I've been feeling a little bit out of sorts lately, and I know I haven't been eating as well as I should. So I've resolved to eat clean a little bit more. I'm not really a follower of the paleo diet. I'm Mediterranean, and the prospect of the rest of my life without real bread, pasta or pizza somewhat depresses me! Having said that, I see the benefits of a paleo diet, and I have also felt its effects in the past - and it does make me feel full of energy! So, I guess when I eat clean, I loosely follow a lacto-paleo diet. I try to cut out grains, refined sugar , processed foods and most other things that paleo dieters do not eat, but I will not deny myself a good plate of pasta if I happen to be at an Italian restaurant and I feel like it! It's an indulgence, and perhaps an unhealthy one, but extremism is not good in any form.
Anyhow, this was one of our dinners this week: mackerel with rhubarb sauce, roast cauliflower and a salad.
I started off with the cauliflower. Here's what I used:
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp chilli flakes
salt and pepper
Simply mix all the ingredients in a roasting tray and roast at 200⁰C for 35-40 minutes, until cooked and golden brown.
Whilst the cauliflower was cooking, I moved on to the rhubarb sauce. Rhubarb is underrated and definitely underused. It was a revelation to me when I moved to this country, but even here, its use tends to be limited to crumbles. It's also eaten with custard - a dish which inspired those boiled red and yellow striped sweets that are definitely not paleo, so I digress! To those who have never heard of or cooked rhubarb before, please note that you can only eat the stalk. The leaves are poisonous, so please discard them. In the UK, you can get forced rhubarb which is available early in the year. The stalks of this particular variety are pinker and its flavour is more delicate. I'm sure the rhubarb I bought to make the sauce was forced - look at the colour of that sauce! Later on in the year, rhubarb will be greener and more sour.
Rhubarb is a classic pairing with mackerel, and its sharp taste cuts through the oiliness of the mackerel much in the same way as lemon would do. It does need to be sweetened, though, because it is really sour if left alone. I used Delia Smith's recipe as an inspiration, but I varied the quantities and I also substituted the sugar with honey to make the recipe paleo. Here's what I used:
400g trimmed rhubarb, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp local honey
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
I simply put all the ingredients together in a saucepan and let them simmer for about 20 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Delia strains her sauce, but as the rhubarb disintegrated and became mushy, I eliminated this step. I did let it cool for about 10 minutes though, because it thickens a little as it cools.
The result, as you can see, was a lovely delicate pink sauce
When the cauliflower and the sauce were done, I cooked the mackerel, which was already cleaned and gutted. I cut three slashes into the mackerel flesh (near the backbone, where the flesh is thickest), seasoned the inside of the fish with salt and pepper, and rubbed the outside of the fish in a little olive oil. I then placed it under a high grill (broiler) for about 7 minutes on each side, until the fish was cooked.
I served the fish with the sauce drizzled on top, the cauliflower and a leafy salad.
I hope you'll try this recipe. In the meantime, Bon Appétit!