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It’s really beginning to feel like spring around my neck of the woods in Dublin. But, as those of you who live here or have visited, our completely bananas weather means that it may feel like spring in the morning before hopping back to winter in the afternoon and ending the day with an autumn evening.

As I’ve said before, it’s great to have a few recipes under your kitchen belt that can bridge the gap weather-wise. I’m starting to crave bright and fresh salads but, as we’re still not out of winter’s gate just yet, there’s a tendency to reach for wintery vegetables which are so good at filling the belly with comfort.

Last week I was looking for the culinary hug a bowl of root vegetable salad might offer. I had some carrots and red cabbage in the fridge, as well as some lovely blood oranges in my fruit bowl. There was a bit of St Tola’s goat cheese that needed using and some lovely Pumpkin Seed Oil that the Gunter’s gave me for my birthday that I really wanted to get drizzling with. Almost by accident, I put together a really lovely little salad that I’m pretty sure will be appearing on my table through the transition of the seasons.

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I’ve been raving about roasting broccoli and cauliflower for quite some time now. It has transformed my relationship with both of these (often uninviting) vegetables. Whereas once I might have approached a head of broccoli in my fridge in much the same way as the homework that I just couldn’t be arsed getting around to doing, I now get stuck into their florets with great ferocity and enthusiasm.

Seriously!

I whipped together this extremely quick and simple lunch of roasted broccoli, which made for an excellently comforting winter salad. I think a lot of us have great aspirations to detox a little bit at this time of year. But most of the time the cold weather has you reaching out for the carbs instead of the veg. This is the type of warm salad that is soothing to your soul without leaving you with the guilty aftertaste of a meaty pie.

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As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I grew up with my mum, dad, sister and two brothers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Every summer, we travelled home to County Monaghan and spent the summer with our grannies and extended family.

One thing we always longed for was our Nanny B’s home-grown potatoes. And her home-grown rhubarb, which she made into tarts. And her gravy that she made slowly over her aga in the front room. Basically, we really looked forward to eating at Nanny B’s. (FYI, Nanny McElwain was less about tarts and more about what a bad ass independent lady she was, driving around everywhere in her little Ford Fiesta until a golden old age.)

My sister and I especially loved Tea Time at Nanny’s. This was an informal supper served in the evening, and consisted of a platter of cold meats, an array salads and some home-made brown bread.

My sister Niamh lives in San Francisco now but was home recently for a visit. I thought I’d treat her to an old fashioned summer Irish Tea to welcome her home.

So we had:

Burren Smokehouse (ah-mazing) Organic Smoked Salmon

Beetroots with Lemon and Thyme Cottage Cheese

Potato Salad with a Honey and Mustard Creme Fraiche Dressing

Home-made Brown Bread
 

We had it with some sparkling Elderflower and some Muscavado Heaven for dessert.

I’m pretty sure Niamh loved it. Have a look after the jump for how it all came together.

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Honey and cumin roasted carrots with toasted couscous and a drizzle of harissa yoghurt. Carrot love! 

I’m an equal opportunities eater. By that, I mean that I like to treat all food as equally delicious morsels to chomp on.

As much as I try not to discriminate, I do, however, have my favourites.

And, I’m afraid to say, there are those vegetables which often find themselves at the back of my store-cupboard, neglected and rather sad.

Carrots are a vegetable which has fallen out of my favour in the past, thanks to a hard-to-shake memory of over-boiled anaemic carrots that I was sloppily served up at boarding school.

I’ve found ways to chomp on these carotene-mines that doesn’t make my Inner Vegetable Bigot go bleurgh.

The obvious way is to use carrots as an implement in which to eat to hummus. That works well.

But you can’t be dipping carrots into hummus all the time. Besides, they’re really rather versatile vegetables once you get to know them.

I recently put together this quick and very satisfying carrot salad, which made the orange spears an absolute treat to eat.

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