Updated: Feb 19
Oh how we miss going out for dinner! I love nothing more than exploring new food and it's something we've missed so much. Before I met Jamie, I never cooked. My mum is a great cook and always handed us beautiful dinners but when I moved it with Jamie, I had no option but to learn! Jamie is great in the kitchen, but as he worked every hour he could, I found myself with a lot of time to practice. I started with curry. Every Friday night, I would make a curry from scratch and my confidence grew from there.
During lockdown, I turned to the kitchen. It became a way for me to practice mindfulness (and get some peace). When lockdown 3 was announced, I told Jamie I didn't want to eat the same things we ate during the last lockdowns. I was going to make an effort to come up with some new recipes so I thought I'd share them here on On My Plate. I hope I can give you some inspiration.
In my recovery from chemotherapy, my brilliant oncologist Dr Jenny Westrup told me 'there is no diet for this'. She encouraged me to eat a balanced diet going forward. That was the day I challenged myself to eat 5 to 7 portions of fruit and veg a day. I've since learned about Crowding Out. It's not about cutting anything out of your diet, but adding more fruit and veg and in turn leaving less room for unhealthy food. Don't get me wrong, I love the odd takeaway and I eat chocolate every single day, but my diet is much more rich in fruit and veg than it ever was before. And I feel so many benefits. For example, if I want a big bowl of pasta, I'll add some veg in and I have discovered some really tasty recipes, which I'll share here every week.
So I'll start with the pasta I had this week. A simple linguine topped with broccoli. I sautéed up some onion and garlic, adding some cherry tomatoes and chilli flakes while the pasta cooked. In the meantime, I put some broccoli on our griddle pan, with a tiny bit of oil. I turn the broccoli after a few minutes on each side. Add the pasta to the onion, garlic, tomatoes and chilli flakes, top with a little extra virgin, parmesan cheese and a drizzle of lemon. Serve with the broccoli on top. A really tasty, super quick dinner while making sure to get some veg on my plate too.
Next on my plate this week was a gorgeous butternut squash salad, which usually stretches to two lunches for both Jamie and I. Our friend Eamon popped over during the summer for a trail run and brought this delicious salad with him and we've been making it ever since. It's handy to buy the pre chopped butternut squash and I know it's available in Dunnes Stores and Tesco.
Lay out your butternut squash and coat in a small bit of olive oil and at least two teaspoons of harrisa paste (we stock up in Tesco). Pre-heat your oven to 180 and put the squash in for about 30-35 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir often. In the meantime, make some cous cous. This is something I was always afraid of until I realised how simple it was to make. I used to buy boil in the bag but now I just measure out 200g of cous cous, add 250 ml of boiling water. Leave it sitting in a big bowl for 2 minutes (covered). Fluff it out with a fork after 2 minutes. Pour some pumpkin seeds into a dry pan and toast them for a few minutes. When your squash is cooked add to the cous cous, pour over the pumpkin seeds and add some raw spinach. Then I mix half a teaspoon of harissa with some extra virgin olive oil and use this as my dressing. You could use some tahini instead. When I serve the salad that's when I add the sprinkle of feta.
On Fridays, we usually pick up some gorgeous fish in our local fish shop in Stepaside, George's. But you have to get there early. There is almost always a queue outside every day and they sell the most beautiful fish. In the summer, we'd often pick up some prawn skewers for the BBQ and have some spicy rice with it. However, these days we've been buying a whole fish. Last week, it was sea bream. We stuff it with some lemon and dill and put it on the BBQ. So delicious
I've been eating lots of asparagus this month and it's also so tasty to sprinkle with some smoked paprika and olive oil and cook alongside the fish on the BBQ
If we are going all out on a Saturday night, I'll pick up some crab claws in Dunnes and Jamie cooks them in some butter, garlic and black pepper. I absolutely adore the flavour. Crab claws are also really easy to make when you have people over and always go down really well.
Also on my plate this week, we tried hassleback potatoes for the first time. We used Jamie Oliver's recipe, but I would recommend leaving them in for a little longer than he says. We would usually just bake potatoes for our steaks on a Saturday night, but these were a gorgeous alternative and so easy to do.
So there you go! I hope this gave you some inspiration for some dinners this week. We are definitely trying to make an effort to come up with some new ideas every week and add some variety. See you next week!