A fresh start: Mark Hix's healthy and tasty recipes to purify body and soul

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Our man in the kitchen has the perfect solution to the past month's excesses...

If, like most people, you've been hitting the larder and cocktail cabinet hard, then you may want to start the New Year as you mean to go on and eat more healthily. These recipes are designed to be good for you at the same time as being delicious – so many so-called 'healthy' dishes are utterly tasteless.

Wild duck ramen

Serves 4

This is a great way to use up any wild duck that you might have in your freezer left over from the game season. If you don't have wild, then farm-reared will do. The main thing is to get a good old broth going, as that's where all the flavour is in this dish.

1 or 2 wild ducks
2 medium onions, peeled and halved
2ltrs chicken stock
1 medium red or green chilli
6 cloves of garlic
200ml rice wine
3tbsp light soy
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 servings of ramen noodles (white wheat noodles)

To garnish

2 duck's eggs
50g bean sprouts, washed
6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced on the angle
20g dried mushrooms, soaked in water for an hour, then shredded
1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
A handful of coriander leaves, washed

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Season the ducks, place on a roasting tray and roast for about 15 minutes until nicely browned.

Remove from the oven and place in a large saucepan with the onions, stock, chilli and garlic. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for an hour, then remove the ducks and place them on a plate. Strain the broth into a clean saucepan and add the soy and rice wine.

Place the dried mushrooms in a small saucepan, cover with a little broth and simmer gently for 10 minutes, then pour the broth back in with the rest and put the mushrooms to one side. Bring a pan of water to the boil, gently lower the duck's eggs in using a slotted spoon, simmer for 4 minutes, then remove and run under the cold tap for a minute; carefully peel them.

Remove the legs from the ducks with a sharp knife, then remove the breasts from the bone and keep warm. Cook the noodles in boiling, salted water according to the manufacturer's cooking instructions, then drain in a colander.

To serve, bring the broth to the boil and season to taste. Divide the noodles between four bowls, arrange the duck, bean shoots, mushrooms, spring onions, chilli and coriander around the noodles and pour the boiling broth over; then halve the duck's eggs, place on top and serve immediately.

Beetroot spelt with horseradish

Serves 4-6

At Sharpham Park, which produces British-grown organic spelt, they are working with Bowel Cancer UK to raise awareness about this amazing grain – and how including it in our diet can reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Cooked with beetroot like this, spelt makes a delicious starter, garnish or part of a buffet. Serve it hot or cold; it's up to you.

120g spelt, soaked for an hour in warm water
250-300g beetroot, peeled and cooked in vegetable stock (reserve the vegetable stock)
1 large red onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2-3tbsp olive oil
The leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
60-80g or more of fresh horseradish, peeled

Gently cook the onion for 2-3 minutes in a tablespoon of the olive oil with the thyme leaves, drain and add the spelt and add the beetroot cooking liquid – it should be treble the amount of spelt; if you are short, add water. Season and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the spelt begins to get tender.

Meanwhile, cut the beetroot into rough 1cm dice and add to the spelt after 30 minutes; continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so until the spelt is tender and most of the stock has disappeared (add a little water if it's getting too dry or turn the heat up if it's sloppy).

Remove from the heat; leave to cool, stirring as it's cooling. Stir in the rest of the olive oil. Transfer to a serving dish and grate the horseradish over.

Chicken and pomegranate salad

Serves 4

Chicken under-fillets are perfect for this dish and are readily available in most supermarkets these days. You can buy pomegranate molasses in good delis and health-food shops or Turkish supermarkets.

10-12 chicken under- or mini-fillets
3tbsp pomegranate molasses
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pomegranate with the seeds scooped out and any pith removed
A couple of handfuls of small salad leaves and some cos or little gems if you wish

For the dressing

1tbsp pomegranate molasses
½tbsp red wine vinegar
3tbsp rapeseed oil

Put the chicken fillets in a non-reactive bowl with the pomegranate molasses and a tablespoon of the vegetable oil, mix well, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Heat a ribbed griddle pan or heavy frying pan and brush with a little oil.

Remove any excess marinade from the chicken, season and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, turning them frequently if they begin burning, as the marinade will caramelise pretty quickly.

While the chicken is cooking, whisk all of the ingredients together for the dressing and season. To serve, cut the chicken fillets in half and arrange on individual or a large serving dish with the salad leaves and pomegranate seeds, then spoon over the dressing.

Puntarelle with anchovies and capers

Serves 4-6

Puntarelle is a member of the chicory family, and you can use it in antipasti dishes, or simply toss the leaves into pasta or risotto. Soaking it in iced water will remove the bitterness.

300-400g puntarelle (separate the hearts and leaves, then wash and dry)
10 or so good-quality canned anchovy fillets
2-3tbsp capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

1tbsp white balsamico or white wine vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp olive oil
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil

Cook the puntarelle bulbs in boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes; pop in the leaves a minute before the end of cooking; drain. Whisk the ingredients together for the dressing; season.

Cut the bulbs into slices and toss in the dressing with the leaves, capers and anchovies.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor