Perfect balance of raw and roasted

An Asian-inspired salad, made with raw courgettes, and a fragrant stuffed roast pork loin are perfect partners for a no-fuss Sunday lunch

Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 10:59

If you’re into food trends in even the smallest way, then the trend for raw food will not have escaped your notice. So what’s it all about – surely the food can’t all really be . . . well, raw?

With committed devotees, who follow a diet consisting of primarily unheated or uncooked food, raw foodism as a description doesn’t really tell the whole story of what is not so much a trend as a movement. Strictly speaking, raw food includes foods cooked up to – but absolutely not above – certain temperatures: a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit depending on whether you choose a vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous diet that includes some raw meat or fish, such as sashimi or carpaccio.

Raw foodies argue that this keeps the valuable enzymes, helpful bacteria and nutrients intact and at optimal levels for absorption by the human body. There is a good deal of truth in this – and many of us don’t eat nearly enough raw food, with all its valuable fibre – but it’s also the case that certain nutrients become available to the body only when food is heated, such as the lutein in spinach and the lycopene in tomatoes. And I do mean heated, not overcooked to sagging point.

So what does this all mean for the home cook? It is all about balance. Keep your diet varied, include some raw, nutrient-dense foods, and you’re set, or at least on your way. Of course this is easier in summer, when salads often seem the natural thing to eat.

And remember, too, that a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. It’s good to know that some fats, such as olive oil, for example, are much better left untouched by heat, as it can alter the molecular structure of the fat in ways that aren’t always good. Too much charred meat is, surprise surprise, not too healthy either.

So it was in the spirit of keeping things balanced that I came up with the two recipes for this week: an Asian-influenced roast pork that is dairy- and gluten-free, but most definitely not raw. I was absolutely delighted with the flavour of this roast and it has become my new favourite lazy Sunday lunch.

The other recipe is for a delicious salad where fine strips of raw courgette masquerade as soft noodles thanks to a brilliant tool called a spiraliser, made famous on these shores by the nutritional cook, Susan Jane White. The soft crunch of raw vegetables is rounded out with creamy, moreish dressing that combines cashew nuts with herbs, ginger and coconut milk.

Both dishes are really simple to prepare, and they work really well together. A great Sunday lunch.

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