Watercress and Beetroot Salad with Yuzu and Black Sesame

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Kale has been enjoying a golden moment for some time now. Some might say kale is one of the trendiest health foods out there; everyone from chefs to athletes to celebrities have been celebrating this incredibly healthy leafy vegetable. Whether you’re bored of kale, or never liked the taste to begin with, have you ever though it might be time for kale to step aside and let another leaf have its moment to shine?

According to the Centre for Disease Control, who analysed nutritional content of 47 fruits and vegetables and tanked them according to nutrition concentration (ie: how much fibre, proteins, potassium, vitamins and minerals they contain) kale did not make it to the top of the list—not even close. In terms of Nutrient Density kale scored an unimpressive 49.07/100, ranking below other leaves such as Romaine lettuce, parsley and spinach.

Right at the top of the list, with a perfect score of 100/100 for nutritional density: Watercress. These leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals proven to inhibit a range of cancers such as breast and prostate. It’s packed with anti oxidants that promote healthy vision and cardiovascular strength and is high in bone-strengthening vitamins K and A.

Watercress is a peppery and juicy leaf, and tastes slightly like rocket with a bit more of a punch. It’s distinctive taste pairs really well with earthy root vegetables and bright citrus flavours.

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RECIPE:

Using a mandolin or sharp knife, very thinly slice beetroot (assorted colours if possible) and radishes. On a large platter or board, arrange a layer of watercress leaves, the beetroot and radishes, and top with another scattering of leaves.

 

In a small bowl whisk 2 tablespoons of yuzu* 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and 1 heaped tablespoon of honey. Add plenty of freshly grated ginger and season with salt and pepper. (you may need to add a bit more honey as the yuzu can be quite bitter and tart!).

 

Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and finish with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

 

 

*Yuzu is a Japanese cooking ingredient that is becoming more widely available in British grocery stores. It’s an extracted juice from a Japanese citrus fruit with a distinctive taste and very high levels of Vitamin C. It’s slightly sweet, tart and bitter with hints of orange, grapefruit and lime flavours.

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Warm Potato Salad with Fennel and Oregano

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Begin by boiling 200-300g of potatoes until cooked through but still a bit firm.

While the potatoes are boiling, thinly slice half a fennel bulb, and celery hearts into a large bowl. Thinly slice 1-2 leeks and set them aside.

Finely chop a few generous handfuls of fresh herbs–as many as you have at your disposal–and  go heavy on the oregano. I also used mint, chives, and parsley. Set the chopped herbs aside.

When the potatoes are boiled, drain well, and cut into small cubes.

Warm up some olive oil in a frying pan and when the oil is hot throw in the potatoes. Shake the pan, season with salt and pepper. Add the sliced leeks to the pan, shake everything up again and fry until everything begins to crisp up.

When the potatoes and leeks are ready, set aside and let them cool off slightly so as not to wilt the fennel and celery. Shake the pan a bit and when the steam off the potatoes begins to dissipate, pour over the leeks and celery. Toss gently.

Pour over a good glug of olive oil, LOADS of lemon juice, salt pepper and all the chopped herbs.

Toss well and serve warm!

For a non-vegan version add crumbled feta! 

Herby Salad with Toasted Chickpeas (and quick-caramelised shallots!)

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In a large bowl, chop up an assortment of fresh herbs such as mint, coriander, parsley, chives etc. 

Roughly chop and add any other leaves and veg you have in your fridge. For this salad I used: endives, tomatoes, cucumber, and radishes.

In a large flat frying pan, toast some pine nuts, and bashed pistachio kernels on medium/high heat until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool.

In the same frying pan, heat up a small amount of oil. Drain and rinse one can of chickpeas and shake the colander to remove as much water from the chickpeas as possible.

Throw the chickpeas into the frying and shake the pan so that they’re spread out. Sprinkle a generous pinch of sumac and sea saltIf you can’t get your hands on some sumac you can use your own selection of spices. Ground coriander and paprika are also nice. Shake the pan to distribute the spices and toast the chickpeas on high heat for a few minutes, shaking every once in a while.

While the chickpeas are frying, roughly chop some shallots; chop them quite finely.

Remove the chickpeas, transfer to a bowl to cool off and add some more oil to the frying pan. Add the onions, some salt, and a drizzle of honey, lower the heat and allow the onions to cook down until golden. This shouldn’t take too long if the onions are cut finely.

When the nuts, chickpeas and onions have cooled off, add them to the bowl of chopped veg and toss well.

Drizzle with some good olive oil, honey, and the juice from a lemon and half an orange. Season with salt and pepper  and toss well.

This salad goes really well with marinated chicken skewers! I marinated my chicken in yogurt, crushed garlic, fresh mint, olive oil, salt and pepper for a few hours!

Ghee Roasted Cauliflower with Pickled Cucumber

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Rinse and trim a head of cauliflower and place in a roasting tray. Smother the cauliflower with ghee, or coconut oil. Sprinkle over some turmeric, ground coriander and sea salt.

Roast at medium/high heat for at least one hour, check it every 15 minutes or so and add more oil or ghee if it looks like its starting to dry out. Continue to roast until the cauliflower has shrunken down and taken on a golden colour.

While the cauliflower is roasting, peel a cucumber into ribbons, thinly slice one shallot and transfer to a bowl. Cover the cucumber with loads of lime juice, a sprinkling of white sugar, salt, black mustard seeds and chilli flakes.

When the cauliflower its ready, cut into thick slices and serve with the pickled cucumber and some pomegranate seeds.

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Chola Palak with Ginger and Kale

Chola and palak, another way of saying channa and saag , the mighty chickpea and spinach.

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  • In a frying pan, dry toast some cumin seeds and black mustard seeds. After a couple minutes, add some rapeseed oil, a few thinly sliced shallots or small onions and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  • When the onions begin to brown and cook down, add some sliced garlic cloves, sliced red chilli and a big chunk of ginger cut into matchsticks. Sautee everything for another 5 minutes or so.
  • Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and add to the frying pan. Stir well, adding some salt and a generous scoop of turmeric. Lower the heat and allow everything to sizzle a bit, but make sure nothing burns too much.
  • While the chickpeas are sizzling, use a nutribullet or food processor to blitz up a few massive handfuls of spinach, kale, a splash of water and some tomato puree.  (If you don’t want to use a food processor or just don’t have one, roughly but finely chop the spinach kale finely and bash up and bruise it with a spoon or mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small pot, add the water and tomato puree and warm gently until the spinach and kale has wilted, stir to make a ‘rustic’  puree.) It shouldn’t be perfectly pureed, just blitzed up a bit as if you’ve made a really thick spinach smoothie.
  • Transfer the spinach and kale into the pan with the chickpeas, onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Lower the heat to minimum, or turn off the heat completely and gently fold in the spinach until it’s fully wilted and darkened in colour.
  • Serve with plenty of lime and fresh coriander!

Super Simple Chickpea & Spinach Curry (Chana Saag)

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  • In a deep frying pan, heat up some oil and fry some black mustard and cumin seeds for about a minute, until they become fragrant and pop. Add one large diced onion, stir and fry for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat until they begin to caramelise.
  • When the onions are cooked down, add at least 3 big cloves of crushed garlic, and a big thumb of ginger, grated. Stir for about 3 more minutes and add one can of tinned tomatoesAs you pour in the tomatoes, use a spoon to crush them a bit. Fill about half the can up with water and add to the pan.
  • Raise the heat a bit and cook down for a few minutes until the curry dries out a bit and much of the water has evaporated. Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas and add to the pan.
  • Warm everything through for a couple minutes and then add some ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Stir the tomatoes around in the spicy tomato curry for a minute and then slowly add in a bag of fresh pre-washed spinach, one handful at a time until all the spinach is wilted and incorporated into the curry.
  • Serve with some fluffy rice or chapattis, fresh coriander, a dollop of yogurt and a wedge of lime!

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Quick Mango Chutney

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– Peel and chop at least 2 large ripe mangos into small pieces (don’t worry if the pieces are odd shaped it’ll all cook down anyway!) For an even quicker recipe, try a couple packages of pre-cut mango.

– Chop a red or yellow onion into small pieces, thinly slice one red or green chilli and peel some skin off of a lemon with a vegetable peeler.

– In a small saucepan, dry toast some black mustard seeds  or some Nigella seeds. When the seeds begin to sputter and pop, add a bit of rapeseed  oil, the onions and chillies, stir a bit and then stir in the mango.

– Add 3 tablespoons of brown sugar or honey, stir, add the lemon peel, some salt and a splash of boiling water. Bring to a boil and then simmer.

– Allow the chutney to simmer for as long as possible, using a potato masher to mush down the mango chunks every few minutes or so.

–  When the chutney reaches a soft and sticky consistency you know it’s ready to enjoy!

 

Turmeric Cauliflower and Cucumber Salad with Lime

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Roast 

One small head of cauliflower cut into small florets and tossed in  a generous amount of rapeseed oil, turmeric, and sea salt; roast until shrunk down and golden and even a little burnt and crispy. 

Toss

Salad leaves, baby spinach and sliced cucumber  in a large bowl. Gently fold in the cauliflower once it’s cooled off. Dry toast some cumin seeds in a frying pan, scatter on top. 

Squeeze the juice from a few juicy limes all over–the oil and salt from the cauliflower should season the rest of the salad, but add pepper and more salt if needed. 

 

Coconut Rice (2.0)

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This is a revised coconut rice recipe –improving on a previous post from last year. Both recipes are good but this one is better…

Ingredients:

  • At least 1 cup of basmati rice (1 cup should yield about 4 side-portions)
  • Curry leaves (dried are easy to find but FRESH are worth the quest!)
  • Up to 1 cup of Grated fresh coconut (I thoroughly encourage finding, smashing, hulling and grating a fresh coconut; if this option is not available to you, you can look for frozen fresh grated coconut from an Indian grocery store, or last resort, dried desiccated coconut.)
  • 5-10 banana shallots thinly sliced (regular onions are fine if you can’t find shallots
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon of channa daal (optional)
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Ginger
  • A couple generous handfuls of unsalted cashew nuts (if you can only find salted, just rinse the salt off them in a sieve and let them dry)

Steps:

First, rinse the rice really well until the water runs clear. This will remove all the starch and help you end up with perfectly separated rice grains.

Then cook the rice according to the way you normally do it. If you don’t normally do it any particular way, I suggest googling “how to cook perfect basmati rice” and follow those instructions.

While the rice is cooking, toast the grated coconut and cashews without oil in your largest frying pan. Toast on medium-high heat but supervise constantly. Let the coconut and cashews warm and toast but careful not to burn. Once the coconut starts to become intoxicatingly fragrant and magical keep stirring until everything starts to brown, and then remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

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The rice should still be cooking (or just steaming) now.

In the same frying pan you toasted the coconut in, add a bit of oil (coconut, rapeseed, vegetable or ghee!) warm up and toss in the mustard seeds, curry leaves and channa dhal and fry for a couple minutes, then add the cinnamon stick, the shallots and some grated ginger.

Cook down the shallots in the spices for 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat until the onions have softened, cooked down and browned.

When the onions are ready, slowly start to incorporate the rice, and cashew/coconut mixture, gently, until everything is beautifully mixed together.

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Serve with some fish, a delicious daal or curry!

Enjoy!

Cabbage and Kale Bhajis

 

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In a large bowl toss…

  • About 2 cups of shredded white or green cabbage (shredded in a food processor, on a mandolin or sliced very thinly)
  • One medium sized onion, (also sliced very thinly)
  • Chopped kale leaves
  • Torn coriander leaves
  • A selection of spices: cumin seeds, curry powder, turmeric, salt, chilli powder etc. (whatever you have in the house and whatever you think might be tasty!)

Add…

  • Chickpea flour and water.

Begin by adding about 3/4 cup chickpea flour and a generous splash of cold water. Mix everything together, adding flour and water until all of the veggies are well coated and fused together and you have a sticky thin cookie dough consistency. Season with salt.

Fill a saucepan with vegetable or “frying” oil and heat up until one piece of batter coated cabbage sizzles rapidly and floats to the surface.

Then add dollops of the mixture into the oil a few at a time so as to not crowd in the pan. They might sink to the bottom and stick a bit but if the oil is hot enough you should be able to very easily dislodge the bhaji and it’ll float to the surface.

Fry the bhajis for a few minutes until they begin to take on a golden colour. Remove on to some paper towel and repeat until all the batter is used. Taste one of the bhajis from the first batch, add salt to the batter if necessary, or season the whole batch, once cooked, with sea salt.

Serve with chutney, fresh lime and coriander leaves.