Delicious plant-based Pad thai

It’s supposed to be the first day of autumn today. After a couple of weeks of distinctly autumnal weather, today’s glorious sunshine surely signals that summer has just a bit more to give. That’s good news as I’m defiantly not ready for the colder temperatures and early evenings just yet.

I’ve had a real hankering for pad thai recently, a dish that reminds me of hot holidays and sultry evenings out during our time in India. I know it’s not an Indian dish, but during that time I seemed to have it on a regular basis, giving it a particularly warm place in my memory!

The flavours in Pad Thai traditionally come from fish sauce and tamarind. To make it fully plant-based and super tasty, I prefer a peanut-based sauce. And I use a mix of tamari and lime juice rather than tamarind for the deeper flavour, just because they are more common stables in my kitchen. Blitzing the sauce all together  takes seconds and by using brown rice noodles that take only a couple of minutes to soften this really is a rapidly assembled dish that doesn’t miss out on those distinctly Asian flavours. I guess this sauce is more like Gado Gado and tastes wonderful with simple steamed veggies and rice.

Peanut butter supplies a good helping of fats in this dish. Sources of whole fats are a key feature of a whole-food plant-based way of eating – as long as the peanut butter in your jar is 100%. To make it cheap, most brands of peanut butter include extra refined oils, salt and often sugar. None of these are needed and turns this simple nut butter (even though it’s not a nut!) from health food to junk food in one foul swoop.

So what’s the solution? The easiest is to buy only 100% peanut butter. Unfortunately, this can be more expensive, although some home-brand supermarket versions are now available at a good price. The other solution is to make your own – it’s not that difficult and once you’ve made it once, you’re suddenly much more mindful about how many peanuts are needed to make just a small amount of peanut butter. I’ll do another blog post soon showing you how. There is something rather wonderfully satisfying about making your own; I’ve found I eat less now I’ve seen just how many peanuts are in one spoonful of peanut butter.

As soon as anything is ground down and processed, it’s difficult to calculate how much you are actually eating. Even eating a handful of shelled peanuts means you are probably consuming more than you would if you were shelling them yourself. Anything that Mother Nature has wrapped up in packaging should be eaten with more care. After all, if you are sitting eating nuts that have to be shelled, you can’t eat palmfuls at a time and you reach satiation point way before the packet has gone, unlike shelled (and often salted) nuts that are just so easy to wolf down.

If you cannot tolerate peanuts, then almond butter will work but the underlying flavour will be slightly different. And if you’re completely nut-free, try some sunflower seed butter instead. Again, a slightly different flavour but worth experimenting with.

Back to the Pad Thai. Apart from the yummy sauce, it’s the textures that tick my boxes, with lightly stir-fried broccoli or beans and lovely fresh crunchy bean sprouts mixed with sweet red pepper. It’s a definite rainbow in a dish. Make sure the tofu you use is extra firm otherwise it will just crumble in the pan rather than brown. Smoked works as well as plain, if you fancy something different, or leave it out all together if you just fancy the veg.

Of course, this dish can be made any time of the year, not just summer. In fact, it’s the perfect bit of warming sunshine on a cold winters day! Do let me know if you make it – and if the sun shines for you too!

Plant-based pad thai (serves 2)
2 nests of brown rice noodles
1 red pepper, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
3-4 spears broccoli with stems, sliced
handful of green beans, sliced
100g bean sprouts
100g extra firm tofu cut into small chunks
handful of chopped fresh coriander
handful of chopped peanuts
chopped fresh red chilli (optional)
For the sauce:
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
juice of 2 limes
4-5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

Place all the sauce ingredients into a small blender bowl and whizz until thick and well-combined. If it’s too thick, add water to loosen. Place the rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes until soft. Drain.

Heat a little water in a non-stick frying pan and fry the tofu until it starts to become lightly browned. Tip into a bowl, then add a little more water and stir fry all the vegetables except the beansprouts for a few minutes until they start to soften but remain crunchy.  Return the tofu to the pan along with the beansprouts and noodles, mix together well then pour over the sauce. Cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes.

Serve in large bowls and garnish with fresh coriander, peanuts and red chilli if using. Eat straight away.

Warm beetroot salad with creamy tahini ginger dressing

Summer is still hanging on in there just about. I’m still enjoying dining on big hearty salads packed full of fresh seasonal goodies and a big flavour hit.

I’m a big fan of beetroot – it’s wonderfully vibrant pink after all! Unfortunately, my husband is not a fan, or rather his body isn’t and he has an unpleasantly strong reaction to it (I won’t share the details to save him a little dignity!). It’s a shame, as beetroots are packed full of incredible phytonutrients that have a strong anti-oxidant and detoxifying effect as well as a type of fibre that supports gut health.

Sweet and firm, beetroot is incredibly versatile and can be a key ingredient in both savoury and sweet dishes, although I have to say I’m not a huge fan of it in cake as it can come across a bit strong. Which is unusual as anything that can make cake a health food is normally a winner for me!

Some people avoid beetroot as it gives them beeturia – pink wee. I have read that this is only a small percentage of people and it could be indicative of a problem with metabolising iron in certain circumstances. If you love beetroot but you’re worried about red wee, best seek some medical advice just in case. Just improving you diet by eating more fresh produce could improve your iron metabolism though as well as support your gut, so don’t panic if this affects you.

This simple warm salad is so quick to make and super tasty to eat. It’s packed full of healthy sources of plant proteins and fats as well as lots of different micro and phytonutrients. Why not give it a go, and let me know what you think?

Warm beetroot salad with creamy tahini ginger dressing (serves 2 for a hearty lunch portion, 4 as a side)
3-4 medium sized beetroots
3-4 handfuls mixed salad leaves of choice
half an avocado, sliced
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 tablespoons cooked chickpeas
handful of fresh coriander or parsley, chopped
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of a lime
1 teaspoon maple syrup
4 tablespoons water
1-2cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated
1 small clove garlic, peeled and grated
salt and pepper

Scrub the beetroots well but do not peel. Place in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the beets are soft. Turn off the heat, drain and cover (you can also roast in the oven if you prefer).

Place all the dressing ingredients in the cup of a high-speed blender and blitz for 15 seconds or so until smooth and well combined.

Scatter the leaves in the bottom of large pasta bowls. Carefully peel the still warm beetroot, cut into eights and divide between the two bowls along with the cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and sliced avocado. Drizzle the dressing over the top followed by the chopped fresh herbs and finish with extra salt and pepper if desired. Eat warm, or leave until cool if you prefer. Either way, it’s delicious!

Baked spicy stuffed aubergine

Luckily my lovely husband is really open to eating my creations; he celebrates the successes and tolerates the disasters! He’ll try most things but there are two vegetables he just can’t get to grips with – aubergine and beetroot, which is a shame as I love them both. But as he’s away a lot with work, I make sure I get my fill then, rather than torturing him with things he just won’t like.

Hopefully you don’t have the same dislike as him because I have two delicious recipes to share with you – one beetroot coming up soon and this aubergine dish.  This recipe is super easy and ridiculously tasty, and is packed full of amazing plant-based nutrients. It also features two great sources of plant protein and a shed load of fibre to keep your gut microbes happy.

In the past, the tiny seeds found in the flesh of aubergine have given it a reputation of being bitter. You may be surprised to hear that it’s nicotine in the seeds that create that bitter flavour. There’s only a small amount though, so don’t fret that you’ll suddenly find yourself on a 20 aubergine a day habit! The traditional way of modifying this was to coat it in salt which would draw out the water from the flesh along with the bitterness, but it’s rare to find a really bitter one these days as cross-breeding has modified the flavour to make it more palatable.

The exciting thing about aubergine is it’s colour. In the world of rainbow eating, purple foods are hard to come by. And aubergine skin has a gorgeously deep purple hue. It’s colour comes from a powerful phytonutrient called nasunin and is helps to protect cell membranes from damage. It also helps to remove excess iron from the blood stream. This may sound like something you don’t want to happen, but excess iron can cause havoc in the body if left circulating and some people have problems excreting it. So anything that helps is a good thing, although you’d need to eat it on a regular basis!

This recipe is perfect for using up leftover rice or quinoa. It’s so easy to cook too much of both. I never want to waste food, so I’m always looking for ways to use it up, and making a tasty stuffing is perfect. Both wholegrain brown rice and quinoa are good sources of plant protein, as are black beans. Until fairly recently, these small legumes were not that easy to find in the shops, but their rising popularity in the plant-based food world has got them up on the shelf – hooray! High in protein and insoluble fibre, they also contain a wide range of minerals including zinc which is essential for healthy immune system. Interestingly, black beans contain phytonutrients from the same group as aubergine, and are really a deep red/purple colour, so you’re getting a double whammy on the purple nutrient compounds with anti-oxidants that support our cells.

This recipe can be used for 2 or 4 people – if you are catering for four, serve one half with some spicy roasted sweet potatoes and a green veg like broccoli or stir fried cabbage. If you want to keep it simple, just serve on a bed of mixed green leaves. And if you are cooking for one, just halve the recipe and enjoy it all by yourself! If you have time, whizz up coriander dairy-free yoghurt to drizzle over the top. It finishes it off perfectly.

Baked spicy stuffed aubergine (serves 2-4 people)
2 medium sized aubergines
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 fat garlic cloves, finely diced
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
100g cooked wholegrain rice and quinoa (one or both)
2 big handfuls spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, stems and leaves, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Rinse and dry the aubergines then slice in half lengthways. You need to remove most of the flesh, so leaving a 1cm rim, cut a round into the flesh, score through the centre bit to make a dice and scoop it out with a teaspoon. Rub a smidge of olive oil onto the outside of the skin, place on a baking sheet, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes or so until it starts to soften and become pliable.

Whilst the skin is baking, chop the removed aubergine flesh and put to one side. Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion and mustard seeds for 5 minutes until the seeds are lightly toasted and the onion starts to soften.Stir in the garlic and chopped aubergine flesh cook for a minute, then add the tomato and chopped mushrooms. Continue to cook for another few minutes until the tomatoes and aubergine are soft and mushy and water runs out of the mushrooms. Add the spices, salt and pepper, black beans and cooked rice/quinoa. Stir well to combine. Finally add the chopped spinach and most of the chopped coriander (retaining a few leaves for garnish) and simmer for another few minutes until the spinach has wilted and everything is hot and steamy. Check the flavour and add more spices or seasoning as needed. Once you’re happy with your flavour, turn off the heat.

Remove the aubergine shells from the oven. Carefully spoon in the stuffing mix, pressing it in lightly to make sure its well filled. Place back in the oven and back for another 15 minutes until the shell is lovely and soft and the top lightly browned. Remove from the oven and garnish with the reserved coriander. Drizzle coriander yoghurt dressing over the top if using and serve. Enjoy.

 

Super crunchy red cabbage and walnut salad

With all the hot weather that’s been around, salad is definitely on the menu. If you find it hard to think up quick and tasty alternatives to satisfy the taste-buds, this crunchy red cabbage and walnut  mix will hit the spot.

I love red cabbage, and enjoy it just as much raw as cooked. My family are not so keen however, as it does have quite a pungent, bitter taste. That’s actually all the marvellous phytonutrients packed within the crisp leaves. Bitter flavours often contain the most medicinal properties, but most of us are not so keen on them. Many types of produce have been cultivated to remove the bitterness to make them more palatable for the general market – think how harsh brussel sprouts used to be. Nowadays they tend to be small and sweet, unlike the tough, bitter bullets I remember from my childhood.

So although these veggies taste more delicious, some of their healing properties have been removed. Not that it’s a waste of time eating them, far from it. They’re not just quite as helpful as they used to be.

One way to make raw cabbage less bitter, and therefore more palatable, is to let it marinate in something salty or acidic for a while. Sauerkraut for example tastes much less bitter, plus contains helpful friendly bacteria from natural fermentation, but it takes a while to make. Leaving cabbage to soak in an acidic dressing for a short period of time does the job really well – and keeps the satisfying crunch too.

Vinegar works well, but for anyone like me who cannot tolerate fermented products that’s not an option. I prefer to keep it simple – fresh lemon juice does the job just as well. Add a little salt and the two combine to help draw out some of the fluid and bitterness, making the cabbage slightly softer and easy one the palate. Try to remember to marinate for a minimum of an hour – longer is even better. But if you forget, do it as soon as you can then finish off constructing the salad at the last minute.

This also works for raw onion. It seems to help make it more digestible and less repeatable later on in the day, something many people suffer from. I’ve used red onion in this recipe, partly because it’s slightly less harsh than yellow but mainly because the red pigments contains extra super-healthy phytonutrients and anti-oxidants.

If you have a nut allergy or intolerance, then walnuts can be replaced with toasted pumpkin seeds. Try and find some big ones to stand out in the salad. Or if you wish to dress it up, add some gorgeous sparkly pomegranate seeds or dairy-free feta or labneh cheese.

That’s it! So with the weather to stay warm for the foreseeable future, why not give this super crunchy simple salad a go? Let me know how you get on.

Red cabbage and walnut salad (4-6 servings)
1/3 medium-sized red cabbage, finely shredded
1 medium red or white onion, finely sliced
50g walnuts, lightly toasted
1 big lemon, juice only
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, coriander and mint)

Place the red cabbage and onion together in a large bowl. Use you fingers to ensure they are combined well. Whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper together in a small jug then pour it into the bowl. Toss well to ensure everything is coated, then leave to marinate.

When you’re ready to serve, add the chopped herbs and walnuts, season with a little extra black pepper, toss together well and serve. That’s it! Enjoy.

 

Crunchy kohlrabi and carrot salad with creamy chive dressing

Wow what amazing weather we are having here in the UK. Summer has struck early – lets hope it doesn’t peak too early! The last few weeks have seen us undertake a huge house move, so I’m most grateful for the dry spell (and that it wasn’t quite so hot when we did the heavy work!).

It seems I have suddenly swapped from eating warm and comforting soups and stews to crisp and cooling salads. Even though I do eat both all year round, the ingredients and style definitely change once the weather starts warming up. It’s the perfect time of year to start experimenting with a plant-based diet too, as wonderful early summer fresh veggies are making a welcome appearance in the shops.

Kohlrabi appeared in my veg box again recently, so it was the perfect excuse to make a quick crisp and crunchy salad. I’ve talked about kohlrabi before in an earlier blog post (click here to read it) with a similar crunchy salad – this one is different though as it’s slightly quicker to make and the dressing is a gloriously vibrant green.

Part of the allium family, chives contain similar properties to onions, garlic and leeks but have a much more subtle flavour and are often better tolerated by sufferers of IBS or intolerances to this group. Chives contain concentrated amounts of fabulous phytonutrients, and have been used medicinally for hundreds of years, although to get their full benefit you would need to eat more than the scattering normally found as a garnish for salads or baked potatoes!

I love this gorgeous dairy-free dressing; it’s creamy but not heavy with a lovely subtle chivy flavour. And it’s green!  I’ve added a little fresh garlic in too, just to give it an extra burst of helpful nutrients, but feel free to omit it if it’s too much for your palate or gut. It keeps in the fridge for a couple of days, so if you have too much, use it up on baked potatoes, salad or as a veggie burger topping.

Hope you give this a go in the next week or so and enjoy it along with the gorgeous sunshine. Do let me know how you get on!

Kohlrabi and carrot salad with creamy chive dressing (serves 4-6)
1/2 medium kohlrabi, washed and carefully peeled
2 medium carrots
1/4 green (or red) cabbage, shredded
20g (half a pack) chives
pepper to taste
for the dressing
70g cashew nuts or sunflower seeds, soaked for 2 hours
1 clove garlic (optional)
20g (half a pack) chives
120ml water
salt

Finely grate the carrot and kohlrabi and place in a large bowl with the shredded cabbage. Mix together well. Roughly chop the chives, reserve a few then add the rest to the bowl, mixing well.

Drain the soaked cashew nuts or sunflower seeds and place in a high speed blender with the garlic, chives and salt. Cover with the water and blitz for 30 seconds or so until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed. Dollop spoonfuls over the salt and carefully stir in. Drizzle a spoonful or so over the top, garnish with reserved chives and some freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Summer skin smoothie

The weather over the last few days has been beautifully sunny and warm, the perfect temperature for enjoying summer food offerings like this gorgeous pink watermelon that I ordered with my veg box last week.

I always associate watermelon with hot weather; maybe it’s just because I ate so much when we were in India! 92% water, it’s really rehydrating on a steamy hot day. The fantastic nutrients found in its gorgeously crisp flesh help to minimise the damage caused by too much sun, as getting the right amount for us Brits is a tricky thing!

The majority of vitamin D that circulates in the body is created through the skin being exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D is not only essential for strong bones and teeth, but also supports the immune system and low levels can lead to a whole array of health problems ranging from asthma to multiple sclerosis. So we really need to get outside and catch some rays. Too much sunshine though can lead to skin damage and potentially skin cancer.

Our weather in the UK is so unpredictable getting regular sun exposure can be difficult. So when the sun does come out, it’s tempting  to expose lily white skin a bit too long and burn – that’s where the damage occurs. Fortunately, food like watermelon can help.

As well as rehydrating the skin, watermelon is packed with vitamin C and betacarotene that act as anti-oxidants, mopping up damaging free radicals created by the damaging rays. It also has large amounts of lycopene that also helps reduce inflammation and can help protect the skin from lasting damage – marvellous!

Apart from just eating it as a chunk, watermelon is delicious in salad (see this old blog post http://thesensitivefoodiekitchen.com/wonderful-watermelon/) and also works as a fantastic base to green smoothies, making it completely dairy free and plant based.

To add in some extra anti-inflammatory power (as well as awesome flavour) I’ve blended ginger and turmeric into this spinach and watermelon smoothie, and added a good squeeze of lime to help absorption of the vitamin C.

Both ginger and turmeric have amazing medicinal properties. Ginger is thought to help with digestive issues, reduce pain from muscle soreness to arthritis to migraine and also help stabilise blood sugars. Turmeric is being hailed as a wonder spice, a surprise to the western world but not to anyone hailing from India where it’s amazing properties have been used for thousands of years. It’s not only anti-septic but also helps reduce all sorts of inflammation in the body. There is so much to say about turmeric it needs it’s own blog post (and more!) but for now it’s a good idea to include some in your diet every day.

So as we bask in possibly the last of the summer sun, why not try this super healthy smoothie and give your skin a super summer treat.

Summer skin soother smoothie

A couple of handfuls of spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1 quarter chunk watermelon (from a small one) chopped
2 cm chunk fresh ginger chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric or 1 cm chunk of fresh turmeric chopped
juice of 1 lime

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink straight away.

Incredible cruciferous part 2

My last post “Incredible Cruciferous” http://thesensitivefoodiekitchen.com/incredible-cruciferous/ looked at the range of veggies to try in this group and their amazing nutritional properties, as well a few suggested recipes to try out. This time, I want to share some top tips on how to get maximum benefit from these gorgeous vegetables – and a new recipe idea to try out too.

Cruciferous vegetables are determined to provide us with their beneficial properties. Scientists have discovered that raw or cooked cruciferous vegetables have different effects and benefits at varying stages in the gut. In freshly picked broccoli, for example, enzymes stay active for 48 hours. If that broccoli is eaten raw in this time, the enzymes are absorbed more readily in the upper part of the gut; these nutrients then head straight to the liver to be put to good use. Excellent! Storage and heat deactivates these enzymes, however, so the older or more cooked, the less these enzymes are available for absorption in the higher part of the gut. All is not lost though, because bacteria that live in the lower part of the gut reactivate the enzymes. This ensures the nutrients are absorbed as well as keeps the lower gut healthy. It’s a win-win!

Here are some other top tips about eating these super health-supporting vegetables:

  • Food preparation makes a difference. Chopping or cutting these vegetables activates enzymes. So prepare your vegetables and then leave for a few minutes before either eating raw or cooking. This makes the nutrients available throughout the gut.
  • Steam or simmer in soup or stews is the better way to preserves the active enzymes and nutrients; the high heats of boiling or microwaving is too hostile
  • Eat plenty but don’t eat too much! There is evidence that eating excessive amounts of cruciferous vegetables every day for a period of time could lead to an underactive thyroid. There is evidence that a lady who ate 1 -1.5kg of bok choi every day caused her thyroid to stop functioning. This is an extreme amount! So what is a safe amount? A study found that eating 150g brussel sprouts every day for a month had no detrimental effect on thyroid function – that’s still a lot of sprouts!

Kohlrabi is one of the more unusual veggies in this group. Not found so often in supermarkets, they turn up in my Riverford veg box every now and then, and it’s always a joy because I love the crunchy texture. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Recipes mainly focus on the bulb, but the leaves can be eaten too, although better cooked when larger. And who wouldn’t want to eat them – this photo is from a gorgeous purple kohlrabi that turned up in my box this week; the leaves are so pretty!

Packed with vitamin C and B vitamins, kohlrabi also has a good amount of potassium, and in particular has an excellent sodium:potassium ratio, which means it’s good for maintaining blood pressure and heart health. And of course it provides a good dose of fibre, keeping your guts healthy and happy.

This salad is quick to make, light and refreshing, perfect for the hot weather we have been having recently. It’s an excellent side dish for a BBQ, so why not give it a go the next time you light the coals for some summer time dining?

Kohlrabi, carrot and daikon salad (makes 4 large servings)

1 medium kohlrabi
3 medium carrots
1-2 daikon radish
2 spring onions, finely chopped
couple of handfuls of fresh coriander
sprinkle toasted seeds (optional)
For the dressing:
4 heaped tablespoons dairy free yoghurt
1-2 tablespoons tahini
juice of a lime
salt and pepper

Grate the kohlrabi, carrots and radish on a large hole (or get out the spiralizer if you have one). Place in a bowl with the chopped spring onion and half of the fresh coriander. Mix well.

Place the dressing ingredients into a small blender bowl and whizz to mix well. Taste and add more lime, salt or tahini as needed. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix well. Sprinkle the remaining chopped coriander and toasted seeds over the top and serve. Enjoy!

Asparagus and slow roasted tomato salad

As anyone who has been to one of my supper clubs or eaten at my house at this time of year, I am just a little obsessed with asparagus. Packed full of wonderful nutrients and super-healthy fibre (see http://thesensitivefoodiekitchen.com/asparagood/ for more info), it’s one of my favourite vegetables that I try to eat as much as possible – but only when it’s in season. Fresh asparagus that has travelled thousands of miles in a aeroplane is too costly (for the environment). And is something as pleasurable if you can have it all the time?

Raw or cooked, asparagus hits the spot every time for me. Delicate, thin stalks with a satisfying snap can be nibbled straight from the pack, whereas thicker, more sturdy stems need a little attention, particularly if you want to avoid a mouthful of woody bottom! For the end of the stems where they’ve been cut are just too full of insoluble fibre, rather stringy for our mouths and digestive systems to deal with. You can trim them with a knife, but I tend to use the Jamie Oliver method of snapping off the ends with my hands – if you hold the stem with your fingers and sharply snap the ends down, they tend to naturally break where the woody ends and the digestible begins.

Sometimes I shave off thin strips of asparagus from thicker stems to include in a salad, but generally give them a very quick steam. Separating the stems and the delicate tips is essential to avoid over-cooking. Once the water is simmering in the pan, I pop the steamer basket with the stems over the top for a minute or so (depending on thickness), add the tips for another minute then whip the steaming basket away. Cooking will continue if the asparagus is left in the steaming basket, so unless they are being served straight away, it’s a good idea to tip them out onto a plate to release the heat.

Asparagus and tomatoes look gorgeous together. The colour of food in front of me contributes towards my enjoyment – red and green are complimentary colours on the colour wheel, so look rather gorgeous together. In the UK, our tasty home grown tomatoes are not available until much later in the year, way past asparagus season. Roasting at a lower heat helps to release some of the natural tomato sweetness, as well as activate some of the super-healthy phytonutrients held within, making this salad nutrient packed and absolutely delicious. If you’re in a hurry, prepare the tomatoes the day before if you have the oven on – they keep in the fridge just fine.

So why not give this a go whilst the asparagus season is upon us – your tastebuds and your tummy will love you for it!

Asparagus and slow roasted tomato salad

1 bag of spinach, rocket or watercress leaves (or a mixture of all)
1 bunch chunkier asparagus (about 250g)
1 ripe avocado peeled and chopped into chunks
300g pack cherry tomatoes
handful of sprouted seeds (like alfalfa)
flaxseed oil
dairy free parmesan cheese

Prepare the tomatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 160ºc. Wash the tomatoes, cut in half and spread out on a non-stick baking tray. Place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes or so until the tomatoes are soft and slightly dried out. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Wash and trim the asparagus. Separate the tips from the stems. Boil some water in the base of a steamer. Once it’s simmering nicely, pop the stems in the basket and steam for a minute or so. Add the tips, steam for another minute then remove the asparagus from the steamer and tip onto a place to cool.

Spread the salad leave over the bottom of a large dish then layer with asparagus and avocado, then arrange the roasted tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle sprouted seeds and dairy free parmesan (like this cashew parmesan recipe ) over the top and finish with a glug of flaxseed or extra virgin olive oil.