Beetroot, fennel and blood orange salad with quinoa and bulgar wheat

Oranges aint my bag. Bananas and apples you can grab and go, no napkins, plates or tissues needed. But for someone that spends half their lunchtime spilling couscous over their office desk, oranges are never an obvious choice.

That is, except for blood oranges, which have got to be some of the most beautiful fruit in season right now. I love that supermarkets are afraid to call them blood oranges, I love that surprise when they get mixed up in the fruit bowl with regular oranges and I love how their colour seeps on to everything.

This recipe is inspired by Bon Appetit, although I decided to do away with the red onion- preferring to just focus on the delicious aniseed taste of the fennel against the earthy beetroot and tang of citrus. I added quinoa and bulgar wheat to make this into a huge lunch, which was easily enough for two.

1 orange orange, peeled and cut into segments
3 blood oranges, 2 peeled and cut into segments, 1 for juicing
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthways
Couple beetroots, washed and peeled
Salad leaves
Olive oil
Quinoa, bulgar wheat or couscous

Preheat the oven to 200 degress celsius. Slice the beetroot into discs and place in an oiled tray. Cover in foil, and roast in the oven for around 40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes to see how they are getting on.

Meanwhile, prepare the oranges and raw fennel, remembering to keep everything separate until ready to plate up as the oranges and the beetroot will dye everything they touch.

Mix the juice of one blood orange with a few tablespoons of oil, and some seasoning to make a dressing. When the beetroot is almost done, prepare the quinoa or bulgar wheat, drain and set aside to plate up.

Once the beetroot is ready, begin to assemble the salad. I started with a base of quinoa to soak up all the juices- then layered on the fennel, beetroot and oranges, along with the salad leaves and salad dressing. You can use the green fennel tops to add extra flavour to the salad, along with some final seasoning. Messy yes, but bloody tasty too!

Burnt sugar and blood orange churro bites

Last night a churro changed my life. Well, not just one, a whole plate full. Inspired by Nigel Slater's Churros with apples recipe, I whipped up a plate of moreish churro bites with some brown sugar and blood oranges. What caught my eye from Nigel's recipe is that the ingredients list was already vegan- a pretty rare find once you've strayed further than a fruit salad.

I've used every part of the blood oranges- the peel, flesh and juice- which breaks through the stodgy texture of the churros, and is perfect with the brown sugar, which I found burnt into little clusters once sprinkled over the hot churros.

Although this pudding would be PERFECTION for having friends round (everyone can eat as much as they like and still struggle to make a dent on the churro mound), I would make this a few times before to practice; the churro mix is quick to make, but the bubbling pan of oil to deep fry them in will require all your attention.

Makes a lot for 4 people
350ml water
1 orange's rind peeled
5 tbsp sunflower oil for mix, more for frying
1/2 tsp salt
200g plain flour
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
2 blood oranges for serving and juicing

In a saucepan, pour in the water, orange rind and 5 tbsp oil. Bring to the boil and then allow to infuse for 20 minutes.

Remove the rind, and add to a bowl with the salt and flour. Mix until a smooth paste forms.

In a pan suitable for deep fat frying, heat enough oil for bite size churros to cook in. Drop teaspoons of the churro mix into the oil, and wait until they turn a dark golden colour and float to the surface. It may take a few attempts to get the right colour, but once the oil is hot enough each churro should take around 30 seconds to cook.

Once they have turned a golden colour, remove from the pan and pile on a serving plate. I added a few sprinkles of brown sugar to each layer- along with some squeezes of orange juice, so that each churro tastes slightly different depending on how much sugar or juice it's soaked up.

Beetroot and potato cakes for a birthday brunch

Brunch is full stop the best meal of the day. This beetroot and caramelised orange salad recipe with potato cakes and spicy yoghurt is everything a good brunch should be: sweet, savoury, great as an alternative to a fry up and yes, slightly ludicrous.

This recipe is based on one I found by Riverford Farm head chef Jane Baxter- I veganised the potato cakes and simplified quite a few of the different flavours going on, so you’re just left with a huge plate of  brunchtime. I think the crazy colours and sizzle of potato cakes make this a perfect start to a birthday; it’s great with coffee, tea and funnily enough, a LOT of cava.

NB- To speed up the recipe, mash the potato the night before, or better, just make too much with dinner and save a bowl-full of leftovers.

Makes a lot for two people, or enough for four


For the potato cakes:
Bowl of mashed potato
150 gram flour (chickpea flour)
100ml Soy yoghurt
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of cayenne
Sunflower, vegetable or olive oil for frying

For the salad:
300g beetroot, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp sugar
2 oranges, peeled and segmented

For the yoghurt dip:
Half pot soy yoghurt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch of paprika
Handful of coriander, chopped, and some to serve.

Preheat the oven to 200C and once hot, roast the beetroot in a tablespoon of oil, along with salt and pepper, uncovered for around 45 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix together to mash and gram flour, adding in the almond milk, bicarb and cayenne pepper, and season well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and drop a tablespoon-size of the batter mix into the pan. I did one at a time to the pan wouldn’t get too crowded. Cook for two or three minutes on either side, and then leave on a plate while repeating with the rest of the mixture, until you have around 12-16 pancakes.
By now the beetroot should be nearly done- in a saucepan heat the orange juice and sugar until it boils, then reduce until it becomes a syrupy texture. Add the beetroot and coat in the juice, along with half of the orange segments.

For the yoghurt mix, add the chopped coriander, paprika and cayenne pepper to the yoghurt and stir.
To serve, pour the warm beetroot into the centre of the dish, add the potato cakes at the side, topped with the yoghurt mix and the leftover orange segments.