Friday, December 23, 2011

Fresh and Light Side Dishes

(Written on December 18- hence the lag in dates!!) I am finally getting back to normal routine after working for the Dubai International Film Festival for the past two weeks. It was an insanely busy time since I was sort of working full time and studying full time. I'm really glad that I  chose to have all my classes on three days of the week this semester so that left me with Monday and Wednesday mornings to catch up on studying.

This was my sixth year at DIFF and the first time that I worked on the red carpet. My first two years I was a volunteer and did everything from working at the standby queue to ushering and checking tickets. The year after that I became staff and managed the Green Room which was quite interesting. I was basically babysitting any VIP talent  or film talent until the screening began. I got to see quite a few "celebrities".. I've never really been interested in them or their lives and so none of them impressed me so much... apart from Gerard Butler. Who is the most charming and witty person. Who I might have fallen in love with had I managed to spend more time with him. Hahaha.

And last year, I managed the 1400-seater theater. That was a lot of fun, very challenging, dynamic, perfect if you're OCD about organization like me. But this year, I finally got to see all the energy of opening night as it happens. I was on the red carpet with the guests, invitees, security, press, and fans. And opening night was great since Mission Impossible 4 was premiering and the amount of worldwide press and fans we had was insane. Tom Cruise himself spent almost 2.5 hours on the red carpet speaking to every single fan and reporter. He was beyond nice. Except that a couple of times I kept on sarcastically wishing he was a snob like other celebrities so that he would just glide through and ignore most of the fans. I had to wait for him that entire time to do my job and got very impatient. But no, he was really nice and I am very impressed at how down to earth he was.

Now that DIFF is over, I am experiencing withdrawal symptoms as I(and every other staff member) experience ever year. All of us staff are such a close-knit group that we're almost like family- family that gets to reunite once a year. I've made some great friends through DIFF, people who I consider to be closest to me.

But enough about that, and onto the recipes. These are two side dishes I always make because they require very little effort and taste amazing. They're quite filling and make a very adequate meal in themselves.

The first is an arugula and olive salad.

3 cups arugula leaves, washed and patted dry
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp sliced olives
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp crumbled feta cheese.

Combine everything together and serve immediately.

The next dish is a wonderful meal in itself: roasted capsicums stuffed with feta cheese, olives, basil, and pine nuts.

3 red capsicums, halved and deseeded
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup olives
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp french dressing
1 tbsp basil pesto

Roast the capsicums, skin side up in a 200C oven until the skin is blistered and black- around 30 minutes.
Place the capsicums in a sandwich bag and seal well so that the steam loosens the skin. Allow to cool for around 15 minutes before peeling off the skin.
In a bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients with a splash of balsamic vinegar, if desired.
Take two to three teaspoons of the feta cheese mixture and place in the middle of each capsicum slice.
Roll up and secure with a toothpick.
Mix together the basil pesto and french dressing and pour over the tops of each capsicum.


  1. Thanks for sharing the experience of DIFF. Salad looks very delicious and colorful.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  2. happy holidays
    fabulous side dishes

  3. Perfect for my New Year's resolutions - and the photos are fabulous.


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