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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

Pomegranate and Tomato Salsa

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There are some very large pomegranates in the supermarkets in Berlin at the moment and they are really juicy. This is deliciously fresh and healthy and works really well served with the eggplant pilaf. We like it spicy in our  house, so bear this in mind! Use the best tomatoes you can find.

Ingredients

Serves 4 as a side dish

The juice and seeds of one large pomegranate

About 15 cherry tomatoes or 3 large, ripe tomatoes chopped

A spring onion chopped very finely

A large green chili very finely chopped

A large handful of fresh coriander finely shopped

A tablespoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the  ingredients in a medium bowl and season to taste. Leave for an hour before eating for the flavours to develop.

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.

Home Sprouting -give it a go

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I love fresh sprouts. They are so crunchy and incredibly healthy. You can buy a greater range these days in supermarkets but growing your own is much cheaper and they taste better. I was delighted to discover a few months ago that they will keep fresh for at least a week if refrigerated in their jar.

I have a couple of special sprouting jars that I bought on Amazon that make draining the sprouts easier but, to be honest, you an use a normal jar or a sprouting bag.

You can sprout lentils, beans, peas and seeds. I like mung bean and chickpeas the best. They go really well in salads and stir fries. The smaller lentils and seeds sprout fastest and you will see small sprouts after the first day.

Take a handful of mung beans and place them in the jar. Cover with cold water and soak overnight. The next morning drain the water and rinse in more fresh water. Drain again and leave in a cool place. Rinse and drain daily until the sprouts are the length you want. Then place in the fridge until you want to use them.

Roasted Tomato, Corn and Cucumber Salsa

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Tomatoes are so plentiful and cheap at the moment and corn is bang in season. Roasting the corn and tomatoes for this salsa gives a lovely sweet flavour. The cucumber makes it fresh and light. I like it spicy but you can make it to your own taste.

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Makes a medium bowl

Ingredients

A large ear of fresh corn

20 cherry tomatoes

A clove of garlic

A large, green chilli

Half a cucumber grated

The juice of half a lemon

A handful of fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the corn and tomatoes in roasting tin and cook in medium oven for 15 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. Remove the corn from the cob and roughly chop the tomatoes. Place half of the tomatoes and corn with all the other ingredients in a food processor and blitz till it is a smooth paste. Turn out into a bowl and add the other half of the corn and tomatoes to give a chunky texture. Season to taste.