Thursday 18 April 2024
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Invite some vegetables to lunch!


Vegetables are much more than just a side dish, these delicious recipes will bring variety to your average packed lunch


Serves 4, Prep: 15 minutes, Cook: 40 minutes

200g farro

500g Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed clean but not peeled, each cut into quarters

2tbsp olive oil

50g baby spinach leaves

1 small red onion, finely sliced

50g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

4 medium free-range eggs

1tsp red chilli flakes, for sprinkling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

Juice of ½ lemon

2tbsp cider vinegar

50ml extra virgin olive oil

2tsp coriander seeds, crushed with a pestle and mortar


1 Tip the farro into a medium saucepan and cover with 5cm of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook over a low heat for about 25 minutes  until the farro is tender.

2 Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Place the artichokes on a roasting tray, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until soft and cooked through.

3 Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, vinegar, oil and coriander seeds and pour this over the cooked farro. Stir through the spinach, red onion and 25g of the chopped hazelnuts. Finally, add the artichoke.

4 Bring a wide saucepan of water to the boil. Poach the eggs gently in the water for a couple of minutes until softly set (2 eggs at a time might be easier than all 4 at once).

5 Taste and add more seasoning to the salad if necessary. Serve your farro salad warm, topped with the poached eggs, the remaining hazelnuts and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.


Farro has a beautiful nutty flavour and becomes tender quickly without turning mushy


Serves 4, Prep: 15 minutes, Cook: 40 minutes

20 garlic cloves (about 2 bulbs)

25g salted butter

2 celery sticks, finely sliced into crescents

2 thyme sprigs

200ml white wine

1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained

1 x 400g can butter beans, drained

2 bay leaves

250ml vegetable stock

75g young leaf spinach

3 tablespoons crème fraîche

For the gremolata

2tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 fat garlic clove, crushed

Zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons


1 Put the garlic cloves in a medium bowl with their papery jackets still on. Pour over boiling hot water, about 300ml, and leave for 2 minutes. Remove the garlic from the water, keeping the water for later and, as soon as the garlic is cool enough, remove the skins and cut each clove in half lengthways.

2 Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the garlic cloves, celery and thyme and cook slowly for 3-4 minutes, being careful not to colour the mix. Pour over the wine and increase the heat, allowing it to bubble and reduce by half.

3 Stir the beans, bay leaves, vegetable stock and garlic water into your pan. Reduce the heat to low and allow the pot to bubble at a languorous pace for 30 minutes, until the sauce has both thickened and reduced in quantity. Use a potato masher to gently mash some of the mixture at this stage, making the sauce a little thicker. Stir through the young leaf spinach just before serving and allow the leaves to wilt in the warmth of the stew.

4 Meanwhile, make the gremolata by combining the parsley, crushed garlic and lemon zest and juice.

5 Once the beans are beautifully tender remove the pan from the heat. Stir through the crème fraîche and season well. Serve in bowls with a spoonful of gremolata over the top.


Inspired by the Spanish Caldo Gallego stew, garlic is the star of the show here, but don’t be alarmed; the cloves soften in lengthy cooking and provide a gentle backdrop to the white beans.


You can serve this with natural yoghurt or pesto instead of gremolata, if you prefer



Serves 6, Prep: 40 minutes, Cook: 10 minutes

300g rainbow chard

A thick slice of butter

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4-5 slices day-old ciabatta (roughly 100g)

1 × 200g ball of mozzarella

2tbsp (heaped) tarragon leaves

2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1tbsp (heaped) chopped dill fronds

100g pine nuts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the dressing

4tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon


1 Start by cooking the chard. Remove any tough-looking leaves and roughly chop the stems and leaves into 4cm chunks. Heat the butter in a medium shallow pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chard. Stir well and put the lid on. Steam for 3-4 minutes and remove immediately before all colour has left the stems.

2 Tear or cube the bread into 2-3cm chunks and put into a large bowl. Add the buttery garlic and chard mixture. Toss lightly to combine and evenly distribute all the ingredients.

3 For the dressing, mix together the olive oil and lemon juice. Pour over the bread and chard mixture, then leave to sit for 20 minutes in the fridge to give all the flavours a chance to combine.

4 Just before serving, toss through the mozzarella, herbs and pine nuts. Season and serve, preferably when you are holidaying in Italy!


The general rule with chard is to cook the leaves as you would spinach and the stalks as you would asparagus



Serves 6-8, Prep: 45 minutes, Cook: 1 hour 20 minutes

2 long courgettes, thinly sliced lengthways (you can use a mandolin)

Olive oil, to grease

500g pumpkin flesh, peeled, deseeded and cut into 7.5mm thin slices

70g rocket leaves, plus extra, to serve

75g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

75g blue cheese, crumbled

250ml double cream

2 medium free-range eggs, beaten

1tbsp Dijon mustard

20g Parmesan, finely grated

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

900g/2lb loaf tin (23 × 13 × 7cm)


1 Brush the courgette slices with oil and then griddle (see tip) over a high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden and softened. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan/320°F/Gas Mark 3. Brush the loaf tin with oil to lightly grease.

2 Lay the strips of courgette across the base and up the sides of the tin – don’t worry about any overhang, this can be tidied away later. Finish each end with more charred strips, reserving some for the top.

3 Arrange a third of the pumpkin over the courgette and top with half the rocket, half the chestnuts and a third of the blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Make another layer using half of the remaining pumpkin. Top with the remaining rocket and chestnut and half of the remaining blue cheese. Season and then add a final layer of pumpkin.

4 Put the cream, egg, mustard, Parmesan and the remaining blue cheese in a medium bowl. Season and whisk gently until well combined. Pour the cream mixture over the pumpkin. Gently tap on the work surface to ensure the cream has run into any small holes. Fold over any overhanging courgette slices and then top with the remaining slices to cover.

5 Put on a baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for 1¼ hours or until the pumpkin is tender and the mixture is just set. Remove from oven and set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Turn out onto a platter and use a serrated knife to cut into eight thick slices.


For a variation, replace the pumpkin with butternut squash.


If you don’t own a griddle pan, simply fry the courgette slices until they are a little charred



Serves 4, Prep: 20 minutes, Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes

For the polenta crust

500ml hot vegetable stock

140g polenta

1tbsp unsalted butter

50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the tart

1tbsp olive oil

2tbsp crème fraîche

1 courgette, thinly sliced

2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced horizontally into thin slices

1tbsp thyme leaves, plus extra to garnish

25g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

21cm square tart tin


1 Start by making the polenta crust. Bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan and pour the polenta into the water. Keep your pan over a low heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly, thrashing out any lumps that try to form. Continue for around 6 minutes until the polenta is very thick – it’s a good idea to set a timer as it is easy to think you’ve done enough stirring at the 2-minute mark!

2 Remove the mixture from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan and stir until they have disappeared. Then stir through the beaten egg and a healthy seasoning of salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and allow the polenta to cool slightly.

3 Lightly grease the tart tin with olive oil. Put the polenta in the centre and, using a spatula or oiled fingers, gently tease it up the sides of the tin to create the sides of the crust.

4 Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Smother a thin layer of crème fraîche over the base of your tart and top with alternating slices of courgette and tomato. Finish with the thyme leaves and the Parmesan.

5 Cook on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove and allow the tart to cool for 5-10 minutes to allow it to ‘come to’. Serve in slices.


This recipe is a very informal version of a tart – it’s a little bit messy, a mixture of courgettes, tomatoes and silky crème fraîche. The polenta base is gluten-free and adds a wonderful texture and flavour.



Serves 6, Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 5 minutes

20g vermicelli noodles (also known as glass noodles)

½ head sweetheart cabbage, finely sliced

¼ small head red cabbage, finely sliced

60g mangetout, sliced on the diagonal

1 large green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

6 small spring onions, finely sliced

A large bunch of mint, roughly chopped, keeping a few leaves whole to garnish

150g salted, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped, keeping a few whole to garnish


For the dressing

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2tbsp fish sauce

1tbsp caster sugar

Juice and zest of 2 unwaxed limes


1 Soak your noodles in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and run under cool water until the noodles are separated. A good trick is then to take scissors to your noodles, cutting them into shorter lengths; this makes the noodles a little more manageable to eat.

2 Meanwhile, make your dressing by combining all the ingredients. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, if you have the time. The garlic will infuse with the lime juice and it will taste all the better.

3 The next step is super simple. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and use a ‘lifting’ motion to make sure the whole salad is dressed.

4 Serve with fresh mint and a few peanuts sprinkled on top.


The lime, mint and fish sauce all sit together beautifully in this salad, but it’s the crunch of the salted peanuts that really finishes it off.

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