Happy New Year from Gastrotastic with Mazzi B! So how were Christmas and the festive season for you? Did you settle down to a carb coma after the main event on Christmas Day? Perhaps you practically main-lined champagne and Puligny Montrachet through the Doctor Who, Strictly, Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey quadruple bill (guilty as charged your honour!)? Or maybe a breakfast of Mince Pies and a generous dollop of brandy cream became standard issue? Whatever the indulgence, January seems to be always about getting your body back in order and aiming for an altogether healthier approach. At Gastrotastic Towers we have been going for a two pronged attack drinking a Detox ‘Elixir’ that tastes as challenging as it looks and having a lighter approach to supper time that doesn’t compromise on flavour. This is our first in a series of delicious, nutritious and bloater-free dishes!
Prawns, Spinach and Sugar Snap Salad with Toasted Sesame Seed and Shredded Ginger
Difficulty Factor: Easy Peasy
180grams of Raw Jumbo Prawns (I used a Sainsbury’s Packet that costs £3.29)
120 grams of Baby Leaf Spinach
80 grams of Sugar Snap Peas
50 grams of Sesame Seeds
A Small Head of Ginger
One clove of garlic finely chopped
4 Spring Onions
1 red chilli cut fine (or less if you cannot cope with heat)
For the Dressing
2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
1 tea spoon of Dark Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon of Honey (clear or set)
Juice from half a lime
Black Pepper (optional)
Salads are only as good as the way you treat the core ingredients. We’ve all been there; soggy leaves, overworked or worse over cooked vegetables, anaemic dressings. To make life easy and avoid some of these glitches I would suggest pre-washed leaves – that way you take the drama out of leaf texture and can focus on combining flavours.
First chop spring onions into half centimetre slices and the chilli as finely as your knife skills will allow. Put the spinach leaves in a large salad bowl and mix both lightly taking care not to bash the spinach leaves about too much as they are delicate. Next peel a small head of ginger, and shred using the larger teeth in a cheese grater. Put aside to add to the leaves later.
Heat a tablespoon of Light Olive Oil in a heavy based frying pan and reduce the heat before adding the sesame seeds to the pan. Toast the sesame seeds taking care not to burn them by frequently moving them around in the pan, when the seeds begin to colour remove from heat and empty contents onto a plate
In a separate pan bring water to the boil and add the sugar snap peas taking them off the heat and draining them after one and a half minutes. The peas should be very firm so that they add the necessary bite and contrast to the spinach and spring onions. Whilst still hot coat the sugar snap peas in the seeds. The heat will act as a natural adhesive. Leave to cool.
In the frying pan put another tablespoon of olive oil and fry the garlic for approximately thirty seconds, keeping the heat on medium to avoid charred garlic. Add the prawns to the pan and sauté for no longer than one and a half minutes or until they turn colour from clear to pink, which may be sooner. It is important to not overcook prawns as they will get a rubbery texture and lose all their flavour. Remove off heat so that they cool. Any juice created from the prawns can be poured into the dressing that you are making later.
For the dressing combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Dressings often suffer from lacklustre mixing. With this particular dressing it is essential that you take time to blend the honey so that it does not settle at the bottom. Quick circular movements with a teaspoon are best. Think of it as a sort of wrist work out.
Toss the prawns and sesame coated sugar snap peas into the bowl that has the spinach leaves and mix through; cooling these ingredients is essential otherwise the spinach leaves will partially cook due to the heat. Now the shredded ginger can be introduced to the party as it too will not overwhelm the salad with soggy-factor.
Finally add the dressing and give a good stir through making sure that all of the salad has equal coverage of dressing and serve immediately. How smug you feel at your New Year healthy eating habit is entirely up to you.