Cod, watercress sauce, crispy garlic & curry leaves

Although I’m usually left to my own devices to come up with suitable recipes for cookery demonstrations, one food festival organiser specifically asked me to present ketogenic dishes.
As an appreciator of carbs, this isn’t what I would naturally cook but for the sake of balance, and given the science behind the keto diet, I rose to the challenge.
The premise of the ketogenic approach, for those of you that aren’t familiar, is a high fat, high protein, very low carb, sometimes with short periods of fasting that gears the body to burn fat for fuel instead of sugar.
Research links this way of eating with better blood sugar control, improvements in certain disease states and weight loss (search for “ketogenic diet in if you are interested in the exact science).

This beautiful fish, watercress sauce and crispy garlic recipe isn’t just low carb at below 12g of carbs per portion, it’s also super high in nutrients and big on flavour.
If you aren’t particularly bothered about the carbs then it works really well with a few new potatoes added, the fish is easily substituted with some firm tofu for a vegan version or you can cook the fish in coconut or rapeseed oil for a dairy-free alternative.
It makes a delicious dinner however you chose to amend it.

Cod n sauce.JPG

Ingredients (feeds 4)
For the watercress sauce:
100g of cashews
2 large handfuls of watercress (60g)
2 large handfuls of spinach (60g)
one handful of parsley (10g), both the leaves and stalks are ok
250ml of hot veg stock or hot bone broth
zest & juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of good quality sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the crispy spice mix:
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of dried curry leaves
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of black onion seeds

For the fish
Good quality, organic butter
4 cod loin pieces
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the charred tenderstem
320g tenderstem broccoli
Rapeseed oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Boil 1/2 a kettle of water.
Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak until you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This will soften the cashews and ensure they blend easier.
Use some of the boiling water to make the stock, if using.

To make the charred tenderstem:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Put the tenderstem on a baking tray. Season with sea salt and black pepper, drizzle with some rapeseed oil and roast for 15-20 minutes until the stems have softened and the edges of the crown are slightly crispy.

To make the sauce:
Drain the cashews and pop in a blender with the remaining sauce ingredients.
Blend until smooth.
It should retain some heat from the hot stock or bone broth but it can be heated gently on a low heat. Just avoid bringing it to a boil since that’ll turn the sauce brown.

To cook the fish:
Add a knob of butter to a frying pan on a medium heat.
Season the fish with sea salt and black pepper.
Put the fish in the pan and only turn it once the edges have changed to opaque white. Flip it over and cook it for a couple more minutes.
Set aside & keep warm.

To make the crispy spice mix:
Put the coconut oil in a small saucepan on a high heat.
Drop in the garlic, followed by the curry leaves 10 seconds later then the cumin and black onion seed.
Remove with a spoon once the garlic slices start to turn golden.
Drain on kitchen paper.
Be careful not to burn the garlic/ spices. It cooks very quickly.

To assemble: add a ladle of sauce, place the fish on top, the broccoli on the side and sprinkle over some of the crispy spice mix. Drizzle over some of the coconut oil that was used to cook the spice mix if desired.

Autumn salad

This combination of garlic roasted butternut squash, blanched broccoli, avocado & kale is the kind of salad that makes you wonder why you ever bothered with salad leaves.
It is filling, tasty and brimming with the right kind of nutrients, including vitamins K, A, C, E, potassium, magnesium, folate and niacin.
The miso used for the kale is one of the only reliable vegan sources of B vitamins. It comes in paste form in a small jar and can be purchased from most supermarkets.
Miso is made from fermented soya beans and rice, giving it a tangy, salty flavour. It is a pleasant condiment that also complements soups rather well.

Ingredients for 1:
Torn leaves from a stem of kale (a large handful of kale)
Juice of a 1/3 of a lemon
1 teaspoon of miso paste (I used Clearspring Brown Rice Miso)
1/2 small butternut squash
2 small cloves of garlic
5 sprouting broccoli florets
1/2 avocado, peeled
A tablespoon of toasted seeds (optional - I used Munchy Seeds sesame sprinkles)
Sea salt and black pepper to season
Rapeseed or coconut oil for cooking

To roast the butternut squash, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Peel the halved butternut squash, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks. Put them on a roasting tray, season well with sea salt and black pepper and drizzle with a small amount of rapeseed oil.
Press down on the unpeeled garlic cloves with the back of a knife until they crack slightly. Nestle them under the butternut squash pieces and put the roasting tray in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the squash is fully cooked. Remove the garlic and set the butternut squash aside to cool.
To make the blanched broccoli, bring a small pan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli, simmer gently for a minute, drain and run under a cold tap. Allow the broccoli to drain off for a minute.
To make the kale, put the torn kale leaves in a bowl, season with some black pepper, squeeze over a small amount of lemon juice and give it a massage to break down the kale. You should end up with half of the volume of kale that you originally started with. Add in a teaspoon of miso and mix well with your hands.
To assemble, put the butternut squash, kale and broccoli on a plate. Top with half an avocado and sprinkle with toasted seeds.