When the weather starts to warm up and Spring is in the air, I absolutely love getting my friends over for a feast to welcome in a new season. Whether you celebrate Easter or not, it’s a great time to enjoy seasonal ingredients and honour new beginnings and blossoms. And what better way to blossom than with your loved ones over feel-good food!
As you know, I am a huge lover of leftovers and nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. These exclusive Spring Celebration inspired recipes from my cookbook ‘Eat Happy’ are the perfect way to use up leftover Lamb or veggies and rustle something up in under 30 minutes, leaving you more time to enjoy the warming weather & time with your friends and family. So for your festive Spring Celebrations, here’s a recipe for my *Spiced Lamb in Aubergine Boats* and a little extra love in the form of my *Chocolate Coconut Clusters* which are so much fun to make and kids love them!
For more fuss-free, seasonal recipes, in under 30 minutes, head over to melissahemsley.com where you can subscribe to my newsletter to be the first in the know for my next cooking classes and events. And get your hands on your very own copy of ‘Eat Happy’ here.
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CHOCOLATE COCONUT CLUSTERS
My *Chocolate Coconut Clusters* are perfect to make with kids… be big or little! These quick little clusters are just four ingredients and are deliciously moreish. The coconut and chocolate go so well together but use flaked almonds if that’s what you have or even a mix! They can be kept in the fridge and enjoyed throughout the week so you always have a little chocolate love to hand.
- 100g coconut flakes
- 100g dark chocolate (70%-85%) broken into squares
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- Sea salt
- Pre-heat the oven to fan 180C/ gas mark 6 and line one or two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Pour the coconut flakes into one lined tray, spreading them out in a single layer and toast in the oven for 3-4 minutes until just golden, keeping your eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Alternatively, dry toast in a wide pan over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted.
- Remove from the heat and then immediately tip in the toasted coconut flakes. Gently stir until the coconut flakes are completely coated in the melted chocolate.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop up small clusters of chocolate-covered coconut flakes and place them, spaced apart on the lined baking tray(s). Add a tiny sprinkle of salt to each cluster, if you like.
- Place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes until set. Use a palette knife or thin spatula to ease them off the baking parchment and keep stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Serve them straight from the fridge, as they will start to melt after about 20 minutes.
AUBERGINE BOATS WITH SPICED LAMB
My quick spiced lamb is delicious in these aubergine boats, but also goes so well in chickpea wraps or on top of a buckwheat pizza and served with a simple seasonal green salad. Add any nuts or seeds to the mix you have to hand; my favourites are pistachio here as it adds a lovely texture and drizzle with garlic yoghurt to finish- delish! Simply swap the lamb to chickpeas or even quinoa in this dish to make it veggie & enjoy the same lovely smoky & fresh flavours.
- 4 aubergines
- Sea salt & black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
- Spiced lamb
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 500g minced lamb
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, ideally Aleppo pepper (pul biber)
- 2 tbsps tomato puree
- 150ml hot water
- 1 small handful of pistachios, roughly chopped (optional)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 handful fresh mint leaves
- Natural yoghurt or garlic yoghurt for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to fan 220C/gas mark 9. Add half to the oil to two baking trays and pop in the oven for few minutes to melt.
- Meanwhile, slice the aubergines in half lengthways and score the flesh in a tight criss-cross pattern, slicing down to the skin, but taking care not to cut through it.
- Remove the trays from the oven and brush each aubergine piece, skin side up, with the hot oil. Turn the aubergines over so they are skin side down and divide between then trays. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 20-25 minutes until the flesh is just soft.
- While they’re baking, start to prepare the lamb. Melt the remaining oil in a wide pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes until softened but not browned.
- Add the minced lamb and fry on a high heat for 5 minutes until browned, then add the garlic, cumin, chilli and tomato puree and cook for a further couple of minutes.
- Pour in the hot water, bring to a medium simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the lamb is cooked, then season to taste with salt and pepper and stir through the pistachios (if using) and lemon juice.
- Remove the aubergine halves from the oven once soft, divide among plates and pile the spiced lamb on top. Scatter with mint and drizzle over some yoghurt.