Recipe of the Week – 18th May 2020 – Roasted Aubergines with Almond Tarator

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted a recipe on this blog, however I think that in the current uncertain times that we are all living in at the moment, there is more need than ever for adventurous comfort food, and this recipe hits all the spots for me! This is my variation on a BBC Good Food recipe, and can be used as a starter or side, but to be honest I thought that it was amazing on its own!

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large Aubergines

200g good quality feta cheese, roughly crumbled

150ml Greek yogurt

1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

5 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Small bunch of chives, roughly chopped

1/2 white bagel

3 tbs milk

70g flaked almonds

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped

60ml extra virgin olive oil, for the tarator

Method

1. Heat the oven to 200C. Place the aubergines on a large baking tray, prick all over, and brush with the oil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, break the bagel into pieces and place in a bowl with the milk. Allow to soak in for 30 minutes. Add the soaked bread to a food processor, along with the garlic, almonds and lemon juice. Blend until smooth by gradually adding the oil. Season and set aside.

3. Place the feta in a bowl with the yogurt and roughly mash together.

4. To prepare, split the roasted aubergines down the middle and fill with the feta mixture. Top with the almond tarator, then sprinkle the chives and chillies over the top.

5. Serve at room temperature with fresh bread and a green salad.

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Recipe of the Week – 13th January 2020 – Goan Squash Curry

This has got to be one of the most satisfying curries that I have made – I think it is the warming combination of the curry spices with coconut milk marinaded into the squash pieces that make for something that is quite hard to stop eating! It’s vegan and almost fat-free too, but you’d never guess!

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 tbs sunflower oil

1 tbs fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 x 400g can of butter beans

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

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

400ml good quality vegetable stock from bouillon

100g red split lentils

1 x 400 can of light coconut milk

Method

1. Place the onion, chillies, ginger and half of the butter beans in a blender and whizz until puréed.

2. Add the oil to a large saucepan and add the spices. Simmer for 1 minute until fragrant before adding the onion puree. Simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Add the squash cubes and stir to coat well before adding the stock, lentils, coconut milk and remaining butter beans.

4. Cook gently for 30 minutes.

5. Serve immediately with rice or naan bread.

Recipe of the Week – 30th December 2019 – Caribbean Detox Hotpot

After the delights (and excesses) of the Christmas period I find I tend to crave simple healthy meals to reset the balance a bit. This low fat recipe is crammed full of great vegetables and the chilli kick also helps to wake you up a bit ready for the New Year!

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 large onion, roughly chopped

30g fresh ginger, crushed

1 tbs sunflower oil

A small bunch of coriander, finely chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 large courgette, diced

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

50g frozen sweetcorn

50g frozen mango or pineapple chunks

1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes

A large dash of habanero sauce, to taste

600ml good quality stock from bouillon

4 tbs red wine vinegar

1 tbs Demerara sugar

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan then add the onion and ginger and simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat. Add half of the chopped coriander and thyme and stir well.

2. Add the tomatoes, stock, vinegar, habanero sauce, sugar and remaining thyme and return to a simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook slowly for 25 minutes, until soft and the sauce has begun to thicken.

4. Serve immediately with rice and peas or with flatbread.

Recipe of the Week – 16th December 2019 – Tamil Nadu Vegetables

This is my adaptation of a staple vegetable dish originating from Tamil Nadu in Southern India. Although essentially using what Westerners would consider ‘curry’ spices, this is a light and subtle dry dish, which provides a bit of light relief in these times of festive excess!

Serves 6 as a side or 4 as a main

Ingredients

1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced

3 tbs sunflower oil

1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

6 baby potatoes, halved then sliced

4 medium carrots, peeled then cut into batons

1/2 a cucumber, cut into fine batons

10g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

70g desiccated coconut

50g frozen peas

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

Pinch of salt

Method

1. Place the coconut in a large bowl, add 50ml water and leave to soak.

2. Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan then add the onion, cumin seeds and chilli. Sauté on a low heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add the potatoes, carrots, turmeric and salt to the onion mixture, then mix well to coat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the cucumber, peas, coconut with water, and ginger, and stir well. Cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

5. Serve immediately with rice or naan, or simply on its own as a side.

Recipe of the Week – 4th November 2019 – Simple Dosa Wraps

This recipe is a great way to have a quick but satisfying snack when time is short, but something filling is needed! These are similar to my vegan samosas, and work as a great teatime treat or as a starter to a more substantial curry!

Makes 8

Ingredients

8 small wraps

2 large potatoes, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

50g frozen sweetcorn

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp medium curry powder

1 small green chilli

6 tbs sunflower oil

Method

1. Heat 4 tbs of the oil in a large saucepan and fry the spices on a low heat for 1 minute. Turn the heat up and add the potatoes, onion, chilli and carrots. Fry for 2 minutes, stirring well then turn the heat down, add 50 ml water and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

2. Add the sweetcorn and cook for 2 more minutes. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. Add the remaining oil to a large frying pan.

4. Place a small portion of the vegetable mixture in each wrap, roll up, and fry in batches until lightly brown, turning once.

5. Serve immediately with mango chutney.

Recipe of the Week – 21st October 2019 – Spanish Vegetable Sauté

This is a nice warming and filling dish for the cold evenings that are starting to encroach upon us here in the North of England, and it definitely gives you your quota of vegetables. This is similar to a ratatouille, but with a nice twist with the addition of cumin, which gives it a Moorish feel, often common in Spanish dishes.

Serves 4

Ingredients

50ml Extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 large onions, roughly chopped

2 large aubergines, cut into 1 cm dice then salted for 30 minutes

300g courgettes, roughly chopped

400ml can of good quality chopped tomatoes

3 peppers of different colours, cut into 1 cm cubes

2 tsp dried or fresh oregano

Small handful of fresh torn basil leaves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C, then add the chopped pepper pieces to a large baking tray, lightly drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil, and roast for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat half the remaining oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic on a medium heat for 10 minutes. When soft, remove and set aside.

3. Add the remaining oil to the pan on a medium heat. Rinse the salted aubergine cubes and add to the pan with the courgettes and cumin seeds. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and herbs.

4. Add the roasted pepper pieces and the sautéed onion mixture to the pan and season well. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring often.

5. Add the balsamic vinegar, stir well, and serve immediately with risotto rice or toasted bread.

Recipe of the Week – 3rd October 2019 – His and Hers Stuffed Courgettes

One of the few real success stories in our garden this year was courgettes. The children grew two different colours (Alfie=green, Jasmine=yellow), and both provided a really good crop. We left a couple to grow larger, but harvested them before they became full-grown marrows with inedible skins. This recipe worked really well in complementing the subtle flavour of the courgettes, and made for a very filling tea!

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 large courgette or small marrow

100g wholewheat Couscous

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

300ml good quality vegetable stock

50g currants, soaked in water to soften

4 dried apricots, finely chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

1 tbs spice blend of your choice (I used Tunisian Berbere but Ras-el-Hanout would also work well)

1 tbs flaked almonds

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190C.

2. Halve the courgette/marrow lengthways and scoop out the insides.

3. In a large bowl add all of the stuffing ingredients, stir well and allow to soak for 10 minutes.

4. Carefully scoop the mixture into the scooped out halves, put together and wrap tightly in tin foil.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

6. Take out of the oven, allow to cool slightly then carefully slice.

7. Serve immediately with vegetables or salad (I sautéed some aubergine cubes and potatoes).

Recipe of the Week – 2nd September 2019 – Spinach and Ricotta Conchiglioni and Aubergine Bake

This is the result of my experimenting on the classic Italian dish Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, which provides a bit more texture and variation of flavours. I found the addition of toasted cashew nuts worked really well, and stuffing the pasta shells certainly kept the kids amused for a while!

Serves 6

Ingredients

400g Durum Wheat Conchiglioni Rigati shells

150g Ricotta cheese

100g fresh baby spinach, finely chopped

50g cashew nuts, lightly toasted then finely chopped

2 tsp dried basil

2 large aubergines, cut widthways into 1cm wide discs

4 tbs olive oil

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

1 tbs good quality vegetarian green pesto

200ml passata

50g cheddar cheese, grated

Method

1. Place the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes only. Drain, rinse and set aside.

2. Slice the aubergines and put in a large bowl and salt well. Leave for 30 minutes then rinse and drain.

3. Meanwhile, place the Ricotta, chopped spinach, basil, cashew nuts, and salt and pepper to taste, in a large boil and mix well to combine.

4. Stuff the shells with the mixture and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 190C.

6. Put half the olive oil in a large frying pan on a high heat and fry half of the aubergine slices until light brown, turning once. Set aside and repeat with the remaining oil and slices.

7. Add the tinned tomatoes, pesto and passata to a large saucepan and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

8. Ladle a small amount of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a large casserole dish then layer half of the aubergine slices followed by half of the pasta shells. Repeat with the aubergine then the shells and pour the remaining sauce over the top, ensuring that everything is covered. Finally, top with the grated cheese and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve immediately with garlic bread or a green salad.

Recipe of the Week – 19th August 2019 – Summery Feta Rice Salad

This recipe is a bit of a departure for me – I struggle with getting inspiration for salads as I am a big fan of being filled up! This salad is definitely one that will leave you satisfied though, and works well as a side or as a main with flatbreads.

Serves 4 as a main or 8 as a side

Ingredients

200g Basmati Rice

1/2 medium cucumber, finely diced

12 baby plum tomatoes, halved

1/2 small red onion, very finely diced

100g Quorn pieces (or other soya or tofu chunks)

150g feta cheese, crumbled

Small handful each or fresh coriander and basil, roughly chopped

For the dressing

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp whole grain mustard

2 tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp caster sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Cook the rice in a large pan of boiling water for 12 minutes then rinse thoroughly and allow to cool.

2. Gently fry the Quorn pieces for 6 minutes in a little oil until light brown.

3. Place all of the remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl and combine.

4. Place all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season then stir gently through the cooked and cooled rice. Add the tomato mixture and Quorn pieces to the rice and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Recipe of the Week – 9th August 2019 – Jasmine’s Homegrown Courgette Salad!

We are starting to reap our harvest here at home with my potatoes dug up and gobbled, my son Alfie’s carrots mostly picked, and today my daughter picked the first of her yellow courgette and pea crop. I thought that as she was so proud of the results that it would be a shame to just add them as an ingredient so I devised a warm salad to show them off at their best. None of us can take the credit for growing the avocado, but it did work well with the end product!

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

5 small yellow courgettes, halved lengthways

100g fresh podded peas

1 large avocado, peeled and sliced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs lemon juice

Method

1. Add the oil to a large frying pan and bring to a medium heat.

2. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

3. Add the courgette halves, cover, and gently sauté on a low heat for 10 minutes, turning once.

4. Add the fresh peas, stir well, and simmer for a further minute.

5. Serve warm topped with the avocado slices and sprinkled with the lemon juice.