Beetroot, Tangerine, and Kale Salad

Christmas is over, and I have spent the last week living on chocolate, mince pies, and various forms of potato. Obviously this is brilliant, but I am starting to feel like I should supplement this excellent diet with some food with nutritional value. Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to enjoy working through my Christmas chocolate and all of the traditionally carb-and-cheese-laden foods of the season. I am just going to punctuate it with some fruits and vegetables.


It’s still perfectly possible to have delicious, colourful, healthy meals as we head towards the end of the year. This dish makes use of plenty of seasonal ingredients that are thriving right now, including beetroot, kale, and, if you fancy, mackerel.


The sweetness and sharpness of the citrus here contrast beautifully with the earthiness of the beetroot, and the bright orange, rich purple, and deep green in this dish will bring a bit of life to any winter table. You can make a big batch of this salad and keep it in the fridge to eat alone or with your chosen additional protein for satisfying lunches or light dinners.



This will serve 4-6 people (depending on how hungry you are!) as a side dish.

If you want to use this as a base for a main course, it’s great with pan-fried mackerel fillets (or fish of your choice) or topped with generous discs of goats’ cheese.

Clementines, satsumas, or oranges would also work well in place of tangerines.


100g blanched hazelnuts
4 medium raw beetroot
200g uncooked quinoa, or a 250g cooked quinoa pouch if you prefer – any colour is fine
a good bunch of cavolo nero or kale stalks
3 tangerines
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
plenty of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper, to season


  1. Set your oven to 220C/ 200C fan/ gas 6. Spread your hazelnuts out on a lipped baking tray and pop them in the oven to toast for five minutes while it heats up.
  2. Meanwhile, peel your beetroot and cut them into halves (or quarters if they are particularly large). Your hazelnuts should be toasted by now, so take them out of the oven and pop them into a bowl. Put your beetroot on the baking tray and toss it with a generous glug of olive oil, then season generously. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  3. While your beetroot cooks, cook your quinoa according to pack instructions (if you’re not using a pre-cooked pouch). Tear your kale leaves from their thick stalks into rough ribbons, and pop them in a large bowl. Sprinkle them with a pinch of sea salt, then massage the leaves for a couple of minutes until they seem darker and shrink down a little.
  4. Peel your tangerines, then slice them into rounds and put them in the same bowl as the kale. Add the chopped tarragon and cooked quinoa. Finally, roughly chop your hazelnuts, and mix them in. Finish it all off with a couple of tbsps of olive oil stirred through, and taste and season.
  5. Serve the salad alone for a lighter meal, or top with fish or discs of goats cheese.

Beef Shin and Black Garlic Stew

January is an absolutely ridiculous time to introduce dramatic dietary restrictions, no? Your house is still full of leftover Christmas chocolate and cheese, it’s grey and rainy outside, the excitement of the holiday is behind you, and you’ve got going back to work hanging over your head. Why deprive yourself of the pleasures of food and drink? Sure, if you feel a little weak from Christmas indulgence – so overwhelmed by your consumption of cold meat buffets and Prosecco that you are no longer able to physically lift yourself off the sofa, say – then you might want to hesitantly reintroduce green vegetables to your limping system and gently nourish yourself with restorative avocado-based meals. But that’s no reason to eschew all the hearty meat-and-carb based fare and warming puddings that are our birthright in the bleak mid-winter. Have it all, that’s what I say. Then have some more. Then have an apple, for balance.


In the spirit of this, here is a very hearty beef stew. By all means, serve it with vegetables if you wish. But relish in its warming, protein-laden deliciousness, have it with a glass of wine under a duvet in front of the TV, cuddle up with a loved one or pet, and be kind to yourself.


This stew takes inspiration from recipes in both Nigella Lawson’s Simply Nigella and Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana, but is very much my own meandering take on things. Both of them use lamb, for a start.


Black garlic. It sounds like quite an annoying, esoteric ingredient to include here, doesn’t it? Normally I would not put such a thing in a recipe, because I hate recipes which require you to find odd ingredients (not that I don’t like the odd ingredients, you understand – I just resent having to go out and buy them) but I was given a tub of it for my birthday by my brother-in-law to be and it smelled so delicious that I knew I wanted it to find its way onto the blog. Then I found that you can buy it in my local Sainsburys (in the speciality section, admittedly, BUT STILL), so I feel much more comfortable about it being here now.

This serves about 4-6 people generously, dependent on sides. I tend to make the full amount for the two of us and we’ll have it pretty much all week. Luckily James has a very high tolerance for eating the same thing over and over again.

You can get beef shin from a butcher, but you can also get it from Sainsburys these days, usually from the butcher counter but sometimes just in the beef section of the meat aisle. I would really recommend using it over any other cut of beef for a stew. It’s my favourite by far for texture and flavour. Unless you have a really decent knife, cutting beef shin is a bit of a pain, because it’s tough. I tend to just use scissors, because I am a ridiculous excuse for a cook. Try to cut against the grain, as it makes it more tender to eat.

You will see the technical term ‘ish’ lots in the ingredients. This is the nature of stew. A bit more or a bit less of anything won’t really hurt.



glug of olive oil
1 large white onion
2 heads black garlic, peeled and separated into cloves (see note)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp tumeric
2 tbsp dukkah
750g (ish) beef shin, cut into 4cm (ish) chunks
handful (say about 10) baby onions, peeled and left whole
2 tbsp plain flour
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
leaves from 2 thyme sprigs
2 cans chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  1. Pop a big pan on medium heat and cover the base with the oil. I am sure proper cookery people have cast iron pots that can go in the oven and fancy tagine dishes and stuff, but all I have is a big saucepan with a lid, so I use that. Blitz the large onion and one head’s worth of black garlic cloves in a food processor until roughly chopped, and pop them in the oil. Cook them off for about 3 minutes until they start to soften and release delicious garlicky smells. Pop all of the dry spices into the pan and stir everything up. Cook it all off on a gentle heat for about five minutes. Scrape the mixture out into a bowl and turn the heat up high.
  2. Add a splash more oil to the pan, season the beef with salt, and pop it in to brown. Move it around occasionally. When the beef is well browned and golden on all sides (about 10 minutes, depending on your pan and heat), pop the baby onions in for around 3 minutes to brown. When everything is caramelised and yummy, turn the heat down to medium and add the flour, bay, and thyme. Mix everything around until the flour is absorbed. Add the chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, then fill the chopped tomato cans with water and add to the pan until the contents are well covered with liquid. Bring the stew to a simmer, then turn down the heat as low as you can and leave to cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water if it gets dry.
  3. After three hours, grab a bit of the beef on a fork and have a poke at it. It should be completely falling apart – collapsing into melting flakes with almost no resistance when you press it against the side of the pan. If it’s not, give it half an hour’s more cooking time and check again, and keep going if you need to. It’s very difficult to overcook shin if you’re going on a gentle heat, so don’t worry about it going tough – it will fall apart before that happens. When you’re happy with the meat, make sure you’re happy with the sauce too. If you want it a bit thicker, whack up the heat and bubble it down for ten minutes or so. Take the second half of the black garlic cloves, stir them in, and let them warm through. When that’s done, check and adjust the seasoning of the sauce.
  4. Serve with brown rice, cous cous, or whatever carb you fancy. Probably could add some green in there too but you are not obligated. This keeps very well and will be delicious reheated even after a few days have slipped by.