Spice Up Your Christmas pt. 3

Curried Parsnip and Lentil Salad with Mustard Dressing

Serves 4 as a side

Amidst all the chocolate and wine, I find myself craving fresh healthy food over Christmas. I often make warm, filling salads for my family which sit next to plates of cold cuts, bread and cheese (they’re definitely still carnivores!). Most often, it’s these salads which are the most popular dish on the table.

I came up with this recipe when we had a surplus of leftover parsnips. Puy lentils are a store cupboard staple in my house and can be added to almost any vegetable to make a filling winter salad. You’ll find that you have almost all the ingredients for this dish lying around the house over Christmas. If you don’t have the dried cranberries or seeds, any dried fruit/raisin and nut will work. You can even spoon dots of leftover cranberry chutney over the parsnips - the speckles of sweetness are essential.

For the salad

200g Puy Lentils

400 ml vegetable stock

3-4 large parsnips, peeled and cut into batons

1 tbsp oil

3 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp coriander powder

Large pinch dried chilli flakes

Large pinch sea salt

100g baby leaf spinach (or a large handful)

2 tbsp seed mix eg. (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame)

1 tbsp dried cranberries

Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

For the dressing

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon

½ tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp honey/maple syrup

Pinch of salt and pepper

  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

  • Put the lentils into a saucepan and add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until stock has been absorbed by the lentils. You want your lentils to be al dente.

  • Place your parsnip batons in a bowl and add the oil, spices, chilli and salt. Give it all a good shake/stir until the parsnips are well coated.

  • Lay the parsnips on a baking tray (or 2) and roast for 20-30 minutes until they are soft and crispy in places.

  • Whilst the parsnips and lentils are cooking make your salad dressing by placing everything in a jar and shaking well.

  • Season the cooked lentils with a pinch of salt and stir through ½ the dressing. Place in a shallow bowl and top with the spinach.

  • Lay the parsnips on top and sprinkle with the seeds and cranberries.

  • Finish with a sprinkling of coriander and a squeeze of lemon.

 

 

 

Spice Up Your Christmas pt. 2

Cranberry Chutney

Makes about 2 350ml jars - if you’d like to make more simply double the recipe.

The perfect accompaniment to the Crimbo Curry but also a great side to any xmas leftover meal. Make ahead and use it as a replacement to cranberry sauce with your Christmas dinner or put in a small Kilner jar, tie a ribbon around it and give it to your friends and family.

Please don’t be put off by the jar serialising. It’s very easy and means your chutney will last well into the new year - perhaps even to next Christmas!

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp whole cloves

4 cardamon pods

4 star anise

450g cranberries

Large piece of ginger (size of index finger) peeled and grated

1 red onion, diced

350g demerara sugar

Zest and juice of 2 oranges

425 ml red wine vinegar

Generous pinch of sea salt

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees

  • Toast the cardamom and cloves in a hot dry frying pan until aromatic. Grind in a spice grinder/pestle and mortar.

  • Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and leave to reduce for about 45 minutes.

  • The chutney is cooked when you can draw a wooden spoon through the mix and leave a brief trail.

  • About 30 minutes into cooking, steralise the jars and lids. Wash them in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel. Place on a baking tray and put into the oven for 5 minutes. They will be very hot - so be careful when handling them.

  • Fill the jars with the warm chutney - the chutney will thicken once it’s cooled.

Spice Up Your Christmas pt. 1

Crimbo Limbo Curry with Stuffing Kofta

Serves 4-6

In a bid to banish the infamous turkey curry from the cannon of ‘Crimbo Limbo’ recipes, I’ve created a curry that uses up leftover xmas veg but has enough depth of flavour to stand alone as a perfect warming winter curry recipe. The tomato sauce base is spiced with classic Christmas flavours and the stuffing kofta balls and brussels sprouts provide body and texture. You may think it’s weird to put stuffing in a curry but these balls aren’t a far cry from traditional Indian kofta - small spiced potato patties used in many vegetarian dishes.

The veg I’ve used in this recipe are just a suggestion - feel free to use any veg you have lying around - eg. cold roasted parsnips, carrots or potatoes.

Freshly toasted and ground spices can elevate the soggiest of cold sprouts...

Freshly toasted and ground spices can elevate the soggiest of cold sprouts...

Curry sauce

2 large onions, finely diced

1 tsp whole cloves

4 cardamon pods

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns

2 large cinnamon sticks

1 red chilli (or 1 tsp hot red chilli powder), finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

3 tbsp tomato paste

½ tbsp brown sugar

1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp garam masala

Salt (to taste)

Veg

If your vegetables are already cooked simply give them a blast in the hot oven before adding them to the curry sauce. I always try to crisp the veg up a bit as it adds a good texture.

1 pack of vegetarian stuffing mix

Large pinch of fennel seeds

300g brussels sprouts (with outer leaves taken off)

500g butternut squash, peeled and diced

Large pinch cumin seeds

Pinch dried chilli flakes

Salt

Oil

 

Method

  • Pre-heat you over to 200 degrees

  • Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large heavy-based frying pan or shallow casserole dish

  • Add the cinnamon sticks

  • Add the onions and fry until soft and golden brown

  • Whilst the onions are cooking heat a small frying pan and add the remaining whole spices. Toast until golden and fragrant. Place in a spice grinder/small blender (I find a nutribullet is perfect for this) or pestle and mortar and grind to a rough powder. Put aside.

  • Peel and chop/crush the garlic and ginger. Place in a blender/spice grinder/pestle and mortar with a generous splash of water and blend until a thick paste is formed.

  • Once the onions are cooked, stir in the spice mix followed by the ginger/garlic mix and chilli. The added water should keep the spices from burning but if they begin to catch, add another splash of water.

  • Stir well until everything is cooked through, then add the tomato paste and brown sugar.

  • Leave everything to cook for at least 15 minutes. The tomato paste needs to cook through and absorb the flavours of the spice mix. Keep checking the pan, adding water if necessary.

  • During this time you can start to prep the stuffing balls. Follow the packet instructions, which usually involves adding boiling water to the dry mix and leaving it to stand for a while. While the stuffing is standing toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan until golden. Add them to the stuffing with the chilli flakes.

  • The curry base will now be ready for the chopped tomatoes - pour them into the pan then fill up the empty tin with water and add to the tomatoes. You can do this twice, perhaps more depending on how thick a sauce you want. I like my curry sauces to be quite thick I stick with about 1.5 tins of water.

  • Add the soy sauce and leave the sauce to gentle simmer away for at least 20 minutes (ideally longer - the longer you leave it, the better the flavour).

  • Whilst the sauce is bubbling away, you can get your stuffing and veg cooked.

  • I find it far easier to use my hands for the stuffing balls - simply scoop a small amount of mix with your fingers and roll between your palms until a ball is formed. The smaller the balls the crisper they will be. It’s good to have a crispy outside and soft middle so don’t make them too small.

  • Lay the balls out on a greased baking tray and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they are a deep golden brown.

  • Put your butternut squash cubes on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil,  a generous pinch of salt and the cumin seeds. Make sure the squash is well coated then roast for c.30 minutes until soft and a bit dark around the edges.

  • It’s a similar process for the sprouts - drizzle them with a bit of oil followed by a pinch of salt and the chilli flakes. Roast for 15 minutes (if you’re cooking them from raw). You want them to still be slightly crunchy on the inside - no one like a soggy sprout!

  • When all the veg is cooked add to the curry sauce with the garam masala. Stir well.

  • Taste the curry, adding more salt/sugar if necessary.

  • Serve with rice and cranberry chutney (see pt. 2).