Spring has arrived, bringing sunny skies, longer days and warmer weather. A change in season often brings new eating habits and many of us are opting for lighter meals. So, to embrace spring, here are three lightweight dishes that you can make in minutes — all high in flavour, nutrition and ease. Enjoy!
Loaded with tomatoes, basil, garlic and onion, bruschetta can transport you instantly to Rome, where the antipasto is rumoured to have originated. According to Pasta Evangelists: “This traditional delicacy developed from the ancient practice of sampling olive oil, as olive growers would bring their olives to a press and would then taste their produce using a slice of bread. Over time this simple ritual evolved, the bread became toasted and was served with tomatoes and garlic as well as the olive oil.”
Aside from being extremely simple, this rustic Italian staple is fresh, light and flavourful. If you’re looking for something low-carb, don’t be discouraged by the bread — use your favourite gluten-free loaf to keep things light, or pile the tomato mixture upon wafer-thin thin slices of toast.
Serves: Approximately 12 slices
Prep: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
- 2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 8 medium ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped and drained of juices
- 1 small sprig of basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 30ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 30ml of balsamic vinegar
- 1 small red onion (optional)
- 1 small loaf of crusty bread
- Salt and pepper
- Take a large mixing bowl and add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil. Mix gently — taking care not to crush the tomatoes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Mix again carefully.
- Cover and put in the fridge. Chill for at least an hour.
- When ready to serve, cut the crusty bread diagonally into 1cm thick slices and lightly toast.
- Once the toast is golden brown, distribute the tomato mixture evenly onto the bruschetta.
- Or, if you prefer enjoying tomatoes at room temperature — remove them from the fridge for 30 minutes before adding them to the toast. Serve and enjoy!
If you aren’t familiar with this zesty Eastern Mediterranean salad, then allow us to introduce you. Tabbouleh (or ‘tabouli’) is a blend of lean greens, fine grains and lemon juice — super for a spring mezze or as part of a vegan main course. Packed with vegetables and fibre-rich bulgar wheat, tabbouleh will leave you feeling light, no matter how much you pile on your plate.
You can play with harmonious ingredients to make the dish bespoke to your palate. For example, scatter in pomegranate seeds for a tart crunch. Or, to pay homage to the dish’s origin — include a touch of Lebanese 7-Spice to provide a fragrant kick.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 100g bulgur wheat
- 20g fresh mint leaves
- ½ a cucumber, cut into small pieces
- 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 large sprig of curly parsley
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes
- 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- Salt, to taste
- Pour the bulgur wheat into a bowl, add cold water, and rub, removing excess starch.
- Drain, then put back into the bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 8-10 minutes, no longer.
- Drain well, then put on a paper towel. Squeeze out excess water, pour into a dry mixing bowl and put to one side.
- Approx 20 minutes before serving, add the tomatoes. Leave for 10 minutes for the flavour to saturate the bulgar wheat.
- Finely chop the mint and parsley leaves. Put in the bowl of bulgar wheat with the garlic, onions and cucumber. Add 2tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil to the bowl and toss well.
- Sprinkle with salt to taste, then tuck in.
So much more than just a ‘cold tomato soup’, a serving of Spanish gazpacho is the ultimate way to embrace spring’s warmer weather. Beautifully chilled, this carefree soup requires no cooking and just ten minutes to make, plus refrigeration time.
Consisting of purely vegetables, seasoning and a little oil and vinegar, gazpacho is so light that it can even be served in stylish shot glasses as a refreshing appetiser for spring gatherings. For an extra spicy kick, add a touch of tabasco — or garlic croutons for a fulfilling crunch.
Prep: 10 minutes
Chill time: 2 hours+
Cooking time: 0 minutes
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 spring onions, diced
- 125ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ½ medium cucumber, diced
- 5 large tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- A pinch of paprika
- 1 sprig of fresh basil
- Place the basil, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cucumber and spring onions in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the sherry vinegar and the olive oil and mix vigorously until the tomato juices are released and the mixture aromatic.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Once chilled, blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth.
- Add a pinch of paprika or your preference for extra seasoning, then serve ice cold straight from the fridge, or with olive oil ice cubes.