Slow-roast lamb and bulgar wheat pilaf with saffron yogurt

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

A slightly altered recipe from the original sweet oat biscuits which were sent overseas from Australia to the serving Anzacs in World War I. I reckon the troops would have been happy with the added almonds and chia seeds though, as they add nutrients and a delicious texture to these slightly chewy, treacly cookies. The chocolate is optional, but is a delicious addition if you have some in the cupboard.

Serves 6–8
1 large shoulder of lamb, weighing approx 3.5kg
3 garlic cloves, cut into thick slices
1⁄2 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sumac
5 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or syrup
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
200ml glass white wine seeds from 1 pomegranate
a handful of mint leaves, torn
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pilaf:
1 large aubergine, cut into 5cm chunks
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
a knob of butter 3 red onions
sliced 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
400g bulgar wheat*
675ml weak chicken or vegetable stock
a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

For the rocket salad:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
150g rocket leaves, or watercress broken into sprigs
3⁄4 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways and sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the yogurt dressing:
2 pinches of saffron
5 tablespoons Greek yogurt
a good squeeze of lemon juice
1⁄2 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon oil

*Alternative to bulgar wheat: cracked wheat, freekeh or long-grain rice

1, Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 8.
2. First, make a start on the pilaf. Put the aubergine chunks and the garlic cloves into a roasting tin, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Roast in the oven for 20–30 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Remove, cool and set to one side.
4. Leave the oven on for the lamb. Meanwhile, place the lamb in a roasting dish and pierce all over with the pointy end of a knife.
5. Press the garlic pieces into the holes. In a bowl, mix together the cumin, sumac, molasses, 2 teaspoonfuls of olive oil and a good grinding of salt and pepper.
6. Rub the mixture all over the lamb then place in the oven. After 20 minutes take the lamb out of the oven and reduce the heat to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3.
7. Pour the wine around the lamb and cover with foil.
8. Bake at the lower temperature for 31⁄2 hours, then remove the foil and finish cooking for a further 20 minutes.
9. Towards the end of the lamb’s cooking time, mix the lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning in a salad bowl.
10. Top with the rocket or watercress leaves and cucumber, but don’t toss, just leave in a cool place.
11. Remove the bulgar from the heat, stir in the parsley and taste for seasoning.
12. Continue with the pilaf. Put the butter and the 2 remaining teaspoonfuls of oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions slowly for about 10 minutes until soft and tinged with brown.
13. Add the cinnamon, cumin and bulgar wheat and stir together for a minute.
14. Pour in the hot stock (you will need to season with some salt if your stock is home-made), cover and cook gently for 10 minutes or until tender.
15. Add the roasted aubergine for the final 3 minutes.
16. Once the lamb is cooked, remove to a board and leave to rest loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes. Spoon off any fat on top of the lamb and keep the juices warm in a small pan.
17. Once the lamb has rested, shred onto a warm plate and keep warm in the now cooling oven, covered with foil.
18. Pour 1 tablespoonful of boiling water over the saffron threads and leave for 5 minutes, then stir into the yogurt with the lemon juice, garlic and oil, plus some salt and pepper.
19. Spoon the bulgar pilaf onto a warm platter and top with the shredded lamb and any juices.
20. Sprinkle with the mint and pomegranate seeds and serve with the yogurt dressing and the salad, tossed with its dressing.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.

Nasi goreng

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

One of Indonesia’s national dishes, Nasi Goreng actually hails from China, but was introduced when the Chinese traded with Indonesia from about 2000 BC. The dish varies from place to place, sometimes using prawns and chicken, sometimes using just vegetables, but is unified by the fact that it always features fried rice and is served with a fried egg on top. This version was taught to me at an Indonesian hawker stall – it’s super quick to make and is made all in one wok. I love a handful or two of beansprouts added at the end, but I’m not sure that’s done in Indonesia! You can use wholegrain rice for added nutrients. It’s best to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to add to the wok for speedy stir-frying.

Serves 2
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 free-range eggs
1 onion, sliced
350g skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into small chunks
2 garlic cloves, chopped 200g greens, such as kai lan, spring greens or cabbage, shredded
300g cooked white long-grain rice, cooled
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
11⁄2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1. First, heat half the oil in a wok and fry the eggs until nearly cooked. Transfer to a plate. Keep warm in a low oven.
2. Add the onion to the wok with a little extra oil if needed and fry until beginning to soften.
3. Throw in the chicken, turn the heat to high and brown all over.
4. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and shredded greens and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes or until cooked but still crunchy.
5. Add the rice, oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil.
6. Season and stir together to heat through.
7. Serve topped with the fried eggs.

Alternative to cooked white long-grain rice: cooked brown Basmati rice

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.

Prawn, pea, lemon and mint risotto

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

A wonderfully light risotto with fresh summery flavours, which needs only a green salad as an accompaniment. To avoid it being too heavy, make sure that you add enough stock to make it quite runny in texture. Adding the butter at the end and resting is crucial as it allows the rice to relax.

Serves 4 generously
11⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
25g butter, plus a knob of butter for the end
1 onion, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
350g risotto rice, such as Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio
100ml white wine
1.3–1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
250g frozen peas
Defrosted 20 raw, peeled tiger prawns
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Zest and a good squeeze of lemon
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan.
2. Add the onion, celery and garlic and gently soften for about 10 minutes.
3. Then add the rice, stir over the heat to start to toast the grains (a minute or so), then pour in the wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates (again about a minute).
4. Heat the stock in a pan and keep warm.
5. Add about 300ml of the stock and some seasoning to the rice.
6. Stirring occasionally, simmer over a medium heat until the liquid has nearly all gone.
7. Add another 300ml of hot stock and repeat the process, adding more stock as needed until you are down to the final 200ml of stock.
8. Taste the rice and if it is not very nearly cooked add a little more stock and cook for a further few minutes – it should be fairly liquid rather than stiff.
9. Add the peas and prawns and cook for another 3 minutes until the prawns are pink. Then throw in the Parmesan, butter, lemon zest and juice.
10. Stir, turn off the heat, then leave to rest for 5 minutes before stirring in most of the mint.
11. Serve, garnishing with the remaining mint.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.

Mexican bean and quinoa cakes

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

I wanted to include an alternative use for South America’s wonder grain (or seed, in fact), rather than the usual recipes using quinoa for salads or accompaniments. And what could be better than to combine it with one of Mexico’s staple beans to produce these mildly spiced and very healthy veggie burgers – they can be a great way to help children to eat healthily, too, though you might want to reduce the spices slightly and perhaps add some sweetcorn niblets to the mixture as well. You can also serve them in smaller patties as a starter or nibble with a soured cream or salsa dip. They freeze beautifully and can be cooked from frozen.

Serves 4
500ml vegetable or chicken stock
100g quinoa (I like to use the rainbow kind)
300g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
400g tinned kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small carrot, grated 4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 medium free-range eggs
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (less if you don’t want any kick)
A handful of coriander
Chopped juice of 1 small lime
2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
To serve: soured cream lime wedges (optional)

1. Bring the stock to the boil, add the quinoa and sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes, adding the kidney or black beans for the final 5 minutes.
2. When the sweet potato is tender and the quinoa cooked, drain thoroughly and cool.
3. Put all the remaining ingredients (except the olive oil) in a bowl.
4. Add the cooled bean and quinoa mixture and, using the end of a rolling pin or a masher (I prefer the rolling pin), squash the mixture, crushing the beans and potato as you go.
5. Season with salt and ground pepper. With wet hands, form into 8 medium-sized or about 15 small cakes.
6. Put onto a plate and chill for at least 40 minutes.
7. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and gently add half the cakes.
8. Cook over a low- medium heat for about 3 minutes each side, turning them when the underside has browned.
9. Then repeat with the next batch.
10. Serve with a blob of soured cream.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.

Spelt risotto with Mediterranean vegetables

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

This is best made in late summer when all the produce is in abundance and flavours are at their richest. Pearled spelt can be found in many health food shops; Sharpham Park is a wonderful British organic producer, whose grain products are available worldwide. Serve this risotto as it is, or as an accompaniment to sausages or roast lamb.

Serves 2
3–4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, cut into wedges
2 small or 1 large courgettes, cut into 2.5cm chunks
1 pepper, red or orange, cut into cubes
1 x 250g aubergine, sliced and cubed
2 large ripe tomatoes
chopped 2 garlic cloves
crushed a sprig of rosemary
100g pearled spelt, washed and drained
450ml vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
A squeeze of lemon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat 11⁄2 tablespoons of the oil in a sauté pan or shallow, wide saucepan and fry the onions gently for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
2. Add the courgette and pepper to the pan, season and fry for about 5 minutes over a high heat, then place in the bowl with the onions.
3. Add another 11⁄2 tablespoons oil and fry the aubergine over a high heat for 4–5 minutes until nearly softened, adding an extra tablespoon of oil if needed.
4. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the chopped tomatoes and their juice, the garlic and the rosemary.
5. Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
6. Sprinkle in the spelt, stir with the tomatoes over the heat for a minute or so, then pour in the boiling hot stock and add the bay leaves.
7. Bring up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
8. Add the onion, peppers and courgettes and cook for a further 10–15 minutes or until the spelt is just tender, adding a splash of water if the risotto looks a little too dry.
9. Squeeze over the lemon, stir and taste for seasoning, then serve.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.