Tag: Light Lunches

The short season for English asparagus is now underway, and because this incredible produce is only available for six weeks or so I’d encourage you to eat as much of it as you can whilst you have the chance! 

grilling asparagus on a barbecue

This recipe makes a great light lunch and if you don’t have a lidded barbecue or don’t want to light a fire to cook over then you can also cook it in your kitchen under the grill.  The main thing is that you cook it in a sealed or covered environment (such as a smoker or lidded barbecue) so that the steam and smoke can cook and flavour the asparagus and mozzarella.

With a long weekend coming up, it’s definitely time to dust off your barbecue if you haven’t already.  Pick up a bunch of new season English asparagus and some good mozzarella, and treat yourself.

rupert cooper of philleigh way cooking baked and burnt asparagus and mozzarella


Bunch of English asparagus

2 balls of mozzarella

Good quality EV olive oil or rapeseed oil

Pomegranate molasses

Red wine vinegar or juice of one lemon

Pinch dried chilli flakes


Light your barbecue and allow the fire to burn down until you have a bed of hot coals.

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus spears (hold the bottom end and mid point and bend, and the spear will snap at the right place).  Keep two back and place the rest of them on the grill.

Cook until beginning to char, then turn the asparagus spears over.  Bunch them together on the grill and place the two balls of mozzarella on top of the asparagus, then place the lid on your barbecue (or cover with foil if you don’t have a lid).  The idea is that the moisture steams the asparagus and mozzarella and it takes on a bit of the smokey flavour. 

Use a speed peeler to peel the two reserved raw asparagus spears lengthways into strips.

Check after three minutes, and once the asparagus has charred on the other side and the mozzarella is starting to melt, use a spatula to remove it to a serving dish.

Place the peeled asparagus strips on top of the mozzarella.

Dress with a good slug each of olive or rapeseed oil, pomegranate molasses and red wine vinegar or lemon juice.  If you like an element of heat then sprinkle over a pinch of dried chilli flakes.

rupert cooper dressing baked and burnt asparagus and mozzarella with olive oil

You can serve this as it is, or with charred ice gem lettuce or on a piece of toasted focaccia.  If you want to take yourself to dairy heaven then you could even spread cream cheese on the toasted focaccia before piling it high with your baked and burnt asparagus and mozzarella.

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Festive entertaining doesn’t finish on Christmas Day; most of us have family and friends visiting through the Crimbo-limbo of “Betwixtmas” and through to New Years. If you’ve got leftovers from Christmas Day, you can easily use them to make light meal and “nibbles” options that your guests will love, without having to resort to cold meats and bubble and squeak. Here’s how, with our Christmas leftovers recipes for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans:

boxing day turkey bhan mi

Boxing Day Bhan Mi (Meat)


  • 2 small baguettes
  • 50g pâté
  • ¼ cucumber, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 140g cooked turkey sliced/shredded
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 red chilli, ½ finely chopped, ½ finely sliced
  • Sriracha
  • For the pickled slaw
  • 2 small carrots coarsely grated or julienne
  • ¼ tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp golden caster sugar


To make the pickled slaw, tip the carrots and cabbage into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, rice vinegar, sugar and a few pinches of salt. Pour over the vegetables and toss together. Set aside for at least 15 mins.

Halve the baguettes lengthways and spread the pâté over the bottom half. Top with the pickled slaw, cucumber and turkey. Mix the mayonnaise with the chopped chilli and dollop over the top.

Scatter over the mint leaves and sliced chilli. Sandwich together and dig in.

festive bar nuts

Festive Bar Nuts (Vegan Nibbles)


  • 500g nuts (cashews, pecans, peanuts, macadamia almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts)
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsps of sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dark muscavado sugar or 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Place a medium pan on a medium heat, add the butter and sugar/honey and heat for 3-4 minutes until the butter has melted and stir to combine.

If using Brazil nuts, roughly chop some of them up into halves and quarters to make them more bite size.

Place all the nuts onto two large roasting trays, then carefully divide the melted butter and honey mix between the two, then scatter over the paprika and rosemary. Toss to coat all the nuts, then cook for 20-30 minutes, or until golden all over, carefully shaking the tray every 10-15 minutes to make sure they cook evenly.

Season with a little salt and leave to cool.

Leftover Root Veg Gnocchi (Vegetarian)


  • 400g parsnip peeled and cut into chunks or leftovers
  • 600g potatoes peeled and cut into chunks or leftovers
  • 60ml olive oil plus a drizzle to serve
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (around 1 clove)
  • 100g ‘00’ strong white flour
  • 1 egg
  • ½ small pack thyme leaves picked, to serve
  • 30g walnuts toasted and chopped, to serve


If you’ve not got leftover roast root veg, then heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Toss the parsnips and potatoes in 2 tbsp of the olive oil and tip into a roasting tin along with the garlic cloves. Roast for 40 mins or until the veg is completely soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Or in a microwave heat up gently the leftovers and then mash, then add to a bowl along with the flour, egg & nutmeg. Begin to knead the dough mix until it becomes pliable.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface, cut into four chunks and roll each into a sausage about 35cm long and 2.5cm wide. Use the back of a table knife to cut each sausage into small pillow-shaped gnocchi, each around 2cm long.

Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of rapeseed oil.

Add half the gnocchi and fry until lightly golden on each side, around 3-4 mins. Transfer them to a tray using a slotted spoon while you cook the second batch. When all the gnocchi are golden, return them all to the pan to warm through before dividing between four plates. Sprinkle over some black pepper, then top with the thyme leaves, toasted walnuts and a drizzle of olive oil, if you like.

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