When I started eating more veg and less meat and getting a weekly organic box, the challenge to keep flavours and recipes fresh and exciting soon became apparent – with a hungry and discerning team of dumpling rollers to feed every lunchtime at Rainbo HQ, not to mention the hungrier and harder-to-impress Ben in the evenings after a hard day out in the van. And while it’s a wonderful thing to knock up delicious flavourful platefuls of healthy food with time on your side, when it’s not, you need a little help.
Shelley Young of The pH Miracle writes about how having a little jar of mixed spices and seasonings on the shelf helps her feed her kids endless green veggies without the fuss about monotony, and the talented Heidi Swanson of Supernatural Every Day has a great recipe for a superfood salad sprinkle that you could throw over anything from rice and salad to quinoa and chicken. (Although she is strictly veg.)
The omega seeds, calcium-rich kale and mineral-packed seaweed make a super nutritious base and I have added, in turn, sumac and za’tar to my own ones, as we have two huge jars of both on the spice rack and I’m always keen to use their distinctive Middle Eastern flavours. But you could also go down the dried herbs route for a more Mediterranean taste – or try Szechuan and green peppercorns for an Asian base. It is really a blank canvas with which to spice up any dish – a pinch if this, a little shake of that – and you can try as you go along. You don’t need a dehydrator and it’s not a fussy time consuming project.
Make a few variations, keep them on your shelf or in your bag and stay superfood-fuelled any time, anywhere.
Makes a small jarful
6-8 leaves of kale, stems removed
2 nori sheets or about 10g wakame (if using wakame make sure to rinse the salt off first)
Grated zest of 1 lime or lemon
A handful of seeds (I use a mix of sunflower, hemp, flax and pumpkin)
A pinch of salt
A pinch of chilli flakes
Za’tar – be careful of spice factor!
Start by roasting your kale and seaweed in the oven. Place them on baking trays and cook at around 150 degrees, but keep an eye as the kale can burn easily. It should take about 20 minutes. Once they are crispy and crumbly take them out to cool.
Meanwhile in a pan slowly toast your seeds, chilli flakes and citrus zest, again making sure they don’t burn.
Once they are cooled, add them with the kale and nori and start to crumble it all up together with your hands, then a quick go with the pestle and mortar to get it really fine. You can blend it if you like but I prefer a little texture. Add in your chosen spices and herbs, tasting as you go, and a sprinkle of salt. Put in a jar and store in a dry place.