Yes, it's that time of year when we all want to eat a little more healthily after all the excesses of the festive period. In fact, I had to undergo an enforced pre-Christmas detox myself this year, when a bloody van reversed into my scooter and mangled up my foot. The result was a few days in hospital without a drop of alcohol – and now that I'm on crutches I can't drink too much or I might break my neck!
Drink or no drink, here are some recipes for light nutritional dishes that will reverse some of the effects of the gluttony this Christmas.
Chicken liver and pomegranate salad
Pomegranates are one of those fruits that are often ignored, as most people just don't know what to do with them. In fact, the less you do with them the better. Scooped out and scattered over cured meats or over another exotic fruit, or simply juiced, pomegranate provides a real boost at any time of the day. And used like this in a dressing, it gives a salad a beautiful colour, crunchy texture and an interesting zingy flavour.
A couple of handfuls of small tasty salad leaves and/or wild herbs like chickweed, rocket, pennywort etc
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded into matchstick-like pieces
The seeds and juice from 1 pomegranate
250g fresh chicken livers, trimmed and cut into even-sized pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little rapeseed oil for frying
For the dressing
The juice from the pomegranate
tbsp cider vinegar
3tbsp rapeseed oil
Place the pomegranate juice in a pan and simmer until you have about a tablespoon left (unless that's all the juice you have, in which case leave it as it is). Whisk the pomegranate juice, vinegar and rapeseed oil together and season to taste.
Season the chicken livers, heat the rapeseed oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken livers on a high heat for a few minutes, turning them as they are cooking, keeping them nice and pink; then transfer on to a plate.
To serve, toss the salad leaves, carrot, pomegranate seeds and livers with the dressing and season; then arrange on plates and serve immediately.
Rose veal tartare
Farmers are starting to wake up to the fact that there is actually a demand for veal in this country – and the flavour of naturally (and ethically) reared British veal is so much better than that of the imported Dutch veal. As most veal is fairly tender, you can use more cuts for a raw tartare than you could with beef, so leg, sirloin, fillet and flank can be used.
500g very fresh lean veal meat
2-3 medium shallots, peeled, halved and very finely chopped
50g capers, drained, rinsed, finely chopped
50g gherkins, finely chopped
2tsp brandy brandy
tbsp tomato ketchup
2tsp Worcestershire sauce
A few dashes of Tabasco
1tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
With a very sharp chopping knife, chop your veal as finely as possible. Mix all of the ingredients together and season to taste. You may wish to add a little more Tabasco, ketchup or Worcestershire sauce. Spoon the veal tartare on to a plate or, if you prefer, push it into a ring mould.
Serve with a leaf salad and chips, or toast – or even a raw egg yolk, for the full "raw food" effect.
Orange and onion salad
This recipe is from Simon Hopkinson's new book The Vegetarian Option (Quadrille, £20). The choice of onions here is crucial as Hoppy suggests; use the freshest possible sweet white onions. You could also use blood oranges.
4 oranges (or blood oranges)
1 or 2 small sweet white onions, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges and, using a small, very sharp knife, further slice off the skins of the oranges, cutting close to the flesh and removing all traces of pith. Slice thinly, removing any pips, and arrange neatly, slightly overlapping, on a beautiful plate.
Thinly slice the onions and lay them on top of the oranges – with a sprinkling of salad garnish if you like. Spoon enough olive oil on to the assembly to suit you, and grind over some pepper. Eat all on its own, and with someone you like very much.Reuse content