Recipe of the Week – 26th February 2018 – Simple Moroccan Roasted Vegetables

For me this time of the year is all about comfort food – it has to be warm and filling, but that doesn’t mean that winter food has to be plain and stodgy. This recipe is a good example of something that is easy to prepare and will provide a great meal that will keep the cold out and fill you up at the same time. It’s also great for using up any root vegetables that you may have left over, so can be different every time!

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g baby potatoes, halved

1 large aubergine, diced

2 red peppers, sliced

1 large courgette, diced

2 small fresh beetroot, peeled and diced

1 large carrot, sliced

1 x 400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

5 tbs olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, peeled

2 tbs Ras-el-Hanout

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

Large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C.

2. Place all of the vegetables (not the chickpeas yet!) on a large baking tray. Drizzle the oil over, sprinkle with the spices, season then mix well to coat.

3. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring well halfway through.

4. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, stir well again, and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

5. Serve immediately, with rice, couscous or flatbreads, garnished generously with the chopped coriander.

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Recipe of the Week – 12th February 2018 – Feta and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

I always think that mushrooms are a fantastically versatile vegetable (fungus?), and can add flavour and texture to any dish, whether chopped, sliced, sautéed, fried, baked, or in this case, simply stuffed. This recipe is something that I’ve come up with using some ingredients from a recipe for a Spanish spinach tortilla, but the combination of onions, spinach, cashews and nutmeg complements the feta and mushrooms really well, making this a nice light lunch, or a great addition to a tapas.

Makes 4

Ingredients

4 large field mushrooms

3 tbs olive oil

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

80g fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped

100g feta cheese, diced

50g cashews, chopped

1 tsp ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Carefully take out the stalks of the mushrooms, chop and place in a bowl.

3. In a small frying pan, add 2 tbs of the olive oil and gently sauté the chopped onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the cashews and chopped spinach and simmer for a further minute.

4. Add the mixture to the bowl with the mushroom stalks, then add the nutmeg, feta and seasoning and mix well.

5. With a pastry brush, coat the bottom of the mushrooms with the remaining oil and place on a baking tray. Fill the mushrooms with the mixture then place in the oven for 10 minutes.

6. Serve immediately with bread or a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 29th January 2018 – Warm Middle Eastern Couscous Salad

This is a nice filling, yet healthy recipe which is something a bit different but ideal for cold winter evenings. This is my variation on a traditional warm salad recipe, which would work really well as party food too. This recipe is also easily adaptable to make it dairy-free using soya mince and vegan cheese. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients

200g Wholewheat Giant Couscous

500ml good quality stock made from Bouillon

2 large onions, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

100g Quorn mince (or vegan Soya alternative)

Large handful of fresh spinach leaves

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 wholewheat pitta breads

100g feta cheese, diced (optional)

For the dressing;

4 tsp Baharat

2 tbs lemon juice

1 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Lightly fry the Couscous in 2 tbs of the olive oil for 2 minutes until slightly golden then add the stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, add the remaining oil to a wok or large frying pan and sauté the onions and mince for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and fry for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the Couscous and spinach to the onion mixture and mix well. Pour into a large salad bowl.

4. Mix all of the dressing ingredients together then drizzle over the salad.

5. Top with toasted pitta pieces and the diced feta and serve at room temperature.

Recipe of the Week – 22nd January 2018 – Bombay Potato Stuffed Aubergines

This is a variation on a recipe that I have posted before, but I make no apologies as it’s one of my favourites (and one of the most popular Specials in my cafe!). I have modified the spice blend and reduced the oil to make it a bit healthier and slightly spicier, but it is still very satisfying and my go-to comfort food when it’s cold outside!

Serves 6

Ingredients

6 large aubergines, halved and scored inside in a cross pattern

50 ml sunflower oil

3 large onions, sliced

150g baby potatoes, quartered

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp turmeric

1 tbs medium curry powder

2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes

Small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method

1. Place the aubergine halves in a large colander, sprinkle generously with salt and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and set aside to drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, add half of the oil and saute the onions, garlic and spices on a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and tomatoes, and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste.

3. Preheat the oven to 190C.

4. Pour the remaining oil in a griddle pan or large frying pan, the batch fry the aubergines until light brown. Repeat until all of the halves are done.

5. Arrange the aubergines open side up in a large baking tray. Pour the potato mixture over the top, ensuring that the aubergines are covered.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

7. Serve immediately with rice or a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 15th January 2018 – Veggie ‘Grussaka’

Ok, I might need to work on the name a bit, but this is essentially a cross between a Potato Gratin and a Moussaka! This, for me combines the best of both worlds from the two dishes – the satisfying dense-ness and layers of a Gratin, topped with the yummy aubergine and yoghurt topping of a moussaka. To make this recipe even more filling I also used a layer of lentils and bulgur wheat in the gratin, so a bit of a combination of things, but we were all really pleased with the end result and it was polished off very quickly!

Serves 6

Ingredients

750g baby potatoes, sliced

6 tbs olive oil

2 large onions, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

150g bulgur wheat

300g red split lentils

2 large aubergines, cut to 5mm slices

2 courgettes, thinly sliced

1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes

800ml good quality stock from bouillon

2 tsp Herbes de Provence

1 tsp dried mint

For the topping;

3 large eggs

500ml plain Greek yogurt

Salt and pepper to season

100g nature cheddar cheese, grated

Method

1. Place the aubergine slices in a large bowl, sprinkle generously with salt and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse then set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C.

3. In a large saucepan, heat half the oil then gently sauté the onions, courgettes and garlic for 5 minutes before adding the lentils, bulgur wheat, herbs, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, batch fry the aubergine slices in the remaining oil, turning once until light brown. Set aside.

5. In a large casserole dish, place a thin layer of the onion mixture, followed by a layer of the potatoes, then a layer of the aubergine slices, then repeat until used up.

6. Mix the eggs, yogurt and seasoning together in a jug and whisk well. Pour over the dish to cover then top with the grated cheese.

7. Place in the oven for 40 minutes until light brown. Eat immediately with bread and a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 7th January 2018 – Broccoli and Leek Spelt Risotto

Since the New Year I have started to look at new ways of cooking familiar foods, particularly trying to find healthier alternatives. This is my twist on a recipe for ‘Speltoto’ by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, using a ‘Superfoods’ mix of Spelt, Red Quinoa and Freekah, but any grain would work well and provides a more textured and less stodgy alternative to Risotto. Don’t worry I’m sure I’ll get back to stodgy recipes once the Christmas guilt has subsided!

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced

1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

300g dried Spelt or grain mix (I used M&S Superfoods mix)

4 tbs olive oil

1200ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

1 tsp dried Herbes de Provence

50g vegetarian Parmesan, grated plus a few slivers to finish. (Can be easily substituted with a dairy-free hard cheese to make it vegan.)

Salt and pepper to season

Method

1. Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion and garlic for about 7 minutes until soft. Stir in the herbs.

2. Add the Spelt, stir well to combine and cook for a further minute before adding the stock a little at a time.

3. Continue adding the stock a ladleful at a time until it is all absorbed (this should take approx. 20 minutes)

4. Meanwhile in a separate pan add the remaining oil and gently sauté the leeks and broccoli until soft.

5. Combine the contents of the two pans then stir in the grated cheese and season.

6. Serve immediately with toast, a further drizzle of oil and a few slivers of cheese.

Recipe of the Week – 1st January 2018 – Detox Japanese Noodle Soup

Happy New Year everyone! With the intention of starting off the new year in a healthy way (and also because I overdid it last night and needed a hangover cure!), I thought I would try a variation on the traditional Japanese Ramen Noodle Soup, but packed with fresh veggies and lots of garlic and ginger. This was surprisingly filling and satisfying, and I now feel a lot better!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

250g dried medium egg noodles

4 large cloves of garlic, sliced

10g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 tbs soy sauce

1/2 tsp Chinese five spice

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1 litre good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

3 spring onions, finely chopped

1 courgette, diced

1 large pepper, sliced

100g Quorn pieces

50g frozen peas

A small handful of fresh spinach

Method

1. Place the noodles in a large saucepan and add half of the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In another large saucepan add all of the remaining ingredients except the spinach, and cover with the remaining stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add the noodles and spinach to the soup, stir well then serve immediately.