Lemon, Parmesan and Black Pepper Spaghetti

The simplest spaghetti dishes are often my favourites. This one requires almost no cooking of the sauce so it’s ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. During an energy crisis, recipes that require little or no heating are essential. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the kids love this dish. It’s salty and bright and easy to eat so it makes an excellent weeknight meal..

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Fibre
Like iron, fibre helps to regulate blood sugar and your body uses it for the production of serotonin, an essential chemical for mental health.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
300g spaghetti
zest of 1 lemon
50ml lemon juice
50g parmesan
50g unsalted butter
50ml pasta water
freshly cracked black pepper
salt
handful of fresh basil leaves

  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil then cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking prepare the ingredients for the sauce.
  • Finely grate the zest of one lemon into a jug then squeeze in 50ml of lemon juice. Finely grate the parmesan and finely chop the basil leaves. Chop the butter into cubes.
  • Once the pasta is cooked reserve 50ml of the pasta water and add it to the lemon juice. Drain the pasta then return to the pan and add the lemon juice, zest, pasta water, butter and parmesan. Toss to combine then grind over generously with fresh black pepper and some salt to taste.
  • Finish with the fresh basil and some extra parmesan grated on top.

BBQ Corn on the Cob with Spice Rub

Most Brits will have eaten corn on the cob that’s been boiled then served with a knob of butter (which is good) but the absolute best way to cook it is on the BBQ. It’s incredibly easy to cook corn on the BBQ then you get to add the most fantastic flavour bomb with lemon, salt and chilli powder. You can serve the corn whole on the cob, with a lemon half for each diner, or slice off the cooked kernels then squeeze over the lemon, sprinkle over the salt and spice then toss and serve as a side dish.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Fibre
Like iron, fibre helps to regulate blood sugar and your body uses it for the production of serotonin, an essential chemical for mental health.

INGREDIENTS
corn cobs
vegetable oil
lemons
salt
chilli powder

  • Heat the BBQ to 200°C then oil the grill using a silicone brush. Place the cobs on the grill then closed the lid and cook for 12-15 minutes turning each cob 1/4 every 3-4 minutes.
  • Take the cobs off the grill and serve with lemon halves to be dipped in a shallow dish of running salt then dipped in a shallow dish of chilli powder. Rub the loaded lemon along the cob, squeezing the lemon juice out a little as you go.
  • If you want to remove the kernels from the cobs then hold each cob over a pan or dish then slice down with a large knife until all the kernels are removed. For every TWO COBS squeeze over 1 lemon then sprinkle over 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp chilli powder. Stir and serve.

Spiced Salmon Fillets

Everyone in our house loves salmon so we eat it almost every week. This easy spiced salmon is a great weeknight meal that I serve with rice, veggies and occasionally onion bhajis when I have the time. I love the flavour of Garam Masala and even though I can make the spice mix from scratch I keep a jar of pre-made mix in the cupboard for a quick weeknight meal. The spices in garam masala are good for digestion, blood pressure and reducing inflammation so coupled with the nutritional power of salmon this meal does your body lots of good.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Spice
Certain spices contain chemical compounds that aid brain function and repair. The post-baby brain works extremely hard and spices help support the changes that happen.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids

500g salmon
1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
35g unsalted butter

  • If you want edible crispy skin then scrape all the scales off with a sharp knife, otherwise just dry the salmon with paper towel. Mix together the garam masala and salt then sprinkle onto a plate and coat the salmon, rubbing the mix into the skin.
  • Divide the salmon into 4 fillets then rub a little mix onto the cut sides. Melt the butter in a large skillet over a medium high heat and once it’s foaming add the salmon, skin down to the pan. Gently press the salmon flesh so that the skin is flush with the pan.
  • Cook until the flesh is cooked halfway up (about 5 minutes) then turn off the heat, carefully turn over the fillets and leave in the pan for 1-2 minutes to cook in the residual heat. Serve with rice and vegetables.

Classic Roast Beef

Roast beef is a timeless classic for Sunday lunch and to get it right it needs rest, rest, rest. The best of the cooking happens from the residual heat that carries on cooking the meat after you take it out of the oven. This is the time when the beef becomes soft and tender. Cooking beef on onions gives the meat extra flavour but mostly it makes the best gravy, a must for Sunday lunch. Don’t forget my fool-proof Yorkshire Puddings to make the meal complete.

Iron: Red meat contains iron that regulates your blood sugar levels which improves your energy levels.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 4 Adults & 2 Kids

1.5 beef roasting joint with fat
salt
1 large onion
350ml water
for the gravy
125ml red wine
1 tbsp plain flour
vegetable cooking water
salt and sugar

  • Take the beef out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before roasting, this will result in more tender meat. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (200°C Fan).
  • Peel and slice the onion then in a roasting tray arrange in a shape roughly the same as the beef and grind over with salt.
  • Salt the beef all over then place the meat on top of the onions. Place the dish in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes then turn the heat down to 195°C (175°C Fan) and cook for 40 minutes.
  • Remove the beef from the oven onto a plate or carving board and loosely cover in foil then let it rest for 30 minutes in a warm spot.
  • Whilst the beef is resting, pour off the roasting juice (discarding the onions) into a small saucepan over a medium high heat. Add 125ml of red wine and cook for a minute then add a tablespoon of plain flour and whisk to thicken. Gradually add vegetable water until you have the thickness you want then taste to adjust the seasoning with salt and sugar.
  • Add any resting juices from the beef to the gravy then thinly slice the beef and serve with veggies and Yorkshire Puds.

Cucumber and Radish Salad

Cucumbers and radishes grow rampant in our garden during the summer months and the majority of them go into this super easy, bright and delicious salad which is great with barbequed chicken. Radishes don’t get enough love in the UK but they are crunchy, slightly peppery and they’re really good for your heart. Radishes are cheap to buy too and they’re really filling so one small bag can make a hearty salad for a family of four. This recipe works with any type of small radish, but I’m using the common red globe radish.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults

1/2 a cucumber
125g radishes
80g feta
1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
small handful of mint leaves

  • Trim the cucumber end then slice away alternate strips of the skin then slice in half lengthways. Cut 3mm wide halfmoons of cucumber then scatter into a shallow dish. Trim the tops and tails of the radishes then thinly slice and scatter into the dish. Crumble over the feta.
  • Pour the oil into a small jar with a lid then squeeze in the lime and add the salt. Shake well to combine then drizzle over the salad and toss gently with a spoon to coat.
  • Finely chop the mint (roll it up into a cigar shape then cut very fine slices) and scatter over the finished salad.

No Bits Bolognese

If you have a kid who is sensitive to textures then you know they can spot a vegetable at 100 miles. Regular readers will know I like to make batches of roasted garlic and onion puree. I use these beautiful flavours in my No Bits Bolognese to add nutrition without texture. Henry loves this Bolognese but has no idea he’s eating veggies so we both win. I freeze this sauce into four batches, each batch enough for Evelynne and Henry, then defrost one batch per week and serve with freshly cooked spaghetti.

INGREDIENTS
Makes 8 Kids’ Portions

500g ground pork and beef
100g onion puree
2 tbsp roasted garlic puree
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
500g passata
100ml water
salt and pepper

  • In a large skillet over a high heat brown the ground beef in 1tbsp of olive oil. Don’t move the meat so that it caramelizes. Spoon off excess fat into a heatproof bowl. Once all the meat is browned season with salt and pepper then add the balsamic vinegar and stir to scrape up any tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic purees then add the passata and water then stir to combine. Add cooked spaghetti to the sauce and toss to coat then serve with parmesan.

Cream Cheese and Cucumber Rolls

With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee just around the corner it’s the perfect time to share my fancy-schmany cream cheese and cucumber rolls recipe. The classic high tea cucumber sandwich gets the wrap treatment and looks absolutely beautiful adorned with royal purple edible flowers seasonal in early summer (violas and chive flowers). Even though these rolls look elegant they’re actually quite filing. Each wrap yields 4-8 portions depending on what size you want; I cut them into 4 for a picnic and 8 for canapes.

INGREDIENTS
flour tortilla wraps
cream cheese
cucumber
edible flowers
salt

  • Spread the tortilla generously with cream cheese. Cut away intermittent strips of green skin from the cucumber then slice thinly. Arrange the slices over the middle of the tortilla, overlapping at the edges then grind over with salt.
  • Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can, without squishing cream cheese everywhere, then cut the roll into 4 or 8 equal parts. Secure each section with a tooth pick then stand up each section on a plate or tray.
  • Carefully insert extra slices of cucumber into the top of each section then scatter with flowers.

Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce is a really easy place to hide vegetables so that a fussy eater doesn’t notice their presence. This bright green sauce is bursting with nutrition without a hint of a recognisable vegetable. Everything gets blended in one go then the sauce is cooked as it’s stirred through cooked spaghetti. If you don’t have ricotta then you can use cottage cheese instead and, as always, you can spice it up with a pinch of chilli flakes in the blender. I love finishing off this dish with edible flowers because they pop against the green.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Iron
Iron helps to regulate blood sugar which in turn regulates energy and mood; an essential part of managing depression. SPINACH

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults

200g washed spinach
120g ricotta (or cottage cheese)
30g grated parmesan
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
125ml pasta water
salt and pepper
300g spaghetti
optional: edible flowers and finely chopped basil

  • Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Whilst the spaghetti is cooking, prepare the sauce.
  • Put the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, the zest and juice of one lemon, olive oil and 2 garlic cloves into a blender and blitz until you have a smooth sauce.
  • Reserve 125ml of the pasta water then drain the cooked pasta and return to the pan on a medium heat and grind over generously with black pepper and a little salt.
  • Pour the sauce over the spaghetti then add the pasta water and toss everything to combine. Allow to cook for a minute or two until the sauce thickens slightly then serve and finish with chopped basil, extra grated parmesan and edible flowers.

Perfect Poached Eggs

Poached eggs are delicate and beautiful spheres of soft whites and runny, yellow yolks that are wonderful served with avocados or smoked salmon. If you’ve tried making poached eggs before but found them to be too stringy or runny then you have to read my top 3 tips for getting perfect results every time:

1. Strain each egg in a small sieve to drain off the loosest egg whites, this will stop the stringiness.
2. Do NOT use salt in the water, salt causes the eggs to be stringy.
3. Swirl the water using a metal spoon, it will create a tighter vortex.

Superfood Profile: Eggs
Contain Omega-3 (DHA) and Selenium which improve physical brain health and stabilize mood.

INGREDIENTS
fresh free range eggs
1 litre water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan then reduce the heat so that no bubbles are breaking the surface of the water. Crack each egg into a small sieve over a bowl and drain off any runny whites. Carefully tip each drained egg into a ramekin.
  • Once you have all the eggs you want in individual ramekins add the vinegar to the water then stir the water quickly, in one direction, with a metal spoon.
  • Carefully tip the egg out of one ramekin into the centre of the saucepan and set a timer (medium eggs: 3 minutes, large eggs: 3 1/2 minutes).
  • Once the timer goes, carefully lift the egg out of the water with a slotted spoon and place onto a piece of kitchen roll kept close to the heat of the cooker. Repeat the process with the second egg then serve (for 4 eggs I use two saucepans so that I can do 2 eggs at a time and the eggs stay hot).

Chickpea and Feta Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers as a main meal or they make a great side dish for BBQ chicken. There’s nothing complicated about this recipe which I why I make them so often especially if I have leftover cooked rice. I use tinned chickpeas and you don’t even have to cut the tomatoes so it’s really simple to assemble. If you like a little spice in your life then add a chopped chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes. Any filling that spills over the top of the pepper becomes crunchy which adds a lovely texture at the end.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Beans
Beans are a phenomenal source of fibre and protein which are great for lowering blood sugar and pressure as well as giving you a steady burn of energy.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids

4 red peppers
250g drained chickpeas
100g feta
85g rice (yields 250g cooked rice)
8-10 cherry tomatoes
1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked or unsmoked paprika
parsley
olive oil
optional: parmesan to finish

  • Cook the rice in salted water (use my easy 20-minute rice recipe). Pre-heat the oven to 195°C (175°C Fan). Cut the top off each pepper then use a small, sharp knife to remove the core.
  • Tip the drained chickpeas into a mixing bowl then add the tomatoes, roughly chopped parsley and broken up pieces of feta. Add the cooked rice to the bowl then sprinkle over the paprika and salt then squeeze over the juice of the lemon and stir to mix everything together.
  • Use a spoon to stuff the peppers then drizzle over with olive oil and grind over with a little salt then loosely cover each pepper with a piece of foil to top the tops from burning. Roast for 45 minutes then finish with a little parmesan and fresh parsley.