School Lunchbox Menu: Spiced carrot and lentil soup, hummous and Arabic bread

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Some mornings, I play a game with myself, pretending to be in Chopped or Masterchef – limited time, but with a whole menu to produce + breakfast, (pathetic, I know… but it does inject a sense of excitement to my mornings…) This was one of those mornings. I woke-up at 5.45 am, and by the time I got myself to the kitchen, it was 6 am. There was bread to be made from scratch, soup to prepare, hummous and breakfast items as well. Took a deep breath prepared stuff in order of time needed – bread has to rise first, so I mixed the dough in the mixer and left it to be kneaded. Boiled lentils with vegetable stock, prepared carrots etc. Put dough to rest. Prepared hummous. Made breakfast and soup at the same time. Set table. Whizzed soup in blender. Rolled out dough (it had only 40 minutes to rise this morning…sigh) Grilled bread. Served breakfast, packed lunch. Done – hands up in the air! 60 minutes up!

OK, presentation could have been better for the hummous, however the soup is the nicest soup I have ever tasted. The creaminess from the lentils marry well with the sweetness of the carrots, cumin just enhances the richness of the mixture and the pinch of chilli flakes gives a little tingle on the tongue – not much.. just a teeny, tiny heat that announces its presence. Try making this soup – I highly recommend it. Dear son and hubby each had a big bowl for breakfast – the aroma is just irresistable.

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup (adapted from BBC Good Food)

Ready for blender

Ready for the blender

  • 2 tsp cumin
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • 600 gms carrots – grated and chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 liter stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Method:

  1. Dry fry cumin to release its flavours
  2. Place lentils and vegetable stock in a pot, boil till softened (about 20 minutes)
  3. Add chopped carrots, 1/2 of cumin, chilli flakes, olive oil, milk – cook till carrots are tender.
  4. Blend fine – add milk if too thick, sprinkle leftover cumin on top of soup prior to serving.

Hummous (Adapted from Arabicbites)

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  • 1 can (410 gms) chickpeas
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt

Put all items in food processor and whizz till smooth.

Arabic Bread (flat bread) from Arabicbites

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  1. Put all ingredients in a mixer bowl. Let mixer knead dough for 10 minutes.
  2. Let dough rise in warm place between 50 – 90 minutes.
  3. Gently punch dough, divide into 16 balls. Roll out in circles.
  4. Heat grill pan – grill bread 1 minute per side.

Pizza for a hungry one

Yumm... pizza

Yumm… pizza

Saturdays begin early for us in this household. Ashraf has to be at the pool by 5.45 am for his morning training session. Hubby goes running.  Sometimes I go with them to the pool, but usually prefer to stay home to finish household chores and prepare post training snack. Ashraf has lost a lot of weight since undergoing this training, so I have been trying to keep up with his nutritional needs. Tonight, he has a yoga session, and this is sometimes followed by another quick swim.

Pre-swimming breakfast is usually very straightforward. He has a bowl of oatmeal with sliced bananas, 2 soft boiled eggs and a glass of milk. After swimming he has a bottle of chocolate milk and whatever snack I manage to rustle up. Today, it’s pizza.

The recipe for the pizza dough comes from thepioneerwoman website. I love her website for quick meal ideas, and she is super funny too!

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Basic Pizza Dough (Though pw says this can be made into 2 pizzas, I find that it can make 3 rather large pies!)

  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 sp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  1. Sprinkle yeast on top of warm water – leave for it to bloom (I add a tsp of honey to help the process)
  2. Put flour and sea salt in mixing bowl and mix well. Add olive oil and mix in gently. Add yeast mixture and start kneading.
  3. The dough is soft and slightly sticky. Oil the mixing bowl, toss the dough in and coat it with the olive oil and leave covered with damp tea towel. It will double in size in about 1 hour.
  4.  Punch the dough down. Take 1/3 of the dough and stretch it with your fists. Lightly oil your baking pan, stretch the dough on the pan as thin as you can.
  5. Heat the oven to 250 degrees celcius.
  6. Spread the dough with tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese (1 use a mixture of mozzarela, cheddar and emmental)
  7. Add any other topping you like – try not to overload the pizza.
  8. Bake in the bottom of the oven, at the lowest tray holder for 15 minutes, move the pizza to the middle of the oven until the cheese bubbles and the dough is golden.

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Quick Pizza Sauce

  • 1 small can of Hunt’s tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 3 chopped garlic
  • a teaspoon of Italian herbs mixed
  • a dash of honey to balance the acidity
  • salt (if needed)

Mix the above and leave in the fridge for as long as you can to let the flavours marry.

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Seasoned Minced Beef (topping)

  • a handful of minced beef
  • a teaspoon of olive oil
  • a big pinch each of dried oregano and italian herbs
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil and sautee the mince until cooked, add the herbs and season to taste.

I usually save the rest of the dough in the fridge and leave it in there (up to 3 days) and either make mini pizzas for his lunch pack on Monday, or make another pizza for our movie night treat (with a different topping of course!)

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