Just to be clear: I didn’t come up with this as a way of reducing the calorie count of your average chicken caesar salad. The main motivation was that it was 30C (come back summer?), I was starving post run, and I am willing to bet very few people have motivation to start making mayonnaise style dressings under those conditions.
Instead I used thick yoghurt to make the base of dressing – reliving my Iceland trip by using skyr – mixing it with anchovies, raw garlic and lemon juice so you still get all the original punch of the thick dressing, only without having to stabilise eggs in oil. Bonus of doing it this way is it makes it much more work friendly to take to work as lunch the next day, as you don’t have to worry about raw eggs in the dressing, and I suppose some will argue, less calories. DON’T PANIC if the yoghurt separates as you add the lemon, whisk it really hard and it soon will behave itself again.
All in all, a much easier solution when dining alone, wouldn’t you agree?
Lightened Up Chicken Caesar Salad
As much baguette as you're hungry for
Two boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into small slivers
1 tablespoon thick greek or icelandic style yoghurt
1 clove garlic
3-4 anchovy fillets
Juice half a lemon
10g parmesan, shaved
Start by tearing your bageutte into big thick chunks, drizzling with oil, and then baking at 200C for twenty minutes or so, until they are drying out but still a bit chewy in the middle. At the same time, heat a small frying pan, and let the chicken pieces cook over a medium heat until they turn golden brown around the edges.
Now onto the third task - bash up 1 anchovy fillet with the garlic, and then whisk in the yoghurt until well combined. Squeeze in the lemon juice, whisking well if it separates slightly until you have a thick dressing.
To assemble the salad, toss together the salad leaves with the croutons, chicken pieces, parmesan and anchovy fillets before drizzling over the dressing.
It’s no understatement to say that Porto is the food and drink capital of Portugal, even if not the administrative. From the whole river bank lined with port houses, to tiny tapas restaurants tucked down winding streets, and the massive Mercado do Bolhao (more on that in a future post), you can quite happily wine and dine your way around the city for some time.
In the brief time we were there, these were our favourite spots for food and drink in Porto:
Cafe Bop: we came here in search of a good coffee and were not disappointed. The cafe wouldn’t have looked out of place in Shoreditch with it’s rows of vinyl, peg board coffee sign and beer on tap, but we were won over by the great americanos and huge bagels.
Frida: a gorgeous mexican restaurant about 15 minutes walk out of the main city. I convinced J to try the ceviche on the grounds it was really just mexican sushi (a stretch I realise, but he liked it), and then we worked our way through a massive portion of tacos, cooking the meat at our table. Definitely one to book though – we turned up as they opened on a Saturday and snagged a table on the grounds we would give it back in 90 minutes.
The Wine Box: do 425 wines take your fancy? Yeah, it sounded good to us too. Rather than present you with a wine menu, they instead listened to us describe what we liked in a wine, and let them pick for us. And while I’m sure in London they would have used that as a chance to sell you the most expensive wine, ours came out as 3,50 a glass. Again, worth booking if you go in the evening, but it’s super quiet at lunch time.
Ferreira Port House: the tour was admittedly not great, but for 6 euro each we got two very good tasters of port at the end, and we were both surprised to find it was pretty much the first port we had ever enjoyed!
By the time you read this, I’ll be off floating around Lisbon and Porto on what feels like a very overdue break (follow along on instagram for custard tarts & more). 2016 doesn’t feel like it’s got off to the most straightforward start, but here’s hoping to a smoother six months sailing over the rest of the year.
In the meantime, tuck into this herb baked halloumi, which is a definite upgrade on my usual lazy trick of just throwing it into the pan until it turns brown and chewy. Instead, marinade it overnight in basil, mint, garlic – or, more practically, whatever languishing ends of herbs you have in the fridge- and then bake for 40 minutes. It’s still keeps the characteristic bounce of halloumi, but without the squeakiness.
I’ve happily been eating my baked halloumi in lunchtime salads, tucked into sandwiches, or sliced straight off the block as soon as it comes out of the oven.
What other little upgrades have you been making in the kitchen lately?
Herb Marinated Baked Halloumi
Two garlic cloves
1 block halloumi
In a mini blender, blitz together the herbs with enough oil as you need to turn it into a chunky paste. Spoon this over the halloumi and leave to marinade overnight, turning it if you get a chance.
Preheat the oven to 180C, and wrap up the halloumi (still with it's green paste) in some baking parchment. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the texture has softened the whole way through.