OK. I will admit it. I have put on four pounds over the last few weeks. Meal times (and a glass or two of crisp white wine) seem to have a heightened appeal during lockdown don’t they. If, like me, you are finding this new, more sedentary lifestyle is making your clothes shrink (!), then you may be keen to see a few fabulously healthy, low fat lunch (or indeed, supper) recipes that I have discovered…
Tomato, Lemongrass & Rice Soup
Am not really a huge fan of tomato but I loved this soup the recipe which I found at Olive Magazine. It was filling so I didn’t feel deprived. Most of the ingredients are storecupboard staples, so it ticked that box as well.
INGREDIENTS – SERVES 2: 1 tbsp oil, crushed garlic clove, grated 2cm piece fresh ginger, finely sliced red chilli, 2 lemongrass stalks, 400g tin chopped tomatoes, 3 tbsp cooked rice, quarter tspn each cumin seeds and ground coriander. 2 tbsp tamarind puree if you have any (I didn’t!)
HOW TO PREPARE: Heat the oil in a pan and cook the garlic, ginger, chilli and lemongrass for 2 mins. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute then tip in the tomatoes, tamarind and 600ml of water and simmer for 5 mins. Blitz until smooth and season. Put the soup back on the hob, add the rice and simmer for 10 mins or until the rice is tender. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander if liked.
Spicy Spaghetti with Garlic Mushrooms
This works brilliantly for those of us with hearty appetites but low fat requirements. From one of my fave recipe websites – BBC Goodfood. Easily halved if just two of you.
INGREDIENTS – SERVES 4: 2 tbsp olive oil, 250g sliced Chestnut mushrooms, sliced clove garlic, small bunch parsley, finely chopped celery stick, finely chopped onion, 400g can tomatoes, half finely sliced red chilli and 300g spaghetti.
HOW TO PREPARE: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add the mushrooms, then fry over a high heat for 3 mins until golden and softened. Add the garlic, fry for 1 min more, then tip into a bowl with the parsley. Add the onion and celery to the pan with the rest of the oil, then fry for 5 mins until lightly coloured.
Stir in the tomatoes, chilli and a little salt, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 mins until thickened. Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti, then drain. Toss with the sauce, top with the garlicky mushrooms, then serve.
Thai Red Duck With Sticky Pineapple Rice
I absolutely love duck. It is packed full of flavour and quick to cook. This recipe is by Sarah Cook.
INGREDIENTS – SERVES 2: 2 skinless duck breasts, 1tbsp Thai red curry paste, zest/juice one lime, 140g jasmine rice, 125ml light coconut milk, 140g frozen peas, 50g beansprouts, half diced red onion, 100g fresh or tinned pineapple, finely sliced red chilli and quarter pack of coriander (stalks finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped)
HOW TO PREPARE: Sit a duck breast between 2 sheets of cling film on a chopping board. Use a rolling pin to bash the duck until it is 0.5cm thick. Repeat with the other breast, then put them both in a dish. Mix the curry paste with the lime zest and juice, and rub all over the duck. Leave to marinate at room temperature for 20 mins.
Meanwhile, tip the rice into a small saucepan with some salt. Pour over the coconut milk with 150ml water. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan, turn the heat down low and cook for 5 more mins. Stir in the peas, then cover, turn the heat off and leave for another 10 mins. Check the rice – all the liquid should be absorbed and the rice cooked through. Boil the kettle, put the beansprouts and red onion in a colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water. Stir the beansprouts and onion into the rice with the pineapple, chilli and coriander stalks, and some more salt if it needs it, and put the lid back on to keep warm.
Heat a griddle pan and cook the duck for 1-2 mins each side or until cooked to your liking. Slice the duck, stir most of the coriander leaves through the rice with a fork to fluff up, and serve alongside the duck, scattered with the remaining coriander.
Turmeric Broth with Chicken and Ginger Dumplings
Ready within half an hour, this is another recipe from Olive Magazine and it’s ready in 30 minutes. Turmeric is an amazing spice – read more here.
INGREDIENTS – SERVES 4: 50g sliced fresh ginger, 1.5L chicken stock, 3 spring onions, 2 star anise, 2 – 3 tsp ground turmeric, 200g chopped baby leaf greens, 300g cooked egg noodles and one finely chopped red chilli.
For the dumplings: 500g chicken or turkey breast mince, 1 tbsp grated ginger, half red chilli, handful finely chopped coriander, sesame oil, 1 tbsp cornflour, one egg white.
HOW TO PREPARE: Put the sliced ginger, chicken stock, spring onion greens, star anise and turmeric in a large pan. Bring to a simmer and cook with a lid on for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely chop the spring onion whites and put in a bowl with the chicken mince, grated ginger, chilli, coriander, 1 tsp of sesame oil, the cornflour and egg white. Season with salt and white pepper then mix well and roll into balls.
Strain the broth and return it to the pan. Add the chicken dumplings and simmer for 8-10 minutes until cooked through (add the greens and the noodles for the last couple of minutes). Finish with the chilli and a drizzle of sesame oil, if you like.
Ras El Hanout and Honey Chicken Thighs
Chicken, as I’m sure you already know, is the world’s most popular meat. As chicken thighs are tasty as well as economical, I always have some in my freezer. They are especially good for homemade chicken soup. If you like a bit of spice and sweetness, this recipe is a good one to have in your repertoire. We ate ours with a beansprout salad (which is also finger licking good!).
INGREDIENTS – SERVES 4: 8 chicken thighs, 2 tbsp ras el hanout, 2 tbsp runny honey, 1 tbsp salt flakes, 1 juiced lemon, 3 bashed garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves and 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
HOW TO PREPARE: Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and toss really well. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Remove from the fridge 20 minutes before you start cooking.
Heat your oven to 200C/fan 180C/ gas 6. Put the thighs skin-side up in a foil lined tray, drizzle lightly with oil and roast for 40 minutes until charred and cooked through.
Tastes great accompanied by this spicy beansprout salad.