My Week in Food: Nina Parker

11 May 2015
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My Week in Food: Nina Parker

Nina Parker  is a London based chef, culinary writer and the director of food company,  NINA . Having worked in some of London’s most prestigious kitchens including L’Anima, The Dorchester and Bocca Di Lupo, Nina now splits her time between catering for private clients, running a monthly pop-up restaurant and working on her second book,  NINA Capri . For  Project Bikini  Nina worked with nutritionist  Zoe Stirling  to create 36 tasty recipes that will not only nourish your body but are super easy to whip up at home.

I would describe my cooking as having a classic Mediterranean style that has an unfussy, rustic feel. I like to use a few key ingredients to create bright, modern but simple plates. When I am cooking for myself I often eat the leftovers from either recipe testing or one of my pop-up dinners. I am cooking every day for clients so I like to keep my food as quick and simple as possible wherever I can with lots of vegetable juices, avocados, poached eggs, greens and salads. Many of the recipes designed for Project Bikini  are in fact the kind of food that I eat on a day to day basis. I love healthy food but I’m also a massive dessert person and I’m passionate about creating good quality indulgent cakes too. My motto is 80% healthy and 20% fun!

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Breakfast: To make me feel better about Monday morning I start with my favourite smoothie. It’s the same one that I have created for Project Bikini  and is made with avocado, spinach and cashew nut butter. Perfect for breakfast as it’s really filling.

Lunch: I had an early lunch meeting so I made this quick and simple chickpea salad with lots of parsley, lemon and tomatoes.

Snack: This was quite a naughty one but the weather was good so my sister and I went to the Chelsea Physic Garden . It’s so beautiful there and the cakes are top notch. They have an ex River Cafe chef so we felt it would have been rude not to try a few of the cakes! We shared a gluten-free brownie, an orange polenta cake and some lavender scones with raspberry jam.

Dinner: I’m researching and recipe testing for my new cookbook ( NINA Capri ) so for dinner I had the leftovers from my pesto trapanese with brown rice pasta.

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Breakfast: I’m a big muesli fan and always looking at ways to make it more interesting. I added some poppyseeds, cashew nuts, grapefruit (I'm obssed with grapefruit at the moment) and honey.

Lunch: I work at my sister and her husband’s house a lot so often we make lunch together. It's normally a case of throwing together whatever is in their fridge! Today we made courgetti and added lots of cumin, turmeric, paprika and sunflower seeds. Healthy but also pretty damn good!

Snack: A couple of pieces of 70% Lindt dark chocolate.

Dinner: For my dinner I had two poached eggs with smoked salmon on rye bread with pesto and rocket. This is from the breakfast section of Project Bikini . Many of the dishes I’ve designed are actually my staple weekly meals.

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Breakfast: Juice of carrot, turmeric, apple, kiwi and fresh ginger. I like having a homemade juice at least twice a week and this is one of my all time favourites -  great when you need brekkie in a hurry!

Lunch: I was prepping for my pop-up restaurant today so I ate some leftover roasted chicken that my mum had given me and threw it into a kale balsamic salad with raw cauliflower.  It was actually a good quick and easy lunch that I’ll definitely be making again!

Snack: I snacked on some freshly made roast cashew tarragon pesto with some rye bread toast that I was prepping for the pop-up.

Dinner: I finally made it to Artusi  in Peckham - I loved the way they had a simple menu of the day with about 10 dishes to choose from. To start I had their beautiful tomato burrito starter and for my main I had the ragu.

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Breakfast: I’m a total croissant nut. This morning I bought one from Poilane - arguably they do some of the best in town! I brought it home to have with butter and apricot jam to make me feel as though I was in the south of France!

Lunch: Raw cauliflower couscous packed full of grated vegetables and herbs. This was from recipe testing for cookbook two and it’s a wonderful way of getting all of your veg for the day into one dish. You have to dress it with quite a punchy vinaigrette to carry it off.

Snack: Writing a food diary like this makes you realise how many bad snacks you have! I had a pack of Walkers extra crunchy salt and vinegar crisps. Eek! I also had a banana though too!

Dinner: At my pop-up restaurant I cook a menu that is inspired by my books so it always has a Mediterranean feel. The staff and I just ate after we had done the service - I had one of the sides which was caponata.

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Breakfast: I’m usually super tired and feel pretty drained the day after my pop-up restaurant so today I made some juice shots to sort me out.  I went for beetroot, carrot and ginger. I put lemon juice in the ginger one and to say it wakes you up is an understatement!

Lunch: The great thing about doing a catering job is the leftovers. I’m constantly eating what I don’t end up serving which today was lemon chicken with roast cashew tarragon pesto, roast carrots, leeks, polenta and primavera minestrone. I mean, I definitely felt spoilt!

Dinner: I went out for dinner with my nephew and buddy Phoenix to a restaurant called Palomar . We had lots of delicious modern Jerusalem sharing plates. It was out-of-this-world!

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Breakfast: I had chia porridge made with almond milk and cinnamon and topped with lots of fruit.

Lunch: Today I was doing some more recipe testing for NINA Capri and had a few friends over to help with taste-testing. I made a salad of roasted courgette, ricotta and a nice cold-pressed olive oil.  I think it’s going to make the cut!

Snack: A cappuccino with a banana while I was typing up recipes. Not very exciting!

Dinner: I had a dinner at mine for some American mates and I made a simple roast chicken with roasted red onions, potatoes, carrots and a tarragon dressing from my cookbook NINA St Tropez .

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Breakfast: Coffee at  St Clements . I highly recommend their amazing organic breakfasts which are off the chain delicious! The eggs are so bright and healthy yellow and the bacon is so yummy - you can really taste the quality.

Lunch: Today was my sister’s birthday so we had a big family lunch at hers with my wonderful Uncle who is 96 years old. I made a quiche lorraine using a spelt flour base and filled it with pancetta and leeks. I served this with a parma ham and gorgonzola salad from my parent’s local Italian shop in Maidenhead. This kind of Italian style, easy lunch is one of my favourites - it just never gets old.

Snack: I bought my sister some stunning cupcakes from Sweet Bea’s Bakery . Lucia the owner makes these beautiful rosettes by hand. I ordered carrot, chocolate, red velvet and vanilla. They were very special and also not too sweet - I highly recommend them!

Dinner: I was still totally full from lunch so I ate pretty late. I snacked on some buffalo mozzarella with basil, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh black pepper.

Nina's cookbook Nina St Tropez is available here 

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