Pick me up food

The days may be getting longer, they are really, but it still feels dark and grey and the time seems to be flying by. So I’ve been feeling the need for some pick me up food, something with a bit of zing. These recipes are super quick and easy to make, and help to reduce that evening rush.

mackerelThe first one that hit the spot was pan fried mackerel fillets with fresh orange and honey. Mackerel is a delicious, nutritious and sustainable fish packed with omega-3. Its creamy meat goes really well with this zesty fresh orange and honey glaze. I served it with a ruccola, sprout and fennel salad, but you can serve it with couscous or quinoa too.

And yes, I did put raw sprouts in my salad, I don’t always want to buy a head of cabbage (savoy, white or red) so I use raw sprouts instead in salads, coleslaws, and stir-fries. They give an extra peppery crunch, all the goodness stays in and there is less chance of overcooking them and developing that strong flavor (and smell) which many dislike.

Pan fried mackerel fillets with fresh orange and honey

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 mackerel fillets, skin on
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 50g toasted pine nuts

1) Mix the flour and paprika and dust the mackerel on both sides. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the fish skin side down and cook over a medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. You want the skin to be crispy and golden.
2) Add the orange zest, juice and honey to the pan and let it bubble gently. Scatter over the toasted pine nuts, cover in the sauce and serve.

The second was sweet potato mash with lamb fillets. I know sweet potato may not be everyone’s favourite, but you have to give this a go, I will be really surprised if you don’t like it! Sweet potatoes are high in potassium and vitamin A, and can be steamed or roasted in the oven at half the time of potatoes.

1) Peel and chop the sweet potato into cubes and steam until soft. It doesn’t take long, we are talking maximum 8-10 minutes, and your fork should pass through easily when done.
2) Whilst your sweet potato is cooking, peel a piece of fresh ginger (a good inch and a half) and chop into little matchsticks. Fry these in some olive oil until just crispy.
3) Drain the sweet potato and mash well, season, then add some of the ginger infused oil to the sweet potato mash. Squeeze in a little lime juice and sprinkle the ginger matchsticks over the top.

sweetpotatoesThe mash served with pink, pan-fried lamb fillets and green beans is a quick and more-ish dinner, which will have you fighting over the last spoonful. A more economical option to the lamb is chicken breasts marinated 10 minutes in grated fresh ginger, lime and honey and then grilled until lightly caramelized.

Jamie Oliver has another option to zinging up sweet potato: Mix in a large spoonful of mango chutney, add a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of lime zest. You can use regular mango chutney or a hot, spicy chutney, which has some chili oil in there.

The last recipe is for a quick chicken masala, warming us up from the inside and with plenty of ginger, garlic and chili, to help boost our immune system. If you don’t want it this hot, then just leave out the chili and choose a mild, fragrant curry powder.

Chicken Masala

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinned and cubed
  • 4 cm piece fresh root ginger peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1tsp garam masala or curry powder
  • 2tbsp chopped coriander
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red chili
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 280ml cream (thick if possible, but not sour cream)
  • juice of ½ lemon

1) Put the chicken, ginger, garlic, garam masala/curry powder, coriander, lime juice and 1 tbsp of oil in a bowl. Mix and leave to one side. Chop the onion and deseed and chop the chili.
2) Heat a large shallow pan, add the chicken and marinade and fry for 6-8 minutes over a medium heat.
3) Meanwhile in a separate pan heat the remaining oil and gently fry the onion and chili for approx. 5 minutes until soft. Add the turmeric and stir-fry for 1 minute. Lower the heat, add the cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
4) Transfer the chicken to the pan with cream and simmer for 5 minutes or until cooked. Season and stir in the lemon juice. Serve with rice or naan bread, roasted cauliflower and carrots.


Text and photo: Alison Korter-Lacki, January 2013

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