Recipe of the Week – 20th March 2017 – Tagliatelle with Oven Baked Aubergines


This is a nice recipe if you fancy a quick but satisfying midweek tea. Ok, I know it’s cheating a bit using bought tagliatelle rather than making it from scratch, but often fresh supermarket pasta is just as good (in fact often better than the pasta I make!). This does however use freshly-made pesto, which is really required and much better than most that is available in jars. Once you get a taste for freshly made pesto, there really is no turning back!

Serves 4

Ingredients

250g fresh tagliatelle

2 large aubergines, cut to 1cm wide slices

For the pesto;

100g fresh watercress

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

50g cashew nuts, lightly toasted

25g vegetarian Parmesan-style hard cheese, grated

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Small handful of basil leaves 

For the tomato sauce;

1 x 400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbs dried Herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Put the tomato sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes to combine.

3. In a large casserole dish, arrange the aubergine slices, alternating with the tomato sauce to cover each layer until all is used up. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, add all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth-ish (I like a bit of crunch).

5. Place the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until cooked. Rinse and drain.

6. Stir the pesto into the tagliatelle and arrange the pasta over the slices of baked aubergine. Garnish and serve with fresh bread.

Recipe of the Week – 13th March 2017 – Red Lentil Dhal with Garam Masala Aubergines


A good dhal can be just as warming and satisfying on a cold day as a mug of soup, and this recipe is no exception, with the added bonus of having my favourite vegetable in it – aubergines! These provide a great variety of texture as well as little explosions if taste when you find one. Also, this is very easy to make, so no excuses!

Serves 6

Ingredients

600g red split lentils, rinsed

4 tbs sunflower oil

1 large onion, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 large aubergines, cut into 2cm dice

3 tbs lemon juice

1 large bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 litre good quality vegetable stock from bouillon 

1 x 400ml can of coconut milk

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

3 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Put the aubergine cubes in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and leave to soften for 20 minutes. Rinse well and drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, add the stock to the lentils and bring to the boil before simmering for 20 minutes.

3. In a large frying pan, gently dry fry the spices for 1 minute before adding the oil, garlic and onions. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the aubergines and the garam masala, stir to coat well then simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes.

4. Add the aubergine mixture to the lentils, stir well, then add the coconut milk.

5. Simmer the mixture for a further 10 minutes. Take off the heat, add the lemon juice and coriander and serve immediately with rice or naan.

Recipe of the Week – 27th February 2017 – Potato and Broccoli Brunch Frittata

Sometimes recipe ideas come from necessity, in other words, what I manage to find in the fridge! This recipe is a nice simple one which can be used as a quick brunch or as a satisfying lunch with a green salad. It started off as a frittata using an omelette base, but I then combined it with the pan-fried potatoes and broccoli to make it more like a rosti. Anyway, it was very tasty and I hope you like it!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

3 large baking potatoes, left unpeeled if the skins are ok, and cubed

1 large head of broccoli, cut into large florets

3 tbs sunflower oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tbs thyme leaves

100g mature cheddar cheese, grated

6 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Place the potato cubes in a large pan of salted boiling water and bring to the boil. Par boil for 5 minutes then add the broccoli. Return to the boil for a further 1 minute. Drain and set aside.

2. Put the sunflower oil in a large deep frying pan then add the potatoes, broccoli, garlic and half of the thyme leaves. Gently sauté for 10 minutes, stirring often.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining thyme, season, the pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle the cheese over then cover. Allow to simmer until the eggs are set (about 10 minutes) then place under the grill to brown.

4. Serve immediately with bread and a salad.


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!