Side dishes

Hemsley + Hemsley’s “Quicker Than Toast” Courgette (Zucchini) and Pumpkin Seed Salad


One of the great perks of (mostly) working from home is … lunch! My favorite lunch is leftovers, and I often cook extra in order to have some tempting leftover food in my fridge. But I am also partial to a quick and healthy recipe I can throw together if the mood strikes me. And this courgette (zucchini) and pumpkin seed salad recipe ticks all of the boxes for me. Made with ingredients I usually have to hand, it takes barely five minutes to put together – yes, “quicker than toast”.

This is my favorite recipe from Hemsley + Hemsley’s stylish and appealing “The Art of Eating Well” cookbook Do try it next time you are about to have toast for lunch. It is one of those simple recipes where the result is more than the sum of its parts.


“Quicker than Toast” Courgette (Zucchini) and Pumpkin Seed Salad (adapted from a Hemsley + Hemsley recipe)

1 medium courgette, rinsed and wiped dry

1 small handful of pumpkin seeds, about 25 g

a few drops of balsamic vinegar

about 1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serves one lucky person

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan on the hob, giving the pan a shake from time to time, until the seeds are golden and crackling (about five minutes).

While the seeds are toasting, grate the courgette onto a plate. I use the coarse side of a box grater for this.

When the seeds are ready, tip them onto the courgette immediately – the heat from the seeds will soften the courgette slightly.

Toss with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Eat right away.

Side dishes

Guest post: Quinoa, Cauliflower and Asparagus Salad


Today I have a very special treat for you, a guest post from my dear friend Stephanie who is a great cook. I can’t wait to make her delicious-looking salad. Over to Stephanie…

We are always looking for new ways to increase our intake of vegetables, and salads can be a great way of achieving this. My daughter especially can be a little leery of your bog-standard green salad, so here is a delicious recipe I adapted from something I found on the Internet. The original is a Sicilian recipe made with farro, which contains gluten. I swap out farro for quinoa, and instead of raisins I use dried goji berries, as they are packed with nutrients and a bit less sweet!

Quinoa, Cauliflower and Asparagus Salad


200g cooked and cooled quinoa

1 cauliflower, cut into florets

250g asparagus, woody ends trimmed

Olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

40g dried goji berries

Handful of baby salad leaves

4 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and halved

For the dressing

1 tablespoon each of chopped dill, parsley and chives, or to taste

80ml olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper


1. Cook cauliflower in pan of boiling salted water for about 6 minutes, until tender. Drain and cool.

2. Heat a pan until quite hot, add a tiny amount of oil and lightly char the asparagus for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove the asparagus to a plate and allow to cool.

3. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and test the seasoning.

4. In a serving bowl, combine quinoa, cauliflower, asparagus, pine nuts, goji berries and baby leaves with the dressing. Serve eggs as a side to the salad, or omit entirely if you are serving as a side dish to a meat-based meal.


Dips and spreads, Side dishes

Cranberry-apple chutney


This cranberry-apple chutney is one of my holiday staples. Every year I like to make a big batch just before Thanksgiving and pack it into jars, either to serve with festive meals at home or to bring to our hosts as an edible gift. I’ll be testing it out on Thanksgivukkah this year and I think it will go down a treat.


The chutney is lovely with turkey, slow-roasted duck legs or really any roasted bird – and wonderful with leftovers.


Cranberry-Apple Chutney (adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe)

700g Granny Smith apples (about 5 medium or 7 small), peeled, cored and sliced into bite-sized pieces

250g dried cranberries

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

a thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

350 ml apple cider vinegar

200g caster sugar

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons salt

Makes about 3 jam jars of chutney

Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan or dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a rapid simmer, stirring regularly, then lower the heat to a slow simmer.

Cook for 45 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the apples have become soft and the mixture appears thick and jammy.

Transfer the chutney into clean jam jars and close the lids tightly. Once cool, store the chutney in the refrigerator until the holidays are over.

Side dishes

Corn with girolle mushrooms


Growing up in the United States, we enjoyed corn on the cob all summer long. Shucking corn on the cob was a chore I never minded, and we ate the corn with funny plastic corn-shaped holders on either end.

All that came to an end during the years I lived in France, where corn is mainly something to feed to animals. Or possibly to drain out of a can to put in a salad.

I’ve enjoyed eating fresh corn again since moving to the UK. While I grew up eating corn boiled, with a pat of butter, I now prefer my corn on the cob grilled, with just a sprinkling of sea salt.  Or, as we move towards autumn, I love eating corn cut off the cob and gently pan-fried with some fresh girolle mushrooms.

Corn with girolle mushrooms (inspired by an Alice Waters recipe in Chez Panisse Vegetables)

3-4 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob

100 g fresh girolle mushrooms

1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil for pan-frying

1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil for dressing

a squeeze of lime juice

1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4 as a side dish

Rinse the girolles in a colander, then wipe any remaining dirt off with a paper towel. Slice into small bite-sized pieces.

Heat the coconut or vegetable oil in a skillet and add the garlic. As soon as the garlic starts to sizzle, add the girolles and cook over medium heat. When the girolles have started to brown, add the corn and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the corn is just cooked (taste to be sure). If the corn starts to burn while cooking, add a few drops of water.

Allow the corn and girolles to cool for 10-15 minutes. Add the avocado, lime juice, and coriander leaves, then add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Corn is not GAPS-friendly and is often not tolerated by followers of the GFCF diet, so this recipe will not be for everyone. That said, even the most vegetable-averse children often like corn, so it can be a useful “gateway vegetable” to teach children about getting more color onto their plate.