Fennel and artichoke salad with almonds and herbs

It’s been very hot here at the seaside today, which is great for the local economy, but not so much for me! I’m a total heat wuss…
So, I definitely didn’t want to have the oven or hobs on to make tomorrow’s work lunch for Alex and I!
We’ve blogged recipes using canned artichokes before, I really do like them as a salad ingredient, they’re very different from fresh artichokes but awfully tasty all the same.
Here I’ve put them with fennel steamed in the microwave (avoiding using the cooker!), almonds and herbs, with some sugar snap peas and baby corn for sweetness.
The dressing is predominantly sherry vinegar, which I haven’t used for ages, I’d forgotten how lovely it is!
For herbs, I’ve used some micro herbs that we picked up at the great greengrocers on Topping street in Blackpool, chilli cress which tastes rather like watercress, and pak choi shoots which have a mild flavour but are very pretty.
Also, dill to complement the fennel, I do find aniseed flavours feel very cooling, so are absolutely perfect for the hot weather!


Fennel and artichoke salad with almonds and herbs

serves 2 as a meal with a bit of brown rice or quinoa, or 4 as a starter

for the salad
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 can of artichoke hearts in brine, each one quartered (240 g drained weight)
40 g salted almonds
150 g sugar snap peas and baby corn, sliced. Substitute these for other vegetables if you like, fresh peas would be lovely, or even cooked beetroot.
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
4 tbsp micro herbs or other soft herbs. Parsley would be nice, and a bit of basil.
for the dressing
3 tbsp sherry vinegar. Or use apple cider or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil
1 tbsp liquid from steaming the fennel

Steam the fennel until just tender. I did mine with a little bit of water in a vented container in the microwave. It took two bursts of 1 minute 30 seconds. Remember to save the steaming liquid for the dressing.
Cool the fennel and liquid and then make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, oil and fennel liquid together with the salt until combined.
To assemble the salad simply toss all of the ingredients together gently with the dressing. Serve with brown rice or quinoa.

By E.


Herb salad with lemongrass lentils and peanut dressing

Yesterday morning Alex and I took the tram into Blackpool, and as it happened the shops we wanted to visit were either closed or closed down! But the trip wasn’t wasted, as the greengrocers on Topping Street had gorgeous big bunches of herbs and spinach at a very good price. So we came away with dill, coriander, parsley and spinach, hooray!
Having such an amount of lovely herbs immediately brought to mind Vietnamese food, so that’s where the inspiration for this salad came from. Rather than rice or noodles though, we’ve gone for small green lentils and cooked them with lemongrass.
The liquid left over has great flavour, so we’ve used that as the base of a peanut dressing. Along with toasted cashews, the nutty zesty dressing, and masses of herbs and vegetables, it’s a fresh, protein filled salad to take for work lunches which will keep us going all afternoon. I’m looking forward to it already!


Herb salad with lemongrass lentils and peanut dressing

makes 4 servings

for the salad
30 g fresh coriander, chopped (plus a little extra for the lentils, see below)
30 g fresh dill, chopped
2 carrots, shredded or grated
1 courgette, shredded or grated
120 g baby corn, sliced
150 g cashews, toasted
for the lentils
300 g small green lentils
2 stalks lemongrass, cut in half and bashed a bit to release the flavour
5 g fresh parsley, chopped
5 g fresh coriander, chopped
600 ml water
75 g spinach, washed and sliced
for the dressing
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tbsp peanut powder, or peanut butter
3 tbsp lime juice (1 tbsp for the dressing, and 2 tbsp to finish the salad)
100 ml lentil water, top up with stock if there isn’t enough left
1 tsp oil (omit if using peanut butter)
a large pinch of salt

First set the lentils cooking. Put the lentils, lemongrass, parsley, coriander and water into a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook for around 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. If you’re using a saucepan keep it mostly covered so that you don’t lose too much of the liquid.
Add the spinach for the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain the lentils, reserving the liquid, and remove the lemongrass. Set aside to cool. While the lentils are cooking prep the carrots, courgette, baby corn, coriander and dill and toss them together in a large bowl.
Toast the cashew nuts in a dry saucepan until starting to brown and then tip out to cool.
Using the same saucepan, heat 100 ml of the lentil cooking water on a low heat until just starting to bubble and whisk in the tomato puree, peanut powder, 1 tbsp of the lime juice, the oil, and salt. Cool.
Mix the lentils, cashew nuts and dressing into the bowl with the vegetables and herbs, along with the other 2 tbsp of lime juice.

By A. and E.


Falafel hash with tahini sauce and raw courgette and tomato salad

Chickpeas fried up with falafel spices, extra vegetables for added flavour and texture, and plenty of herbs stirred through at the end.
That’s got to be good right? And it was!
I made this recipe for work lunches this week, and the combination of the lovely savoury hash with creamy tahini sauce and a fresh salad simply dressed with vinegar is great.
It’s always good to have a lunch to look forward to if you’re stuck in an office all day!


Falafel hash with tahini sauce and raw courgette and tomato salad

makes 4 servings

for the hash
2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 400 g tins of chickpeas, drained (save the liquid for mallow!)
3 tbsp oil
3/4 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
3 tsp coriander seed, toasted and ground
1 tbsp dried ramsons or 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I ground the dried ramsons with the other spices, they make the hash a lovely bright green colour!)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
10 g fresh dill, chopped
10 g fresh parsley, chopped
10 g fresh coriander, chopped
salt and pepper
for the tahini sauce
150 ml unsweetened soy yoghurt
3 tbsp tahini
1/4 tsp salt
for the courgette tomato salad
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 a courgette, shredded
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried chervil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, and cook the potato, carrot and parsnip until almost cooked through, about 7 minutes.
Drain the vegetables well.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan and tip in the vegetables. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes without moving them, until the underside is golden brown.
Add the chickpeas to the pan, along with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, the cumin, coriander and ramsons. Cook, stirring often for a further 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and mix well. I actually cooked the hash in two batches as my pan wasn’t big enough, and I wanted the vegetables to brown rather than stew.
Stir the dill, coriander and parsley through just before serving.
While the hash is cooking make the tahini sauce and salad.
For the sauce mix the soy yoghurt, tahini and salt together, and for the salad mix the tomato, courgette, salt, chervil and vinegar.

By E.


Ackee with lemony spiced vegetable and bean stew

I started off thinking along the lines of jerk seasoning today, the sun is out and allspice and citrus seemed very appealing!
But rather than making a very hot spice paste as jerk would be, I’ve gone for some of the same flavours, but with herbal and lemon notes to make a fragrant and fresh stew to go with creamy ackee.
I blogged an ackee recipe a while ago, and although I have cooked with it since then it’s always been a similar dish, with rice and assorted flavourings.
This makes a lovely change, and is a delicious, bright, springtime meal.


Ackee with lemony spiced vegetable and bean stew

makes 4 servings

for the spice paste
2 tsp coriander seed
6 to 10 allspice berries, depending on size
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1/2 large lemon
3 cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tbsp dried ramsons (wild garlic), or 2 cloves fresh garlic
1 small leek, the dark green tops minced and add the whites finely sliced to the stew (I ended up with 3 tbsp of the tops)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
a small bunch of fresh parsley (about 15 g), stalks chopped and leaves saved for the stew
a small bunch of fresh coriander (about 15 g), stalks chopped and leaves saved for the stew
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tbsp oil
for the stew
400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
200 g mushrooms, chopped
50 g frozen spinach
100 g green lentils, rinsed
300 ml water
400 g tin of black eye beans, drained (240 g drained)
1 540 g tin of ackee, drained (340 g drained)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.
First make the paste. You can use a mini processor to whizz everything together (as long as it’s strong enough to cope with the allspice berries), but I like to use a pestle and mortar.
Start with the coriander seed and allspice and get it partially crushed. Next add the lemon zest, ginger, leek tops, thyme, ramsons, parsley stalks, coriander stalks, salt and vinegar. Smush together into a paste. Then the nutmeg and sugar goes in, and bash it a bit more. By this point there should be no large lumps of allspice berry or coriander seed. Stir in the lemon juice.
Now the stew. Heat the oil on a low heat in a large ovenproof casserole dish with a lid. Add the paste, and cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Add the leek whites, celery, carrot and mushrooms, along with the tin of tomatoes and 300 ml water. Bring to a simmer on the hob, cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. After this time add the lentils and spinach and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
Then add the beans, parsley and ackee and give the stew a last 10 minutes, that’s 1 hr 10 minutes in total.
Stir coriander through at the end.

By E.


Dried tofu sticks with roasted vegetables, edamame, and coriander dressing

I find it all too easy to think of roasted vegetables as a Mediterranean dish, with basil and tomatoes and that sort of thing. But increasingly I’ve been pairing them with Chinese or Japanese style flavours (or more often a mixture of the two!). And it can make for some really delicious salads to eat for work lunches.
Here I’m serving the vegetables with a lovely gingery coriander dressing, and some fresh edamame beans. And also, dried tofu sticks which I’ve always meant to try but never got round to, they’re hard to get hold of round here. But lo and behold I found that you can buy them online from tesco!
The dried tofu sticks are actually rolls of very thin tofu sheet and are soaked in water until pliable and then sliced and added to the vegetables. And very good they are too, adding a great texture.
I’m serving this dish cold with rice for work lunches, but it would be lovely hot too.


Dried tofu sticks with roasted vegetables, edamame beans, and coriander ginger dressing

makes 4 servings

150 g edamame beans
100 g dried tofu sticks
150 g butternut squash and sweet potato (I used a mixed pack from the supermarket, but either one would be fine)
2 courgettes, cut into chunks
1 red pepper cut into chunks
140 g cabbage, shredded
40 g cashew nuts
1 1/2 tbsp oil
a pinch of salt
5 cm of fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp coriander leaf, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
75 ml water
1/4 tsp xanthan gum, optional but gives the dressing a bit of body

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
In a large roasting tin, mix the butternut squash, sweet potato, courgettes and red pepper with the oil and salt.
Roast for 1 hour total until the edges of the vegetables are starting to char. 30 minutes into the roasting time, add the cabbage and cashews and give it all a good mix, and then stir again after 45 minutes. This ensures the cabbage and cashews don’t catch and burn.
To make the dressing, put the ginger, tamari, mirin, vinegar and water in a small saucepan and heat until just about to simmer. Turn the heat off, whisk in the xanthan gum and then stir through the coriander.
Soak the dried tofu sticks in hot water for 3 -5 minutes. They will turn paler and opaque. Drain, squeeze the excess water out (carefully, it may be hot!), and snip into 1-2 cm pieces with scissors. If the very ends of the tofu sticks haven’t softened discard them.
Mix the edamame beans, tofu and dressing through the roasted vegetables to serve.

By E.


Black eye bean and celeriac stew

It’s wet and cold today with grey skies the colour of concrete. Definitely the weather for steaming hot bowls of comforting stew!
But I thought it would be nice to bring a touch of lightness to the day by using flavours more usually used in summer, or certainly more traditional in hotter climates than north west England…
So to a base of black eye beans and celeriac, I’ve added chopped tomatoes, lemon zest and chervil and finished the dish with chopped fresh dill.
It’s ridiculously easy to make, and as well as brightening my day today, will be delicious over the next couple of days for work lunches, perhaps with rocket salad.


Black eye bean and celeriac stew

serves 4 to 6

250 g black eye beans, rinsed and soaked (covered) in boiling water for 1 hour
325 g celeriac (peeled weight), cut into 1 cm cubes
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried chervil
1 tbsp lemon zest (around 1/2 a lemon)
1 litre of hot water
a pinch of salt
4 tbsp chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees c.
Put all of the ingredients in an ovenproof casserole dish and bring to the boil on the hob. Cover and transfer to the oven for 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes.
At this point the beans and vegetables will be tender, and the sauce will be full of flavour but quite thin. I like it this way but if you prefer it thicker you could either mix through a tbsp slaked cornflour, or puree a couple of ladlefuls of the beans and veg and then add back to the pan.
Salt to taste, and stir the dill through just before serving.

By E.


Tofu noodles with beans and vegetables

Here’s another recipe using paper tofu, quite different from Alex’s cannelloni, but just as satisfying to eat!
Here I’ve cut the tofu into noodles, and used it in a salad. It worked ever so well! The noodles don’t need cooking, and have a very pleasing, slightly chewy texture.
The accompanying beans and vegetables were a bit of a mish mash of things I had in the fridge and cupboard… And although very tasty, this is all about the tofu noodles!
They’ll take lots of different flavours, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on another pack of paper tofu for more experimenting.


tofu noodles with beans and vegetables

serves 2

1 sheet of paper tofu, (about 25 x 20 cm)
1 400 g tin of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed (240 g drained weight)

100 g mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp oil
100 g flower sprouts, washed
75 g brined cactus slices (nopales)
2 tbsp chipotle in adobo
1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 watermelon radish, sliced and each slice quartered (or 4 regular radishes)

Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and saute the mushrooms until cooked through. Remove to a bowl.
Put the flower sprouts in the saucepan and add boiling water to cover. Simmer for around 6 minutes, until tender. Drain.
Turn the heat off, and put the mushrooms back in the pan along with the flower sprouts, beans, cactus, chipotle, cider vinegar and coriander. Slice the paper tofu into 2 pieces 12.5 x 20 cm each, roll each one up and slice thinly into noodles. Add them to the pan, and toss everything together. Serve garnished with the slices of watermelon radish.


By E.


Cavolo nero, mushroom and broad bean salad with tahini dressing

I think I’m going to be having a bit of a run on tahini based dressings this week…

It’s ages since I’ve had any, but I’ve got a nice big jar now and I’m really enjoying the flavour again! It worked really well in yesterday’s Chinese inspired recipe.

I’ve also recently discovered that tinned broad beans are actually rather nice, I’m not sure why I’d discounted them before. So I’ve combined the beans with some beautiful slightly bitter cavolo nero and juicy mushrooms, salty olives and capers, and a nutty tahini dressing with a drop of vinegar to temper the warm flavour of the sesame seeds. I’m serving it with a little couscous and rocket to make a balanced, and very tasty meal, with great textures.


Cavolo nero, mushroom and broad bean salad with tahini dressing

serves 2


100 g cavolo nero, shredded

100 g mushrooms, quartered

1 tsp oil

1 300 g tin of broad beans (195 g when drained)

75 g green olives, halved if large (mine are the type stuffed with almonds)

5 large capers, quartered (the type with the long stem)

2 tsp tahini

50 ml water

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

75 g gluten free couscous

100 ml boiling water

35 g rocket

salt and pepper


Put the couscous, 100 ml of boiling water and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir, cover, and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.

Heat the oil in a saute pan on a medium heat. Add the cavolo nero, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often for 4 minutes. Turn the heat down low and continue to cook (and stir), for a further 6 minutes. The mushrooms should be juicy, and the cavolo nero should be just turning tender, you still want a bit of chew in it.

While the vegetables are cooking make the dressing. Stir together the tahini, water, vinegar and a pinch of salt. It’ll take a bit of mixing to get it to come together!

Add the dressing and the drained broad beans to the vegetables and toss together so everything is nicely coated. Leave to cool.

For each serving, put a bed of rocket and couscous in a shallow bowl, then the vegetable tahini mixture, and top with olives and capers.


By E.



Roast baby kale and apple salad with orange marinade and lentils

It’s finally getting colder here, there’s a refreshing snap in the air in the mornings now. It’s actually starting to feel like autumn! But the sun is still hot in the afternoons, so my original idea for a hearty salad using baby kale felt like it needed a brighter note. I have a few oranges left over from summer cup cocktails a couple of weeks ago, so I made a herby, smoky, orangey marinade to roast the apples and kale in. It works really well, adding a sweetness and citrus hit to the rich kale and tart apples, without overpowering them. I’ve added some roasted almonds for protein and flavour, and overall it makes a very satisfying and interesting dish. And tasty too of course!

My baby button hole kale was from asda and is a whole little plant with stems and leaves (see the picture below), but you could use normal kale or any dark leaved cabbage, just adjust the cooking time if you’re using leaves only.

Baby kale and apple salad with orange marinade and lentils

Roast baby kale and apple salad with orange marinade and lentils

serves 2

2 baby button hole kale, quartered

1 apple, sliced (the eating kind rather than a cooker, it’s better if it holds its shape)

1 400 g tin of green lentils, drained and rinsed (or cook your own, around 80 g of dried)

40 g salted roast almonds

for the marinade

1 orange, zest and juice

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp liquid smoke or smoked paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Baby button hole kale, whole...

A baby button hole kale, whole…

And quartered!

And two quartered!

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.

First start the marinade. Put the orange juice, orange zest, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf in a bowl and mix together. Set aside for ten minutes or so, this allows the dried herbs to soften and start to release their flavour.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and add the kale. Cook at a fast simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the kale and put it in a large roasting tin, along with the apple slices.

Add the liquid smoke, olive oil and some salt and pepper to the marinade, mix and then tip over the vegetables. Mix well to make sure everything is coated, and then arrange the apples around the edge of the tray, leaving the kale in the middle. Roast for 10 minutes, and then turn everything over. Pop back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. When it’s done the kale should be just starting to crisp at the edges and the apple should be soft, and golden from the orange juice.

Remove the kale and apple to a bowl, and mix the lentils and almonds through the remaining marinade in the roasting tin.

To serve, put a few lentils in the bottom of each dish and then pile the kale and apples on top, finishing with the rest of the lentils.

By E.


Radish, fennel and pea shoot salad with mint sauce quinoa

This is another lovely work lunch born of ingredients that looked great in the shops! It can be so difficult sometimes to come up with new ideas for an interesting lunch, but a trip to the greengrocers or supermarket gives me inspiration in spades. What cook could fail to be overjoyed at displays of beautiful vegetables with such varied colours and shapes! Not to mention flavours…

So here we have fennel, thinly sliced and roasted so that the thinnest bits frizzle and the thicker pieces have some chew still, but in a lovely jammy way. And radishes, raw this time, for crunch, with the leaves from the bunch wilted to stir through the quinoa. And the quinoa! With an English mint sauce dressing, it’s my favourite way yet to eat it. There’s pea shoots too for the lovely sweet flavour and freshness, so good with mint. This salad came together beautifully, it has great flavours, but just as importantly, texture.

Radish, fennel and pea shoot salad with mint sauce quinoa

Radish, fennel and pea shoot salad with mint sauce quinoa

serves 2

for the salad

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 tsp olive oil

a pinch of salt

100 g quinoa, rinsed

300 ml just boiled water

radish leaves if using

8 radishes, cut into little wedges

2 large handfuls of pea shoots

for the mint sauce dressing

15 – 20 g mint leaves

1 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp cider vinegar

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

Toss the fennel with the oil and salt and roast for around 30 minutes until the thinnest pieces are frizzled and golden brown and the thicker pieces are cooked through.

When the fennel is cooked, push it to one side of the roasting tin and add the radish leaves (if using), to the other. Pop the tray back into the oven and turn it off. The radish leaves will wilt in the residual heat, just like spinach would.

While the fennel is roasting, cook the quinoa with the water for around 15 minutes, until the little white part of the grain is released and the whole of it is tender. Drain the quinoa.

To make the mint sauce, whizz all of the ingredients in a mini blender. I use the attachment from my immersion blender. Alternatively, bash it a together in a pestle and mortar until well combined. Mix the sauce through the quinoa. It will taste quite vinegary at this stage, don’t worry, the flavour will mellow as it cools.

To assemble the salad, mix the radish leaves through the quinoa and then top with the fennel, radishes and pea shoots.

By E.