Fiery bacon, spiced but still cool cucumber and mild new potatoes in a warm salad. The bacon and cucumber salad on its own will make a great spicy snack or starter - I’ve thrown new potatoes in to a/ dampen the fire a bit and b/ make it into a main course.
Hot and spicy fried aubergine, a simple side or starter. Aubergine slices are dusted with flour to stop it guzzling oil so much and make the dish healthier.
Oriental style stir-fried asparagus with chilies, ginger and garlic, seasoned with sesame oil. Asparagus works well but you might like to apply this treatment to broccoli - God knows it’s bland enough to use some heat.
Oven baked spinach and mozzarella balls, a fantastic side or appetizer. It’s the signature dish of my favourite chef and he often makes them for a starter. His are fancier and frequently involve bacon which is never a bad thing. I
Spinach and cheese bake, a healthy casserole served as a side dish or for brunch. Cheese is able to cover a multitude of sins. There aren’t many dishes that can’t be improved by throwing some cheese at them.
Spring cabbage salad - cabbage appears to contain more vitamin C than oranges. It’s also rich in vitamin K and anti-oxidants. Eat more cabbage! Only the name is so off-putting… But I have a solution: Sauerkraut. Kimchi. Surkål. Choucroute. Tsukemono.
Steamed globe artichokes served with sriracha mayo. What you do with the chokes couldn’t be simpler: steam or boil them and dish them out with some spicy dips. It’s messy – finger job no doubt, and since the heads stay on the communal plate.
Stir fry cabbage - super quick, super tasty, with herbs, garlic and honey. First off – buy the right stuff. The new season, loosely packed cabbage is the best, in fact the less on the head, the better. What the supermarkets call spring cabbage will do too.
Mixed vegetable stir-fry seasoned with ginger, oyster sauce and sesame oil. I like to stir fry veg as a side to not-necessarily-oriental mains like fish or steaks but this recipe works as a good veggie stir-fry too, to be served over plain rice or noodles.
Cabbage rolls stuffed with a pork mince and rice filling, baked in simple tomato sauce – that’s Polish golabki; the ultimate comfort dish.
Baked courgettes with minced lamb and tomato filling, topped with grated cheese. It is the universal truth that courgette is an exceedingly bland vegetable.
Roasted peppers stuffed with rice and cooked chicken. The bits of roast meat that are not eaten on the day are often the ones no one likes – chicken drumsticks for instance in my house; elsewhere it might be the whole chickens sauf the breast.
Baked tomatoes stuffed with herby breadcrumb filling. Stuffed tomatoes in French are tomates farcies. Whether you have a smattering of French or not, there’s no denying the fact that the dish sounds so much more appealing en Française.
Pasta bake with tomato sauce and aubergines. I’m really not quite sure if I prefer the chunky pasta shapes or the long, challenging ones. Of course they are each meant for different sauces: the chunky shapes are for robust sauces...
Tomato and fig salad with blue cheese and balsamic dressing. This is a particularly well-matched couple: tomatoes and figs. The blue cheese adds a salty touch – otherwise it would be too much of a Mills & Boone book cover.
Tomato crostata with honey and thyme flavour on flaky pastry made from scratch. Delightfully flaky pastry, with or without sneaky cheese addition, is full of carbs, those floury devils.
Very easy, basic tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic, only to warm it up. Add the chopped tomatoes (or the contents of a tin), season generously...
Savoury tarte Tatin with confit tomatoes. Tomatoes are generally rubbish through three quarters of the year in the non-Mediterranean part of Europe. Tasteless and watery, with thick skins and not much flavour.
Triple cooked chips, exactly by Heston Blumenthal's recipe. And they are the best chips - fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside chunky English-style wonders. Cooked religiously by the book, ‘In Search of Perfection’ part one.
Twice roasted beetroots with figs and pomegranate seeds. Crimson central – this is a dish of red, red and more red, suitable for the season of flaming gold on tree branches and misty mornings.
Courgette, aubergine, fennel and mushroom parmigiana with chopped tomatoes and Parmesan. This is a take on a vegetable parmigiana, which is throwing lots of Parmesan onto layers of pre-cooked veg.
White asparagus, simply cooked with butter and lemon. The white ones are quite tasty too and so I decided to give them a go – the only difference in handling them is that they need to be peeled. And let me tell you a secret – the special effect they have on you after eating them is the same as with the green ones…
Whole roasted cauliflower with butter, Parmesan and herbs. Let’s face it: cauliflower does not have a lot going for it.
Vibrant winter rainbow salad with red and green cabbage, red and white onions, herbs and vinaigrette dressing.
Zingy carrot salad with raw grated carrots, chilli, ginger and soured cream. Raw carrots have to be exceptionally good for me to crunch one for a snack.
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