Spelt Salad with Broccoli, Walnuts and Pomegranate

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Having developed a recent interest in the macrobiotic diet and its emphasis on whole grains, I am a recent convert to spelt. They call it dinkel in Germany and I think that is a much nicer name, making it sound more whimsical. I actually prefer the spelt raw and soaked for about 24 hours. I add it to stir fries and salads but I know that some people find it irritates their digestive system, so I have cooked it here. I made this really spicy with some great locally grown chillies I bought in a big bunch on the market  in Berlin yesterday but you can leave it out all together if you prefer. This really is a meal in itself and it is delicious. It is chewy and crunchy and sweet and very savoury, all at the same time and, of course, incredibly nutritious. I served it on a bed of baby spinach leaves and we ate it with the soba noodle salad but we are greedy.

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

50g of raw spelt boiled for about 20 minutes until it is still chewy but not hard

A handful of raw broccoli very finely shredded

A handful of finely chopped cucumber

2 large handfuls of fresh coriander chopped

Seeds from half a fresh pomegranate

A large handful of walnuts, toasted in the oven for 10 minutes and roughly chopped

A tablespoon of olive oil

A teaspoon of cider vinegar

The juice of half a small lemon

2 teaspoons of tahina

Half a teaspoon of dijon mustard

A tiny amount of crushed raw garlic

1 large chilli very finely chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all of the fresh ingredients with the spelt in a large bowl. Combine the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, tahina, mustard, garlic and chilli to make a dressing. Pour dressing onto the salad. Season to taste.

 

 

 

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Japanese Soba Noodle Salad

 

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The summer has returned briefly in Berlin and it is making me crave for light, tasty dishes, especially salads. This could be made with baby spinach or shredded raw broccoli or you could add carrot and courgettes. I like to use the baby cucumbers as they are the only ones I really like but I still take out any seeds so it is not watery. Although it is not to everyones` taste, I think the seaweed is essential for that real Japanese flavour and it is very healthy. You can buy bags of dehydrated wakame in Asian supermarkets. You only need a tablespoonful of dried seaweed to make a large handful when it is rehydrated. To make a full meal, grilled or fried tofu marinated in teriyaki sauce would work really well.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

100g of uncooked soba noodles

A handful of finely shredded, raw, white cabbage

A handful of finely chopped cucumber

A handful of rehydrated wakame, roughly chopped

A handful of fresh coriander finely chopped

A tablespoon on sushi vinegar

A tablespoon of light soya sauce

A dessertspoonful of sesame oil

Half a chilli finely chopped (to taste)

A tiny amount of crushed garlic

Half a thumbnail size piece of fresh ginger finely chopped

A tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Cook the soba noodles briefly for about 3-4 minutes so they still have a bite. Refresh in cold water. Mix all of the raw vegetables and noodles in a large bowl. Make up the dressing with the remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing onto the salad and mix well. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds to finish.

Tofu Scramble and Mushrooms

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This is an ideal breakfast dish for the weekends or days when you want something more filling than oats. You can use different tofu flavours like smoked tofu or nut tofus  or even a softer tofu but I used plain, hard tofu here as it crumbles well and takes on the flavour of the onions and peppers well.

Ingredients

Serves 2 with toast and fried mushrooms

Half a block of hard tofu crumbled

Half a red pepper thinly sliced

Half a large onion very thinly sliced

A quarter clove of garlic crushed

A sprinkle of dried oregano or marjoram

A tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil gently in a frying pan and add the onions, peppers and garlic. Sweat down for about 5 minutes then add the crumbled tofu, herbs and seasoning. Meanwhile make the toast and fry the mushrooms in a separate pan. Cook the scramble until the vegetables are soft. Spread the toast thinly with non-dairy spread or hummus and serve with the tofu scramble and mushrooms.

Avocado and Potato Salad

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The sun has been shining a  lot this February in Berlin and it makes me think more about summer food. There are some decent organic avocados in the shops, although they have travelled a long way. Potatoes are always delicious in Germany and there are some lovely salad version available. This is a hearty, rich salad which should only be lightly dressed otherwise it becomes too cloying. It is best with the potatoes still warm.

Ingredients

Serves 1 as a main course

A whole ripe avocado

A Little Gem lettuce or a Romaine heart

6-8 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters

A large spring onion very finely chopped

6 tiny salad potatoes

A tablespoon of shop bought or homemade salad dressing of choice

Boil the potatoes whole for 20 minutes and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Finely chop the lettuce and place in the bottom of a bowl. Add tomatoes and the avocado chopped. Add the potatoes to the top of the salad and then sprinkle over the onion. Dress lightly and season to taste.

Brussels Sprouts with Mustard,Cumin and Fennel Seeds

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Brussels sprouts are just coming into season in Europe. I hated these as a child and now cannot get enough of them. We eat huge piles of them in our house all through the season. They are best after the frost has been in them so taste much better in the winter. I could eat them on their own with a pool of gravy any day but it is nice to experiment with other ways to cook them, especially as they are part of the magic Cruciferous vegetable family that are so good for our immunity during the cold months. Apparently these kind of vegetables are better for us if we chop them before eating. Joel Fuhrman explains the science of this in his book Super Immunity.

I served these as a side dish with another more substantial curry but they could be served with just about anything.

Preparation time 5 minutes. Cooking time 10-15 minutes

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

Half a kilo of Brussels sprouts finely sliced

Two shallots finely sliced

A crushed clove of garlic

A medium tomato finely chopped

Half a teaspoon each of toasted cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds

Half a tablespoon of oil for sautéing

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and add the garlic, shallots and seeds. Stir fry for about three minutes until the garlic and shallots are soft. Add the sprouts and tomatoes and continue to stir fry for two minutes until they are coated in the other ingredients. Turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook until just soft or leave crunchy if you prefer. Season to taste.

French Bean and Walnut Salad

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I refuse to buy French beans brought in from Kenya or South America but when they are in season in Europe I love to incorporate then into salads or sauté them in garlic oil. They remind me a lot of trips to Paris where the beans are always tiny and tender. This salad feels very French. You could add black olives or capers for a salty bite.

Preparation time and cooking time 10 minutes

Makes a large bowl

150g of French beans topped and tailed

Half a romaine lettuce

Balsamic dressing

Two handfuls of toasted walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the beans in boiling water for five minutes and then refresh in cold water so that they keep their colour. Shred the lettuce coarsely and place into the bottom of a large salad bowl. Throw the whole beans on top and scatter the coarsely chopped nuts over the salad. Pour over a tablespoon of balsamic dressing and season to taste.

Avocado, Spinach and Tahina Wrap

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This is a lovely soft and crunchy wrap  that is full of nutrition and tastes really delicious. You can use basil or coriander, spinach or rocket, hummus or tahini and add more chilli or leave it out.

Preparation Time 10 minutes

Serves one

A large, fresh wrap

A few leaves of baby spinach

A few leaves of chopped fresh coriander

Chilli sauce to taste or fresh chilli

Half a tablespoon of tahina

Half an avocado

Salt and pepper to taste

Spread the tahini over the wrap. Add the spinach and then slices of avocado, coriander, onion and chilli sauce. Season to taste.

Half a spring onion finely chopped