I’m trying something a little different today and introducing you to a couple of ladies who share my interests in good food, easily prepared, with maximum impact – both in taste and nutrition. Nutritionist Kathryn Elliot and her friend, photographer and recipe developer Lucinda Dodds, combine their skills and talents in An Honest Kitchen, a blog and e-magazine which focuses on fresh, simple, seasonal food. The three of us are so on the same page when it comes to food that when Kathryn approached me with the idea of doing a guest post I simply couldn’t resist – and who doesn’t love a roast? I’m thrilled to be able to share the knowledge and passion of these ladies with my own readers so, without any further ado – take it away, girls!
Amanda has very kindly let me, Lucy, take over her blog today to talk to you guys, her lovely readers, about the next issue of An Honest Kitchen, an e-publication that nutritionist Kathryn Elliott and I work on. It’s about cooking in an honest, healthy way with real, no fuss ingredients.
When Kathryn and I were challenged by a reader to makeover some classic recipes, to give the An Honest Kitchen treatment to some favourite family meals, we jumped at the opportunity. What a fun idea, one with a practical and healthy outcome. Our Makeovers issue was born.
A lot of traditional recipes call for very specific ingredients, but what to do if your recipe calls, say, for tomatoes and it’s not tomato season? For starters, you can rethink the recipe – is a fresh tomato sauce really an appropriate meal in the depths of winter? Maybe some roasted pumpkin, or some beetroot could take the place of those tomatoes and bring it into the moment.
Kathryn and I go on about seasonality for all the obvious, much-touted reasons – sustainability, supporting your local economy, reducing the energy required to get food to your plate – but the overwhelming reason to do so is summed up best by our favourite cook, Nigel Slater, in his Kitchen Diaries: “Right food, right place, right time…this is the food of the moment – something eaten at a time when it is most appropriate, when the ingredients are at the peak of their perfection, when the food, the cook and the time of year are at one with each other.”
Keeping in tune with the seasons will make your cooking infinitely better.
Roasts are a real favourite for many people. The traditional roast centres on a big joint of meat with hearty sides of potatoes, pools of gravy and all the extra trimmings. It’s a heavy, stodgy meal. If you’re trying to eat healthy meals, then avoiding the family roast may seem like a good idea, but we’ve gathered some tips to help you make it fresh, lighter and an altogether healthier option.
How to makeover a traditional roast dinner
In the course of our makeovers we developed a few guidelines which you can use to revamp your own favourite roast dinners:
Use less meat: Rather than cooking a huge joint of meat, choose a smaller cut with a bone in it. This will cook in a fraction of the normal time, but you’ll still end up with a juicy and flavour-filled dinner. In our recipe below we’ve used lamb shanks which speeds up the cooking time, but also gives you an idea of how much protein you should be eating. It’s all too easy to eat far more protein with a roast than you actually need.
Don’t avoid potatoes: Roast potatoes are an integral part of the traditional roast and while they have a seemingly poor nutritional profile, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of potato. It’s all about the size of the portion you eat and what else you plate them with. Try to make the potato no more than ¼ of the space on your plate.
Make sure you add LOTS of seasonal vegetables: Roasting is one of the best ways to cook vegetables. They are simply delicious and you can easily pack a variety of vegetables into the meal. In the recipe below, we use beetroot and carrots for a warming, wintry roast, but you could make it summery by using loads of big, juicy tomatoes, some chopped peppers and eggplant in season, adding some olives and a few big handfuls of basil, stirred through just before serving, instead of the beetroot leaves. Basically, play!
Add flavour: Don’t be afraid to add unusual and strong flavours to your roast, the results can be spectacular. In the following recipe, a fresh burst of lemon juice and oregano adds a lot of flavour.
So. What does a Makeover recipe look like? Like this!
Oregano Roast Lamb with Vegetables
A Greek-inspired roast lamb, where the meat and vegetables are cooked together – so you’re only dirtying one pan – and the whole meal is served with natural yoghurt instead of gravy. To make sure all your veggies cook evenly within the time frame, try to cut them into similar-sized pieces, about 3cm. Serves 2
1 bunch beetroot – roots and leaves
400 – 450g potatoes
2 sticks celery
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
600g Frenched (well-trimmed) lamb shanks – 1 large, or 2 smaller
1/3 cup natural yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Prepare most of the vegetables: Trim the ends off the onions and peel away the papery skin. Cut each into 6 wedges. Cut the leaves off the beetroots and put these to one side. Scrub the beetroots, carrots, potatoes and celery – don’t worry about peeling unless they’re very grubby and marked. Cut into chunks, roughly 3 cm – this is important as you want the vegetables to cook evenly. Place all the vegetables in a large baking tray. Pour over the olive oil and gently turn the vegetables over, until they are covered in oil.
Flavour the lamb: Juice the lemon, pouring the juice into a shallow bowl and putting the leftover lemon shells in with the vegetables. Add the oregano to the lemon juice and then season with salt and pepper. Put the lamb shanks in the lemon and oregano marinade and rub the mixture into the flesh.
Cook the roast: Place the shanks on top of the vegetables, in the baking tray and pour any leftover marinade over the top. Place the tray in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. At the end of this time, remove the tray and gently turn over the vegetables and lamb. Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Prepare the greens: While the roast is cooking give the beetroot greens a good wash. You may need to do this in two changes of water. Roughly chop into thick strips.
Rest the lamb and cook the greens: At the end of the 30 minute cooking time, take the baking tray out of the oven. Remove the lamb to a plate, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Add the chopped greens to the tray and quickly toss them in the juices at the bottom of the pan. Place back in the oven for 7 – 10 minutes, until the greens are wilted.
To serve: Once the vegetables are cooked, serve the lamb shanks and vegetables with the natural yoghurt on the side.
For more ideas on making over the meals you love take a look at our publication An Honest Kitchen: Makeovers. An Honest Kitchen is a regular publication all about real food that’s good for you. Each issue is full of simple recipes, practical cooking information and healthy eating advice. Our latest edition, Makeovers, in which we revamp popular meals is available in e-format from 11 June.