Moroccan grain and sweet potato salad
Recipes

Spring recipes: 5 lunch ideas that are tasty, nutritious and perfect to eat outside

Get stuck into these tasty, filling, vegetarian recipes that make perfect summer meals. They’re ideal for meal prepping, so you can enjoy them solo or prep them for your next BBQ.

After a prolonged period of being stuck inside that’s left many of us over reliant on takeaways or stuck with monotonous mealtimes, it’s time we all rediscovered our cooking mojo.

Summer’s right around the corner, so we should be getting outside to enjoy it. Getting outside for a break during the day does wonders for the mind and body, so why not take a delicious lunch with you? 

For inspiration, we asked seasonal chef and the founder of the South East London Supper Club, Sophie Gordon, to come up with recipes that are tasty, easy to prep, nutritious and perfect to take to the park. 

Read on to discover your new al fresco menu.

Beet-top and millet chopped salad with a whipped tahini and dill dressing

Beet salad plated on colourful dishes
Beet and millet salad

This filling salad calls for a delicious dressing you can batch make and use on anything your heart desires.

Ingredients
4 small beetroots (or 2 larger ones), tops included
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard, finely chopped (you can use any other green: kale, cavolo nero, spinach)
1 lemon, juiced
200g millet
1 shallot, sliced thin
Large handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
1 apple, finely sliced
6 fresh figs, quartered
2 heaped tbsp sunflower seeds, lightly toasted 
2 heaped tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted

For the dressing
4 tbsp tahini
1 lemon, juice of whole lemon, zest from half
½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp of either coconut aminos or soy/tamari sauce
1 tbsp pure maple syrup, or any other sweetener of choice
1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard
Large handful fresh dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Water to thin

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Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Prep your beetroots by chopping the stalks and leaves off, as close to the top of the beetroot as possible. Place the tops to one side while you prepare the bulbs. Scrub the beets well, removing any excess dirt. Lightly brush the beetroots with the olive oil, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pop them in the oven on the middle rack to cook for approx 45-55 minutes. Depending on the size, the time will vary. You want them to be soft all the way through when you pierce them with a knife.

While the beets are roasting, wash the beetroot tops to remove any dirt. Finely chop them along with the Swiss chard. Place both into a large mixing bowl and squeeze the juice from your lemon on top. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper then begin to massage with your hands. This will help them to soften and take out any bitterness. Put to one side and allow them to wilt further.

In a pan, add your millet grain and water with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer, cooking until soft and fluffy, approx 12 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid through a fine sift and add to the bowl with your beetroot tops, greens and chard.

To the bowl, add in the sliced shallot, chopped dill, apple, half of the fig quarters, and half of the sunflower and sesame seeds. Season with salt and pepper and gently mix to combine.

Once cooked, remove your beetroots from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

To make the dressing, simply whisk together the tahini, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, coconut aminos/soy sauce, maple syrup, mustard, fresh dill and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. It’ll start to thicken as you whisk, forming peaks (as if you’re whipping cream). If you want your dressing a little thinner, add a dash of water. You can also do this in a blender for a smoother consistency. I like mine a little more rustic here.

Remove any overly charred parts of the skins from the beetroot and chuck into your compost. Chop into chunky quarter sized pieces and add to the salad. Pour ¾ of the dressing over and gently mix, coating everything nicely.

To serve, dish up with the extra slices of figs, toasted seeds and a drizzle more dressing. 

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    Fregola ‘risotto’ with broad beans, peas, lemon zest and nut parmesan 

    Fregola risotto with nut parmesan
    Fregola risotto with nut parmesan
    A little of the nut parmesan topping goes a long way. This recipe makes more than needed for the meal, so you can keep it in a jar in the fridge for up to one month of cheesy goodness.

    Ingredients: 

    200g fregola
    Olive oil
    1 large onion, white or brown, finely chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups broad beans, podded
    2 cups peas
    2 cups stock (approx)
    2 lemons, juice and zest from one
    2 tbsp nutritional yeast
    1 tbsp tahini
    Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped; 2 heaped tsp if dried
    Handful fresh mint, finely chopped; 2 heaped tsp if dried
    2 tsp dried oregano
    Salt and pepper
    Pinch of chilli or cayenne

    For the nut parm 

    ½ cup raw cashews
    ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds
    1 tsp salt
    3 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
    ¼ tsp garlic powder
    ¼ tsp turmeric powder

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    Method

    First cook your fregola. Simmer in lightly salted water for around 10-12 minutes and stir occasionally. They’ll have a soft outer with a nice texture when bitten – similar to giant couscous. Once cooked, drain and put back into the pot with a dash of olive oil to prevent it from sticking. Place to one side.

    In a separate pan, fry your onions in a dash of oil until soft and fragrant, add a pinch of salt followed by the garlic. Continue to cook for another minute or so. Add the broad beans and peas, and lightly fry before adding in another tablespoon or so of olive oil. Slowly pour in half of the stock or until the beans and peas are covered. Bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. You may not use all of your stock initially, so just place it to one side.

    Add in the lemon juice and zest, nutritional yeast, tahini, parsley, mint and oregano. Season with a good amount of salt and pepper here and mix well. Cover and continue to simmer until the liquid starts to thicken. If it dries up a little too much, you can add a dash more stock/water. Usually around 15 minutes or so.

    While your broad beans and peas are simmering, make your nut parmesan. Place your cashews in a blend and blitz until they break up slightly. Add in the sunflower seeds, salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and turmeric. Blitz again until a nice crumb-like texture forms. Be careful not to over blend as you don’t want to make a paste. Transfer to a jar and place in the fridge.

    Add your chilli and stir, season if necessary. The broad beans and peas by this point should be very soft, and may start to break down slightly. You will notice the colour will be less vibrant than you’re used to and they’ll be very soft. Add the fregola to the pot and stir well to combine. Again, season if necessary. You want the mixture to be like stew; there will be some liquid, but not a whole load.

    To serve, transfer to dishes, topping with a good sprinkle of your parmesan and any additional herbs of choice. 

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    Kale salad with pan-fried tenderstem broccoli, garlic and pear

    Kale salad with broccoli, garlic and pear
    Kale salad with broccoli, garlic and pear

    Serve this tasty salad over any grain of your choice. Simply cook, allow to cool, top with your salad and enjoy.

    Ingredients

    1 large bunch kale (cavolo nero is also good), washed thoroughly, roughly chopped
    1 large leek or 4 spring onions, washed thoroughly, sliced in half lengthwise, then finely chopped
    3 tbsp olive oil
    1-1½ lemons, juiced, zest from half
    1-2 tbsp dijon mustard
    2 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
    1 tbsp pure maple syrup
    Salt and pepper
    200g tenderstem broccoli, keep whole or chopped in half
    4-6 large cloves garlic, skins on and crushed with back of knife or spoon
    1 pear, cored, sliced thin
    Small handful almonds, lightly toasted, crushed
    Balsamic glaze for serving

    Method

    To a bowl, add your roughly chopped kale and leek/spring onions. Add a good pinch of salt, 2 tbsp of olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon and the zest. Using your hands begin to massage the ingredients in the bowl, wilting the kale and removing the bitterness from it, for approx 3-4 minutes. The stalks will be a little tougher but add a nice texture to the salad.

    Add the minced mustard, nutritional yeast, maple syrup and season again with salt and pepper. Massage once again to combine and coat the ingredients. Add the remaining lemon juice here. Set aside to wilt further.

    For the tenderstem, heat approx 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Once hot, go ahead and add the tenderstem broccoli. Season with salt and pepper and fry over a medium heat. After a few minutes add the garlic. You can break them up a bit if you’d prefer smaller chunks. Continue to fry until the broccoli starts to brown and reaches your desired texture. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

    Add you pear into the bowl with the kale and half of the almonds, mixing carefully.

    Add the cooled tenderstem broccoli and any extra seasoning. Mix well.

    To serve, portion out and sprinkle over the remaining almonds and a drizzle of balsamic. You can have as is or if you want a bit more to it, go ahead and have with your grain of choice.

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    Mediterranean-style roasted aubergine with tahini chickpeas 

    Mediterranean style roasted aubergine and chickpea salad
    Mediterranean style roasted aubergine and chickpea salad

    Having people over? Fire up the barbecue and give your aubergines a fire-roasted flavour.

    Ingredients

    2 aubergines – halved lengthways, then into approx 3 or 4 pieces (you choose depending on size)
    2 tsp dried oregano
    1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper
    Chilli flakes, optional

    For the chickpeas

    1 can or jar of chickpeas (if you are using a jar, the volume will be slightly more) – drained and rinsed well
    1 large onion or 2 shallots – thinly sliced
    2 cloves garlic – minced
    small bunch fresh parsley – stalks and leaves finely chopped
    1½–2 cups stock water
    1 lemon – zest and juice from whole
    2 tbsp soy or tamari sauce
    2 tbsp dijon mustard
    2 heaped tbsp tahini plus extra to serve
    2 tbsp dried oregano
    4 tbsp nutritional yeast
    salt and pepper to taste

    Method

    Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place your aubergine onto a large roasting tray. Sprinkle over the oregano and cinnamon followed by a generous drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix so that the aubergine is coated. Add the chilli flakes for a bit of spice.

    Place into the oven and roast on the middle shelf for approx 30 minutes. You want the aubergine to be really soft and wilted. Some bits will char in the process. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

    Add a few tablespoons of your stock to a pan (non-stick if you can) and sweat down your onion/shallots until soft. Once the onion has softened and turned a slightly golden colour, add your garlic. Fry for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

    Add approx 1 cup of the stock, fresh parsley, lemon zest and juice, soy or tamari sauce, dijon mustard, tahini and oregano to the pot. Toss in your chickpeas and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer.

    As the liquid starts to reduce and becomes thicker, add the nutritional yeast and approx ½ cup stock, seasoning again here for taste. The chickpeas will continue to cook in the sauce, you’ll notice the texture becomes a little stew like. You can go ahead and add the other cup of stock should you want more liquid in the dish.

    To serve, portion out the chickpeas, topping with some of the roasted aubergine. Season if necessary and add any other additions you’d like. I love adding an extra drizzle of tahini on top for extra creaminess! 

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    Moroccan-inspired grain and sweet potato salad 

    Moroccan grain and sweet potato salad
    Moroccan grain and sweet potato salad

    This salad is easily customisable. Play around with your choice of grains, nuts and herbs to find your ideal flavour profile. 

    Ingredients

    ½ cup grain of choice, use what you have in, eg rice, orzo, couscous, millet, quinoa
    4 small sweet potatoes, washed and cubed
    2 carrots – thinly sliced, tops included. Any variety, eg purple, orange, yellow
    1 bunch celery, thinly sliced, leaves included
    1 small red onion – thinly sliced
    Few stems of kale – roughly chopped, stalks either included or into your stock box
    1 tsp apple cider or white wine vinegar plus 1 tsp salt
    1 can chickpeas or other beans of choice, drained and rinsed well
    1 large handful freshly chopped herbs, coriander, mint, parsley
    ¼ cup chopped and lightly toasted nuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts 
    1 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted
    Salt and pepper to taste

    For the dressing

    2 tbsp date syrup
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 lemon - juiced
    2 tsp dijon mustard
    ½ inch fresh ginger, minced or grate
    2 small cloves garlic, minced
    ½ tsp ground coriander
    ½ tsp ground cumin
    ½ tsp cayenne pepper
    ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
    Water – to loosen

    Method

    First make your dressing. Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined. You can also do this in a small blender if you want. Add water if you prefer a runnier dressing.

    Cook your grain accordingly. Bring to the boil in salty water and simmer until cooked. Depending on what you are using the time can vary.

    For the potatoes, place into a large pan of cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil before lowering to a simmer. You want them to be soft and tender but not overcooked, roughly 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. I like this salad warm but feel free to place into a bowl with cold water to get them to cool down quicker.

    Into a separate bowl, add the carrots, celery, red onion and kale. Add the tsp of vinegar and salt. Using your hands, gently mix and massage the vegetables to soften slightly.

    To the bowl, add in your grain, potatoes, drained and rinsed beans/chickpeas, fresh herbs, nuts and toasted cumin seeds. Season with salt and pepper and pour in your dressing, mixing gently as you go.

    Serve as is or with anything else you desire. I often squeeze on some extra lemon or lime and if I feel like adding a touch more spice, a pinch of dried chilli flakes do the trick.

    Sophie Gordon’s debut book is out in January 2022, for more check her out on Instagram or see www.sophgordon.com for details about upcoming supper clubs, events and retreats.   

    Images: courtesy of Sophie Gordon. 

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