Thursday 19 April 2012

"My Friend Maia" and eating "a few greens and a few yellows"...

My green and yellow  salad was inspired by this lovely little film made on Fire Island by artist Julia Warr about her friend  Maia Helles.   A Russian ballet dancer that she met on a plane four years ago and of whom she is convinced that the benefits of a daily exercise regime has helped to keep "resolutely independent, healthy and as fit as a forty year old" despite the fact that the film was made to celebrate her 95th birthday!

I must have watched this at least twenty or thirty times since first finding it over here.  Maia is my new role model...she is so cute and I love her little house...and hope to be just as fit when I'm 95!

She shares her secret for long life... "simplicity, work and enjoyment..."  I think it could also be down to her diet including "a few greens and a few yellows"...

My friend Maia from julia warr on Vimeo via

Here is how you make my Maia inspired Green and yellow goats cheese salad with a walnut, wild rocket and watercress pesto.

Ingredients for two people:
  • Four generous handfuls each of organic wild rocket and watercress
  • One small yellow sweet pepperBlack olives
  • Two handfuls of walnut halves
  • One clove of garlic
  • Good virgin olive oil
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Goats cheese 


  1. Wash the pepper then cut in half and remove the seeds. Slice finely and place in an oven-proof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in a moderate  oven until soft and beginning to get little golden brown edges.
  2. Wash the salad leaves and divide half onto two serving dishes and the remaining half into a blender.
  3. Chop the walnuts, peel and crush the clove of garlic and add both to the blender along with some black olives.
  4. When the peppers are cooked remove from the oven, drain and  place on top of the salad leaves pouring the olive oil into the blender along with the other ingredients.
  5. Add a good squeeze of lemon/lime juice and blend to a coarse pesto. Adding more juice or olive oil if necessary.
  6. Cut some slices of goats cheese and place on top of the salad leaves.  I used Kidderton Ash goats cheese a that's handmade in Cheshire.  It has a lovely mild flavour and is suitable for vegetarians. 
  7. Add a few black olives to the salad and then top with a big dollop of the pesto...mmm...

True to my inspiration Maia, I kept this salad simple. I'm so glad that I wasn't tempted to add anything else.

The watercress and rocket leaves brought a lovely peppery heat that meant I didn't need to use  black pepper.  The peppers added warm sweetness and the salsa a lovely nutty dressing that thanks to the olives didn't need any extra seasoning.  All these ingredients balanced amazingly with the smoky, ash coated goats cheese...

I will definitely be making this again...and using the pesto in other dishes ...

...and watching "My Friend Maia" a good few more times too...

I'm linking over to No croutons required using lovely black olives for the April antipasto challenge.


  1. I have watched the same video many times. My daughter and I enjoy looking at her home as well.

    1. I find it so calming Heather...I sent it to my daughter and she loved it too and we plan to have lots of yoga sessions together when she comes back home for a few months in the summer...

  2. i havent watched the video before, never heard of it until today, so Im glad you brought it up! great life philosophy, and great salad. I love how the sweetness of peppers intensify with roasting, yum against the salty olives and (i love) goat's cheese!

    1. Thanks Shu Han. I love your new blog layout and all the little sketches...


  3. Isn't she amazing? What a wonderful philosophy for life! Bella and Henry both started ballet last week and although I wasn't allowed to watch them I could see through a crack in the door that they both had that same look of joy I feel on my face when I dance so I'd add dance and yoga to my secret to a happy life too!

    Thanks for the lovely salad recipe. I sometimes make something similar for myself when I am at home on my own as the kids prefer their vegies cooked. It's our first really cold day of the year today so after ballet lessons tonight we're roasting up two trays of potato, pumpkin, cauliflower,red onions,baby capsicums, carrots and parsnips which I'll serve drizzled with a honey, lemon & grain mustard dressing, accompanied by couscous or quinoa and green beans and rocket. I love Autumn!

  4. I know! I would definitely add yoga too...and dancing around the kitchen and the garden and wherever I am!

    Your roasted vegetable supper sounds scrumptious. Especially with the honey/mustard dressing and Quinoa I cook it all the time at the moment...