Weekly menu 9

This week I’m using seasonal food and as March has just begun we are talking about sardines and meaty venison. Ingredients just on their way out like mussels, sea bass and kale are also still great and easy to get your paws on.  The mussels dish is low cal coming in at around 338 calories per serving – for anyone that’s interested!

Saturday:  Baked Sardines w/ alfalfa shoot salad
Sunday: Venison w/ beetroot and horseradish pesto
Monday: Kale and olive tart
 Tuesday: Mussels with a Thai twist
Wednesday:  Leek and Stilton soup
Thursday: Lemon Spaghetti
Friday: Tandoori spiced sea bass

Baked Sardines w/ alfalfa shoot salad
8 whole sardines scaled and gutted
4 cloves garlic
1 lemon
1 fresh large red chilli (you can add another one if you like)
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp fennel seeds

For the salad:
2 tbsp flaked almonds
1 mixed bag of rocket and watercress
50 g pack of alfalfa shoots
5 or 6 sprigs of fresh mint
1 pomegranate
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

 Preheat oven to 220C/Gas 7. Put the sardines into a large roasting tray. Crush over the 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt & pepper.

Finely grate over the zest of 1 lemon, and squeeze in all the juice also add the halves to the tray, cut side up. Drizzle over a little olive oil. Finely slice the red chilli and sprinkle over.   Finely chop the parsley stalks and scatter them over, along with the fennel seeds. Roughly chop the parsley leaves and put aside. Mix well with your hands and stuff a little of the mixture inside the bodies of the sardines.

Put the roasting tray on the top shelf of the oven for around 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Scatter over the parsley when ready to serve and add some lemon wedges.

In a frying pan lightly toast your almond flakes. Tip the salad leaves and alfalfa in to a bowl. Finely slice the leaves from 5 or 6 sprigs of mint and scatter over, along with the toasted almonds. Halve a pomegranate, then hold 1 half cut side down in your hand and tap the back with a spoon so the seeds fall over the salad. Pour 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a small jug. Squeeze in the juice from the remaining pomegranate half. Add 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, mix, then dress the salad at the last minute when you are ready to serve.

Venison w/ beetroot and horseradish pesto
250 g cooked beetroot
 1 small unwaxed orange, zest only
2 tsp horseradish sauce
70 g finely grated parmesan
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley
7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 venison steaks, each about 150 g
salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 3.  Make the pesto, by putting the beetroot, orange zest, horseradish sauce, parmesan, garlic and parsley in a food processor whiz briefly. Add enough oil to form a thick paste. Season to taste and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan then add the steaks and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn and continue to cook for a further 1-2 minutes before transferring to an ovenproof dish. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of beetroot pesto, mash and any other veg of your choice.

Kale and olive tart
 500 g ready made shortcrust pastry
1 large onion , sliced
1 garlic clove , crushed
200 g kale , washed and roughly chopped
10 pitted green olives , halved
150 g Gruyère , grated
1 egg , beaten

 Heat oven to 190C/gas 5. Roll out the pastry to about 2cm thickness and line a 23cm tart tin. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Cook the onion in a large knob of butter until softened, then add the garlic and kale and cook for a few minutes until the kale has softened and wilted. Mix in the olives and cool. Stir most of the cheese and the egg into the kale mix, then tip it into the tart tin. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is crisp. Serve warm with a green salad.

Mussels with a Thai twist
2 kg mussels , cleaned
6 spring onions , roughly chopped
2 lemongrass , woody outer layers removed and roughly chopped
a thumb-sized piece ginger , roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves , roughly chopped
4 green chillies , roughly chopped
a large bunch coriander with roots
groundnut oil
400 ml tin coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 lime , juiced
1 red chilli , finely sliced

Lightly tap any mussels which are open and discard the ones that don’t close.

Put the spring onions, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, green chillies and coriander roots in a food processor and whizz to a paste. Add a splash of water if necessary.

Heat 2 tbsp groundnut (or sunflower) oil in a large, wide pan with a lid. Add the paste you just made and fry the paste for 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels, put on the lid and steam for 3-4 minutes until all the mussels are open (discard any that stay closed). Serve the mussels scattered with the coriander leaves and red chilli.

Leek and Stilton soup
25 g butter
2 medium (about 400 g) leeks, washed and thinly sliced.
250 g maris piper potatoes
1.2 litres fresh vegetable stock, hot
2 bay leaves
100 ml single cream
125 g Stilton, rind removed and crumbled, plus a little extra to serve

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes, stirring now and then, until softened but not browned.

Cut the potatoes into thick slices and add to the pan with the vegetable stock and bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are very soft. Remove from the heat.

Stir the cream and Stilton into the hot soup, then discard the bay leaves. Blitz with a handheld blender (or in batches in a liquidiser), until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.Serve sprinkled with extra Stilton and black pepper.

Lemon spaghetti
500 g dried spaghetti (you can use fresh and just adjust the cooking time accordingly)
Juice of and zest of 2-3 lemons depending on how small they are
approx 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
125 g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 large bunch fresh basil, leaves finely chopped

 Cook the spaghetti in a lots of boiling, salted water for about 10 minutes, It must still have “bite to it”.  Drain well and put it back in the pan. Whilst the pasta is boiling beat the lemon juice and zest with the olive oil, then stir in the Parmesan. Season with salt and black pepper then taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Add the sauce to the spaghetti and mix thoroughly. Scatter the chopped basil on top and serve.

Tandoori spiced sea bass
1 whole sea bass, cleaned and gutted

For the marinade:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard oil
1 clove garlic, finely sliced.
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp curry powder

For the paste:
1-2 green chillies
Bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Rinse the sea bass then pat dry with kitchen towel.

Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl large enough to fit the fish. Whiz the chilli, coriander and some salt and pepper into a paste using a blender (add a tiny bit of water if necessary) and spread over the fish. Toss in the marinade mixture and leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

Lift the fish out of the bowl and wrap in foil. Cook in the oven for 7 minutes, then turn it over and cook for a further 7 minutes.  Open your packet and check fish is cooked through before serving with rice and salad.  When things get a little warmer you can also BBQ the fish to cook it.

(Jamie Oliver, Sue Lawrence, Olive Magazine, Bengal Lancer, Delicious Magazine, JJ Moola’s Kitchen)


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