Hake, a light salad and some spaghetti with a twist

I was on the radio this morning with Marian Finucane and as always I had a ball. Here are a few recipes form my chat with her – and I will be sharing the rest later on in the week. Today we have Some gorgeous Roasted Hake with Cherry Tomatoes, a beautiful Roasted Beeroot, Feta and Watercress Salad and also a fresh Seafood Spaghetti. Enjoy!



Hake has a lovely soft texture and slight sweetness when it is very fresh. It is highly regarded by chefs as it offers much great value for money. Ask your fishmonger for the hake fillets from the centre cut so that they are nice and chunky.

Serves 4
• 4 x 175g (6oz) hake fillets, skin on with pin bones removed
• 12 cherry tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices
• small handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
• 125g ball Buffalo mozzarella, sliced
• 2 tbsp basil pesto (shop-bought or homemade)
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• lightly dressed green salad and buttered baby boiled potatoes tossed in snipped fresh chives, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F), Gas mark 6. Place the hake on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and season the flesh. Arrange the tomato slices on top and tuck in the basil leaves. Cover with the mozzarella and drizzle over the pesto.
Place the hake in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the hake is cooked through and the mozzarella is bubbling and lightly golden.
Transfer the hake with cherry tomatoes, basil mozzarella to warmed plates and have a bowl of green salad and buttered baby boiled potatoes to hand around separately.

Serves 4-6
100g (4oz) watercress
100g (4oz) feta cheese, crumbled
50g (2oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, finely diced
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

500g (1lb 2oz) small raw beetroot, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp clear honey
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp good-quality sherry vinegar
1 tsp clear honey
1/2 small mild red chilli, seeded and finely diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).
Cut each beetroot in half or into quarters until they are all evenly sized. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar and thyme, drizzle over the beetroots and season to taste. Toss until all the beetroot is thoroughly coated. Roast for 40–45 minutes, until cooked through and glazed. Leave at room temperature to cool.

Put all the dressing ingredients in a screw-topped jar and season with salt and pepper, and then shake until emulsified. Arrange the watercress on plates or use one large platter. Sprinkle over the cooked baby beetroots, feta, apricots and pine nuts. Just before serving, drizzle over the dressing.

This makes a nice change from your average bowl of pasta and is perfect when you want something special but don’t have a lot of time on your hands. To save time ask your fishmonger to prepare all the seafood for you. The prawns and squid can also be frozen. Add a couple of tablespoons of cream or crème fraiche to the sauce, if liked.

Serves 4
• 1.5kg (3lb) mussels
• 2 tbsp dry white wine
• 350g (12oz) spaghetti
• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 1 red chilli, thinly sliced into rings
• 2 small squid, cleaned and cut into thin rings
• 350g (12oz) raw prawns, peeled and veins removed
• 200g (7oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Clean the mussels and place in a pan with a lid and pour over the wine. Cover tightly and cook over a high heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally until all the mussels have opened – discard any that do not. Strain through a sieve, reserving 150 ml (1/4 pint) of the cooking liquor, leaving behind any grit.
Reserve a few mussels for garnish and remove the remainder from their shells.

Meanwhile, twirl the spaghetti into a pan of boiling salted water; stir once and then cook for 10-12 minutes until ‘al dente’ or according to instructions on the packet.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and add the garlic and chilli, then sauté for about 30 seconds until lightly golden. Add the squid and cook gently for a few minutes, then tip in the prawns and sauté for another minute or so until just sealed. Add the reserved cooking liquid and reduce slightly, then tip in the mussels, tomato halves and parsley. Season to taste and allow to just warm through.
Drain the pasta and then return to the pan, then pour in the seafood sauce and fold together until well combined. Divide among warmed wide-rimmed bowls and serve at once.

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