Recipe of the Week – 23rd November 2015 – Caponata Linguine

I have posted a caponata recipe before, but having not made it for a while I had forgotten how really satisfying and rich this was as a meal. I have been playing around with it a bit, and this week in the cafe I served it on a bed of linguine and spaghetti, which seemed very popular. There are lots of ways of adapting this – next time I might try putting sherry in it!

Serves 6 


4 tbs olive oil

2 medium onions, finely diced

2 large aubergines, cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 medium courgettes, roughly diced

3 small celery stalks, finely diced with the leaves

1 x 400g can of good quality chopped plum tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

100g sultanas

Handful green olives, thinly sliced

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs Demerara sugar

75g dried linguine

75g dried spaghetti

Handful chopped parsley

Salt and pepper


1. Place the aubergine cubes in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt and toss together. Leave for half an hour to bring out the juices then rinse thoroughly and drain.

2. In a large saucepan, heat half the olive oil and gently sauté the celery, onion and garlic until soft but not browned (approx. 10 minutes)

3. Add the tins of tomatoes, including juice and simmer to reduce for 10 minutes.

4. Add the sugar, balsamic vinegar, sultanas and olives and simmer for a further 10 minutes, then take off the heat.

5. In a separate frying pan, add the remaining olive oil and fry the aubergine cubes and courgette until tender.

6. Add all the ingredients together and simmer for a final 10 minutes. Season to taste.

7. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan bring the linguine and spaghetti to the boil in salted water until al dente. Rinse, drain and stir through 2 tbs olive oil.

8. Allow the caponata mixture to cool slightly and stir through the chopped parsley. Serve over the pasta with a final drizzle of olive oil.

Recipe of the Week – 16th November 2015 – Couscous Vegetable Loaf

I have been looking for an alternative nut loaf type recipe for a while, as an alternative centrepiece to a Sunday lunch, but for people with nut allergies. This is an adaptation of a recipe I read about, and I tried it out in my cafe this week. It seems to be a success, and worked really well with a warm smokey tomato sauce topping.

Serves 6


500g wholegrain couscous

1 litre of good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

60ml extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 medium courgette, finely diced

1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tbs ground coriander

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp garam masala

a large handful of basil leaves

1 tbs lemon juice

3 tbs flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


1. Put the couscous in a bowl, pour the hot stock and lemon juice over and leave for 10 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the tomatoes, pepper and courgette and simmer for 5 minutes. 

4. Line a large baking tray or two loaf tins with grease proof paper.

5. Chop the basil and parsley, and mix together with the couscous and vegetables in a large bowl.

6. Season to taste then add to the container. Add another layer of grease roof paper over the mixture and weigh down to compress. Place in the fridge overnight.

7. Serve warm with a tomato and smoked paprika sauce topping, with a side salad.

Recipe of the Week – 2nd November 2015 – Spicy Green Lentil Ragout

I very rarely experiment with French cuisine and recipes, often because there seems to be few inspiring veggie versions of traditional French recipes. This, however worked out really well, and resulted in a very filling and satisfying meal in itself, rather than just a side dish. It’s definitely a country I need to do more research on…

Serves 4


3 large red onions, finely chopped

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed 

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cinnamon

The seeds from 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed 

400g Puy lentils, rinsed

850 ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

a large handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped


1. Add the oil to a large, heavy saucepan on a medium heat and add the onions and garlic and stir well. Gently cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft.

2. Stir in all the spices and gently fry for a further 2 minutes before adding the lentils, tomatoes and stock, before bringing to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

3. Season the mixture well and stir in the chopped herbs. 

4. Serve immediately with rice, bread or a side salad.

Recipe of the Week – 26th October 2015 – Aubergine Parmigiana (Take 2!)

This is one of my all-time favourite recipes, and as such I keep fiddling with it to try to improve it! This is a variation on one I have posted before, and I think the addition of oregano combined with the revised ratios of existing ingredients gives this more depth and is more satisfying overall.

Serves 4


4 large aubergines, cut lengthways into 10mm slices

2 large onions, thinly sliced

8 tbs extra virgin olive oil

100ml red wine

2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbs dried oregano

A large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

50g white breadcrumbs

50g vegetarian parmesan style hard cheese, grated


1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C.

2. In a griddle pan, fry the aubergine slices in the olive oil on a medium heat for approximately three minutes each side to lightly brown and soften. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat until all the slices are cooked.

3. In a large saucepan, heat 3 tbs of olive oil and sauté the onion until soft, then add the chopped tomatoes, wine, oregano and garlic and gently bring to the boil before reducing the heat. Simmer gently for ten minutes until the sauce is beginning to reduce.

4. In a large ovenproof casserole dish, pour a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom before adding the aubergines and basil leaves, and then the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan, then bake for 35 minutes until golden brown on top.

5. Serve warm with fresh crusty bread and a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 5th October 2015 – Menemen 

Since we adopted two chickens in our back garden, I have been looking at new ways with eggs, to deal with the surplus that we sometimes find ourselves with (they are very good layers!). My children love scrambled eggs for breakfast, so was very pleased to find this recipe, which I have adapted a bit from the Turkish original, to suit what I found in the fridge! This was a great success, and I will be definitely repeating it soon.

Serves 4 


2 tbs olive oil

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 medium courgette, roughly chopped

2 large fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped

6 eggs, lightly beaten

100g feta, crumbled

1 tsp ras-el-hanout

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbs each flat-leaf parsley and coriander, finely chopped


1. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan then gently fry the onions, pepper, courgette and tomatoes for 5 minutes, stirring gently. 

2. Add the spices, stir and cook for a further 2 minutes, then pour in the beaten eggs. Stir gently and, as they start to scramble, add the crumbled feta, parsley and coriander.

3. Continue stirring gently until the eggs are lightly scrambled (remember they continue cooking after being taken off the heat). Add the fresh herbs and serve immediately (it went very well with chips!).

Recipe of the Week – 28th September 2015 – Spinach Chana Dal

This recipe is a variation on one I had tried before, as I was lucky enough to be given a large bunch of fresh spinach from the allotment of one of my customers at the cafe. With the spinach added at the end, it gives a great variation in texture to the dish, as well as colour and flavour!

Serves 6


300g Chana Dal (yellow split peas), soaked for 3 hours

2 medium onions, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

6 tbs sunflower oil

1 tbs garam masala

1 tbs turmeric powder

1 tbs ground cumin

2 tsp salt

2 green chillies chopped 

2 large fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

200g fresh spinach, stalks removed then roughly chopped

A small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped


1. Rinse the soaked Chana Dal thoroughly and place in a large saucepan of slightly salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside.

2. Add the oil to a large saucepan and fry the onions, garlic and chillies in a saucepan on a low heat until starting to brown, then add the garam masala, turmeric, cumin and salt and then the chopped tomatoes. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

3. Add the Chana Dal mixture to the onion mixture, together with 100ml water. Stir well and gently simmer for 20 minutes until soft.

4. Add the coconut milk to the mixture, and stir well.

5. Take off the heat, add the chopped spinach and cover. After 10 minutes, stir well and season.

6. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve rice or naan bread.

Recipe of the Week – 21st September 2015 – Moroccan Roasted Vegetables with Chickpeas

Whenever I make this in the cafe it always sells out within the day – no matter how much I make! I have posted a variation of this recipe before, but I am continually tweaking ingredients, and I felt that this is the most satisfying to date.

Serves 6


1 large aubergine, cut into 2 cm dice

2 large onions, roughly sliced

500g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2 cm dice

50ml sunflower oil

6 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole

3 peppers of varying colours, deseeded and roughly chopped

3 sticks celery, chopped

4 carrots, roughly chopped

A small bunch or runner beans, roughly chopped

2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained

A large handful of fresh coriander, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

A pinch of saffron threads

1 tbs Ras-el-Hanout

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground turmeric


1. Preheat the oven to 220C.

2. In a large bowl add all of the ground spices and mix well.

3. Add all of the vegetables (everything except the chickpeas), pour over the oil and again mix well.

4. Pour the vegetables in a large greased baking tray and roast for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Separate the garlic cloves, mash, then stir in.

5. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir well.

6. Add the chickpeas to the vegetables and roast for a further 5 minutes.

7. Stir in the fresh coriander and serve warm with couscous.