Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad

As we continue to enjoy our British Summer, I would like to celebrate the abundance of seasonal vegetables available at this time of the year. Along with birds chirping early in the mornings and long, sunny, warm summer days, the variety of vegetables, bought or home grown, really allows us home cooks to get creative in the kitchen.  Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad is a delicious celebration of easy summer cooking, using a variety of seasonal vegetables.

FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad.

Packed full of roasted veggies in a lemon vinaigrette, this dish can be either served on its own, or as a colourful side dish. Since it can be served warm, it is a perfect barbecue or buffet dish. Indeed, when made in the morning, then left to sit for a few hours, the flavours develop, enhancing the overall deliciousness. Easy to prepare and make ahead!

FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad full of goodness.

As much as a crunchy pasta salad has appeal, there is something very comforting in the softened, roasted vegetables here. Slightly sweet, with a mere hint of caramelisation, their flavour is enhanced by the fresh lemon juice in the vinaigrette. Orzo provides the perfect bite, complimenting the vegetables. Resulting in a dish that lets the vegetable flavours shine, without being overly bulked out with pasta.

Recipe: Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad serves 6

1 Aubergine

2 Courgettes

2 Bell Peppers – deseeded

1 Red Onion – skin removed

1 Large Fennel Bulb – or 2 small

400g Dried Orzo

20ml Olive Oil

1 Large Lemon – 20ml of juice

40ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I use Filippo Berio

1/2tsp Sea Salt plus 1tbsp for cooking the pasta –  I use Maldon

1/2tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Handful of Fresh Parsley – flat or curly

Note: individual vegetables may be substituted according to preference.

Method: Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan, gas mark 6

  • Firstly, wash and thoroughly dry the vegetables. Follow by chopping into equal 1″/2.5cm pieces.
  • Transfer to a large baking tray.
  • Drizzle over a generous tablespoon of olive oil and one quarter of a teaspoon of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • With clean hands toss the vegetables in the seasoned oil, taking care to cover each piece.
  • Spread the vegetables out on the tray. During the cooking process they will reduce slightly in size.
FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Prepared vegetables ready for roasting.
  • Place the baking tray into the centre of a preheated oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through the roasting time.
  • While the vegetables are roasting cook the orzo and make the lemon vinaigrette.
  • Place a large pan of cold water on the hob and bring to a boil. When boiling add 1 tablespoon of sea salt and then add the orzo.
  • Squeeze the fresh lemon juice into a small, clean jar that has a fitted lid. Add the extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the lid securely on to the jar and shake vigorously to combine.
  • Cook the orzo according to packet instructions, removing from the heat and draining 2 minutes before the finished cooking time.
  • Place the drained orzo into a bowl and pour over the lemon vinaigrette. Fork through the orzo to ensure the vinaigrette covers each small piece, stopping the pasta from forming clumps.
  • When cooked the vegetables will be softened, allowing a fork to easily pierce. Some pieces may be slightly charred at the edges.
FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Roasted summer vegetables.
  • Spoon or tip the roasted vegetables on top of the orzo.
FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Making Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad.
  • Gently, use two forks to mix the roasted vegetables into the Orzo.
  • Finally, roughly chop a handful of fresh parsley, discarding the stalks and scatter over the salad.
FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad.

If making the same day as eating, cover with cling film and leave on the work top. Yet, when making the day before, leave out the parsley, cool, cover and store in the fridge. Remove and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour, garnish with freshly chopped parsley and then serve.

Since this salad is so versatile, it can be served alongside grilled chicken, salmon, or burgers and ribs at a barbecue. Likewise, it can also be served on its own.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad you may also like these:

Lime Couscous

FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Lime Couscous.

Roasted Pale Ale Jelly Tomatoes

FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Roasted Pale Ale Jelly Tomatoes.

Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo

FF Roasted Summer Vegetable Orzo Salad
Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo.

While shopping in large supermarkets it can be easy to become disconnected with seasonal vegetables. Transportation means that most ‘summer’ vegetables can be easily obtained throughout the year. Since large, super greenhouses have cropped up across the country, most notably in Thanet, Kent, the effect on home grown produce has been to lengthen its season. Also ensuring the public buys British rather than imported produce. I fully support this endeavour.

Yet, even with this consideration, there is little to rival blackberry picking in August and September. Connecting us to nature and the natural season of harvest.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing our feast.

Sammie xx

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Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup

Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup easy to make and delicious to eat.

Autumn is well and truly here. Golden and red leaves, flutter like confetti to the ground. The perfect time of year for walks in the park or woods. Also, it is the season for fungi and mushrooms. If you go foraging, whilst out on a walk, make sure you have a guide, or book, to ensure you only pick what is edible. The mushrooms for this Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup came from the supermarket where they are available all year round.

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup full of goodness and flavour.

Being able to buy mushrooms all year round means that this soup can also be made whenever you want. Since this soup is incredibly easy to make and completely delicious, you may find yourself making it year round!

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup perfect with rustic wholemeal bread.

While I used white, button mushrooms for this recipe, chestnut, or portobello would also taste delicious. Sautéing the mushrooms slowly, ensures that they release their deep, earthy flavour. As a result, the finished soup has a rich mushroom flavour, that is not heavy. Sneaking in a potato not only thickens the soup, it also gives it beautiful creamy texture too.

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup add a splash of cream if you dare 😉

Ok so I added a swirl of cream, just to see what it would add to this soup. While it does add an extra luxurious note, perfect for special occasions, or dinner parties, the soup doesn’t need it. For example in my Leek and Potato Soup the cream really rounds out the flavour and texture. Whereas here, with the mushroom soup, the creaminess is already present.

If you want to add a swirl of cream, I won’t judge!

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup so full of healthy flavour.

Full of flavour and texture, an immersion blender is used to ‘cream’ this soup. Rather than whizzing the soup to a completely smooth consistency, very small chunks are left in to give a better, more interesting texture. However, you may purée the soup to whatever consistency you desire. That’s the beauty of making good, homemade food.

Recipe: Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup serves 4 people

1 Leek washed and trimmed

1tbs Butter – alternatively you may use olive oil

300g Mushrooms

1 Medium Sized Floury Potato

1 Vegetable/Chicken Stock Cube – I use Knorr

1L Very Hot Water – from a kettle

1/4tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/4tsp Sea Salt – I use Maldon


  • First, place a heavy bottomed soup pan on to the hob, over a medium heat. Now add the butter.
  • While the butter is melting chop the leek into a medium dice – approximately 1cm pieces.
  • Once the butter has melted add the chopped leek to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes until they become soft.
  • Meanwhile slice the mushrooms and then cut the slices in half.
  • Next add the sliced mushrooms to the softened leeks.
  • Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook the mushrooms and leeks for a further 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft.
  • Peel and medium dice the potato, then add it to the saucepan.
  • Now add 1 litre of very hot water, from the kettle and a stock cube. Stir, put on the lid and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Preparing the soup.
  • After simmering for 30 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Make sure you are wearing an apron for the next step. I speak from soup splattered experience!
  • Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is almost smooth. One of the benefits of using this method to blend soup is, it allows you to feel, as well as see, how smooth the soup is. Also, if you do not have an immersion blender, a standard blender will still blend the soup well. Take care not to overfill the blender and allow the soup to cool slightly before using this method.
  • Check the soup for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

To serve, warm the soup and serve with thick chunks of rustic bread.

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup a delicious way to warm up!

Each mouthful of this soup is a treat to your tastebuds. Perfectly balanced flavour that is nutritious and delicious.

This soup will keep, cool and place into an airtight container, keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

If you have enjoyed the recipe for my Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup you may also like these other healthy and low fat soup recipes:

Carrot Soup

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Carrot Soup garnished with crumbled Stilton cheese.

Roast Chicken Noodle Soup

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Roast Chicken Noodle Soup an economic meal.

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

FF Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup
Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup warm and comforting.

Homemade soup is so easy to make. Also, the reward, far outweighs the minimum effort needed to prepare and cook the soup. Delicious, good for you and incredibly soothing on cough ravaged, sore throats, which seem in abundance at this time of year. While eating this soup, you can almost feel it doing you good.

Do you have a favourite soup recipe?  Please let me know as I love new ideas, old ideas, any ideas that taste great!

Have fun, making, baking and creating, in your kitchens.

Sammie xx


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Homemade Cauliflower Cheese

Homemade Cauliflower Cheese has to be right up there, on the list of all time comfort foods – right?

FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese golden and gooey.

Fresh, creamy white florets of seasonal cauliflower, lightly steamed and smothered in a thick, nutmeg scented, cheese sauce. Like a fluffy duvet, or wood burning fire, it wraps you in its warm embrace and brings you home.

Many friends and family have said that Homemade Cauliflower Cheese reminds them of their childhood. I can understand why. It isn’t something I make, or eat that often, yet when the gooey cheese sauce intermingles with meaty gravy on my plate (yes I have both 😉) I am in food heaven.

FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese golden and bubbling comfort food.

With the current ongoing use of cauliflower as a carbohydrate replacement. Transforming those creamy florets into rice, pizza base, potato salad??? I kid you not, take a look on Pinterest. My Homemade Cauliflower Cheese could not be further from these carbohydrate substitute recipes.

Tender, baked cauliflower, covered in a homemade cheese sauce, is, for me one of the best ways to eat this delicious vegetable. Part of the brassica family, where cabbages, broccoli and brussel sprouts are its cousins, cauliflower has a slightly sweet flavour, not dissimilar to the thick leaves of white cabbage. Cooked properly its texture is dense and meaty, making it a filling vegetarian dish when served on its own.

FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese so temptingly delicious.

My favourite way to eat and enjoy Homemade Cauliflower Cheese is with a roast dinner, or sausages and mash. I like the way the cheese sauce goes so well with proper gravy dinners, oh and it is unbelievably good with Yorkshire puddings.

Recipe: Homemade Cauliflower Cheese serves 4-6 as a side dish

1 large head of Cauliflower or 2 smaller ones

75g/3oz Unsalted Butter

75g/3oz Plain White Flour

150g/5.5oz Mature Cheddar Cheese – grated – hold back 2 tablespoons from adding to the sauce, for sprinkling over the assembled dish.

500ml Milk Whole or Semi Skimmed

1/4tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg – I buy Barts whole nutmegs and grate them myself on the coarse side of a box grater. The fresh flavour is incomparable with it’s pre-grated counterpart.

1/2tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  • Place the butter into a heavy bottomed saucepan and melt over a medium heat.
  • Add in all the flour, stir for a couple of minutes so that the flour and butter become a bubbling paste (roux).
  • Pour in roughly 100ml of the milk and stir vigorously. The flour, butter and milk will come together to form a thick clump.
  • Add another 100mls of milk and keep stirring until all the milk is incorporated.
  • Continue as before, adding the milk in 100ml quantities, stirring thoroughly. If you are worried that some lumps will not disappear simple switch to a balloon whisk.
  • After adding all the milk, you will have a smooth, thick-ish white sauce.
FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Showing the stages of making the white sauce.
  • Add the pepper and nutmeg to the bechemel (white sauce) and stir thoroughly. I generally don’t add salt as the cheese tends to lend its saltiness to the final flavour, however, a quick taste check once the cheese has melted will allow you to adjust the seasonings.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and tip in the grated cheese. Stir until it is melted and you have a smooth cheese sauce.
FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Delicious Cheese Sauce ready for pouring over Cauliflower and baking.
  • Prepare the cauliflower by cutting off most of the green leaves, breaking into florets, rinsing under a tap a and then steaming for no longer than 5 minutes.
  • Place the steamed cauliflower florets into an oven proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce.
  • Sprinkle over the reserved cheese, this gives the topping extra colour and gooey cheese!
FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese ready for the oven.
  • If this is made ahead, allow to cool, cover in tented foil, so that the topping doesn’t stick to it. The dish can be left on the side for a couple of hours, any longer simply pop it in the fridge, it will keep for up to 2 days.
  • Bake the Homemade Cauliflower Cheese in an oven, preheated to 200C/180C fan, gas mark 6 for 30-40 minutes. It is baked when the top is golden and bubbling and a fork can pierce the base of a cauliflower floret.
  • Once baked remove from the oven and serve.
FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Homemade Cauliflower Cheese an ultimate comfort food.

Utterly delicious, tender cauliflower florets in a thick, cheesy sauce, ooh I love the colder months 😉.

Homemade Cauliflower Cheese also goes well with fish dishes, such as smoked haddock, or any firm, white fish, especially when served with mashed potatoes!

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Homemade Cauliflower Cheese you may also like these:

Leek Colcannon

FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Leek Colcannon.

Perfectly Mashed Potatoes

FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Perfectly Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Rosemary Roast Potatoes

FF Homemade Cauliflower Cheese
Garlic Rosemary Roast Potatoes

As the nights draw in, I find comfort in warming, hearty food. That isn’t to say I don’t believe in balance, I absolutely do. On a day when we indulge in Homemade Cauliflower Cheese, we wouldn’t have dessert. That said we rarely do eat pudding, except perhaps on a Sunday, something I am working on!

When it’s hot in the summer, salad and cool food it what my body craves. As soon as the annual September chill hits the air I long for warming meals like Steak Leek and Ale Pie or Chunky Chilli.

Do you find that your appetite and desire for different foods changes with the seasons?

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in the kitchen, I love seeing photos on Twitter and Instagram, so please keep them coming. I also really enjoy reading your comments, thank you for taking the time to leave them, they are very much appreciated.

Sammie xx

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