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. 

Recipe of the Week – 5th December 2016 – Tamale Pie


This recipe is a Mexican staple and is the ultimate comfort food for the cold evenings here on the run-up to Christmas. I really liked the cornmeal topping, which made a nice change from covering a pie with mashed potato or veggie suet. I played around with a few recipes to get this one, and some have more chillis and other peppers in them if you like your pies more fiery!

Serves 6

Ingredients 

4 tbs sunflower oil

2 large onions, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped

300g sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

200g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

100g frozen peas

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbs lemon juice

For the topping;

2 tbs vegetable oil

150g cornmeal (I grated a block of polenta, which worked really well)

100g cheese, grated

80g frozen sweetcorn

2 medium free range eggs

100ml milk

2 tbs plain white flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs chopped fresh coriander

Method

1. Add the oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the onions, chilli and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, potatoes and cumin, and 400ml water. Stir well, bring to the boil, and simmer covered for 25 minutes. Add the frozen peas and lemon juice and mix well. When cooked pour the vegetables in a large casserole dish.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C.

3. In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs, vegetable oil and milk together and season.

4. In a large mixing bowl mix all of the remaining topping ingredients together, with the exception of the grated cheese. Add the egg mixture and stir to combine.

5. Cover the vegetables in the dish with the grated cheese and then cover with the topping mixture.

6. Cook for 25 minutes until golden.

7. Serve immediately with fresh bread or a green salad.


Recipe of the Week – 28th November 2016 – Baked Eggs in Corn Sauce


This is a bit of a radical departure for me, in a way, as I have never tried anything like this before, but I will definitely be doing it again! This recipe originates from Chile, and is actually very simple to make with few ingredients, but the end result is very satisfying. I would even consider this for breakfast!

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large free range eggs

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tbs butter

400g frozen or fresh sweetcorn

350ml milk

2 tbs chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and gently sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft. Add the sweetcorn and milk, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.

3. When the mixture is beginning to thicken (approx. 10 minutes), add the basil and season. Add the mixture to a large greased oven-proof dish (or individual bowls if you prefer). Make 4 indentations in the mixture and carefully crack an egg in each. Add a few small dots of butter to the top and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the eggs white is set but the yolks are still runny.

4. Serve immediately with fresh bread (I also did some paprika-coated baked aubergine slices which went very well with it).

Recipe of the Week – 14th November 2016 – Cajun Bean Suet Casserole

This recipe is a bit of an experiment for me – I fancied doing some weekday comfort food, but with a twist, so the bean casserole I had planned sort of mutated a bit, and this is the result. It’s a combination of a Cajun bean gumbo and a traditional British suet pie. Even though I say so myself, this certainly hit the spot after a cold school-run!

Serves 6

Ingredients 

4 tbs olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 chipotle chilli, pierced (chopped if you want more heat!)

2 courgettes, diced

1 large aubergine, sliced

1 red pepper, diced

100g mushrooms, sliced

1 x 400g can of good quality chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g can each of kidney beans, pinto beans and borlotti beans

1 tbs Cajun spice

200ml vegetable stock from good quality bouillon

1 tbs sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp Demerara sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

50g grated cheddar cheese to top

To make the suet topping;

100g vegetable suet

200g Self Raising flour

Pinch of salt

50g grated cheddar cheese

Method

1. Add the oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 10 minutes then add the chilli, vegetables, stock, spices and tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C.

3. Add the beans and sugar, mix well and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, mix all of the pastry ingredients together, with 10 tbs cold water, knead and roll out to approx 30cm x 15cm.

5. Put the bean mixture in a large casserole dish, top with the pastry and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

6. Serve immediately with potatoes or steamed spinach.