Winter

Quick Homemade Pickles

The winter season in Qatar is pretty much equivalent to Spring, as the weather is a lot cooler than the scorching summer months. Which mean this is the perfect time to start pickling any surplus veggies. Here is a quick and easy recipe that I found on My New Roots which I used to preserve the delicious locally grown organic produce I've been getting.

This is a great accompaniment to any meal and will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. I like to have it in my post yoga bowls which normally consist of steamed veggies (whatever I have in the fridge), buckwheat noodles/quinoa, and a topping of avocado, nuts and seeds. It adds a delightful vinegary crunch to your meal, and you're body will be taking in all the goodness from the raw veggies and apple cider vinegar.

Get creative and use any veggies you like, I had daikon, radish and cabbage spare so I decided to use them, but you can switch it up depending on what you have on hand. You'll need a 1 litre jar or several smaller ones.

Ingredients

  • 4/5 large radishes
  • 1 daikon
  • 1 cup green cabbage
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp fine Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns 1 tsp fennel seed (optional)

Method

Cut off the stem and root of the radishes and daikon. Slice the veggies into thin rounds, dice the cabbage, and set aside.

Measure out the apple cider vinegar and water into a cup, and add the salt and maple syrup. Stir to combine, making sure the salt has dissolved.

Add the radish to the jar, along with the a few peppercorns a clove of garlic, and fennel seeds if using. Then add the cabbage, again a few peppercorns and garlic as before, and finally the daikon, along with the remaining condiments.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the veggies, making sure they're all covered and close the lid tightly over the jar. Store in the fridge for at least 24 hours before eating, this will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Lemony Swiss Chard Soup

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Sometimes all you need is a big hearty bowl of soup, especially during the winter, and this is the one to try. Well it's not exactly freezing in Doha, it's about 20 degrees Celsius, which is cold compared to the scorching 50+ degrees in the summer months!

A lovely friend of mine, Lana, introduced me to a supermarket which stocks some pretty fresh produce from the Levant region, so I've been quite lucky recently with finding fruits and veggies I wouldn't normally have over here. The other day I came across some beautiful Lebanese Swiss Chard stalks just waiting for me to scoop them up! I bought them and they sat in the vegetable bowl on my kitchen counter for a few days as I debated between making dolma (stuffing them with a herbed rice) or soup. I finally decided soup would be the best option given the minimal prep required, and so I tried to recreate a recipe an old colleague had told me about a while back which sounded delicious. I didn't have all the ingredients but decided to work with what I had at home, I replaced potatoes with butternut squash and green lentils with black-eye peas, also fresh coriander with coriander powder. So work with which ever ingredients are easier to get your hands on. Either way, you will have a lovely warming bowl of soup to savour!

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Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups black-eye peas, rinsed
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups swiss chard, sliced
  • 2 tsp sumac powder himalayan pink salt (sea salt is fine too) & black pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbs ghee (can be replaced with coconut oil for Vegans)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs coriander powder

Method:

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot on medium - high heat. Then add the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes until they soften slightly. Stir in the black-eye peas and pour in the vegetable stock. Bring the broth to a boil and add the butternut squash, swiss chard. Season with sumac, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn the heat down and let simmer, covered, until the squash and peas are cooked, approximately 20-25 mins. While you're waiting for the soup to cook, heat the ghee in a small pan over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook for about a minute, then stir in the coriander powder, and remove from heat once the aromas start being released, about 30/40 seconds. Once the peas and squash are nearly done, add the garlic and coriander,and cook for 5 minutes, or until the squash and peas have cooked through. Just before serving add the juice of one lemon, and taste to check seasoning, add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed. Cut up the left over lemon into wedges to serve on the side and enjoy!

Warm Romanesco and Lentil Salad

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This is a great salad to warm up a cold winter's day. I made this for lunch yesterday and it was so good that I had the left overs for dinner too! Romanesco looks like something from another planet, with all the infinite spirals and perfect geometry it's a beautiful reminder of how incredible nature is. If you've never tried it, it is similar to broccoli but slightly sweeter, and is also a rich source of Vitamin C, which will help keep the winter flu away. I combined this wonderful vegetable with green lentils, which are one of the best sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans alike, sweet potato which is high is Vitamin D, again great for this time of year where the sun rarely comes out, and radishes which have great cleansing properties.

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Ingredients (serves 2)

1 head of romanesco 1 sweet potato 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1 cup green lentils 1 red onion 4 cloves of garlic 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder 4 radishes 2 tablespoons olive oil Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Sift through the lentils making sure there aren't any stones, and rinse a couple of times. Put them in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 1/2 cups water over medium heat and let cook. Chop the romanesco into florets, starting at the stem and working your way up to the top. Cut the sweet potato into approximately 2cm thick rounds. Melt the coconut oil (if solid) in a small saucepan over medium heat, once liquified remove from heat. Place the sweet potato and romanesco on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle the coconut oil over them evenly, season with a pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Pop them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Once the lentils have come to a boil, mix in the cumin powder, reduce to low heat and let simmer. Meanwhile dice the onion, crush the garlic and let them cook in the same saucepan as the lentils. Slice the radish into very thin rounds. When the vegetables are done cooking remove from the oven and let them cool slightly, do the same with the lentils. Once everything has cooled down and is warm, place the sweet potato rounds on the bottom of a plate or bowl, then add the lentils on top, followed by the romanesco and radish. Then drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper and most importantly, enjoy!