Couscous is a perfect option for batch cooking. Cooking in batches at the start of the week or over the weekend is the secret to maintaining a healthy diet or working towards a nutrition goal.
As it is officially summer at home in Ireland, it’s time for salads. Adding some grains to your salad is an easy way to bulk up your lunchbox at work. I have used giant or Israeli couscous here but regular couscous, bulgur wheat, rice or quinoa would be perfect replacements.
Serves 4 as a side.
- 200g couscous grain
- 400ml boiling hot water
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 dried apricots, diced
- 2 tbsp raisins
- Mix the couscous with the water in a bowl or saucepan. Cover and allow the grain to absorb all the water or cook the grain as per packet instructions.
- Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Taste and if you prefer a stronger curry flavour just add some more.
Sun, sea and salad – just a few of my favourite things about summer!!
Salad is one of the easiest things to make at home, you can create a really tasty meal super fast and with very few ingredients.
Transporting salads can be notoriously difficult and can end in a sad, soggy mess. Using a jar is not only great for the environment but also the ideal way to create a simple layered salad. So next time, keep a big one aside for your next salad feast.
When using a jar or lunchbox, the key is how you layer the ingredients. I prefer to put the messy ingredients – yes I’m looking at you tomatoes or beetroot at the bottom. Add a layer of grain on top followed by your remaining ingredients. Finish with the delicate leafy greens on top. Keep dressings separate in a small jar or tub and add when you are ready to eat .
- 1/2 large tomato
- sea salt
- 2 tbsp Curried Apricot & Raisin Couscous
- 1/2 carrot
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- black pepper
- 50g smoked mackerel
- 1 large fistful baby leaf spinach
- Dice the tomato and mix through a pinch of sea salt.
- Spoon the tomato into the bottom of the jar followed by the couscous.
- Create carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandolin.
- Add the vinegar and a pinch of black pepper to the carrots and mix well.
- Place the carrot ribbons on top of the couscous, followed by the mackerel and top it all with the spinach.
- Place in the fridge until ready to eat.
This recipe takes only minutes to make and is a great option for brunch, lunch, as a starter or an easy snack option at any time of the day. The quality of bread used will make a huge difference so try to use homemade or locally produced where possible and wholemeal or sourdough would be my preference. This recipe was made whilst staying in Cabo Polonio, Uruguay where I stayed in a Rancho – basically a hut shared with it’s owners and other guests amongst the sand dunes hence the rustic and possibly sandy looking backgrounds.
- 4 slices of bread
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 medium-sized tomato, sliced
- Mix together the garlic, oil and herbs in a small bowl. Spread the oil mix over one side of the bread.
- Place a frying pan over a medium heat and once heated, place two bread slices oil side down on the pan. Grill for 5 minutes until the garlic crisps. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining bread.
- Top the bread with the sliced avocado and tomato.
This salad doesn’t get much easier, it’ll be ready in three easy steps and demolished in minutes!! Salmon and avocado are packed full of healthy fatty acids so perfect for all diets and great for bone, muscle and heart health.
- 1 head baby gem lettuce
- 1/4 cucumber
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 cooked beetroot
- 2 radish
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 portion hot smoked salmon (substitute regular smoked/tinned salmon either)
- 2 tbsp Frenchie dressing
- Roughly chop the lettuce. Thinly slice the celery and radish. Cube the cucumber, beetroot and avocado.
- Gently flake the smoked salmon fillet into chunks.
- Divide the vegetables amongst the 2 plates, sprinkle over the salmon and drizzle with the dressing.
I’m not the biggest eater of bread but when I am going to eat some, my general rules are homemade or else locally produced sourdough. Sourdough is possibly the purest bread of all with only three ingredients (water, flour & time). If you fancy making your own, I would recommend trying Riot Rye‘s foolproof method, time & patience is required but you will be well rewarded for your efforts I promise! Bruschetta is a great option when in a hurry or simply have very little in the fridge. The pesto should last for 1-2 weeks in a jar in the fridge. Simply add your favourite toppings & enjoy!
- 50g cashews
- 50g walnuts
- 100ml olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 50g coriander include the stalks
- 25g parmesan
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 slices fresh sourdough bread
- 4 tbsp cottage cheese
- toppings of your choice: sliced cherry tomatoes, olives, sauteed mushrooms with butter & garlic, parma ham, smoked salmon
- For the pesto: simply add all the ingredients with half the oil into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the remaining oil little by little until you get a suitable texture, taste as you go.
- For the bruschetta: heat the grill, spread 1 tbsp of pesto on each slice of bread and place under the grill until lightly toasted. Top with the cottage cheese & the toppings of choice. Return to the grill for 2-3 minutes.
I have a serious obsession with beetroot, simply can’t get enough of it. About three years ago, I wouldn’t of touched one with a barge pole but at the moment it seems to end up on most of my plates or lunchboxes. Beetroot and a strong flavour like goat’s cheese or Feta are a great tasting combination. If you are bringing this for lunch to work, I’d recommend you bring the dressing separate in a little jar and mix through just before eating.
Serves 2 as a starter or side-salad.
- 2 handfuls kale
- 1 handful rocket leaves
- 1/5 of cucumber
- 1 medium freshly cooked or vacuum packed cooked beetroot
- 1/2 pear
- 1 tbsp pumpkin & sunflower seeds
- 1 tbsp crumbled Feta cheese
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Roughly tear the kale into bite size pieces.
- Cut the cucumber in half length-ways, spoon out the soft center and thinly slice into half moons.
- Finely grate or Julienne the pear.
- Place the pear and vegetables in a bowl.
- Mix together all the dressing ingredients and stir through the salad ingredients.
- Transfer to a serving plate and spoon over the seeds and cheese.
This salsa simply sings with all the best things about food: colour, texture, flavour and goodness. Fresh corn on the cob works best but tinned corn will be fine too. Serve alongside some Citrus Chicken and smoky paprika sweet potato wedges, add to a crunchy lettuce cup as a quick snack or simply eat directly off the spoon.
- 2 vacuum packed fresh corn on the cob or 1 x 400g tin corn
- 1 x 400g tin kidney beans
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 2 spring onions
- 1 fistful fresh coriander
- 1/2 fresh lime
- Cook the corn on the cob as per packet or rinse tinned corn. Once cooked, heat a grill pan until smoking and lightly charr the corn on all sides.
- Allow to cool and cut the corn off the cob.
- Drain and rinse the kidney beans, dice the tomatoes, finely slice the spring onions and finely chop the coriander.
- Place all the vegetables in a large bowl, squeeze in the lime juice and mix well.
Until about two years ago, beetroot was a vegetable I never ate and barely contemplated tasted. Beetroot and pickle came to mind and the thought of a pickled food sent a shiver down my spine after experiencing a pickled gherkin inside a McDonald’s Happy Meal burger, back in the day when a Happy Meal was the ultimate treat. Thankfully my concept of a treat has evolved along with my taste buds and now beetroot is a weekly fixture on my food shopping list, I simply can’t get enough of it! As a sportsperson, beetroot packs a serious nutritional punch as a source of calcium, vitamins A and C, magnesium, folic acid & iron with some research highlighting the benefits of beetroot juice on blood pressure regulation thanks to its nitrate content. These burgers are bursting with flavour, goodness and just try not to eat them all in one go once you’ve tasted. Serve with a leafy green salad or stuff in a toasted pitta with some Greek yoghurt and avocado. They freeze very well too.
Makes 8 medium sized burgers.
- 140g walnuts
- 500g cooked beetroot
- 100g feta
- 6 scallions
- 1 fistful fresh/frozen mint leaves
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tin black beans
- Pre-heat an oven to 180C.
- Roast the walnuts for 8 minutes until they soften and begin to crisp.
- In a large mixing bowl, coarsely grate the beetroot, finely slice the scallions, cube the feta cheese, de-stalk and finely chop the mint leaves and roughly chop the walnuts.
- Drain and rinse the black beans before gently mashing or pulsing with a stick blender or food processor.
- Add the black beans and lemon juice to the other ingredients and gently mix together until well combined.
- Increase the oven temperature to 200°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Moisten your hands with water before taking a tbsp of the beetroot mix in your hands and mould into burgers of whatever size you like.
- Add each burger to the baking trays and gently press down with the back of a spoon.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the burgers half way through.
Salad in my mind should be fresh, crisp and clean; this recipe combines all three. This salad is inspired by a side-dish in Campagne, Kilkenny where you should definitely experience the work of chef Garrett Byrne. The toasted hazelnut dressing adds a deep layer of flavour whilst not drowning the leaves.
- 2 tbsp hazelnuts
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 10 florets tenderstem or purple sprouting broccoli
- 1 head baby gem lettuce
- 2 large fistfuls baby leaf spinach
- Handful veg crisps
- Place the hazelnuts in a frying pan over a medium heat & toast until the skin begins to detach.
- Save 1 tbsp for later, place the remaining hazelnuts in a food processor & blitz to a fine crumble consistency.
- Place the blitzed hazelnuts, oil, lemon juice & zest in a clean jam jar. Tighten the lid & shake to combine. Taste, if you want more lemon just add another squeeze of lemon juice.
- Bring a small pan of water to the boil, remove from the heat & add the broccoli. Allow to blanch for 5 mins, strain & refresh with cold water.
- In a large mixing bowl, separate the leaves from the head of baby gem, add the spinach, broccoli, toasted halved hazelnuts & 2 tbsp of the oil. Mix it all together gently with your hands.
- Transfer to a large serving platter & sprinkle the veg crisps over to finish.