When it’s cold and miserable outside, we all crave comforting soups and hearty stews – food that my dad says ‘warms your bones’. After a very cold and wet start to the year, I’ve certainly had my fill of comforting food. So now that we’ve reached March, and I feel optimistic about spring and sunshine (even if it’s still raining and cold), I’m beginning to prepare fresher and lighter dishes, with a good dose of crunch.
Vegetables are often regarded as a side dish, rather than the main event which is such a shame! Prepared well, vegetables can be spectacular, delivering little taste explosions with every mouthful. Many chefs in London have been bringing them back into the spotlight, which fills me with joy. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good steak, but there is a time and a place!
In June 2016, the boyfriend and I travelled to Beijing for a friend’s wedding. At the end of an extraordinary culinary adventure, we had dinner with the newlyweds and their parents at their house. The feast they prepared was spectacular. One dish really stood out for me, mostly due its gorgeous simplicity but also the amount of flavour with which it delivered. It was a grated carrot and cumin salad. Feeling inspired on my return to the UK, I attempted to replicate it. See below for my version.
The other dish is a coleslaw. No, not the sloppy stuff you get in a container from the supermarket, vegetables swimming in mayonnaise. This is a crunchy slaw, with seeds and nuts and fresh, seasonal vegetables with some scattered sultanas for sweetness. This is pure health in a bowl. This can be eaten alone as a wholesome vegetarian main, or served alongside some good-quality sausages (the highest pork content you can find) or a pork chop. Red cabbage, apple and pork marry together perfectly. The beauty of this slaw is that you can use whatever winter veg you fancy. Get creative!
Raw vegetables are so good for you. To gain the maximum benefits of vegetables, eat them raw. This way, no nutrients are lost in the cooking process. Their vibrant colours also look fantastic when they’re all mixed together.
Grated Carrot and Cumin Salad
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
- a big dollop of Greek yoghurt
- handful of walnuts/sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional)
Mix all ingredients (except carrots) together in a bowl. Add the carrot, drizzle over a little olive oil or sesame oil, and season to taste.
- 1/2 small red cabbage, finely sliced
- 1 small carrot, grated
- 1 small apple, finely sliced into matchsticks
- 1/2 spring onion (optional)
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- small handful fresh coriander or parsley, chopped
- small handful of sultanas
- handful of toasted sunflower seeds (or any seed/nut you like)
- Heaped dessert spoon of low fat/greek yoghurt
- 1 heaped tsp mustard (I like grainy)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper
Prepare all the vegetables, and tip them into a large bowl.
Mix your dressing ingredients, then pour over vegetables and mix well.
Leave to sit for 30 minutes before eating, so that all the flavours can infuse and lightly soften the cabbage.
Enjoy! Love Becca x