Recipe of the Week – 28th July 2014 – Asian Noodle Salad

As the British heatwave continues (that’s it – I’ve jinxed it now!), I am increasingly trying new cold and salad dishes. This is my variation on a traditional noodle salad, made more substantial by the roasted butternut squash chunks – a definite winner in our household!

Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side


1 pack of medium egg noodles
4 spring onions, finely chopped
100ml soy sauce
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm dice
1 large cucumber, peeled and slivered
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into 1cm strips
2 medium carrots, peeled and slivered
100g cashew nuts

For the dressing

150ml vegetable oil
100ml rice or white wine vinegar
4 tbs granulated sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 tsp dark sesame oil


1. Preheat the oven to 220C then place the butternut squash cubes in a large roasting tray, drizzle with 2 tbs vegetable oil, season, and roast for 25 minutes until lightly brown. Remove and allow to cool completely.

2. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the noodles and boil until soft. Rinse, drain and toss with the soy sauce to coat.

3. In a large bowl combine the noodles with all of the other main ingredients and toss well.

4. In a food processor or blender, mix all of the dressing ingredients together and pulse until smooth. Pour the dressing into a jug and chill until ready.

5. When ready to serve pour the dressing over the noodles and vegetables and toss well to combine.

Recipe of the Week – 21st July 2014 – Aubergine and Potato Bake

I thought that I was beginning to run out of new ways of cooking with aubergines, my favourite vegetable, but I tried this by modifying Aubergine Parmigiana, and it seems to work really well. The sautéed potato seemed to compliment the aubergines really well with the cheesy breadcrumb topping.

Serves 4 to 6


2 medium aubergines, cut into 2 cm dice
500g potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 tbs olive oil
A large knob of butter
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
300ml good quality veg stock
50g grated breadcrumbs
1 tbs grated vegetarian parmesan
Salt and pepper to season


1. Place the peeled and diced potatoes in a large pan of salted boiling water and boil for 5 to 8 minutes before draining, then set aside.

2. Place the aubergine cubes in a large boil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave for 30 minutes to soften before rinsing thoroughly.

3. Heat the oil and the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion. Sauté gently then add the garlic and aubergine cubes. Fry until tender (approximately 10 minutes on a gentle heat).

4. Add the potatoes to the aubergine and season before adding the tomatoes, herbs and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Place the mixture in a large baking dish, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and cheese and bake in the oven for 15 mins until the topping is golden. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 14th July 2014 – Potato and Spinach Burritos

These burritos (and I have tried experimenting with many different sorts!) always seem to be satisfying either hot or cold, and are probably one of the most versatile and filling. I like them either cold as finger food, or served warm with a smoky tomato sauce made from tinned tomatoes, garlic and paprika.

Makes 6


400g good quality firm potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
400g fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped
200g long grain or basmati rice
6 large tortilla wraps
5 tbs sunflower oil
1 tbs cumin seeds
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbs smoked paprika
Salt and pepper


1. Cook the rice as per instructions, rinse thoroughly, drain and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan boil the diced potatoes until just soft, drain and set aside.

3. Add the onion, 3 tbs oil, chillies and whole and ground spices to a large saucepan and sauté gently for 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Add the potatoes, spinach and cooked rice to spiced onion mix and stir gently to combine. Season to taste.

5. Let the mixture cool then spoon approx. 5 tbs of the mixture to the centre of a tortilla wrap before folding the edges approx 2cm in and rolling gently to form the burrito. Repeat until the mix is used up.

6. Lightly dust each burrito with more smoked paprika and gently shallow fry in the remaining oil in a large frying pan for approx. 1 minute each side. Cut in half and serve with a sauce and green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 7th July 2014 – Marrakech Sweet Potato Curry

After a very busy week at the cafe I fancied trying something new that was relatively easy to make, and yet filling and tasty. I’m a big fan of Moroccan cuisine and this recipe is one I have modified to take into account the glut of sweet potatoes I had in my fridge! This also worked well with some smoky tomato chutney and flatbread.

Serves 6


4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 red and 1 orange pepper, deseeded and roughly diced
1 medium aubergine, cubed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
8 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs medium curry powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs sea salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
4 tbs flaked almonds
1 courgette, sliced
2 tbs sultanas
300ml orange juice


1. Gently heat half of the oil in a large saucepan and add the sweet potato cubes, the aubergine, peppers, carrots, onion and chilli. Gently sauté for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

2. In a separate smaller saucepan add the remaining oil and the garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper and again gently sauté for 5 minutes, ensuring the spices do not burn.

3. Add the spice mixture to the vegetables then add the chickpeas, almonds, courgette, sultanas and orange juice. Stir well, then cover the pan and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.

4. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve with freshly cooked rice, flatbreads and chutneys.

Recipe of the Week – 30th June 2014 – Spelt and Courgette Savoury

I thought I would do a bit of experimenting this week, mainly because there was a good selection of random kitchen ingredients available, which I wanted to use up! After consulting a number of cookbooks for inspiration I came up with this recipe, which is a bit of an amalgam of three recipes, tweaked to fit the ingredients I had to hand. I think this would also work well with the addition of dried fruit, such a sultanas or apricots, and will try this next time.

Serves 4


2 large onions, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tbs olive oil
2 sticks celery, finely diced
3 carrots, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
3 courgettes chopped into large bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garam masala
100g spelt, buckwheat or bulgur wheat
100g green lentils, rinsed
75g cashew nuts, roughly chopped
200ml vegetable stock made from bouillon
1 tbs tomato purée


1. Place the onion, garlic and celery in a large saucepan with the oil and gently sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ground spices and simmer for a further minute.

2. Add all the remaining ingredients except the courgette chunks and simmer for 25 minutes until the spelt and lentils are soft but not mushy.

3. Add the courgettes, cover, and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

4. Season and serve at once in a serving dish, garnished with parsley.

Recipe of the Week – 23rd June 2014 – Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad

This is my take on a simple Moroccan carrot salad which makes a welcome change from the standard green leaf side salads I tend to usually make. This is particularly nice if marinaded in advance and chilled before serving.

Serves 4 to 6


500g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
200g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
Small handful of fresh mint, roughly torn

For the dressing
100ml olive oil
1 tbs cumin seeds
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs honey (I used Agave nectar to make it vegan)
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt


1. Toast the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan until lightly browned, cool then grind to a powder with a pestle mortar.

2. Whisk together the oil, honey, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne and a pinch of salt and set aside.

3. Combine the grated carrots, chickpeas, toasted almonds and mint in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss thoroughly and chill before serving. This is very nice with pittas or flatbread.

Recipe of the Week – 16th June 2014 – Veggie Super Subs!

This week at the cafe I was asked if I could donate some food for a picnic by the local breast-feeding group, so I went back to an idea I had last year for ciabatta sandwiches which hopefully no-one had tried before. I tried one myself and had forgotten how nice they were – I’ll be doing these for all outings with my family this year!

Makes 2 Ciabattas


2 good quality ciabattas
1 large aubergine, cut lengthways in 10mm thick slices
2 courgettes, cut lengthways in 10mm slices
1 pack halloumi, cut into 10mm slices
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
Small handful fresh torn basil leaves
Small bag of rocket

For the Dressing
200ml Extra virgin olive oil
50ml Balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper


1. In a serving jug whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.

2. Place the aubergine and courgette slices in a large bowl and pour half of the dressing mixture over and coat fully to act as a marinade.

3. Heat a large griddle pan and fry the vegetable and halloumi slices in batches until seared and light brown on both sides. Set aside to cool.

4. Cut the ciabattas lengthways and brush the insides with the remaining dressing.

5. Arrange the aubergine and courgette slices then the halloumi slices and
tomato slices, before covering with a few torn basil leaves and a handful of rocket. Cut into approximately 6 pieces and serve warm.