Caprese Salad – Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil

Gavin WrenRecipes, Salads, Small Bites, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Traditional Caprese salad doesn’t have pesto, balsamic, loads of herbs or other ingredients, it’s just fantastic tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala campana, basil, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. That is all you need for the most amazing, light, bright, fresh mouthful of summer. When you see the tomatoes in season, it’s time to jump at this perfect vegetarian lunch dish and KISS! (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

Today, I revisit the world of beautiful Italian simplicity, the Caprese Salad. Borne out of luscious hot summers that gift the Italian land with amazing tomatoes, they marry with thick wedges of traditional Mozzarella di Bufala Campana perfectly, creating a dish that deserves only the best ingredients, and nothing else will do. Along with it’s stablemate, the Tricolore Salad, the Caprese sits in the throne of elegant beauty amongst dishes, so often bastardised by those who don’t know better. On the other hand, you, my friend, do know better, or at least you will do, in about 730 words time.

Last year I published a rant about how Italian food is debased by people’s interpretations of it. Italian dishes often require just a few ingredients, which makes them incredibly accessible and simple, but they should be the most amazing examples of the ingredients that you can find. …come and read more!

Grilled Halloumi with Pomegranate Salsa

Gavin WrenRecipes, Side dishes, Small Bites, Starters, Vegetarian

Soft, velveteen grilled halloumi cheese with pomegranate salsa makes a fantastic starter, the crunchy, sweet pomegranate seeds mix with bright, fresh mint, a dash of lime juice for a bright fresh salsa, slathered atop some hot grilled halloumi cheese deliver a truly joyful vegetarian dish!

My neighbours gifted me a pair of enormous pomegranates amongst a basket of beautiful fruit and vegetables a couple of weeks ago, resulting in some delicious pomegranate recipes on this blog. The crisp, ruby red seeds make a fantastic addition to so many recipes and today’s halloumi with pomegranate salsa is no exception, even making it onto the menu for mother’s day this weekend (shhh, don’t tell mum!).

Puppyish Joy.

Bernard is also 2 years old this weekend, so he’s not really a puppy any more, in fact, he hasn’t been an official puppy quite some time, but I don’t let that stop me from calling him ‘puppy’ at every opportunity. He still behaves like a puppy, bouncing around the park with the air of un-coordination in his leaps that puppies deliver in spades.

On his morning walk he innocently bounds up to every other dog within …come and read more!

Aglio Olio con Peperoncino – Garlic Oil Chilli Spaghetti

Gavin WrenMain Dishes, Recipes, Vegetarian

Traditional Italian pasta dish, aglio olio con peperoncino translates as garlic, oil and chilli in English, a trio of simple flavours which make a truly epic dish, full of elegant beauty. Gently infused garlic works it's way into the olive oil, which is rounded off with a kick of chilli and a hint of parsley, topped with a good dousing of pecorino or parmesan cheese. It's a truly authentic yet quick pasta dish, which is a real treat to eat.

Aglio olio con peperoncino is a beautifully elegant, authentic Italian pasta dish. It’s sheer simplicity is it’s genius, with intermingling flavours of garlic, olive oil and chilli creating a sensational dish that takes just minutes to prepare. Today, I realised that I’m completely pre-occupied by the thoughts in my head. They’re always there, incessantly telling me what to do and what not to do, what I will do and what I won’t, what I’m supposed to be doing, but not doing. It’s tireless, which makes it equally exhausting at the same time. These thoughts rarely achieve anything, aside from distracting me from the actual task in hand, whatever that may be; working, relaxing, eating, cooking, listening, talking, thinking etc. How …come and read more!

Chunky Ginger and Black Eyed Bean Soup

Gavin WrenRecipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

Today I'm making a vegan black eyed bean soup which is crammed full of healthy vegetables, making a chunky soup that will fill the emptiest of bellies but also bursting with bold flavours to satisfy the most demanding of taste buds. It's easy double or triple up the quantities to make ahead and freeze for next week's lunches.

About 10 years ago I lost a lot of weight. Over 4 stone to be exact, it also proved to be a turning point in the food history of my life, it was a time when seismic change occurred to some of my most deeply ingrained, English eating habits. Soup became my new lunchtime God, eschewing the bread it replaced, leading me to hunt high and low to find or create the perfect, filling, tasty soup. This vegetarian ginger and black eyed bean soup is my latest effort, and boy, it’s a good’un. Death of the Sandwich. I gave up eating sandwiches. That stalwart of the lunch table, which had filled my boots and nurtured me through my childhood, adolescence and twenties, …come and read more!

Wholemeal Ginger Cookies

Gavin WrenBaking, Recipes, Spelt & ancient grains

Wholemeal ginger cookies made with spelt flour and reduced sugar, as well as some wholesome oats, to really bump up the micronutrients in this recipe. Fiery ginger makes for a perfect flavour to go alongside a mug of hot milk on a cold day.

Today I’m making wholemeal ginger cookies, using spelt flour and trying to curb the sugar content. These are lovely, light cookies with a deep flavour and soft bite, perfect to go on the side of some hot milk to warm you up on those winter days. What is Going on? I’m in a mess. Existentially. Everything I do leaves me in an existential mess these days. Maybe I need to stop saying that word so much. The world is just a mirror of what I put out, so if I say I’m a mess, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy, I’ll always get back what I put in. Nonetheless, my mind is befuddled and discombobulated, a tangled labyrinth of misdirection. I want to write …come and read more!

Chunky Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

Gavin WrenRecipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

A filling and sustaining chunky soup loaded with goodness and hearty ingredients. This chunky butternut squash and lentil soup is a meal-in-a-bowl which virtually becomes a stew as the liquid is almost entirely soaked up by the lentils, chickpeas and squash. The Indian influenced spices have come in to play, featuring a warming host of flavours which will warm your cockles even when the temperature's so cold that the central heating doesn't. It's so good that it's my lunch bowl for the next three weeks, yes, I've just made a triple batch of this, giving me a happy fridge and freezer full of lunchtime joy.

Today I’ve got a fantastically filling, Indian influenced, chunky butternut squash and lentil soup with chickpeas that will keep your tummy filled, your body fuelled and your cockles warmed throughout the coldest days of the winter. Fantastic India. I’ve just returned from a truly beautiful holiday in Goa, India, where I spent three weeks doing yoga, laying by the sea, reading and travelling across the width of the country to the eastern city of Ranchi, to visit my 93 year old, Canadian resident great uncle. I rarely see him, as we’re separated by 4,368 miles and the Atlantic Ocean, but we had both travelled to India for our Christmas breaks this year, so travelling a mere 1,200 miles across India to see him was the itinerant …come and read more!