Well, it’s that time of year again; the clocks have gone back, the cold weather is taking over, and the Christmas adverts are finally out, which can mean many things for different people. I adore Christmas, and the build-up to my beloved holiday has got to be my favourite time of year; as I hurriedly open my advent calendar every morning to find yet another chocolate father Christmas whose disproportionately large head stares back at me, sharing my expression of pure excitement and child-like joy. Despite this enjoyment of the Christmas season, like many people, I have been known to experience the winter blues, the seemingly inevitable time of low mood when the Christmas music blaring gives me a headache and the sun setting at four o’clock is a source of irritation rather than an amusing novelty to discuss at length with my family members. I think, particularly in the current climate, we desperately need more positivity in this world, so to help keep these winter blues at bay this year, I would like to share my top three feel-good recipes which will help boost your mood and keep your spirits bright this festive season.
To start, I wanted to share a recipe which is essentially an elevated student classic, pesto pasta. This version, high in nutrients, will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised as you enjoy this classier version of the original. I know first-hand that often when you are feeling down, making an elaborate meal for yourself is the last thing on your mind, but I think the familiarity of this simple dish makes it achievable, even when you’re not feeling your best. This recipe serves four and can be found on the delicious website.
Wholemeal pasta spirals with rocket pesto, green beans, and potatoes
- 300g chat potatoes, quartered
- 300g wholemeal pasta spirals
- 200g green beans, timed, halved
- 150g tub rocket and cashew pesto
- 25g freshly grated parmesan
- Place potatoes in a large pan of cold, lightly salted water, bring to a boil and cook for five minutes.
- Add the pasta to the pan and cook for a further five minutes, then add the beans and cook for two more minutes or until the beans, potatoes, and pasta are all tender.
- Drain well, reserving 80ml of the cooking liquid, then return the pasta, potatoes, beans, and reserved water to the pan.
- Add the pesto and stir well until evenly coated.
- Season well and serve.
Next, I thought I would share a delicious recipe for sesame-crusted salmon, a meal which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, both of which have been associated with symptoms of depression if deficiency occurs. Beyond the science, this dish looks and tastes so incredibly fresh and light, leaving you with a positive feeling and a spring in your step as you enjoy the bright green colour of the veg, the smell of the aromatic rice, and the crunch of the sesame seeds. This recipe serves two and has been adapted from Chefs Plate.
Sesame Crusted Salmon with sautéed greens and seasoned rice
- 300g salmon fillets, skin-on
- 145g jasmine rice
- 55g mayonnaise
- 4 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 115g bok choy, chopped
- 60g edamame beans
- 15g seasoned rice vinegar
- 10g soy sauce
- 15g sesame oil
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius and bring a medium pot with 1 ¼ cups water to a boil.
- To the boiling water, add the rice and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 12-15 minutes.
- While the rice cooks, place the salmon on a baking tray, pat the fillets dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds and drizzle over 2 tsp oil. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
- Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the soy sauce and rice vinegar.
- In a small bowl, combine sesame oil, mayo, and 1 tbsp water.
- In a large non-stick pan, heat 1 tsp of oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the bok choy and edamame beans. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Plate seasoned rice with veggies and salmon on top. Drizzle with the sesame mayo, and enjoy!
Finally, I thought I would leave you with what I would describe as a hug in a bowl. This delicious shrimp noodle bowl is fresh, warming, and amazingly aromatic as the spices combine to create a heavenly taste sensation. Not only this, but the bright colour of the red curry paste against the green of the vegetables makes it a feast for the eyes, too, a real all-rounder of a dish. This recipe is from the How Sweet Eats website and serves four.
Thai-style coconut curry shrimp noodle bowls
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 pound raw peeled and deveined shrimp, patted dry
- 1/2 sweet onion, sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- 45g sugar snap peas
- 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
- 1 can of light coconut milk
- 170g cooked rice noodles
- 3 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
- 2 green onions, sliced
- Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of the coconut oil. Add the shrimp and cook until opaque and pink on both sides. Season with salt and pepper, and place the shrimp in a bowl to the side.
- Add the remaining coconut oil to the pan. Stir in the onions and peppers and leave to cook for five minutes until the vegetables have slightly softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and curry paste to the pan and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the snap peas and coconut milk. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for five minutes.
- Stir in the shrimp and coriander and cook for five minutes more.
- To serve, place a handful of rice noodles in a bowl and cover it with the shrimp curry. Top with extra coriander and green onions.