Recipe of the Week – 15th December 2014 – Moroccan Harira Soup

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This is a soup (some would call it a stew as it’s that thick!) that I haven’t made for ages, but I don’t know why as it’s really satisfying and very warming. I would also recommend adding a chilli for a bit of extra heat.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1 cm cubes
4 tbs sunflower oil
2 small onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes
A handful each of fresh coriander and parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g red split lentils
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
600ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon
50g dried spaghetti, roughly broken
Salt and black pepper to season

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and garlic and sauté gently for 5 minutes to soften.

2. Add the butternut squash cubes, tinned tomatoes, and all the herbs and spices. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the lentils and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the spaghetti and chickpeas, and season. Simmer covered for a further 10 minutes.

5. Serve warm with chopped fresh coriander and a slice of lemon.

Recipe of the Week – 8th December 2014 – Butternut Squash Paella

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This recipe is a modified and more filling variation on one of my previous recipes. I actually (and possibly controversially!) used basmati rice here for a change in texture, which gave it a bit of a pilaf feel. I have found that roasting the butternut squash in the smoked paprika intensifies the flavour nicely.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm dice.
1 medium onion red or white, finely chopped
2 medium courgettes, roughly chopped
4 tbs olive oil
1 each of red and orange pepper (or a combination of any), finely sliced
200g button mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
250g frozen peas
2 bay leaves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
Large pinch of saffron threads
300g basmati rice
150ml medium sherry (optional)
500ml hot vegetable stock (from bouillon)
A handful pitted olives, halved
3 tbs fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C and place the butternut squash cubes in a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the smoked paprika. Roast to 20 minutes until soft.

2. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan or wok and gently shallow fry the onion for approximately 5 minutes then add the peppers and fry gently for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the roasted butternut squash cubes, mushrooms, and diced courgette, then the garlic and the remaining spices and stir in thoroughly. Slowly add the rice and stir continuously for 3 minutes before adding the saffron and sherry.

4. Bring to the boil then add the stock and season. Reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered for approximately 25 minutes.

5. Add the frozen peas and stir gently. Take off the heat, cover and allow rest for 15 minutes.

6. Add the olives and parsley and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice if preferred then season to taste.

Serve immediately with plenty of freshly baked crusty bread.

Recipe of the Week – 1st December 2014 – Mushroom and Aubergine Curry

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I love the simplicity of this recipe, and it works well as a quick but satisfying curry to warm you up. I have adapted this from a recipe which involves puréed aubergines, which although is also nice, involves quite a bit of roasting and mashing! I’ve found that the mushrooms compliment the aubergines in this really well.

Ingredients

2 large aubergines
500g button mushrooms, halved
4 tbs sunflower oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red chilli, finely chopped (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
200g red split lentils
1 x 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of coconut milk
Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to season

Method

1. Cut the aubergines into 2 cm cubes, add to a colander and salt well. Leave to juice for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

2. Add the oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the onions, garlic and chilli for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

3. Add all the spices and mushrooms and stir well. Sauté gently for a further 2 minutes.

4. Add the lentils, tomatoes, coconut milk, half the coriander and season and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

5. Take off the heat, add the remaining coriander and season. Serve immediately with naan bread.

Recipe of the Week – 24th November 2014 – Caribbean Sausage Casserole

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I wanted to do a warming sausage casserole at the cafe this week, but wanted a bit of a change from the standard recipes available, so I modified a Caribbean chicken recipe to get a good spice blend and added vegan sausages! I have since tried another with carrots and black peas added, which also went down well.

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 tbs sunflower oil
2 packs (16) Quorn sausages (I used Fry’s as they are vegan), cut into thirds
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
300g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
400g red split lentils, rinsed
4 tsp brown sugar
600ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp medium curry powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp each dried thyme and parsley
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch of nutmeg
salt and black pepper to season
juice of 1 lemon

Method

1. Heat the oil in a very large saucepan and add the sausages, onion, garlic, chopped pepper and sugar. Heat gently and brown for 7-8 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes and all of the herbs and spices to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, stock, coconut milk, lemon juice and lentils. Bring to the boil then simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often.

4. Season as required and serve immediately with freshly cooked rice or flatbread.

Recipe of the Week – 17th November 2014 – Crispy Red Lentil Bake

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This is something that I sort of made up last Sunday for a filling family lunch, having only a few nuts in the house and desperately wanting to make a nut roast, I opted for a lentil bake instead. I am not a big fan of the soft and squidgy loaves that you find in older veggie cookbooks, so I thought that a crunchier version would be worth a try. This is the result!

Serves 6

Ingredients

300g red lentils
200g green lentils
800ml good quality vegetable stock
2 tbs sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
4 tbs plain flour
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
Freshly ground salt & pepper to season

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190C.

2. Place the lentils in a saucepan with the stock and bring to the boil before simmering gently for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a sieve and set aside.

3. Add the oil to a large frying pan and toss in the onion and garlic before adding the other vegetables. Simmer gently until soft.

4. Mix the vegetables, lentils, flour and herbs and spices together in a large bowl and season.

5. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes until brown and crispy.

6. Serve immediately with new potatoes and green vegetables.

Recipe of the Week – 10th November 2014 – Mushroom Pilaf

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This is a fantastically quick and simple recipe which provides a really filling and satisfying evening meal without the constant attention required by some rice dishes, such as risotto. This also works well as a side to other dishes.

Ingredients

750g mixed fresh mushrooms (I used a combination of button and field), roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
4 tbs sunflower oil
200ml white wine
600ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon
400g long grain rice
2 tbs fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan then add the garlic and onions and cook gently for 5 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms and cook gently for 5 minutes until soft.

3. Add the rice and stir to coat then add the wine, stock, parsley and seasoning.

4. Cover and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently.

5. Serve immediately with toast and a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 3rd November 2014 – Butternut Squash Korma

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This is a wonderfully simple curry to both prepare and make and yet is really satisfying. This version is vegan, although cream could be added if preferred to make it even richer. If you prefer a thicker sauce, I would suggest adding a tablespoon of cornflour to a small cupful of the sauce, mixing thoroughly, then adding back and stirring well.

Ingredients

4 tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm cubes
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cut into pieces
80g raw cashew nuts
200g frozen peas
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
1 x 400g can of coconut milk
800ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon
Small bunch of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Add the oil to a large saucepan then gently fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes before adding the ground spices and the chilli. Cook gently for a further 2 minutes.

2. Add the butternut squash, peppers, chickpeas, cashew nuts, coconut milk and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

3. Add the peas and the chopped coriander and season. Simmer gently for 2 more minutes then serve with rice or naan.