Changing the conversation about health

A healthy recipe from Dr Ali Khavandi

dralikhavandiCardiologist Dr Ali Khavandi was among the speakers at Food. the forgotten Medicine.  Like all of our speakers, we asked him to suggest a healthy recipe – his choice, Mediterranean Fisherman’s Stew, is below.

Dr Khavandi blogged about his participation in the conference:

“I think many people were surprised to find a mainstream Cardiologist who is fully engaged and enthusiastic about modern procedural and medical treatments, increasingly talking to patients about diet. For many patients with high blood pressure, ‘high cholesterol’, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apneoa and even many cases of atrial fibrillation you can achieve significant improvements in parallel or prior to escalating other treatments.”

You can read more of his blog, with thoughts about healthy eating and hospital food here. Also follow Cardiologists Kitchen for even more delicious recipes.

Mediterranean Fisherman’s Stew

Humble sweet Courgette and Leek, a rich Tomato sofrito sauce and pure white fish with highlights of Lemon, Parsley and Chilli. In Summer the humble, cheap courgette becomes plentiful. Combined with the even more humble Leek and cooked in a Sofrito sauce you have the foundation of a genuinely healthy meal without nebulous ‘superfoods’ or evangelical concepts.

The combination of Olive Oil, Tomato and Garlic (also Onion) which forms the base of Sofrito has been specifically implicated as one of the potential advantages of the Mediterranean diet. It chilli-imagehas even been used in dietary clinical trials as a measure of a Mediterranean diet and there has been bench interest in the synergistic and protective qualities when these ingredients are combined.

The base sauce would work well with oily fish or even tinned Sardines for thrifty store-cupboard health.For this recipe we have used Cod but any chunky white fish or firm Monkfish would also work well.

Although a traditional Fisherman’s stew will contain less popular fish, we are realists – a lot of people don’t eat fish because of bones and are nervous around whole fish. Therefore in this case we are recommending fresh, meaty fillets of the nations favourite – cut into ‘scallops’ or ‘goujons’ a little can go a long way in stew like this.


Courgettes 4 large (6 medium)
Leeks 2 large (3 medium) – trimmed and rinsed thoroughly for grit
Garlic 4 chunky cloves
Tomato Passata Jar/ packet
Cod Chunky loin fillet – skinless and boneless
Parsley handful including stalks
Lemon wedge from squeezing
Chilli dried flakes sprinkle
Olive Oil extra-virgin
Salt and Black Pepper


1. Cut the Courgettes and Leek into thick‘rounds’ lengthways (around 2cm). Slice the Garlic
2. In a wide non-stick pan heat a good glug of Olive Oil and add the sliced veg. Season with Salt and Pepper
3. Turn the temperature down so that they ‘sweat’ without colouring. Make a ‘Cartouche’ with some grease-proof paper (to find out how just Google) and pop on top. This slow-cooking process accentuates the natural sweetness of the veg. Check on them every 15 mins and add a splash of water if drying out
4. When the veg have softened add the Passata. Sprinkle a pinch of dry Chilli. Recover and cook until meltingly soft (around another 45 mins).
5. Cut the chunky fish fillet across the length with a sharp knife into ‘scallops’. Taste the sauce – grind some extra Pepper and if required add more Salt. Pop the fish ‘scallops’ around the dish on top of the sofrito sauce. Re-cover and cook for 10 minutes
6. Finely chop the Parsley. Finish by sprinkling onto the dish with an extra pinch of Chilli (especially if you like a little kick) and a squeeze of Lemon [Not too much. You don’t want it to tasty Lemony but simple to accentuate the sweet flavours].
7. If you are adding Borlotti beans then time according to the specific preparation instructions (e.g. tinned vs tetra-pack). For fresh we would boil separately until soft and then add with the Passata.

Ways of serving

Scarpetta style – Eat with a sensible portion of crusty whole meal bread to mop-up the sauce

Light style – Eat as it is for a light summer dinner or lunch with a side salad of dressed greens

Legume style – throw in some tinned,tetra-packed or fresh Borlotti beans and cook in the stew

The ‘sauciness’ of the dish is important. In the initial stages whilst softening the veg you will need to add a splash of water every so often to keep it ‘sweating’ rather than browning. The same after you add the Passata to stop it drying out but before you add the fish you want the sauce to be thick as the water content of the fish will loosen everything.

If necessary you can always add a splash of water at the end and gently stir through without breaking the scallops of fish (you don’t want a mush of flaked fish and sauce).