Dominique Eloise Alexander shares five healthy jar recipes for five delicious desk lunches from her new book, Jar Food

Recipes and words Dominique Eloise Alexander

MONDAY: HOT SMOKED SALMON AND WATERCRESS SALAD 

This is a super-simple recipe – more of a put together than anything else! If you are short on time this is perfect as it takes just the time of boiling the potatoes. This recipe can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days and can be easily warmed in the oven or microwave (minus the watercress), so it’s a great one to prep for the week if you fancy something fresh but comforting. The soft-boiled eggs add a wonderful richness, which works very well with the sharpness of the dressing.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 1 x 700ml/25fl oz jar
Keeps: 3–4 days

5–6 baby potatoes, halved
2 eggs
1 tbsp capers, chopped
few dill sprigs
grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp each salt and freshly
ground black pepper
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 hot smoked salmon fillet, broken into large flakes
½ bunch of watercress

METHOD

STEP 1: Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 10–12 minutes – test them with a knife and if it goes in cleanly with no resistance, they are done. Remove them with a slotted spoon and gently lower the eggs into the water and set a timer for 6 minutes. As soon as the eggs are done, run them under cold running water so they are easier to peel. Peel them both and set aside.
STEP 2: To make the dressing, put the capers, dill, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mustard into a small jar, pop the lid on and shake well.
STEP 3: Start filling your jar with the hot smoked salmon, then add the soft-boiled eggs and potatoes. Drizzle in half the dressing, then add the watercress and the remaining dressing. If you want to heat it up, remove the watercress gently and set aside while the jar is warming. Put it back in and serve.

TUESDAY: LAKSA

There are so many awesome versions of laksa, but my favourite has to be the super-spiced and flavour-packed coconut milk ones. Eaten in Indonesia, Malaysia and Southern Thailand, thin vermicelli noodles are a perfect hidden ingredient as they soak up all the lovely flavour from the broth. You can pile any type of veg you fancy on top of the noodles and these awesome prawn balls bobbing in the broth. They take seconds to make and give some real sustenance to this otherwise light and fragrant dish.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 1 x 700ml/25fl oz jar
Keeps: 3 days

For the prawn balls:
100g/3½oz raw king prawns (jumbo shrimp)
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
small handful of coriander, stalks only

For the broth:
small handful of vermicelli rice noodles
1 tsp coconut oil
100g any sliced veg, such as cabbage, spinach or broccoli
2cm/¾in piece of fresh ginger, peeled
½ red chilli, deseeded if desired
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 spring onions, finely chopped
400ml coconut milk
1 tbsp sesame oil
300ml fish stock
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves (dried is fine)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp palm or light brown sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
small handful of coriander, leaves only, to garnish

METHOD

STEP 1: Soak the noodles in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.
STEP 2: Start with the prawn balls, place the prawns, curry paste and coriander stalks in a food processer and pulse until combined but still quite chunky. Using wet hands, scoop the mixture out and shape into little balls – you should make around eight. Place on a plate, cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill in the refrigerator until the broth is ready.
STEP 3: Heat the coconut oil in a pan, add the vegetables, ginger, chilli, turmeric and spring onions and fry for 2 minutes. Add the kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, stock, sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce and palm sugar to taste and simmer for 15 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the prawn balls and turn constantly to ensure they are cooked all the way through. Add the soaked noodles and stir through. Add the grated lime zest and juice, then carefully pour the laksa into your jar. Leave to cool, then tear up the coriander leaves and scatter over the top. Reheat over a low heat to ensure you don’t overcook the prawn balls.

WEDNESDAY: PEAR, STILTON AND WALNUT SALAD JAR

  1. There are many perfect triplets in the world and this is certainly one of them. It’s such a simple salad and can be totally personalised with any extra veg you have to boost it if you wish. Spelt is the slightly more nutritious cousin of wheat. It adds bulk to this otherwise light offering and can easily be changed to a gluten-free ‘grain’, such as quinoa, if you prefer. If making the day before, leave your dressing in its own jar and drizzle over just as you are eating – this stops the leaves wilting and gives your dressing a little longer to develop in flavour – never a bad thing.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 1 x 700ml/25fl oz jar
Keeps: 4 days (without dressing)

For the dressing:
2 tbsp walnut oil
juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar

For the salad:
100g spelt berries
300ml hot water or stock
1 endive bulb
large handful of rocket
50g walnut halves
100g Stilton
3 prosciutto slices (optional)
1 pear, sliced and dressed in a squeeze of lemon to prevent browning

METHOD

STEP 1: Soak the spelt berries for the salad overnight.
STEP 2: The next day, make the dressing. Pop everything into a small jar, cover with the lid and shake to combine. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
STEP 3: To cook the spelt berries, rinse them in clean water and drain. Place in a pan with the hot water or stock. Cover with a lid and simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes, or until the spelt berries are soft.
STEP 4: Prepare the salad by slicing the endive into long pieces and tossing through with the rocket. Slice your pear lengthways and toss in lemon juice to keep it fresh.
STEP 5: Next, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan (skillet) over a low heat to release all the gorgeous oils. Keep them moving so they don’t catch, and remove when you can smell their lovely nutty flavour.
STEP 6: In a large bowl fold together your spelt, rocket, walnut and Stilton. Add to the jar with the endive leaves and sliced pear, finishing with the prosciutto torn into long strips, if using. Drizzle over the dressing when you’re ready to eat, then pop on the lid and shake gently so everything is coated in the dressing.

THURSDAY: SHREDDED SPROUTS, PANCETTA AND WALNUT SLAW

Don’t freak out if you’re a sprouts hater – having them raw is a totally different experience! It’s almost like a slaw in its texture with a lovely crunch and a sweet-sharp dressing. If you have a mandoline, that’s awesome as it lets you get super-thin slices, but if your knife skills are up to it, you can also just chop them very finely instead. The pancetta is, of course, optional but its wonderful smoky flavour pairs with the maple syrup in the dressing really well, so definitely give it a go if you can.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 1 x 700ml/25fl oz jar
Keeps: 4 days (without dressing) or 2 days (with dressing)

150g Brussels sprouts
1 small red onion
1 green eating apple
juice of ½ lemon
small handful of walnut pieces
100g smoked pancetta cubes (optional)

For the dressing:
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp walnut oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
½ tsp each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

STEP 1: Start by making the dressing, add all the ingredients to a small jar, cover with the lid and shake well until everything is combined. Leave at room temperature until the rest of your jar is ready to go.
STEP 2: Using a mandoline or knife, shred the Brussels sprouts into thin slices. Do the same with the red onion. Set both aside. Grate the apple and toss in the lemon juice to ensure it doesn’t go brown, then set aside.
STEP 3: Dry-fry the walnut pieces in a small frying pan (skillet) until they are nice and toasty, then remove from the pan and dry-fry the pancetta cubes, if using, until crispy.
STEP 4: Once everything is ready, it’s time to layer up. Place the Brussels sprouts and onion slices into the bottom of your jar, followed by the apple, then the pancetta, if using, and finally, the walnuts. Pour in the dressing, pop the lid on and shake up to ensure everything’s well coated. This one holds up quite well with the dressing on, even overnight but if you’re making a couple of days ahead, keep it off and mix together just before you’re ready to eat.

FRIDAY: STICKY CHICKEN AND BULGAR WHEAT

This is my absolute go to when it comes to quick chicken dinners. The super-easy marinade makes the chicken so lovely and tender – it’s a total winner and I use it for everything, such as stir-fries, soups, salads and, of course, this awesome filling bulgur wheat jar. Bulgur wheat takes on flavour very well, so add any vegetables you particularly like to bulk it out but don’t forget those roasting juices, as they make all the difference.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 1 x 700ml/25fl oz jar
Keeps: 3–4 days

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 chilli, deseeded if desired and finely sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
75g bulgur wheat
250ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 courgette, diced
½ red onion, diced
small handful of flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

STEP 1: Pop the chicken thighs, soy sauce, honey, chilli and garlic in a bowl, cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for as long as you can – overnight is ideal.
STEP 2: To make the bulgur wheat side, put the bulgur wheat and stock into a pan and bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook for 12–15 minutes until the bulgur is soft and cooked through. Drain if there is any excess stock and set aside.
STEP 3: In the same pan, heat the olive oil, then add the courgette and onion and gently soften for 2 minutes. Add the bulgur wheat and fold through, adding salt and pepper as you wish. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
STEP 4: When the bulgur wheat mixture is cool, mix through the parsley, then place in the bottom of your jar.
STEP 5: If you would like to bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 or preheat the grill (broiler). Grill (broil) the thighs for about 10 minutes, turning once, or bake for 25 minutes, or until the juices run clear. The honey will seem like it’s burning but this caramelisation tastes delicious once they are done so don’t panic. Shred the chicken thighs over the bulgur wheat in the jar and pour in any cooking juices for an added boost of flavour.

5 Delicious Jar Recipes for Each Day of the Working Week

Recipes from Jar Food: Recipes for On-the-Go by Dominique Eloise Alexander, £9.99, foyles.co.uk

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