Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA
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23rd April 2020 | 14 min read
Diet can have a big impact on your health and well-being during lock down so it’s important to cook dishes at home which will fill your body and mind with vital nutrients.
Our talented Executive Chef, Alistair Dibbs, has been hard at work putting together some recipes for delicious dishes which can be created at home.
This strikingly colourful but simple salad really is a must try during those sunny, early summer days. Heritage tomatoes have just come into season and there are many varieties you can try including the San Marzano and Bulls Blood varieties from Italy which get out vote.
For the salsa Verdi
To make the salsa verdi, remove and discard the stalks from the herbs and roughly chop them. Place them in a blender with the rest of the salsa ingredients and blend for around 20 seconds until very smooth. The salsa should be a vibrant bright green. Set aside.
Pre-heat your grill on maximum heat. Place the goat cheese disks on a metal tray and briefly grill them until the goat cheese turns golden brown.
Place 10 of the sliced tomatoes in the centre of each plate and season with the salt and pepper. Overlap them to form an even circle.
Next cut the red gem into thin wedges and mix it with the olives and artichokes and add a couple of spoonfuls of the salsa verdi in too, then place this mix on top of the tomatoes.
Using a spatula place, the grilled goat cheese on top and finish the dish with a couple more spoonfuls of the salsa verdi around the plate and a scattering of capers.
This perfect summer is healthy and packed with vibrant flavour and colour. It also takes just 10 minutes to make.
For the Salad
Bring a medium sized pan of water to the boil and add half a teaspoon of salt to it. Place a bowl of iced water next to you to plunge the vegetables into as soon as you remove them from the boiling water.
Its best to cook each variety of vegetables separately. First, cut off the last 5cm from the base of the asparagus and discard it – this is usually the woody part of the asparagus and is not nice to eat.
Then carefully place the asparagus spears into the boiling water and cook for three minutes exactly. Remove the asparagus with tongs and place straight into the iced water. Cut the asparagus into pieces of about 5 cm.
Cook the mange tout and peas in the same way.
Once all the vegetables have cooled down remove them from the iced water and place them in a colander to remove the excess water, then place them into a bowl.
Next wash the baby gem and then cut each one into 6 roughly equal wedges and add to the vegetables. Next chop the herbs and add them to the bowl too. Season liberally with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
For the dressing
Place the mustard, white wine vinegar and honey in a bowl and mix together. Next, whisk in the oils slowly and then add the crushed hazelnuts and check the seasoning, thin the dressing down with a few drops of water if too thick.
Add about a third of the dressing to the vegetables and check the seasoning.
Place it into your serving bowls and garnish with the sliced radish and feta if desired. Finish with a splash of olive oil, some extra mint leaves and scatter round some more hazelnuts.
A firm favourite in LABS House, this dish is healthy, vegan and full of colour and flavour. To get the perfect hummus, ensure you soak the chickpeas in plenty of water and then use a food processor to blend the hummus to get it super smooth.
For the roast cauliflower:
For the Cous Cous:
For the humus:
To finish the dish:
Cut out the central stem of the cauliflower and cut the rest of it into medium sized pieces (florets).
Reserve about 100g of the cauliflower for the cous cous.
Toss the remaining cauliflower in the seasoning, spices and oil and place on a baking tray with a few drops of water and roast in the oven at 175 degrees until just cooked and a light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and set aside.
Place the cous cous in a bowl. Bring 300ml water to the boil and pour over the cous cous and add the olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning.
Leave for about 30 minutes until the cous cous has absorbed the liquid and has cooled to room temperature.
Next place the reserved raw cauliflower in the blender and blend until it is the texture of breadcrumbs. Squeeze out any moisture and mix into the cous cous and set aside.
Place the dried chickpeas into a pan and cover with 300ml fresh cold water. Bring the pan to the boil and simmer gently for about an hour, until the chickpeas are very soft.
Next pour the chickpeas along with about 50ml of the cooking water into the blender and add the other ingredients. Blend until smooth – it should be a vivid yellow colour.
Check the seasoning as you may need to add a little more lemon juice or salt.
To assemble, place some of the hummus in the centre of the plate, next add three tablespoons of the cous cous, then place three or four of the cauliflower florets on top of the cous cous. Finish the dish with some of the smoked almonds, a few pomegranate seeds and the watercress. Serve immediately.
Sometimes the classics are the best and this version of a Caesar salad is tasty, healthy and very easy to make. The key to a great Caesar salad is getting the dressing just right. This one packs a punch with Dijon mustard, Parmesan and anchovies in the mix. If you are not partial to anchovies, these can be omitted. There are also a couple of twists that in this version – cut the baby gem lettuce into wedges for some extra crunch and poach the eggs to add a warm element to the dish.
For the dressing – makes around 300ml
(can be made in advance and kept for several days in the fridge)
First make the dressing
On your work surface place a clean tea towel on top of an empty saucepan. Select a mixing bowl that will comfortably sit on top of the pan – the pan and tea towel will hold the bowl steady to free up both hands so you can make the dressing – you will also need a whisk.
Finely chop the garlic and anchovy and add it to the bowl. Add in the yolks, parmesan, mustard and lemon juice. Whisk it all together for a few seconds to incorporate a little air into the mixture.
Next, very slowly pour in the oil as you continue to whisk. The dressing will start to thicken as the oil is added, you can add a few drops of water to the dressing if it gets very thick. When finished, the dressing should be slightly thinner than mayonnaise. Check you are happy with the seasoning and set aside.
Cut the bacon or pancetta into pieces of around half a centimeter (these are known as lardons). Fry these in a hot frying pan without any oil until golden brown, then drain off the fat and set the cooked bacon aside.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 6 and drizzle the olive oil over the chunks of bread. Cook in the oven until lightly golden brown and crunchy, then remove the bread from the oven and cool down.
Poach the eggs next.
Place a medium sized pan of water on the cooker top and bring to a rolling boil. Add half a teaspoon of salt and a large spoonful of vinegar to the water. Next carefully crack the eggs into the water one at a time and turn the heat down so they are slowly boiling. Cook for around 3 minutes, until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft. Next remove carefully from the water and drain on a clean tea towel.
Assemble the salad.
Place the baby gem in a bowl and gently mix through 2 tablespoons of dressing per person, lightly seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer the gem to the 4 serving bowls. Scatter the croutons and bacon on top and add the poached egg. Finish with some more freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
This wonderfully fresh and healthy soup is ideal for this time of year when peas are just coming into season. It is not only bursting with flavour but is also rich in vitamins A, C and antioxidants. This version ham which goes really well with the peas but you could easily substitute a small chicken for the ham and shred the cooked chicken breast into the soup.
Place the ham (or the chicken) in a medium sized pan and cover with cold water, add the onion and place on a high heat and bring to the boil.
Next, turn down the heat and place the lid on top of the pan and cook for around an hour. The internal temperature of the meat needs to be at least 75 degrees, so check this with a temperature probe. If don’t have a probe then insert a knife or metal skewer into the centre of the meat, press it against your hand and if it is very hot then the meat should be cooked.
Once the meat is cooked, gently remove it from the pan place it on a tray to cool down a little.
Bring the stock that you cooked the meat in back to the boil and pour the peas into it, boil the peas for 5 minutes on a high heat.
Add the spinach and mint to the pan and cook for a further minute. This short cooking time is vital to preserving the vibrant green colour of the soup.
Pour the contents of the pan into the blender and blend for 30 seconds or so ensuring that the lid is on tightly. Blend the soup until it is very smooth, then add the butter and blend for a few more seconds. Check the seasoning, and add a little salt and pepper if needed.
Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with the olive oil.
Now gently pull the ham or chicken into strands and add to the top of the soup and finish each one with a drizzle of olive oil and a few leaves of mint.
This recipe was originally created for a special dinner hosted by Hazel Wallace, part of Beating Hearts, and is quick to prepare. Mackerel is a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, protein and vitamin B12, and this dish works well as a lunch or light dinner.
For the Soy & Lime Dressing:
(If you have extra dressing left over, it keeps well in the fridge for up to two weeks)
Make the dressing first:
Place the ginger, garlic, honey, soy sauce and lime juice into a food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add in the oils until all oil has been absorbed and the dressing has thickened.
Set the dressing aside.
For the rice:
Place the rice in a medium sized saucepan and rinse under cold water for ten minutes.
Next, cover the rice with cold water and bring it to the boil on a medium heat. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook until the rice is tender – this will take around 15 to 20 minutes, top it up with a little more water if needed. Do not be tempted to boil it vigorously as this will split the grains.
When the rice is cooked, drain off the water and add the olive oil, chopped herbs, salt and lime juice and taste check.
Place the rice back into the pan with a lid on to keep it warm.
For the Mackerel:
Gently score the skin of the mackerel four or five times and lightly season with sea salt.
Next heat a medium sized frying pan or griddle pan on a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Its important for the pan not to be too hot as this will cause the mackerel to shrink once it touches the pan.
Place the fish skin side down in the pan and cook until the skin is a light golden brown and crisp. Turn over and cook for one minute on the other side.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice to finish it off.
For the bok choi – prepare this while the mackerel is cooking:
Wash the bok choi in cold water and cut it in half, length ways.
Bring a medium sized pan of water to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Cook the bok choi in the water for one minute, then remove it from the water and add a plash of olive oil and a sprinkling of the sesame seeds.
To assemble the dish:
Place a quarter of the rice in the centre of the plate, add the fillet of mackerel on top of the rice, then place the two halves of bok choi against the Mackerel. Spoon over some of the dressing and garnish with a wedge of lime. Enjoy!
Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA
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