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

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


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


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


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.


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


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

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.


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


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.

Recipe of the Week – 27th October 2014 – Parsnip and Sweet Potato Gratin

This is a really nice warming recipe for the increasingly cold Autumnal days we are getting here in the North of England. The recipe itself is very simple, although it can be modified easily to make it more elaborate using various root vegetables (celeriac works really well), and by adding chilli and additional warming spices such as mace.


2 large parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
Approx 800g sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbs dried thyme
200ml milk
200ml single cream
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to season
100g grated mature cheddar


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Lightly grease a large casserole dish then layer approximately 1/4 of the sweet potato slices on the base. Top with a layer of parsnip slices, onion slices, thyme and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Repeat with a layer of sweet potato and build up until finished with a final layer of sweet potato.

3. Combine the milk, cream and garlic in a jug and season with salt and pepper and pour over the potato mixture.

4. Sprinkle generously with 3/4 of the grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with the remaining cheese and serve with a green salad and bread.

Recipe of the Week – 20th October 2014 – Spicy Shepherd’s Pie

I love making shepherd’s pie almost as much as I love eating it! It was one of the first things that I tried when I became veggie over 20 years ago, and I was amazed at why all shepherd’s/cottage pies couldn’t be meat-free, as they seemed greatly improved. This is a slightly spicy version to warm up those long autumn evenings…

Serves 6


400g red split lentils, rinsed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 tbs olive oil
1 red chilli, diced (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large courgette, chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of cooked kidney beans, drained
150g frozen peas
1 bay leaf
700ml good quality vegetable stock from boullion
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
600g potatoes, peeled and diced
75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
50ml milk
20g butter
salt and pepper


1. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion, chilli and garlic for approximately 5 minutes, until soft.

2. Add the courgette, carrots and herbs and cook for a further 8 minutes before adding the lentils, tomatoes, cumin and paprika.

3. Add the stock and bay leaf and simmer gently for 20 minutes before adding the peas and kidney beans.

4. Meanwhile, make the mashed potato by boiling the potatoes for 15 minutes then mash with the butter and milk. Season to taste. (Use soya milk and spread for the vegan option)

5. Remove the bay leaf then pour the cooked lentil mixture in a large casserole dish, top with the potato and sprinkle generously with the cheese. Put under the grill for 5 minutes to brown. (Omit the cheese for the vegan option). Serve immediately.

Recipe of the Week – 13th October 2014 – Completely Improvised Nut Roast!

This morning, on my day off from cooking at the Cafe, I decided to do some cooking experimentation at home instead! This proved to be very simple to make and certainly soon got polished off for Sunday dinner. I prefer nut roasts well done (some would say overdone!), so I would suggest that you adjust the baking time accordingly if you don’t like it as crispy as this.

Serves 4


2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green pepper, deseeded and finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 large courgette, grated
50g each of the following nuts; cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, all chopped finely or chopped in a food processor
100g ground mixed nuts
50g breadcrumbs
1 tbs yeast extract (eg. marmite)
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tbs sweet chilli sauce
1 tbs soy sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 220C.

2. Sauté the onion in the olive oil in a large saucepan until soft.

3. Add the garlic, carrot and courgette and simmer gently for five minutes.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, and simmer gently for 10 minutes to combine.

5. Place the mixture in a lightly oiled casserole dish, cover with tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes until brown.

6. Serve with a tomato and paprika sauce and sautéed potatoes.

Recipe of the Week – 6th October 2014 – Spicy Butternut Squash and Courgette Soup

I very much felt in need of a warming and filling soup today, but one with a bit of a twist. The spices in this really lift the soup and I finished it with aubergine strips fried in Garam Masala to give it another layer. I don’t really like bland soups, but this one tastes slightly different with every mouthful. I actually had some of this for breakfast today with hummus covered toast – a great, if weird, way to start a Sunday!

Serves 6


1 large butternut squash, cubed and deseeded, but not peeled
3 courgettes, sliced
2 tbs olive oil
800ml good quality vegetable stock from Boullion
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the aubergine strips;
1 large aubergine, cut into 10mm slices, then strips
3 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp garam masala


1. Place the squash cubes in a large saucepan, cover with water and boil for 15 minutes or until tender.

2. Gently fry the courgettes in the olive oil until coated. Add all the spices and the salt and pepper and stir well.

3. Add the courgettes and stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes. When cooked, blend until smooth (I just used a potato masher as I prefer soups chunky).

4. Meanwhile add the olive oil to a large frying pan, add the aubergine strips and garam masala and fry gently for approximately 8 minutes until golden brown.

5. To serve, pour a generous portion of the soup in a bowl, top with a few aubergine strips and serve with toast or bread.