Tag Archives: carrots

Winter Slaw Salad

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been trying to empty the fridge and cupboards after the excesses of Christmas. This often prompts a strange array of dishes with a random festive ingredient, or what can seem like an endless supply of Clementine juice…and there is that stray jar of mincemeat that needs to be used up…somehow!

Today’s recipe addresses this, as it allows you to use up a few winter vegetables to make a colourful and healthy coleslaw salad, full of raw vegetables with lots of fibre, which makes for a comforting side dish. The sort of thing that works very well alongside baked potatoes with butter. It is, after all, snowing outside, and that’s not the sort of weather that you want to eat only cold raw veggies, is it?

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I have to fess up to the fact that I’ve seen a few versions of winter slaw around recently, so this is something of an amalgam of those ideas. However, I’ve made this recipe based on what I had in the cupboard (I’ve tended to buy very little since Christmas other than milk and bread!), and lends itself to endless tweaking based on what you have to hand. I’ve just used some red cabbage, Brussel sprouts, fennel, carrot and apple, and the sauce is made from mayo and sour cream that has been enlivened with some spicy harissa paste and allspice. Sometimes just going with what you have to hand is a great way to come up with exciting flavour combinations. But you might just want to stop short of crumbling some left-over Christmas pudding on top, eh? The only thing I would suggest you make sure you do is to shred the veg as finely as you can – it means all the sauce will get mopped up, and of course it looks all the more dramatic on the table. If you want to go even further, top with some chopped fresh herbs (dill being a bit of a seasonal favourite at the moment) or some chopped toasted almonds or pistachios.

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To make winter slaw:

For the slaw:

• 1/2 small red cabbage
• 1 small fennel bulb
• 2 large carrots
• handful of Brussel sprouts
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/2 lemon, juice only

For the sauce:

• 2 large tablespoons mayonnaise
2 large tablespoons sour cream
• 1/4 teaspoon harissa or chilli paste

• squeeze runny honey
• 1/2 teaspoons mustard
• 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
• 1/8 teaspoon allspice
• pinch ground mace
• salt and pepper, to taste

1. Start with the sauce – put everything into a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.

2. Prepare the slaw – put the olive oil and lemon in a large bowl (you’ll add the vegetables as you go, and tossing in the lemon juice will stop them from getting brown). Peel the carrots, then use the peeler to slice the carrots into thin pieces. Trim the fennel and cut lengthways into very thin pieces. Peel and core the apple and finely slice. Peel the sprouts and shred. Last of all, finely shred the cabbage as thinly as you can. Put everything into a large bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice, and toss gently to ensure the vegetables are coated.

3. Just before serving, pour the sauce over the slaw and toss gently to make sure all the vegetables are coated.

Worth making? Nice and easy, and a great way to use up a glut of veg. The sauce is the place where you can get very creative – allowing you to make sure the slaw sits well with other dishes.

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Vegetable Broth

In the words of Frank Loesser, “baby, it’s cold outside”. Yes, a little light snow and the south of England has come to a shuddering halt. We’re now being bombarded with headlines about “Frozen Britain” (yawn), but as yet, there is no news about how this affects that other news staple, the Royal Wedding.

What is beyond doubt it that it is very chilly, and that calls for proper winter soups. This one is a veggie version of Scotch Broth, so – obviously – lots of vegetables, plus potato and barley to add a bit of substance. I like my soups to be thick and hearty, something filling when you get in from the cold, or to prepare you to venture outside. I just don’t get clear soups, or basic bouillon. Filling, and mopped up with lots of brown, crusty bread. Mmmm!

I also like soups that have a bit of character – smooth “posh” soups are all well and good, but if you’re looking for something to serve as a meal, lots of chunky carrot, turnip, celeriac and barley will do the trick. This is also a super-easy recipe. Just chop up the vegetables, fry in a little oil, add stock and let it simmer for a few hours until the barley is soft. Job done. I’ve posted before about my love for barley, and I am going to go on about it again. I think it really brings something to a soup, a bit of chewiness and texture combined with the tender vegetables.

It’s also a good one as it is cheap as chips to make (read the ingredients – it’s all basic stuff, and quelle horreur very healthy) and can be quite easily made from the sort of thing that skulks around in the bottom of the fridge or, with these winter days, arrives in your weekly organic veg box. I know, that makes me sound so Stoke Newington la-di-da!

If you are making this soup, I’ve put a recipe below, but to be honest, the trick is just to get roughly similar amounts of autumn or winter vegetables, add some potato and barley, then sit back and let the lot simmer until the vegetables are tender. It can also be quite happily made with whatever you have to hand – leeks, celery etc. I like to aim for some vegetables that will turn soft and break down (making the soup thick and satisfying), while others hold their shape. I finished this one off with a couple of spoons of soy sauce, and added a scant handful of fresh thyme leaves to the soup 10 minutes before serving.

As an aside, normally I don’t use celeriac in soup (I use celery), but I decided to give it a try. And, rather marvellously, it cooks wonderfully, becoming very soft, then breaking down and adding to the thickness of the soup. I like to make little culinary discoveries like this!


To make Vegetable Broth (serves 4):

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 large carrot carrots, peeled and diced
• 1 small swede, peeled and diced
• 1 small turnip, peeled and diced
• 3 small onions, peeled and diced 
• 2 scant handfuls barley
• 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

• 3 litres vegetable stock

• salt and pepper, to taste
• small handful fresh thyme

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, swede, celeriac, onions, barley and potato, and cook for 2 minutes on a medium heat, stirring from time to time.

Add the stock and stir well. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the barley is tender (about 30 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Towards the end of the cooking time, add the thyme (if using). Once ready, add more water if the soup is too thick, and serve with lots of crusty brown bread.

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Carrot and Olive Oil Muffins

Back when I was still in high school, I had a summer job as a tour guide. It was an old jute-weaving mill which still had a few bits of original machinery, so we got a lot of people who liked to spend their free time looking at steam engines. You get the picture. It was actually quite a fun job, as you got all manner of people coming through the door. It was varied too, as we also expected to help out in the coffee shop, which meant serving, cleaning and making the cakes. One of our top sellers was a carrot cake, with a dark, soft, dense texture which was made extra-moist by using olive oil in place of butter.

I’ve made my own version of that cake over the years, feeling that the combination of carrots, nuts, sultanas and oil must be somehow good for you. At some point I started to make it with a muffin tray rather than as a large cake, as this seemed more practical, and also makes it a lot easier to take one to work for the afternoon snack. It’s funny how you start to get used to decent baked goods from your own kitchen, and at some point prefer them over the stuff you can buy. These cakes might have sugar and olive oil in them, but that must be infinitely preferable to something stuffed with transfats and corn syrup. Ah, the benefits of being virtuous!

Make 12 large or 18 normal muffins:

• 150ml olive oil (use a light oil, without a strong flavour)
• 90g soft brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 4 tablespoons milk
• 225g carrots, coarsely grated
• 25g sunflower seeds
• 50g sultanas
• 25g flaked almonds, crushed
• 150g self-raising flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), and line a muffin tray with paper cases. Set to one side.

Place the oil, sugar and egg in a bowl, and mix until combined. The mixture will emulsify and thicken slightly.

Add the carrots, milk, sunflower seeds, sultanas and almonds, and stir well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Add to the carrot mixture, and stir until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.

Put spoonfuls of the batter into the muffin trays. Be generous, as they won’t rise too much. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the muffins have risen and spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven, allow to cook slighting in the tray (10 minutes) then transfer to a rack and allow to cool completely.

If you want to make cream cheese frosting for these muffins: combine 125g full fat cream cheese and 30g softened butter until smooth. Add 125g sifted icing sugar and mix until smooth. Finally, add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and whip until fluffy. If the frosting is too runny, add more cream cheese (bizarrely, if you add more icing sugar, it will get thinner and thinner!).

Worth making? These are great if you need small cakes for a picnic or informal get-together, and make a change from plain cupcakes as they contain relatively little sugar. The olive oil also keeps them moist, so they keep well for a few days in a sealed container.

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