Seafood Laksa

There is something positively Summery about Laksa. Maybe it’s the fragrant lemongrass, the zesty lime or the tropical coconut, but, for me, it’s a perfect meal for a sultry Summer’s evening.

The key to a winning Laksa is the paste. I use a mini blender to make mine but if you do not own any electric whizzardry you could chop very very finely or use brute strength via a pestle and mortar. This is also an excellent arm workout.

Once you have your luscious paste, feel free to veer away from the recipe by using any kind of fish / seafood and any veg you fancy. You could even make this 100% veggie by using veg stock, omitting the fish sauce and adding extra veg (brocolli, mange tout, baby sweetcorn, peas, spinach or bak choi) and some lovely tofu.

This is speedy and easy, leaving you with more time to enjoy a summers evening with a little glass of something wonderful.

Seafood Laksa

Ingredients

  • 5cm fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 red chillies, roughly chopped
  • A small bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
  • A heaped teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 800ml chicken or fish stock
  • 1 lemongrass, chopped in half
  • 1 heaped teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into small batons
  • A couple of big handfuls of edamame beans
  • 250g raw prawns
  • 4 white fish fillets, chopped into chunks
  • 300g noodles
  • A bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 1 lime, quartered

Method

  • First of all make your paste by whizzing your ginger, garlic, chilli, spring onions and turmeric in a food processor.
  • Now heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the paste for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and stock, lemongrass, sugar, fish sauce, carrots and edamames and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the fish and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the prawns and cook for just a few minutes more until everything is cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, cook your noodles to the packet instructions and drain.
  • Add the noodles to the finished sauce and serve immediately with a generous scattering of coriander and a lime wedge.

Mushroom & Potato Kinda Korma

A korma brings to mind a mild, creamy curry dish, which is brimming with subtly spiced flavour. This is definitely redolent of a korma but it’s really a much simpler take, using coconut milk to achieve the creamy, nutty edge. I have amped up the chilli in this version, because I was feeling in need of a red hot kick to start my evening off. But if your taste buds are longing for a milder treat, reduce or omit the chilli.

The mushrooms and potato work really well together, but if you want to go off piste use any of your favourite veg. You could even add chicken, fish or prawns, just make sure you cook everything thoroughly.

I like to serve this with steaming hot, fluffy basmati rice. However, the rice aficionados among you may well notice that in this instance I used jasmine rice. Variety is, after all, the spice of life…

Mushroom and Potato Kinda Korma

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A nugget of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli. Or just use a pinch for a milder version
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish cubes
  • 150 g of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 small can of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 130g basmati rice, cooked to packet instructions or your favourite method

Method

  • In a pan heat a tablespoon of oil and fry your onions for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and stir around for another minute then stir in the spices and cinnamon stick.
  • Add the potato and coconut milk and simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.
  • Now you can add the mushrooms and Garam Masala and simmer away, with the lid off, for another five minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked just the way you like them.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve with your hot rice.

Vibrant Root Veg Curry With Turmeric Rice & Cooling raita

The colours in this dish are quite lurid. Thanks, mainly, to the turmeric, which, I feel, always lends an air of Technicolor to food. Plus a whole heap of health benefits.  So it’s turmeric all the way, in the curry and in the rice too. 

Of course, the beetroot is no shrinking violet when it comes to colour.  There are sweet potatoes and potatoes in here but beetroot barges in and tinges the whole lot with its deep pinkish purple tones. Glorious!

This healthy bowl of tantalising curry is topped off with a generous dollop of onion and cucumber raita, which adds a perfect crunch and a welcome cooling effect.

Vibrant Root Veg Curry with Turmeric Rice & Cooling Raita

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the rice

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • Sea salt to taste

For the curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A couple of medium sized potatoes, chopped into approx 2cm cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato (or 2 smaller ones), peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • A couple of largish beetroots (or 4 smaller ones), peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • About 200ml of water

For the raita

  • 450ml plain Greek yoghurt
  • 90ml milk
  • About an 8 cm chunk of cucumber
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • A good grinding of black pepper

Method

  • Before you do anything, put your rice in a saucepan, cover with water and leave it to soak while you get the curry bubbling away.
  • Heat your oil in a large pan and add the cumin seeds and black mustard seeds, frying for just a few seconds.
  • Add the vegetables along with the rest of the spices and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and water, stir again, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the veg is tender.
  • While the curry is simmering away, get on with the rice. Rinse it well after its soaking and then drain.
  • Heat the oil in a pan, which will hold your rice and when hot add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Then tip in the rice (be careful as the oil may splutter). Stir in the turmeric, chilli, salt and puree. Pour over enough water to cover the rice by about 1.5cm. Bring to the boil then simmer very gently, with a lid on, for about 10 minutes.
  • Once the rice has absorbed the water, turn the heat out and leave the rice to sit for a while. If it still looks really waterlogged but the rice is cooked, just drape a clean tea towel over the pan and leave for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Finally for the raita: Chop your chunk of cucumber in half and scoop out the seedy, watery middle. Chop the cucumber into small pieces, then mix all of the raita ingredients together.

Herby Spaghetti with Crispy Breadcrumb Topping

My youngest asked for spaghetti for dinner. Fine says I. I fancied a robust tomato sauce packed with herbs and garlic. But then I had a little hankering for a spaghetti with garlicky breadcrumbs. Tomato sauce or crispy breadcrumbs? A hefty dilemma for a Monday night…decided on both. We’ll have a lovely tomato sauce and scatter over crunchy, garlic infused breadcrumbs. Oh the decadence.

I’m definitely not a multi task kinda gal so I prepared each element before moving on to the next. I made the sauce and while it was bubbling away I got on with the breadcrumbs then left them to the side while the spaghetti bubbled away.

This was a delicious triumph and wonderfully quick & easy to pull together. I’d recommend throwing a quick salad together as this is not big on the veg count.

Herby Spaghetti with Crunchy Breadcrumbs

Serves 4 – 5

Ingredients

For the tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • About 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • A teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • A teaspoon of dried sage
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A tablespoon of plain flour
  • A tablespoon of milk
  • Salt and pepper

For the garlic breadcrumbs

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • A thick doorstep of stale bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs or grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 500g spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese to serve

Method

  • First of all, get the sauce on: heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add your rosemary and garlic. Stir it around for a minute or so then pour over the tomatoes and add the sage and chilli flakes.
  • Pop a lid on the pan and simmer for about 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and gently cook your breadcrumbs and garlic with a pinch of salt until crisp and golden. Don’t turn the heat up too high or the garlic will burn and taste acrid. Once crisp, just leave to the side.
  • While this is happening, cook your spaghetti.
  • Once the sauce has had its simmer time, stir the flour with a couple of tablespoons of water then stir this flour mixture into the sauce along with the milk. Cook, without the lid on, for a final 5 minutes. Season to your liking.
  • Drain the cooked spaghetti and stir through the lovely herby sauce.
  • Serve with a generous scattering of crispy breadcrumbs, a good grating of parmesan and a gorgeous salad.

Herby Roasted Gnocci With Broccoli and Tomatoes

I have become obsessed with roasting my meals of a weekend. I’ve got a bit more time on my hands than during the week but I don’t always want to stand watch over a bubbling pan. Pretty much anything you can cook on the hob can be chucked in the oven.

What I love about the roasting method is the effortless ease with which you prepare your meal: a bit of chopping, chucking of ingredients into tin then closing the oven door and toddling off to do something more interesting…painting a masterpiece / solving climate change / sipping an aperitif. And what’s more, the flavours become deeper, richer and the whole dish is resultingly more satisfying. Give it a whirl, you won’t look back.

Herby Roasted Gnocci with Broccoli & Tomatoes

Serves 4 – 5

Ingredients

  • 2 x 500g bags of gnocci
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
  • A punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • About a tablespoon of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • A heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (I love aleppo or pul biber)
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to your taste
  • A few dollops of excellent pesto
  • A few small dollops of full fat cream cheese, or ricotta if you prefer
  • A generous grating of parmesan cheese

Method

  • First of all preheat your oven to 200 C / gas 7.
  • Pour your gnocci into a pan and cover with boiling water. Leave it to stand for just a couple of minutes then drain immediately.
  • Now tumble the gnocci, broccoli, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, chilli. olive oil, salt and pepper into a large roasting tin and give it a good toss so that everything is coated in the herbs and chilli.
  • Pop the tin in the oven and roast for about half an hour, by which time the gnocci will have developed some beautiful crispy bits and will be golden in colour.
  • Before serving, dollop over the pesto and cream cheese. Have a little taste and if you think it needs it add more salt, pepper or chilli flakes.
  • Dive in.

Protein Packed Coconut Cod & Lentil Curry

If you need a protein fix, you need this fish curry… today. It delivers a triple whammy protein punch from the white fish, red lentils and vibrant green peas. So this would be your perfect post workout dinner.

The lentils are a really great way of thickening a sauce. I often use frozen fish in a coconut curry and the sauce inevitably ends up a bit too ‘liquidy’. The addition of red lentils sorts out that problem and adds more nutritious goodness to your meal.

If you don’t have curry paste handy then just use a tablespoon of top notch curry powder. I just happened to have green curry paste in the fridge but use whatever you have to hand.


Protein Packed Coconut Cod & Lentil Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • A bunch of spring onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely grated or minced
  • 3cm fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons red lentils
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 4 cod fillets
  • A couple of big handfuls of chopped spinach
  • A couple of handfuls of peas
  • 250g basmati rice
  • Juice of half a lime

Method

  • Before you do anything, soak your rice in cold water and leave it until the sauce is merrily bubbling away.
  • Scoop a tablespoon of the solid coconut from the tin of coconut milk and melt in a large pan. Add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Stir in the curry paste, then pour over the chicken stock, the rest of the coconut milk and the lentils. Simmer gently for about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add the cod to the pan and bring back to a simmer then add the peas and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. I like to break the fish up a little but big chunks are fabulous in this dish.
  • Meanwhile, rinse your rice well and cook until perfectly fluffy.
  • Just before you’re ready to serve, add the spinach and allow to wilt. As a final flourish, spritz over the lime juice and if you’re in the mood for a cheeky spice hit, add some finely sliced chilli.