Thursday, 24 March 2011

Spring is in the air!!!

Happy spring to all the readers in Europe!!! Finally,  its time to come out of the winter hibernation and get outdoors to enjoy the long, bright and sunny days. I am so excited about spring this year not only for the reason because I have already started dreaming about not having to wear the heavy winter jackets any longer or because my recently cleaned balcony looks very inviting to me but also because of the fact that I am glad to have more of daylight now, which means I shall now be able to photograph the things I cook in a much better way.

As I was passing by the fresh farmers corner near our house the other day, all the beautiful rich shades reminded me of the colourful salads that I had made during the last summer. Since its just the beginning of spring, there´s actually a mixed variety of vergetables and fruits available at the supermarket, i.e. a bit sour strawberries, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, spring onions, rhubarb, lemons etc. And I love mixing fresh fruits and vegetables with savoury herbs and dried nuts in my salads. And this is exactly what my todays recipe is about. A colourful mixture of winter leftovers with a light springy touch.

On opening my freezer, I found broccoli, green peas and some forzen herbs. By the way, I prefer frozen broccoli over the so-called fresh one that is lying in your fridge for over three days, tastes neither fresh nor looks green anymore. Also, frozen parsley and dill taste equally good in currys or pasta salads as fresh from the garden ( this, however, is not recommended for all herbs). So, I took these out of the freezer, bought some dried apricots, chicken legs and a few other ingredients from market and added a few from our pantry and here is what I ended up making for dinner.

Herby Penne with Apricot-stuffed Chicken

Apricot-Stuffed Chicken


4 Chicken leg quarters
salt and pepper
zest of a lemon
10-12 dried apricots
4 tbs flaked/chopped almonds
1 tbs cumion powder
1 tbs turmeric powder
5 tbs yoghurt
chili flakes (optional)

Remove skin and extra fat from the chicken quarters. Using a sharp knife, separate bone from the thigh piece.
Pull the meat away from the bone as you do this and cut out the thigh bone carefully. This is not difficult as it sounds :)

Using the flat side of a mallet or a rolling pin, flatten the deboned chicken thighs to about a quarter of an inch thick.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and lemon zest. Place in the dried apricots and flaked almonds and secure with the help of toothpicks. 

Take yoghurt in a bowl and add in the turmeric powder, cumin powder, salt, pepper and some chili flakes.
Coat the chicken pieces with this mixture. Place on a baking tray and bake at 190 C for 35-40 minutes. (Drizzle with little oil after 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, make the salad.

Herby Penne Salad
1 1/2 cups boiled penne
2 tbs oil
1 carrot (peel and cut into slices)
1/2 cup green peas 
1/2 cup broccoli
200 g red kidney beans (boiled)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 apple (optional)
1/2 cup cucumber slices (optional)
2 tbs mustard paste
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tbs lemon juice
(if you have those ready made salad dressing sachets available around you, try using 1 sachet instead of all the above seasonings, it tastes remarkably good)
4 tbs sunflower seeds (roasted)

Peel and cut the carrot in slices. Take 4 tbs water and 1/2 tsp lemon juice in a pan and cook carrots and broccoli in it on high until the water is dissolved. Dont overcook, the vegetables should retain their slight crunchiness.

Add Oil to these and the green peas, too. Fry till peas get soft. Add in the kidney beans, penne, salt and pepper, mustard, seasoning mix and the herbs. Toss everything together and place aside to cool. 

Meanwhile, cut the cherry tomatoes in halves and incase you are using fresh fruits and vegetables like cucumber, apples, oranges etc. add once the pasta has completely cooled. But I havent done it this time as we wanted to enjoy it warm. So the moment my chicken pieces were done in the oven, I added tomatoes and sunflower seeds to the pasta and served. nom nom nom!!!


  1. Fatima's recipes and tips made my cooking and baking a heaver....the tin foil tip has done a drastic change to my baking and I certainly love this tip....
    I am definitely gonna try the savoury recipes too...but the cream puffs recipe just killed me....I am your slave fatima for lifetime :D

  2. I always loved warm salads and this warm salad recipe is surely a treat :)

  3. fatima,ur this pasta salad is definetly a hit,i always enjoy it.i think to debone chicken is not as easy as u find,but i shall try:D

  4. i forgot to tell,pics are v appealing,they motivate to try the recepies.

  5. @yasmeen deboning the chicken is not difficult yasmeen, just try a couple of times...practice makes the master:) and thanks for liking the pix, Im sure youll like the recipes too.