Max out on flavour

Maximum impact from minimum expenditure is the thinking behind these recipes

  Mackerel with beetroot,  orange and olive salsa. Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp and Gillian Fallon. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mackerel with beetroot, orange and olive salsa. Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp and Gillian Fallon. Photograph: Alan Betson


Whether you are catering for one or for six, let’s face it, home cooking, day in, day out, can sometimes feel like a real chore.

Our lives today are busier than ever, so I’m all in favour of keeping it simple. That way, our reserves of enthusiasm for cooking from scratch get replenished rather than drained. After all, no-one wants to feel like a drudge.

One of the best ways of reviving your cooking mojo is finding something new to do with everyday ingredients.

And given the financial pressures out there, I often like to focus on making something special from the more inexpensive end of things, introducing different flavours to old favourites, if for no other reason than to see people’s surprise and pleasure when they tuck in.

I mean, what cook doesn’t like to see people happily chowing down, and a bit of praise from the masses (that is, the family) never hurt anybody.

So for this week’s recipes, my experiments focused on taking simple ingredients – grilled mackerel and root vegetables – and giving them a new twist. Fresh mackerel is a wonderful source of omegas, those oils essential for healthy brain and nerve function. And as an alternative to, say, salmon or trout, it’s far less expensive to boot.

Here I’ve partnered it with a salsa that combines the zing of citrus with the earthiness of olives and beetroot. Throw in a bit of heat with the harissa butter and, hey presto, you’ve got a simple, nutritious and very tasty dish that makes a great supper. And it looks beautiful too.

For the other dish, I decided to take an old reliable – roasted root vegetables – and give them a real lift by adding a robust spice mix to the roasting process and then accompanying them with two equally good sauces: a citrus, garlicky yoghurt and a herb-laden oil.

I could happily munch through a golden pile of these vegetables on their own for supper, but die-hard meat-lovers could opt to serve them with some roast lamb or lamb burgers or chops or maybe a simple roast chicken.

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