Friday, January 8, 2016

Good food and box sets - the only way to recover from the excesses of Christmas

Is it just me or are there others out there who think the festive season ought to be renamed exhaustion season? While it was lovely to catch up with family and friends over Christmas and New Year, the endless whirlwind of cooking, eating, drinking, socialising and staying up late wore me out and I'm only just beginning to recover.

The weather probably had its part to play too. Here in Dingle and all over Ireland, it didn't stop raining for days. And by rain, I'm not talking about a light shower. No, we're talking torrential downpours here. This meant that the only time I got out of the house was when I ran to the car to venture to the shops for more supplies or to the pub to meet up with friends!

Nor did I succeed in sticking to the OMS diet 100% of the time. It was next to impossible considering the amount of chocolate and mince pies in the house!
However, I didn't stray too much. I'd taken precautions by preparing batches of OMS-friendly treats such as these cookies and raw brownies so I was able to tuck into those whenever I felt tempted. And I'm very much back on the wagon now, using the power of good food to help me get over the exertions of Christmas*.

One of the dishes I've been cooking a lot lately is this one: spiced cauliflower and leeks with green beans and freekeh.

It's a dish that quick and easy to make. Its seasonal ingredients are affordable and widely available in the shops. It's packed with nutritional goodness. And for anyone who doesn't know what freekeh is, it's an ancient grain with a nutty flavour. Once confined to health stores, it's now stocked in many supermarkets. But don't worry if you can't find it. Feel free to substitute with any other wholegrain. I'd recommend bulgur wheat for its similar flavour and texture.

The following portions serve one.

50g freekeh (or alternative wholegrain)
150g cauliflower, approximately one quarter of a head of cauliflower
100g leeks, approximately one leek
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons water
70g green beans
Some chopped coriander

  • Start by preparing your vegetables. Remove the tough stalk from the cauliflower and tear the remainder into small florets. Remove the hairy root from the leek, peel off its tough outer layer and then chop what remains into one-centimetre-long rounds. Top and tail the green beans and cut them in half.
  • Place your freekeh in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Place the olive oil in a wok or frying pan (be sure to use one that has a lid). Add the spices and salt. Add the cauliflower florets and chopped leeks and toss so that the veggies are covered in the spicy oil. Add the water. 
  • Place a lid on the wok/frying pan and place it over a medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to make sure none of the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Five minutes before your freekeh is due to be cooked, add the green beans to the pan with the grains and cover with a lid.
  • Once fifteen minutes are up, toss the contents of the two pans together. Add some chopped coriander and combine thoroughly. Taste and add a touch more salt if necessary.
  • A fried or poached egg makes a delicious addition to this dish.
  • May we all eat this well in the year to come!

* Now that the weather is better, I'm able to exercise more too. Long walks in the fresh air with my always enthusiastic dog Jimmy are just the thing to lift the spirits. And so too are dark evenings curled up on the sofa with the latest season of the Bridge. I'm looking forward to watching Making a Murderer next. Have any of you seen it?

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  1. I'd been wondering where you'd been for the past while! So glad you're back! This recipe sounds like just the thing for tonight's dinner. I'll pick up some cauliflower on the way home from work. I think I've got everything else.

  2. Hi Steph,
    Nice to hear from you and thanks so much for your kind comments! Did you make this dish? I'd love to hear how it turned out for you.

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