Life Food & Drink

Sunday 15 December 2019

Feel-good factor - recipes from the Hemley sisters

Green goddess Melisa Hemsley makes courgetti. Photo: Nick Hopper.
Green goddess Melisa Hemsley makes courgetti. Photo: Nick Hopper.
Courgetti with pesto three ways
Green Goddess noodle salad
Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo FroSting
Mum's Philippine Beef Sinigang.
Good + Simple by Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley.

Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley readily admit "we're mad on pesto because it combines our love of fresh herbs, garlic, natural fats in the form of nuts and cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) in a super-quick and simple-to-make way - just blend and go!

"Delicious as dips, drizzled onto grilled fish or roast meat, tossed with cooked beans and lentils, or generously dolloped into hot soups and stews, these are the three pestos that we make the most, worth committing to memory for quick meals.

"Courgettes are one of our favourite vegetables: versatile, affordable, easily available, and of course you don't need to cook them, so pair pesto with courgetti instead of standard pasta to cut down on refined foods and up your vegetable intake at the same time."

Courgetti pesto three ways

Courgetti with pesto three ways


Serves 4

you will need

6 large courgettes

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


1. Use a spiralizer to turn the courgettes into long strips that resemble spaghetti, snipping any long strands in half to make them easier to eat. Alternatively, use a julienne peeler or standard vegetable peeler to peel the courgettes into long, wide strips before cutting in half lengthways.

2. Combine the courgetti with your chosen pesto in a large bowl and toss together.

3. Pile everything into a serving dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.


Serves 4 with courgetti

you will need

18 cashew nuts, soaked in double the volume of water for 3 hours

100g fresh basil (leaves and stalks)

2 garlic cloves

200ml extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper


1. Rinse and drain the soaked cashews.

2. Place in the small bowl of a food processor with the remaining ingredients and blitz together, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Blitz to the desired consistency - sometimes we like it chunky, other times smooth and creamy.

3. Alternatively, finely chop the first three ingredients with a sharp knife and then mix together with the remaining ingredients.


Serves 4 with courgetti

You will need

200g spinach (preferably baby spinach)

60g fresh basil (leaves and stalks)

2 garlic cloves

35g Parmesan or pecorino, roughly chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice, or 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

80ml extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper


1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend together until smooth and creamy, adding salt and pepper to taste.


*When storing the spinach and basil pesto, transfer to a sterilised jar and add a layer of extra-virgin olive oil to preserve it for longer and keep the colour a vibrant green, then seal with the lid and store in the fridge.

*Choose baby spinach, if you can, as it’s less bitter.


Green Goddess noodle salad

This salad is a great way to pack lots of vibrant greens into one dish. A sesame, ginger and lime dressing and some nutty buckwheat noodles tie it all together.

It is the perfect dish to make on a Sunday night for supper, giving you leftovers to keep in the fridge and use for a packed lunch the following day. Pile everything into a glass jar - the dressing at the bottom and the avocado slice and leaves on top so they're not crushed, then add the lid and take to go!

Serves 4.

You will need

300g buckwheat (soba) noodles

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

300g broccoli florets or purple-sprouting broccoli, asparagus or green beans

1 medium green cabbage or pak choi, leaves finely shredded

1 medium fennel bulb, finely sliced

1 cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out with a spoon and flesh chopped

2 handfuls of fresh greens (such as watercress, baby spinach, sliced lettuce or leftover cooked kale)

4 spring onions, finely sliced

1 large ripe avocado, sliced

1 small handful of nuts (such as cashew nuts, peanuts or almonds) or seeds (such as sesame, sunflower or poppy seeds),

4 large handfuls of fresh herbs (such as coriander, mint or basil, or a mixture), roughly chopped

For the dressing

Grated zest and juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, grated

4cm piece of fresh root ginger (unpeeled if organic), finely grated

2 tsp tamari

A pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper


1. Cook the buckwheat noodles in a large pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions (about 7 minutes). Use two forks to tease the noodles apart during the first minute of cooking.

2. When they are tender, drain and rinse under cold water for 15 seconds. Drain again and then toss in the extra-virgin olive oil in a large serving bowl to stop the noodles sticking together. Set aside.

3. Using the same pan, after a quick rinse, steam the broccoli (or other vegetable), covered with a lid, in 4 tablespoons of boiling water for 4 minutes until tender.

4. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shake in a jam jar with the lid on. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then drain.

5. Add the raw vegetables, spring onions and avocado to the noodles with the greens and steamed broccoli. Pour over the dressing and mix everything together. Top with the nuts or seeds, toasted in a dry pan for a minute if you like, and the fresh herbs.


Just like our Paradise Bars from The Art of Eating Well, this cake is a unanimous favourite with our clients - so much so that we are repeatedly asked to share the recipe. So here it is! This simple recipe is great, just add fresh raspberries, and candles if you wish, and bam! This cake is just sweet enough; it's also nut-free and as light as a wholefood sponge can possibly be.

Serves 25-30

You will need

FOR THE CAKE: 125g butter or coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing

3 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

9 medium eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

220ml maple syrup

5 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

90g coconut flour

2½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp sea salt

150g punnet of fresh raspberries, to decorate

FOR THE CHOCOLATE AVO FROSTING: 4 medium ripe avocados

5 tbsp (about 75g) coconut oil, melted

8 tbsp raw honey (to taste)

10 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp orange extract (not essence)

A pinch of sea salt


1. Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gas mark 6, then line the bases of two 25cm-diameter cake tins with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter or coconut oil.

2. Blend all the ingredients for the frosting together in a food processor until smooth, adding a dash of cold water if needed. Taste, adjusting the flavourings to taste, then transfer to a bowl and set aside in the fridge.

3. For the cake, add the cannellini beans to the cleaned food processor bowl with the eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients, except the raspberries, and blend to combine.

4. Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until well risen and lightly golden on top. (Check the cakes after 25 minutes and swap the tins between shelves, if necessary, as they will cook at different rates.)

5. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the tins before turning out.

6. While the cakes are cooling, gently wash the raspberries and dry them carefully using kitchen paper or leave to air dry. (They must be thoroughly dry before adding to the cake.)

7. Spread half the frosting on one of the cooled sponges, top with the other sponge and spread over the rest of the frosting.

Store in the fridge and bring to room temperature to serve. Decorate with the fresh raspberries just before serving.


Our Filipina mum brought us up on traditional Philippine homemade food.

One such dish is sinigang, a hearty and stew-like soup containing large chunks of meat or seafood and any seasonal vegetables.

This slow-cooked dish is characterised by its sour and savoury taste, which comes from the inclusion of tamarind - a tart and tangy fruit synonymous with Asian cuisine - and ginger. We prefer it quite sour with a touch of sweetness from tomatoes, and slightly spicy from the addition of two whole red finger chillies at the end - removed just when they have released their fragrance.

Delicious served as a one-pot dish, it also goes well with cauliflower rice or with courgetti, dropped in for the last few minutes of cooking.

Try swapping the beef for chicken, pork or fish.

Serves 4

You will need

700g rib-eye steak

1.2 1itres water or Bone Broth (see below)

2 medium onions, diced

6 garlic cloves, diced

5cm-piece of fresh root ginger (unpeeled if organic), thinly sliced

20 cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp tamarind paste (or to taste)

A big pinch of black or white pepper

3-4 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)

400g green beans, tops trimmed

400g pak choi, leaves and stalks roughly chopped

2 whole fresh red chillies

400g spinach


1. Cut the meat into 3cm cubes, retaining the fat as it will flavour the stew. Place in a large saucepan and pour in the water or broth. Bring to the boil, then cover and quickly reduce the heat and cook at a medium-to-low simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes with the tamarind paste, pepper and fish sauce. Bring back up to a simmer and cook, covered for a further 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more tamarind paste for a sourer flavour, if desired. Remember fish sauce is salty and brands vary in strength.

3. Tip in the beans, pak choi and whole chillies, then bring back up to a simmer and cook, covered, for 5 more minutes.

4. Add the spinach and remove the pan from the heat, leaving the lid on the pan to allow the spinach to wilt in the residual heat. Remove the chillies and serve immediately.


Makes 3.5 litres (in a 4-litre pan) 

You will need

3kg beef or lamb bones (usually free from your butcher) or chicken carcasses, or use the bones left over from a roast

Optional extras

A generous splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Onion, leek, carrot or celery ends

1 tbsp black peppercorns

A few bay leaves

1. Place the bones and any optional ingredients in a large stainless-steel or ceramic pot, slow cooker or pressure cooker and cover with cold water. The water should cover the bones by 5cm while still leaving room at the top of the pan.

2. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, with the lid on, for at least 12 hours for beef or lamb bones and 6 hours for chicken. If using a slow cooker, cook on high for at least 12 hours. If using a pressure cooker, cook at high pressure for at least 3 hours.

3. Strain the liquid, using a fine-mesh strainer for chicken. Use immediately or leave to cool before storing. Bone broth will keep in the fridge for several days or up to a week if you leave it undisturbed, as a layer of fat will form on the surface and keep it sealed from the air.


The longer the bones simmer, the more nutrients are released; we like to boil the chicken carcass for up to 12 hours and we keep beef or lamb bones going for 24 hours. Since these bigger bones have more nutrients to give, the broth will be more concentrated. You can strain the beef and lamb broth at half-time, refill the pot with fresh water and cook the bones again to make a double batch of broth.

Good + Simple by Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, published by  Ebury Press, €32. Photography  by Nick Hopper



Weekend magazine is delighted to host a 'Meet The Hemsley Sisters' Event on Saturday March 5 to mark the publication of Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley's keeny awaited second book, Good + Simple.

The event takes place at Cooks Academy, South William Street, Dublin at 11am with a meet and greet, cooking demostration and food sampling of favourite recipes from their second book, which will be available at a special price on the day.

Tickets cost €40 and are available from www.cooksacademy or Telephone: 01-6111-667


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