29th birthday recipes: salad and spinach pastries

I turned 29 last Saturday! I wanted to have a picnic but the weather didn’t want to play nice, so instead we had an indoor picnic/house warming/potluck. I made some salad and spinach pastries, and I have posted the recipes here for you. (I have no party pictures or food pictures, so instead please enjoy this majestic tree and its tree friends at Stirling uni campus)



Tini’s 29th Birthday Pasta Salad recipe


  • 250g macaroni pasta (or any pasta shape, but I like macaroni)
  • 1 small red onion (or half a big one)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 pepper (any colour)
  • 2-3 small-ish tomatoes (or 2 big ones)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, etc (optional)

What you do:

  1. Pop your macaroni pasta in some boiling salted water and boil for a minute less than package instructions
  2. While that’s happening, cut your red onion very very very small
  3. Wash your courgette, then slice, then cut each slice into small dice. You want to end up with pieces that are the width of half your thumb fingernail, kind of
  4. Cut pepper into slices and then halve them
  5. Cut tomatoes in half, then in half again, then cut each quarter into three pieces
  6. Put all vegetables in a bowl
  7. Pour on two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and two tablespoons of olive oil
  8. Put some salt and pepper on top
  9. If you have it, you can add some lemon juice and pomegranate molasses, which will add a nice bright acidic tang
  10. When your pasta has finished boiling, drain it into a colander and rinse it with cold water.
  11. When the pasta has drained, add it to the dressing-and-vegetable bowl (it’s nice if the pasta is still a bit warm, as for some reason this makes it absorb the dressing better)
  12. Stir everything around a lot
  13. Let it sit at room temperature until you’re ready to eat it
  14. That’s it!

This recipe was inspired by this butter bean salad and the kale salad in Ella Risbridger’s Midnight Chicken.


Puff Pastry Spinach Parcels (aka, sort of a version of spanakopita if you don’t want to eat any dairy or egg)


  • Ready-made puff pastry (the stuff that’s already rolled out and in the chilled section of the shop)
  • Olive oil
  • 250g spinach
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Nutmeg
  • Basil
  • Smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • A bit of milk (I used soy)
  • Baking tray and greaseproof paper
  • Flaky salt and thyme, to finish

What you do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to whatever the puff pastry package says it likes to be baked at (180 or so)
  2. Cut a red onion into very small pieces
  3. Cut your garlic cloves into very small pieces too
  4. In a big wide pan, heat some olive oil or some other oil of your choice, to medium-high, and pop in your onion
  5. Wash the spinach
  6. When the onion is translucent-ish, add garlic, fry that for a minute
  7. Before the garlic catches any colour, add the spinach. It will wilt down A LOT
  8. Throw on some nutmeg, dried or fresh basil, and some smoked paprika (if you don’t have these, don’t worry, just leave them out)
  9. When everything has cooked down and the spinach is all wilted, taste it and add salt and pepper
  10. Let the spinach-and-onion mixture cool off
  11. Unroll the puff pastry sheet and, with a sharp knife, score it into eight equal-size pieces, then score each of the eight in half so you end up with sixteen pieces. You can make the puff pastry parcels bigger if you like, but I think small ones are cute
  12. Put maybe a teaspoon-ish of the cooled spinach-and-onion mixture onto each of the sixteen rectangles
  13. Squeeze the rectangles shut. You can do this by folding the sides in, or folding a longer side over. Or you can make them into triangles. It is up to you. Then put the parcels onto a baking tray on some greaseproof paper
  14. When they are closed, brush them with a bit of milk. If you don’t have a pastry brush, spoon over a tiny tiny amount of milk, or wash your hands and use your clean fingers to… massage on some milk (?)
  15. Sprinkle with flaky salt and some dried or fresh thyme
  16. Bake for… 20 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s