A fresh start: Eaten too many Christmas dinners? Mark Hix's healthy recipes will perk you up - Features - Food + Drink - The Independent

A fresh start: Eaten too many Christmas dinners? Mark Hix's healthy recipes will perk you up

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This is supposed to be the time of year when we all have a bit of a detox following our gluttonous behaviour over the Christmas period – and although I've never been very good at detoxing myself, I do know how to create delicious, light and healthy dishes. Healthy eating is an interesting subject because there are some basic misconceptions: it's really about achieving a balanced diet rather than being obsessed with every single ingredient. Some people can eat fatty food all the time and not be affected – whereas others just can't tolerate it. Anyway, here are some fresh recipes that will hopefully bring a bit of vigour back into your New Year.

Ham hock, Jerusalem artichoke and hedgerow garlic broth

Serves 4-6

This year I'm going to try to use this column to give you as many recipes as possible where you get two dishes out of one. Ham hock is a perfect example and it's also one of my favourite cuts, as you've probably gathered by now. Gently simmering vegetables and herbs in stock, carefully skimming throughout, will create a tasty clear broth and the base for a good hearty but healthy soup. I've added hedgerow or three-cornered garlic to this which, if you're in the know, is probably growing close to you right now. If you can't find any, then garlic chives are an excellent alternative, and they are available from good Chinese supermarkets.

1 unsmoked ham hock weighing about 1kg, soaked overnight in cold water
1 large onion, peeled and halved
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 sticks of celery
1 bay leaf
15 black peppercorns
A couple of sprigs of thyme
3 or 4 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into rough 1cm cubes
A handful of 3-cornered or hedgerow garlic, chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Rinse the ham hock off and place in a suitable sized saucepan covered with cold water. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme, bring to the boil and simmer gently for a couple of hours or so, skimming every so often, until the ham is coming away from the bone (you will probably need to top up the water every so often). Remove the ham and leave to cool. Skim any fat from the stock with a ladle and, if necessary, reduce it a little to strengthen the flavour. Remove the outer fat from the ham hock and remove the bones and discard. You can keep the outer fat for roasting with potatoes if you wish when your healthy streak is over! Chop enough ham into chunks for the soup and reserve the rest for the ham and pea salad overleaf. Add the ham and Jerusalem artichoke to the soup and simmer for about 5 minutes, until tender, then add the 3-cornered garlic, season to taste and simmer for another minute.

Monkfish, carrot and orange salad

Serves 4

Monkfish has a great firm meaty flesh and matches almost any ingredient – especially a fruity little number like this orange salad. You can use blood oranges, mandarins or clementines or ordinary oranges for this.

1 monkfish tail weighing about 600-800g filleted and skinned
A little vegetable oil for frying
A couple of handfuls of small salad leaves
2 large oranges, or 3-4 smaller ones, peeled and segmented (squeeze the remains once segmented and reserve the juice)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

The juice from the oranges
tbsp cider vinegar
2tsp grain mustard
3-4tbsp extra-virgin rapeseed or olive oil

Pre-heat a ribbed griddle or heavy-based frying pan with a little vegetable oil. Season the monkfish and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side on a medium heat, then leave to rest on a plate.

Meanwhile simmer the orange juice in a small pan until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Whisk in the vinegar and mustard, then the oil and finally season.

Toss the leaves with the orange segments and dressing and arrange on plates, then slice the monkfish and arrange in among the leaves.

Ham hock and split green pea salad

Serves 4

Split green peas are one of those under-used winter pulses. I suppose one of the reasons is that people are not doing so much slow cooking these days and therefore the demand is low – but they are one of my absolute favourite store-cupboard must-haves.

Make sure, however, that you soak the peas overnight, as they can be toxic otherwise.

The pieces of ham hock from the previous soup recipe
A few small salad leaves or wild herbs

For the dressing

100g split green peas, soaked overnight in cold water
1 large shallot, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2-3tsp English mustard
1tbsp cider vinegar
3-4tbsp extra-virgin rapeseed oil, plus a little extra
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
A small handful of wild salad leaves such as bittercress, chickweed, wood sorrel

Drain and rinse the split peas, and place in a pan of lightly salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until just tender; then drain.

Once the peas are cool, mix them in a bowl with the mustard and vinegar, then mix in enough rapeseed oil to make a thick dressing. Season, and add more mustard and vinegar to taste.

To serve, spoon some of the peas on to serving plates and spread out a little with the back of the spoon.

Cut or break the ham hock into smallish chunks and arrange on the peas with some of the salad leaves, then spoon over and around more of the dressed split peas.

Grilled lamb's liver, Treviso and pomegranate salad

Serves 4

You may find this an odd combination but the bitterness of the leaves works in perfect harmony with the liver and pomegranates. I always buy a whole lamb's liver and clean it and slice it myself as the pre-sliced stuff tends to be all shapes and sizes and this way you can keep what's left for another meal. If you can't find spindly Treviso, then a couple of heads of radicchio will do the trick.

1 lamb's liver, cleaned of all sinew and sliced into cm slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little vegetable oil
1 or 2 heads of Treviso, stalk trimmed, washed and dried
1 large pomegranate, halved, seeds scooped out and juice reserved

For the dressing

The juice from the pomegranate
1tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Pre-heat a ribbed griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan. Season the liver and lightly oil it. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and toss with the Treviso leaves and arrange on plates. Briefly grill the liver for about 30 seconds on each side, arrange on the salad, and scatter over seeds.

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