Cooking for the Sensitive Gut

Spring herb salad with smoked mackerel

Today began with a jog along a short stretch of the River Wharfe, a beautiful, winding river threading its way from its source in the North Yorkshire National Park through some of the major towns in West Yorkshire – Kettlewell, Ilkley, Wetherby and Tadcaster. Along its quiet banks spring is making its presence felt as feathery leaves of sweet cicely unfurl and begin to release their gentle aroma of aniseed. The fronds are edible and make a lovely addition to salad which got me thinking about lunch. I have a plastic bag in the pocket of my jogging bottoms and picked some clean, young leaves of sweet cicely to take home. While I was at it gently plucked some blades of deep green wild garlic leaves. My mind was calm and the warm sunshine bathed my face as I looked up towards the clear sky. This is the way to think about food and eating I thought. Seeing where food grows, picking it in season and knowing what tastes good helps us to build a positive relationship with food. 

The allium family of plants which includes salad onions and leeks store the short chain polysaccharides (fructo-oligosaccharides) or  FODMAPs in the bulb. The green leaves are not classified as a high FODMAP food and so can be eaten if you have a sensitive gut. You only need a couple of blades of wild garlic to give quite a strong flavour to your salad. The other ingredients in this salad are all good for the sensitive gut and low in (FODMAPS).   

 You can substitute one ingredient for another but the combination of citrus, mackerel, pumpkin seeds and slightly bitter, purple leaves of chicory is lovely. As I added the flakes of smoked peppered mackerel and the beautiful sweet slices of blood orange, the salad built up into quite a substantial meal which would be lovely to eat on one of the warmer, lighter  spring evenings. 

Spring salad-22

Spring herb salad, smoked mackerel & homemade potato crisps

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course


  • 1 old potato, washed
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 2 heads of purple chicory, leaves separated
  • handful of salad leaves  such as rocket
  • 1 orange, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 smoked peppered mackerel
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, shaved
  • the green leaves of 2 salad onions sliced
  • 2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds, dry roasted


Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F Using a potato peeler, or sharp knife cut the the potato into very thin slices. Drizzle a little oil onto a baking tray. Layer the potato slices onto baking tray. They can over lap slightly to form a thin sheet of scalloped potatoes.  Place in the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes or until crisp around the edges. Place the chicory leaves  on a serving plate and arrange the other ingredients on top of them being careful not to overload the plate. Drizzle with a little olive oil and any left over orange juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. When the potatoes are crisp and golden scatter over the top of the salad and serve.

This entry was written by Joan Ransley and published on April 8, 2016 at 6:38 pm. It’s filed under Basic methods, Dinner, Lunch, Side dish, Snack, Starter, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Spring herb salad with smoked mackerel

  1. Pure poetry. Looks and sounds lovely

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