No Croutons Required - August Winner

Well, that was a close call! For the first time ever on No Croutons Required, we nearly had three winners, but at the last moment another vote came in. So now, I would like to announce the winner of this month's challenge as Dee from Ammalu's Kitchen with her beautifully presented and photographed Sweet Pepper, Feta and Veggie Salad. A worthy winner indeed, especially because she added some gorgeous feta to her salad.

However, I don't think it would be fair to end this post without a congratulations to the two dishes that came so close.

Coconut Rice and Roast Red Pepper Salad with Ginger Dressing - Mangocheeks

Roasted Pepper Salad with Filo & Goat's Cheese Croutons - Val

Congratulations you guys, your entries were awesome!

For next month's No Croutons Required, head over to Lisa's Kitchen. Lisa will announce the challenge at the start of September.

Roast Vegetable & Tomato Soup with Basil

I had a few vegetables to use up and my friend Audrey kindly gave me some courgettes from her garden. I was a bit stuck to think of what I was going to make, but now I am back in soup mode, so I decided to roast the vegetables and turn them into soup.

Roast Vegetable & Tomato Soup with Basil

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, quartered
1 aubergine, sliced
3 courgettes, sliced thickly
3 bell peppers, red and orange, cut into large chunks
3 salad tomatoes
1 400g tin tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
fresh basil

In a large bowl toss together the prepared vegetables, olive oil, salt, pepper and a few basil leaves. Pour the vegetables into a roasting pan, that has heated through in a pre-heated hot oven. Roast for 20 - 30 minutes until the vegetables have started to char at the edges. Turn the vegetables once during this time.

Spoon the roast vegetable into a blender, along with the tin of tomatoes and whizz until smooth. Then pour into a pan, add the stock and tomato puree and warm through while stirring. Add a handful of shredded fresh basil and season to taste.

Serves 4 - 6

This soup is lovely and rich served as it is, but I think it would be even more satisfying with a swirl of cream or yoghurt.

It would also be a great pasta sauce. Just think of that roast vegetable and tomato flavour in a thick sauce, coating the pasta and topped with feta cheese. Mmmmmm! It would actually be good with a few reserved roast vegetables added to the sauce at the end for texture as well. If you are making it into a sauce, then use half the quantity of vegetable stock.

No Croutons Required - The Peppers Roundup

This month's challenge was to make a soup or salad containing peppers. Sweet peppers, chilli peppers, bell peppers ....

I decided on peppers because I had an idea for a pasta salad and you will agree it was a great choice once you see the fabulous round-up below.

We start of the proceedings with a salad from Lysy over at Munchkin Mail. Lysy has made us a Banana, Lentil and Pepper Salad, using sweet peppers for crunch. Now you make think the banana in the salad is odd and Lysy is the first to admit this, but this started off as more off a fruit based salad until she accidentally ate the mango and we all know how easy something like that can happen! And actually if you think of the addition of banana to curries, it is not such an odd choice. My mum loves some banana in her curry and I think this salad is well worth a try.

(Warwicks, UK)

Next up, my co-host and good friend Lisa made us a Roasted Corn and Jalapeno Cheese Soup. Which I think sounds really quite amazing! Lisa always manages to come up with something a little bit different, but guaranteed to tempt. I went off soups for a while, I think I overdid it over the Autumn and Winter, however the weather has predictably turned grotty here again in Scotland and soups are back on the menu. Lisa made this soup with hot peppers (I knew you would Lisa!), the first corn of the season, pinto beans, lime juice, cilantro or as we call it coriander and finished off with some Jack cheese. Lisa has obviously done better this year with her chilli plant than I have. I am still waiting for a crop!

(London, Canada)
not in vote

We move from a chilli pepper soup to a Chilled Pepper Soup courtesy of a regular to this challenge, Soma from the wonderful eCurry blog. Soma has a fascination for bell peppers and always has some to hand, thankfully for us! However, since Soma is in the middle of a hot summer (not jealous, not jealous) she decided that a chilled bowl of soup would hit the spot and turned to a jar of roasted bell peppers to star in this dish. It just looks so velvety and rich, who could resist?

(Texas, USA)

After winning last month's challenge, with his Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Teriyaki Quinoa Salad, which was a worthy winner, Kevin from Closet Cooking once more dips his toes into this month's No Croutons Required challenge or perhaps that should be dives in, with another quinoa salad, which couldn't be more different from last month's entry. This month Kevin returns with a Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad. Red quinoa, black beans, corn, red pepper, jalapeno and chipotle peppers all dressed with cumin, lime and cilantro. Mmmmmmm!

(Toronto, Canada)

The round-up continues with another soup, this time a hot soup from Shri over at Tasty Touch. Shri has made us a Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup, topped with a swirl of cream. I don't think anyone would turn down a bowl of this delicious looking soup and after seeing it I had to go visit Shri's blog and I wasn't disappointed. One look at her Cilantro Pesto Hummus and I knew she was a girl after my own heart.


Next we have Yasmeen over at Healthy Nut who has stepped up the heat with a Habañero Grilled Sweet Corn Salad. It is not only the flavours that pack a punch in this salad, but the colours too. Isn't that an amazingly pretty salad, a visual cornucopia for the eyes and a pleasure to eat too, I would say, although I haven't tried the fiery habañero chilli before. Maybe I will not be using the whole pepper as Yasmeen did for my first try!

(Columbus, USA)

We have another imaginative salad next. This time from Lata over at Flavours and Tastes. Lata was looking for a light, healthy meal to enjoy with her husband. They had decided to have a light meal once a week of either soup or salad (you have found your new home from home here Lata) and turned to a menu from a favourite eatery for inspiration. The final dish was filled with home sprouted beans, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes. Lata dressed her Colourful Peppers and Sprout Salad with a Malaysian Sambal Sauce.

(Accra, Ghana)

I too took inspiration from eating out, although my inspiration was more sitting in the park or the staff room at work rather than eating in a restaurant. This dish was the inspiration for the peppers in this roundup. I made a Roast Pepper & Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad with Feta for my entry. I was trying to recreate my favourite pasta salad from Marks and Spencers and it worked out exceedingly well!

(Dundee, Scotland)
not in vote

Next, we head over to Ammalu's Kitchen where we are treated to a Sweet Pepper, Feta and Veggie Salad. As you can guess from my own entry, I am always up for a helping of feta cheese and Dee has made an exquisite salad with it. Sweet crunchy peppers, salty feta, juicy cherry tomatoes, Kalamatta olives and crunchy cucumber all tossed in a sharp, tangy dressing and served on a bed of romaine lettuce leaves. Stunningly beautiful photo Dee!


Now we head over to Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes, where another of our NCR regulars, Priya, has made us a Bell Pepper N Melon Salad. It is a lovely fresh and light salad of red and green bell peppers, corn kernels, canteloupe melon and cucumber, seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with a drizzle of olive oil. I just love the way Priya has balled her cucumber in the same way as the melons. I must try that some time, it is very effective. I will try not to winge about the heatwave Priya is experiencing! OK, that is impossible, so cover your eyes now! Paris is only just over an hour away by plane from Scotland. What's going on? That just sucks! *sulk*

(Paris, France)

We are going all herby next, thanks to Sweatha, another regular NCR regular over at Tasty Curry Leaf who has made us a Grilled Pepper Salad with a Herb Dressing. Sweatha grilled red and yellow bell peppers, paneer, onion, baby corn and pineapple, kebab style, for this salad and then complimented the salad with a lovely green dressing made of cashew nuts, coriander, mint, ginger, garlic and a green chilli. Boy oh boy, that dressing sounds good and what a great bbq dish this would make.

(Bangalore, India)

My mouth is watering again as I drool over this next dish. Quite a simple salad, but topped with the most luscious dressing. This most drooled over concoction was dreamt up by Nupur over at One Hot Stove during a powercut. There is nothing quite like a powercut to bring out a spot of creativity when you are needing to provide a meal and this is no exception. May I present to you Nupur's Verdant Salad, a mixture of black beans, shredded cabbage, green bell pepper and cilantro. And that lush dressing I hear you ask - ripe avocado, yoghurt, hot green chilli pepper, onion and black pepper. Mmmmmmm!

(St Louis, USA)

Next we are back in Scotland for a salad dish made by the lovely Mangocheeks over at Allotment to Kitchen. Peppers are one of the few things that Mangocheeks doesn't grow in her wonderful allotment, but she was still happy to give this challenge a go and all the other main ingredients bar the rice did come fresh from her allotment, so it is still very impressive as well as delicious. So here it is Coconut Rice and Roast Red Pepper Salad with Ginger Dressing. I just had to include a picture of the dressing, because it comes on such a gorgeous plate. Isn't it wonderful? And the dressing sitting in a glass on the plate is pretty wonderful too. Fresh ginger, tamari sauce, vegetable oil, garlic and tomatoes.

(West of Scotland)

We take a visit to Ashley's blog, Eat Me Delicious for another lipsmackingly tempting salad. Ashley has made us a Mediterranean Pepper Salad. This round-up really backs up the fact that feta goes beautifully with peppers and this is proven once more with Ashley's salad of red onion, bell peppers, roma tomatoes, English cucumber, Kalamata olives and firm feta cheese, this time cut into cubes. Ashley favours adding the feta this way, so that you get the full flavour of the cheese without having to add half the block, which can happen if you crumble it. This salad was so greatly enjoyed, that Ashley has made it three times so far and plans to make it again soon.

(Vancouver, Canada)

It is very fitting that I include Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe's recipe next as it was inspired by a recipe for one of Ashley's salads. It is a Roasted Vegetable Taco Soup. A delicious combination of flavours which include pumpkin, corn, red & green peppers or capsicums as Johanna reminded me thay are called in Australia, onion, carrot, celery, tomatoes, jalapenos and herbs. Topped off with seasoned roasted chickpeas, grated cheese and tortilla strips and all this with a baby and husband to look after. I just don't know how Johanna does it. I think she is the truly inspirational one and if all this isn't enough, she did a 101 other things the same day, including making some amazing Chewy Chunky Blondies with chunks of jersey caramels. Also curtesy of Ashley. Wow!

(Melbourne, Australia)

The next salad is just so colourful and I want it right away! Val from More Than Burnt Toast has such a way with food. She can make comfort food better than anyone I know and I would just love to pop over to her house for a meal and then take a lovely walk to soak in the stunning views that surround her and I just know there would be a pretty amazing wine to enjoy with the meal. Oh daydream, daydream! Anyway, back to the salad. Val has made us a Roasted Pepper Salad with Filo & Goat Cheese Croutons - roasted peppers in a french dressing on a bed of salad leaves, topped with the most gorgeous slices of goats cheese rolled in herbs and then encased in filo pastry, which is cooked until golden.

(British Columbia, Canada)

Our next and final recipe is from New York. In New York we visit Susan from The Well Seasoned Cook who rounds off our event with a soup. Susan uses one little word to describe her soup, just under the photo is the word "hot" and that says it all really. Be prepared! Bloomin' heck! I just re-read the original recipe that Susan used and it called for four to six of the fiendish fireballs, habañero chile, but sense prevailed and Susan used one, phew! I bet this Chilled Red Pepper Soup was still bloomin' hot! I does sound tempting though, red bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic and habañero chile. Cool and flavoursome with a kick.

(New York, USA)

And so ends another wonderfully colourful and varied roundup. All that is left is for us to pick a winner. Choose your favourite and vote in the poll. If you have any problem with the poll then just email me your favourite to The winner will be announced at the end of the month and Lisa will announce the next challenge at the beginning of September.

Good luck to all the entrants!

Roast Pepper & Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad with Feta

I usually take my own lunch to work, but occasionally I have to pop out and get something and I really enjoy Marks and Spencer sandwiches and pasta salads. Believe me, this is lunchtime haute cuisine in Dundee, especially if you only have half an hour to purchase and eat said lunch!

There is one pasta salad in particular that I enjoy, a pasta salad with a small spiral pasta, sunblush tomatoes and feta chesse. So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do. I had a look at the list of ingredients and set off home to recreate it myself and boy it is good. It has a real strength of flavour with the roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes, top this off with feta and you are in pasta heaven. It is a great standby recipe as it uses jarred roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes.

Roast Pepper & Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad with Feta



½ clove garlic
1 roasted pepper plus 1 tbsp oil from jar
4 sundried tomatoes plus 1 tbsp oil from jar
1 ½ tbsp tomato puree
1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
a few basil leaves
salt and pepper


sundried tomatoes


  1. Whizz up the dressing ingredients and taste for seasoning, then set aside.
  2. Cook your desired pasta until al dente, then cool under cold water, to stop the cooking process.
  3. Toss the cold pasta in the dressing and then fold in some chopped sundried tomatoes, fresh basil and crumble in some feta.



Lemon Sponge Cake with Lemon Cream & Strawberries


I made this cake the same day I saw it on Sylvie's blog - A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit. I mean how could I resist? I am sure you have all experienced that immediate lust when you see a recipe and fall in love. Store cupboard permitting, it just has to be made the same day!

It was serendipity! I was trying to decide which cake I should make and take along to my parent's house that evening and low and behold there it was in all it's sumptuousness!

I changed it into cup measures, because I prefer baking this way now, but if you would like the cake recipe in metric, visit Sylvie's blog for the original recipe.

Lemon Sponge Cake with Lemon Cream & Strawberries


1 cup self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
100g/ 1 stick butter
½ cup caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon curd
grated rind of 1 large lemon
2 large eggs, whisked
1tbsp lemon juice


1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp of caster sugar
juice of ½ lemon

(tweak this until it is to your own taste, by adding a little lemon juice at a time)



Preheat your oven to 175 C/Gas 3-4

Grease and line a 2 lb loaf tin or round cake tin.

Put all the cake ingredients together into a large bowl & mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then a hand held mixer for a maximum of 3 minutes.

Pour into the prepared loaf or cake tin & bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Once the cake has cooled, whip up the cream with the sugar and lemon juice and spread across the cake. Sylvie mixed some lemon curd and icing sugar into double cream for her cake, which sounds great too.

Finally top with halved strawberries.

Making this cake was a piece of cake, please ignore the pun! It was just so easy and quick to put together, but with stunning results. It got high marks from my parents and from Graham. Although Graham would have preferred the cream without the lemon juice, but then he is never a huge fan of lemon.


On another note, I have just learned of a rather brilliant competition open to UK Bloggers.

Those lovely peeps over at Gaviscon Double Action are offering fabulous prizes in their The Nations Favorite Double Act Competition.

First Prize is a £200 voucher for two, to dine at Anthony Worrall Thompson’s restaurant, The Greyhound, in Henley-Thames, plus one night’s stay at the Hotel du Vin in Henley, and £100 toward travel expenses.

33 runners-up will receive a signed copy of ‘Fast Family Food’ by Anthony Worrall Thompson.

Not bad as far as prizes go, huh?

In a recent survey done by Gaviscon Double Action (a heartburn and indigestion remedy), they discovered that Apple Crumble & Custard is the nation’s favourite Double Act pudding. Now who is going to argue with that? It is perfect comfort food.

Apparently, 58% of Brits admit that they would not turn down the offer of a pudding under any circumstances and 16% of men are eating their favourite pudding once a month compared to 17% of women. Those poor men musn't have a food blogger living with them or I am sure the percentage would be much, much higher!

All you have to do to enter this prize draw, is to choose from the 11 favourite puddings listed and then enter your details. It is too good an opportunity to miss!

No Croutons Required - August

No Croutons Required kicks off August with a challenge to make a soup or salad containing peppers. Sweet peppers, chilli peppers, bell peppers or any others you can think off. I have an idea for a pasta salad, but I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

If you would like to join in then post your recipe before the 20th of August and email me the details and a photo to The full details can be found here.

And now on to big congratulations to Kevin over at Closet Cooking who won the July challenge with his delicious Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Teriyaki Quinoa Salad.
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