Recipe of the Week – 20th February 2017 – A Spicy Butternut Squash Light Lunch


Sometimes a massive evening meal is not always something that I crave (even though I do admit to liking my stodge!), and the other day I thought I would try a simple experiment with a butternut squash I had in the fridge. This is essentially roasted cubes of lightly spiced squash which really lends itself to being a side for a salad, or as a healthy light lunch. Something a bit different for a quick vitamin boost!

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm dice

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs Za’atar or Sumac

Mixed salad leaves

50g sprouted seeds

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Place the butternut squash cubes in a large saucepan of boiling water and par boil for 5 minutes. Drain well.

3. Put the cubes on a large preheated baking tray, drizzle the oil over and sprinkle the Za’atar to cover. Season and mix well. Roast for 30 minutes until soft.

4. Meanwhile, place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle the ginger over. 

5. Simply serve a portion of the butternut squash with the salad and some fresh crusty bread.

Recipe of the Week – 13th February 2017 – Kala Chana Masala

I love trying out new ingredients for the first time – you never know how things are going to taste, or even if they are going to work together or what the texture is going to be, etc. I recently discovered black chickpeas or kala chana, which are similar to the more familiar type, but have a rougher, darker coating and hold their shape giving a satisfying nutty texture. This masala is a good alternative if you fancy a non-mushy dhal-type curry. Oh, and it’s very filling!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

200g dried kala chana, soaked overnight

4 tbs sunflower oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

10g fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 green chillis, deseeded and finely sliced

3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

1 bay leaf

50g desiccated coconut

1 tbs mango chutney

Salt to taste

Method 

1. After soaking overnight, drain and rinse the kala chana before adding to a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Boil for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile add the oil to another pan and add the onion, garlic, ginger and chillis and sauté gently for 5 minutes. 

3. Add the tomatoes, spices, bay leaf and salt and cook for a further 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. 

4. Add the onion and tomato mixture to the kala chana (keeping the cooking liquid), then add the desiccated coconut and mango chutney. Cover and cook gently for a further 10 minutes until thickened.

5. Serve immediately with rice or chapatis.

Recipe of the Week – 6th February 2017 – Quick Spinach and Potato Curry


As much as I like cooking complicated and time-consuming meals, sometimes a quick and easy tea is all that I can muster up (especially after a busy day at the cafe). This recipe is a nice one for such an occasion – quick, fool-proof and very tasty!

Serves 4

Ingredients 

500g baby potatoes, halved

2 tbs sunflower oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric

200g fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Large bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped.

Method

1. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

2. In another large pan, add the oil and gently fry the onion, garlic, chilli and spices for 8 minutes.

3. Add the potatoes and tinned tomatoes to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

4. Add the spinach, season and add the fresh coriander. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

5. Serve immediately with rice or naan bread (I did pilau rice and garam masala roasted cashews)

Recipe of the Week – 23rd January 2017 – Homemade Pizzas!


I’m aware that despite my blog being called Vegetarian Dad, I don’t often post the cooking experiments that I do with my children (just the ones that they polish off afterwards!), so to address this here is the recipe that I have just done with Alfie and Jasmine telling me what to do. These turned out to be very tasty, and despite the fact that they were enormous, completely disappeared in under 10 minutes!

Makes 2 large pizzas

Ingredients 

For the bases;

300g wholemeal bread flour

200ml warm water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp fast acting dried yeast

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce; 

200ml passata

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

A small handful of fresh basil leaves

For the topping;

100g mature cheddar cheese, grated

50g button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

Basil leaves, grated Vegetarian Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil to finish

Method

1. To make the base, put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre then pour in the water and olive oil. Mix well until it comes together as a dough. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface then set aside to rise (set aside for a thick crust only).

2. Preheat the oven to 240C.

3. Cut the dough in half then roll out each ball into a 30cm circle. Lightly coat two large baking sheets with flour and carefully transfer the bases.

4. Make the sauce by adding all of the sauce ingredients together, mix well then season. Carefully spoon over the pizza bases leaving a crust.

5. Place two additional large baking sheets in the oven to preheat.

6. Sprinkle the cheese over the bases followed by the remaining ingredients. This is a good chance for the kids to get creative!

7. Place in the oven on the preheated baking sheets for 12 minutes until crisp.

8. Drizzle the finished pizzas with olive oil, grated Parmesan and a few basil leaves, and serve! 

Recipe of the Week – 16th January 2017 – Sweet Potato and Chickpea Thai Curry


This is the perfect warming meal for a cold winter’s evening – it has a great blend of textures, combined with the heat of chilli and creaminess of the coconut milk – proof if needed that vegan curries can often be the best!

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tbs vegetable oil 

Largish (i.e. Thumb-sized) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

1 large onion, sliced

1 large red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp medium curry powder

1.5kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed

200g fresh spinach leaves, rinsed with the tough stalks removed

500ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon 

1 x 400ml can of coconut milk

Salt and pepper to season

Method

1. In a large saucepan (I used a wok), heat up the vegetable oil and gently cook the onion for 5 minutes before adding the chilli, ginger, spices and a pinch of salt. Cook gently to combine, for 5 minutes.

2. Add the sweet potato cubes and stir well before adding the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 15 minutes until the sweet potato is soft. 

4. Stir in the spinach, season, and simmer for 2 minutes.

5. Serve immediately with rice (I made some pilau which worked really well with it)

Recipe of the Week – 9th January 2017 – Warm Butternut Squash Salad


Happy New Year everyone! At this time of year I tend to crave healthy food following the excesses of Christmas, but it feels too cold for traditional green salads, so I hit upon this recipe to get those craved-after vitamins but in a warming way! It may seem a bit weird having warmed veg with lettuce, but trust me this really works!

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm dice

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

100g couscous

150ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

1 small iceberg lettuce, shredded

3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

3 spring onions, roughly chopped

100g feta cheese, crumbled

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butternut squash cubes, olive oil, garlic and thyme leaves. Place on a large baking tray and roast for 20 minutes until soft.

3. Add the couscous and hot vegetable stock to a small bowl and allow to soak for 10 minutes

4. In another large mixing bowl add the lettuce, tomatoes, spring onions and feta and mix well.

5. Combine the butternut squash cubes with the couscous and add to the salad ingredients. Stir well to combine.

6. Serve immediately with warm pitta bread.

Recipe of the Week – Christmas Dinner Special – Wild Mushroom Wellington


I was scratching my head trying trying to think of something different for the main course on Christmas Day this year – I love nut roasts, but sometimes a surprise is needed when serving a big meal! This recipe is a bit of a hybrid of a number of different ideas, but should provide a talking-point on Christmas Day, or indeed any other time you want to push the boat out! Have a good Christmas everyone!

Serves 8

Ingredients

25 g dried wild mushrooms 

200g shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced

200g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 tbs olive oil

30g butter

2 large white onions, finely chopped

6 cloves of garlic, crushed

300g kale, washed and roughly chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

2 tsp fresh dill, chopped

2 x 320 g sheets ready-rolled puff pastry

200g mature cheddar cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

Method

1. Soak the wild mushrooms in a bowl of boiling water for 30 minutes, then drain and roughly chop.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C.

3. Place all of the mushrooms on a large baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 25 minutes.

4. Place the chopped kale in a large pan of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes then drain and set aside.

5. Add the butter to the pan and gently sauté the onions, garlic and chopped herbs for 10 minutes. Season then add the kale. Cook for a further 5 minutes then set aside.

6. On a large baking tray place one of the sheets of ready-rolled pastry on a sheet of baking paper. Carefully add the kale and onion mixture, leaving a 2cm gap to the perimeter. Scatter with the cheese then cover with the mushroom mixture. 

7. Using a pastry brush apply some of the egg mixture to the perimeter of the bottom sheet, before laying the other pastry sheet on top and crimping all around. Apply the remaining egg wash to the top, score the pastry and place in the oven for 40 minutes until brown.

8. Slice and serve hot with roasted vegetables and gravy if desired.