Asparagus and lentil salad with Grana Padano

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Create a salad bed of hand cut lettuce, shredded beetroot, thinly sliced tomatoes and any other green salad you might have in your refrigerator. Cover with cooked bacon pieces (to taste) and a small tin of lentils – if you don’t want to cook lentils from scratch. Season with good quality bought or home made Ceaser salad dressing.

In the meantime wash and chop in 2 or 3 cm long pieces a bunch of green asparagus and stir fry for about 6 minutes with soya pieces and some sea salt to taste. When ready,  arrange on  the salad whilst still very warm. Sprinkle heavily with grated Grana Padano and ground pepper.

 

Carb-less broccoli quiche

Broccoli quiche

Stir-fry the following for 5 mins in 2 tbls sunflower oil; the broccoli can remain a bit hard.

  • 1 1/2 broccoli heads cut in quatered florets
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 tbs mixed dry thyme and basil

In the meantime beat the following in a bowl:

  • 120 ml soya milk
  • 120g grated cheese of your choice
  • 6 eggs
  • pepper and salt to taste

Lay the broccoli mix on an oven dish (approx 28cm) and if desired add some cooked paprika cut in tin strips on top of the mixture.  Pour the egg mix gently making sure to cover all the broccoli and spread the cheese on top.  Bake for around 40 mins or until golden brown.

Tip: you can use cauliflower, cut in small florets, as an alternative.

Tasty classic minestrone

Minestrone

Nothing screams winter and new-year-healthy-culinary-resolution more than minestrone.  This is my all time favourite, easy to make in bulk and keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days – these measures makes loads:

Cook the following gently for 8-10 minutes or until soft:

  • 30g butter (optional)
  • 5 tbl olive oil
  • 4 chopped carrots
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 chopped cloves garlic
  • 125g chopped thick bacon

I cheat with the above and buy a 500g bag of mixed chopped onions and carrots – makes this recipe super fast.

Add the following, bring to the boil and cook gently for 20 mins:

  • 2 tinned 400g can chopped tomatoes – or use the fresh equivalent
  • 2+ litres of chicken stock

Add and the following and continue cooking gently  for another 15 mins:

  • 400g of shredded cabbage – I use the Chinese cabbage version, easier to chop and tastier!
  • 100g of cut spaghetti or any other leftover uncooked pasta you might have
  • salt to taste

At the end add the following and heat/cook for another 5 mins.

  • approx 250g cooked broad or French beans – from a tin or jar, should you wish
  • approx 200g cooked petits pois beans

Serve sprinkled with lots of fresh ground black pepper and grated cheese of your choice.

Broccoli pesto

Not your typical pesto as you can eat lots and lots of it on its own and you will be healthier for that, however it is also great as a side.

Blend the following in a blender/food processor:

  • 1 broccoli head (circa 550g) cut in small florets, cooked/steamed and drained.
  • 50 g roasted pine nuts
  • 7 tbs olive oil
  • juice from lemon and some of its zest
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbs linseed (optional)
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, to taste

Serve lots with chicken or fish or serve as a healthy dip.

For the roasted vegetables cut 4 chicory sprouts lengthwise into quarters, sprinkle with olive oil, sea-salt and pepper and fresh thyme.  Half an aubergine, cut small squares in it without cutting the skin, drizzle with olive oil, sea-salt and pepper and oregano.  Roast all at 200oC for 40 mins or until done.

 

Thai pumpkin and lentil soup

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I love this one because it is so easy to make, with just two cooking steps, but rich in taste.  Here goes:

Fry one chopped onion in 3 tbs sunflower oil until soft, then add:

  • one pumpkin, washed, not peeled and chopped in approx 2 or 3 cm cubes (after seeds are scooped out)
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • one orange or tangerine, cut in 4 pieces
  • 2 or 3 carrots, sliced
  • 40g of your favourite curry paste, preferably yellow
  • one 400g coconut milk

Let cook gently for 25 mins until pumpkin and carrot are soft, then add one small tin of lentils and cook further for another 5 mins.

Once ready add a little cream (optional) and cream with a hand blender.  Add some water if required.

Add 20 g of chopped coriander.

 

Delicious lettuce soup (as unlikely as that sounds)

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Fry the following until soft in 2 tbs olive oil:

  • 1 chopped red/onion
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 red paprika (optional)

Then add:

  • 1 iceberg lettuce, sliced
  • 2 tsp mixed dried (italian) herbs
  • 500 ml chicken stock (from one cube)
  • salt and pepper to taste

and cook for around 10 mins until done.  Add:

  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • some milk/cream to taste

and liquidise with a mini-blender.  Yes it is that easy – but tastes great.

Serve with fresh brown bread.

 

Spicy quick chicken a’ l’arrabiata.

 

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Mix together:

  • 5 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs dried origano
  • 1 tsp hot paprika powder (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chicken spice (optional)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 150 ml white wine (optional)

pour the above over 4 chicken breasts or thighs and bake in a 230 oC oven for 45/50 mins.  Nothing could be easier or tastier!

Tip: serve with roasted pumpkin as in above.

 

Trouble free spelt lasagne

Lasagne

Lasagne does not need to mean unhealthy and lots of work.  Try this easy version:

Fry  2 red roughly chopped onions until soft in 2 tbs of olive/sunflower oil, then add the following and cook for around 6 mins, stirring often:

  • 400g lean mince meat – you can substitute with soya mince – follow the pack directions accordingly
  • one aubergines cut into small cubes
  • one courgette sliced in half and then 5 mm slices
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • some chilli to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seed  and 1 heaped tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbs dried mixed italian herbs
  • 1 tbs ground flaxseed (optional)

After the 6 mins, add:

  • 2 tinned tomato cubes
  • 500 ml beef stock (made from organic cubes)

and simmer for 35/40 mins.

Prepare and cook lasagne by following the instructions on the spelt lasagne packet (250g) – it usually does not require any pre-cooking and needs 35 mins at 200oC.  Top with a layer of grated cheese to taste before baking.

3-minute walnut pesto

This pesto is so tasty but easy to make you will wonder why you ever bought a ready made version.

Mix in a blender to a nice pesto paste:

  • 100g walnuts
  • 1 tbs ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 60g rucola

Serve with your favourite pasta on a bed of rucola.  Here I have combined with wholemeal ravioli, alfalfa sprouts and sautéed mushrooms.

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Quick and tasty broccoli muffins

Broccoli muffin

Mix the following in a blender, pour into paper cupcake cups and bake at 200oC for 40 mins or until beautifully golden brown.  I thought this would make a great healthy and fun variation on the broccoli patties by baking rather than frying them.

  • 2 boiled (or shh… microwaved) potatoes
  • 300g steamed broccoli
  • 100 g grated cheese of your choice
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 6 tbs ground flaxseed – for a great healthy twist

Serve with fresh green salad and a side mix of half ketchup, half mayo – although I found the muffins tasty enough not to require the latter.