Superfood stir fry

This stir fry is so super you should put a cape on it and call it Clark Kent.

P1050632-1-1

P1050636-1

It has kale, broccoli, sugar snaps, peanuts, chia seeds and my favourite-food-in-the-whole-world-ever, coconut oil. It really is a great option for getting a lot of delicious, nutrient-rich veggies into a weekday meal.

For added superness, you can whip it up with seared lime and tamari tuna steaks (as in the photo above), like we did the other day. It’s delicious and extremely easy.

To make enough for two you’ll need:

  • 4 or 5 big handfuls of kale
  • tenderstem broccoli (at least four or five spears)
  • sugar snap peas
  • bean sprouts (I like several big handfuls)
  • 1 big handful of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanuts, crushed into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red chilli
  • a good dash of tamari or soy sauce (a few tablespoons at least)
  • a drizzle of agave nectar or honey
  • 2 limes

The method for this follows the steps of other coconut oil based stir fries (similar to this). This basically means first creating a flavoured oil by adding the coconut oil and spice ingredients to your wok (in this case, garlic and chilli), and then adding the other ingredients in order of longest to slowest cooking time, finally dressing with tamari, lime and/or any extras, like seeds or peanuts.

P1050631-1-1

To make the version you see above:

1. Start by adding the tablespoon of coconut oil to your largest wok over a medium-high heat, and wait for it all to turn to liquid. Next add your chopped garlic and chilli, with seeds left in (be sure to chop these as fine as you can) and let them cook in the oil for around a minute or so, turning the heat right down to ensure that nothing burns.

2. Take the kale, trim off the chunkier parts of the stem so you are left mainly with leaves, and add to your wok, stirring it through all of your coconut oil for around a minute again. Then add the tenderstem broccoli to the stir fried kale and leave for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the sugar snap peas for a minute or two until they start to glisten green, then finally throw in the bean sprouts and spinach. Toss together until everything is cooked to your liking – for me this isn’t too much longer as I like it crunchy and fresh.

You’re now nearly done. (Told you it was easy).

4. When you’re happy with it turn the heat off and dress your stir fry. Mix the tamari, lime juice and agave nectar in a small cup or ramekin until the three ingredients are nicely combined. Taste to make sure you have the right quantities of each ingredient. It should be sharp and zingy. Then pour over the stir fry and toss all of your ingredients to combine. Finish off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, chia seeds and the best part, a big handful of crushed peanuts. The peanuts really make this recipe for me. Serve with extra tamari and a wedge of lime.

P1050636-1 P1050632-1-1 P1050906-1

(South Beach phase one friendly too…!)

 

Avocado Salmon Toasts

These luxurious little toasts are amazing.

They’re absolutely packed full of nutrients, good fats, and protein, and they taste delicious

P1050179-1 P1050172-2

They’re the perfect lazy brunch or lunch (or even dinner) – plus I think they’d make an eggs-cellent Easter breakfast (see what I did there?) to surprise someone with this weekend.

Trust me, you’d score so many brownie points for not really much effort at all…

(And you’d feel all virtuous and healthy before the day descended into eating mountains of chocolate…)

P1050174-1

Annnd, if all of that isn’t enough, the only cooking involved is boiling an egg!

Convinced yet?!

P1050177-1

To make enough for two you’ll need:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 4 or 5 slices of smoked salmon (approximately 150g)
  • 1 lemon
  • sea salt
  • ground sumac
  • chia seeds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sourdough bread for toasting (or whatever type you’d prefer)

These are ridiculously easy.

Simply take a pan of boiling water, gently lower in your eggs with a spoon, and allow to boil for 5 minutes. (Time it). This gives you enough time to get everything else ready.

Next, scoop out the flesh of your avocados with a teaspoon and pop into a bowl, drench in lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon), add a few big pinches of sea salt and mush it all up.

Then pop your toast on (big thick cut slices are best) and when it’s ready it’s just an assembly job in the following order…

1. Drizzle of olive oil on the plate…

P1050157-1

2. Piece of hot toast on top…

P1050158-1

3. Generous layer of avocado mixture spread over the toast…

P1050159-2

4. Salmon piled over the top with an extra squeeze of lemon juice to coat…

P1050164-1

5. Your eggs – peel these (be very careful as they are soft boiled and so will break easily), and pull them apart with your hands on top of your toasts – run the yolk all over the toast and gently nestle the whites in between your salmon…

P1050168-1

P1050170-1

6. Then finish with sumac, a sprinkling of chia seeds and season well.

… et voila!

P1050177-1

P1050172-2

All that’s left to do is set the table, get the coffee on, and call your loved ones down for a very impressive looking (yet effortless) Easter surprise!

P1050174-1

… and the finishing touch? Why “crack” out some eggs-cellent Easter egg jokes of course!

I would tell you some of mine, but it would be so shell-fish of me to take all the good ones. And I’d hate to raise your eggs-pectations.

Ok, ok, I’ll stop.

(… promise not to crack another yolk until next year)

 




 

 

Brunch at 100 Hoxton

This is just a very (very) quick one…

I have a little recommendation for your next brunch.

It’s a really lovely, cool place on Hoxton Street, that serves up the most wondrous, healthy, spicy breakfasts. It’s called 100 Hoxton and it’s so good I’d say it’s a destination brunch spot. No matter where you travel from in London to get there (Battersea for me) it’s worth it.

I had the veggie breakfast and it was phenomenal.

IMAG1176 IMAG1180Fried eggs, spring onion hash, mushrooms, avocado and tomato salad, cress and lots of this wonderful spicy jalapeno sauce that just made everything on the plate sing.

They also had lots of other healthy, mouth-watering, options on the menu. Like sourdough toast with avocado, bream kedgeree and an aubergine salad. The boys round the table nearly all had the meat breakfast which was largely the same as mine above but with pork belly.

The sunlight was streaming in through the windows and the Bloody Marys were flowing. I also tried a sip of George’s “gorgeous juice” which was the best juice I’ve ever tasted. My life mission is now to recreate it at home…

IMAG1175The service was laid back and friendly. And there’s a big pile of weekend papers for you to choose from plonked on the middle table. I really genuinely can’t wait to go again… We’ve been recommending it to friends all weekend.

IMAG1181 IMAG1186

I will review it in depth for you next time. (Promise.)

But in the mean time, definitely give it a go for your next brunch spot…

100-102 Hoxton St, London, N1 6SG
info@100hoxton.com
+44 20 7729 1444

Al fresco courgette fritters

London’s been having some beeeaauuutiful weather lately.

And when the city’s all bright and sunny, every patch of grass or greenery you walk by is filled with sunworshippers, readers, friends catching up with wine, families running around, and, most of all, people eating al fresco.

So after making these little courgette fritters at home we grabbed our picnic bag, rug and a bottle of wine and headed straight out to have them in the sun….

courgettefritters1

courgettefritters2

courgettefritters7And now they’re definitely one of my favourite picnic foods. They’re so easy to pack and take with you, and you can eat them with your hands (as George did) or with a plate and cutlery (like I did)… And I assure you if you showed up with courgette fritters to any picnic you would be by far the most popular arrival – they are delicious.

Also, the version I make – with buckwheat flour instead of plain and olive oil for frying – is really very good for you.

To make around 12 – 14 fritters you will need:

  • 4 large courgettes (or 5 smaller ones)
  • small bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 block of feta cheese (around 200g)
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • handful of fresh mint (chopped (plus extra to sprinkle over at the end))
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 100g buckwheat flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • olive oil (for frying)
  • 4 limes

1. Coarsely grate the courgettes into a colander, sprinkle salt over them, and leave over the sink or a bowl for at least 15 minutes so that most of the water drains out of them.

P1040823

2. Crumble the feta into a bowl and finely chop the spring onions and fresh herbs and add to the same bowl, together with the teaspoon of paprika. Then add the buckwheat flour and mix everything together. Finally, take your beaten eggs and add to the same bowl, mixing everything in as much as you can (it will still be quite dry and lumpy at this stage, but don’t worry). Season very well with salt and pepper.

P1040828 P1040832

3. Once your courgettes have rested sufficiently, add them into the mixture and stir it together. Persevere with stirring until it all of the courgettes are covered in the batter and it starts to (sort of) come together. It should look like the pictures below.

P1040834 P10408394. Now the fun part! Heat a good non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat it gently until it’s runny and spreads easily over the whole base of the pan. Then, taking one dessert spoon full of courgette mixture at a time, dollop these into the pan and fry gently for 2 minutes on each side (or less depending on the heat of your pan). Remove and quickly drain on a piece of kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil (although there shouldn’t be much). Continue doing this in batches until all your mixture is done. I managed to do about 4 at a time in one pan.

courgettefritters10

5. Squeeze limes over and enjoy warm. (Outside in the sun if you’re lucky enough!)

It was so nice to be out in the sunshine…

courgettefritters1

courgettefritters3 courgettefritters8 courgettefritters6

courgettefritters2

Courgette-y Spaghetti

This recipe is AWESOME.

courgette6It’s the best carb-substitute dish I have ever, ever come across. But it’s not just carb-light: it’s dairy, gluten and egg free too and almost completely raw (with just a teeny tiny bit of heating up at the end). Yet somehow, as if by magic, it manages to still taste like a big plate of carbonara.

Bright green carbonara that is. (Yes, my obsession with green food continues…)

courgete7

I call it courgette-y spaghetti. I’ve seen recipes for it elsewhere with much more grown up names (like the Guardian’s “Courgette noodles with marinated mushrooms“) but I’m sticking to my name – it describes much more aptly the giddy, childish excitement with which I view it.

And also, before I dive in, I must credit Deliciously Ella for this recipe – it’s tweaked from her version, here. I am a big fan of her blog. (More of that later.)

To make a bowl of courgette-y spaghetti big enough to feed 2 you will need:

  • 2 large courgettes, washed and with tops and ends trimmed off
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 big handfuls of brazil nuts (around 18 to 20)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • a handful of spinach
  • 1/2 red chilli, deseeded
  • 1 lime
  • a big pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • a small cup of water
  • optional: pecorino to sprinkle over at end

Making this does require a particular gadget called a spiralizer, so you’ll need to buy this if you don’t have it already. I realise it’s a bit of a pain, but it’s not a cripplingly expensive one and honestly the results are really worth it. It will be the best £25 you’ve spent in a long time. (You can buy it here).

courgette3

1. Start by making your courgette noodles. This couldn’t be simpler with the spiralizer and takes literally 5 minutes. Follow the instructions on your particular gadget, but if you have the same model as mine (as in the link above), all you need to do is slot the noodle blade onto the spiralizer, fix the courgette lengthways between the spike and the blade, and then twist the handle. It really is easy. Set your noodles aside once made.

courgette2

2. Make your raw sauce. In a food processor, whizz the brazil nuts for around 5 minutes until they form a creamy paste. Then add the avocado, chilli, mint leaves, lime, salt, olive oil and half of the water. Whizz again for several minutes until the mixture starts coming together like a smooth green sauce. Add the rest of the water as necessary until you get a carbornara consistency – ie. watery enough to slip over noodles. I usually add all of the water to get to this, but it may depend on your particular gadget and the size of your veg.

courgette5

3. Heat a frying pan large enough to take the noodles and sauce with little lug of olive oil. Crush in your garlic cloves and gently warm through. Add your spinach and cook until wilted, and then add your bright green sauce and warm it through until the mixture is all combined. Then finally toss in your spaghetti and move around with tongs for 1 – 2 minutes. The idea is to soften the courgette rather than cook it.

courgette4

And that is all – you’re done! Told you it was easy.

Now sit back and marvel at how spaghetti-like it tastes…

courgette6

Delicious and worthy all in one!

Flourless almond, orange and polenta cake

January diets can be hard. I should know, I’ve been on one for 20 days now.

So if you’re feeling anything like I am, you’re probably ready to treat yourself to something naughty food-wise now (within reason). That’s where this cake recipe comes in – it’s a very GI-friendly cake (not quite as amazingly low GI as my squidgy black bean brownies, but much better for you than a standard cake recipe). It replaces flour with polenta and ground almonds and uses soft brown sugar rather than caster sugar. It should still be enjoyed in moderation (although try telling George and Chris that, who devoured over half of it between them in about 30 minutes) but one slice will hopefully satisfy your sweet cravings without being too damaging.

almondcake2

almondcake1

It’s delicious too. Utterly, completely, delicious. I put it down to the lack of flour – the polenta, ground almonds and pureed orange make it irresistibly dense and damp and wonderful.

It goes perfectly with your morning coffee and a good book.

almondcake5You will need:

  • 150g polenta
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 2 large oranges, whole
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 350g soft brown sugar (or golden caster sugar, if you’re not dieting)
  • 23cm diameter round springform cake tin

For the drippy lemon icing (if making)

  • Around 7 or 8 tbsp icing sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon

ps. You’ll notice this uses a lot of eggs. This is because the eggs, together with the orange puree, replace the “fat” in this recipe (ie. the role in the cake recipe that would usually be occupied by lots of butter or oil). So don’t worry if the number seems very high – it works beautifully.

almondcake71. Boil your 2 whole oranges (rind on) in a large saucepan with just enough boiling water to cover them. Set a timer for 1 hour and check on them occasionally to see if they need a little more water added to keep them both just covered. Once an hour has passed, cover the oranges in cold water and leave them to cool (they need to have cooled down quite a bit before you can use them in your recipe below).

2. Grease your springform tin very, very well. I like to put a circle of baking paper on the bottom too and grease that as well, just in case (greasing both underneath and on top of the baking paper keeps it in position). Once greased, take a tsp of polenta and dust over the sides and bottom of the tin. Tip out the excess. Preheat your oven to 180 C.

3. Beat together the sugar eggs, either by hand or by using an electric mixer on a medium speed setting. As there are quite a few eggs in this recipe, you’ll need to beat this for longer than you might think. Around 7 minutes in an electric mixer will be ok, or double that amount of time if you’re doing it by hand. You want it to be a thick batter by the end.

4. Mix together the dry ingredients – polenta, ground almonds and 1 tsp baking powder – and set aside. Take your (hopefully now cooled) oranges and blitz them to a puree in a large food processor. Then add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, beating very quickly, followed by your orange puree. Mix together for a minute or so and then stop. You don’t want it overmixed.

5. Pour your cake mixture into your springform tin. Don’t overfill – you should try and leave at least 2cm at the top of the tin to allow for any expansion. If you have leftover cake mixture you can fill some muffin cases with it like I did.

6. Now the baking process. I say process as it’s not straightforward for this cake. It has three steps, and you’ll need to set timers in between, but the amazing dampness and denseness you’ll get through doing this is 100% worth it:

  • Cook for 10 minutes at the pre-heated temperature of 180C
  • After 10 minutes, turn down to 150C and bake for 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes, turn down to 140C and bake for a further 30 minutes

Check the top of the cake is firm and springy after baking it for the timings above. If not, leave it in at the lowest heat for a further 5 minutes or until done.

7. Remove the cake from the oven and leave in the tin to cool a bit (around 20 minutes should be enough). Then unfasten the spring from tin and marvel at how perfectly your cake has baked (this type of recipe results in a devastatingly perfect rise). Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

almondcake38. You could leave it here. The cake is wonderful already and could happily be served. Perhaps with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a teaspoon of marmalade or honey if you’re dieting. But if you want to sweeten it up a little bit more, and you’re not massively worried about the diet angle, then I would highly recommend you finish it off with some drippy icing.

To do this simply add the icing sugar into a large bowl and gradually add in your lemon juice, mixing with a teaspoon until you get a nice pouring consistency (but not too thin – you don’t want it to be translucent). You may need to adjust the quantities of icing sugar and lemon juice above until you’re happy with it. Then, using your teaspoon, simply dollop the icing into the centre of the cake, and then smooth over with the back of your spoon until it reaches the edges and just starts to drip over them. Finish with a sprinkling of lemon zest. Leave to set.

And you’re done! Tuck in and enjoy… With a good coffee and some Virgina Woolf, as I did.

almondcake8 almondcake4 almondcake6 almondcake5 almondcake1

How are you doing with your January diets by the way? I’ve noticed the South Beach posts on here have proved popular – let me know if you’re trying it out with me, I’d love to hear from you…

Asian white cabbage and king prawns

I wouldn’t usually blog a stir fry recipe, but this one is a little different. For a start, it uses coconut oil (which adds a lot of flavour and is very good for you), and for some reason shredding the cabbage before cooking gives the whole thing a filling, carb-like quality without adding noodles or rice. Always a winner in my book. P1030823 P1030825 I came up with it because I was very, very keen to try out my new KitchenAid (Christmas present from Le Ginge), so I (quite randomly) decided to shred the cabbage before stir-frying it.P1030776 P1030783 P1030788 The result was amazing.  The shredded cabbage goes softer and carb-like in the stir fry. It felt like eating cabbage noodles rather than simply stir fried cabbage. And with all the other flavours (particularly the coconut oil I just mentioned) it genuinely took on a comforting stir-fry goodness I have only ever known from noodles or rice before.

To make enough for a weeknight dinner for 2, you will need:

  • 1 small white cabbage
  • 150g cooked and peeled king prawns
  • 1 egg
  • handful of baby spinach
  • 2 tsps coconut oil
  • a good lug of sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped, seeds left in
  • a handful roughly chopped coriander
  • soy sauce, to taste
  • sesame seeds

Shred the cabbage in a food processor until it is very fine (see picture above). Take a wok and heat it over a very high heat. Add a lug of sesame oil and two teaspoons of coconut oil and, once all of the coconut oil has melted and is bubbling away, add the finely chopped chilli and crushed garlic. Turn the heat right down to avoid either burning. After around a minute of the chilli and garlic cooking, add the shredded cabbage and toss it round the wok so all of the cabbage is covered in the oil. Allow to stir fry for a few minutes, and then add the cooked prawns.

P1030791 P1030801   Move all of your ingredients to one side of the wok as much as possible and then crack in your egg (this part will give it a “stir fried rice” effect). Allow the egg to fry until you can start to see white forming around the yolk, but don’t leave it to cook completely. Then break up the egg and toss it around the wok with your cabbage and prawns. P1030805Finally, add your baby spinach and soy sauce and mix in with your stir fry so the spinach just starts to wilt. Finish off with sesame seeds and put some extra soy sauce on the table for seasoning. P1030809 P1030814 P1030815 Super easy and delicious. P1030824 P1030818 P1030820

Courgette, lemon and pomegranate salad

I wasn’t planning to blog this recipe. I threw it together Friday night after work not knowing how it would turn out (it combines a few ideas from some of my all time favourite salad dishes but I’d not tried this particular combination before) and the result was so, so tasty that I knew I had to share it with you all.

Plus it takes all of 3 minutes to put it together.

P1030835

P1030839

It’s a beautifully light, fresh and healthy salad or side dish. Plus it uses pomegranate seeds, which are super duper good for you (and tasty, most of all tasty).

To whip up a bowl (about enough to feed 2 as a side), all you need is:

  • 2 small courgettes
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds
  • a handful of crumbled feta (if you’re buying it in a block from the supermarket, around half a block is enough)
  • 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt

Take a large salad bowl, like the wooden one above. Wash your courgettes thoroughly under cold water and trim the ends. Then, with a potato peeler, peel off long ribbons of courgette and add to the bowl. You continue peeling the courgette until you get almost all the way to the core – but you’ll need to stop before you get the wholly seedy part, as this can be a little bitter. Add a good pinch of salt to the bowl and mix in with your courgettes, so that they absorb this and soften slightly. Then chop your chilli very, very finely (a good knife will help if you’re rubbish at chopping, like me) and add to the bowl with the pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta. Squeeze over the lemon juice, and zest half the lemon into the bowl also. Swirl some olive oil over it all. Toss. Enjoy.

P1030838

Last night we had this with seared tuna steaks and it went brilliantly. And the flavours are quite versatile so I think would go with many different things – fish in particular would be a good combination with this, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t go with something spicier like Turkish lamb koftes, for instance. In fact, the pomegranate seeds and feta are Turkish cooking staples.

P1030841Delicious.

(Ohh and ps. South Beach-friendly again!)

Squidgy black bean brownies

Fancy a chocolate fix? Well take a look at these…

blackbeanbrownies2

You might imagine that these rich, fudgy chocolatey squares are a million or so calories each. But you’d be wrong. Totally wrong.

What you’re in fact looking at, ladies and gentlemen, are “brownies” made entirely from beans.

(Yes, beans.)

No flour, no sugar, no butter, no carbs. Just beans (and some other extremely saintly ingredients).

blackbeanbrownies5

I’m not going to lie (I would never lie to you, dear reader). These, obviously, don’t taste exactly like “real” brownies – they are much lighter and less sweet, however, I promise that they are an AMAZING faux-chocolate fix.

I discovered these when I first went on the South Beach Diet. They are featured on the SBD website as a Phase One treat idea, but the first few batches tasted far too rubbery and bean-like. So I tweaked it a bit and incorporated some ideas from a Telegraph recipe I came across recently. And then I halved the cooking time to make sure they were as squidgy and fudgy as possible.

They are ludicrously simple to make. You can whip them up on the spot if you have a sudden chocolate craving (which I have done many a time). To make a tray you will need:

  • 2 x 400g tins of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 230g olive oil spread (or 200ml vegetable oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 20g stevia
  • 80g unsweetened cocoa powder, as dark as possible
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 75g pecans and walnuts, roughly chopped (or any chopped nuts of your choice)

Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Grease a 9inch x 9inch, brownie tray with some of the olive oil spread (don’t worry if your tray isn’t exactly the same dimensions, they will turn out fine I assure you – just go smaller rather than larger if you can). Add all of your ingredients. except the pecans, to a blender or food processor and whiz to a paste. Then mix in 3/4 of your pecans with a wooden spoon and pour evenly into your tray. Scatter the remaining pecans on top artfully. Place in oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

P1030481

blackbeanbrownies6You’ll know they’re done when the top starts to crack slightly and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you’re uncertain, best to leave them under-done than risk rubbery brownies. They’ll cook a bit more as they’re cooling anyway and if they are slightly underdone they will go all the more squidgy and fudgy once refrigerated. Leave to cool in tray and then remove, slice and devour immediately (with smugness).

blackbeanbrownies8 blackbeanbrownies7Now sit back and enjoy your carb-free, totally South Beach friendly, chocolate fix…

blackbeanbrownies3

blackbeanbrownies

blackbeanbrownies5

… and feel extremely smug.

Lentil, wild mushroom and chicory salad

I call this a salad, but it’s as warming and filling as a big pot of winter stew.

P1030766-1

It’s full of earthy flavours and is extremely filling despite containing no carbs or meat. Most of all, it doesn’t feel like a dish of deprivation, as can often be the case with winter salads.

Plus, I love chicory. I would wear a T-Shirt saying that, if one were ever made. I think of it as quite elegant for some reason (if such a thing as an elegant salad vegetable exists) and I love experimenting with it. It’s bitterness is addictive and oh-so-adult.

And if you’re doing South Beach with me, this dish is Phase One friendly (hurrah!)

P1030746-1

To make enough for 4 you will need:

  • 4 small heads of chicory
  • 500g wild mushrooms (I like a mixture of the most unusual varieties I can find)
  • 200g puy lentils
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 handful roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil

(You could also add 50 to 100g of cubed pancetta to the above if you’re not keen on vegetable only dishes – it goes marvellously. Simply add together with onions and follow recipe as below.)

1. Wash the lentils thoroughly in a colander, add to a small pan and cover completely with cold water and a big pinch of salt. Simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes (or according to packet instructions).

2. Meanwhile, take a large heavy-bottomed pan and warm a good lug of olive oil in it over a medium heat. Chop your onion as finely as possible and add to the pan to soften for a few minutes, until it starts to turn translucent. Crush your garlic into the same pan and, after a few minutes, roughly tear your wild mushrooms by hand and add to pan also. Cook over a medium heat.

3. Whilst the mushrooms are cooking, locate your chicory and slice each head lengthways, so you have 8 chicory halves. Once sliced, immediately squeeze lemon juice over each one to stop discolouration. Stand back and think about how much you love chicory (in my case, anyway). Take a griddle pan (or frying pan if you don’t have a griddle) and warm a little olive oil in it over a medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chicory, flat-side down at first. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side and remove from heat once done (you don’t want to over cook them).

P1030750-1

P1030764-1

4. Whisk your dressing ingredients together in a bowl – that is, the dijon mustard, white wine vingear and around 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper, and set aside.

P1030751-1

5. Your mushrooms should be cooked by now, and if so, take the pan off the heat and add the drained, cooked lentils. together with a big handful of spinach. Add half of your dressing and stir everything through gently.

P1030759

6. Finally, divide your lentil and mushroom salad base on to your plates, and arrange 2 chicory halves on each. Roughly chop the parsley, sprinkle over each plate, and finish with a tad more dressing on each…

P1030766-1 P1030774-1

…. Mmmm!