Recipe of the Week – 21st April 2014 – Pea Risotto with Asparagus

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Risotto is something that I hadn’t eaten for a few years as it tends to be reliant upon Parmesan cheese, which contains calves rennet, however since the introduction of various veggie friendly (and much cheaper!) alternatives in the supermarkets, risotto is back on the menu! This recipe is a nice fresh one for Spring…

Serves 4 or 6 as a starter

Ingredients

1 large onion, finely chopped
350g frozen peas, defrosted
50g butter
1.6l good vegetable stock from bouillon
200ml white wine
350g risotto rice
30g vegetarian Parmesan
100g fresh asparagus spears
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Place the butter in a large frying pan, melt then add the onion and sauté gently for about 10 minutes until soft.

2. Place half of the peas in a food processor with a little olive oil and whizz until puréed.

3. Add the rice to the onion and stir to coat for approx. 1 minute before adding the wine.

4. When the wine is absorbed, gradually add the stock a small amount at a time and stir continuously for 20-25 minutes until this is all absorbed and the rice has a creamy texture.

5. When complete, take off the heat and add the puréed peas, the whole peas, the cheese and seasoning and stir gently.

6. Meanwhile, gently steam the asparagus for 10 minutes until soft.

7. Serve the risotto warm and top with the asparagus, a drizzle of olive oil, and more grated cheese if desired.

Recipe of the Week – 14th April 2014 – Moroccan Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas

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This is a recipe that I have adapted from a number of different sources, and is very versatile so can be modified to suit whatever vegetables are lying around! This particular combination is one that I tried at the cafe last week and seemed to go down really well.

Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side

Ingredients

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm dice
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 peppers (I used yellow and green), deseeded and sliced
300g fresh spinach
1 whole bulb of garlic, outside skin removed only
2 x 400g tinned chickpeas

For the Dressing

8 tbs olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs Ras el Hanout
1 tbs Demerara sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C.

2. Add the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, peppers, celery, onion and whole garlic bulb to a large (or two medium) roasting tin.

3. Mix the dressing ingredients together well and pour over the vegetables.

4. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.

5. Remove the garlic bulb and squeeze each clove into a bowl with a little olive oil. Mix well and add to the vegetables.

6. Add the chickpeas and spinach, mix together well and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

7. Season well and serve immediately with couscous, rice or flatbreads.

Recipe of the Week – 7th April 2014 – Courgette and Aubergine Lasagne

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I thought that I would try something a little bit different on the tried and tested veggie lasagne recipe, and this is the result – It was a bit like a cross between a lasagne and moussaka due to the layer of aubergines, but for me that is a good thing! My previous attempts at creating an authentic white lasagne sauce have been disappointing, so I cheated and used ready made, although the ‘red’ layer was made from scratch.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 large aubergines, cut into 10mm slices
3 large courgettes, cut into 10mm slices
8 tbs olive oil, plus a little for greasing
2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes, or same quantity Passata
Small handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
300g fresh pack lasagne sheets
400ml white lasagne sauce
75g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Batch fry the aubergine and courgette slices until lightly brown and set aside.

3. Lightly oil an ovenproof serving dish then arrange a layer of the aubergines on the bottom, then pour over one of the tins of chopped tomatoes. Scatter with a few basil leaves, season, then top with a layer of lasagne before pouring over half of the white sauce. Repeat, starting with the courgette slices until you have two full layers.

4. To finish, spoon remaining white sauce over the pasta, making sure the whole surface is covered then top generously with the grated cheese. Bake for approximately 45 mins until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately with garlic bread and a fresh green salad.

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Recipe of the Week – 31st March 2014 – Easy Ratatouille

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This recipe for ratatouille works brilliantly on its own with rice, as a base for pasta or even as the filling for a shepherd’s pie. As it’s so simple I tend to make this quite regularly when I’m in a rush!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Vegetables
1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes
2 red peppers, roughly diced
2 large onions, cut from base to tip to form wedges
2 large courgettes, cut into 2cm cubes
5 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the Tomato Sauce
2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried basil
1 tbs soy sauce
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Toss all the vegetables together with the olive oil and seasoning in a large roasting tin and place in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 30 minutes until soft and beginning to brown.

2. Meanwhile, for the tomato sauce, add the sliced garlic to the oil and simmer gently for 1 minute, without browning.

3. Add the tinned tomatoes to the pan with the bay leaf and basil, and gently simmer for 20 minutes until reduced. Add the sugar, soy sauce, and seasoning to taste and take off the heat.

4. Toss together the vegetables and sauce to coat thoroughly and reheat gently when ready to serve.

Recipe of the Week – 24th March 2014 – Rainbow Pilaf

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This recipe is a variation on one that I originally included in my free E-book (it’s still available by the way!), using celery and carrot, and which I regularly do at the cafe. I thought however that a change is as good as a rest, so started mucking around with it! The butternut squash provides a nice change in texture, and the red pepper gives it a bit of bite. I can’t take credit for the name – that was my children’s doing…

Ingredients

4 tbs vegetable oil
3 tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2 cm dice
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
3 celery sticks, including leaves, finely diced
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 fresh green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
A large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
50g flaked almonds
200g cooked red lentils
400g cooked brown basmati rice
200g light vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Method

1. Place the butternut squash cubes on a large baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil and season. Place in an oven preheated to 220C for 20 minutes until softened.

2. Heat 2 tbs of the vegetable oil in a large frying pan and add the onion until softened but not browned.

3. Add the red pepper, celery, spring onions, chilli and almonds and stir fry for 3 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside.

4. Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the rice and lentils for 2 minutes until heated through. Add the stock, and season to taste. Simmer for 2 further minutes.

5. Add the vegetables back into the pan with the butternut squash cubes and combine to warm through.

6. Add the chopped parsley and stir through.

7. Serve immediately with fresh bread or a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 17th March 2014 – Stuffed Field Mushrooms

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I really enjoyed making and adapting this recipe, and it works well as great party food, or something different for an evening meal, and has the benefits of looking difficult, but actually being quite easy to make!

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the mushrooms
12 large field mushrooms, cleaned but not peeled
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
150ml olive oil
Salt and pepper to season

For the topping
150g extra mature cheddar, grated
200g ricotta
100g sultanas or raisins
100g pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 tbs wholegrain mustard
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
A large handful of chopped parsley

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Put the mushrooms on a large baking tray and season, then sprinkle with the crushed garlic and drizzle with the oil before baking for 10 minutes until soft.

3. Make the topping by simply combining all of the topping ingredients in a large bowl and the spooning it evenly over the mushrooms.

4. Place the mushrooms back in the oven for a further 10 minutes until fully baked.

5. Serve the immediately with a green salad, fresh bread and a tomato chutney.

Recipe of the Week – 10th March 2014 – Mushroom and Leek Risotto with Asparagus

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I really enjoyed making this risotto at the cafe last week – there is definitely something therapeutic about having to stand and stir this for 25 minutes (if you’ve got the time, which I rarely have nowadays!). There are less traditional risotto recipes available which require less maintenance, but I have found that this is worth the little extra effort!

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 medium sized leeks, trimmed and sliced
Small bunch of asparagus spears, trimmed
2 tbs olive oil
1 knob butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g risotto rice, such as arborio
500ml vegetable stock from bouillon
Small handful parsley leaves, chopped
50g vegetarian parmesan freshly grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Heat the oil and the butter in a deep frying pan over a medium flame the add the leek slices and garlic, and then fry for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook gently for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

2. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute, ensuring all the grains are coated, then add the stock a little at a time, stirring continually until all is absorbed. Cook gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring regularly.

3. Meanwhile, place the asparagus spears in a large steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for 5 minutes, until tender.

4. When the risotto is cooked, take off the heat and stir in half the grated cheese and the parsley.

5. Serve immediately topped with the asparagus spears and the remaining Parmesan sprinkled on top.