Spinach and Nutmeg Soup


Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (1)

Wow, what a weekend! I had such a wonderful, spoilt birthday filled with meals out, drinks and general revelry.

We had 4 meals out and 2 takeaways in total, and who knows how many glasses of wine/prosecco/cocktails.

Therefore, tonight we needed an instant injection of the vitamins and minerals we are sure to be lacking now. Spinach soup is the perfect way to do this. Not only is it desperately, desperately easy (look how short that ingredient list is!), it is also delicious and packed full of vitamins k, a, c, b2 (almost the whole alphabet!), not to mention iron, magnesium and folic acid. Surely this will aid our bodies’ recoveries after a heavy weekend.

I love the flavour combination of spinach and nutmeg. I got the idea for using nutmeg in this soup from a nettle soup I once made many years ago, which used nutmeg. I was quite young when I made the nettle soup, and remember so vividly the fear that it would sting my tongue! Of course, it didn’t; it was wonderfully flavourful and with spinach and nettle being fairly similar in taste, the nutmeg works beautifully in this recipe too.

The dish is completely vegetarian, and would be vegan too if you omitted the feta, which I just couldn’t leave off.

This dish is ready in 15 minutes, and will serve 4 with some crusty bread on the side.

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup (2)

Spinach and Nutmeg Soup

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

1 litre vegetable stock

450g spinach

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

20g feta, crumbled

1. Chop the onion. Add to a large saucepan with the olive oil and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

2. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the spinach, handful by handful, until it is all wilted.

3. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, then whizz the soup in a blender until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the crumbled feta.

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Tomato Salsa Tostados


Tomato Salsa Tostados (1)

Mexican food is fantastic – I’m sure everyone agrees with that, and who wouldn’t want an evening meal which tastes like nachos but is much better for you? These tostados are bright, tasty and you can easily omit or limit the amount of cheese and soured cream to make them seriously healthy. I’m too much of a dairy fan to do this though.

If you haven’t made tostados before, do it! They’re like little pizzas on a tortilla, and you can use any toppings you like. I love these ones because they embrace Mexican flavours – but you don’t need to do that at all – you could easily make Greek ones with black olives and feta, or you could use any of your favourite pizza toppings.

These ones are surprsingly filling because of the avocado, and so I don’t think you need any meat. If you really wanted to add some, you could top with some cooked chicken breast.

These tostados will be ready in 20 minutes, and will serve 2.

Tomato Salsa Tostados (2)

Tomato Salsa Tostados

2 tortilla wraps

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin borlotti beans

1 handful coriander

1 yellow pepper

2 tsps smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

20g grated cheddar

20g soured cream

1 avocado

1 spring onion

1 red chilli

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Place the tortilla wraps flat on a baking tray (use 2 if you need to), drizzle with half of the olive oil and bake in the oven for approximately 5 minutes until starting to crisp. Remove from the oven.

2. Pour the rest of the olive oil into a saucepan. Chop the onion and add to the saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chopped coriander stalks (reserve the leaves for later).

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, borlotti beans, sliced yellow pepper, smoked paprika and cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes, until thick.

4. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the tortillas, as you would a pizza sauce onto a pizza base. Top each one with grated cheese, then put back in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are golden.

5. Top each tostado with a dollop of soured cream, sliced avocado, a handful of coriander leaves and some sliced spring onion and chilli. Enjoy!

Vegetable Korma


Vegetable Korma (1)

If someone asks you to think of a korma, what do you think of? Do you think of a bright, vibrant curry? Or do you think of a sickly sweet, yellow curry with a claggy sauce and most likely some overcooked chicken pieces?

In my opinion, the korma has been the ‘go to’ curry for when curry houses need to sell something mild. It feels unloved. There is no reason a korma needs to be like this; it is defined as a dish originating in South Asia or Central Asia[1] consisting of meat and/or vegetables braised in a spiced sauce made with yogurt, cream, nut or seed paste. There is nothing in there to say it needs to have a dyed yellow sauce, or that says it needs to taste overwhelmingly of dessert.

This particular version makes vegetables the star of the show, and is in fact vegan (I used coconut milk rather than yoghurt or cream to make the sauce). It’s also so tasty you won’t believe it’s good for you. Make it when you’re craving a curry – trust me, you’ll love it and you’ll feel much better afterwards than if you got a takeaway.

This will take 30-40 minutes to make, and will serve 4.

Vegetable Korma (2)

Vegetable Korma

1 baking potato

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tsps garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

1/2 green chilli, finely chopped

1 carrot, cut into 1cm pieces

300g dwarf beans, cut into 1 inch lengths

100g frozen peas

1 tin coconut milk

1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil. Peel the potato and chop into 1.5 cm chunks. Par boil for approximately 10 minutes.

2. In a large, high edged frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and onion; cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add the garam masala, cumin and coriander.

4. Add the carrot. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the green beans. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring often.

5. Tip in the peas. Mix well, and when the peas have defrosted, add the potato. Tip in the coconut milk, bring to a simmer and season with salt. Put a lid on and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add a little water if it’s too thick.

6. Serve with a pile of fluffy rice. Delicious!

Thai Noodle Soup


There’s something about winter which makes me crave Thai food – the punchy flavours just make you think of sunshine.

I’ve put a couple of noodle soups with prawns on the blog already (Tom Kha Soup, Noodle Soup), but this one is particularly easy, fragrant and fresh.

The addition of tumeric makes the soup particularly bright and adds a distinctive, earthy flavour.

This particular soup is more similar to the Tom Kha Soup of the two I’ve previously cooked, but I’ve really stripped it back to make it seriously easy and quick to make.

This will serve 3-4 and takes 15 minutes to make.

Thai Noodle Soup

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 inch piece ginger

3 cloves garlic

1 green chilli

2 sticks lemongrass

1 handful coriander

1 tsp tumeric

1 litre vegetable stock

400ml coconut milk

300g rice noodles

250g raw prawns

2 pak choi

1 tbsp fish sauce

1. Finey slice the ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander stalks and add to a large pan with the sesame oil and bruised lemongrass. Put on a medium heat for a couple of minutes until it starts to sizzle and becomes fragrant, then add the tumeric.

2. Stir in the stock and coconut milk; bring to a simmer.

3. Add the noodles and prawns.

4. When the prawns have turned pink, chop the pak choi and coriander leaves and add to the pan. Add fish sauce to taste and you’re done!

Pan Fried Sea Bass with Lentils


This is a healthy, nourishing dish for that time of year when most people are coming down with a cold, and the rest are desperately trying to dodge germs to avoid being ill for a Christmas party, or Christmas day.

The cold outside doesn’t help matters – it makes me crave a nice battered fish with some crispy chips. But that’s not going to help pump our bodies full of vitamins to stave off the illness.

So, I’ve chosen a lovely fillet of sea bass (one of my favourite fish), simply pan fried and on a bed of tasty, nourishing lentils. Easy, quick and guaranteed to boost those white blood cells (I promise – it’s a scientific fact).

This will serve 2 and take 30 minutes to make.

Pan Fried Sea Bass with Lentils

2 tbsps olive oil

1 carrot

1 onion

2 x 400g tins puy lentils

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 tsp sherry vinegar

200g spinach

2 sea bass fillets

Natural yoghurt, to serve

1. Dice the onion and carrot, then add to a large pan with half of the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes, then add the lentils (including the liquid), chopped rosemary and vinegar. Put a lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Add the spinach to the lentils and allow to wilt. Turn the heat down to low and season.

3. Season the sea bass with salt and pepper. Pour the remaining oil into a frying pan and put on a medium-high heat. When the oil is sizzling, add the sea bass skin side down and cook for 4 minutes (depending on size). Flip over and cook for another 30 seconds.

4. To serve, ladle a portion of lentils into each bowl, then add the fish. Top with a small dollop of natural yoghurt.

Smoked Salmon, Roasted Beetroot and Watercress Smörgåsbord


I wasn’t going to call this dish a smörgåsbord, because it’s not exactly the right definition, but it is a sharing platter with plenty of Scandinavian flavours so I hope I can get away with it.

This is so simple, barely any cooking is required (any use of the oven is just for warming things up, apart from the beetroot which needs roasting) and it’s really just a case of compiling the ingredients.

You could add or remove various ingredients to this – if you had any gherkins they would go well on the side, as would a dollop of horseradish sauce or some pickled fish. Use your imagination!

I love the fact you can put this in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves; just make sure you get to go first!

This will serve 2-3 and is ready in 30 minutes.

Smoked Salmon, Roasted Beetroot and Watercress Smörgåsbord

2 tbsps olive oil

500g raw beetroot

2 smoked salmon fillets (I used lightly smoked which meant they needed cooking, if you’re using fully smoked you don’t need to cook them).

1 loaf rye bread

100g watercress

40g soured cream

1 handful dill

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Drizzle half of the olive oil over the beetroot in a roasting dish (trimmed and cut into wedges; no need to peel it) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 30 minutes.

2. When the beetroot has been in for 15 minutes, put the salmon in an oven proof dish and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Put in the oven for the remaining cooking time.

3. 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, put the loaf of bread in the oven.

4. Chop the dill and mix with the soured cream in a small bowl.

5. To serve, load all of the ingredients onto a large board or tray, and let everyone tuck in.

Thai Fish Curry


Coriander and ginger are two of my favourite flavours, and so Thai food is one of my favourite cuisines.

This curry is one of my own making, so true Thai food masters will frown on it, but I love it. It’s sweet, spicy, salty and sour, and warms you up after a long, cold day.

I love cooking with fish, too, because it is so quick to cook and so this recipe is perfect when you want something packed full of flavour but quick and easy to make.

This curry will serve 4 (we’re having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow), but if you’re cooking for 4 you’ll need to double the amount of rice. This takes 20 minutes to cook.

Thai Fish Curry

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 inch piece of ginger, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red chilli, chopped

Large bunch coriander

2 sticks lemongrass

2 x 400ml coconut milk

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsps fish sauce

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp palm sugar

8 kaffir lime leaves

250g white fish, e.g. cod, chopped into bitesize chunks

200g sugar snap peas

10 basil leaves

250g thai rice, cooked

1. Put the sesame oil in a large saucepan and put on a medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and chopped coriander stalks. Sizzle for 2 minutes, stirring often. Bash the lemongrass with a knife (don’t cut into slices, just bruise the flesh) and add to the pan.

2. Pour in the coconut mik, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a simmer.

3. Add the fish and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the sugar snap peas and simmer for another 2 minutes.

4. Finally, chop the coriander and basil leaves and stir in. Take off the heat. To serve, ladle the curry over bowls of rice, and enjoy!

Vegetable Chow Mein


This is a seriously simple little stir fry dish.

I’m not a fan of those sauces you can buy in supermarkets with stir fry kits – they tend to be (although there are exceptions) claggy, thick and very sweet – think about those hoisin or sweet chilli sauces. If you make a stir fry like this, it takes no more time and tastes fresh, light and vibrant.

This dish is vegetarian but you could easily throw in some prawns or chicken breast before the mushrooms if you fancy a kick of protein (and aren’t vegetarian…).

This takes 10 minutes to make and serves 4 (the leftovers make excellent lunches).

Vegetable Chow Mein

2 tbsps sesame oil

1 inch piece of ginger, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

200g mangetout

200g mushrooms, sliced

400g fresh egg noodles

2 tbsps dark soy sauce

1 tsp sherry vinegar

1 small pinch of sugar

4 spring onions, sliced

50g beansprouts

1 pak choi, chopped

Small handful peanuts, to serve

1. Heat the sesame oil in a wok over a medium high heat and stir fry the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds.

2. Add the mange tout and mushrooms, stir fry for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the noodles, soy sauce, sherry vinegar and sugar. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until the noodles have loosened.

4. Stir in the spring onions, beansprouts and pak choi. Cook for a further minute and it’s done. Top each bowl with a sprinkling of peanuts.

Pearl Barley, Vegetable and Bacon Broth


This is a real winter warmer. It would be perfect on a wet, stormy day when you come through the door shivering and soaked to the bone. The weather was actually fairly still and dry today, but this broth was still like a wonderful hug in a bowl when we got in.

‘Broth’ is such a lovely wintery word anyway isn’t it? It’s comfort food but without any of the unhealthy connotations. This one is packed full of autumnal vegetables, which can’t help but make you feel better – especially if you’ve managed to pick up a cold.

I served this with wedges of crusty bread, but it’s easily substantial enough to have by itself.

This will serve 4 and be ready in about 40 minutes.

Pearl Barley, Vegetable and Bacon Broth

1 tbsp olive oil

300g smoked bacon lardons

2 leeks

2 carrots

2 cloves garlic

250g pearl barley

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 glass white wine

650ml chicken stock

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

1 small cabbage

1. Put the oil in a large casserole dish/saucepan and put on a high heat. Add the bacon lardons and cook until starting to crisp.

2. Add the sliced leeks and carrots and turn down the heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t catch.

3. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. Tip in the pearl barley and mustard, stir, then add the wine. Let it simmer down for a few seconds, then add the stock, rosemary, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Stir well, cover, and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

4. Taste the broth – add a little more seasoning or mustard if it needs and extra kick, then add the thinly sliced cabbage. Put the lid back on and cook for a further 5 minutes. Done!

Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagne


I tried this recipe out on the off-chance that it would work – I love vegetarian lasagnes based around ricotta, and thought the butternut squash might make a nice, seasonal change to other roasted vegetables. I was worried about the texture though, but shouldn’t have been – we were both surprised by how well it worked, and how tasty it was! This is my favourite recipe of the last couple of months, so if you’re going to try anything, try this. It’s light, fragrant and easy to make.

It takes around an hour to make, but it’s worth it and the work which is needed is very straightforward. Give it a go – you won’t regret it!

By the way, if you like this, then I’m sure you’ll also love spinach and ricotta lasagne, spinach, tomato and goats cheese cannelloni and courgette lasagne.

This will serve 4 with a side salad.

Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagne

1 tbsp olive oil

650g butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 handful sage leaves

4 cloves garlic

250g ricotta

200g creme fraiche

50g parmesan

1 egg

250g fresh lasagne sheets

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Put the butternut squash, whole cloves of unpeeled garlic and half of sage leaves (chopped) in a roasting dish. Drizzle over the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven for 25 minutes until soft and golden.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat together the creme fraiche, the egg and half of the grated parmesan.

4. When the butternut squash is cooked, pick out the garlic cloves and bin them. Put the butternut squash into a large bowl. Carefully stir in the ricotta, trying not to break up the butternut squash too much.

5. To assemble the lasagne, cover an oven proof dish with 1/3 of the lasagne sheets. Cover with half of the butternut squash mixture, then another 1/3 of the lasagne sheets, then the remaining butternut squash, then the remaining lasagne sheets. Top this with the creme fraiche mixture. Even it out, then sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and sage leaves.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden and cooked through.