starter

  • In this recipe the delicate crust really compliments the soft scallops and the gentle flavourings really lift it. It’s best to get quite big scallops so that they don’t overcook before the crust becomes golden and crispy. Serve this with a minted pea puree to add yet another texture and burst of freshness.

  • This is a really easy starter that is a little bit different. Slice the beetroot, prepare the goats cheese stuffing and make the rocket pesto in advance to make it stress free when you come to serving. If you’re not keen on chestnuts, experiment with other ingredients, lightly toasted pine nuts would work really well. Just pick something that would create a little bit of texture within the dish.

  • This is France’s answer to the pizza. It makes a perfect drinks snack and is also good served as an alterative to garlic bread with pasta. The sweetness of the onions and the saltiness of the anchovies come together to make a very tasty bite. You can experiment with the toppings, olives would also work really well, as would a bit of cheese.

  • There is a huge amount of flavour packed into this recipe with every element really playing its part. If you’re not usually keen on one of the ingredients, maybe capers or anchovies, don’t be put off. In the end there isn’t one taste that comes through, it’s the combination that really makes it.

  • A delicious healthy alternative to fried spring rolls. These little parcels are light and fresh, and go fantastically with a bit of sweet chili dipping sauce. If you have small bamboo steamers, put four in each and serve in the steamers. You’ll be surprised how quickly they cook, so make sure you don’t over-do them.

  • This warming soup gets a great kick from the addition of ginger. Make up a big batch and take some into work in a thermos for a cheap, delicious and healthy lunch. It also makes a great, light starter; just add a dollop of crème fraiche and some finely chopped parsley to the bowl to glam it up a bit.

  • This sounds a bit odd, but it really works. I first had it in a pub as a starter and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is fresh and light, and makes a change from tomato bruschetta. As well as being a great starter, it would make a lovely canapé if you used small pieces of bread, perhaps one to serve up at your Christmas drinks party.

  • We discovered these little pork dumplings, also called pot-stickers, on our recent trip to Japan where they quickly became our favourite starter or drink snack. They are very popular in Japan and available in street stalls as well as restaurants. They aren’t difficult to make, just a bit fiddly and time-consuming, but definitely worth it.

  • This was inspired by something similar that was on Masterchef the Professionals. On the programme, the two ways were seared and carpaccio. I’ve decided to go with seared and a spicy tartare because the textures and flavours work really well together. The piquant tartare and the meaty seared tuna make for a very satisfying mouthful.

  • This is another great dish for this time of year, with scallops and butternut squash both being in season in the UK. This can be made into quite a fancy looking dinner party dish if you go all out with the scallops, roasted butternut squash and crispy sage leaves, as per the recipes below. If you’re feeling more in the mood for something homely, forget the scallops and just make a big bowl of the risotto, and grate lashings of parmesan over the top.

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