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Weekend Bites: Playing fair need not mean you lose out on good taste








It's much easier to find Fairtrade products in our shops than it was a decade ago. Through campaigns like Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from February 23 to March 8 this year, and the pairing up with schools and towns, the public is more aware than ever of the movement.

An alternative approach to conventional trade, Fairtrade operates on a partnership between some of the developing world's most disadvantaged farmers and workers, and the people who buy their products.

When farmers and workers can sell on Fairtrade terms, it provides them with a better deal and an opportunity to improve their lives.

Each purchase of Fairtrade bananas or chocolate, tea or coffee, flowers or wine, helps contribute towards reducing poverty and redressing the imbalance.

With one simple purchase we have the power to get farmers a better deal, which allows them to better control their futures and lead the dignified life everyone deserves.

When a product carries the Fairtrade Mark it means it was produced according to international Fairtrade standards, meaning these products are socially and economically fair and environmentally responsible. Key standards include the payment of a minimum price and a premium.

The premium paid to workers and farmers goes into a communal fund which can be used as they see fit to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.

Fairtrade works with a range of stakeholders and is half-owned by farmers and workers' representatives.

There are over 1.4 million farmers and workers spread across more than 70 countries in the world participating in Fairtrade.

With a greater voice, farmers and workers have a stronger say in decision-making on overall strategy, use of resources, prices, premiums and standards setting.

During Fairtrade Fortnight why not take the opportunity to ask your favourite cafe if they serve Fairtrade beverages, or ask your local retailer why they don't sell more Fairtrade produce.

While awareness and support has improved dramatically Ireland is far behind countries like the UK, Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden in Fairtrade sales.

Learn more about Fairtrade at www.fairtrade.Ie. Recipes courtesy of Zaytoun Fairtrade products.

See www.zaytoun.org for stockists details.

Ottolenghi's saffron, date and almond rice


400g basmati rice

Salt and white pepper

110g unsalted butter

100g whole Zaytoun almonds, skin on, roughly chopped

80g Zaytoun Medjoul dates, roughly chopped

1/4 tsp saffron threads soaked in 2 tbsp hot water

Serves 4


Rinse the rice well under running cold water, then put it in a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water and stir through two tablespoons of salt.

Leave it to sit for one to two hours, then drain and wash again, this time with lukewarm water.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add two more tablespoons of salt, then add the rice and boil gently for three to four minutes, until almost cooked.

Check by trying a grain - it should still have a bit of bite to it.

Drain, rinse under lukewarm water and set aside to drain.

In the same pan, melt 80g of the butter and sauté the almonds for four minutes, until slightly golden. Add the dates, cook for a couple of minutes more, then stir through half a teaspoon of white pepper, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and half the rice. Gently flatten this down, then spoon the remaining rice on top.

Melt the remaining butter and pour over the top, along with three tablespoons of water. Cover the pan with a tight lid and cook on the lowest possible heat for 35 minutes.

Turn off the heat, spoon over the saffron and its water, cover with a tea towel, put the lid back on and set aside for 10 minutes.

Serve hot, using a large spoon so that you have portions in which the two layers are distinct and separate.

Roast parsnip salad with freekah and a yoghurt dressing


500g parsnips

500g carrots

30g butter melted

2 tbsp olive oil

100g Zaytoun freekeh (roasted green wheat)


200ml yoghurt

Zest and juice 1 orange

1 clove garlic crushed

Pinch ground cumin and cardamom

75g pitted Zaytoun Medjoul dates, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp chopped mint

Bunch of watercess

Salt and pepper


Pomegranate seeds, extra mint and za'atar herb mix.

Serves 4-6


Pre heat oven at 190°C. Peel the parsnips and carrots and cut into quarters lengthways.

Toss in the melted butter and 1 tbsp olive oil. Season well and roast on a baking tray for about 40 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile wash and cook the freekeh as instructed on the packet. Drain well and toss in 1 tbsp olive oil. Season while still warm.

To make the dressing, place all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine, adding some salt and pepper to season.

To assemble the salad gently fold the roasted veg with the freekeh and watercress.

Arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle with the yoghurt dressing and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, chopped mint and za'atar.


Ask the expert: What's the big deal with Matcha tea?

Lily Chen, founder of Lily's Tea

"Matcha is stone-ground from tencha tea which is grown in the shade for three weeks just before it's harvested. The Chinese method of preparing powdered tea was brought to Japan in 1191, so matcha tea has been around for a long time!

As well as a drink, matcha is commonly used for flavouring both sweet and savoury dishes. When you drink matcha, you consume the leaves, so drinking one cup of matcha tea has the antioxidant equivalent of drinking 10 cups of steeped green tea.

The most natural way to drink matcha is whisked or stirred in hot water, although many people drink it in apple juice or lattes."

Lily's Organic Matcha Tea is the only matcha in Ireland certified by the Irish Organic Trust. Available in health shops and major Supervalu stores. www.lilysteashop.ie