dinner

Aduki Paprika Stew with Sweet Potato Apricot Dumplings (GF + Vegan)

Because food ruts happens to us all!

Russ and I can get a little stale with our vegan stews. You know how it is, if it aint broke don’t fix it and if it’s your favourite then of course you wanna eat that and not experiment with other stuff. But there’s only so much black bean squash stew and spanish chick peas you can eat before looking at each other and laugh. It’s like a food rut that you choose to be in!

Anyway, this recipe is the result of a Saturday late morning dabble, a rummage through the cupboards and fridge and this stew happened.

Vegan Aduki Bean Stew

Aduki beans, sweet potato, kale, gluten free, zero dairy. Let’s do this.

It is what it is. A healthful, superfood packed stew suitable for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free guys, lactose free kids and hell bent carnivores.

Food for EVERYONE.

aduki bean stew

The beans and mushrooms provide substance, the dumplings give good comfort and the smokey spice of the paprika and apricots give a sweet warmth. It is delicious! I still love my black bean squash stew and Spanish chick peas, I always will!

aduki bean stew

I have no more words. See you soon.

Aduki bean stew vegan

Aduki Paprika stew with sweet potato apricot dumplings

(serves me + Russ)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
10 mushrooms, chopped
2 handfuls kale, torn
1 can aduki beans, drained (240 grams)
1 can chopped tomatoes + 1 of water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
seasoning

dumplings:
1/2 cup GF flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 apricots, chopped finely
1 small cooked sweet potato, flesh only
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soya yoghurt
1 teaspoon chopped dill or parsley
seasoning

method:
1. Heat olive oil over a low heat + add the first 4 ingredients until softened.
2. Add the remaining ingredients + simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
3. Combine the dumpling ingredients to form a cookie dough consistency. Form 6 small dumplings or spoon the mixture straight into the pot. Cook, cover for a further 15 minutes.
4. Serve with a sprinkle of herb + crusty bread. Why not?

 

Detox Winter Vegetable Quinoa Bowl with Cranberries + Pumpkin Seeds

roasted veg

I feel quite sorry for brussel sprouts, they have a hard life. First off, they are a hugely love/hate food and brussel sprout haters seem to feel strongly about these poor green vegetables, like there’s hatred there!! The other reason why I feel sorry for brussel sprouts is they only come out once per year for a little christmas festivity + are generally always just a token at the dinner table. I propose we grow more and eat more sprouts outside of the festive season and secondly to promote the poor brussel sprout to something other than a side to a piece of meat. Don’t get me wrong, I like a side of sprouts, especially dipped in ketchup (is that wrong?) but I just think we’re selling them short that’s all. There are endless ways to celebrate sprouts and get more involved.

roasted sprout quinoa salad

How about a winter vegetable quinoa bowl?

Hail to brussel sprouts in curries, stir fries, roasted vegetable dishes, veggie skewers, salads and vegetable hash. They are versatile little buggers.roasted veg sprout quinoa salad

These are a super dietary form of vitamin and mineral antioxidants which helping to address chronic and excessive inflammation, they provide fantastic cardiovascular support with their powerful cholesterol lowering properties and being super detoxing they’re ideal for the excesses of the holiday season. But don’t wait ’til any holiday season to enjoy the deliciousness. Have this now and detox the tasty way!

quinoa sprout veg

Winter vegetable quinoa bowl with cranberries + pumpkin seeds

(serves 2)

2 cups brussel sprouts, cut in half
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
2 cups chestnut mushrooms, cut in half
1 red onion, chopped into segments
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt + pepper
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
herbs + lemon juice for dressing

method:

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Prepare vegetables + spread evenly on a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season + roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven when softened + starting to brown.
2. Add the quinoa, pumpkin seeds + cranberries to a large serving bowl. Fold through the roasted vegetables, add a squeeze of lemon + adjust the seasoning.
3. Serve dressed with extra seeds + cranberries.

Mushroom, Kale + Rice Stuffed Pumpkin

pumpkin stuffed This is a Christmas recipe that’s coming a little late but that really doesn’t matter as this is so good it should never just come out just once a year! What is all that about anyway – people’s favourite foods and extra effort recipes coming out on just those special occasions! I just think we should all be eating delicious food we love all year round……or is that just me?

Anyway, every year Russ’s family have a boxing day tradition with another family to meet up every year for a big festive boxing day meal and it doesn’t actually have to be on boxing day either, in fact this year’s is 11 days before boxing day!!! I have missed the last 4, yes 4 because I generally try to be somewhere lovely over the Xmas period but this year it’s early and I get to go which is generally good news! The day is usually pretty fun and a great opportunity to catch up with friends and family whilst playing silly games and eating a lot including copious amounts of meat, cheese and wine. Hard times for me. Not eating meat, cheese or being a huge wine drinker makes me look a little strange amongst a room full of people who bond over their love of cheese and a mighty lamb shank. Plus I swear I get ‘blamed’ for Russ’s plant based lifestyle!! Yep blame, cos that’s just what it feels like in such a meat focused environment, Arrrrrhhhh!!!

pumpkin stuffed
So we’ve been asked to take our ‘veggie’ boxing day meal as I think it’s all too much for people who relish huge hunks of meat and wedges of every cheese known to man! I don’t mean it in a bad way but people tend to be a bit freaked out when you announce your vegan status! Anyway, it’s such a pleasure to take this mushroom, kale + stuffed pumpkin extravaganza because not only is it utterly delicious, but in my opinion she’s a bit of a show stopper! Pumpkin should never be just a side but rather the star of the show! That’s why I made four cos I just know that others will be wanting some as a side to their lamb. Quietly weeping.

pumpkin stuffed

This is wholegrain, contains 3 servings of veggies, is packed full of vitamins and minerals + an excellent source of protein. Merry Christmas. And a happy new year of course!

pumpkin stuffed

Not to mention it is utterly delicious spiked with white wine, earthy mushrooms, sweet cranberries, crunchy seeds encased in gooey sweet pumpkin flesh. Oh lord. This is proper winter food. Christmas food. Everyday food.

Mushroom, kale + rice stuffed pumpkin

(serves 2/3)

1 medium culinary pumpkin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
2 cups of chestnut mushrooms
2 large handfuls kale, torn
juice + zest of half lemon
salt + pepper
1 glass of white wine
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups cooked wholegrain rice

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Prepare pumpkin by slicing the top off to create a lid + scoop out all the seeds.
2. Meanwhile heat the olive oil over a medium heat + gently fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms + kale until softened. Add the lemon, seasoning + white wine, continue to cook until the alcohol has burned off.
3. Stir through the remaining ingredients + transfer the mixture to the empty pumpkin. Place the lid back on + bake for 45-60 minutes. The skin should be browned + soft when a sharp knife is inserted.
4. Serve immediately + knock their socks off.

The Ultimate Vegetarian Lasagne with Roasted Romano Pepper + Pumpkin

Roasted red pepper + pumpkin lasagneRuss and me cook together every night. Occasionally one of us will suggest we’ll cook alone to free the other up but we just kind of like cooking together. We enjoy it, it’s relaxing, plus it takes half the time and we get to chat about our day whilst chopping, stirring and getting ready to eat fabulous food. The thing is, yeah it’s a habit but a good one surely – well you gotta eat and we get to feast on delicious, fresh and nutritious meals every night. Cooking together is a lot more fun than cooking alone but we seem to have definitely assigned ourselves set roles, Russ does most of the chopping and salad bits and I crack on with the actual cooking, timings, table arranging, flavours and cleaning. Well we both share the cleaning but I’m starting to think I got the raw end of the deal being a slave to the hob! I’d challenge Russ to swap with me but his knife skills are too good and I always prefer salads made by another! We’ve both just slipped into these roles and seem to get on with them like a well oiled machine- funny how habits form over time without us really noticing. Maybe I’ll challenge him to get down and dirty with the cooking whilst I sharpen my knife skills….yeah maybe. He can keep the bathroom cleaning duties though, I don’t want to share that one or bin change day!Slice of lasagne

I adore vegetarian lasagne but I don’t buy into complicated lasagnes at all. To me, the most important aspects are the flavours and good quality pasta sheets. I’ve made a full on traditional lasagne from scratch before and it seemed to take an age, but this recipe is just perfect and takes less time, especially if you’ve pre roasted vegetables to hand. I have to say when cooking in tandem (Hi Russ!) there really isn’t any recipe that’s too much so I really have no excuses. However, this is so jam packed full of fresh and vibrant ingredients it really doesn’t need a lot of fuss and time.Roasted vegetables

I use a cheats white sauce to quicken the lasagne process further and only spread this on the top layer as opposed to traditionally distributed throughout. I find this enough but if you prefer a creamier dish then just double the creme fraiche mixture and add to as many of the layers as you like. The roasted vegetables give this lasagne a beautifully sweet flavour, transforming the plain old chopped tomatoes into a sweet, rich and extremely moreish sauce. I like to add a little chili for a spicier version, actually I add chili to almost everything so just ignore me.Lasagne - ready for assembly!

Here is a fact and an opinion: Fact first, this is much healthier than traditional meat lasagnes. The tomatoes, peppers and pumpkin make this dish extremely nutrient dense and the cheese, creme fraiche and lentils provide an excellent protein content too. Now opinion, well I believe this is tastier than any other lasagne by miles, meat or non meat. It’s the ultimate vegetarian lasagne.

Do you have quirky routines/habits around cooking?Lasagne + Russ' salad is perfection

The ultimate vegetarian lasagne

(serves 2 hungry people)

200 grams pasta sheets (I used gluten free)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 romano peppers
2 cups cubed pumpkin or squash
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon, oregano + thyme
1 white onion, chopped finely
1 can chopped tomatoes + 1 can water
1/2 cup lentils
chopped parsley

cheat’s white sauce:
1 cup creme fraiche + a little water to loosen
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup mozzarella, grated

1. Pre-heat oven to 190ºC. Place whole peppers + squash in an square 12″ oven proof dish. Season + drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil + roast for 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil, add the onion, garlic + seasonings stirring until fragrant + translucent. Add the tomatoes + water, keep on a low simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are roasted.
3. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven. Peel the skins off the peppers (they should fall off) + chop roughly. Add both to the tomato sauce.
4. In a small bowl, combine the creme fraiche with a little water + stir through the parmesan. It should be a pourable consistency.
5. Assemble the lasagne in the square dish starting with a base layer of sauce, followed by the lasagne sheets. Continue for 3 layers of tomato base + pasta. Pour the white sauce over the assembled lasagne + place in the oven for 30 – 45 minutes depending on pasta sheets used.
6. Remove 5 minutes before the end + add the mozzarella. Place bake in the oven until the cheese is lightly browned + bubbling. Serve immediately with a big salad + garlic baguette.

Keep refrigerated, delicious eaten cold + freezable on day of making.

10 Minute Fig, Walnut + Lemon Thyme Fusilli

The most delicious ingredientsSo I was gonna start this post by sharing those cherished italian memories forged during the year I lived and loved in Florence but then I realised I’ve never lived in Italy and this is but a dream! So naturally, I’m going to share information on smells and my love affair with garlic.

What is it about garlic that does this to me?! The aroma of garlic gently sizzling in olive oil has got to be my all time favourite smells. I joke with Russ that you could fry any inedible and gross food or non-food (don’t ask) in garlic and I’d eat it! We end up listing a load of rancid, disgusting ‘things’ whilst agreeing that garlic would more than likely make it irresistible! Sometimes I think we’re quite immature for our age.  There’s one smell I like more than just garlic and that’s garlic and white wine cooking together – oh my god, this does it for me big time. I’m quite the garlic fan which is just as well as when we lived in Korea we were served a lot of raw garlic and I got very involved.DSC_7068

This 10 minute fig, walnut + lemon thyme beauty has a good hit of garlic and is one of my favourite pasta dishes. I got out of the pasta habit for a while there and I’m wondering why this happened to me. Maybe it was pasta overload whilst at university because this was definitely my staple food. Or maybe it’s the wheat and gluten ‘cos I don’t like too much of that either. But really I think I just forgot how good italian pasta dishes can be with so few simple ingredients. It’s comfort food which can also be nourishing when combined with the right ingredients. I’m a big fan of spelt spaghetti (less gluten) and also brown rice varieties so I use these when avoiding gluten overload. This fig, walnut + lemon thyme dish is enough to get me back on pasta track though. The simplicity, the flavours and the aroma are so good;  sweet figs, earthy and  creamy walnuts mingling with white wine and garlic infused fusilli.Delicious fig, walnut, wine + lemon thyme fusilli

It’s healthy too, the walnuts and olive oil make this a pasta that’s packed full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats. A good fat that helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels, lowers the risk of heart disease and helps to regulate our blood sugar and insulin levels. The figs are a great source of potassium and fibre and  help to reduce high blood pressure. But really figs are just beautiful, I think they’re one of the prettiest fruits around making this dish easy on the eye! Oh yes, another thing – if you use wholegrain gluten free pasta such as brown rice, whole wheat or spelt you’ll be getting an extremely fibre rich meal which will satiate, keep you full for longer and regulate blood sugar levels. This is a perfect lunchtime or evening meal with a little italian inspiration on the side.

So, what are your favourite cooking smells?Fusilli + wine = delicious

 

10 minute fig, walnut + lemon thyme fusilli

(serves 2)

150 grams fusilli
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small glass white wine
2 figs, sliced
50 grams walnuts, toasted
generous sprinkle lemon thyme
parmesan, to serve
salt & pepper

1. Place the fusilli in salted boiling water & cook according to packet instructions.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat & add the garlic, cooking until fragrant. Stir in the figs & add the white wine, allowing to simmer until the alcohol burns off, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the thyme, walnuts & cooked pasta stirring through to fully incorporate.
4. Transfer to large serving bowls. Serve with a scattering of extra thyme & a generous sprinkle of parmesan

Healthy Moroccan Chickpea Stew

tagine collage
I am in love with Moroccan cuisine. In fact I love everything about Morocco from my favourite leather handbag, to the vibrant throw that adorns my sofa to the ceramic bowls I fill with salsas and sauces. See, I like this country a lot!  Did I mention there’s something special about the food too?

Culinary discoveries are one of the highlights of travel and when visiting Morocco several years back I was overwhelmed by the colours, aromas, tastes and general sensory attack from the exotic, sweet, delicate but sometimes pungent flavours that filled the air in markets and cafes. Morocco is a country that overloads the senses. I spent days wondering the bustling medinas mesmerised by daily life, spending hours mingling in markets, squeezing pass tables of mountainous of red, yellow, brown and orange spices, and others close to toppling with juicy plump olives. I found myself lost in huge markets, wondering sprawling alleyways overspilling with fresh vibrant produce. I took the time to learn about these new foods and spices whilst loitering to observe the daily hustle and bustle of daily life. I took great pleasure in the bread section watching locals toss balls of soft flexible dough ready for the oven. Once charred these unbelievable pitta breads were served with my favourite fruity, spicy but delicate fresh tagines.

knife, board, chop!
Knife, board, chop!

In Morocco tagines were usually served with a side of salad, olives and as much fresh pitta as I could eat (dangerous!). It really was the most colourful, tasty and satisfying meal, perfect after hours of idling and bartering for leathers and silks.. I ate tagines most days and decided that I wanted to start making Moroccan food myself on my return home.

Once back in the UK I was keen to put my newly purchased spices and amazing culinary experiences to good use and began experimenting. I wasn’t looking for 100% authenticity but rather a dish to remind me of Morocco and my memorable experiences. This is pretty much a one-pot wonder and doesn’t the authentic tagine dish.  Over the years I’ve played around with the spices and order of vegetables into the pan as sweet potato cooks much quicker than carrot, however when the potato does break down it adds a lovely thick consistency and smooth sweetness to the whole stew. Parsnips seem to hold their own as does squash so I don’t worry too much when keeping it simmering on the hob. It really doesn’t matter and that’s why I love this dish because it never seems to go wrong….well not yet anyhow! It’s all about personal tastes.

I like adding peas towards the end for the pretty contrast it creates against the warm orangey/yellow and red tones. Chickpeas go in last to avoid them hardening too much….nobody likes bulletesque chick peas!

Delicious served with a mint yoghurt dip, a crisp green salad and warm baguette. This is my heaven. Where is your favourite country in terms of cuisine?

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

(serves 2)

1 onion, peeled & chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
thumb sized ginger, chopped finely
salt & pepper
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 cup of squash, peeled & cubed
1 parsnip, peeled & chopped
10 apricots, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled & chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin & cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric &  paprika
1 tin of tomatoes & 1 tin of water
juice and zest of 1/2 an Orange
generous pouring of peas
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
small handful of coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Add the oil to the pan and soften the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the carrot, parsnip, squash and continue softening for 5 minutes. Add the apricots, sweet potato, spices, tomatoes, water, orange juice and zest and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Stir through the peas, chickpeas and coriander and heat through thoroughly.

Pick ‘n’ Mix Bubble & Squeak

Don’t you just love leftovers? Cold pizza, cheesy pasta, pesto pasta, tomato pasta, lasagne (any pasta!), curries that somehow taste better the next day, roasted veg stuffed into wraps, cold oats and even stodgy cold pies.  In fact I quite like cold food generally and I certainly hate piping hot food; like the kind of food that destroys the roof of your mouth! You know that that horrid realisation that yep you just did it, that cheese pizza you’ve chomped down on has just scorched your palate and now you have no palate because everything you eat for the next 2 days will taste of nothing! So cold food is fine with me but we were talking about leftovers weren’t we?

yes, this really is made from leftovers!
Yes, this really is made from leftovers!

Bubble and squeak is the perfect next day recipe to use your leftover vegetables. I love this so much that sometimes I boil up veggies especially but it tends to work best with veggies straight from the fridge.

lovely leftovers
Breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Traditionally potato, carrots and something green such as cabbage or sprouts make up a bubble ‘n’ squeak. I adore sprouts (yep you heard right!) so use them lots but any green vegetable or potato will work. Other great options are swede, kale, collards, parsnip – you get the picture and i’m sure you don’t need a lesson in vegetables. Adding peas, sweetcorn or a cheeky sprinkle of crushed chill all add to the aesthetic appeal!

So pick ‘n’ mix your leftover veggies and add to fried onion in a non stick pan. Push the mixture down with a spatula and crisp on one side. The hardest part is turning the cake over but you can cheat by brushing the top with oil and grilling! Or failing that, don’t fill the whole pan but make mini bubble and squeaks.

Serve hot, not cold and definitely not piping hot! I love this with a couple of eggs or some mature cheese and always copious amounts of ketchup.

Bubble & Squeak

(serves 2)

1 onion chopped
2 tablespoons of oil
bowlful of mashed potato
bowlful of leftover vegetables (pick ‘n’ mix but carrot and cabbage work great)
salt & pepper
Optional: Chilli & Cheese

Method:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a non stick pan and soften the onion. Meanwhile add the leftover veggies, season and work together to combine.
  2. Squash the mixture down with a spatula and brown/crisp on one side.
  3. Turn the mixture over and crisp on the second side. You can use a chopping board to turn the pan onto or grill the top. Add cheese if you wish to.
  4. Divide into desired portions and serve immediately.