Sprat and Bulgar Wheat Cabbage Salad

I threw these ingredients together with surprisingly good results. Sprats are also known as whitebait; they’re one of the cheapest fish available in supermarkets although you can usually only get them at deli counters.

Remove the heads and tails of 100g (around eight) sprats, cut in half along one side of the spine and remove the spine by pinching it at one end and running your fingers down the length of the spine (this seems to be the quickest and most effective method). Boil 1/3 cup bulgar wheat in water with a pinch of salt for ten minutes, or until cooked through, then strain. Fry in a little oil a generous handful of red cabbage, shredded, one clove of garlic, finely sliced, and two mushrooms, sliced, until the cabbage is beginning to soften. Push to the side and lay the sprats skin-down in the pan and cook until the flesh turns opaque, then stir into the vegetable mixture with the bulgar wheat, the seeds from 1/3 pomegranate and 1/4 tsp each of coriander, turmeric and cocoa powder. Season with black pepper and serve.

Serves one.

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Ploughman’s Style Couscous Salad

I’m eating this as I type – for something I just threw together it turned out surprisingly well!

Cover 1/4 cup couscous with 1/2 cup boiling water, add a pinch of salt or stock powder, cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Finely dice 1/2 apple, 1-2 inches of plantain and 1-2 inches of courgette, and shred a handful of spinach. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the vegetables, 1 tbsp sweet pickle or chutney, a pinch of sage, a pinch of thyme and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle over a small handful of grated cheese.

Serves 1

Variations:

  • Omit the cheese for vegan
  • I haven’t tried this but it should go well with thinly sliced cooked ham or pork
  • Mixed herbs can be used instead of the sage and thyme if you don’t have them to hand
  • Spinach should be substitutable with other robust salad leaves.

Buckwheat Salad

Cover 1/4 cup buckwheat groats with boiling water and simmer over a low heat for five to ten minutes. Meanwhile, mix together a handful of lettuce leaves, shredded, one cooked beetroot, finely diced, about two inches of plantain, finely diced, 1/3 red bell pepper, finely diced and a small amount of brie or other cheese, thinly sliced. Strain the buckwheat and stir in 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, a pinch of ground ginger and a pinch of cumin. Pour the buckwheat over the salad.

Serves 1 – can be eaten hot or cold.

Variations:

  • Any raw or pre-cooked vegetables can be used in the salad, depending on what you have in the fridge.
  • Omit the brie for vegan.

Thai Prawn Noodle Soup

Adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe I tore out of a magazine years ago.

Snap and cook 1 portion of noodles (egg, udon, instant etc) according to packet instructions. While the noodles are cooking, thinly slice 1/4 green bell pepper, 1/4 courgette and 1 clove garlic, then fry in oil over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until beginning to soften. Turn down the heat and add 1 tbsp curry paste, 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, a pinch of chilli flakes and a large handful of frozen cooked prawns. Cook for 3-4 minutes until prawns are heated through. Stir in the noodles.

Serves 1; the soup base keeps in the fridge for a few days but it’s best to cook the noodles fresh for each portion otherwise they go soggy on reheating.

Variations:

  • Also very good with sliced button mushrooms, added with the prawns.
  • The original recipe called for pak choi; I’ve also made this with spinach and chard. The stalks can be cooked with the garlic and leaves added with the prawns.
  • For a hotter variation use a thinly sliced chilli pepper instead of the chilli flakes; fry them with the garlic
  • You can use thai curry paste for this, although I don’t usually have it in the cupboard.

Eggy Buckwheat Salad

Boil 1/3 cup raw buckwheat groats and 1-2 bay leaves in water for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Strain and remove the bay leaves. Meanwhile, mix together 1 medium carrot, grated, 1/3 plantain, diced, a large handful of sweetcorn. Separate 1 egg and mix the yolk into the hot buckwheat. Fry the white in a little oil, then slice and mix into the buckwheat along with the rest of the ingredients and a dash (about 1/2 tsp) soy sauce.

Serves 1.

Variations:

  • Cous cous can be used instead of buckwheat. Pour 2/3 cup boiling water over 1/3 cup cous cous, cover, and leave to stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  • Any vegetables which can be eaten raw can be substituted into this recipe – thinly sliced or grated courgette, sliced olives, mushrooms, fresh peas, etc.
  • The white can be left out and used to make meringues or added to pancakes later
  • I haven’t tried this, but the plantain could probably be substituted for unripe (green) banana if plantains aren’t available