Spicy beetroot, leek and walnut salad

Yesterday, I suggested that the Healthy Burgers and Green Salad we had would have been better with this dish. The garlic in the green salad kind of beat the burgers into submission. This on the other hand was the perfect accompaniment. There’s a lot more effort into making them, but it is worth it in the end.

I somehow managed to forget to have my breakfast shake so burgers and salad for lunch seemed like a good plan.

I’d roasted the beetroot in foil the night before. Nice little trick, if you aren’t in a rush, is don’t roast them for 90 mins in the oven (that’s a lot of oven energy for some beetroots) – roast them for 40 mins – turn the oven off and just leave them til the oven is cold. They’ll still cook, and you’ll cut down on your energy bills. After all you’re eating the beetroot cold anyway – and you have to wait for them to be cold before you can peel the skin off. Works a treat for me – seems less messy too, as most people are impatient and start peeling before they are actually cold – and the juice just gets everywhere!

The leeks are simmered until they are tender, refreshed, then cut into chunks – and while that it going on you make a dressing of walnuts, chilli-flakes, garlic, oil, tamarind water (if you have it – I’ve used a small amount of fish sauce before, or an anchovy – something Umami will do it), and cider vinegar.

When you’re ready pop it all on a bed of rocket and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds over the top, and a drizzle of olive oil.

One thing I don’t like about whole pomegranates is you never know how plump and colourful the seeds will be (in this picture they are really pale). You can buy the seeds already popped in a plastic pot but I don’t like the plastic waste. I’d rather the wormery had the husk than worry about whether the plastic will get recycled!

This was a far more balanced accompaniment to the turkey burgers. And filled a nice little spot in my tummy until dinner time. Right – back to work! Adios!

Ras El Hanout Chicken Wraps

Ras el Hanout Chicken Wraps

If there’s one spice (in fact spice mix) associated with Morocco it is Ras el Hanout. Take a walk down any market street in Marrakech or Essaouria and you’ll struggle to walk 10 yards without seeing someone selling it. They’ll tell you that theirs is better than the guy next to him because of x y z or the alignment of the stars. Every one of the sellers say it is a blend of 35 spices – but I think it’s more likely to be 10.

Truth be told I didn’t buy any in Morocco. I have plenty and I simply didn’t trust the sellers. We were ripped off enough times for me to just rest assured that I can get perfectly good stuff at home and probably for half the price.

We eat wraps a lot. Mainly on gym days. After a 90 minute drive home from work and a 90 minute plus gym session its just too late to start cooking. So unless you’ve got leftovers, wraps are a great alternative.

Typically our wraps are salad and grilled halloumi, but I stumbled across this recipe in Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour so I decided to try something different.

Like most things in this book it’s pretty easy. You create a paste with the ras el hanout and some olive oil, then smear it all over some chicken strips. I did mine in a plastic freezer bag as you can squish all the paste into all the surfaces of the chicken and it doesn’t stink out your fridge while you leave it to marinate.

The book recommends leaving the chicken to marinate overnight (I’ve done this subsequently and it does make a big difference) but on the first occasion I left it less than an hour – I was hungry!

While your chicken is marinating, make the yoghurt dressing by simply mixing chopped mint, greek yoghurt, black pepper and sumac.

Sumac is amazing. It lifts everything. Its a ground berry from the Rhus plant – and it tastes fantanstic. Sprinkle it on bland looking stuff and it’ll make it look pretty too!

When you’re ready to eat, fry off the chicken until it’s springy and when it’s done let it rest for a few minutes on a board.

Then simply construct the wraps with some rocket leaves (or spinach like I did), the chicken, some sliced red onion, the yoghurt dressing, some pomegranate molasses and some pomegranate seeds.

You won’t eat a better wrap. It’s good if you can dry fry the wraps first to warm them through – your filling will stay warmer for longer and it’ll be easier to wrap the wrap!

I really love these. And I make them all the time. It’s why you don’t see me blogging much these days – too many of these awesome wraps!

Thai Corn and Mango Salad with Pomegranate Relish


Tuesday nights are Rock’n’Roll dancing nights. Our usual pack drill is we just go dancing straight from work and skip dinner – and this was the plan yesterday. Instead we left work earlier than usual and went home. We didn’t have time to make any dinner so going home was essentially a waste of time.

That said – I did have to pay Freya’s mum for my new knife (well ‘cleaver’) that she picked up for me from Grand Designs at the weekend. The new ‘cleaver’ is a Hammer Stahl 7 inch Asian Cleaver. It’s beautifully weighted and looks stunning. I’ve been a hardcore advocate of Global knives for years. My friend Brad got me on to them some time ago and I didn’t think I’d ever stray – but the Hammer Stahl is very well balanced. And it was a bargain too at £85. Amazing how cheap you can pick up stuff at these shows. Hopefully I can pick up some more if Flint and Flame are at the Stonor Food Fayre this year.

I used the Asian Cleaver to julienne the mango and the spring onions in the final dish I’m making from Honestly Healthy for Life. It is very sharp – and a pleasure to use.

Anyway! enough of the knife idolising.

We got home from dancing at 11pm and Freya was hungry so I decided to make this last dish. It can be done in less than 30 minutes and we needed to wind down so I put it together and we ate it before going to bed. It’s pretty much carb free so I don’t think it’ll affect the waistline.

You simply boil some corn on the cob, then slice it into 2cm slices and sear it in oil on a hot plate. While you’re waiting you mix together some rocket, pomegranate seeds, mango, spring onions, bamboo shoots (which I omitted because mine weren’t fresh enough) and toss in a dressing of sunflower oil, lime juice, garlic, ginger and pomegranate molasses.

Very simple, very quick, very yummy.

I adapted this dish a little for work the next day and added julienned cucumber and some leftover spinach – and a few shavings of parmesan. It wasn’t quite as colourful – lacking the pomegranate seeds – but it was still an eye turner.

I’m still not the master of stripping down a mango. There has to be a better way than my clumsy way. Any suggestions?


Crunchy Fennel Salad with Pomegranate, Mango and Walnuts


Another ‘no-cook’ recipe – unless you count toasting some walnuts for a few minutes, this salad is very nice indeed – very refreshing and pretty simple to make.

One thing that always puts me off salads with mango is I am rubbish at breaking down a mango. I always make a mess and end up gnawing on the stone like a dog with a bone – just because I don’t like wasting any of it. Mangoes are a very inconsiderate fruit. I mean why put such a large stone in a fruit that big. Once you’ve removed all the flesh, julienning it seems to be just one step too far. Although on this occasion I seem to have done quite a good job.

Pomegranates are another one of those fruits that makes you just want to buy a pot of the seeds. That said the seeds are never as juicy as buying a fresh pomegranate, cutting it in half and whacking the back of it with a heavy spoon (or my preference the pestle from my glass pestle and mortar). All I’d say is whack them into a separate bowl rather than over the fennel like I did – as the juice splashes everywhere and makes the fennel look like it took part in a horror movie.

That’s as hard as the prep gets though. Just add the mango and pomegranate to some sliced fennel, sliced red onion, red chilli and the toasted walnuts. Toss it all together with some lime juice, coriander and lemon thyme. 

This is a wonderful salad and can be found in ‘Friends Around the Table’ by Acland Geddes and Pedro da Silva. This was again taken from a pullout from the Times Eat Magazine.


Pomegranate and Cucumber Salsa


Another late dinner for us. – way past 9pm. And there was a choice. More Mung Bean Casserole (see previous post) or something else. Something else won the coin toss.

This is another dish from Veggiestan by Sally Butcher. 

Once I’ve made more than half a dozen things from a book and liked them I can safely recommend the book. Apart from the shocker that was Figs and Fried Eggs, everything else has been awesome – and there’s still half a dozen things I haven’t made yet.

The keen eyes amongst you will realise as I did that this dish could have been called anything – there are a lot of ingredients in this dish other than the two in the title. Pretty much every ingredient in this dish is in equal proportion. Pomegranate, cucumber, tomato, peppers, spring onions, mint, coriander – lots of very fresh ingredients. There is also a hot chilli pepper to give it some kick. I added a Scotch Bonnet. There’s even more zinginess from the juice of some limes.

This recipe is in the Meze section of the book and is supposed to be part of many other dishes. We had it on its own as it was getting late and I realised I had missing ingredients for the other things I wanted to make. It is very enjoyable on its own anyway.

I never feel bad eating salad late at night – it’s hardly going to pile on the pounds. In any case we can dance it off tomorrow night when we go Rock’n’Roll dancing!