune on ready meals instead of making something almost as quick from fresh ingredients at half the price. Great salad 😉
It never ceases to amaze me! Cheer MD
This looks absolutely gorgeous… wholesome, deliciously simple and healthy! I definitely agree with you about people’s arguments for not cooking. They’re often weak as water… particularly for not eating healthily because it’s “too expensive”, argh!! That gets me the most. Their packets of rubbish cost more than a healthy meal! I love the sound of that Greek(ish!) honey, herb and yoghurt dressing. Definitely bookmarking this for a weeknight dinner soon! x
Thanks very much Laura. Very good point about eating healthy, I’ve heard that one too and I’d alway suggest Mediterranean food (like this) as all the ingredients are cheaply and readily available everywhere!
A great point, well made Phil. We spend less on food than the average family and we tend to eat a lot better. There is a deal of work but, we believe, we’re worth it. Lovely salad.
Thanks Conor. We’re the same (OK, there’s only the two of us), but I also think there’s always been stubbornness that we would never become dependant on faceless ‘Acme Food’ companies to feed us. It helps that we have an interesting in cooking too of course….
Yum, Phil! A very fresh & more lighter dish! Excellent with some good local honey, for sure! I would serve it with a seasonal salad! 🙂
Sounds a great addition! Cheers Sophie.
I totally agree with you Frank. Your fresh and delicious dish is quick to prepare, better tasting and better for you than any preprepared meal you could buy and certainly less than dining out.
Thanks Karen – it’s win-win all round isnt it?
This looks excellent – and I’m sure that the Yorkshire (yay!) honey made all the difference!
Of course Georgina! Cheers for that, I did feel fairly virtuous using brown rice too.
Bullshit is right, Phil. With minimal effort, one can make a delicious meal that is far healthier and less expensive than anything ready-made or served at a restaurant. Your dish here is proof of that. It sounds delicious and really is a snap to make. Love, too, that you finished it with a bit of oregano, honey, and olive oil. Find me one ready-made dish that does that. Convenience is a wonderful thing but at what cost?
Thanks John – it did balance quite nicely as it turned out. You’re absolutely right of course – I think in the West we’ve become over reliant on pre-prepared foods. In the UK where we struggle with our food reputation, even a lot of pubs/restaurants need little more than a frier and a microwave! The culture is definitely changing though I believe….
Agreed! I get especially mad at young mothers with chiildren, who only buy fast food cause they’re busy. It’s a matter of making it a priority. period. A beautiful salad, by the way. Wonderful flavors!
Very kind Mimi, thank you.