Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Parmesan

When you get to my age and you have been cooking as long as I have, it is really hard to find recipes that are fresh, exciting or different but this simple celery salad is really quite stimulating. I’m not even that keen on fruit or nuts in savoury dishes but the celery, lemon and the chilli really balance out the sweetness. It made a very tasty lunch!

Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Parmesan

Serves 2

½ cup/large handful raw almonds with skins

8 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a diagonal, use leaves too

6 dates, pitted, coarsely chopped

Zest of one lemon plus 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chunk of Parmesan, shaved

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Very small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Toss almonds, celery, celery leaves, lemon zest and dates in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil together well. Add a small pinch of chilli flakes and mix through the salad. Serve with shavings of parmesan.

Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing

I love the sweet and sour combination of this crunchy salad. Adjust the dressing until you have the perfect balance.

Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing

You can use any cabbage in this salad even red cabbage works.

For the Thai Peanut Dressing

2 tbsp creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from one lime

1 tablespoon soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)

1 tablespoons sugar

1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 Nam Pla

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

For the Salad

½ pointed cabbage, shredded

3 carrots, peeled into ribbons

1  cucumber, halved lengthwise, de-seeded, halved lengthways again and chopped into 1cm chunks

1 cos lettuce, sliced into 1cm slices and broken up

2 medium spring onions, thinly sliced

1 bunch freshly chopped coriander

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth. Use to dress the vegetables and serve straight away.

Sicilian Pasta with Sautéed Romanesco, Chilli, Pine nuts, Currants, Parsley and Lemon

Sicily, surrounded by water and having many ports meant that it was a key player in the spice trail. Whereas other regions of Italy tended to rely solely on their own produce, Sicilian cooking has always been a little more adventurous with its ingredients. This amalgamation of chilli, pinenuts, currants, parsley and lemon zest is classic and its sophisticated sweet and sour combination works beautifully with the delectable Romanesco.

The amazing fractal Romanesco is closer related to broccoli than cauliflower and it has a delicate nutty flavour and great crunchy texture. It holds its shape much better than cauliflower which makes it a useful replacement in lots of recipes and it looks fabulous!

Sicilian Pasta with Sautéed Romanesco, Chilli, Pine nuts, Currants, Parsley and Lemon

Serves 2

1 small to medium Romanesco cauliflower, cut into small florets (use the stalk too, thinly sliced)

200g pasta

Extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped

100g pine nuts, toasted

100g currants or raisins

Zest of 1 & juice of ½ lemon

Large handful fresh parsley, chopped

Handful Parmesan, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a pan of boiling salted water, cook the Romanesco for 2-3 minutes, then drain and refresh in a bowl of cold water to stop any further cooking. Drain again and keep to one side. In another pan of boiling water, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the Romanesco and fry for a couple of minutes until just starting to turn a golden colour. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for couple of minutes more. Add the pine nuts, sultanas, drained, cooked pasta, lemon juice and zest and parsley. Toss together to combine. Check seasoning and transfer to serving bowls and serve drizzled with a olive oil and some grated Parmesan.

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Channa Masala with Spinach

When I served this up for dinner the other night my partner announced that he didn’t much like chickpeas and he didn’t much like spinach but it was the best vegetarian dish he had ever eaten. Praise indeed! Probably why it is one of the most popular curries in India.

Channa Masala with Spinach

You could use fresh tomato instead of tinned and another leafy green such as chard can replace the spinach.

2 large onion, finely diced

3 medium cloves garlic, grated

Large knob ginger, scraped and grated

1 or 2 fresh chilies (depending on size and heat) finely chopped

2 tablespoons (30ml) coconut oil, vegetable oil or ghee

1 teaspoon ground cumin seed

1 tsp garam masala

1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes

2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 small bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Large handful of spinach

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil or ghee in a large heavy based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a large pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes until really soft and beginning to brown. Add a little water if necessary. Add garlic, ginger, chilli and spices and cook for a minute or two more. Add the tomatoes and rinse out the can with a little water and add that two with pepper and salt to taste. Cook down gently for 10 – 15 minutes or so adding more water if necessary. When the sauce tastes really nice, it is done. Adjust seasoning. Add more spices if necessary. Puree with a hand bender. You want a spicy, savoury gravy. Add the drained chickpeas and allow to cook a little to allow all the flavours to amalgamate. Remove the stalks from the spinach, wash and drain. Roughly chop the leaves if they are large. Add to your chickpeas mixture and cook the spinach for a few minutes or so until just done. Add the coriander and serve with rice and/or naan.

Chilli Cheese Cornbread

Corn bread doesn’t usually have sweet corn in it. It is the corn from the polenta, or corn-meal which provides the corn aspect. But this version is so much better, with fresh corn on the cob, caramelised onions, cheese and chilli. A winning combination.

If you have any left, toast it in a frying pan and serve it up along side a chilli, black bean chilli, with some fried eggs and bacon or rather strangely it went very well with my Labneh with Roast Beetroot & Sweet and Sour Onions.

Chilli Cheese Cornbread   

olive oil

2 red onions

2 corn on the cob

4 large free-range eggs

325 g coarse cornmeal or polenta

250 ml full-fat milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

6 tablespoons plain flour

140 g mature Cheddar cheese

2 fresh green chillies

Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly oil a loaf tin.

Peel and finely slice the onions. Melt some olive oil in a saucepan pan on a medium heat, add the onions, then fry gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until caramelised, golden and sticky.

Hold the corn cobs upright on a board and carefully run a small knife from the top of the corn to the bottom, cutting all the kernels off.

Add to the caramelised onions and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then mix in the cornmeal, milk, baking powder, flour, sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

Grate the cheese and add. De-seed and finely chop the chillies and add along with the cooled onion and corn mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Put the cornbread into the oven for 35 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.

Cool for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack or serving plate. Serve straightaway – it’s unbelievably good when it’s warm.

 

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Spaghetti with Spring Greens, Garlic, Chilli and Olive Oil

In a hurry? It doesn’t get quicker and more delicious than this!

Spaghetti with Spring Greens, Garlic, Chilli and Olive Oil

(Spaghetti Aglio, Olio & Spring Greens) – Jamie Oliver

2 cloves of garlic

1 fresh red chilli

1 head of spring greens

400 g dried spaghetti

extra virgin olive oil

1 large unwaxed lemon

Parmesan cheese

Peel and finely chop the garlic, deseed and finely chop the chilli and finely slice the spring greens. Wash and drain well. Cook the spaghetti in a saucepan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, around 8 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a glug of oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colour. Add the spring greens and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the greens have wilted a little. Finely grate over the lemon zest. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with a splash of the water it was cooked in.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and serve topped with a drizzle of oil and finely grated Parmesan.

Grilled Sweetcorn Slaw

Another salad featuring the wonder cure Apple Cider vinegar. This is quite an unusual recipe in that the slaw is lightly pickled and if there is one thing more fashionable and fashionably good for you it is pickled food.

Grilled Sweetcorn Slaw

Makes tonnes so feel free to half the recipe. Yotam Ottelenghi

100 apple cider vinegar

200ml water

¼ white cabbage, shredded (300g net)

3 carrots, julienned or grated (175g net)

1 small red onion, thinly sliced (140g net)

4 corn cobs, lightly brushed with olive oil (600g gross)

2 red chillies, finely chopped

20g picked coriander leaves

20g picked mint leaves

Olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Dressing:

50g mayonnaise

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1½ tsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

Place the vinegar and water in a small saucepan along with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Place the cabbage and carrot in a bowl, pour over two-thirds of the salty liquid and set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Pour the remaining liquid over the onion and, again, set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the vegetables and onion well, pat dry, place together in a large bowl and set aside.

Place a ridged char-grill pan on a high heat and, when it starts to smoke, lay the corn over it. Char-grill for 10-12 minutes, turning so that all sides get some colour (this will create quite a lot of smoke). Remove from the heat and, when cool enough to handle, use a large knife to shave off the corn in clumps and add to the salad bowl.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and stir gently. Add the chilli, coriander and mint, along with a grind of black pepper, give everything another gentle stir and serve.

Marsala Frittata

And for my final Frittata, this might even have been my favourite, which I wasn’t expecting, as I mainly decided to make it because I liked the name!

Marsala Frittata

Serves 2

Extra virgin olive oil

3 onions, thinly sliced

1 tsp. Garam Marsala

1 tsp. ground cumin

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

4 large eggs, beaten

Pre-heat oven to 170C. Heat some oil in a medium non-stick, ovenproof frying pan. Tip in the sliced onions and cook over a medium heat with a pinch of salt, for about 10 mins until soft and golden. Add the chilli and spices and fry for 1 min more. In a bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Season lightly and add the tomatoes, the chopped coriander and the onions. Wipe out the frying pan. Add a dash of olive oil. Put the pan back on a medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and leave on the heat, just until the bottom and sides begin to set. Put in the oven until just firm, about 10 minutes. It is up to you whether you flip the frittata over or serve it the same side up. Cut into wedges and serve with a nice salad.

Summer Greens with Lentils, Chilli and Coriander

I know we have has two rather labour-intensive recipes this week and I know that you are probably all in a hurry so here is a really quick and easy and healthy way of using up all your summer greens. I will be serving this up for the vegans tonight,  amongst other things, at the SupperClub in Putney. I hope they like it!

Summer Greens with Lentils, Chilli and Coriander

You can use all manner of greens with this recipe, spring greens, spinach, kale, Cavalo Nero or any type of cabbage. Just remember if the greens are very fibrous they may need blanching first, but If they are tender you can just sweat them down as in this recipe.

This makes a lot. Enough for 4 as a main or 8-10 as a side. Half the quantities if you are not very hungry.

for the lentils:

300g Puy lentils

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp olive oil

for the spring greens:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1-2 chilli, chopped

500g spring greens, shredded

Juice of ½ lemon

1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

First cook the lentils. Put them in a pan with the garlic and add enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until tender, topping up the water if necessary. Drain, then season well and mix in the olive oil.

For the spring greens heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, garlic and chilli, then cover and sweat for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the shredded spring greens and season well. Cook, stirring, over a high heat until wilted. Stir in the lemon juice, lentils and coriander and adjust the seasoning.

Grilled Courgette Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lemon

I never have enough recipes for courgettes so I was pleased to come up with two this week. This really light, refreshing salad is perfect when you are having a BBQ. Just grill the courgettes along side everything else. If you want to make it more substantial scatter with feta or crumble some grilled Halloumi over the top.

Grilled Courgette Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lemon

Serves 2

3 courgettes, ends trimmed, cut into long strips, a mandolin is great for this

Extra virgin olive oil

1 fresh red chilli, seeded, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ lemon, juice only

1 lemon zest

handful fresh mint, roughly chopped

Toss the courgette strips in a bowl with the olive oil (just enough to coat the courgette), and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a BBQ or a ridged grill pan until smoking hot and griddle the courgettes in batches, about four minutes per side, being careful not to crowd the grill pan. They should be tender, but with a crunch to them in the middle. If the strips are not quite cooked, leave them on the grill pan for longer, but watch the heat as you don’t want them to burn. Don’t be tempted to move the courgette while it is cooking or you won’t get the char-grill marks across the flesh. Check seasoning.

Mix some lemon juice, olive oil and salt together to make a dressing and use this to dress the griddled courgettes. Add the chilli and mint and lemon zest and serve.