Can’t really call it “cooking”

A couple of weeks ago, I promised to post a few simple recipes to get you going on the road to culinary expertise. When I say “recipes”, I use the term loosely. Some things are so easy to make that recipes are not required. So here goes:

Fish Parcels

Nothing could be easier. Fish is the ultimate fast food!

All you need is a piece of kitchen foil, a piece of fish (any kind you like) and ingredients you fancy. Pack it all into the foil, scrunch it up and pop in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes. Done!

You could do fish with

  • lemon, black pepper and dill
  • sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, black olives, thyme
  • chopped ginger, crushed garlic, soya sauce and coriander leaves, plus some chilli if you like
  • chilli and garlic
  • balsamic vinegar, black pepper and chopped spring onions
  • … it’s up to you!

Serve with a couple of boiled potatoes or rice and as many steamed vegetables as you like, eg broccoli, carrots, red cabbage, courgettes, mangetout, green beans … whatever you fancy.

Roasted Vegetables

There is so much you can do with those:

  • whiz into a roasted vegetable soup
  • coarsely chop the vegetables, mix with a tin of butter beans or flageolet beans and chopped parsley, and heat with vegetable stock to make a chunky stew;
  • turn into a salad with cooked brown rice, brown pasta or quinoa topped with chopped walnuts, pine nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • mix with a tin of brown lentils (rinsed), feta cubes and a vinaigrette, serve on a bed of baby spinach or rocket
  • mix with cooked brown rice, pasta or millet, a beaten egg with a little (soya) milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and pour into an ovenproof dish; sprinkle with some grated parmesan and bake in the oven (200°C/Gas 6) for 20 minutes
  • mix with hot cooked brown pasta shapes and goat’s cheese, a sprinkle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper
  • stuff into pitta bread with crumbled feta cheese, goat’s cheese or grilled halloumi and some finely chopped rocket or watercress to make a packed lunch.
  • serve as a side dish with baked fish

Roast as much as you can fit on one baking sheet (or two, if you have a fan-assisted oven) in one go. The vegetables keep in the fridge for up to four days.

Vary the vegetables according to what’s available that season. Suitable vegetables are: onions, garlic, carrots, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, celery, sweet potatoes, squash, parsnips, turnips, swede, beetroot, celeriac, mushrooms. It’s a brilliant way to use up those leftover bits and bobs at the bottom of the fridge before your next veggie box arrives.

Cut onions, tomatoes and beetroot into wedges, carrots, courgettes, celery and parsnips into batons, and the other (larger) vegetables into approx. 2 cm cubes. Leave garlic cloves whole and unpeeled – slip out of skin once cooked).

Toss vegetables in a little olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and thyme and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 200°C (180°C if fan-assisted) for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pizza

Rather than getting a fat laden take-away or a frozen pizza with additives, salt and lots of fat, just quickly make your own. Stock up on some pizza bases – you could try a wholemeal spelt pizza base from the health food shop  – and store them in the freezer.

When required, take one pizza base, top with chopped, tinned tomatoes (with or without herbs, up to you) and some your favourite pizza toppings (onions, tuna, spinach with an egg, peppers, olives, diced courgettes – or even some of your roasted veg … Be creative! Grate over your favourite cheese, just don’t go crazy with it. You could try and use as little as you can tolerate or even none! Try goat’s cheese or feta for a change of dairy. Once ready, sprinkle with a little good quality extra virgin, unfiltered olive oil.

Yes, it’s pizza, but at least you know what’s in it. One Italian study showed that pizza may be beneficial for heart health. – but not necessarily the kind you can buy ready made or at take-aways. It is thought that the olive oil and tomatoes may be the reason for its effect.

If you haven’t got a pizza base, wholemeal pitta bread works well, too!

Berry Slush

A delicious dessert, but you will need a good blender: Wash, trim and hull mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) and pour into a freezer bag. Slice a ripe banana and add to the bag. Pop into the freezer for about 3 hours. Don’t let them freeze rock hard, they’ll go easier on your blender. Take out of the freezer and pour fruit into a blender. Blend to a slush and enjoy with a little yoghurt stirred in.

If you’ve read last week’s Nutrilicious News you’ll know why berries are so good for you. If you haven’t you may want to sign up now so you don’t miss another one!

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