The chef and former owner of celebrated Glasgow deli and café Heart Buchanan has written a cookbook that promises ‘fast, workable, reliable and delicious’ salad recipes that can be enjoyed during any season of the year.

IN the depths of winter, my cooking has been transformed by a book of salads. Yes, really. Seasonal Salads isn’t a pious ‘clean eating’ salad book, none of that nonsense. Instead Fi Buchanan has written a joyful kitchen companion that moves through the seasons, month by month, offering tasty and achievable ways to make vegetables the star of your table.

Seasonal Salads is written in Scotland with our seasons in mind. Fi says: “The rules for salads are: please yourself, use things that are handy, whatever’s cheapest and seasonal in the shops – that will be the perfect salad to make. These recipes are ideas, but the creator should be in charge, and be lead by how you feel on the day. If you’re a bit coldy, and it’s dark and rainy, add a big wodge of chilli in there. I’m just here for a bit of guidance, a bit of inspiration. I made it delicious for me, you can take it in a different direction.”

Buchanan has had a diverse food career to date: working as a chef and sommelier in Edinburgh, then a prep chef on tour with chef Nick Nairn and later as his PA.

Fi then opened Heart Buchanan in Glasgow, a deli and café. “I really liked the idea of sowing the seeds of a community around food,” she says, “It was amazing and we expanded and were baking our own bread, doing private dining and cooking classes”. The deli and café won awards, and the hearts of their many regulars.

Buchanan’s career pivoted when her son was a toddler: “He grew up in the kitchen, his first two years. We used to put him in a really big empty stock pot and he liked to stand in there and see everything that was going on. Then I made a decision just to stop everything. For me it was all or nothing, running the shop or parenting. I knew I couldn’t do both, and I chose my son big time, and I don’t regret that for a second.”

The years since combining parenting and freelance work have continued to showcase Buchanan’s diverse skills. She’s worked for Wholefoods, developed recipes for Marks and Spencer, and worked on Teen Canteen, a BBC series teaching food and entrepreneurship: “The young people set up this amazing drive through fast food take-away,” says Buchanan, “with hearty and wholesome food – like stews, soups and homemade bread.”

Lockdown brought Fi her first opportunity to write a cookbook: Eat, Bike, Cook with Kitty Pemberton-Platt. Fi translated the recipes of the cycling diarists. “I really loved it,” says Fi, “It changed me radically actually, just being so super conscious of the in-out equation. I don’t mean waistline impact but strength and focus, powering yourself, and empowering yourself.”

Kitchen Press saw Buchanan’s talents and approached her with an idea for Seasonal Salads, a companion volume to Seasonal Soups by Fraser Reid. She jumped at the chance and loved the concept.

“At Heart Buchanan we had daily changing salads,” says Fi, “so I have a really good idea of what salads work. We changed the menu every week for ten years, so 520 weeks of different salads? It’s a lot.”

Following the season felt the opposite of formulaic to Fi, “it felt like the only possible way you could write a book like this.”

I’ve been lucky to have an advance copy of Seasonal Salads in my kitchen this winter and it’s been a real joy to cook from. I’ve roasted purple sprouting broccoli with grapes, paired beetroot and clementines, and learned a cracking smoky romesco sauce to serve with baby leeks. I’m thrilled when a romanesco appears in my veg box because Fi has a recipe for that.

The National:

Simply put, Buchanan knows what works. As a busy single mum with a hungry teenager, Fi wants recipes to be “fast, workable, reliable and delicious,” she says. Her instructions are simple and encouraging, the results always greater than the sum of their parts.

Fi’s approach to healthy eating is liberating: “Healthy is a bigger thing than what you eat,” she says, “Wholesome is a better label to put on these salads than healthy. You are the boss of you and what’s healthy for you. If you’re cooking for yourself then you’re doing a good job anyway. Healthy is too prescriptive so let’s park it.”

Fi hopes her book will live by your stove, and certainly my copy is already well-splattered. “There are some cookbooks that just stay on the bookshelf until you need to refer to something specific,” says Fi, “others you might take out for a party and get ideas – and then there are other books that just permanently stay in the kitchen.

“It would be my happiest thing to think this is that kind of book.”

One final suggestion from Fi for good food and good times: “listen to music as you cook.

“Music and cooking just make your shoulders go back, make it seem the world is on your terms again.” Fi and her son recommend French grime music for speedy chopping: “Turn it into a 15 minute golden-time not a Cinderella chore. If you enjoy what you do it’ll taste better.”

Seasonal Salads by Fi Buchanan is published by Kitchen Press on Jan 5th 2023 and available to pre-order now.



Grilled calcot onions with romesco are a Catalan delicacy but here sweet baby leeks make a delicious alternative. I could eat them all day long but, truly, any roasted vegetable is delicious served with romesco.

The National:

Serves 4

12–15 baby leeks (approx. 350g)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp sherry vinegar or balsamic
1 tsp picked rosemary leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the romesco:

250g roasted red peppers (jarred is fine)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
100g almonds, whole or flaked
100ml extra virgin olive oil
30ml red wine or sherry vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp sea salt
50g breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Make the romesco by pulsing the peppers, garlic, almonds, oil, vinegar, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and breadcrumbs together in a food processor or with a stick blender until everything is combined but still has texture.

Wash and trim the baby leeks and remove any tough or raggedy outer leaves. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the leeks and cook for two minutes to tenderise them. Then drain the leeks, slice them in half lengthways and pat dry.

Arrange the leeks in a roasting dish, add the oil and garlic and use your hands to make sure the leeks are well coated. Season and roast in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown and just beginning to crisp at the edges.

Transfer the leeks to a platter, along with the olive oily juices, add the sherry vinegar and sprinkle over the rosemary. Finally, spoon over the romesco and serve.



Glasgow gastropub The Duke’s Umbrella presents its take on that perennial favourite of Scottish New Year gatherings, the steak pie…


1kg ox cheeks, trimmed
10ml oil
1l chicken stock
10g salt
10ml sherry vinegar
10g caster sugar
100g carrots, peeled and chopped to 1cm dice
100g onions, 1cm dice
50g celery, 1cm dice
10g confit garlic puree
1 bay leaf
5g thyme leaves
200ml real ale
5g cornflour, dissolved in 25ml cold water
Salt, sugar, and sherry vinegar, to taste
500g ready to use rolled puff pastry


METHOD: Oil the ox cheek, and brown in a pan, then transfer to a tray.

Heat the chicken stock, with the salt, sugar and vinegar.

Double cling film, and double foil.

Cook at 150°C/130°C fan for three hours.

Remove the ox cheek carefully and smoke at 130°C/110 for an hour until tender.

Put the ox cheek aside while you sauté the carrots, onion, celery and garlic until golden brown, add the bay, thyme and real ale, and reduce by half.

Add the ox cheek cooking liquor to the vegetable mix.

Whisk dissolved cornflour till the consistency is correct.

Add the chunks of ox cheek in when heating for service, be gentle, as it will break up. Season with and salt and pepper.

Top the pie with the puff pastry and bake for 30-40 mins at 170°C/150°C fan.