One of the most well-known Thai dishes, Pad Thai is a wonderful street food meal. It’s incredibly simple to make and can be whizzed up in minutes. But it’s easy to get it wrong. Too much sugar, too little lime juice, or lacklustre prawns are a commonplace failing. Here I’ve added just a small amount of sweetness, along with a good amount of spiciness and saltiness. And I’ve used spring onions and beansprouts but then also added sprouted seeds, including mung beans, chickpea sprouts and lentil sprouts – for added munchiness and a good dollop of nutrients. Fast food doesn’t need to be junk food – and this dish proves it in one fell scoop.
Serves 4 Preparation time 5 minutes Cooking time 8 minutes
500g/1lb 2oz rice noodles
1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
3cm/1¼in piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp shrimp paste
3 tbsp olive oil
8 spring onions, white part only, finely sliced
4 tbsp fish sauce
1½ tbsp fruit sugar or caster sugar
200g/7oz/2 cups beansprouts
200g/7oz sprouted seeds, such as mung bean, chickpea and lentil
400g/14oz cooked large prawns
2 eggs, beaten
juice 2 limes
banana leaves, to serve (optional)
100g/3½oz/⅔ cup peanuts, to serve
2 large handfuls of coriander leaves, chopped, to serve
tamari soy sauce, to serve
1. Put the noodles in a large heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until soft. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, put the chilli, garlic, ginger and shrimp paste in a mini food processor or spice mill and blend until finely chopped.
3. Heat the oil in a large wok over a medium-high heat until hot. Add the chilli mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the spring onions and stir-fry for a further minute until they soften. Pour the fish sauce in and sprinkle the sugar over. Add the beansprouts, sprouted seeds and prawns and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until cooked through but the vegetables are still slightly crunchy.
4. Push the ingredients to one side of the pan, add the egg to the other side and stir-fry the egg until cooked. Mix the egg into the other ingredients and add the cooked noodles and stir thoroughly to mix everything in. Add the lime juice and stir through. Serve immediately (on banana leaves if you like) with the peanuts and coriander scattered over, and with tamari sauce on the side.
HUGE apologies to everyone for the silence on the blogging front. I’ve been starting to write a new book – and living and breathing new recipes! But coming back onto the blog is lovely (hello everyone!) and I thought the best recipe to do would be a warming, reviving comfort food one. This recipe is utterly delicious, but also incredibly simple to make, and perfect for the weekend. Enjoy!
gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 3¼–4¼ hours
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 lamb shanks
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 leek, white part diced
- 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup dry red wine
- 375ml/13fl oz/1½ cups gluten-free and dairy-free beef or vegetable stock
- 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Working in batches, add the lamb shanks and cook, turning over, for 5 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the lamb from the pan with a slotted spoon, transfer to an ovenproof casserole and leave to one side.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/315°F/gas 2–3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2–3 minutes until starting to turn golden, then stir in the garlic. Add the carrots and leek and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, until softened. Add the red wine, stock, tomatoes, bay leaves and sage. Cover and bring to the boil over a high heat. Pour the mixture into the casserole and stir. Transfer to the oven and cook, covered, for 3–4 hours, depending on how much time you have, until the lamb is meltingly tender.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve.
The sun is streaming into the kitchen and it feels great to be making hot-weather food. Step forward salads – with zingy, fresh ingredients and clean, clear tastes. Making food in this heat becomes as simple as putting some ingredients in a bowl. And when it’s this simple, it’s supereasy to make healthy, nutrient-packed meals.
This salad is full of antioxidant-rich veggies. But the stars of the bowl are the chia seeds. They are literally bursting with vitamins, minerals and the highest amount of omega-3 in any fruit or vegetable. You can use chia seeds to thicken stews, soups, juices and smoothies, to bind flour mixtures together as a substitute for eggs when baking, but also very simply to sprinkle into stir-frys and salads. Ahhh, sunshine and superfoods – a wonderful combination!
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, nut-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes
- 150g/5½oz mixed salad leaves
- ½ cucumber, peeled and halved lengthways
- 2 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
- ½ red, orange or yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin matchsticks
- 2 spring onions, white part finely sliced
- 1 small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- To make the dressing, mix together the ingredients in a small jug.
- Using a teaspoon, deseed the cucumber by running the spoon down the centre of the cucumber. Discard the seeds and cut the cucumber into thin matchsticks. Put the cucumber and the remaining vegetables into a serving bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the dressing and the herbs and mix in gently. Sprinkle the seeds over the top and serve.
A while ago, I took Zoe to a pizza-making class at our local farmers’ market. Surrounded by other kids piling on different toppings, Zoe made a very simple pizza, using just pineapple and ham. I asked her whether she wanted to add peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, or anything else, but she was very clear that she only wanted to add the two ingredients. Of course, it’s a much-loved combination with kids but I was surprised that she didn’t go for the peppers or mushrooms as well. As she munched her way through it – very happily – it led me to think about the beauty of using just a few ingredients in dishes. At home, I often cook very simple meals – baking fish, for example, in olive oil, or grilling meat, and serving it with steamed veggies and salad. If you use good quality (preferably organic) ingredients, you can enjoy every mouthful of pure, unadulterated food.
So it makes sense that you can apply the same idea to pizza. This weekend I tried out Zoe’s combo and it was great. Peter, especially, loved it. Long live the good, simple classics!
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Serves 2 Preparation time 25 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting Cooking time 15 minutes
- 6 tbsp passata
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 220g/7¾oz tinned pineapple, drained and cut into chunks
- 50g/1¾oz Parma ham, thinly sliced
- 30–60g/1–2¼oz/⅓–⅔ cup soya cheese, shaved
- 85g/3oz/scant ½ cup brown rice flour, plus extra for rolling the dough
- 85g/3oz/¾ cup gram flour
- 30g/1¼oz/¼ cup maize flour
- scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- To make the pizza dough, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and, using a metal whisk, mix thoroughly. Add the oil and mix in. Pour in 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water and, using either a wooden spoon or your hands, mix to form a soft dough. Alternatively, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a food processor. Add the yeast and blend to mix together. Add the oil and blend well. Add 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water, a little at a time, and continue blending to form a soft dough. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Turn the dough out again onto a lightly floured surface and knead a little, then shape it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly, roll it out into a large circle about 5mm/¼in thick and neaten the edge, using a sharp knife, if you like. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.
- Put the passata and tomato purée in a bowl and mix well, then spread it over the pizza base and sprinkle with the pineapple and ham. Bake for 12 minutes until the base is starting to turn brown and the tomato sauce is bubbling. Remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the cheese over the top, then return to the oven for 3–4 minutes until the cheese has started to melt. Serve immediately.
If you’ve been watching What’s Cooking on Channel 4, you may have seen Jo Pratt cooking up a storm during the first week. I first met Jo a few years’ ago, when she was planning her first (gorgeous-looking and hugely successful) book In the Mood for Food. She wrote another after that, went off and had two beautiful babies and has returned to the world of TV, books and other foodie things with her new book Madhouse Cookbook, which I’ve been working on with her.
The premise of the book is really simple. It’s billed as a life-transforming collection of recipes for busy parents – for surviving the stressful week, coping with hectic weekends and enabling you to cling onto your social life. All of the dishes have been devised to make life easy – with shortened preparation and cooking times, brilliant plan-ahead tips and ‘Lifesaver’ and ‘Leftover’ mini-recipes to make those precious moments you spend cooking go further.
I made her Baked Seafood Paella yesterday. As Jo says, this is a “real-life recipe”. You don’t need a special paella pan and, instead of having to stir and continually do things, you simply prep it then put it in the oven and let it cook itself. It really is spectacularly easy – and it’s a great recipe if you’re having friends round for dinner, as well as a lovely one for the whole family.
gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free,
Makes: 4 adult portions Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 300g/10½oz/1⅓ cups paella rice
- 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup dry white wine
- a large pinch of saffron strands
- 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika or standard sweet paprika
- 750ml/26fl oz/3 cups hot gluten-free and dairy-free fish or chicken stock
- 500g/1lb 2oz shellfish, such as mussels and/or clams
- 2 medium squid tubes, cut into rings
- 150g/5½oz/scant 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted, or fresh green beans, chopped
- 8–12 raw, whole king prawns
- ½ small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Scrub the mussels thoroughly with a stiff brush under cold running water to remove all traces of grit, then remove any barnacles or other debris attached to the shells and pull off and discard any beards. Rinse again and discard any mussels that stay open.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
- Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and red pepper and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the rice for a minute or so until it is coated in the oil, then add the wine, saffron, paprika and stock. Stir well and bring to the boil, then bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the mussels and/or clams, squid and peas and season lightly with salt and pepper. Nestle the prawns into the surface. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through. Make sure all the prawns are pink and discard any mussel or clam shells that haven’t opened.
- Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Provide empty bowls for the shells, and a few finger bowls of warm water and plenty of napkins for messy fingers.
If your friends aren’t massively into seafood, then make your paella with chicken and chorizo. Add 150g/5½oz thickly sliced or chopped chorizo and 4 roughly chopped chicken thighs to the fried onion and cook until the chicken is golden. Add the rice and follow the recipe as above, but just using prawns and not the mussels or squid.