Our Michelin men's guide to a cheap, four-star lunch
Tired of soggy but expensive supermarket sandwiches? Four Irish Michelin-starred chefs tell Kevin Flanagan how to spice up his lunchbox at a fraction of the cost
We're all being told to tighten our belts -- perhaps that means we should be watching what we eat as well as counting the pennies. Even with shops offering value deals on sandwiches and soups it's never as cheap or as satisfying as making your own.
I spoke to four Michelin-starred Irish chefs and asked them to come up with some simple, healthy, delicious and affordable recipes -- for salads, pasta, sandwiches and soups that you can carry in your Tupperware lunchbox to work, college or even school. You can eat a homemade Michelin-starred lunch for around a euro -- and that has to beat the local deli or supermarket any day.
Roasted Plum Tomato & Red Pepper Soup with Vodka Crème Fraîche -- around €1 per portion
preparation time: around an hour
Derry and Sallyanne Clarke opened l'Ecrivain in Dublin in 1989 and 20 years later the Michelin-starred restaurant is still going strong.
Derry says: "With this soup you are instantly getting one of your five portions of fruit or vegetables a day. Using canned tomatoes is fine. You can make a big batch and freeze it and have your daily soup for a whole month!"
For the soup (4 portions):
6 plum tomatoes, halved
2 red peppers, halved and deseeded
2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 leek, diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1tbsp tomato paste
1 litre hot chicken stock
Salt and ground white pepper
For the Vodka Crème Fraîche:
2tbsp crème fraîche
Method -- Roasted Plum Tomato & Red Pepper Soup:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Place the tomatoes and the peppers in a roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil and roast for 25 minutes. When they are cool enough, remove the skins.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onion, leek and garlic until soft. Add the roasted tomatoes and peppers, diced carrot, potato, wine vinegar and tomato paste. Gradually add the hot stock. Bring the soup to boiling point, stirring all the time, and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. Season. Liquidise the soup and pass it through a sieve.
Method -- Vodka Crème Fraîche:
Mix the vodka and crème fraîche together in a bowl.
To serve: Ladle the hot soup into warm bowls and drizzle with some vodka crème fraîche. Garnish with a few snipped chives.
109a Lr Baggot St
Tel: (01) 661 1919
Goat's Cheese & Beetroot Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette -- around €2.50 per portion
preparation time: around an hour and a half (including baking time for beetroot)
Kevin Thornton of Thornton's Restaurant in Dublin was the first Irish chef to achieve two Michelin stars.
Kevin says: "Beetroot is full of antioxidants and has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Beetroot is a true superfood. For this salad you can omit the peas and add blanched green beans or asparagus if you like."
For the salad (2 portions):
Juice of half a grapefruit
Juice of half an orange
1 goat's cheese round (about 120g) cut into 2cm cubes
6 baby beetroots
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1tbsp flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1tbsp tarragon leaves, finely chopped
85g fresh garden peas, blanched
1-2tbsp freshly grated parmesan
20g pine nuts, toasted
For the dressing:
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling)
3tbsp hazelnut oil (plus a little extra for drizzling cheese)
1tbsp red wine vinegar
Fine sea salt and milled white pepper
1. Place the goat's cheese in a shallow dish and drizzle with a little olive oil and hazelnut oil.
2. Place the baby beetroots in tinfoil and squeeze the juice of half an orange and half a grapefruit over them; wrap in tinfoil to create an envelope. Place in a preheated oven (180°C) and bake for about an hour and a half. Remove from the oven. Peel the beetroots and leave to cool. Cut into 2cm cubes.
3. Prepare the salad: in a large bowl lightly toss together the spring onions, tarragon, flat leaf parsley, peas and parmesan. Add the vinegar, hazelnut oil and olive oil. Taste and correct seasoning. Toss together the dressing and the salad. Add the goat's cheese and beetroot cubes and toss again. Add the toasted pine nuts.
128 St Stephen's Green
Tel: (01) 478 7008
Web: www.thorntons restaurant.com
Roasted Rib-Eye Steak Ciabatta with Reggiano Parmesan, Wild Rocket, Wholegrain Mustard Mayo & Ballymaloe Relish -- around €5
preparation time: around 10-15 minutes
Oliver took over the reins of Bon Appétit in Malahide, Dublin in 2006 and earned his Michelin Star in 2008 after just over a year.
Oliver says: "The reason this sandwich eats so well is that it hits all of our taste sensors, and all the different tastes complement each other. You can cook the steak the night before and you'll have a delicious lunch for the next day."
For the sandwich:
1 aged rib-eye steak
20g Reggiano Parmesan
10g wild rocket
10g Pommery Wholegrain Mustard
5g Ballymaloe Relish
Method: Cook the steak in a really hot frying pan with a little olive oil until medium, making sure to brown both sides. Allow to cool. Mix the mayo and mustard together and spread liberally onto the Ciabatta. Add some freshly grated parmesan and some rocket, thinly sliced beef and top off with some spicy relish.
Bon Appétit Restaurant & Brasserie
No 9 James Terrace
off Main St
Tel: (01) 845 0314
Pasta Salad with Green Beans, Pine Nuts & a Light Pesto -- around €1.50 per portion
preparation time: around 15 minutes (including cooking time for pasta)
Ross opened Chapter One Restaurant with Martin Corbett in 1992. The restaurant earned its Michelin Star in 2007.
Ross says: "This salad is delicious when eaten cold. It is easy to make and because it is totally homemade you can be sure it is full of fresh ingredients."
For the pasta (serves 4):
240g spaghettini -- Barilla, De Cecco or similar brand
120g green beans
4tbsp virgin olive oil
10g pine nuts
Salt and pepper
For the pesto:
200g basil leaves
200g extra virgin olive oil
50g pine nuts
Method -- pesto:
Bring all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.
Method -- pasta:
Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. Strain and rinse in cold water. Cook green beans in boiling salted water. Refresh in iced water. Drain off, split the beans in half and wipe dry in kitchen paper towel. Roast the pine nuts under the grill or in a hot pan. Bring pasta together with the four tablespoons of olive oil, the green beans, pine nuts and grated parmesan and store in a sealed Tupperware container. When ready to eat, pour over desired amount of pesto.
Artichokes would also go well. Or if you would prefer some meat, chicken or smoked chicken would work very well. You can also use vermicelli or pennette lisce.
Chapter One Restaurant
18-19 Parnell Square
Tel: 873 2266
Web: www.chapterone restaurant.com
Kevin Flanagan is the editor of The Irish Independent LoveFood magazine. Additional reporting by Ben Murnane.