Kale Polpettes with Watercress Pesto

Kale polpette with watercress pesto

This is my new favourite pasta dish. The polpettes are filling, nutritious and tasty. The watercress pesto, apart from being amazingly simple to make, is delicious and really lifts the dish. The polpettes can be made ahead and frozen, and you can make the pesto in the time it takes to cook the pasta, making this dish perfect for weekday dinners when time is short but you really deserve a treat.



(Serves 4)

250g kale, leaves only (discard woody stalks)

400g tin green lentils, drained and rinsed

1 large egg

125g fresh breadcrumbs

75g Parmesan, finely grated

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to grease

1 garlic clove

zest and juice of 1 lemon

75g hazelnuts

100g watercress

200g Spaghetti/Tagliatelle



Kale polpette with chunky watercress pesto





    • Preheat oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ gas mark 4
    • Line a baking tray with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
    • In a large pan, gently cook the kale for 3 minutes in 75ml water. Set aside to cool.
    • Put the lentils, egg, breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a food processor. Whiz to form a thick paste. Squeeze the water out of the kale and add to the food processor with some salt and pepper, then whiz to combine.
    • With lightly greased hands, roll the kale mixture into 20 balls. Set them on the prepared tray and brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, to make the pesto, put the garlic, lemon zest and juice, the remaining oil, hazelnuts and 75g of the watercress, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 100ml water into the food processor and whiz together to form a chunky paste.
    • Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and reserve 75ml of the cooking liquid.
    • Return the pasta to the empty pan and toss through the pesto, polpettes and the reserved cooking liquid. Check the seasoning. Divide among the plates and garnish with the remaining watercress and dollops of pesto.

Kale Polpette with pesto



Chocolate bark with ginger, cranberries and pumpkin seeds

Chocolate Bark


I made this chocolate bark as a Christmas gift for my neighbours, but now I’m thinking about it, it is actually perfect for a post-Christmas healthy treat. I used a very dark chocolate for this, 85%. This type of chocolate doesn’t have much sugar and is full of antioxidants. You can of course use any topping you like for this bark. I went for the warming flavour of ginger. I also added dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. The edible gold stars were just to give it a bit of Christmas sparkle. I think next time I’ll use goji berries, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds and feel very virtuous!



300g 85% dark chocolate (100g is approximately 1 bar of chocolate, so you can adjust the quantities accordingly).

A handful of crystallised ginger, finely chopped

A handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

A handful of cranberries

Edible gold stars

Chocolate Bark with Ginger, Cranberries and Pumpkin seeds




  • Put the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan and gently heat until you hear them starting to pop. Set aside and leave to cool.
  • Line a baking tray with a silicon mat, greaseproof paper or cling film.
  • Melt the chocolate very gently in a bain marie by breaking the chocolate into small pieces and putting them in a heatproof bowl. Put about 1 inch of hot water in a saucepan and sit the bowl over the pan, but so it is not touching the water. Allow the chocolate to melt. Be patient, if you rush the process, the chocolate won’t like it and will seize up.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into your baking tray. You can make the layer as thin as you like. Using a spatula, make sure the chocolate has spread evenly. Sprinkle over your toppings and leave to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • When the chocolate has set, turn it out of the tin and either snap into pieces or cut into squares. If you want to cut the chocolate into squares, the chocolate shouldn’t be set completely hard.

Christmas Chocolate Bark



Individual Butternut Squash and Feta Pies

Butternut Squash, feta and spinach pie

The nights are still long, the weather forecast is for a cold snap and I’m looking for comfort food. These individual pies pack a punch with flavour and are full of goodness, exactly what is needed for the long January nights. The original recipe is from Tesco’s Real Food magazine and can be found here: http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/individual-squash-and-feta-pot-pies.html


2 red onions, cut into wedges

1kg (2Ib) butternut squash, cut into small chunks

1 red chilli, seeded and chopped

3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

2 tablespoon olive oil

200g baby spinach Seasonal ingredient

1 x 200g pack feta, crumbled

handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 x 375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

Butternut squash, feta, red onion pies

  • Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Put the onions, squash, chilli and thyme in a large roasting tin. Drizzle with the oil and season well. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until tender. Set aside to cool a little.
  • Fill a kettle with fresh water and boil. Put the spinach in a colander set over the sink and pour over the boiling water to wilt. Refresh under the cold tap, then squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Tip the spinach onto a board and roughly chop.
  • Add the spinach, feta and parsley to the squash mixture and toss to combine; season to taste. Divide the mixture between 4 x 300ml (1/2pt) pie dishes, adding 1 tbsp of water to each. Unroll the pastry and cut out 4 lids, one to fit each pie dish; set aside. Press the pastry trimmings round the rim of each dish and brush with beaten egg. Top each pie with a pastry lid, crimp to seal, and brush all over with the beaten egg. Make a small steam hole in the centre of each.
  • Arrange the pies on a baking tray and cook for 25-30 minutes, until puffed and golden. Serve immediately.

Butternut squash individual pies

Middle Eastern Mezze

Group shot

For this New Year’s Eve, I wanted something light after the obligatory Christmas over indulgence, but still luxurious and decadent. When I saw Greg Malouf’s New Year’s Eve Middle Eastern Mezze menu in the December 2015 edition of Sainsbury’s magazine, I was immediately drawn to the jewel colour of the pomegranate and the warmth of the oranges. Being a vegetarian, I didn’t make the Lamb kibbeh, but there was more than enough variety without it. I also added some hummus, mini pitas and olives, just for the sake of it. The beauty of this meal is that it is perfect for any time of year, not just New Year’s Eve.

Mezze for 8 (I used just under half the ingredients in each recipe)

Teta’s pie

Citrus and fennel salad with almond-cherry goats’ cheese balls

Preserved lemon guacamole

Celeriac with tahini and raisins

Toasted Quinoa with coriander, lime and crunchy butternut squash

Layered Christmas curd and Christmas spice biscuits


Teta’s Pie

This can be made a day in advance. 365 Calories per serving

Teta's pie solo


1x500g pack trimmed leeks, well washed and finely sliced

75g butter

1 onion, finely diced

1 x 80g pack watercress, roughly chopped

1 tsp dried mint

½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated

1 x 200g pack feta cheese, crumbled

50g Grana Padano cheese, finely grated

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

100g unsalted butter, melted

1 x 220g pack filo pastry

1 tsp smoked paprika, thyme and garlic spice blend



  • Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the leeks and poach for 3-5 minutes or until tender and drain well.
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan and gently sauté the onion for around 8-10 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the leeks to the pan, together with the watercress, dried mint and nutmeg. Continue cooking until the watercress is wilted.
  • Add the cheeses and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper. Taste and season with salt if needed. With the heat on low, tip in the eggs and stir gently; they will just thicken the mixture. Tip onto a large plate to cool before assembling the pie.
  • When ready to bake your pie, preheat the oven to 180⁰C/160⁰C fan/ Gas 4. Brush a rectangular baking tin (around 25cm x 30cm x 4cm) with melted butter.
  • Lay 8 sheets of the filo in the tin, brushing each with melted butter as you go. Add the filling and smooth it over evenly. Top with the remaining 4 sheets of pastry, again brushing with butter as you go. Use a serrated knife to score the pie through the top layer of pastry into 16 portions. Sprinkle over the spice blend, and then bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm.


Citrus and fennel salad with almond-cherry goats’ cheese balls

The goats’ cheese balls can be made a day ahead.

336 Calories per serving

Citrus and fennel salad



For the almond-cherry goats’ cheese balls

75g almonds, skins on

25g unsalted butter

25g dried cherries, finely chopped

For the salad

4 oranges

2 red grapefruit

2 heads of white or red chicory

2 medium fennel bulbs, finely sliced

2 shallots finely sliced (I used red onion)

1 x 70g pack wild rocket (I used kale)

2 tablespoons tarragon leaves

4 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Seeds of 1 pomegranate

For the pomegranate dressing

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon thyme leaves

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  • To make the almond-cherry goats’ cheese balls, roast the almonds in a dry frying pan for a few minutes. Chop almonds in a food processor to the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the almonds and cherries for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool.
  • Roll the goats’ cheese into small balls, and then roll carefully in the cold almond-cherry mixture so they are evenly coated. Set aside in the fridge on a covered plate until needed.
  • To make the salad, use a very sharp knife to cut off the peel from the oranges and the grapefruit, taking care to remove all the pith. Hold the fruit over a large bowl to catch the juice, and then slice each segment out of its skin into the bowl.
  • Combine 75ml of the citrus juice with the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Adjust the seasoning to your liking and set aside.
  • When ready to serve, drain any extra juice from the citrus segments and discard, then add the remaining salad ingredients, other than the pomegranate seeds, to the bowl and pour in enough dressing to coat lightly. Mix everything together and gently tip onto a serving platter. Tuck in the goats’ cheese balls in among the salad, then scatter on the pomegranate seeds and serve straight away.


Preserved lemon guacamole

Prepare up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and Chill.

96 Calories per serving

Preserved lemon guacamole


2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, deseeded and cut into small pieces

½ small red onion, very finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped

1 x 31g pack coriander, leaves chopped

1 preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed with ½ teaspoon salt

Juice of 2 limes

2 ripe large avocados

Extra-virgin olive oil and sumac, to serve



  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomato, onion, chilli, coriander and preserved lemon. Whisk the crushed garlic into the lime juice and add to the bowl. Dice the avocado into small cubes, add to the bowl and mix everything together gently, then taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sumac.


 Celeriac with tahini and raisins

This can be made a few hours ahead, cover and chill. Stir through before serving.

285 Calories per serving

Celeriac solo


125ml cloudy apple juice

125g raisins

1 small celeriac (about 400g)

4 large gherkins (about 125g), finely chopped

1 x 28g pack flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped

200ml mayonnaise

4 tablespoons tahini, well-stirred

Juice of ½ a lemon



  • Bring the apple juice to the boil in a small saucepan, then pour onto the raisins in a bowl; set aside for at least 5 minutes.
  • Peel the celeriac and finely shred it. Use a food processor or a mandolin.
  • Drain the raisins, reserving the juice. Add them to the celeriac, together with the chopped gherkins and parsley.
  • Mix the mayonnaise with the tahini and reserved apple juice. Add the lemon juice bit by bit until you like the balance of nutty tartness in the dressing. Dollop it onto the celeriac and toss everything together well, season to taste.

Toasted Quinoa with coriander, lime and crunchy butternut squash

You can cook the quinoa the day before, cover and chill. Fry the squash up to 2 hours ahead. Combine the quinoa and salad ingredients up to 2 hours ahead, but add the fried squash just before serving.

196 Calories per serving

Quinoa solo



200g quinoa

700ml vegetable stock or water

300g peeled squash, coarsely grated

Vegetable oil, for frying (about 1.5 litres)

1 tsp ground cumin

6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

8 cherry tomatoes on the vine, diced

1 tsp smoked paprika, thyme and garlic spice blend

1 x 31g pack coriander, leaves shredded

For the lime-sumac dressing

Juice of 1 lime

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp sumac

1 tsp ground cumin


  • Heat a saucepan and toast the quinoa for 2-3 minutes, stirring to ensure it colours evenly. Add the stock or water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until al dente. Tip into a sieve and set aside.
  • Squeeze the grated squash in a tea towel to extract as much moisture as you can.
  • Pour a 3cm depth of vegetable oil into a large, deep pan and heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the squash to the oil and cook for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat, moving it constantly to ensure it colours evenly. Lift out with a draining spoon and shake the excess oil then put the squash onto kitchen paper. You may have to cook the squash in batches. Sprinkle with cumin and set aside.
  • To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients together, season to taste and then set aside.
  • Tip the quinoa into a serving bowl and toss through the spring onions, tomatoes, and spice blend. Add the dressing and stir well. Mix in the herbs and top with the fried squash just before serving.

 Layered Christmas curd and Christmas spice biscuits

Christmas dessert

This is basically a free style recipe which I ‘borrowed’ from my mum. It’s perfect for when you want something sweet at the end of a meal, but you want it to be light. It’s also great if you have spent hours in the kitchen preparing the main course and you just can’t face a full on complex dessert. You can change the flavours of the curd to suit your taste. You can also substitute the crème fraiche for yoghurt or sour cream. For the biscuit layer, amoretti, ginger snaps, digestives can all be used. For this dessert, I used Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas spice range which included both the curd and biscuits. I served mine in a sherry tumbler, but a shot glass or wine glass would also look good.


4 teaspoons Christmas curd

3 x Christmas spice biscuits

4 tablespoons half fat crème fraiche

Gold edible stars


  • Mix the curd and the crème fraiche. Taste to see if you are happy with the level of creaminess and flavour, adjust accordingly.
  • Put the biscuits in a bag and smash with a rolling pin to form crumbs.
  • In your serving glass, put in a teaspoon of the crumbs, then a teaspoon of the curd mixture. Repeat until the glass is full.
  • I finished with a layer of the curd and sprinkled some golden edible stars on the top.