Our farm grown cucumbers, fresh out of the warm, sun kissed polytunnels, are mind-blowingly delicious! Nothing like the almost tasteless supermarket ones, these are the real deal. If the kids don’t get to them first as a snack, this is one of my favourite things to do with them. Smashing the cucumber before dressing it really opens it up and makes more craggy surface areas for the dressing to cling to. We often eat this summery side dish with simply boiled rice, some baked or fried tofu and spicy kimchi.
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 a lime – juiced (or 1 tbsp apple-cider/rice-wine vinegar)
1/2 a garlic clove – crushed or finely grated
1/2 thumb of fresh ginger – finely grated
2 tbsp sesame seeds – toasted
1 tsp chilli flakes – optional
2 sliced scallions – optional
Give the cucumber a rinse, then place it on a chopping board and cover it with a clean tea towel to prevent bits of cucumber flying around your kitchen in the next step.
Bash or crush the cucumber with a something heavy or blunt. Rolling or bashing a tin of beans or a wooden rolling pin along its length with a fair bit of weight behind it will crack open the insides beautifully. Or you could press a heavy saucepan over it or whack it gently with a mallet. You don’t want to smash it into mush, rather crack and break it open and lightly crush it so that there are lots of wild, craggy shapes inside.
Remove the tea towel then break and slice the cucumber into bite sized pieces. Place the pieces in a bowl and make the dressing.
Stir together the toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, lime/vinegar, garlic and ginger.
Pour the dressing evenly over the smashed cucumber, give it a quick stir, then top with toasted sesame seeds, chilli flakes and sliced scallions.
Serve with rice, tofu, kimchi…or as a side to a barbecue!
I used the same dressing to marinade a romanesco cauliflower before roasting it as another side to this meal and it was absolutely delicious! Highly recommend!
These dumplings are simpler to make than they look. Honestly! A basic dough made from flour, salt and water, an easy filling of sautéed pak choi and firm tofu and then a lot of fun rolling, filling and crimping. Put this recipe on your list of meditative kitchen moments.
I like them pot sticker style, where you fry the dumplings with a little veg oil until they have crisp, golden bottoms, then add some water and a lid and steam-fry them until they are juicy and tender. But you can pop them into a broth to simmer or even just steam them if you like. This kind of firm tofu filling is our favourite. If I have a jar of kimchi on the go, I just mix chopped kimchi, tofu, soy sauce and white pepper for an even easier filling with no need to pre-cook. Of course you can fill them with whatever you like. Just make sure the mix isn’t too wet.
Ingredients (makes about 40 dumplings)
2 mugs of plain flour (strong flour works well too)
1 tsp salt
1/2 mug of freshly boiled water
1 pak choi
4 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 thumb of ginger – grated or finely chopped
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp white pepper
chilli flakes to taste
2 packs of extra firm tofu (400g total)
vegetable oil for frying
dipping sauces to serve – sweet chilli or a simple soy-sesame oil-lime juice mix?
Start by making the dough as it needs time to rest before you start rolling.
Put the flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the boiling water.
Squish together into a firm dough with your hands, then move onto a clean work surface and knead well until the dough is smooth and stretchy. It should be quite firm too, not sticky.
Form the dough into a neat ball and put it back into the bowl. Then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes while you make the filling.
Dice the stems of the pak choi and sauté in a frying pan with the sesame oil until softened.
Add the tofu to the pan. Scrunch it up with your hands into a small crumble. Then add the soy sauce, white pepper, garlic, ginger and chilli flakes. Stir and cook until well combined.
Shred the green leaves of the pak choi and add them to the pan. Stir fry for just a few more minutes until the leaves are wilted.
Transfer the filling to a bowl to cool down.
Cut the ball of dough into quarters, put 3 of the pieces back into the bowl and cover again with the damp tea towel so that they don’t dry out.
Roll the quarter of the dough you have out into a 2cm thick snake then chop it into 10 or so pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball the squash it down flat with the palm of your hand.
Then roll each piece into a thin circle, it needs to be just a couple of mm thick and as even and round a circle as possible.
Then place a tbsp of filling in each circle and form the dumplings. There are loads of different techniques around. Have a watch of some youtube videos for inspiration.
I like to place the circe and filling in the palm of my left hand, then using my right hand, fold the circle of dough over and pinch it at the top in the middle. Then pull and fold and crimp the right side towards the middle like in the photo below. Then transfer the dumpling to your right hand and do the same on the left side with your left hand.
Once the dumpling is crimped and sealed, pinch firmly all along the seal to ensure it is secure. Then place it on a large tray that has been lightly floured (or lined with baking parchment).
Repeat with all the dough and filling. Ensure the dumplings are not touching each other as they will start to stick together if they do.
Then heat up a frying pan (one that has a lid) with a little vegetable oil to medium-high. Place as many dumplings, flat side down, into the pan that will fit. Allow them to cook until golden brown and crispy underneath.
Then quickly pour in a small glass of water – enough so that there is a cm of water in the pan – and pop the lid on so that the dumplings can steam and absorb most of the water.
Steam them with the lid on for 3 minutes then remove the lid and allow any excess water to evaporate. Then move the dumplings onto a plate to keep warm while you cook the rest in batches like this.
Serve with dipping sauces alongside steamed greens and other veggies, or with a stir fry, noodles, rice, miso soup, kimchi… anything like that. Enjoy!
We have a new product in our grocery section that is absolutely delicious. These sachets of umami pastes which are basically organic miso with added ingredients like ginger, garlic and chilli. They are flavour bombs and we love them as a marinade for aubergine in this simple, hearty supper. The paste can be used to marinade skewers of tofu and mushrooms for the barbecue too, or even as a stunning broth base for a light miso soup. How would you use them?
Ingredients (serves 2)
rice for two (I bring 1/2 a mug of brown rice with 1 mug of water to a boil in a pan with the lid on, then turn down to the lowest setting and simmer until the rice has absorbed all water)
2 tbsp umami paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves – sliced
1 bunch of rainbow chard – stalks separated and sliced
1 tin of black beans – drained
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Pre-heat the oven to 200C and get some brown rice on to cook – see ingredients list for my super-simple method.
Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and score the cut side deeply with a small, sharp knife. Spread a tbsp of umami paste onto each half and make sure you get it into all the cuts. Place the aubergines in a small roasting dish in the oven to cook while you prepare the greens and beans.
Separate the stalks from the rainbow chard and slice them. They take longer to cook than the delicate green leaves. Put them in a pan with the vegetable oil and sliced garlic. Sauté until just starting to soften.
Then add the drained tin of black beans to the pan and turn the heat off until the rice and aubergine are cooked through.
When the aubergine is soft (this usually takes around 20 minutes), remove it from the oven and sprinkle it with sesame seeds. Return the dish to the oven for 5 minutes to toast the seeds.
Meanwhile turn the heat back on under the beans and add the greens and a splash of soy sauce (around 2 tbsp). Stir and wilt the greens. Then serve.
Divide the rice between two bowls. Add the garlicky beans and greens and a half of the aubergine to each bowl. Enjoy as it is or with a side of kimchi.
These simple seeds are so savoury, crunchy and moreish! The perfect salad or soup sprinkle. Here’s a quick video tutorial to show you the easy method. Otherwise read on below. You can buy organic seeds and soy sauce (or gluten free tamari) from our website along with the best organic fruit and veg. We deliver to every address in Ireland.
seeds of your choice (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame or a mix)
soy sauce (or tarmari if you are avoiding gluten)
Measure out your seeds into the jar you’d like to store them in. Make sure you leave some space in the jar though as they will expand as they are toasted.
Tip the seeds into a dry frying pan on a high heat. Keep them moving with a wooden spoon and toast them until they are taking on some colour, starting to crackle and pop and smell incredible!
Once they are toasted well, add a splash of soy sauce and quickly stir to coat all the seeds in the salty seasoning.
Take the pan off the heat and let the seeds completely cool down before returning them to the jar and securing the lid.
They should stay fresh for at least a month in the jar. Sprinkle them on salads and soups or eat them as a snack. Enjoy!