Chinese chicken salad

Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients in the dressing. It is well worth it and you will mostly have them in the pantry if you like Asian-style cooking. This is one of my favorite salads.

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Serves 6

For the Sesame-ginger dressing
3 tbsp Chinese mustard
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 medium piece of ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (available in most supermarkets)
1/2 tbsp sweet chilli paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make the dressing;

Put the mustard in a blender and then add the sesame oil, olive oil, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, sweet chilli sauce and salt and pepper (go lightly on the salt because of the soy sauce).
Give it a quick blend and check for seasoning.

For the chicken salad

1 medium Napa cabbage, washed and shredded
1 medium iceberg lettuce, washed and thinly sliced
1 medium romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 cup snow peas, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
6 chicken breasts, (6 oz each) cooked and diced
Garnishes for the salad
crispy wontons (available in supermarkets)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted

To make the salad

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, lettuces, peppers, snow peas, peanuts, green onions, carrots, beansprouts and diced chicken.
Toss together with the sesame-ginger dressing until well combined.
Divide the salad among 6 plates and garnish with the crispy wontons, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.

Peanut-sesame slaw with soba noodles

Sometimes you come across a recipe from a fellow food blogger, like this one from  “Cookies and Kate” that needs no adjusting and is just the perfect complete meal. This is a very flexible slaw and depending on your food restrictions, you can leave out the soba noodles, use gluten free pasta, leave out the Brussels sprouts, and even use pre-shredded slaw mix (you will need 12 cups of slaw mix, if so)
This can be vegan, gluten free, low calorie but whatever else, it is tasty and healthy!
Being an Asian food nut, this touches all the “scintilla” in my taste buds. Hope it does for you too!

Serves 4 to 8

4 oz soba noodles
1 small purple or green cabbage, sliced into quarters and core removed
1/2 lb (about 12) Brussels sprouts, optional
4 carrots, peeled
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds

Peanut-sesame dressing
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp reduced-sodium tamari or other soy sauce
2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced


Sprinkle of coarsely chopped peanuts
handful of coarsely chopped cilantro
1 lime, sliced into wedges

Cook the soba noodles;  bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water before returning to the pot.

Prepare the vegetables;  This is easier in a food processor than by hand. if using a food processor, shred the cabbage and sprouts with the slicing disk, then grate the carrots using the grating disk. or use a chef’s knife to chop the cabbage and sprouts into thin strips, then coarsely grate the carrots.

Prepare the dressing;  In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth.

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked soba noodles, shredded cabbage and sprouts, grated carrots and chopped scallions.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat (you may or may not need all the dressing).
For best flavor, let the slaw marinate for 20 minutes before serving.

Serve the slaw with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts, torn cilantro and a lime wedge.

You can halve this recipe by using only 6 cups of pre-shredded slaw mix and roughly halving the dressing ingredients.

Fish tacos with lime, cilantro and chipotle cream

Another low calorie recipe, and this is great because of the combination of fish, lime, cilantro, corn tortillas and the divine chipotle cream.
I feel like I have to post a few of these “lighter” recipes, given it’s January and everyone is trying to stick to their new Year’s resolutions. (for now)

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1 lb white flaky fish, like Chilean sea bass, cod, halibut or tilapia

1/2 cup plain nonfat yoghurt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage or lettuce
1/2 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Pour over the fish fillets and let marinate for 20 minutes.
Put the yoghurt into a strainer lined with paper towel and place over a bowl to drain and thicken for 20 minutes.

Remove the fish from the marinade and grill or fry on a preheated grill pan or non stick pan over a medium heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
Set the fish aside on a plate for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the thickened yoghurt, mayonnaise and chipotle pepper.

Heat the tortillas on the grill pan for 30 secs on each side.

Flake the fish with a fork. Top each tortilla with 1 tbsp of the chipotle cream. Top with some fish, cabbage, corn and cilantro and serve with the lime wedges

Pan-fried sea bass on a bed of caramelized red cabbage

There is only one word for this. DIVINE!!
Push the boat out and make this for a special occasion.
You can use halibut or cod instead of sea bass if you like. The sauce is incredible and if you can get the frozen concentrated veal stock we get here in certain markets like Gelsons, it’s well worth it (“Perfect Additions” or “Stock Options” are my favorite brands)

Serves 4

4 x 6 – 7oz fillets of thick, meaty white fish, with skin left on
1 medium sized red cabbage, shredded
3 oz unsalted butter
1/2 pint creme de cassis
1/4 pint veal stock
salt and pepper

For the sauce
1/2 pint fish stock
1/4 pint Noilly Prat
1/4 pint dry white wine
1/4 pint veal stock
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp chopped shallots
1/2 pint heavy cream

Make three incisions on the skin of each fillet of fish with a sharp knife.
Place the red cabbage in a saucepan with 1 oz of the butter.
Add the wine, cassis and veal stock. Bring to the boil and simmer gently on a low heat for approximately 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the cabbage has caramelized. Stir occasionally. Check for seasoning.

To make the sauce, place all the ingredients except the cream in a pan and reduce by 2/3 by fast boiling.
Add the cream and reduce again until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon generously.
Remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve.

Heat the remaining butter in a pan until hot and seal the fish on the flesh side, then turn over onto the skin. Cook over a medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes.

To serve, divide the cabbage on to four shallow soup bowls or plates. Lay the fish skin side up on top and pour the sauce around the fish.

Crunchy Thai quinoa salad

I just love quinoa and it is so readily available in most supermarkets these days.
This recipe takes a regular quinoa salad up a notch and is really different and refreshing.

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup quinoa, prepared according to the package instructions
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup green onions, diced
1 cup shelled edamame
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil (or toasted sesame oil)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl and set aside to cool

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sesame oil, lime juice, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and salt and pepper.

Once the quinoa has come to room temperature add all the vegetables.
pour the dressing over the top and toss to combine. Serve cold or at at room temperature.

Prep time 20 mins


Szechwan Slaw (CleanCuisine)

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I intend to make this as a side on Christmas Eve alongside the crown roast of pork  This is delicious and tangy with the freshly grated ginger giving it a real fresh and clean taste. It’s also great with a piece of broiled salmon as a very low fat meal

Serves 8

The Szechwan Dressing

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red chile flakes
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
salt to taste

The salad

3 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 large red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1/4 lb snow peas, sliced thinly and diagonally
1/8 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

To prepare the dressing

In a bowl combine the vinegar, canola, sugar, ginger, red chile flakes, cilantro and salt. Set aside

To prepare the salad

Toast the almonds until golden brown and they start to smell great! You can use a toaster oven or regular oven. It should take about 7 minutes  at 350F. Set aside to cool or do in advance.

Combine the red and green cabbages, red pepper, scallions, carrot, snow peas and sesame seeds.

Fifteen minutes before serving time, toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing, as this allows the flavors to meld while keeping the crisp vegetables intact.

Baked gnocchi with pesto and mozzarella

Serves 4    My nephew, Alessio made this and it was extremely successful.
2 1lb packs of ready made gnocchi
1/4 Savoy cabbage, thinly shredded
7 oz ball fresh mozzarella cheese
4 oz gorgonzola cheese, cut into small cubes
3 – 4 tbsp good pesto sauce
juice of half a lemon
1 -2 tbsp olive oil, to drizzle
grated parmesan cheese, to serve
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Put the gnocchi in a large pan of salted boiling water and cook until they float to the surface. (be careful not to overcook)
Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a large bowl
Add the cabbage to the gnocchi water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Drain well and mix with the gnocchi.
Stir through the cheeses and the pesto.
Squeeze over the lemon juice then season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and cook for 25 to 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and slightly colored.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese if desired.

Creamy avocado and white bean wrap

White beans mashed with ripe avocado and blended with sharp Cheddar and onion makes an incredibly rich, flavorful filling for this wrap. The tangy, spicy slaw adds crunch. A pinch (or more) of ground chipotle pepper and an extra dash of cider vinegar can be used in place of the canned chipotles in adobo sauce. Serve with tortilla chips, salsa. and 

1. Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle chile and salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage, carrot and cilantro; toss to combine.
2. Mash beans and avocado in another medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in cheese and onion.
3. To assemble the wraps, spread about 1/2 cup of the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap (or tortilla) and top with about 2/3 cup of the cabbage-carrot slaw. Roll up. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut the wraps in half to serve, if desired.
Ingredient Note: Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapeños packed in a flavorful sauce. Look for the small cans with the Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Once opened, they’ll keep at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.