if you are reading this page on a tablet or smartphone, scroll to the bottom of the page for the recipe index

Sunday Soup

fiona kirk Sunday Soup web.jpeg

(makes 4 servings)

The first time a good (and soupaholic) friend tasted this potage he declared it to be the best lentil soup he had ever tasted and was amazed to discover there isn’t a lentil in sight - it’s the combination of the smoked bacon and slightly caramelised onions that really does give it a lentily edge! This soup has become a staple in more households than I can begin to count...

Ingredients

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
8 rashers smoked lean bacon, chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 dessertspoon cornflour
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
250mls homemade or best-quality bought chicken stock
250mls full-cream milk (semi-skimmed can work but I’m not a fan for this soup)

Method

  • Warm the oil in a soup pot and gently sauté the onion until translucent and very soft.
  • Increase the heat slightly, add the bacon and continue to sauté for a few minutes, stirring all the time until the edges of both the onion and the bacon are slightly caramelised.
  • Reduce the heat again, stir in the cornflour and cook for another 5 minutes then add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, a good pinch of salt and at least 5 good grindings of black pepper and continue to cook on a low heat for 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the stock, stir well, increase the heat, bring the soup to just boiling then reduce the heat to a very low setting.
  • After about 5 minutes, add the milk and keep stirring until the soup is hot and ready to serve (don’t let it boil or the milk may curdle).
  • Either serve as it is - all chunky, filling and moreish - or if you are flasking it for lunch, snacks and the like, liquidise the whole lot until fairly smooth.

Beef and Barley Broth

fiona kirk nutritionist author beef and barley broth.png

(makes 4 servings)

There is something about barley that evokes a warm, cozy feeling! Many countries, like Scotland where I hail from, use this starchy and delicious grain copiously, others barely recognise its existence but barley in a meaty soup is a marriage made in heaven. It is also deliciously nutty in a warm salad as a replacement for rice, pasta or couscous.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon light olive oil
300g lean stewing/chuck steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 litres homemade or good quality bought beef stock
100g pearl barley, rinsed
Large handful fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Warm the oil in a soup pot and quickly brown the meat over a high heat, stirring constantly. Add the Balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and keep stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Reduce the heat and add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and rosemary. Put the lid on and allow to gently sauté until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add three quarters of the stock, bring to the boil, add the barley and parsley, stir well then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour or so until the barley and carrots are tender.
  • Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf and rosemary then whizz with a hand blender to slightly thicken but still leave a good chunky texture.
  • Season to taste and if it is too thick add the remainder of the stock and/or boiling water.
  • NB: This is one of those soups that thickens if left overnight as the barley continues to swell so check the consistency and add water if necessary before serving.

Overnight Porridge

Fiona Kirk Overnight Porridge Recipe.jpeg

The fabulous thing about porridge is that there is no definitive recipe or cooking method - it’s more of a personal thing. I am a Scot and over the last 60 years or so have sampled many a bowl of porridge - some which take your breath away, some which glue your gums together and some which are way too thin and watery! Here’s one of my fat-busting favourites where you soak the oats overnight so it takes less time to cook, is quickly ready to scoff or can be transported in a wide-necked vacuum flask.

Ingredients

1 teacup medium-cut oats
3 teacups hot but not boiling water
Decent pinch of sea salt crystals
Double cream
Runny honey
Cinnamon or nutmeg

Method

  • Place the water in a heat-proof bowl and gradually but meaningfully whisk in the oats - you don’t want any lumps.
  • Leave to cool a little then cover the bowl and place in the fridge overnight.
  • In the morning (or whenever), transfer the porridge to a non-stick pan and cook over a medium heat until bubbling, stirring all the time.
  • Add the salt and continue to stir for another few minutes - if it is a little thick for your liking, just add some boiling water.
  • Serve with whatever fruit is in the bowl, a drizzle of runny honey (and/or double cream), a handful of fresh nuts and seeds and a good sprinkling of cinnamon powder or grated nutmeg.

makes 1 generous serving

Cream of Mussel Soup with Saffron

Fiona Kirk Cream of Mussel and Saffron Soup.jpeg

(makes 4 servings)

If you love mussels, you will love this soup. The broth is seriously shellfishy but at the same time very delicate and despite the addition of cream, not at all cloying.  And, as this soup is a bit of a treat and is rich in protein, minerals and good fats, I feel no guilt whatsoever in advising you to have some freshly-baked bread on the side - it is simply one of those soups that demands a bit of dunking!

Ingredients

10 saffron threads (no need for absolute accuracy here!)
300ml strong fish stock (if using ready-made stock or pastes/cubes, make/buy twice what you need and reduce by boiling until you have somewhere close to the required amount of stock)
1.5kg fresh mussels, de-bearded, barnacles chipped off and well-washed (discard any that don’t close when tapped against a hard surface)
4 tablespoons double cream
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3 egg yolks
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Lemon juice
Fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Put the saffron threads in a cup, add 1 tablespoon warm water and let them infuse for at least 10 minutes.
  • Put the stock in a soup pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add the mussels, cover and shake, keeping the heat high until the shells have opened (about 5 minutes). Discard any unopened mussels then drain, retaining the liquid.
  • Strain the liquid through a very fine or muslin-lined sieve to get rid of any grit or bits of shell and return to a clean pot then shell the mussels and keep them aside, covered while you make the soup. You can keep some in their shells for topping/decoration if you wish.
  • Add the sherry and the strained saffron infusion to the broth and stir over a low heat until hot but not boiling then whisk the egg yolks into the cream in a cup or small jug and drizzle slowly into the broth, whisking all the time, raising the heat (so you achieve a continuous bubble not a frantic boil) until the broth thickens slightly. This can take around 5 minutes or more but be patient - you are looking for a double cream sort of thickness, not lumps of scrambled egg in a milky broth!
  • The minute you have reached the desired consistency, remove the soup from the heat and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Add the shelled mussels and stir gently for a few minutes to allow them to warm through before serving with some finely-chopped parsley scattered over the top if desired.

Carrot and Saffron Soup

Fiona Kirk Carrot and Saffron Soup.jpeg

(makes 4 servings)

Ingredients

10-12 saffron threads soaked in a small cup of water
2 tablespoons light olive oil
450g carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
2 level teaspoons ground coriander
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good squeeze of fresh orange juice
1 level teaspoon whole cumin seeds (optional)
1 small carton low fat creme fraiche (optional)

Method

  • Warm the oil in a large pan, add the carrots, onion and garlic and saute gently until they begin to soften (donʼt let them brown). Add the ground cumin and coriander and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes, add the strained saffron liquor and the stock and bring slowly to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Transfer to a liquidiser and blitz thoroughly until the soup is very smooth and frothy. Pass through a sieve before returning to a clean pot. Heat through, check the seasoning and add the orange juice.
  • To serve, dry-fry the cumin seeds briefly in a pan until they begin to pop, ladle the soup into bowls, top each with a good dollop of creme fraiche, if using and scatter over the roasted cumin seeds.

Courgette, Apple and Carrot Bread

courgette bread.jpg

(makes 1 standard loaf)

If your mornings are always a rush, a couple of slices of this fruit and vegetable bread alongside a cup of deep, dark and rich coffee with a good dollop of cream should answer your prayers - filling, packed with nutritional goodness and downright delicious - particularly when the coffee is piping hot and the bread is toasted!

Ingredients

1 medium apple, peeled, cored and roughly grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly grated
1 medium courgette/zucchini, wiped and roughly grated
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
40g fresh pecan nuts, roughly chopped
550g wholemeal flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon all-spice powder
pinch ground nutmeg
2 eggs, whisked
80g brown sugar
The seeds/paste from 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line a standard loaf tin with baking paper (or use a non-stick silicon mould if you have one). Prepare the apple, carrot and courgette/zucchini, put in a bowl, add the lemon juice, mix well and cover the bowl with cling film so the apple doesn’t brown.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg.
  • In another bowl, whisk three quarters of the beaten egg, the sugar and the vanilla extract together before thoroughly combining the mixture with the dry ingredients.
  • Fold in the grated fruit/vegetable mix and lastly the pecan nuts.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and place in the middle of the oven for around 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out cleanly. Check after 35 minutes then every 10 minutes until perfect.
  • Leave to cool a little before turning it out onto a wire tray to cool thoroughly.

Super Green Granola

Ingredients

  • 250g steel cut oats
  • 50g puffed millet
  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • 100g shelled pistachios
  • 25g hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons Manuka honey
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flakes/shavings
  • Natural Greek yoghurt

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Mix the oats, millet, nuts and seeds together in a bowl.
  • Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over a low heat, add the honey, lime zest and lime juice, pour over the dry ingredients, mix well, spread the granola evenly over a baking tray and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes (or until everything is nicely golden brown), turning occasionally then remove and let it cool (it will get crunchier as it cools).
  • Stir in the coconut flakes/shavings and store in an airtight container until required.
  • Serve with passionfruit, green grapes, kiwi fruit and sliced green apples and yoghurt.
  • This is a great ‘green’ combination but you can play around with the grains, nuts and seeds and the fruit dependent on what you have in stock - make the granola in bulk as it keeps for ages.

Quinoa Vegetable Bowl

quinoa vegetable bowl reduced.jpeg

Ingredients

(makes 1 serving)

  • 50g quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • 4 florets broccoli, finely chopped
  • ½ small red onion, peeled and very finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, scrubbed and roughly grated
  • 1 tablespoon coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions, very finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh peanuts, chopped or roughly crushed

For the Dressing

  • Zest and juice of half a lime
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • ½ tablespoon tamari or light soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced/grated
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced/grated

Method

  • In a large bowl toss the cooked quinoa, broccoli, red onion, carrot, coriander, spring onions and peanuts together. Mix until combined.
  • In a small bowl combine dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the whole lot and mix until all the ingredients are well coated.
  • This is such a quick, tasty and protein-rich salad which you can happily mess around with dependent on your tastes and what’s in stock. I have tried calves liver, shiitake mushrooms and blue cheese plus duck breast, dried cherries and mozzarella with good results - experiment!

Fresh Fruit Salad with Crunchy Yoghurt

Fresh Fruit with Crunchy Yoghurt.jpeg

You can make your own ‘crunchy mix’ in bulk using grains, nuts and seeds of choice and store in a glass jar or other airtight container in the fridge or buy a ready-prepared muesli-type mix for convenience. If you go down that route, make sure it has no added sugars - label-reading is vital here and I recommend you head to a health store as a great many of those on the supermarket shelves are bulked out with dried fruits and involve difficult to spot sugary syrups!

Ingredients
Grains and flaked grains of choice (oats, millet, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, rye etc)
Nuts and seeds of choice
Manuka honey
Natural dairy or non-dairy yoghurt
Fruits of choice
Powdered cinnamon or grated nutmeg

Method

  • If you are making your own ‘crunchy mix’, preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2-3.
  • Mix your chosen grains, nuts and seeds in a bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of runny honey and stir well until everything is coated.
  • Transfer the mix to a shallow baking tray and roast in the over for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, give the whole lot a good stir with a fork and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let the mix cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.
  • To serve, stir a couple of tablespoons of your homemade or ready-prepared ‘crunchy mix’ into 3 or 4 tablespoons of yoghurt, layer into a bowl or glass or transportable container with whole, sliced or diced fruit and top with powdered cinnamon or grated nutmeg.

The best thing about yoghurt, fruit and a bit of ‘extra crunch’ is that when you choose this as your first meal of the day, it is going to deliver an excellent balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate, make your tastebuds sing and keep you firing on all cylinders until lunchtime!

Aubergine Curry with Meat, Poultry, Fish or Tofu

Aubergine Curry with Meat, Poultry, Fish or Legumes.jpg

Ingredients

(makes 4 servings)
1 ripe mango, peeled, stoned and diced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
Sea salt
Fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon light olive oil
450g fresh, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large or 2 small aubergines, wiped and cut into bite-sized chunks
225g button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated/mashed
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 level tablespoons Thai red curry paste
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
2 heaped tablespoons ‘no added sugar’ almond butter
250ml unsweetened almond milk
250ml coconut milk
240g tinned or jarred chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 good handfuls roughly chopped coriander leaves
2 good handfuls roughly chopped basil leaves
Raw cauliflower (white only) box-grated and steamed of microwaved for a couple of minutes

Method

  • The salsa: mix the mango, sugar, mint, a good pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice together in a bowl, cover and set aside.
  • The curry: warm the olive oil in a large, shallow pan and sauté the chicken pieces until lightly-browned and just cooked through before removing them (and their juices) to a dish and setting aside.
  • Add the coconut oil to the pan, warm through then sauté the aubergine, mushrooms, tomatoes, ginger and garlic over a medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Return the chicken pieces and their juices to the pan and continuing to sauté for another few minutes, stirring carefully so as not to break up the vegetables.
  • Mix the curry powder, Thai curry paste, chilli flakes and almond butter into a cupful of the almond milk and stir well until very smooth then add this mix to the pan followed by the rest of the almond milk, the coconut milk and the chickpeas. Stir well, bring slowly to the boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Just before serving, add the basil and coriander to the curry and stir to combine for a scant minute or two before serving on a bed of the cauliflower with the fresh mango salsa alongside (good quality mango chutney also works well).
  • NB: replace the chicken with the same amount of turkey, lean lamb, veal, firm white fish, fresh prawns or tofu (all cut into bite-sized chunks before sautéing in the olive oil until just cooked through as per the chicken).
  • ALSO: you can play around with the spices if you like your curry hotter or milder and add more or less of the almond butter.

This is truly amazingly good - one of my resident ‘tasters’ declared it the best curry she has ever had... and it tastes great with all the different protein choices making it a meal that can be regularly repeated without diet boredom creeping in! It also freezes well.

Soft Boiled Eggs with Sweet Potato and Avocado

Soft Boiled Eggs with Sweet Potato and Avocado.jpg

(makes 2 servings)

Ingredients

  • ½ large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 4 lengthwise slices
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large omega 3-rich or organic, free range eggs
  • ½ large or 1 small ripe avocado, stoned and flesh scooped from skin
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  • Paint both sides of the sweet potato slices with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake (turning regularly) until nice and crispy on both sides but still soft in the middle (around 15 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, boil your eggs.
  • My method: Prick the eggs on the rounded bottom, place in a small pan, cover with cold water, bring slowly to the boil and the minute the water starts to boil, turn the heat down so that it is just bubbling gently and set the timer for 3 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, remove from the heat, drain and run lots of cold water over the eggs, before draining and setting aside. Works every time!
  • If you want them a little less runny, go for 4 minutes, hard-boiled, go for 5.
  • Mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork, add the lime juice and coriander and mash some more until it has a chunky but silky texture.
  • Shell and half the eggs, place 2 slices of the sweet potato on each plate, top with a good scoop of the avocado mix then place 2 egg halves on top and another pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper.
  • A fresh tomato and basil salad simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and some salt and pepper goes really well with this.
  • NB: this may seem like quite an unusual mix but trust me, it tastes really good!

Lemon Ginger Chicken

Lemon Ginger Chicken.jpg

(makes 1 serving)

Ingredients

  • 3 skinless mini chicken fillets
  • 1 tablespoon light olive or coconut oil
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 celery stick, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped or a small can (200ml) chopped tomatoes, sieved to remove the liquid
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon lemon grass paste
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaped tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ ripe avocado, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
  • Chilli powder (hot or mild)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  • Place the chicken fillets on a piece of baking foil large enough to form a loose parcel, lightly season, add a good splash of oil, scrunch all the edges of the foil together, place in an oven-proof baking dish and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear then set aside, covered.
  • Warm the rest of the oil in a small sauté pan, add the onion and celery and cook gently until they are soft but not browned.
  • Add the tomato, ginger, lemon grass and vinegar, stir well and continue to cook over a medium heat until the vinegar starts to evaporate and the sauce becomes a thickish paste (around 5-7 minutes).
  • Add the coriander, season to taste, mix well, turn off the heat and place a lid on the pan.
  • In a small bowl, roughly mash the avocado with a fork, add the lime/lemon juice, lightly season and mix thoroughly.
  • To serve, spoon the sauce onto a warmed plate, place the chicken fillets, finely sliced on top and finally the avocado.
  • Lightly dust with chilli powder.
  • NB: this was an experiment that really worked! The cool, creamy avocado topping married with the heat of the ginger and lemon grass and the sharpness of the lemon and vinegar takes the succulent chicken fillets to a whole new place!

Stuffed Avocados

Stuffed Avocado

Firstly: take a ripe avocado, half it, remove the stone, scoop the flesh out of both halves with a spoon (make sure you scrape it clean as a lot of the goodness lies very close to the skin) and dice the flesh into a bowl with a good splash of lemon or lime juice to keep it from discolouring before deciding what to add. If it is a large avocado, leave the stone in one half, paint the flesh with lemon/lime juice and wrap it tightly in clingfilm for later (or tomorrow). If it’s a small avocado, use both halves.

Next: decide on what vegetables/fruit you want to add to the mix and dice, finely slice or grate them.

Then: add some protein and some sort of sauce or dressing and mix the whole lot into the diced avocado.

Finally: scoop your ‘combination’ into the empty avocado shells and top with some crunchy nuts and/or seeds.

Vegetable/Fruit Choices: tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, courgettes, carrots, peppers, chilli, roasted artichokes, olives, peas, corn, celery, spring onions, seaweeds, apple, pear, pomegranate, kiwi fruit, grapes, cherries.

Protein Choices: cold, cooked meats, cooked fish and shellfish, chopped egg, cooked beans, lentils and chickpeas, hummus, tofu, soft and hard cheeses.

Sauce/Dressing Choices: sour cream, mayonnaise, yoghurt, raita, salsa, extra virgin olive, avocado, nut and seed oils, horseradish, chutney, dressings.

Nuts and Seeds: fresh, roasted or toasted.

Here are a few of my favourite combinations:

  • Fresh prawns or crabmeat, sliced radish, chopped boiled egg, natural yoghurt and toasted pine nuts.
  • Tinned salmon, chopped boiled egg, sliced mixed olives, sliced cucumber, natural yoghurt, lemon juice and a good dash of smoked paprika powder.
  • Cottage cheese, grated courgette, grated apple, diced tomatoes, mango chutney and toasted flaked almonds.
  • Quickly sautéed bacon bits, sliced, ready-roasted peppers, raisins, parmesan shavings and shelled pistachios.

Greek Salad with a Difference!


(makes 4 generous or 6 small servings)

The ‘spicing’ of the feta and the addition of the sweet potatoes and aubergine make this a really fresh but filling salad.


Ingredients
 

Spicy Feta Cheese
200g feta, cut into bite sized chunks
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek

Salad
½ aubergine, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 sweet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes
100g black olives, stone and halved
1 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
5 tomatoes, cut into large chunks
½ cucumber, cut into bite sized chunks
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ lemon, juice only
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for roasting
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Toast the fennel and cumin seeds for a minute or so in a dry pan until the aromas are released. 
  • Combine the seeds with the feta and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a bowl, making sure the feta is coated in the spiced oil. Place in the fridge for as long as possible to marinate (overnight is great).
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  • Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with a little of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes then add the aubergine and roast for a further 10 to 15 minutes then allow them to cool a little whilst you prepare the salad.
  • Combine the olives, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, oregano, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil in a bowl, then mix in the marinated feta. Add the sweet potato and aubergine and toss it all together before serving.

Fennel and Orange Grain Bowl

Fiona Kirk Fennel and Orange Quinoa Salad web.jpeg


(makes 2 generous or 3 small servings)

I love this salad on its own as it is so fresh, colourful and satisfying but it also makes a good ‘side’ to a thick fillet of baked ‘meaty’ fish like cod, halibut or turbot. You can use any grains you fancy (barley, millet, rice, teff, spelt, amaranth etc) - just follow the cooking instructions on the packet before assembling the salad!

Ingredients

100g quinoa
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and divided into quarters or eighths (keep the root in place as this holds each segment together)
50mls fresh orange juice
1 pinch saffron powder
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Light olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini paste
1 tablespoon flaked almonds
1 orange, skin and pith removed with a sharp knife and segmented
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Soak the quinoa in cool water for 15 minutes then drain and rinse and place in a pot. Cover with boiling water (use a cup to measure the soaked quinoa and use one and a half times that amount of boiling water).
  • Bring to the boil, stir well, turn the heat to very low, put a lid on the pot and lightly ‘steam’ for 30 minutes then turn off the heat and set the pot aside (don’t remove the lid).
  • Put the fennel in a bowl with the orange juice, saffron, a dash of salt and plenty of black pepper, cover and leave to ‘infuse’ for 20 minutes then drain (keeping the liquid), dry the fennel off with paper towel, lightly paint each quarter with the light olive oil, place on a baking sheet under a hot grill and grill them (turning often) until they are cooked through but still have a bit of ‘bite’ and are nicely caramelised.
  • Combine the tahini paste with the strained orange/saffron/fennel marinade until really smooth and creamy.
  • Toast the flaked almonds in a small dry frying pan - watch them like a hawk as they burn in the blink of an eye!
  • Fork through the quinoa until all the grains are separate then mix the tahini dressing through before placing on a serving plate.
  • Arrange the grilled fennel and orange segments around, scatter the pomegranate seeds, chopped chives and almonds over the whole lot, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the salad and serve.

Crab, Salmon and Avocado Salad


(makes 4 servings)

This is a particularly delightful mix and the addition of the pickled fennel and avocado ‘cream’ are (I have to say, modestly) inspired!

Ingredients

Cider vinegar
Water
Sugar
Sea salt
1 bulb fennel, trimmed, root removed and very finely sliced
150g fresh white crab meat, flaked
5 drops Tabasco
Fresh lemon juice
2 avocados, skinned, stoned and roughly chopped
100g good quality (or homemade) mayonnaise
100g crème fraîche
30ml fresh lime juice
1 green apple, cored and diced
100g smoked salmon in thin slices
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Combine a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon water in a small pot, bring just to the boil, turn off the heat, add the fennel, cover and set aside until cool.
  • Mix the crab meat with the Tabasco and a dash of lemon juice, grind in some black pepper, cover and set aside.
  • Mash the avocado with a fork (or in a blender) with the mayonnaise, crème fraîche and lime juice until it is smooth and creamy.
  • Place the smoked salmon slices on a serving plate, scatter the diced apple around, drain the pickled fennel and add to the plate along with the crab mix, drizzle the avocado ‘cream’ over the whole lot, scatter more freshly ground black pepper around and serve.

Blazing Hot Tomato Soup (v)

blazing tomato small.jpg

(makes 4 servings)

This soup can be as ʻblazingly hotʼ as you want it - some like it hotter than others! Add just
the merest hint of chilli powder and smoked paprika and it tastes remarkably like a rather
famous canned soup but without the added colourings, flavourings and preservatives so can
be a real winner on the health stakes for both kids and those who donʼt go in for a spicy
soup. Packs well too!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes or 8 good-sized, fresh, ripe tomatoes
120g sweet red peppers from a jar
500mls good chicken or vegetable stock
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Juice of 2 small limes
Natural live/bio yoghurt
Parsley leaves, finely chopped

Method

  • Warm the oil in a heavy-based soup pot, add the onion, garlic and salt, cover and sauté over a very low heat for around 20-30 minutes (the longer the better). Check and stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure the vegetables are not catching on the bottom of the pot.
  • If you are using fresh tomatoes, place them in a large bowl, pour boiling water over to cover, count slowly to 30, drain off the water, leave the tomatoes until cool enough to handle then slip off the skins, remove the core and seeds and roughly chop the flesh.
  • Drain the red peppers, chop and add to the pot with the fresh or tinned tomatoes, stock and spices and stir well - if you like it a little less ‘hot’, leave out the cayenne pepper - then bring just to the boil before turning the heat down to low and simmering for 20 minutes. 
  • Blitz the soup in a liquidiser or blender before passing through a fine sieve into a clean pot, add the lime juice a tablespoon at a time and keep tasting until you get the perfect citrus ‘edge’, add sea salt to taste, reheat gently and serve topped with a generous spoonful of yoghurt straight from the fridge (the hot and spicy soup combined with the oh so cold yoghurt is magical!) and top with a good sprinkling of parsley.
  • NB: This soup (without the yoghurt topping) will keep in the fridge for a few days or you can portion and freeze it for convenience.

Very Quick Tomato Soup (v)

(makes 2 servings)

A soup, a drink, a must when you are in a rush!

Ingredients

3 large ripe tomatoes
500mls fresh tomato juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Juice of one lime or half a lemon
4 drops Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon celery salt
Freshly ground black pepper
0% fat Greek yoghurt
Mustard cress or celery leaves

Method

  • Place the tomatoes in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and leave for 30 seconds.
  • Drain, remove the skins, chop into quarters, remove the seeds and finely dice the flesh.
  • Put the tomato flesh, the tomato juice, the Worcestershire sauce, the balsamic vinegar, the
  • lime/lemon juice, the tabasco, the celery salt and a few good grindings of black pepper in a
  • medium sized pot.
  • Stir well and heat through until just beginning to boil.
  • Taste and adjust, adding more of any of the flavourings and/or seasonings until it’s just how
  • you want it - some like it hot!
  • Pour into bowls or mugs, top with a good dollop of yoghurt per serving and scatter with
  • snipped mustard cress/finely sliced celery leaves or flask it if you are on the go.
  • NB: Adding a generous measure of vodka on a lazy Saturday/Sunday morning can get the
  • day off to a very cheering start!

Summer Soup Shots


(makes 6 servings)

These delightful little concoctions are a super-nutritious snack or appetiser and can be kept in
the fridge for a couple of days without losing their gorgeous green colour. You can also top
them with toasted nuts and seeds, a few prawns drizzled with chilli oil or a spoonful of salsa

Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 avocado, peeled, stoned and roughly chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed, roots removed and roughly chopped
A good handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
160ml coconut cream
Juice of one lime
Sea salt and ground white pepper
170g fresh or tinned white crab meat
1 heaped teaspoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Put the cucumber, avocado, spring onions and coriander in a blender and whizz until
  • smooth.
  • Add half the lime juice and all the coconut cream and whizz again briefly until just mixed.
  • Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
  • Pour the soup into glasses or cups, cover with cling film and put in the fridge to chill
  • thoroughly (minimum 30 minutes).
  • In a bowl, using a fork, mix the crab meat (well-drained if using tinned crab) with the sweet
  • chilli sauce, the olive oil and some or all of the remaining lime juice - don’t make the mixture
  • too wet.
  • Season to taste, cover and refrigerate.
  • When ready to serve, top the soup shots with a generous spoonful of the crab mixture.

Delicious Tahini Cream! (v)

Bowl of tahini with sesame seeds

One of the fabulous things about tahini (sesame seed paste) is that when you eat it straight from the jar or spread it on crackers or oatcakes, it sticks to your teeth so the enjoyment continues for much longer than the time it takes to hoover the snack down! However, that may not work for everyone - but - when you whizz it up with garlic, lemon juice and water and turn it into a silky-smooth cream and dunk things in it (particularly grilled or roasted vegetables) or drizzle it over things (particularly lamb), it becomes seriously moreish and you just have to make another batch - which is absolutely fine as it keeps in a jar in the fridge for days!

Ingredients

  • 1 teacup light tahini from a jar
  • 3/4 teacup lukewarm water
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teacup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt crystals

Method

  • Slowly whizz everything in a blender or food processor until creamy, stopping every now and then to scrape the sides and give the paste a bit of a bashing with a wooden spoon as it tends to clump.
  • Keep adding a little more water until the sauce becomes really creamy, smooth and frothy or to your desired consistency.