M is for May

Salad leavesThis month I’ve made lettuce, radishes and pak choi my seasonal choices. They’re all low in calories and a good source of vitamins, including the key nutrient folic acid, and minerals. And I’ve given my three recipes a bit of retro feel, updating them with a healthy twist, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Lettuce party

Time was when salad was a few leaves of cos lettuce, a bit of diced beetroot, a couple of slices of tomato, half a hard-boiled egg, finished off with salad cream. Nothing wrong with that simple approach if the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. I’ve made this into an exclusive lettuce party, by gathering together (at least) four types of leaves and adding extra flavour and texture with the cheese and seeds.

Serves four
Romaine lettuce, shredded
Two little Gem lettuce, torn into individual leaves
Bag of lamb’s lettuce
Bag of baby mixed leaves
Grated Pecorino (or other hard Italian) cheese
Pomegranate seeds
Mixed seeds (pumpkin, linseed and so on).

Mix the leaves, add the seeds and finish with the cheese. Make up a dressing with your favourite oil, vinegar, lemon juice and chopped herb.

Radish fondue party

I received a coffee percolator for my 21st – but many of my friends were given fondue sets, which were very trendy in the 1970s. I’ve used radishes (instead of steak or bread cubes) to recreate the fondue party scene and used it as an excuse to create a new healthy dip instead of melted cheese with wine. This recipe is also a bit of a throwback to 1960s/1970s party canapes with pineapple and cheese on sticks, and so on…This would work well at a BBQ party!

Serves up to six
Radishes
Pineapple cubes
Feta cubes
Cherry tomatoes
Olives
For the dip
One tub of high-quality hummus
One tbsp. horseradish sauce
One tbsp. peanut butter
Flaxseed or olive oil to thin

Make little ‘kebabs’ by sticking the radishes on wooden sticks, pairing them with the pineapple and so on. Dip the kebabs into the horseradish hummus.

Sweet and sour stir fry

When I was a student, my favourite takeaway or meal out was sweet and sour pork. Here’s a healthier version – still sweet and sour, but focusing on pak choi and mushrooms.
Serves two
Two heads of pak choi
100g mixed mushrooms, sliced
100g shredded pineapple
Pineapple juice
One tbsp. peanut butter
Soy sauce

Heat coconut or sesame oil in a wok or big frying pan and stir fry the mushrooms and pak choi till the leaves are wilted. Then add the peanut butter, pineapple juice and soy sauce to make a sweet and sour sauce. Stir till heated through. Serve with two nests of high-protein wholewheat noodles (I used spelt, but other varieties are available).
Next time. Celebrate early summer with peas, broad beans and cherries.

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