Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pinenuts


Swiss chard is incredibly good for you. It can be slighlty bitter if it is old when eaten so the best way to avoid this is to buy it very fresh or grow your own. It is traditional in Spain to add pinenuts and raisins to spinach but it works well with chard too. I serve this with a nut roast and potatoes for a hearty meal in the colder weather. It could be eaten on its own.

Serves 4 as a side dish
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes

300g of swiss chard leaves and stems sliced quite finely
Half a small onion finely chopped
A small palmful of pinenuts toasted
A small palmful of raisins
A small clove of garlic crushed
A tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Soften for a few minutes then add the remaining ingredients. Stir fry for 2-3 minuts and then cook slowly with a lid on for another 10 minutes until the chard stems are much softer. Season to taste.


Roasted Corn and Butternut Squash Couscous Salad


Couscous can be very dull and you need to add a lot of flavour to make it into something wonderful. This dish has sweetness from both the squash and the corn plus bags of freshness from the mint and coriander. We like our food spicy so you can also add chill like I did to give an extra punch but it can be left out. Chickpeas are added for extra protein but green lentils would also work.

This could be served on its own or as part of a vegan mezze platter. It could also be put inside a wrap with some red pepper hummus from the previous recipe. You could add a handful of toasted walnuts for extra texture.

Makes a large bowlful
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

150g couscous
Half a small butternut squash
Half a tin of chickpeas
2 ears of fresh corn
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
A handful of fresh mint chopped
Half a clove of garlic
A tablespoon of honey mustard dressing
A teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (optional)
A spring onion finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste?

Cut the butternut squash in half and place on a baking tray with the corn ears. Roast in the oven at 170 Celsius. Remove the corn after about 10 minutes and remove the squash after a total of about 30 minutes. Leave to cool.

Place the couscous in a pan and add just enough boiling water to cover the couscous. Leave with a lid on for 10 minutes then remove the lid and stir with a fork. Put to one side.

When all the ingredients are cool, place the couscous in a large bowl and add the chickpeas, mint, garlic, coriander and onion. Chop the squash into bitesize pieces and remove the corn from the cobs. Add the squash, corn and dressing to the couscous mixture and season to taste. Add the chilli if using. Chill before serving.

Roasted Corn and Pepper Salad with Black Beans


Yesterday, my friend Claudia gave me some fresh, green peppers of the pointy variety (like large chillis). We don’t have a special word for these in the UK. We had the peppers barbecued last night while sitting in her garden, under a huge walnut tree, in idyllic surroundings, yet right in the centre of Berlin.

I already had some fresh corn in the fridge as well as the coriander and a tin of black beans in the cupboard so it was easy to throw this together.

This is a complete meal but would also go well inside a tortilla with some guacamole or pumpkin hummus. You could also add fried slices of tofu or toasted peanuts for a crunch.

Serves 6 as a side dish or 2 as a main course
Preparation time 12 minutes. Cooking time 30-40 minutes

2 green peppers or 3 large, green chilli peppers
2 whole corns on the cob
A tin of black beans well rinsed
6 cherry tomatoes halved
4 spring onions (scallions) finely sliced
Plenty of chopped fresh coriander, mint and basil
A tablespoon of olive oil and lemon salad dressing
A small red chilli chopped very finely
Salt and black pepper to taste

Place the corn and peppers in an oven-proof dish and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. The peppers should be very soft with the skin starting to char. Leave to cool. Remove the corn from the
cobs and place in a large bowl. Chop the peppers roughly and add to the corn with the beans, tomatoes and onions. Stir in 2 handfuls of the mixed, fresh herbs and drizzle over the dressing. Add the chilli and stir well. Season to taste. Place in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes.

Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Hummus


I had half a roasted pumpkin left over from the Roasted Pumpkin and Walnut Salad. I also had an avocado that needed eating up. They are both quite rich foods so I was not sure about combining them. I was wowed by the results. The dip is rich and creamy but light and sweet too.

I blend the pumpkin with the skin left on but you can remove it if you prefer.

Makes a medium sized bowl
10 minutes total time not including roasting the pumpkin

Half a large baby pumpkin, roasted with the skin on and left to cool
A whole avocado
A tablespoon of tahini
A quarter clove garlic
A tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
A little water
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add a little water if necessary to get things moving. Serve with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and paprika to red chilli powder.

Fennel and Apple Salad


I got the idea for this when I was in Italy, last summer, on a yoga retreat near Rome, in a place called In Sabine. The villa had a huge vegetable garden and all of the food was sourced from there. I used to go and watch the gardener making the harvest each morning and wonder what we would be eating for lunch. The food was fresh, traditional and delicious. They also had a couple of fig trees and one of the other guests Uma and I used to love finding the fresh figs, just coming into season, and eat them on the way go the yoga platform.

If you have not eaten fennel before, it has a subtle aniseed flavour and is crunchy and light -ideal for a salad.

Half a bulb of fennel sliced finely
Half an apple finely sliced
Half a romaine lettuce or a whole baby gem
Tablespoon of toasted sunflower seeds
A tablespoon of balsamic dressing. I make my own with 3 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar then add Dijon mustard and agave syrup. I keep a bottle in the fridge.

You just need to combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Don’t overdress the salad, use your discretion with the amount of dressing but keep the salad light and crunchy. Dress at the last minute.

Wakame Salad


Wakame is a type of Japanese seaweed. Seaweed is very nutritious. I only came to Japanese food very recently and I absolutely love this salad. It is so simple to make but you do need to source the right ingredients. In Berlin you can get these at Asian supermarkets and I suspect the same is true in the UK. In Berlin, large branches of Edeka and Reichelt also sell Japanese ingredients. You can use the same stuff to make your own sushi if you are really keen. More on that in a later post.

A handful of dried wakame seaweed rehydrated with boiling water for ten minutes.
2 teaspoons of each of light soya sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil
Half a thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger very finely chopped
A good sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds
A teaspoon of honey or sugar
A sprinkling of dried chilli flakes to your taste

Squeeze the water out of the seaweed and chop it finely. Add the seaweed and all of the other ingredients to the bowl and stir. You may need to adjust the taste to ensure the right balance. Don’t be scared as it is hard to get it totally wrong.

Spicy Tomato and Onion Salsa


You can eat this with anything. Indian food, Mexican, in wraps with tofu or as part of a picnic. We like it really spicy but then we are British. You need to adjust to your own taste. I always use Thai chillis which are pretty fierce although Dave prefers habaneros or, better still, Scotch Bonnet, if we can find them, which are scarily hot and, in my opinion, not nice.

1 large, ripe tomato chopped finely with all the juice

2 spring onions finely sliced into tiny rings

1 Thai red chilli very finely chopped

A handful of fresh coriander finely chopped

A pinch of salt

A tablespoon of lemon juice

Basically mix all of the ingredients together and leave for about 10 minutes for the flavours to merge. Simple and tasty.