Chicken and noodle salad with coriander and mint

“Cold noodles? Really? Are you sure?”

That was my husband’s reaction the other day when I told him we were having this chicken and noodle salad.

“But Mum! Noodles should be hot!” was Jessie’s response.

Mia took a mouthful of noodles and promptly spat them out.

Not the best of starts. But after a little cajoling and a bit of encouragement, things did get better.

“Actually, this isn’t bad,” Jason conceded in between mouthfuls.

Once Mia got used to the texture of the noodles, she was tucking in wholeheartedly. And Jessie polished hers off without any further fuss. “Yum,” she declared on finishing.

It can be so easy to serve up the same kinds of foods day in and day out but I’m one of those annoying mothers who likes to challenge her family’s taste buds. And it does pay off. Now they’ve got their heads around cold noodles in a salad, I think we’ll be coming back to this quite a lot.

It’s a beautifully freshy, zingy dish – perfect for summer, or at least helping to give the impression of a summer. The chicken thighs are poached so they are lovely and moist and the fresh coriander and mint, along with the lemon, ginger and garlic in the dressing, pack it full of flavour.

I also added some scrummy broad beans from the veg box; the ones in the garden aren’t ready yet. Shelling broad beans has to be one of my favourite jobs in the kitchen. It makes me feel like a 1950s mother for some reason.

If you were making an authentic South East Asian noodle salad, you probably should also use chilli and fish sauce in the dressing. I left these out because a) chilli would be a step too far for little Mia and b) my husband can’t eat fish – I know! How inconsiderate is that?! But if these sound good to you, go ahead.

Chicken noodle salad with coriander and mint

4 skinless chicken thighs
½ onion, peeled and chopped
5 kaffir lime leaves
small handful black peppercorns
200g vermicelli noodles
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
½ yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
large handful shelled broad  beans
large handful fresh coriander, chopped
large handful fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds
6 lettuce leaves, shredded

For the dressing

3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 kaffir lime leaves

Place the chicken thighs into a pan with the onion, 5 kaffir lime leaves and peppercorns and cover with water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool in the liquid.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and run under cold water to refresh.

Dry fry the sesame seeds for a couple of minutes until golden. Remove to cool on a plate.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Sieve into a jug and leave to cool.

Into a large salad bowl place the noodles, spring onions, carrot, yellow pepper, broad beans, coriander, mint, sesame seeds and lettuce. Pour over the dressing and mix well to ensure everything is well covered. I like to use my hands for this bit.

Slice the cooled chicken thighs, arrange on top of the salad and serve.

I’m entering this recipe into Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, which this month is being hosted by me! Find out which other entries have been entered and perhaps submit one of your own?

July Herbs on Saturday Blog Challenge – Win a Copy of ‘The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook’

This month the lovely Karen from Lavender & Lovage has invited me to guest host her wonderful Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

Herbs on Saturday is one of my favourite bloggers’ challenges as it always attracts such diverse and delicious dishes, so I really must not let the side down! It is a simple and easy way to share recipes throughout the month that celebrate cooking with herbs, as well as a chance to pick up new ideas and discover new blogs and bloggers, and I hope you’ll join in the fun.

To enter all you have to do is add any recipe you have made during the week by emailing me with the URL for your post. And they don’t only need to be recipes made on a Saturday! At the end of each month, a ‘special blogger’ will choose their favourite recipe from all the entries, and the winning blogger will receive a fantastic cookbook as their prize. The full entry guidelines are below.

July’s prize is The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook, edited by Joanna Farrow.

This beautiful book features 85 flavourful recipes for soups, salads, appetizers, fish, meat, poultry, vegetarian dishes, bread, biscuits, cakes, desserts and ice creams – all of course made with generous handfuls of fragrant fresh herbs.

There are classic dishes such as lamb with mint, and roasted tomato and mozzarella salad with basil dressing, as well as unusual combinations such as chicken with thyme and lavender. It includes a useful herb directory that identifies some of the best-known and most useful culinary herbs, as well as delicious flowers, fruits and spices to pep up a plain meal.

So, to get the ball rolling here’s my recipe for a lovely summery salad with oregano – just wish we had the weather to go with it!

Courgette and oregano flower salad

This fresh, light salad features delicate oregano flowers, as well as the leaves. The crunch of the courgette with the soft mozzarella cheese and juicy tomatoes is a sensational combination.

Make sure you slice the courgette as thinly as possible as it is eaten raw in this salad. It’s best to use a mandolin on its thinnest setting. And use the smaller, firmer courgettes if you can.

Serves 4

For the dressing

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper

4 or 5 courgettes, very thinly sliced lengthways
250g baby plum or cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
300g mozzarella, thinly sliced
Handful oregano leaves, picked
Handful oregano flowers, picked

To make the dressing, simply put the ingredients into a jam jar, screw the lid on tightly and give it a really good shake.

Place your salad ingredients (except for the flowers) into a large serving bowl, pour over the dressing and toss well. Carefully decorate with the oregano flowers.

This is a lovely salad to serve with grilled fish or chicken, or on its own with crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Herbs on Saturday for July – guidelines on how to enter

  1. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther@reescommunications.co.uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date is Monday 30 July.
  2. Display the Herbs on Saturday badge (as shown above and below) to the relevant recipe post, with a link back to this post  and also to the challenge page over at Lavender & Lovage.
  3. Email me as many recipe links as you like, there is no limit and the recipes and posts can be from any day, not just Saturday!
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #herbsonsaturday, @BangerMashChat and @KarenBurnsBooth in your tweet – I will retweet all that I see.
  5. The recipe can be one of your own or one you’ve seen elsewhere. You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge as listed above with the Herbs on Saturday badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. A guest blogger will choose their favourite recipe at the end of the month, and the winner will receive a copy of The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook.

Hopefully that’s all crystal clear, but if not let me know. I’m really looking forward to receiving your entries for Herbs on Saturday! Come on, let’s get herby!

July’s entries for Herbs on Saturday:

  1. Sausage Plait for the Whole Family from Mamacook
  2. Pan Bagnat from Lavender & Lovage
  3. Mediterranean Feta and Tomato Bake from Cooking Around the World
  4. Les Spaghettis aux herbes et ail from Simple Quiet Modern
  5. Chicken and noodle salad with coriander and mint from Bangers & Mash
  6. Pepper and Mushroom Pappardelle  from Tinned Tomatoes
  7. Devilled Gooseberry Sauce and Tarragon Vinegar from As Strong As Soup
  8. Cheese and Herb Scone from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  9. Turkish Zucchini Fritters from Tinned Tomatoes
  10. Involtini di melanzane from Leeks & Limoni
  11. White asparagus tips with tarragon sauce from French Foodie Baby
  12. Nectarine Shiso Ice Cream from French Foodie Baby
  13. Salmon with sorrel from French Foodie Baby
  14. Penne with chicken, tarragon and broccoli from Bangers & Mash
  15. Rosemary Foccacia from Piece of Cake
  16. Blackberry Lavender Popsicles from girlichef
  17. Herbal Lemonade from girlichef
  18. Strawberry and basil jam from The Garden Deli
  19. Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta from Chez Foti
  20. Beetroot with Chorizo, Feta and Mint from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  21. A Gratin of Tomatoes from how to cook good food
  22. Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Lavender & Lovage
  23. Artichoke bottoms with green sauce from French Foodie Baby
  24. Herby Roast Chicken from A Trifle Rushed
  25. Pesto Linguine from How to be a Gourmand
  26. Raspberry, lemon and mint semifreddo from Bangers & Mash
  27. Grilled halloumi and herb salad by Lancashire Food
  28. Tomato and basil tart by Blue Kitchen Bakes
  29. 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow by Chez Foti
  30. Tomato and Herb Foccacia from Working London Mummy

Slow roasted tomato and oregano pizza

Homemade pizza is a regular on the menu in our house. The children like to get involved in making it, especially kneading the dough and putting on the toppings. As you can imagine, it can turn into quite a messy affair!

This recipe for slow roast tomato and oregano pizza is a firm family favourite and the perfect way to put to good use all those gorgeous tomatoes and herbs coming into plentiful supply this time of year.

We have lots of beautiful oregano in the herb garden at the moment

You do need to plan ahead a little with this one. The tomatoes are slow roasted in a low oven for four to five hours, giving them an incredibly intense, sweetly caramelised flavour and a gorgeously sticky, slightly chewy texture.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort. They taste sublime and are fantastic on pizza, as well as in salads, quiches or served with olives and cold meats as part of an antipasto.

Slow roasted tomato and oregano pizza

Makes four pizzas

For the slow roasted tomatoes:

8 cherry tomatoes
6 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper

For the dough:

400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:

Passata, about half a jar
Mozzarella, 2 x 250g balls
Two handfuls fresh oregano, leaves picked

Firstly, prepare the tomatoes – I suggest the night before.

Preheat the oven to 140°C /Gas Mark 1 or use the bottom oven of an Aga.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil, and sprinkle on the oregano and sugar, and season to taste. Place in the oven and roast for four to five hours, until the tomatoes are shrivelled but still sweet and juicy.

To make the pizza dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 or use the middle of the top oven of an Aga.

Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smoothing out with the back of the spoon. Next add the roast tomatoes and oregano leaves and finish with torn pieces of mozzarella.

Bake your pizzas for 15-20 minutes and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before devouring.

I’m entering this tasty pizza into the June Herbs on Saturday blog challenge over at Lavender & Lovage. Karen always receives heaps of delicious looking recipes for her blog challenges, so make sure you go and take a look at the other entries!

I’m also adding it to the One Ingredient blogging challenge, as the ingredient in question is the tomato. The challenge is run by Laura at howtocookgoodfood and Nazima at Londonworking mummy.