Laura Dockrill's power fresh green pesto

Portrait: Liz Seabrook

Portrait: Liz Seabrook

“Look at that! You get to pour your own chocolate in here.” Laura Dockrill is marvelling as she spirals her jug of warm, dark drinking chocolate into the awaiting mug of frothy milk. “It’s so good!” For a moment, it feels like we’re in Laura’s new young adult book, Big Bones, whose heroine, Bluebell, just loves her food: whether crumpets leaking with butter, salty caramel slathered millionaires shortbread or chips so vinegary that they make your nose hairs shrivel. 

In our early spring issue, we had the pleasure of speaking to writer Laura Dockrill. Her new book Big Bones – out today - celebrates the pleasure in eating. As Laura says, “There’s no such thing as a perfect body but there can be a perfect meal and you can enjoy that”. Needless to say, it made the entire team very hungry indeed. Laura was kind enough to share her favourite recipe for pesto. 


Laura Dockrill's fresh green pesto recipe

Big Bones is not just a love letter to food and the body; it is also to show how rewarding it is to cook and eat. It doesn’t have to be hard or fussy or posh or embarrassing to cook. I want to inspire people, kids, to enjoy food. And so the recipe I’ve chosen to share is simple, quick, easy to make, fragrant, vibrant and versatile and can turn any cheap carby comforting canvas into a wholesome meal that looks and tastes impressive. It’s the way I like to cook. Messy and natural. And if you are able to grab, rip, squeeze, pinch and smush you can make this without even touching a flame or a knob of the oven!

I made this for my partner Hugo, after a lot of beer, smothered over pasta. He said, “oh my god, this is the best meal I’ve ever had.” (No, it was not the beer talking) and he is not one tincy bit interested in cooking, but this is something he can now whizz up himself in under a minute and saves the day every time.

It lasts and it’s so much better and tastier and cheaper and vividly GREENER than the jarred stuff.


You will need:

one massive handful of basil stalks and everything (or I just use one of those whole bags you can buy individually from the supermarket)

big glug of olive oil the better the olive oil the better it will taste

parmesan the best thing about this is because the pesto gets smushed up you don’t have to fiddle around with the small fiddly bit of the grater!

juice of a whole lemon

sea salt and pepper

*optional toasted pine nuts


All you have to do is simply bring all of this together. Use a Nutri Bullet or blender if you have one for a 30 second smooth sauce or you could bash it up in the pestle and mortar or hand mix for something chunkier.

The thing I love about this is you can add as you go, more lemon for acidity, no pine nuts for pasta for something smoother, add nibs of toasted walnuts or pecans for a salad, a handful of spinach for extra green and goodness and chilli flakes work well too.

Then stir into hot pasta, smear over hot roast potatoes, drizzle over a green salad, slather over bread for a toasted cheese sandwich. A great invention are those Jus-Rol puff pastry sheets, you can smear this homemade wonder over a sheet of this stuff and accessorize with olives, sun dried tomato, artichoke, mozzarella for an impressive pizza/tart or roll into little swirls for a snack that makes you look SO FANCY! You could add to yoghurt or houmous for dipping (which is also super easy to make), top over roasted vegetables or just stuff it in the corner of a lunch box and visit with bread or whatever’s in there like a little pesto watering hole.


Big Bones by Laura Dockrill is published by Hot Key books and is out today. And pick up a copy of our early spring issue to read the full interview with Laura. 




Recipe Friday: Savoury Cheesecake with Roasted Pickled Shallots

We've had a fair few healthy options lately for Recipe Friday and now that our polo necks and opaque black tights are back out of the wardrobe, it's time for something truly hearty, extra tasty and somehow warming whether you eat it hot or cold. 

Everyone loves cheesecake. But do you know what's even better? Cheese-y cheesecake. A really herby, cheddar-y, savoury version with an oatcake crust. Essentially, a cheese pie. You'll want those roasted pickled shallots, or a spicy chutney, to cut through the creaminess. It's also worth making this a few hours in advance as it will set and let the flavours develop nicely if you leave time to chill it after baking. This keeps for a good four days in the fridge if it isn't gobbled up in the first sitting. 

savoury cheesecake.jpg

You will need:

200g fine-milled oatcakes, crushed up
125g butter, melted
350g cream cheese
150g double cream
2 eggs
100g cheddar cheese, cut into tiny squares
a handful of finely chopped chives
a sprinkling of thyme
a few pickled shallots
olive oil

1 Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees C.

2 Give the oatcakes a good whack in a freezer bag with a rolling pin until they're finely crushed, pop them in a bowl and then pour over your melted butter. Give it a good stir.

3 Press the oatcake mixture into a small non-stick bread tin and shape it up the sides with a teaspoon. Chill for 30 minutes.

4 While that's chilling, make your filling. Whisk the cream cheese, double cream and eggs together until silky and add a third of your diced cheese and chives, a sprinkle of thyme and a good twist of salt and pepper.

5 Scatter your remaining cheese cubes on top and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

6 Take the savoury cheesecake out of the oven when it's still a bit wobbly in the middle, but browned on top.

7 Leave to cool. Once cool, chill in the fridge.

8 When you're ready to eat a slice, roast some pickled shallots in the oven first for around half an hour. Place them in a greaseproof tin with olive oil and remove when they've started to caramelise and go crisp at the edges.

9 Serve a generous slab of cheesecake hot or cold with the roasted shallots and a green salad with traffic-light tomatoes. 

Recipe Friday: Cornbread with Chipotle Butter

We like to find you some unusual treats to share with friends at the weekend and our pals at Caravan, London have suggested this slightly spicy American-inspired snack. 

Caravan's Cornbread and Chipotle Butter

Caravan's Cornbread and Chipotle Butter

Serves 4

For the cornbread:

400ml milk
3 eggs
60g melted butter
200g corn
½ bunch of spring onions (chopped)
1tsp baking powder
1tsp caster sugar
1tsp table salt
1 cup polenta
½ cup bread flour

Preheat oven to 200c.

Mix all wet ingredients including the corn and the spring onions in a large bowl.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in another bowl.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and promptly pour into a paper-lined loaf tin and place immediately in the oven. Bake for 30mins. Cool for 5 minutes then turn out of the tin onto a cooling rack.

Once the loaf is cool, trim the ends and slice the loaf into 8 equal sized slices (2 slices each).

The cornbread is now ready for the next step.

For the chipotle butter:

250g soft butter
pinch salt
½tsp minced chipotle
juice of ½ a lime
¼ cup chopped coriander

Mix all ingredients together.

Serve while soft. The excess will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Next steps

Heat a large pan with a dash of vegetable oil.

Carefully place the slices of cornbread in the pan and fry until golden brown.

Flip the slices and fry till brown on both sides, repeat process until all slices are cooked.

To Serve

Place the fried slices of corn bread on a plate and top with a generous dollop of chipotle butter.

Finally, garnish with some picked coriander leaves, a wedge of lime and some slice spring onions.

Thanks to Miles Kirby, Executive Head Chef and Co-founder of Caravan restaurants.

Recipe Friday: Gluten-free banana bread

We're all for eating whatever you like, but if you are sensitive to gluten, or fancy mixing the classic banana-rescue recipe up a bit, this one's just for you. This foodie twist comes from the kitchen of our fashion ed, Charlotte Melling. 

You'll need:

2 bananas
210g coconut oil
240g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
maple syrup (or other sweet drizzle like Agar, Honey or Syrup) 

Preheat your oven to 200C and line a square baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Peel the bananas and whizz in a blender with the eggs.

In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients. 

Over a low heat, gently melt the coconut oil before adding to the dry mix.

Combine both mixtures.

Bake for 20 minutes or so (depending on the thickness of your cake)

Once baked, prick some holes in the cake and pour over the maple syrup – as much or as little as you like. 

Bake in the oven for five more minutes.

Leave to cool, then cut up and serve.

This recipe originally appeared in our Bananarama round-up in Oh Comely issue 31, available to buy here.

Recipe Friday: Rainbow Chard Sag Aloo

Rainbows: hope and pride and promises, a symbol of all good things. We're pleased to share a few recipes from issue 31's 'Things and People' subject, Meera Sodha (flick to page 48 of your issue) on Recipe Friday over the next few weeks, starting with this beauty. 

We hope you'll enjoy cooking it, take pride in your flavoursome dinner and we promise it's tasty. Let's go.

Meera Sodha's rainbow chard sag aloo, making the Oh Comely office hungry.

Meera Sodha's rainbow chard sag aloo, making the Oh Comely office hungry.

Meera says: "I’ll never forget my mum’s head-turning squeal when she saw a bag of Desiree potatoes marked ‘grown in Lincolnshire’ in the aisle of a London supermarket. She’s evangelical about their butteriness, and proud of the fact they’re grown near our family home, so this dish, which uses a classic Gujarati spicing of cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli, appears regularly on the Sodha family table."

Serves 2 to 3 as a main course 

400g rainbow or Swiss chard
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 medium brown onions, sliced
600g Desiree potatoes
3cm ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
400g ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1⅓ teaspoons chilli powder
⅓ teaspoon ground cumin
⅓ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1¼ teaspoons salt

To prepare the chard, cut the stems from the leaves. Cut the stems into 4cm pieces and slice the leaves into 4cm strips. 

Put the oil into a large lidded frying pan and, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the onions and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until soft and golden brown. In the meantime, peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm cubes. When the onions are ready, add the ginger and garlic to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the potatoes and 200ml of water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes and the chard stalks, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the chard stalks are soft. Add the chilli, cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt and stir gently. Finally, add the chard leaves, coat with the mixture and pop the lid back on for a final 2 to 3 minutes, until the leaves have wilted. 

Serve with hot chapattis or rice, yoghurt and a little pickle. 

Meera's new book, Fresh India, is out now.