This is a spicy chicken and fennel salad with a fennel-flavoured tzatziki. I’ve made the tzatziki with soya yogurt – and I used Alpro plain. But I think that Alpro might have changed the recipe for their plain soya yogurt recently, as it tastes slightly sweet (and maybe with vanilla-flavouring?) to me now. So I’ve added more lemon juice than you would normally find in a tzatziki recipe to get the right sort of balance of flavours, and the ground fennel seeds to add some umph. (PS, Alpro, please go back to the original recipe!)
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free
Preparation time 15 minutes, plus 2 hours marinating time Cooking time 20 minutes
- 4 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 fennel bulbs, sliced lengthways
- 150g salad leaves
- 50g rocket
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt, crushed
- juice of 2 lemons
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cucumber, peeled
- 300ml soya yogurt
- juice of 2 lemons
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt, crushed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- juice and zest of ½ lemon
- Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Add the fennel seeds and dry-fry for 2-3 minutes, until they start to brown and become fragrant, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and blend in a mini-electric blender or spice grinder until finely ground and leave to one side.
- Put the chicken in a non-metallic bowl. Put 1½ teaspoons of the ground fennel seeds in a small bowl and add the paprika, cayenne, salt and lemon juice. Season with the pepper and mix well. Pour over the chicken and cover with a lid or cling film. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Working in batches, put the fennel slices onto the pan base and fry for 3–4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the pan, add another tablespoon of oil and repeat with the remaining fennel. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
- Add a further tablespoon of oil and, working in batches, put the chicken slices onto the pan base (and discard the marinade). Fry for 3–4 minutes on both sides until cooked through and browned. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more oil if needed. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
- To make the tzatziki put the cucumber in half, lengthways and remove the seeds. Grate finely, put in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave for about 15 minutes until it has released some juices. Pat dry in kitchen towel and put in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and ½ teaspoon of the ground fennel seeds. Stir well and leave in the fridge to chill until needed.
- Mix together the ingredients for the dressing plus the remaining ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds in a jug. Put the salad leaves and rocket in a bowl and add the fennel and chicken. Pour over the dressing and serve with the tzatziki.
This pastry is beautifully light and stays a golden colour, even though the tart is in the oven for 50 minutes. For this to happen, you need to add a little more water than normal – so that there is enough moisture in the pastry – making it extremely sticky! Don’t worry – I’ve included step-by-step instructions here, showing how to handle the pastry so you can roll it thinly and still get it into the tin in one piece!
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling Cooking time 50 minutes Makes enough for 1 x 20cm/8in tart tin or 4 x 10cm/4in tartlet tins
- 7 nectarines, stone removed and quartered
- 50g fruit sugar or xylitol
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 75g rice flour
- 55g gram flour
- 20g maize flour
- 50g ground almonds
- 50g fruit sugar or xylitol
- 1 tsp xanthum gum
- 80g chilled dairy-free margarine, diced
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Sift the flours, almonds, fruit sugar and xanthum gum into the bowl of a food processor and blend well. Add the dairy-free margarine and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and and then 2 tablespoons chilled water and blend for 20–30 seconds until the mixture comes together to form a light, very sticky dough.
- Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and arrange the nectarines over the base of a 20 x 30cm/8 x 12in tart tin. Sprinkle the sugar and cornflour over, covering the fruit evenly.
- Dust a large chopping board with rice flour and gently roll the pastry in the rice flour a little, so that it’s just possible to roll out initially. Roll the pastry to about 3mm thick, large enough to cover the tart tin. When the pastry becomes too sticky to work with (which it will!), cover it with a sheet of baking parchment so you can roll over it. Pick up the baking parchment and carefully lift it and place over the fruit in the tart tin (the pastry will stay stuck to the parchment enabling you to do this). Press down firmly round the sides of the tin to cut the pastry and carefully peel the parchment off the pastry, leaving the pastry on top of the fruit. Using a knife, remove any extra pastry over the sides of the tin.
- Bake for 30 minutes then remove from oven, wrap in baking parchment, and bake for a further 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is tender (use a skewer to test this). Serve either hot or cold.
I work for a publishing house, Duncan Baird Publishers, where I run a list of cookery and natural health books – commissioning and managing them. This year we published a brilliant book called The Best Recipes for Babies & Toddlers by the founder of the Planet Organic stores, Renée Elliott. As Trudie Styler says, this book “is a wonderfully inspiring book for any parent trying to provide the best possible nutritional start for their baby”. This recipe is an adaptation of one of my favourites from her book – and one that I make for Zoe because she adores it.
In this recipe Renée soaks the rice overnight, using kefir or natural yogurt with the soaking water because of their beneficial bacteria and yeast cultures. I haven’t used kefir or yogurt but I’ve still soaked the rice, which breaks down any phytic acid (that can block absorption of minerals in your system) and also makes the rice much easier to digest. Brown basmati rice is a bit of an unsung hero, I think. You get the nutritional benefits of brown rice but it’s quicker and easier to cook. Renée also uses Cheddar cheese, which I’ve substituted with soya cheese, and gluten-free Worcestershire sauce which I couldn’t find, so I’ve used tamari instead.
This is delicious hot but also cold, too – so it’s great for meals out and about. Thank you, Renée, for a wonderful recipe!
gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Preparation time 20 minutes, plus at least 7 hours soaking Cooking time 1 hour 20 minutes Serves 2 adults and 2 children
- 175g brown basmati rice
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 55g pine nuts
- dairy-free margarine, for greasing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 eggs
- 225g spinach
- 175g soya cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- Put the rice and 500ml warm water in a medium saucepan and leave to soak, covered, for 7 hours or overnight.
- Drain the rice, then return it to the pan and add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil over a high heat, stir, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes until the rice is cooked.
- Meanwhile, put the spinach in a steamer and steam, covered, over a high heat for 3–4 minutes until wilted. Remove and drain thoroughly, pressing the spinach leaves with the back of a spoon to squeeze out any remaining liquid.
- Preheat the grill to medium. Put the pine nuts on a baking sheet and grill for 2–3 minutes until lightly browned, checking frequently to ensure they don’t burn. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and grease a 20 x 20cm baking dish with dairy-free margarine. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Remove from the heat.
- Put the eggs and spinach in a blender and blend for 1–2 minutes until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the pine nuts, onion, soya cheese, tamari, thyme and rosemary to the spinach mixture and mix well. Stir in the rice, then spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
- Bake for 45 minutes until lightly browned. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then serve.