We’re back at that time of year!
After Christmas, I often feel like a lump of lard. December is a reckless month for eating, one that I fully support of course, but it’s really no wonder the hashtag idiom #newyearnewme popped up a few years ago. With the fresh new year facing us, and our jeans now uncomfortably tight around the middle, what better excuse is there to dust away the cobwebs of Christmas and let the brisk January air stream inside.
I have many opinions about the January detox movements which I have expressed here if you’re interested; mainly that I think our society eagerly jumps on the bandwagon of self-improvement far too often. Instead, I think January should be an opportunity to add more strings to your bow. Try new food, experiment with recipes, but we shouldn’t feel like we have to in order to be a better human. We don’t need yet another strain on our mental health.
If you can’t face yet another oozing camembert, then take this opportunity and motivation to try some new recipes to add to your repertoire.
Here are some recipe ideas which are perfect for this January. Some are lighter than others but all are vegan or celebrate fresh fish, keeping heavy richness at bay. Now’s your chance to experiment in the kitchen and see what else is out there:
A savoury slurry of olives, sundried tomatoes and puy lentils, served over tagliatelle and sprinkled with basil (and pecorino, for the less strict vegan newcomers). My friend Marie and I scraped the pan clean. Find the recipe here.
Baked tomatoes with basil crust
Not a January recipe, I’ll admit, but just the smell will carry you into summer on a cloud of tomato and basil. Roasting your winter tomatoes will improve their flavour immensely. Roast them until crinkly, juice begging to burst the seams, sprinkle with basil breadcrumbs and bake until golden, recipe here.
Vegan shepherd’s pie
Unfortunately, food with the word ‘vegan’ in its title immediately used to make me ungenerously think of a poor imitation of the original, but without animal products. How wrong I was, and I hope you can learn from my mistake, dear reader. This lockdown, make this vegan shepherd’s pie, I implore you. A bubbling mixture of olives, chickpeas and mushrooms hides under its duvet of rosemary sweet potato mash, recipe here (along with a rant about Veganuary!)
Roasted pepper and sweet potato soup
This soup is a family favourite in my house and is a regular lunch served with bread and cheese. There is something so satisfying about roasting peppers, soft and syrupy with juice, gently peeling away their papery skins. It’s a little fiddly, but quite frankly, what else do I have to do this lockdown? Find the recipe here.
Soy and honey glazed fish with coconut rice
I came up with this recipe for work, but ever since we’ve been devouring it at home, on holiday, while living in hostels in New Zealand, you name it. The marinated vegetables give a crisp bite while side of creamy, sticky coconut rice feels like an indulgence. Find the recipe here.
January doesn’t have to be restrictive; we currently have enough to worry about! Enjoy and savour the food you eat and give yourself a happy winter lockdown.
Last but not least, here is a new recipe to try!
Teriyaki salmon rice bowls with pickled ginger
Adapted from BBC Good Food
- 50g fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 tsp salt
- 50ml rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 skinless salmon fillets
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp finely grated ginger
- 4 pak choi
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- Chilli flakes
- Juice of half a lime
- Rice, cashew nuts, mustard and poppy seeds, coriander and sliced chilli to serve
- Chop the ginger into small chunks, put in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss it all together to cover evenly and leave for about 30 minutes to release its moisture. When ready, bring the vinegar and sugar to boil in a sauce pan and pour over the ginger. It will gradually turn pink as it pickles. Just before serving, slice a few chunks into thin strips.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F. Mix together the sweet chilli, honey, sesame oil, mirin, soy sauce and grated ginger and taste for seasoning. Lay the salmon fillets in a baking dish with high sides and spoon over the teriyaki sauce. Cover the dish with foil and slide it into the hot oven to cook for 10 minutes covered, then another 5 without the foil. Meanwhile, cook your chosen rice according to packet instructions.
- Prepare the pak choi by chopping off the base, separating the leaves and washing them thoroughly. Heat a wok with some flavourless oil then add the pak choi, along with the crushed garlic and some chilli flakes to taste. Allowing the leaves to wilt and the crisp stalks to soften, then squeeze in the lime juice.
- Toast the cashew nuts, mustard and poppy seeds in a dry pan over low heat, moving them regularly. When the seeds begin to jump and pop, they are ready.
- Fill a bowl with rice. Top with a fillet of salmon, pak choi, pickled ginger slices, and garnish with cashews, mustard and poppy seeds, coriander and chilli, then an extra drizzle of teriyaki sauce.