Last Christmas

Happy Boxing Day. Hopefully you’re all enjoying these few days of feasting and relaxation with your loved ones. You might be reading this with a hangover from the excess festive food and drink – and the sad news that George Michael, a tremendous talent and all-round nice guy, has died, aged only 53. If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that life really is bloody short. As Wham! told us again and again: choose life. Go places, see things, live, love, eat, drink, and be merry – and have that second biscuit.

If you overindulged yesterday (well, of course you did), you might fancy something a bit lighter today. It’s almost inevitable that your fridge is groaning with leftovers too; there’ll almost certainly be some sprouts lurking in the salad drawer. Now, I certainly think that life’s too short to continue with the falsehood that sprouts are the devil’s food. Yes, they’re pretty disgusting when they’re overcooked to mulch but so is anything. Treated with respect (and a bit of imagination), these little bulbs can be transformed into a fresh and vibrant dish. Sprouts come into their own with a bit of sweetness; roast them in maple syrup with cranberries and pecans, or try them in a citrus stir fry.

The main ingredient here is sprouts but you can swap the other ingredients around. Cauliflower would work just as well as the broccoli and you might want to chuck in some grapes or apple if you have any hanging around. And because it’s Boxing Day, you needn’t worry about quantities. Use as much (or as little) of what you want for this recipe – it all depends on how many of you are at the table. This is a quick, no-nonsense dish which you can get onto the table in no time at all and it can be bulked up with microwave rice or a tin of chickpeas.

If you still hate sprouts after trying this, just move on. Carpe diem and all that.

Sprouts can be splendid with a little bit of imagination…

Stir-fried sprouts with orange and cashews

 (Serves 2)

 For the stir fry

2-3 handfuls sprouts with the ends removed and finely sliced

2 big handfuls of kale, spinach or other greens

A handful of radishes

A handful of broccoli florets

A handful of cashews

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sesame oil (olive oil will do)


For the dressing

1 orange, juice and zest

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 inch ginger, peeled and grated or finely sliced

1 chilli, deseeded and finely sliced



Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the broccoli and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the other vegetables and the nuts and cook for another 5-6 minutes or so. In a bowl, mix the orange juice and zest with the soy sauce, the chilli and the ginger and in the last minute of cooking, pour over the stir fry and stir. You can also add some of the orange flesh, if you like. When cooked, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve on its own or with brown rice or whatever you fancy.

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