Spinach, Cherry Tomato & Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds

by Susan Smith in , , ,

Having initially accepted the challenge of featuring delicious, primarily vegetarian, Primal/Paleo recipes on Primal Plate’s blog, I now find myself obsessed with the idea of going one step further. Accordingly, it’s my intention to include many more vegan recipes that can be enjoyed as part of a Primal lifestyle. I’m excited at the prospect. With summer almost upon us, light and easy is the order of the day and it feels entirely appropriate for our meals not to be so dairy dependant. Vegan food eaten in this context, means moving away from Primal and more towards the Paleo diet, which excludes milk, butter, cheese, crème fraîche, cream, ice cream and yogurt.

I am too much of a hedonist to go the whole hog (strictly speaking, Paleo peeps don’t even drink red wine for heaven’s sake!), but I do want to consciously use dairy products less often. Sarah has coined a new phrase for what’s turning out to be a delicious voyage of discovery. She calls it ”Valeo”, which in my view perfectly sums up the logic of eating more healthily without exploiting animals. If there’s one thing that miffs me about the Primal/Paleo diet, it’s the emphasis on eating animal protein.  

Yesterday we enjoyed a valeo meal of soup and salad…a Roasted Beet Borscht with Horseradish Cream (recipe coming soon) and this amazingly tasty, healthful Spinach, Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salad. Vivid colours and packed with goodness, eating valeo is light years away from the high-carb pasta, rice, bread, potato and legumes that most vegetarians and vegans rely on. 

As I’m a complete novice entering the world of veganism, I’m sailing in relatively unchartered waters. Therefore, I make no apology for seeking out the best vegan recipes from other authors that obviously don’t contain meat, fish, eggs or dairy as well as all the Primal ‘no-no' foods such as grains, potatoes, legumes, processed soy and fats etc. It’s a tall order! Nevertheless, this Spinach, Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds, which I’ve borrowed from Annie Bell’s book Gorgeous Greens, immediately hit the culinary jackpot by ticking all the aforementioned boxes. Sod’s law that it’s been Primal Plate’s most popular posting on Instagram to date! 

Clearly this is not just a dish for Paleos or Vegans but also for meat-free Mondays, dairy free dieters and anyone that finds themselves somewhere in-between (me!). Full of punchy flavours, this hearty salad is a wake-up call for the senses that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.  

Spinach, Cherry Tomato & Avocado Salad with Spicy Sicilian Almonds (serves 4)

Ingredients - for the nuts

100g organic whole, blanched (skinned) almonds

1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp organic Tamari

1 tsp, organic fresh thyme leaves

¼-½ tsp organic chilli pepper 


Ingredients - for the salad

2 organic avocados

125g organic baby spinach leaves, or torn young spinach leaves

2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

a good squeeze of organic lemon juice

200g organic cherry tomatoes, halved

a small handful of organic fresh chives, finely chopped

sea salt (my favourite for serving at the table is fine Pu‘uwai Deep Ocean Hawaiian Sea Salt)

Instructions - for the nuts

Pre-heat the oven to 170℃ / 325℉ / Gas mark 3

Toss the almonds in a bowl with the olive oil and tamari, then toss in the thyme, scatter over the cayenne pepper and toss again.

Tip the nuts into a small roasting tin or baking tray and spread them out into a single layer. 

Toast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until deep golden and crisp. 

Transfer the nuts to a plate lined with a paper towel and leave to cool.


Instructions - for the salad

Remove the avocados from the stone by cutting in two halves and picking the stone out. 

Peel the skin off the avocado halves, then slice each half into four long segments (8 segments per avocado).

Toss the spinach in a large bowl with the olive oil and lemon juice, then carefully fold in the halved cherry tomatoes and chopped chives.

Pile the salad on to four individual plates and scatter over the spiced nuts.

Serve straight away, leaving each diner to season their own salad with sea salt. 



Impossible to resist, the spicy, piquant almonds make a superb stand-alone snack. I chose premium, organic, ready-skinned almonds from sunny Sicily for their larger size and superior creamy, sweet taste but any raw, organic, blanched almonds are fine.

Readers will notice that I always create Primal Plate recipes from organic ingredients. For your health and wellbeing, it’s extremely important you do likewise. Many nuts have a high oil content, which means that they easily absorb pesticides. It is always best to purchase organic. For more information read why you need to buy organic nuts and seeds.


Carbohydrate 15g Protein 8g - per serving

Happiness Soup

by Susan Smith in , , , ,

Here in the East Midlands you wouldn’t know we’re halfway through summer already. So much anticipation of balmy weather, so many disappointingly grey days. As a cook, I look forward to an abundance of seasonal summer produce that can be simply prepared and eaten outside. As part of team Mirror Imaging, we look to the skies for our most epic wedding shots and, as someone who hasn’t been on holiday for more than sixteen years, I am feeling bereft of summer sun this year. There’s no point in complaining, when summer doesn't deliver on its promise, it’s time to cook up the sunshine yourself.

For most people, yellow is a happy colour so it’s no accident that this bright, cheerful, sunshine-yellow, lemony broth has been entitled Happiness Soup. The inspiration and indeed its name is borrowed from Nigella’s recipe as featured in her book Nigella Summer. All I had to do was tweak the original version to make it grain-free and low-carbohydrate as well as something beautiful to behold. 

Easy to make and as gloriously golden-yellow as the midday sun, this light and lovely soup not only raises the spirits, it’s clean, fresh, citrus and anise flavour perks up the appetite too. 

If it doesn’t give you something to smile about on a dismal summer’s day, I don’t know what will!

Happiness Soup (Serves 4)


1 small organic onion, finely chopped

500 grams yellow courgette        

zest & juice of 1 organic lemon

40g organic butter (or for vegans 3 tbsp olive oil)

1 tsp turmeric

800 ml vegetable stock (or for non-vegetarians chicken stock) - see note below        

1 small cauliflower, florets only

Celtic sea salt

3-4 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves only, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper



The courgettes do not need to be peeled. Simply wash and trim the ends off before slicing them into 5mm (⅛ of an inch) rounds and then finely dicing them into very small confetti-like cubes. 

To make cauliflower ‘rice’, cut off the florets - you don’t need any of the stem - then blitz the florets in a food processor for about 30 seconds until it comes together into a powdery cauliflower ‘snow’. 

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium/low heat. With the pan lid on, gently sweat the finely chopped onion in the butter for 8 minutes until soft and translucent but not coloured. 

Add the diced courgettes and the lemon zest to the pan and stir to coat. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper (cut to fit the pan), put the pan lid back on, then cook on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they've slightly softened.

Stir in the turmeric, the stock and 40ml of the lemon juice and then drop in the cauliflower ‘rice’. Cook, uncovered, for 6 minutes, or just until the courgettes and cauliflower ‘rice’ are tender. Taste for seasoning. Add a little more salt and lemon juice if it needs it. 

Leave to cool slightly before serving, then ladle into 4 pre-warmed soup bowls before adding a generous sprinkling of chopped tarragon on top of each bowl and a grinding of black pepper, if liked.



This soup is best eaten warm rather than hot.

For vegetable stock, I generally make up some Marigold vegetable bouillon concentrate with freshly filtered water. I then strain it - as I did here- to remove any re-hydrated bits of veg that would otherwise spoil the clean, good looks of my finished sauce or soup. Use homemade vegetable stock, if you prefer. 

For non-vegetarians, a chicken stock made from freshly filtered water and the concentrated juices leftover from roasting a chicken will add extra depth and flavour to the soup. 


Carbohydrate 12g Protein 5g - per serving

Asparagus Loaf

by Susan Smith in , ,

There’s been a seismic shift in my life situation over the past few weeks - and yes, it’s been every bit as horrible as it sounds. All self-care has gone out of the window and I’ve thrown my despairing food-blogging hands up in the air more than once because there has been no time for me to be creative. Nevertheless, with just a few more days left to get your hands on the last of the English Asparagus - the notoriously short season starts on St. George’s Day and ends on 21st June - I was determined to blog one of my all time favourite asparagus recipes. 

Thankfully, not much original thought was required. I’ve borrowed this recipe straight out of Rose Elliot’s book ‘The New Vegetarian Cookbook’ - although I’ve more than doubled the amount of ingredients than the original recipe calls for, because it just doesn’t make enough of this delicious savoury loaf to satisfy my greed for English asparagus.

If I wasn’t strictly Primal, I would most enjoy eating a couple of slices of this asparagus loaf for a lazy lunch in the garden on a warm summer’s afternoon, with a few Jersey Royal potatoes, homemade mayo, a fresh leaf salad and a glass of ice-cold wine. My food fantasy aside - and the fact that so far this year there’s been precious little summer weather to speak of - mangetout peas and some crisp lettuce will do just as nicely in place of potatoes for a lovely Primal-inspired summer dinner party dish. Alternatively, cut the loaf into tasty, canapés-sized mouthfuls to serve with drinks, transport to a glamorous picnic, or serve as a delicious vegetarian option as part of a buffet party spread. I think Asparagus Loaf is very, very delicious - anywhere, anytime, any place. 

Asparagus Loaf (serves 6)


1 medium onion, peeled and grated

225g Parmesan or Vegetarian Parmesan-style Cheese (I used Gran Moravia)

225g organic ground almonds (I bulk buy ground almonds online here)

4 large organic eggs

285ml single cream (I actually used 250ml organic double cream and made up the quantity with filtered water)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

freshly-grated nutmeg (I used about ⅓ of a whole nutmeg)

750g green asparagus (at least 30 decent-sized asparagus spears)

Sprigs of organic watercress - to garnish



Boil a kettle of water. 

Set the oven to 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5

Snap the ends off the asparagus spears and using a potato peeler trim off the bottom third of the spears to make sure that all the tough part has been removed - you should end up with about 325-350 grams of trimmed asparagus.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into a large pan. Put the trimmed asparagus into a steamer basket set over the boiling water, put the pan lid on and steam the asparagus for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, drain well again and set aside. 

Grease a 2lb loaf tin with melted butter and line with a long strip of baking parchment to cover the base and short-end sides.

In a large bowl, mix together the grated onion, cheese, ground almonds, eggs and cream.

Season with sea salt (about a teaspoon), a generous grinding of black pepper and the nutmeg.  

Put a layer of this nut mixture into the base of the loaf tin, then neatly arrange a layer of asparagus spears on top. Continue in layers like this until all the ingredients are used up, ending with the nut mixture. 

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until risen and firm in the centre.

Cool completely in the tin, then slip a knife around the sides and carefully turn out onto a plate.

Strip off the paper. Cut into slices. Arrange the slices on a plate - or individual plates - and garnish with watercress.



It’s well worth taking the time to arrange the asparagus spears neatly into the loaf tin. 

You’ll end up with 4 layers of the nut mixture and 3 layers of asparagus spears in your loaf tin, so try to split your ingredients evenly upfront. When baking this for the blog, I threatened to run out of the nut mixture for the final layer. From experience I know that If the top nut layer is too thin, when the loaf is cut into slices it will tend to break off. Annoyingly, I also ended up 2 asparagus spears short, which then had to be steamed separately! 

Season carefully as Parmesan cheese tends to be salty.

If you’re making canapés - makes about 48 - cut the slices neatly again into thirds.

Although leftovers keep well in a sealed container in the fridge, if the size of this loaf is too much for your needs, simply halve the ingredients and bake in a 1lb loaf tin for 45-60 minutes. 


Carbohydrates 11g Protein 28g - per serving

Mushroom & Three-Cheese Pizza

by Susan Smith in , , ,

Last week, when Sukrin tweeted the idea of making pizza with their ‘just add water’ Chia & Hemp bread mix I couldn’t resist giving it a go! 

Notwithstanding that low-carb practitioners and the gluten intolerant are particularly susceptible to temptation, we all seem to get cravings for pizza. Unfortunately, I also know far too many other people who complain they’re fat and unwell but won’t give up eating grains (bread, pasta, rice and pizza) and doggedly refuse to cook for themselves at home. In a last ditch effort to convince them that not everything that looks stylish and tastes delicious is laboriously difficult to prepare and cook, this Mushroom & Three-Cheese Pizza recipe should be universally appealing! 

Though probably not strictly Primal or indeed ‘proper’ pizza - because I’ve deliberately left homemade tomato sauce out of the equation to save you the bother of making one! - it is nevertheless an extremely low-carb, satisfyingly healthy, cheesy pizza ‘fix’ that everyone can enjoy. We love it with a glass of Chianti or icy-cold Pinot Grigio.  

Mushroom & Three-Cheese Pizza (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the base

210 g pack of Sukrin Chia & Hemp Mix

250 ml cold filtered water

1 dsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped


Ingredients - for the topping

225 g organic chestnut mushrooms

30 g organic unsalted butter

sea salt 

freshly ground black pepper

2 dsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

120 g soft goat’s cheese, without rind (I used Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Goats Cheese and removed its rind before dicing into small pieces)

125 g organic vegetarian mozzarella

50 g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese (I used Gran Moravia)


Ingredients - to serve

40 g organic wild rocket 

8 large fresh basil leaves 

1 dsp organic, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar of Modena - for drizzling

The part-cooked, grain-free pizza bases, topped with mushroom and cheese, before returning to the oven 

The part-cooked, grain-free pizza bases, topped with mushroom and cheese, before returning to the oven 


Cut the base of the stems off the mushrooms and wipe them clean with a damp paper towel. Cut the mushrooms into thick slices.

Warm the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and tinged golden-brown and the majority of the juices in the pan have evaporated (about 5 minutes). Take off the heat, season the mushrooms to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and set aside.    

Preheat an oven to 200℃ /  400°F / Gas mark 6.

Tip the Chia & Hemp mixture into a medium sized bowl and add the filtered water and the finely chopped rosemary. Stir everything together well with a fork and allow to stand for 3 minutes (as directed on the packet)

Form into 4 x 15 cm / 6” ‘mini’ pizzas. The best way to do this is to divide the bread mixture into 4 equal portions (weighing approximately 105 g - 110 g each) before placing each piece of dough in the centre of a 15 cm / 6” non-stick baking parchment circle (4 baking parchment circles in total).

Using a sheet of cling film placed on top of the dough to stop it from sticking to you or the rolling pin, flatten it down - first with the palm of your hand and then rolling out evenly - into a round pizza shape that just comes to the edges of the parchment circle. Lift or slide the pizza, still on its parchment paper, onto a baking tray.  Repeat to make 4 pizzas.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate the Parmesan-style cheese and crumble or cut the goat's cheese into small pieces. Lastly, drain the mozzarella cheese, then coarsely grate it onto a plate lined with paper kitchen towel (this soaks up any milky liquid that may ooze from the cheese when it’s left to stand). If not using immediately, keep the prepared cheeses covered and refrigerated on 3 separate plates. 

After the pizza bases have had their first baking, remove from the oven. Whilst they're still sat on the baking tray, top the pizzas evenly with grated mozzarella, goat’s cheese and mushrooms. Don’t take the topping right to the edges of the pizza bases - leave a 1.5 cm gap all the way round to allow the cheese to melt and spread out in the heat of the oven without it running off the top of the pizzas. Sprinkle over the rest of the chopped rosemary and finally, add an even layer of Parmesan-style cheese divided equally between each pizza.

Put the baking tray back into the oven and bake the pizzas for a further 10-12 minutes until the cheese is meltingly hot and bubbly and the edges of the pizza tinged golden-brown. 

During this final cooking time, finely slice the basil leaves and mix them with the rocket. Dress lightly with olive oil. 

Remove the pizzas from the oven. Wait for 1-2 minutes then, with the aid of a flat spatula, carefully remove the pizzas from their paper circles. Put the pizzas onto 4 warmed serving plates. 

Pile equal quantities of the dressed rocket and basil leaves on top of each pizza and drizzle over a little real Modena balsamic vinegar before serving. 


Carbohydrate 5.5 g Protein 16g - per pizza

Spicy Salmon Fishcakes / Halloumi & Toasted Cashews With Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’

by Susan Smith in , , ,

East meets West in this Primal/Paleo culinary take on fishcakes and coleslaw. Without the potato, flour and breadcrumbs used in traditional fishcake recipes, these Asian inspired, fishcakes are so much simpler and quicker to make. 

Fresh and light - with no mayo or endless amounts of shredded cabbage to chomp your way through - the Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ is also a wonderful thing!

Put the two together for a surprisingly satisfying, clean-eating, Omega-3 packed family meal that’s high in protein and low in carbs.

Vegetarians can also make a meal of this punchy-flavoured Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ by topping it with 60g toasted cashew nuts and replacing the salmon fishcakes with slices of freshly griddled ‘vegetarian-friendly’ - i.e. not made with animal rennet - halloumi cheese - you’ll need to allow about 80g-100g of halloumi per person.

Tasty, pure and simple…job done! 

Spicy Salmon Fishcakes With Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the fishcakes

800 g wild Alaskan salmon, boned and skinned

3 spring onions, finely chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp organic dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari

1 dsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (approx. 1 x 2.5 cm / 1inch piece)

4 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves

1 organic egg, beaten 

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

75-100 g organic ground almonds

1-2 tbsp organic coconut oil - for frying the fishcakes


Ingredients - for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ 

2 medium courgettes, cut into thin slices, coarsely grated or spiralised (see Notes below)

3 medium carrots, cut into thin slices, coarsely grated or spiralised (see Notes below)

200g frozen baby broad beans, thawed and shelled (about 120g prepared weight)

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tbsp raw organic sesame seeds


Ingredients - for the dressing

40 ml fresh lime juice

40 g raw organic cashew nut butter

1 tbsp tamari (I used Clearspring)

40 ml Co Yo natural coconut milk yogurt

1-2 drops organic liquid stevia


Ingredients - to serve

1 tsp raw sesame seeds

coriander leaves and/or micro leaves


Instructions - to make the fishcakes

Put all the fishcake ingredients, except the ground almonds, into a food processor and pulse together until well blended. N.B. Be careful not to over-process - you want the mixture to retain a little of its chunky texture rather than turn into a mushy fish paste! 

Tip the fishcake mixture into a large bowl and add just enough of the ground almonds to ensure that it will hold together sufficiently well to form into fishcakes. The final mixture may still feel a little wet but should be easy enough to shape in your hands and will firm up in the refrigerator prior to cooking.

Divide into 8 fishcakes about 2.5 cm / 1 inch thick (weighing approximately 125g each). Transfer to a large plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the coconut oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium/high heat until the surface of the oil starts to shimmer (don’t allow it to smoke!). Cook the fishcakes for 3 minutes until crisp and golden on the underside, then flip them over and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes.

Serve with Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.


Instructions - for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’

Using a small hand whisk, combine all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or cup until you have a smooth dressing that’s of pouring consistency.

To quickly defrost and remove the broad beans from their pods. Weigh out the frozen broad beans into a heatproof bowl or jug. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour over the beans. Let stand for 3-5 minutes. When the water has cooled down pop the tender, bright green beans out of their thick, leathery skins by squeezing gently between two fingers. 

In a large bowl, combine courgette, carrots and shelled broad beans. Add the chopped chives and sesame seeds, mix together gently and set aside.

Just before serving, pour over the dressing and gently toss all the ingredients together until the vegetables are evenly coated.

Transfer to plates and top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, chopped coriander and/or micro leaves. 

Serve with either Spicy Salmon Fishcakes or Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews (see below).

The vegetarian option: Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews

The vegetarian option: Fried Halloumi and Toasted Cashews

Instructions to make Fried Halloumi & Toasted Cashews With Paleo Pad Thai 'Slaw' (V)

Firstly, toast the cashews in a large frying pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until turning pale gold, then take off the heat and set aside. 

Cut the halloumi into 1 cm thick slices. Heat some coconut oil or olive oil in a pan until hot, then fry the halloumi for just 1-2 minutes on each side until golden and crispy around the edges. 

Arrange the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ on 4 serving plates, top with the toasted cashews, sesame seeds and coriander leaves, then serve the fried cheese slices (3-4 per person) alongside, with wedges of fresh lime for squeezing over.

N.B. Be sure to plate-up the fried halloumi immediately after it’s cooked - it’s so much nicer warm! If you allow cooked halloumi to go cold, it will tend to become too hard and rubbery.



To make carrot and courgette julienne for the Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’, I first cut the washed courgettes and peeled carrots in half horizontally, then finely sliced the halved vegetables vertically (on a mandolin) before using a small sharp knife to cut them into 6 cm long thin julienne strips. Coarsely grating them in a food processor would be a lot quicker!

The Paleo Pad Thai ‘Slaw’ is suitable for vegans.


Carbohydrate 17g Protein 66g - per serving (assuming 2 fishcakes per person)

Cheddar Muffins

by Susan Smith in , , , , ,

Tasty, filling and sustaining, these yummy Cheddar Muffins are a high-protein, low-carbohydrate viable alternative to bread and the perfect accompaniment to soup. So perfect, that soup need no longer be relegated to starter or snack status but can sit proudly at lunch or dinner as the main event. The fact is that these bread-like Cheddar Muffins pack enough nutritional oomph to turn every veggie soup into a satisfying meal. 

But don’t stop there. Their ‘breadiness' invites you to slice them through and fill them like a sandwich. They also toast beautifully - you only need to toast their cut side - before serving with scrambled eggs, creamy mushrooms, cheese and tomato or any other toast topper that takes your fancy. 

I like them best of all when they’re still warm from the oven and spread with generous amounts of grass-fed butter. A veritable nutritional powerhouse of goodness, it appeals to the child in me to split them in half horizontally (like a scone), then eat the all the bottom halves before slowing-down to savour the warm, golden, crunchy, deliciousness of their cheesy toppings. If you’re craving comfort food, Cheddar Muffins can be on the table in 40 minutes - with satisfaction guaranteed.  

Cheddar Muffins (Makes about 10)

IngredientsMakes 10

75g unsalted butter, melted

150g ground almonds

50g coconut flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp paprika

freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs, beaten

6 tbsp diluted milk (50/50 with filtered water)

125g organic vegetarian Cheddar cheese, finely grated

30g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated


Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ (fan) / 400℉ / Gas mark 6 and line a muffin tray with 10 large paper cases.

In a small saucepan melt the butter over a very low heat. Take the pan off the heat and allow the butter to cool slightly.   

In a large bowl mix together the ground almonds, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add the grated Cheddar and combine well with a fork.

Add the melted butter, the beaten eggs & the diluted milk to the dry ingredients and continue to mix everything together well with a fork until a thick batter is formed.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cases (about 65-70g mixture per muffin) - for speed I use a self-releasing ice cream scoop - then lightly press the mixture down evenly into the paper cases with the back of a fork.  

Sprinkle over the grated Parmesan-style cheese, dividing it equally between the muffins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes (I turn the muffin tray around halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning). 

Best served still warm from the oven.



Whilst I recommend these muffins are served warm fresh from the oven, they do have a tendency to vexingly stick to their paper cases until they’ve gone cold. If you don’t want the hassle of scraping remnants of muffin off their paper cases with a teaspoon, use non-stick tulip wrap muffin cases instead. 

Carbohydrate 7g Protein 14g - per muffin

Pizza Peppers

by Susan Smith in , ,

Who doesn’t love pizza? Since ditching grains, the anticipation, convenience and sheer pleasure that I still associate with sitting down to eat meltingly hot, delicious pizza with a glass of red wine just refuses to go away. I’ve done Primal Pizza before on this blog (and it is a real treat to eat) but if I’m honest, I’ll tell you what I really want…it’s to redefine pizza as a positively healthy, gourmet food that’s just as quick and easy to make as its classically-made ‘junk-food’ cousin.

Today’s Primal Pronto recipe for Pizza Peppers is intended to take all the time and effort out of creating a low-carb, ‘laid back’ pizza experience at home. There’s no cauliflower ‘crust’ to make - because I’ve used nature’s own convenient carriers of goodness in the form of red peppers to create the pizza ‘base’. 

However, what I was really wanting to tease out of the recipe was a flavour combination that would satiate my appetite for pizza:- basically, to create a pizza topping that replicates our all-time Pizza Express favourite: “Cajun, with extra tuna please!” It’s all changed now, but Pizza Express used to top their Cajun pizza with red peppers, prawns, Tabasco sauce, onion, mozzarella and, at our request, extra tuna.

Pizza Peppers with tuna and prawns

Pizza Peppers with tuna and prawns

First off the bat, these Pizza Peppers fully lived up to our expectations. Made with a smoky, scorched red pepper base, tomatoes, tuna, prawns, chillies, cheese, black olives, capers and onion we were transported back in time to the very same taste sensation that’s kept luring me back to thoughts of pizza ever since. But then remorse set in. Although I am pescatarian I mainly eat vegetarian, so it didn’t feel right to give the ‘green light’ to eating a plethora of fish without a second thought for vegetarian values. 

I didn’t have to ponder the problem for long. A quick ingredients check online for another of our former favourites at Pizza Express (Giardiniera) reminded us that this pizza topping included artichokes. It just so happens, I had a jar of marinated artichoke hearts in my cupboard (as you do!) and it seemed to me that they were possibly the nearest vegetarian equivalent to tinned tuna in olive oil that I could hope for. And so they proved to be. It turns out that artichokes in combination with vegetarian mozzarella are - from a taste, texture and visual perspective - so surprisingly akin to tuna and prawns that we could barely discern the difference between the two! 

Vegetarian Pizza Peppers with artichokes and mozzarella

Vegetarian Pizza Peppers with artichokes and mozzarella

Which is a remarkable triumph for vegetarianism, I’d say.  Who’d have thought that simple veggies could be compared to luxe ingredients like top quality cold-water prawns and Albacore tuna and still come out on top?  The fact is they can and they do, and for this reason, when it comes to our favourite Pizza Peppers, vegetarian wins hands down.

To be fair, both versions of these Pizza Peppers are equally delicious. Accordingly, I’ve posted both recipes so you can decide which gets your vote. This maybe pizza ‘reinvented’ but it still ticks all my boxes - healthy, tasty, fun, fast-food - in short, everything that’s good about pizza but without the downside of grains. Just grab a bottle of Chianti and your lover or a friend to fully appreciate this Primal Pronto Italiano-style supper that’s made for sharing. Buon appetito!


Pizza Peppers (Serves 3)

Ingredients - for pizza peppers with tuna and prawns

6 medium/large even-sized ‘pointy’ Ramiro/Romano organic red peppers (wider and fatter is better than longer and very thin!)

1½ 140g tins sustainably-sourced tuna (Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s are your best bet)

3 tbsp organic tomato puree (or organic low-sugar tomato ketchup)

90g mature vegetarian Cheddar cheese

¾ tsp organic chilli flakes

6 black (Kalamata) olives, stoned and cut into slivers

30g nonpareille capers, rinsed in cold water, drained and dried on kitchen paper

3 organic spring onions, finely chopped

3 medium-sized organic tomatoes, finely chopped

3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

225g sustainably sourced frozen peeled prawnsnot defrosted

60g vegetarian ‘parmesan-style’ cheese (I use Gran Moravia)


Instructions - for pizza peppers with tuna and prawns

Pre-heat a grill to its highest setting. Line a large flat baking sheet or the grill pan with a non-stick baking mat or non-stick aluminium foil.

Cut the peppers in half lengthways, then remove the seeds and any white stringy bits (I don’t bother to remove the stalks). 

Place the pepper halves cut side down - skin side up - on the baking tray and grill fairly close to the heat source for about 4-5 minutes, or until their skins start to blister and slightly blacken. 

Remove from the grill, allow to cool for a couple of minutes then turn them over (be very careful when you do, the steam trapped underneath can still scald!)

Drain the tuna fish then place in a medium-sized bowl with the tomato puree/ketchup, mix together well, breaking the tuna up with a fork.

Add the Cheddar cheese, chilli flakes, olives, capers, spring onions, tomatoes, two tablespoons of the parsley and continue to mix with a fork until well combined. Taste and add a little sea salt and black pepper if you think it needs it.

With the help of two teaspoons, divide the mixture between the peppers spreading it out evenly along the length of each pepper half.

Top each pepper half with 4 or 5 ‘still-frozen' prawns. Sprinkle the parmesan-style cheese over the prawns, dividing it equally between them.

Place under the hot grill - fairly close to the heat source - for 3-4 minutes or until heated through and the cheese has melted into a crispy, golden-brown crust.

Transfer 4 pepper halves per person to individual hot plates, scatter over the remaining tablespoon of chopped parsley and serve immediately with a lightly dressed salad of rocket leaves. 

Pizza Peppers with tuna and prawns ready for the grill

Pizza Peppers with tuna and prawns ready for the grill

Ingredients - for pizza peppers with artichokes and mozzarella (V)

6 medium/large even-sized ‘pointy’ Ramiro/Romano organic red peppers (wider and fatter is better than longer and too thin!)

9 artichoke hearts preserved in olive oil (about 90g), drained and chopped (I used Frutti Bosco Artichoke Hearts)

3 tbsp organic tomato puree (or organic low-sugar tomato ketchup)

90g organic vegetarian Cheddar cheese

6 Kalamata olives, stoned and cut lengthways into slivers

30g nonpareille capers, rinsed in cold water, drained and dried on kitchen paper

3 organic spring onions, finely chopped

3 medium-sized organic tomatoes, finely chopped

125g ball vegetarian mozzarella, drained, dried on kitchen paper and cut into smallish cubes

45g organic pine nuts, lightly toasted

60g vegetarian ‘parmesan-style’ cheese (I use Gran Moravia)

Handful of fresh basil leaves, finely shredded - to serve

Instructionsfor artichoke and mozzarella pizza pepper topping (V)

Pre-heat a grill to its highest setting. Line a large flat baking sheet or the grill pan with a non-stick baking mat or non-stick aluminium foil.

Cut the peppers in half lengthways, then remove the seeds and any white stringy bits. 

Place the pepper halves cut side down - skin side up - on the baking tray and grill fairly close to the heat source for about 4-5 minutes, or until their skins start to blister and slightly blacken. 

Remove from the grill, allow to cool for a couple of minutes then turn them over (be very careful when you do, the steam trapped underneath can still scald!)

Place the artichoke hearts with the tomato paste/ketchup into a medium-sized bowl. Mix together well with a fork.

Add the Cheddar cheese, olives, capers, spring onions, tomatoes and continue to mix with a fork until well combined. Taste and add a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper if you think it needs it.

With the help of two teaspoons, divide the mixture between the peppers spreading it out evenly along the length of each pepper half.

Top each pepper half with 4-5 cubes of mozzarella. Divide the pine nuts equally between the peppers halves then finally sprinkle over the parmesan-style cheese. Make sure the pine nuts and parmesan-style cheese are divided equally between the peppers and that the final sprinkling of cheese is applied evenly - this cheese topping helps give the pine nuts a little protection from the intense heat of the grill so they’re less likely to burn.

Place under the hot grill - fairly close to the heat source - for about 2 minutes or until the mozzarella cheese is meltingly soft and the pine nuts lightly browned. 

Transfer 4 pepper halves per person to individual hot plates, scatter over the shredded basil leaves and serve immediately with a lightly dressed salad of rocket leaves. 


Be especially vigilant with the vegetarian pizza peppers during their final grilling - if you leave them too long under the grill the pine nuts can easily burn and the mozzarella starts to release liquid.  

Pizza Peppers are most manageable when they’re being made for ‘dinner a deux'. Insufficient grill space makes it tricky for me to attempt making Pizza Peppers for more than three of us because a) my grill pan isn’t large enough to hold more than 12 halves of peppers and b) too many filled peppers under the grill create steam, which makes for a soggy result rather than a crisp and crozzled pizza-style topping. 

The recipes I’ve posted feed three people (the number I usually cook for) but are easily converted to feed one, two or (if grill space allows) four people. 

Carbohydrate 20g Protein 45g - per serving = 4 pepper halves topped with tuna & prawns

Carbohydrate 25g Protein 29g - per serving = 4 pepper halves topped with artichokes, mozzarella & pine nuts

Vegetarian Pizza Peppers with artichoke and mozzarella

Vegetarian Pizza Peppers with artichoke and mozzarella

Warm Salad Of Root Veg With Cheese & Pine Nuts

by Susan Smith in , , , ,

In this first week of 2016 I’m not in the mood for cooking. I suppose my cook’s laziness is a sort of counterbalance to the flurry of Primal festive food creativity that fully occupied my mind, my time and my kitchen for the past six weeks. Now minimalist meals seem infinitely more appealing. Since Primal Pronto is currently where it’s at, a salad seems just right. 

Nothing could be simpler to prepare (✓) or more seasonal (✓) than this Warm Salad of Root Veg with Cheese & Pine Nuts. Furthermore, the remnants of my Christmas food shopping frenzy meant I didn’t have to dig too deep in my fridge and store cupboard to find the ingredients. My ‘in with the new’ approach to getting dinner on the table ‘pronto’ had this delicious, really healthy plateful prepped, cooked and served within 45 minutes of its conception. Light but surprisingly satisfying, this recipe is such a great combination of flavours and textures that I think it belies being called salad!

Until recently, my culinary interest in beetroot has been a tad conflicted. On the one hand, I love beetroot’s ruby-purplish hue and its gentle, sweet, earthiness. On the other, it has an intimidating reputation for bleeding over everything and for taking anything up to 1-2 hours to cook! In this recipe beetroot redeems itself. Cut into wedges and roasted with other winter roots, it is a game changer. It cooks quickly, stains to advantage - makes this salad look so vibrantly pretty - and it’s dense sweetness provides the perfect foil to salty goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses. 

Sometimes the simplest things are the best! 

Warm Salad of Root Veg with Cheese & Pine Nuts (Serves 2)


1 fennel bulb, cut in half lengthways and sliced

1 large carrot, cut on the slant into chunks

1 large beetroot, peeled and cut into wedges

1 organic sweet potato

4 shallots, halved (or a medium red onion, cut into eights)

2 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

100g semi-hard sheep’s or goat’s cheese (I used Parlick Fell)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used Sainsbury’s Giacobazzi Aged Balsamic Vinegar)

25g pine nuts, toasted

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped


Pre-heat the oven to 200℃/180℃ fan-assisted / 400℉ / Gas mark 6

Pile all the vegetables into a large bowl, add the olive oil and season. Tip into a large roasting tin, making sure the all vegetables are sitting in a single layer, and cook for 25 minutes, turning the vegetables over halfway through the cooking time.

Whilst the vegetable are roasting, toast the pine nuts, crumble the cheese and chop the parsley. Cover and set aside.

Take the roasted veg out of the oven and add the balsamic vinegar. Stir to coat the vegetables evenly and then put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Turn out onto 2 warmed plates and top with the cheese, the pine nuts and the chopped parsley - in that order.

Drizzle a little more of the balsamic vinegar around the edge of the plates and serve immediately.


If you’re cooking for four, double-up the recipe and use two roasting tins/trays - swapping them over half-way through the cooking times. It’s important to roast the vegetables in a single layer - if you pile them on top of each other they’re much more likely to steam rather than roast.

Real balsamic vinegar is absolutely essential to the success of this recipe so beware of imitations! Aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy costs a small fortune. So, if you’ve paid less than you’d pay for a decent bottle of wine (£12 - £60), you’ve likely purchased cheap wine vinegar with colour added! Look at the ingredients list for the words “grape must”, “aged grape must,” “Mosto d'Uva" or “DOC. 

The real stuff is a deliciously sticky, dark brown, sweetly-sour, glossy syrup that always adds a certain ‘je ne sais quoi' when used as a marinade or condiment to other fine foods. If you buy it, you can use it for bread dipping (grain-free, of course!), adding to sauces, drizzling over cooked foods, brushing onto vegetables, meat, fish or poultry before grilling or roasting, or even as a perfect pairing with fresh strawberries! It’s well worth the expense. 

Carbohydrate 40g Protein 17g - per serving

Eggs Florentine

by Susan Smith in , , , ,

I’ve come in for a bit of flack recently from people who say they’d like to eat simple, tasty, healthy (low-carb) food on a regular basis, but at the end of a long day are too tired, busy or hungry to cook the recipes I post on Primal Plate’s blog. 

I can empathise, but like everything else in life, whether you cook or don’t cook really depends on your perception and priorities. The likes of Jo Wicks (The Body Coach) and TV celebrity chefs may be able to briefly convince you that it’s possible to knock up a delicious meal in 15 minutes flat, but try a couple of their ‘simple’ recipes out for yourself (how about a vegetable stir-fry?) and you’ll likely conclude one of two things; 1) there’s something wrong with you because it’s taken you nearly an hour to cook a meal that’s should have taken a quarter of that time, or; 2) it’s a con, so next time you’ll just buy a ‘ready-meal’ instead. 

The fact is, it wouldn’t take me much less than 15 minutes to singlehandedly boil an egg and prepare a couple of slices of buttered toast - let alone to create a family meal. Realistically, if you want to eat well, you need to make space in your life to cook. That said, many Primal Plate recipes are no more complicated than the fast and furious meal suggestions promoted on television and social media. 

Many of the recipes I post often involve nothing more than throwing everything together in a bowl, whacking it into a tin and getting on with life whilst the oven does its thing. I suggest you start with Grain-free Bread and take it from there. 

However, if you want ‘speedy’ recipes, look for those that have no more than 5 main ingredients. For example, Primal Plate’s Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus, Leek, Stilton & Walnut Stuffed Mushrooms or Italian Style White Fish in Tomato Basil Broth. You can add today’s recipe for Eggs Florentine to the list. 

Personally, I don’t find cooking a chore when it’s a shared opportunity to create something tasty to eat with the people I love, but on this occasion, just to satisfy my curiosity, I asked my ‘sous chef’ John to step down from his food-prep duties, whilst I switched on a stop-watch and got on with making Eggs Florentine without his help. 

No slouch in the kitchen, I could make this recipe in my sleep! In my head, I’d roughly calculated 12 minutes to steam-boil the eggs, 2 minutes to peel them, 4 minutes to make a quick cheese sauce, 3 minutes to wilt and drain some ready-washed spinach and 4 minutes final cooking time under a hot grill. Total: 25 minutes. 

But not so fast! It actually took 37 minutes 21 seconds to bring everything together and about 3 minutes to finish if off under the grill - i.e. 40 minutes for an experienced cook to prepare and serve a simple meal for three people. A novice cook would take longer. My point is, there’s a lot of kidology going down in the kitchen! What you see on TV cookery programmes and on social media is not what you get. I know, because I trained Sarah to compete in Junior Masterchef and the winner in her heat had the majority of his ingredients for his curry pre-made by his mother! Sure, a professional celebrity chef could probably chop an onion in 20 seconds flat but who peeled the damn thing in the first place? Eggs Florentine requires you to grate cheese and peel eggs - simple enough to do but time-consuming. If you’re being filmed, you can make these behind the scenes tasks magically disappear but you have to allow for these ‘extras’ when cooking at home. 

In my case, every partner I’ve ever had (similarly my children) will step into the breach to fulfil the role of peeling, chopping, slicing, grating - as well as the ongoing washing-up. A glass of wine in hand, our combined efforts to get the meal on the table heralds the end of our working day and the start of social time. It’s pleasure not pain and something we all look forward to. 

None of the photographs on Primal Plate are ‘staged’ - it is the actual food we’re about to eat that day. Primal Plate is a cookery blog and its raison d’être is to encourage people to spend more time in the kitchen and learn how to eat properly. By showing you what we eat and sharing innovative, primarily vegetarian recipes that aren’t made with sugar, grains, legumes, unhealthy fats and cancer-causing meat I hope to convince people that cooking at home pays dividends on the time invested, namely: quality time spent with your family, delicious dinners, optimal health, quick loss of excess body-fat and easy weight maintenance.  

You reap the consequences of your actions either way. With so many major health issues now affecting so many people, it’s time for us to get back in the kitchen and to teach our children to do likewise. 

It’s not just that people think themselves too busy to cook - it’s a lack of basic cookery knowledge that’s also part of the problem. Primal Plate is here to help. Off the top of my head, I can think of more than a dozen home-cooked, easy-to-make meals that we turn to for busy days, which haven’t yet featured on this blog. In response to your feedback, I’ll be rolling out my quick, tasty ideas in the forthcoming weeks and months. You’ll find these in the Recipes section of Primal Plate’s blog under Primal Pronto.

To start with, my variation on the classic Eggs Florentine recipe. It's made with spinach, hard steam/boiled eggs and topped with a flour-less Primal cheese sauce before being finished off under the grill. A truly indulgent brunch, light lunch or supper to treat family and friends to. 

Eggs Florentine (Serves 4)

8 organic free-range eggs

1 tbsp olive oil

500g organic spinach, ready-washed

225g crème fraîche (I used Rodda’s crème fraîche because it doesn’t split when heated)

200g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

1 dsp (20g) Dijon mustard

Pinch of cayenne pepper

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



Boil a kettle of water. Pour about 2.5cm (1 inch) of the boiling water straight from the kettle into a saucepan. 

Place a steaming basket inside the pan and place the eggs into the steamer-basket (I find a collapsible steamer most useful because one-size fits all pans). 

Put the lid on the pan and steam/boil the eggs for 12 minutes until hard-boiled. 

Whilst the eggs are cooking, heat up a large pan (big enough to hold all the spinach) over a high heat. When the pan is really hot add a tablespoon of olive oil and throw in the spinach (you may need to do this in 2 or 3 batches - allowing each batch to wilt down slightly before adding the rest). Stir fry the spinach for 1-2 minutes until it has all wilted. 

Tip the cooked spinach into a colander and press out as much liquid as you can - I use a potato masher but the back of a spoon will do. Return to the pan and lightly season with sea salt and black pepper.

Heat the crème fraîche, mustard and 160g of the cheese together in a saucepan over a medium/high heat. Whisk continuously until the cheese has melted and you have a very hot, but not boiling, unctuously smooth, cheese sauce. Take the pan off the heat and season with a pinch of cayenne pepper and two pinches of sea salt.

Tip the eggs into a bowl of cold water then quickly peel them (if they're still too hot, hold them in a clean tea towel so you don’t burn yourself) then place each shelled egg onto a clean chopping board and cut in half.

Preheat the grill to high.

To assemble the dish: spoon the spinach along the bottom of four individual gratin dishes (alternatively, use one large gratin dish). Place four egg halves per person (yolk side down) on top of the spinach then evenly spoon or pour over the hot cheese sauce making sure each egg is covered. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese evenly over the top of the eggs.

Finish under the hot grill for 3-4 minutes or until heated through and golden brown. 



If you’re looking for quick, healthy, vegetarian and Primal meal ideas, organic, free-range ‘pastured’ eggs are the business! However, after all my years in the kitchen I’ve only just ‘twigged on’ to steam-boiling eggs! I can’t even remember where I read about this method, but it’s altogether a much easier and reliable way to boil eggs because you can take them straight from the fridge and, because they’re not actually immersed in the boiling water, they're much less likely to crack when the heat first hits them. They’re cooked to perfection in exactly 6 minutes for a soft-boiled egg and 12 minutes for hard-boiled. Primal Pronto at its best! 

Annoyingly, as with Parmesan cheese, it’s hard (impossible?) to find vegetarian Gruyere. Joseph Heler make British Gruyere with non-animal rennet but having spoken to them today, I was informed they do not supply their cheese pre-packed to supermarkets but rather to retail, wholesale food service suppliers as an ingredient for their ‘ready meals’. You may have more luck finding vegetarian versions of Emmental (the melting quality and nutty taste is quite similar to Gruyere) or Edam (always check the packaging to confirm it’s vegetarian) - use either of these instead of Gruyere if you’re strictly vegetarian.  


Carbohydrate 4g Protein 35g - per portion

Sweet Potato, Cheese & Chilli Muffins

by Susan Smith in , , , ,

I like Jamie Oliver's recipe and I like Rose Elliot's recipe... but which is better?!

Today’s blog post for Sweet Potato, Cheese & Chilli Muffins was inspired by both and as both are a frequent source of reference for me, I take my hat off to each of them for being the innovative and inspiring food crusaders that they are. Nevertheless, I still think Primal Plate can legitimately take credit for these incredibly tasty, savoury muffins. Let me explain.

I first made Rose Elliot’s Cheese & Sun-Blush Tomato Muffins, featured in her book Vegetarian Supercook, about ten years ago, then last week I was watching Jamie’s Super Food programme on Channel 4 and was again reminded how useful Rose Elliot’s original recipe was for a low-carb, gluten-free lifestyle because it didn’t contain wheat flour. On the other hand, I really liked Jamie’s idea for Sweet Potato Muffins with a chilli ‘kick’, but cannot agree that wheat, or any other grain qualifies as super food.

“Cutting-edge research, for example, has revealed that consumption of modern wheat [the only sort of wheat most people are likely to encounter in their entire lifetime] is the first step in triggering autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.” says Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly. And, “Wheat raises blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods, including table sugar and many candy bars”.

And for those who think that a gluten-free diet is the answer he advises: “The few foods that increase blood sugar higher than even wheat include rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch and potato flour—the most common ingredients used in gluten-free foods, which leads to weight gain, diabetes, cataracts, arthritis, cancer, dementia, heart disease and growing belly fat. This is why many celiac patients who say goodbye to wheat but turn to gluten-free foods become fat and diabetic. Gluten-free foods as they are currently manufactured are very poor substitutes for wheat flour.” For more information visit the Wheat Belly Blog.  And, here's a list of recommended alternative flours for baking.
You live and learn! Perhaps it was the tapioca flour in my Primal Naan Bread, which we ate four times in quick succession whilst I was developing the recipe that caused me to gain two pounds in weight in one week (thankfully now lost again)! As with previous health warnings on this food blog, the message is this: Anyone who consumes gluten-free foods, including my gluten-free naan, and/or other baked goods made with healthier sugar/flour substitutes, should still regard them as an occasional indulgence.

Anyway, I digress because there are no bad things listed in the ingredients for these quick, easy-to-make, gluten-free Sweet Potato Cheese & Chilli Muffins. Going back to Rose’s and Jamie’s recipes, the only jar of sun-blush tomatoes that I had in my food cupboard had a sell-by date of 2013 (must have a clear-out!) so I decided to substitute the missing tomatoes with Jamie’s idea for sweet potato and chilli - albeit not weight for weight. Both their recipes included cottage cheese (in massively varying amounts) but to be honest, by the time I’ve changed everything around to make my recipe Primal (grain-free) and/or added or subtracted ingredients and amounts for a different flavour or texture, I always end up forewarning my family that it is by no means certain the end result will be something good for us to eat! On this occasion, I knew about half-way through the cooking time we had a definite ‘winner for dinner’ by the way my muffins were rising admirably to the challenge. High-five me!

Light, puffy and protein-packed these Sweet Potato, Cheese & Chilli Muffins truly are a super delicious super-food for you to enjoy at any time. Two muffins per person served with a bowl of hot soup makes for a simple but filling lunch or supper. Eat them for breakfast and they’ll keep you going until lunchtime. Perfect for picnics (a bit of an obsession of mine as a wedding photographer’s assistant that often needs to pack up healthy food for Sarah and I to eat on-the-move) or as a nutritious snack, they’re sustaining, easy to transport and can be eaten one-handed (important for all busy multi-taskers).   

Taking the best from Jamie and Rose, I reckon I’ve trumped both with this muffin recipe. Cook up a batch this weekend and see if you don't agree!

Sweet Potato, Cheese & Chilli Muffins

Ingredients (Makes 9)

225g sweet potato (approximately 190g peeled weight)                    

2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

2 fresh red chillies, 1 finely chopped, 1 finely sliced            

5 large organic free-range eggs, lightly beaten

250g cottage cheese (can be low-fat if you prefer)

100g ground almonds                                        

50g coconut flour 

50g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated

1 tsp baking powder

60ml milk (or water)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper                 

2 tbsp sunflower seeds



Preheat the oven to Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4.

Line a muffin tin with 9 medium-sized (cup-cake sized) paper cases.
Peel the sweet potato and coarsely grate into a large bowl. Add the cottage cheese to the bowl with all but 15g of the grated ‘parmesan’ cheese, the chopped chilli and chives, coconut flour, ground almonds, baking powder, beaten eggs and milk.

Mix together with a fork until everything is nicely combined then season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Evenly divide the mixture between the muffin cases (about 105 grams per muffin) - spooning it into the cases until they’re three-quarters full. Scatter each muffin with the reserved cheese, then sprinkle over the sunflower seeds and arrange 2-3 thin slivers of chilli on top.

Bake for 35 minutes or until set, risen & golden brown.

Served warm = totally yum!



Everyone will enjoy these savoury muffins straight from the oven - just allow them to cool down for about 5 minutes before serving. They’re also surprisingly good cold and will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container stored in the fridge.

Unfortunately, no one seems to sell non-stick baking parchment muffin liners. I certainly don’t fancy spraying the inside of my paper cases with commercial non-stick baking spray (processed oils are not good to eat) but you can make your own non-stick cases by cutting out 12½cm (5 inch) squares of parchment paper and pressing them down into your muffin mould with the aid of a small measuring cup. You can also buy non-stick silicon muffin moulds.

On this occasion I simply opted for baking my muffins in greaseproof paper cases and eating them directly out of their cases with a spoon - using it to scrape off the last crumbs of muffin that were frustratingly ‘glued' to the paper.  

Carbohydrate 9g Protein 14g - per muffin

Sweet Potato Hash With Crispy Fried Eggs

by Susan Smith in , ,

If there was one word to describe my life right now it would be “overwhelming”. Nearly four months ago it seemed like a good idea to order a large quantity of new self-build furniture to grab a seventy-per-cent-off deal at Laura Ashley. In retrospect, an odd choice given that DIY is not our forte. Since delivery, half our bedroom space has been relinquished to twenty-two enormous and very intimidating boxes.

Now (subject to us finding a competent joiner!), they’re not going to be gathering dust for much longer. The re-vamp of our living/bedroom space, which has been overdue for the past ten years has finally begun and we, with all our clothes and personal possessions, have been displaced throughout the rest of the house whist the work is carried out. I hate the disruption, but at least the financial liability of a large, cold Edwardian property that’s a nightmare to heat and maintain is offset by having space! Perhaps we should have considered moving when my two daughters flew the nest, but the prospect of a new owner coming in and cutting down the trees and destroying the habitat of numerous squirrels and birds that have made our garden their home, prevents us. So given that we feel we have to stay, we're stuck with the ongoing commitment and upheaval of one costly home improvement after another.

With all the chaos going on around me, what I don’t have too much time for is cooking, food shopping and devising new recipes for this blog! Hence, for the next few weeks, I’ll be in the same boat as most people who prefer to eat ‘fast’ food. However, in my world, fast food can never mean processed, ready-made or take-aways. Simplicity is key to making healthy meals that are quick and easy to get to the table, which also means me relying heavily on my family’s co-operation and team work. My husband John is my brilliant commis chef that does most of the chopping and slicing, whilst Sarah is a dab-hand at making perfect fried eggs for this comforting Sweet Potato Hash With Crispy Fried Eggs. 

A delicious, nutritious, inexpensive meal that really works, it is one of my all-time favourites for an uncomplicated supper.

Sweet Potato Hash With Crispy Fried Eggs (V) (Serves 3)


750g organic sweet potatoes, cut into small (about 2cm) cubes

1 small organic Savoy cabbage, stem and stalks removed and thinly sliced

3 tbsp olive oil 

1 organic red onion, finely chopped

30g butter

1 dsp cumin seeds

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 organic medium eggs

Large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped



Boil a kettle of water. Put the boiling water into the bottom pan of a steamer and the sweet potato cubes in the top of the steamer.

Steam the sweet potato cubes with the pan lid on for about 10 minutes, until almost tender. Use a draining spoon to scoop the potato cubes out of the steamer into a large bowl. Season well with sea salt and black pepper and add the cumin seeds, being careful not to break the potato cubes up. Set aside. 

Add the cabbage to the steamer, put the lid back on and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Tip the cooked cabbage into a separate bowl. Season with a little sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. 

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large deep frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the onion for 3 minutes or until just softened. Turn the heat up to medium/high, add half the butter and the sweet potatoes and fry, stirring frequently, until the potatoes and onions start to caramelise and turn golden brown.

Add the cabbage and the rest of the butter to the sweet potato mixture and continue frying, stirring from time to time, whilst you simultaneously cook the eggs.

Take a second large frying pan and heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil until the surface seems to slightly shimmer. Crack each egg into a small bowl or cup then carefully pour into the hot oil. After 1 minute reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until underneath the whites of the eggs are crispy and golden.

While the yolks are still runny, use a fish slice to transfer the eggs to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil. 

Pile the sweet potato hash on to three warmed plates and gently place two fried eggs on top of each. Season the eggs with a little sea salt and black pepper then scatter over the chopped parsley to serve. 



Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet-tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes linked to fatigue and weight gain. 

If the eggs stick together in the frying pan, use a non-stick flat ended spatula to 'cut' and separate them. Do not try to dowse the egg yolks in hot oil - they should be cooked to perfection (soft and runny) if you leave the eggs alone in the frying pan until the edges of the whites are a lacey, crisp and golden.

Wear a bibbed apron to fry the eggs - they can spit and splutter in hot oil!


Carbohydrates 58g Protein 23g - per serving

Courgette Linguine With Cashew Pesto and Marinated Mushroom and Broccoli

by Susan Smith in , , ,

Although at Primal Plate we’re more than happy to occasionally have our grain-free, refined sugar-free cake and to eat it too, there comes a time (usually after a second slice of said cake) that I begin to pull back from borderline over-indulgence to something altogether more healthy and savoury. 

Sugar is sugar, and although raw honey, coconut palm sugar and pure maple syrup are much healthier options than refined sugar, they are still sugar. Even fructose, the natural sugar found in fruit, is unhealthy when eaten to excess. I know that because I used to make myself what I thought was a healthy multiple-fruit smoothie, which oftentimes boasted more than my ‘five-a-day’ in just one potent glass full. During this time I developed an inflammatory skin condition, which my doctor initially diagnosed as shingles. In fact it was a severe case of atopic eczema, which became infected. Within two weeks of switching to a low-carb Primal diet, which meant I stopped drinking excessive amounts of fructose in my breakfast smoothie, the rash disappeared for good.

The occasional sweet treat probably doesn't do much harm, but eating too much sugar (this applies to virtually everyone who eats a processed, high-carb Western diet and doesn’t do significant amounts of exercise) can have harmful effects on metabolism and is pro-inflammatory. Inflammation can lead directly to the development of all sorts of diseases throughout the body including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer and undoubtedly it was sugar-linked inflammation that caused my erstwhile eczema. 

So, after developing and testing last week’s recipe for Tiger Nut Victoria Sandwich, which involved baking and eating two cakes within three days, I came across a recipe in Paul Gayler’s book Pure Vegetarian that is the perfect antidote to sugar overdose. 

My adaptation of Courgette Linguine With Cashew Pesto and Marinated Mushroom and Broccoli is a refreshing, vegan plateful of gorgeous colour and outstanding texture. Classic, Asian-style flavours come together in perfect harmony for one of the healthiest, zingiest, freshest-tasting meals ever! With virtually no cooking involved, it is also surprisingly simple to make. 

Try this almost raw ‘detox’ recipe if you don’t cook / won’t cook, if you need an instant energy boost or if you simply want to make amends for some recent foodie indiscretion. Good to look at, good to eat and oh so good for you, it really is health food at its best. 

Courgette Linguine With Cashew Pesto and Marinated Mushroom and Broccoli (V) (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the cashew pesto

50g raw organic cashews

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

100ml extra-virgin olive oil

25g fresh coriander

15g fresh mint leaves

15g fresh basil leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt



Place the cashews in a blender and blitz until broken down. 

Add the ginger, chilli, oil and herbs and blend until pureed.

Add lime juice, then season with sea salt to taste (I used ½ teaspoon) and briefly whizz again to incorporate.

Cover and set aside.


Ingredients - for the marinated vegetables

200g organic chestnut mushrooms, cleaned (I just wipe them over with a damp paper towel)

100ml organic extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)

1 organic spring onion, very finely chopped

2cm piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

100g organic broccoli, cut into small florets (without stalk)

50ml fresh lime juice (approx. 1 large or 2 small limes)

4 crispy and firm organic courgettes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Slice the mushrooms very thinly, place in a large bowl and add the oil, soy sauce, onion and ginger. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes (no longer than this or they create too much juice)

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli for about 2 to 3 minutes until it turns bright green but is still crunchy in texture. Quickly remove and add to the mushrooms along with the lime juice and season to taste.

Cut the ends off the courgettes, then using a kitchen mandolin, spiralizer, vegetable peeler or sharp knife, slice as thinly as possible lengthways into long strips or ‘linguine’. 

Toss with the mushrooms and broccoli, adjust the seasoning and serve with a dollop of cashew pesto on top. 


Carbohydrate 13g Protein 8g - per serving

A Spirilizer makes perfectly thin and even courgette 'linguine'

A Spirilizer makes perfectly thin and even courgette 'linguine'

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

by Susan Smith in , , , , ,

In our neck of the woods (North Nottinghamshire, UK) I’m fed-up with waiting for summer to arrive. As far as I’m concerned, 14℃ day-time temperatures don’t hack it at the end of July. Recently, I’ve even resorted to taking a hot water bottle to bed! 

I don’t know whether it’s symptomatic of global warming or personal stress levels at the height of the wedding season that’s to blame (Mirror Imaging is my second day job) but I’ve felt unseasonably cold for this time of year. Meanwhile, Sarah’s been threatening a sore throat for the past week. This means that whether the weather fails to get any warmer, or is actually getting colder, a bowl of bright-red Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup is just the thing to improve our disposition.

Peppers and tomatoes hail from warmer Mediterranean climes - the very thought makes me feel more cheery - and are incredibly healthy, being stacked with vitamins and minerals, so they’re perfect for staving off a cold.

So, if we can’t just dive into summer this year, at least we can pretend by bringing a little bit of sunshine into cooler summer days with this great tasting soup. Roasting the peppers and tomatoes really gives a delicious depth of flavour to the end result. Simple to make and gorgeous to look at, I can say with absolute conviction, “Eat soup, be happy!”

Meanwhile, I’m really hoping for a hot and sunny August.

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup is a vibrant red colour - serve with a drizzle of cream and some shredded fresh basil leaves for a simple but impressive garnish.

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup is a vibrant red colour - serve with a drizzle of cream and some shredded fresh basil leaves for a simple but impressive garnish.

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup (V) (Serves 4)


500g ripe plum tomatoes, halved

2 red peppers, halved, de-seeded and chopped into smallish pieces

1 onion, quartered

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only

2 tbsp of olive oil

1 heaped tbsp organic Marigold vegetable bouillon powder

900ml water, freshly boiled water

1 tbsp organic tomato paste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 drops liquid stevia - optional

To finish:

Double cream

Fresh basil leaves, finely shredded  



Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7

Place the tomatoes, peppers, onion and thyme into a large mixing bowl, drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything together well so that the vegetables are evenly coated in oil, then tip onto a large non-stick baking tray in a single layer and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until wilted and slightly charred all over. 

Meanwhile, make a vegetable stock with the bouillon powder and freshly boiled water.

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a large saucepan, cover with the vegetable stock and add the tomato puree. Cook over a moderate heat for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool down for 5 minutes before proceeding to the next step.

Ladle the contents of the pan into a blender container (you will need to do this in several batches), then blitz until completely smooth. 

As you go, strain each batch of blended soup through a fine sieve into a clean pan. 

After the final batch of soup has been strained, adjust the seasoning (if it tastes a little acidic, add 2-3 drops of liquid stevia) then re-heat to just below boiling point.

Pour the hot soup into 4 warmed bowls, add a swirl of cream and sprinkle with shredded basil. 



Crumbled feta cheese sprinkled on top of the soup just before serving, is a tasty alternative to cream.

I suppose it’s sods law that the minute I decide to blog a hot soup recipe, the weather forecast for this weekend is that Summer 2015 is back on. If so, Roasted Pepper & Tomato Soup is a lovely soup to take on a picnic!


Carbohydrate 15g  Protein 3g - per serving

Sweet red peppers and ripe, juicy vine tomatoes are the basis for this delicious soup.

Sweet red peppers and ripe, juicy vine tomatoes are the basis for this delicious soup.

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino with Parmesan Crusted Chicken / Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés

by Susan Smith in , , , , , , ,

There’s a debate going on in our household. A sort of ‘Daddy or Chips?’ to-ing and fro-ing. Sarah thinks I should feature more meat recipes on Primal Plate’s blog and I’m not finding any reason to do so. In fact, the opposite is true - I am not interested in promoting meat consumption.

Mass cruelty is going on, and millions of factory-farmed chickens, pigs and cows are suffering the consequences, without any encouragement from me. Most people don’t want to know how the food they eat arrives on their plate, because if they become fully aware of the heartrending, unmerciful, intense farming methods, kept ‘under wraps’ by agribusiness and food advertising agencies, natural empathy will force them to change their eating habits, or at least make them willing to pay the extra price for compassionately and ethically reared farm animals. I have a solution. If you think you can’t afford to buy organic, free-range, grass-fed meat, stop eating meat! Or, if you must eat it, save it for special occasions when you are happy to pay a little more for the privilege.

So now my intention is clear, I can indulge Sarah and look to those people who like to draw attention to the fact that meat is most often missing on Primal Plate’s blog. Today’s post should make the point admirably. 

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino is a fresh, light-bite that’s been slightly modified from an original Waitrose recipe. More than a cold salad but not quite a hot dinner, this dish captures all the flavours of summer with the minimum of fuss. With the exception of griddling the asparagus spears (which only takes about 6-8 minutes) everything else can be pre-prepared and quickly assembled when you’re ready to eat. 

It’s delicious with Parmesan Crusted Chicken (buy your chicken here) assuming you’ve taken on board the importance of provenance - but here’s the thing, it’s twice as good (and a lot more convenient to serve) teamed with Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (recipe adapted from Rose Elliot’s book Vegetarian Four Seasons).

This is my sort of food - tasty soft pillows of all-protein goodness, topped with golden, crunchy, cheese - and no animal suffering in the making thereof! When it comes to deciding which is more enticing to eat, I think the photographs here say it for me!

Still, I’ve included the recipes for both chicken and soufflés, so you have the choice. However, I entreat you to please stop supporting the horrors of intensive animal farming by paying the extra money for free-range, outdoor bred, organic chicken - without exception. Thank you.

Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino (V - see note below) (Serves 2-4)


250g tomatoes, halved (I used Pome dei Moro)

500g asparagus, trimmed

Fast and easy vinaigrette

30g pine nuts, toasted

25g pack fresh basil, shredded if leaves are large, or left whole if small

30g Pecorino, Parmesan or Twineham Grange cheese, finely grated



Pre-heat the oven to 150 ℃ / 300℉ / Gas mark 3

Arrange tomato halves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment . Cook in the pre-heated oven for up to 1 hour. N.B. Because oven temperatures can vary considerably, check the tomatoes progress after 45 minutes - they should be semi-collapsed, semi-dried and slightly caramelised when they’re done - definitely not scorched! Remove from the oven and set aside.

Gently toast pine nuts in a small dry frying pan over a low heat until golden - watch like a hawk, don’t let them burn!

Make the fast and easy vinaigrette. Set aside.

Wash asparagus, drain and dry. Snap off the bottom of the spears and peel the lower third with a potato peeler. Drizzle the prepared asparagus with olive oil, coating them evenly, then season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Just before you’re ready to serve, heat a griddle pan to hot. Cook the asparagus in a single layer until lightly charred and tender (takes about 5-8 minutes)

Arrange the cooked asparagus on a large serving plate, scatter with the tomatoes. Drizzle generously with the vinaigrette then top with pine nuts, shredded basil leaves and grated cheese…in that order.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Serves 2) 

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts 

1 egg white, lightly beaten

60g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

A generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp Clearspring organic sunflower frying oil



Pre-heat the oven to 200℃. 

Combine freshly ground black pepper with grated Parmesan.

Dip each chicken fillet into the beaten egg white and then firmly press the chicken into the combined Parmesan and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a non-stick oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat. When it is hot, cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Do not be tempted to move the chicken around the pan - it will be crispier if you leave it alone. 

Put the frying pan into the pre-heated oven for a further 8-10 minutes until cooked through. N.B. if you’re not sure if it’s completely cooked, cut through the middle of one of the chicken fillets with a sharp knife and check.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving. 


Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (V) (Makes 8 soufflés - serves 4 for a main course, 8 as a starter) 


Butter for greasing 

8 tbsp ready-grated Parmesan cheese

225g full fat cream cheese (I used Longley Farm)

4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

150g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

5 large egg whites

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper



Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4. Boil a kettle of water.

Generously grease 8 ramekin dishes, then sprinkle the insides with 4 tablespoons of the ready-grated Parmesan.

Put the cream cheese into a large bowl and mash with a fork until it’s smooth. Gradually mix in the egg yolks, then add half the grated Gruyere. Season with sea salt and black pepper. 

In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a clean grease-free whisk (preferably electric if you’re not feeling energetic) until they stand in soft peaks.

Stir one tablespoon of the whisked egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it, then using a metal tablespoon gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins to come level with the top, but don’t pile it up any higher.

Stand the filled ramekins in a roasting tin, pour the boiling water round to come halfway up the sides and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are risen and set.

Remove from the oven and allow to get cold - they’ll sink a bit. Loosen the edges and turn them out. It’s easiest to turn them out into the palm of one hand, then transfer them to an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere cheese, then with the rest of the Parmesan cheese. 

They can now wait until you’re ready to bake them. Then, pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 425℉ / Gas mark 7.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden brown.

Serve immediately.


It’s impossible to make Pecorino or Parmesan cheese without using animal rennet, so they are not suitable for vegetarians. Twineham Grange cheese is made with a vegetarian rennet in place of the animal rennet and is the only cheese of its type to be Vegetarian Society Approved. For more information click here.

Twice-baked cheese soufflés are excellent for a special brunch served alongside slices of wild smoked salmon and accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange and pink grapefruit juice. They can even be made and frozen in their dish, ready to be quickly defrosted and baked.  

The cooking times for chicken breast fillets depend on their size and thickness so I have allowed some latitude in my timings. Try to ensure that both fillets are the same weight so you’re not juggling around with different timings for each. Ultimately, you have to use your discretion but, if in doubt, nothing will spoil if you cut one open, just to make sure it’s nicely cooked all the way through.


Carbohydrate 6g Protein 8g - per serving of Griddled Asparagus & Tomato with Pecorino/Twineham Grange cheese

Carbohydrate 0g Protein 44g - per serving of Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Carbohydrate 2g Protein 28g - per main course serving of 2x individual Twice-Baked Cheese Soufflés (1g carbohydrate 14g protein - per soufflé)

Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus

by Susan Smith in ,

It’s taken nearly two months for me to get my Lurch Spirali out of its box! A quick mid-week peek inside my refrigerator was the inspiration. Apart from organic courgettes, cherry tomatoes, a couple of bunches of asparagus that were begging to be eaten, half a raw cauliflower, eggs and several different cheeses, there wasn’t much else to speak of that could be converted into a substantial meal for three. Since we’d already succumbed to staving off our appetites with salted nuts and a large glass of wine, I knew I had to get something on the table sooner rather than later.

Besides which, I thought that at least making vegetable ‘spaghetti’ might distract us from our hunger pangs. And It did. Not that Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus took very long to make. In fact, I think it was on the table in less than thirty minutes in spite of there being minimal instructions in or on the box and, according to my husband, not much more information on the internet! 

Anyway, vegetable spaghetti, for the purposes of this recipe we call it courgetti, was fascinatingly simple and quick to make. We were all quite excited to see these long beautiful green pasta-type spirals falling effortlessly from this genius little gadget (kids, especially those who find vegetables unappealing, will just love it!). Plus, we think the result is even better to eat than conventional pasta - altogether tastier, healthier and lighter - which lets your choice of pasta sauce sing even more loudly! 

My ‘sauce’ is an adaptation of a similarly entitled recipe in Rose Elliot’s book, Fast, Fresh and Fabulous. and, as well as befooling veggie-reluctant children (you might just change their minds by getting them involved in making the courgetti!), this low-carb, really healthy recipe is a slimmer’s delight - because who would not like to lose a little bit of excess weight in contemplation of baring all in the heat of summer? Or if that’s not your concern, when the sun starts to rise in the sky, you might just prefer spending more time outside rather than in the kitchen! 

A cross between a pasta dish and a warm salad, this is so quick and easy to make it’s practically convenience food! I’ve used slender asparagus spears here because they need very little preparation. Just snap off the bottoms, wash and cook. They also cook so quickly. Happily this means you can leave the ‘sauce’ to make itself under the grill whilst you attend to the courgetti, which is cooked al dente in just 3 minutes flat!

The images of the raw ingredients I’ve used for Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus are not just for show! This is how I get organised when making any meal or recipe. I collect all the ingredients together and prep them first, i.e. before I even start the cooking process. 

This is a lovely, fresh way (looks so very Italian!) to eat young, thin spears of asparagus and get a healthy quotient of other fresh vegetables on your Primal Plate too. I’ve used soft goats cheese and some Gran Padano to add more depth of flavour and texture to the dish, but if you prefer, you could get your protein fix by substituting grilled meat, chicken or fish for the cheese.

Courgetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus (V) (Serves 2)


300g (10½oz) cherry tomatoes

250g (9oz) thin asparagus spears (about 12 thin spears per person, or if not available, 7 thicker ones see Notes below)

2 tbsp olive oil

Basil leaves, about 8 large ones, finely shredded

3 medium-large, firm, flat (not curved) chunky courgettes (size and shape matters!)

Sea salt 

Freshly ground black pepper

100g (3½oz) full-fat soft goat’s cheese

25g (1oz) Parmesan (or Gran Padano, or Vegetarian parmesan-style cheese), finely grated


Boil a kettle of water. Set the grill to high.

Cut off both ends of the courgettes. Put the centre of the courgette into the centre of the Spirali vegetable support and holding the machine steady with one-hand, turn the crank clockwise with your other hand whilst pushing the vegetables tight up against the blades. - the courgettes are easily and quickly sliced twice into fabulous long julienne strips. What fun! Set aside whilst you prepare the ‘sauce’ ingredients.

Place the cherry tomatoes in a single layer on a grill pan. Put the washed and dried asparagus into a large bowl with half the olive oil and mix together with you hands until evenly coated. Put these on the grill pan too and season everything well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Put under the grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until the tomatoes are on the point of collapse and the asparagus just tender to the point of a knife, and perhaps tinged golden brown.

Once the tomatoes and asparagus are about half-way through their cooking time (after about 3-4 minutes) put the courgetti into the top half of a steamer and pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom half of the pan. Put the pan lid on and steam for 3 minutes. Keep your eye on the asparagus and tomatoes whilst the courgetti cooks.

Drain the courgetti well, then pour over the rest of the olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Divide the courgetti between two warm pasta dishes (large shallow bowls). Add the tomatoes and asparagus to the vegetable pasta and top with goats cheese, shredded basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan, if liked. Buon appetito!



Select the finest (3mm blade) out of the 3 cutters supplied with your machine - this makes thin ‘spaghetti’ spirals out of your vegetables that not only look fantastic, they only need a very short period of time to cook. Assemble your Spirali machine on a clean flat surface and place a large container underneath to catch the prepared courgetti as it falls from the machine.

If you want to, you can peel the courgettes first so it comes out white, like pasta.

If you can’t get thin whole asparagus, use asparagus tips. Alternatively, first cut the tips off thicker asparagus and then split the stems vertically in half. 

For vegans, omit the cheese and try adding other finely chopped herbs to the basil - perhaps tarragon and chives. Serve the vegetable pasta with freshly chopped herbs and perhaps a good handful of toasted pine nuts scattered over.

You can make this dish completely fat-free by omitting the olive oil (although ‘low-fat’ isn’t a concern for people who follow a Primal or Paleo diet) 


Carbohydrate 16g Protein 22g - per serving

Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry with Cauliflower Rice

by Susan Smith in , , ,

I met one of my oldest friends last week. We go back nearly thirty years, I think. I don’t see her that often, but when I do, it’s as if it’s just a continuum of the time before - even if our last meeting was months, or even years, ago. I love this woman’s courage, directness and no-nonsense attitude to life. Turns out, we’ve both lost a significant amount of weight recently, so obviously our respective weight-reduction diet plans were up for discussion and comparison. Her low-fat / low-calorie / high-nutrient Slimmer’s World diet (by which method she has lost four stone!) is almost the exact opposite of my high-fat / low-carbohydrate / Primal diet that doesn’t give a hoot about counting calories (though it’s still nutrient dense).

It’s a sure-fire thing that Primal Plate has nothing to offer my friend in terms of optimising a weight-loss maintenance plan because she’s doing brilliantly already, thank you very much! What I do know is that you cannot combine Primal eating (no-grains, low-carbohydrate) with a low-fat diet because you’d find yourself in a dietary hell of restricted food choices and no energy. And vice versa. The natural consequence of a high fat, high carbohydrate diet and a sedentary lifestyle is an increasingly fat and unhealthy body. In this context, today’s obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemic is the norm.  

It appears dietary guidelines for weight loss are still polarised between low-fat / high-carbohydrate (including grains, potatoes and wholemeal bread) and high-fat / low-carbohydrate (your source of energy comes from healthy dietary fat like cheese, grass-fed meat, butter and cream). So, the message is, unless you do insane amounts of exercise, you really can’t combine both diets and stay at your optimum weight! Whatever you’ve been conditioned to believe, there is mounting scientific evidence that proves fat, particularly saturated fat (butter, cheese, meat and cream), isn’t the enemy. In fact, it may be high carbohydrates that are more dangerous. Hence, Primal Plate recipes answer the need for comfort food that could be mistaken for carbohydrate-rich meals.

Whilst putting the world to rights, as only sixty-something sagacious women can, I mentioned my inclination towards vegetarian food and my friend went on to tell me how tricky she found cooking for her son and girlfriend, who are both vegan. It was then a light went on inside my head. To make Primal Plate blog more relevant to her, why not develop a low-carbohydrate, Primal (no grains, no pulses, no legumes) easy-to-cook vegan recipe? And with that thought, Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry with Cauliflower Rice was created.

The first time I made this dish, the result was such a pleasant surprise! The aubergine transforms itself into a sort of ‘vegetarian meat’ that absorbs the curry spices and fresh lime juice well, and perfectly blends with creamy coconut milk into an amalgam of sweet-sour, meltingly soft, spicy curry perfection. 

The trick to cooking aubergine is to cook it thoroughly - in this instance, first cutting it into smallish pieces and frying in coconut oil until it’s evenly brown on all sides, then lightly braising in the sauce until it’s unctuously soft and velvety. Low-carbohydrate, grain-free, cauliflower ‘rice’ does a brilliant job of soaking up all the delectable juices and voilà - a healthy, flavoursome vegan meal that is seriously yum!   

You’ll need a food processor to make the Cauliflower Rice.

Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry with Cauliflower Rice (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the aubergine curry

3 medium aubergines (about 750g (1lb 10oz) total weight)

3 tbsp organic coconut oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2.5cm (1in) piece root ginger, finely chopped

4 tsp red Thai curry paste (I use Barts)

1 tbsp raw organic coconut sugar

1 lime, juiced

1 tbsp tamari

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

300ml (10½ fl oz) cold water

2 x 400g (14oz) cans full-fat coconut milk

15g (½oz) basil leaves, finely shredded

60g (2oz) raw cashews

1tsp olive oil



Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and slowly toast the cashews over a low heat until they are golden. Allow them to cool on a plate lined with kitchen paper. When cool, use a sharp knife to chop them into smallish pieces. Set aside.

Meanwhile, clean the aubergines with a damp kitchen towel, cut off the stalk end then cut the flesh into small (2cm) cubes.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat then add the chopped onion and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. 

Add the aubergine cubes and fry, turning over from time to time, until everything is a deep golden brown on all sides. This takes about 10 minutes so keep your eye on it to make sure the mixture browns evenly and doesn’t burn.

Add the curry paste to the pan and cook for a further minute. Then add the coconut sugar, the lime juice, the tamari, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to gentle simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to about a third of its original volume. 

Stir in the coconut milk and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes.

Taste to check the seasoning, then serve with shredded basil and toasted cashews scattered over and steamed Cauliflower Rice.

Cauliflower Rice (V) (Serves 4)


1 large head of cauliflower, preferably organic

1-2 fresh bay leaf (optional)



Boil a kettle of water.

Wash and dry a large head of cauliflower. Cut off the florets only (you don’t need the stem). Blitz the florets in a food processor for about 30 seconds until it comes together into a powdery cauliflower ‘snow’. 

Tip the cauliflower into the top of a steamer and tuck a couple of bay leaves into the cauliflower, if you have them. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom of the steamer, cover and steam for 3-4 minutes (do not cook any longer than this - the ‘grains’ of cauliflower should stay separate, not reduce to wet mush!)

Drain well and serve immediately with Thai Spiced Aubergine Curry



There’s no need to salt the aubergines for this recipe, or indeed for any recipe calling for aubergine now that the bitterness has been bred out of modern varieties. When it comes to Mellanzane Parmigiana I still do, mainly out of force of habit, which just harks back to the time when I used to fry the aubergine slices in olive oil prior to assembling the dish and, unless they were pre-salted, the amount of olive oil they absorbed was alarming!


Carbohydrate 28g Protein 13g - per serving of aubergine curry with cauliflower rice

Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese

by Susan Smith in , ,

I love British asparagus. It has to be one of the most distinctly delicious vegetables ever, and right now is the time to be taking advantage of its very short season - traditionally between St. George’s Day (23rd April) and Midsummer day (21st June).

Magnificent whichever way you cook it, perhaps my favourite way is to lightly steam it and serve it with salty dairy ingredients such as butter and cheese. Asparagus also has a particular affinity with eggs, so hollandaise sauce - a heavenly combination of eggs and butter - is for me the ultimate indulgence. 

Suffice to say, I’ll be going mad for British asparagus for the next few weeks…steaming, roasting, boiling, chargrilling, in salads (like the Spanish are wont to do) or raw, this seasonal treat is seriously good! Clearly I’m not the only one to appreciate English asparagus’s delicate, fresh, sweet taste (eaten raw it reminds me of young freshly-podded peas) because sales of this trendy vegetable have sky-rocketed in recent years. So, whilst British asparagus is currently enjoying its truly deserved ‘best in the world’ status, I think it would be remiss of me not to feature some of my pick-of-the-crop recipes.

The shortest and sweetest one I know involves nothing more than snapping off the bottom ends of the spears (they conveniently break just in the right place), placing them in a single layer in a large frying pan with a good knob of butter (25g / 1oz) and 150ml / 5fl oz water and cooking them over a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until the water has almost evaporated. Turn the heat to medium and continue cooking, turning occasionally, for another 6-8 minutes until the asparagus is glistening and tinged golden in a reduction of buttery juices. Served with lemon, a few flakes of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper, it’s simply irresistible. 

However, after my hyper-excitement about British asparagus now hitting the shops, it would be a bit of a tease to just leave it at that! So today’s recipe for Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese, is altogether a more substantial dish - a meal in itself. It is also a celebration of asparagus that marries it together with some of its most harmonious flavour pairings - eggs, cheese and mushrooms. 

Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese can be ready to eat in 45 minutes. It’s also fast and straight forward to prepare. The only tricky part is keeping the egg yolks still slightly runny whilst making sure the egg whites are properly set (though it’s infinitely better to have over-set egg yolks than it is slimy egg whites!) The best way I’ve found to get this dish just perfect is to use individual oven-proof dishes set in a bain-marie (water bath) and to be meticulous with the timing!

Baked Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese (V) (Serves 2)


350g asparagus (7-8 spears per person)

150g organic closed-cup mushrooms

1 tbsp olive oil

125 ml organic double cream

80g Parmesan or Twineham Grange (vegetarian) cheese, finely grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large organic free-range eggs

Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, to garnish

15g butter, for greasing gratin dishes (the dishes I use are 23cm x 17cm / 9in x 5in)



Boil a kettle of water. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

To prepare asparagus, bend the asparagus spear (close to its base) until it snaps, then throw the woody end away. If the ends still feel tough, you can pare away the exterior with a potato peeler to reveal the more tender flesh beneath.

Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the base of a steamer. Lay the asparagus spears in the top of the steamer and, with the lid on, steam for 2-3 minutes until crispy-tender. Drain and plunge immediately in cold water to stop the cooking process (or place under a running cold tap). Drain again, then dry the spears between two sheets of kitchen paper and set aside.

Either quickly wash the mushrooms under a cold tap and dry on kitchen paper or clean them with damp kitchen paper and cut into thickish slices (4-5 slices per mushroom). Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and quickly stir-fry the mushrooms for 3 minutes or until softened and golden brown. Immediately tip the cooked mushrooms into a metal sieve set over a bowl (to drain off the excess juices), then lightly season the mushrooms with sea salt and black pepper and leave to cool.

Butter two individual oven-proof (gratin) dishes well. 

Boil another kettle of water.

Lightly season the cream with sea salt and black pepper. Divide all but 2 tablespoons of the cream equally between the two dishes. Swirl the dishes around so the cream is distributed evenly over the bottom of each dish then sprinkle over about three quarters (60 grams) of the grated cheese, again dividing it equally.

Arrange the cooked mushrooms and asparagus neatly on top, in that order. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese. 

Carefully break 2 eggs into each dish, then spoon the remaining cream over the top of each egg. 

Place the dishes in a large roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water from the kettle until it reaches about halfway up their sides. 

Bake in the pre-heated oven on the middle shelf for 10 minutes - since oven temperatures can vary considerably, check after 8 minutes - the egg whites should be just set (still wobbly but opaque) and, hopefully, the yolks slightly runny. N.B. Don’t overcook as the eggs continue to cook in the residual heat of the dishes after they’ve been taken out of the oven.

Carefully (I use silicone oven gloves), remove the dishes from the bain-marie directly onto a dry tea-towel.

Garnish each dish with a sprig of fresh parsley and serve immediately with a decent glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Deliciously sexy, unctuous food, or what?


Choose asparagus spears that are uniform in size - not too thick and not too thin (definitely not sprue). Given a choice, I like my asparagus to err on the side of thicker rather than thinner because I think you get more flavour and texture. To check the uniformity of thickness within a pre-packed bunch of asparagus, tip it upside down and look at the base of the shoots. You want them all roughly the same diameter so that they will cook evenly. Fresh asparagus should have tight perky tips and shoots that are straight and firm. If possible, eat on the day of purchase - though asparagus will keep in a refrigerator for up to 4 days with the base of their stems wrapped in damp kitchen towel and placed inside a perforated plastic bag.

Asparagus packs a nutritional punch, with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium. They're also a diuretic and give your pee an unmistakable aroma (which, weirdly, not everyone can smell!).

Twineham Grange cheese is a delicious vegetarian alternative to Parmesan Reggiano. This full-flavoured hard cheese is absolutely perfect for cooking. It seems to me to have the melting quality of Gruyere with a similar flavour profile to Parmesan. Brilliant! 


Carbohydrate 9g Protein 35g - per individual serving

Mushroom Cheese Burgers

by Susan Smith in , , ,

Encouraged by some unusually warm spring weather this year, my eldest daughter and son-in-law have been firing up their BBQ since 6th April. Accordingly, the rest of the family were very happy to receive an invitation to join in the fun this bank holiday weekend (even if the weatherman was  threatening rain).

My son-in-law is the archetypal carnivore, so steak, sausage and burgers are his bag. In theory, he should enjoy the Paleo/Primal diet, but won’t be persuaded to give up his high carb favourites! Anyway, between his voracious appetite for meat, people’s general expectation of what’s quintessentially BBQ fare, you’d think there’d be a mis-match with my preference for all things vegetarian. Still, it doesn’t have to be so. In August 2008, I invited all my family to a BBQ and then caused several raised eyebrows when I announced it was going to be an entirely meat-free affair! In spite of some family member’s initial reticence (which turned into disbelief at the variety of vegetarian options on offer) it turned out to be one of the most successful family BBQs ever.

Back then, I relied heavily on vegetarian wonder woman Rose Elliot, and specifically her book Vegetarian Barbecues and Grills for inspiration. Ninety-nine per cent of Rose Elliot’s recipes never let me down. But this week, for the sake of originality, I decided to have a bash at making some Halloumi Veggie Burgers courtesy of Green Kitchen Travels. Unfortunately, when I read through the recipe properly, I couldn’t see how simply combining grated courgette, grated carrot and grated halloumi would work. Turns out, I was right.

Halloumi cheese does not melt when heated, so it’s ideal for grilling in flat slices on a BBQ (like a burger) but as I discovered, if you just add a load of wet ingredients to grated halloumi and nothing else to bind it together, you’ll end up with a halloumi ‘salad’ or at best, halloumi rösti! Undeterred, I added ricotta to the mix, which at least enabled me to mould everything into burger patties. Nevertheless, these were still far too wet and fragile and, in my view, would disintegrate on a BBQ. If the authors would like to elucidate, I’d be most grateful! On the plus side, Primal Plate tries these things so you don’t have to. Essentially, they tasted quite good, so at some point this summer halloumi burgers may well make an appearance on Primal Plate with the essential missing ingredient (what ere that be), added!

For now, I’m going with the thought that if it aint broke, don’t fix it. So instead I’ve adapted a Rose Elliot recipe to create some moist and tasty Mushroom Cheese Burgers. I know from experience that these burgers hold together well on the grill and, being pre-cooked, all I needed to do when we were ready to eat, was brush them with olive oil and compete with Nick for cooking space… 

The day after the night before, and I can vouch it was a very good party. Proof that a flexi-vegetarian rubbing shoulders with a devout meat-eater - aprons donned, cooking tongs and spatulas drawn over hot coals - is definitely viable. I still think the delectably crisp Mushroom Cheese Burgers were the star of the show. However, the halloumi, having been demoted from its intended pole position as a burger, really came into its own as Halloumi & Vegetable Skewers (recipe coming soon) - a colourful, barbecued veggie alternative to meat or, for any meat-eating diehard like my son-in-law, a healthful vegetable distraction!

You’ll need a deep-holed muffin or Yorkshire pudding tin to pre-bake these burgers.

Mushroom Cheese Burgers (Makes 8 x 7cm / 3 inch burgers)

Ingredients - for the burgers

2-3 tbsp olive oil

450g (1lb) button mushrooms, wiped clean with damp kitchen roll and sliced

350g mature Cheddar cheese, grated (I used Sussex Charmer)

2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only

3 large eggs, beaten

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil, for grilling

Fresh rosemary sprigs, to garnish


Ingredients - for preparing the tin

20g butter, melted

1-2 tbsp Napolina Italian Grated Cheese



Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Brush 8 compartments of the muffin tin with the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with the dry-grated cheese (Napolina). Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the sliced mushrooms and fry until tender and free from liquid - this will take about 15 minutes or so. 

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chives, thyme, cheese, beaten egg and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste (go steady with the salt - strong-tasting Cheddar already packs a lot of flavour).

Divide the mixture between the tins, smoothing the surface of each ‘cake’ with a spatula knife.

Bake for 15 minutes, until firm to the touch and lightly browned. 

Cool completely in the tins, loosen the edges with a small knife, then turn out.


To barbecue or grill:

Brush the burgers on both sides with olive oil. Place on the grid of the barbecue or under a hot grill and cook until browned. 

Turn over and cook the other side, brushing with a little more oil if necessary.

Top each burger with a sprig of rosemary and serve piping hot. 


Carbohydrate 2g Protein 16g - per burger

Primal Pizza

by Susan Smith in , ,

I really used to enjoy going to Pizza Express for some downtime after a hard days work or shopping. I liked the informality and watching the Pizzaiolos performing their brave tossing and turning of pizza dough - the higher they spinned the floppy discs of dough in the air the more you could anticipate being served a thin, deliciously crispy-crusted pizza! My favourite toppings were Cajun, Fiorentina, Giardiniera, Da Morire. I do so love Italian passion and flair!

For many years I used to take my two girls as a weekly treat. Before ditching the grains, I thought it was the closest thing to a fun fast food experience I could give them, without compromising our health. I confess, there’s still nothing quite like the memory of a traditional wheat-based pizza and a glass of wine to transport me to a happy place, and I’m not the only one. Last week, Sarah told me the one thing she still craves is pizza, so today I felt compelled to try and oblige. 

After scouring the internet for food blogging pioneers of grain-free pizza, and several rejected recipes later, I think my version of cauliflower pizza crust is simply the best! Unlike some I’ve tried, it’s not held together with copious quantities of cheese or eggs and, as a result, my pizza base recipe is definitively more bread-like. When it comes to pizza crust, it isn’t exactly ‘it’ but it does come very close indeed.

The next consideration was the pizza topping. Regular readers of Primal Plate will know that I espouse Primal-friendly vegetarianism and since Peter Boizot, the founder of Pizza Express has been a vegetarian since childhood, and I once read that his personal favourite was a Margherita pizza, I’m thinking…way to go! Besides which, with it’s red (tomato sauce) white (mozzarella cheese) and green (basil) I love the fact that it emulates the colours of the Italian flag!

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as vegetarian Parmesan or, so far as I know, vegetarian Italian buffalo mozzarella. Even lacto-vegetarians are often unaware that Parmesan Reggiano DOP and buffalo mozzarella are made from coagulating milk to produce curds (solids) and whey (liquid), and this coagulation can only be achieved by using rennet, an enzyme obtained from the stomach of slaughtered newly-born calves. The very idea of taking these newborn animals away from their mothers at birth and slaughtering them is an anathema to me (I don’t eat veal on compassionate grounds either - please see *note below) so I’ve substituted Sainsbury’s So Organic Vegetarian Mozzarella for buffalo mozzarella, and Twineham Grange for the parmesan in my recipe. They are both excellent vegetarian alternatives. 

I think Peter Boizot, alias Mr Pizza himself, will approve!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust (Makes a 10 Inch pizza - serves 2) (V)

Ingredients - for the pizza base

1 organic cauliflower (to yield about 500g raw cauliflower ‘rice’)

1-2 fresh bay leaves - optional

50g (2oz) organic ground almonds 

25g (1oz) organic arrowroot

25g (1oz) organic ground flaxseed

25g (1oz) vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated

50g  (2oz) vegetarian ricotta

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp baking powder

1 dsp fresh marjoram, finely chopped

1 whole egg, beaten


Ingredients - for the topping

120ml (4fl oz) organic tomato passata (I use Mr Organic)

Pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 drop liquid stevia

125g  (4½oz) organic vegetarian mozzarella

50g (2oz) vegetarian parmesan-style cheese

Fresh basil sprigs, for serving


Instructions - for pizza crust

Preheat the oven to 160℃ / 325ºF / Gas mark 3. Boil a kettle of water.

Take a large piece of parchment paper and, using a large flan ring or pan lid as a guide, draw a 10-12 inch circle on the back of the paper (this will help you shape the pizza into the right size later) Turn the paper over and grease with butter or coconut oil. Place on a flat non-stick baking sheet and set aside. 

Wash and dry a medium sized head of cauliflower. Cut off the florets only (you don’t need the stem). Blitz the florets in a food processor for about 30 seconds until it comes together into a powdery cauliflower ‘snow’. 

Tip the cauliflower into the top of a steamer and tuck a couple of bay leaves into the cauliflower, if you have them. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the bottom of the steamer, cover and steam for 3-4 minutes (do not cook any longer than this - the ‘grains’ of cauliflower should stay separate not reduce to wet mush!)

Dump the cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool down before proceeding to the next step. Once the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the tea towel and wring out every last drop of water. You need to squeeze out as much water as possible to ensure you get a pizza-like-crust not a crumbly mess!

Put the squeezed-out cauliflower into a large bowl. Now add ground almonds, arrowroot, ground flaxseed, baking powder, Parmesan cheese, ricotta, marjoram, sea salt and black pepper and the beaten egg. Mix together well with a fork. 

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed. Once you’ve got it roughly into shape, the best way to compact it is to take a sheet of cling film, lay it on top of the dough and roll it out more evenly with a rolling pin - don’t make it too thick or too thin - make the edges slightly higher.

Remove the cling film and slide the parchment paper onto your baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes until it is golden brown (you may need to turn it around halfway through the cooking time to make sure it cooks evenly). 

Remove from oven and allow to rest a couple of minutes. 


Instructions - for the topping

Meanwhile, for almost instant tomato sauce, pour passata into a small saucepan, add a pinch of sea salt, a grinding of black pepper and 1 single drop of liquid stevia then cook over a moderate heat for 3-4 minutes to reduce down to a slightly thicker consistency.  

Use a serving spoon or ladle to spread a thin layer of the sauce on top of the pizza base, leaving a 2 centimetre border of crust around the outside edge.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over evenly, then add the slices of mozzarella (in that order). Put back in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Slide the pizza onto a serving plate and decorate with basil and a grinding of black pepper, if liked. 

Serve up your delicious, nutritious, gluten and grain-free pizza and enjoy! 


I find that it’s best to remove the mozzarella from the fridge, slice it and allow it to come to room temperature before using it to top my pizza. Any excess moisture coming from the mozzarella can then be mopped away with kitchen roll beforehand, - otherwise, the heat of the oven can cause the mozzarella to leak a milky liquid onto your pizza crust and make it go soggy! 

Twineham Grange cheese has a slightly rubbery (they say, “creamy") texture compared to the hard, granular texture of genuine Parmesan Reggiano (and I do so wish they still made it from unpasteurised milk). Eaten straight from the packet, it also lacks Parmesan's rich, sharp flavour. Nevertheless, my first test using Twineham Grange as a substitute in a recipe for baked eggs with asparagus, cream and Parmesan was a triumph! It melted down beautifully to create a smooth, creamy and delicious cheesy sauce. Therefore, I am more than happy to recommend it as a viable alternative to Parmesan for anyone with concerns about animal welfare. 

Furthermore, Bookham Harrison Farms Sussex Charmer Cheese and Southdowns Butter are absolutely sublime tasting and, as such, will no doubt feature in many future Primal Plate recipes. They offer a brilliantly efficient online shop and delivery service. 

 *Milk fed veal calves are often anaemic. The calves are fed a low iron diet to produce the most desired white meat. They are fed milk replacer, which can be laced with antibiotics in order to control the diarrhoea that is caused by an inadequate diet. These calves are restricted from moving and spend their lives in small stalls or hutches. They are slaughtered at 18 to 20 weeks of age. Calves can be so crippled from confinement that they have to be helped into the truck or trailer on the way to the slaughter house. Click here for further information.


Carbohydrate 26g Protein 27g - per serving of pizza crust

Carbohydrate 3g Protein 22g - per serving of topping

Carrot Hummus With Orange & Feta Salad

by Susan Smith in , , , ,

Primal eating and lifestyle principles are trail-blazing strategies that can transform human beings from fat and flabby to lean and toned, from lethargic to energised, and from a degenerative diseased state to optimum health. I for one, am totally sold! 

However, in my opinion, the basic premise of Primal eating, which is to eat real food e.g. farm to table grass-fed livestock and vegetables grown in organic soil, and to avoid sugar, grains, unhealthy fats and beans/legumes, isn’t far enough removed from the deeply ingrained (forgive the pun) idea that the ideal meal consists of a big hunk of meat with a smaller side of vegetables. 

In my view, this has more to do with fulfilling an emotional need (for greed) than it is about satisfying the body’s physical requirements. It doesn’t take into account the moral dilemma of what it can actually mean (untold suffering of animals and the destruction of environment) for us to continue eating disproportionate amounts of meat, fish, seafood and dairy. 

For this reason, Primal Plate would like to propose a paradigm shift in people’s thinking. I believe now is the time for us to learn how to structure meals around a higher proportion of vegetables to animal protein. My role is to encourage a change in eating habits by offering vegetarian-friendly recipe ideas that defy expectations, and hopefully inspire you to cook and eat more ecologically produced food.

I have to say, there are many challenges to overcome when combining Primal principles with my leaning-towards-vegetarian hedonistic tendencies! I’ve come a long way with Grain-free Scones, Chocolate Cake, Shortbread, Souffléd Cauliflower with Gruyère Cheese Sauce and Meat-Free Cottage Pie, but there are so many classic vegetarian recipes that are seemingly off-limits because they contain potato, pasta, rice, corn, beans and other legumes (*see note below). Which slightly miffs me, because I used to consider traditional hummus and crudités a really healthy snack. Furthermore, my fennel and lemon risotto and vegetable chilli were always comfortingly delicious, and there are still times when I could kill for a buttery baked potato or homemade chips! 

Necessity being the mother of invention, this recipe for a chickpea-free Carrot Hummus with Orange and Feta Salad conforms to the ‘no legumes’ rule, but happily places proper-tasting hummus well and truly back on the Primal menu. Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s carrot hummus in River Cottage Veg Everyday! and Maria Elia’s houmous and feta salad in The Modern Vegetarian, this colourful starter or light lunch is a play on textures and flavours that delivers on every level. Creamy carrot hummus combines with salty feta, juicy oranges, crunchy almonds and tasty, visually delightful leaves, to create an explosion of tastes that holds your interest right up until the last forkful. 

I think that this mélange of healthy vegetation would be further enhanced by sitting the whole arrangement on top of some spicy carrot pancakes à la Maria Elia style (Primal recipe still to be devised and tested!) for a gorgeously ‘green’, ethically sound main meal. To my mind, this sustainable ‘veggies come first’ approach to fine dining is the start of the future of food. It is my intention that Primal Plate will help make the transition a truly pleasurable one for Primal orientated carnivores, pescetarians and vegetarians alike.

Carrot Hummus With Orange & Feta Salad (V) (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the carrot hummus

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

4-5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp raw clear honey

500g (1lb 2oz) organic carrots, peeled (prepped weight about 460g/1lb)

Juice of 1 organic lemon

3 tbsp smooth almond butter

2 tbsp raw organic sesame tahini

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Ingredients - for the salad

Bunch of watercress, thick stems removed

1 organic orange, peel and pith removed, cut into segments

25g (1oz) shiso (or any micro) sprouts

25g (1oz) coriander sprouts (or coriander leaf)

12 mint leaves, torn

50g (2oz) alfalfa shoots

25g (1oz) flaked organic almonds

50g (2oz) organic feta cheese, crumbled


Ingredients - for the vinaigrette

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp raw clear honey

3½ tbsp raw cider vinegar

100ml (3½ fl oz) organic olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Instructions - for the carrot hummus

Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / ℉ / Gas mark 6

In a small dry frying pan over a medium heat, toast the cumin and coriander seeds until they’re fragrant - this only takes about a minute, do not let them scorch! Tip into a pestle and mortar (or use a small bowl and the end of a rolling pin) and grind to a fine-ish powder. 

In a large bowl whisk 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the honey and toasted spices.

Cut the carrots into 4-5 cm (about 2”) chunks and add to the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Tip into a small roasting tin and roast for 35 minutes (turn the carrots over halfway through the cooking time).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Then scrape everything into a food processor (or use a hand-held blender). Add the lemon juice, the almond butter and tahini and blitz to a smooth puree (you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice as you go).

Taste to check the seasoning and texture. If necessary, add a little more lemon juice, olive oil or salt and pepper and blend again to incorporate well. Refrigerate until required. 


Instructions - for the vinaigrette

Find a clean recycled glass jar (or plastic food container) with well-fitting lid, add the vinaigrette ingredients to your chosen container in the order listed above. 

Secure the lid tightly, then shake the contents vigorously. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. 

Before serving, shake again then drizzle or spoon the vinaigrette directly from the jar on to your salad as needed (it’s best to do this incrementally, as you want your salad nicely dressed not drowned!)


Instructions - to make the salad and assemble the dish

In a medium sized mixing bowl, loosely combine all the salad ingredients together. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing and gently toss everything together so the salad is evenly coated (I prefer to do this with my hands so I don’t bruise the leaves or break up the individual ingredients too much).

Spoon the hummus onto 4 individual serving plates, and pile the salad evenly on top, making sure you can still see the hummus underneath. 

Drizzle a little more of the dressing around the outside of the plate and serve immediately.  



The carrot hummus, vinaigrette and toasted almonds can all be prepared well in advance, making this an ideal starter for entertaining.

The hummus will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. The vinaigrette will store at room temperature for several days.

The hummus would also make a great sandwich filling (only in Grain-Free Sandwich Bread, of course!) - I’d add grated raw carrot and watercress for a really tasty, wholesome vegan sandwich and probably crumbled feta too, for the rest of us.

Tracking down shiso sprouts and other micro leaves, especially if you live in the sticks, isn’t easy! To find your nearest supplier, go to Westlands and click on ‘Where to get our products’. I got really lucky because I just happened to ask at the counter of a local ‘foodie’ farm shop if they ever stocked such a thing. To my astonishment they had the most fantastic range behind the counter (for local chefs) and they kindly let me have free choice out of about eight different varieties. Thanks Maxeys Farm Shop, I shall be back for more this weekend!

* Whilst peas and green beans are, strictly speaking, legumes, they are okay to eat as part of the Primal lifestyle because they’re eaten when they’re young and fresh - not dried. Naturally lower in lectins and phytates than dried varieties, both peas and green beans are simple to cook (which further reduces/de-activates any toxicity) and are very easily digested. In addition, the carbohydrate content of both fresh peas and green beans is also much lower than that of dried peas and beans. 


Carbohydrate 23g Protein 9g - per portion