Coconut Oil: Nature's Perfect Ingredient

tuna
Photo: Ria Osborne
These simple dinner recipes are the perfect intro to using coconut oil in the kitchen.

If you've never used coconut oil in cooking, here's an easy and delicious introduction to this awesomely versatile ingredient. Lucy Bee shows you how to make the most of it in her new cookbook, Coconut Oil: Nature's Perfect Ingredient. It's a healthy, natural fat that's gluten-free, lactose-free, doesn't contain cholesterol or additives, and is renowned for its numerous health benefits. So what are you waiting for?! Start getting friendly with this super ingredient with these quick and easy dinner recipes.

Egg-Fried Wild Rice with Edamame

This is a great meal after long day - it's easy to make and a totally satisfying pick-me-up. Make a little extra to save for breakfast the next day!

wild rice

What You'll Need

Serves 2

  • Scant 1⁄2 cup wild rice
  • 31⁄2 oz fresh edamame beans, shelled
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 oz chard, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 egg, beaten


Directions

Step 1: Rinse the rice, then cook according to the package directions. Blanch the edamame beans in boiling water until tender, then drain.

Step 2: Heat the coconut oil in a wok and add the chard and pumpkin seeds. Once the chard is wilted, add the drained rice and edamame beans, mixing everything together.

Step 3: Stir the beaten egg through the rice for 1 to 2 minutes before serving immediately.

Chicken Breasts with Olive, Sage, and Walnuts

You'll love this combination of flavors. The sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes paired with the salty olives makes for a yummy meal.

chicken breasts

What You'll Need

Serves 4

  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1⁄2 cup black pitted olives
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 3⁄4 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, plus a little extra, melted, to drizzle
  • 2 1⁄2 oz sun-dried tomatoes

The Topping

  • 2 slices of gluten-free bread
  • Handful of fresh parsley leaves
  • 3⁄4 oz Parmesan


Directions

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: Cut a slit along the side of each chicken breast to form a pocket. Blitz the remaining ingredients together in a food processor, then stu into the chicken pockets and transfer to the lined sheet.

Step 3: To make the topping, blitz the ingredients together in a food processor. Sprinkle over the chicken breasts, drizzle with a little melted coconut oil, then cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through (One of the best kitchen tools is a good meat thermometer, with which you can wave goodbye to dry, overcooked chicken. It also works a treat if you worry about undercooking, too. Chicken is cooked when the center of the thickest piece reaches 165°F. It is best to cook meat from room temperature rather than straight from the refrigerator, but don't let it sit out for too long—15 to 20 minutes will do.).

Step 4: Serve with roasted sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Fish Fingers

This is a fantastic way to take something that's normally not the healthiest dish and make it a little healthier. Trust us, you and your pals will love these delicious golden bites!

fish fingers

What You'll Need

Serves 2

  • 3 slices of gluten-free bread
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 3⁄4 oz Parmesan
  • 3⁄4 oz fresh parsley
  • 1⁄2 cup gluten-free flour, seasoned
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 12 1⁄4 oz cod loin, cut into finger-size pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup coconut oil
  • Himalayan salt and black pepper
  • Lemon wedges, to serve


Directions

Step 1: Put the bread, garlic, Parmesan, and parsley in a food processor and blitz until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Tip into a dish, and then place the seasoned our in a separate dish. Pour the beaten egg into a third dish.

Step 2: Take one piece of fish and dip it into the flour, giving it a light shake to remove excess flour and making sure it is evenly coated, then into the egg. Toss it in the bread crumb mixture and set aside on a cutting board. Repeat with the remaining pieces of fish.

Step 3:Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-bottom frying pan. When hot (test by dropping a few crumbs into the oil; they should sizzle) add the fish fingers. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn and cook for a few minutes, until golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot off any excess oil. Season and serve with roasted sweet potatoes, a sauce of your choice, and a green salad.

Turkey Burgers

These turkey burgers are lovely and light and are a great midweek supper alternative to a heavier burger. Top them with your favorite goodies and you're sure to be delighted.

turkey burgers

What You'll Need

Serves 2 (makes 4 medium burgers)

  • 1 3⁄4 oz red onions, minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 8 3⁄4 oz ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • Himalayan salt and black pepper


Directions

Step 1: Put the onions into a small bowl, add half the lime juice, cover, and let soak overnight in the refrigerator. (This will give the burgers a delicious, zesty, sweet flavor.)

Step 2: Put the ground turkey in a bowl with the egg, feta, paprika, pepper flakes, and soaked onions. Season well, then mix together using a wooden spoon, or your hands. Divide the mixture into three and shape into burgers, making sure each burger is compact and holds together.

Step 3: Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the burgers and cook for 5 minutes, adding a dash of the remaining lime juice to the pan. Turn and fry for another few minutes until cooked through. If necessary, turn them again, so that they are cooked evenly on both sides.

Step 4: Remove from the heat and squeeze over more lime juice. Season and serve with a green salad.

Sautéed Squid with Potatoes and Chili

Squid used to be an ingredient that was somewhat difficult to find, but now most grocery stores carry it. Or if you have a local fish supplier, that's an even better spot to get it.

sauteed squid

What You'll Need

Serves 8-10 as an appetizer, or 4-6 as a main course

  • 1⁄4 cup coconut oil, plus a little extra for the squid
  • 5 1⁄4 oz red onion, finely sliced
  • 12 1⁄4 oz cooked waxy potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb 2 oz squid, sliced into rings
  • 1⁄2 tsp dried red pepper akes
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Big handful of coarsely chopped
  • Fresh parsley and cilantro
  • Lime wedges, to serve


Directions

Step 1: Melt the coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottom frying pan. Add the onion and gently sauté until soft, then add the potatoes and continue to cook until the onions and potatoes are just browning (not burned!), stirring occasionally.

Step 2: Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often to mix, then remove from the pan and set aside. Add a little more coconut oil to the pan, stir in the squid and red pepper flakes and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, taking care not to overcook the squid or it will be tough.

Step 3: Return the potatoes and garlic to the pan, then add the sherry vinegar and herbs. Give everything a good stir to combine and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over, and a crisp Boston lettuce salad.

Seared Tuna and Sesame Rice Bowl

Clean eating at it's very best - a nutritious brown rice bowl topped with fresh, seared tuna that's wholesome and tasty.

rice bowl

What You'll Need

Serves 4

  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 4 tsp nori flakes
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 small, thick tuna steaks
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced 1⁄2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into thin batons
  • 2 Tbsp black sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • Pickled ginger, to serve

The Dressing

  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • Juice of 1⁄2 orange
  • 1 tsp manuka honey
  • 2 Tbsp tamari sauce
  • 1⁄2 Tbsp gluten-free fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown rice vinegar


Directions

Step 1: Cook the rice in about double its volume of water with the salt for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain, transfer to a large mixing bowl, and stir through the nori flakes.

Step 2: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the lemon and orange juice, honey, tamari, sh sauce, and brown rice vinegar together to make a dressing.

Step 3: Heat the coconut oil in a griddle pan to fairly high heat, add the tuna steaks, and sear for about 30 to 45 seconds on each side (the middle should still be pink). Remove to a board to rest for a couple of minutes, before slicing into thin pieces.

Step 4: Divide the rice, avocado, cucumber, and tuna slices between deep bowls. Sprinkle over the black sesame seeds, pour over the dressing, top with fresh cilantro, and serve, with pickled ginger.


To buy this cookbook, click here.

cover

Recipes and images excerpted from Coconut Oil: Nature's Perfect Ingredient by Lucy Bee (Quadrille | Hardie Grant Publishing, 2016).