Cookery classes are in full swing here at G&G HQ (AKA my kitchen). I call them ‘With Lunch’ demos because I chop and chat for a while (teeny kitchen – not conducive to hands-on cooking for multiple chefs) and then we all sit down to eat everything I’ve cooked. Basically, an excuse to lunch long and well on a weekday.
Today was ‘Simple, Healthy Suppers’ which feels apt for the time of year what with us all swinging like a pendulum from festive excess in December to sainthood in January. And, with ‘clean eating’ (rightly) getting such a bad press at the moment, it seems a good time to remind ourselves of the far less fashionable, but much more sustainable approach of wholesome, balanced eating. And that’s what the menu for today’s class did: no detox, no mumbo jumbo, just delicious fresh food that happens to be healthy (ooo, and won’t take an age to cook)…
Let’s not kid ourselves that these are irreproachably virtuous. They have their fair share of sugar (honey, dried fruit) and fat (peanut butter) in them but, next to a Twix bar, they make pretty convincing fist of being nutritious if not calorie free. They are Jamie Oliver’s granola bar recipe fiddled about with – I swapped the apricots for figs and some of the almonds for hazelnuts because it was all I had. Highly recommended.
Seabass and veg parcels
Almost embarrassingly simple, this approach works with many different types of fish, is the work of moments and tastes pleasingly healthy.
2 seabass fillets
2 slices lemon
salt and pepper
Slug white wine
Little knob of butter
Chop the carrot and leek into ribbons and put them on a sheet of damp baking paper. Pop the fish on top and season with salt and pepper. Bunch the paper up at the edges, pour over a slug of wine, add a knob of butter and seal the parcel up.
Bake at 180oC for 5-10 minutes until just cooked. Pop on a plate and let your guests unwrap their gift at the table.
Green bulgur wheat salad
Healthy, but super tasty, this dish can be a casual weeknight tea or can be made into a more showy lunch for guests by adding salmon, chicken or mackerel.
150g bulgur wheat
Slug of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful frozen peas
Handful mange tout or green beans or purple sprouting broccoli
4 Spring onions or ½ red onion
Handful fresh leafy herbs (such as parsley, fennel, sorrel, mint)
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
Put the bulgur wheat in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for around 10 minutes until just tender. Drain and toss in a slug of olive oil, lemon juice and allow to cool.
Briefly steam the peas and mange tout then refresh in cold water to stop them over cooking. Pat dry and add to the cooled bulgur wheat. You can also leave the greens raw if you prefer, especially if using purple sprouting broccoli.
Chop the onion and herbs and add to the salad together with a pinch of salt and pepper and the crushed garlic. Mix everything well and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Roast squash with feta and pomegranate
A lovely option for a substantial vegetarian salad and incredibly pretty served on a large platter.
1 medium winter squash
A few glugs of flavourless oil
Salt and pepper
Slug of good olive oil
Slug of pomegranate molasses
Preheat the oven to 200oC.
Peel the squash, deseed and cut into wedges. Coat with flavourless oil and season well. You can add a few chilli flakes if you like some heat. Spread the wedges on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until crispy. Take care not to overcrowd the tray or the squash will go soggy rather than brown.
Once cooked, arrange the squash on a platter and crumble the feta on top. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and the chopped parsley. Finish with a drizzle of good olive oil and molasses mixed together plus a turn of pepper.
Poached rhubarb with saffron yogurt
This light dessert is colourful and satisfying without being too packed full of sugar. It’s a lovely breakfast too.
3 stems forced rhubarb
1 orange, juice and zest
2 tbsp full fat Greek yogurt
few strands of saffron
Handful nuts or granola
Drizzle of orange blossom honey
Put the juice of the orange and its zest in a space saucepan. Set over a medium to high heat and boil for 1-2 minutes until slightly reduced. Chop the rhubarb into 5cm pieces and add to the pan, turn the heat down and poach for 2-3 minutes or until the rhubarb is just giving. Remove from the heat and chill until needed.
Mix the saffron strands with a little hot water then stir into the yogurt. To serve, spoon the rhubarb into a dish, top with yogurt and finish with a crunch of nuts, seeds or granola and a drizzle of honey.