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Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Risotto Primavera

This risotto isn’t laden with cheese and butter like so many other recipes and so a good option for a weeknight and full of Spring flavours. We left out the chives and rocket as we didn’t have them but we’ve kept them in the recipe as they would make nice additions.

Wine Suggestion: this was delightful with a young white Muscadet from Domaine de la Chauviniere, but we can see it working with youthful Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner as well.

Risotto Primavera – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 350g asparagus, snap of the woody ends and cut into 5cm lengths on the diagonal
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 175g frozen peas
  • 250g frozen broad beans
  • 2 tbsp shredded basil
  • 2 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1.7 litres vegetable stock (we used Marigold vegetable bouillon)
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 25g Parmesan, grated
  • 25g rocket leaves, to garnish

Heat half the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Stir-fry the asparagus over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until browned all over. Add the scallions and fry for another minute or two until browned. Remove these with a slotted spoon, season with pepper, and set aside.

Cook the peas and broad beans in separate pans of boiling water for a few minutes, then drain. Pop the broad beans out of their skins and set both aside.

Mix the basil, chives, mint and lemon zest together in a small bowl and season with pepper.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep over a very low heat.

Pour the rest of the oil into the pan that you used to cook the asparagus. Add the shallots and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two over a medium-high heat or until it starts to sizzle.

Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Now start gradually adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep adding stock for about 20 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Season with pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add an extra ladle of stock, then scatter over the vegetables, some pepper, half the herb & lemon mixture and half the cheese. Cover with a lid and leave to rest for a few minutes. Gently stir to combine, then serve in warmed bowls some rocket and the rest of the herbs and cheese sprinkled over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Pea & New Potato Curry

We’ve cooked pretty much everything from scratch since lockdown but tonight we treated ourselves to a naan bread from the local takeaway. Every evening they fire up the tandoor and we get the most delicious smells in our back garden. This is an easy curry which is perfect for a weeknight.

Wine Suggestion: a local Lager was our choice tonight, from the White Gypsey Brewery in Tipperary. Their Munich Lager is light and fresh but with a real character and personality.

Pea & new potato curry – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp Madras curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 750g new potatoes, halved or quartered
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 500ml natural yoghurt, full-fat so less likely to split
  • a small bunch of coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped, but kept separate
  • 200-300ml veg stock
  • 300g frozen peas
  • lime wedges and naan breads, to serve

Before you start, put the potatoes in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly tender – they’ll continue to cook in the curry. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the onions and cook for 10-15 minutes over a gentle heat. Add the chillies, ginger and spices, and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the potatoes and lime juice and stir to coat in the spices.

Add the yoghurt, coriander stalks and stock. Simmer gently for 35-40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce reduced (we put the lid on for a few minutes at the end as the sauce was reduced enough). Keep the temperature low as the yoghurt can easily split. Stir through the peas and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with the coriander leaves sprinkled over and lime wedges and naan breads on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Smoky Butter Beans & Greens

We’re eating our way through lockdown but still making a vague attempt at keeping healthy on weekdays. This approach has been slightly more successful this week than others! We used some leftover chard for this but spring greens would also be good and it’s pretty much store-cupboard stuff after that.

Wine Suggestion: given the mild nature of this dish it weirdly works with Prosecco Rosé made from the Raboso grape. Raboso can be fierce and awkward, especially made as a red wine, but the light extraction of colour and addition of residual sugar in Prosecco can (but not always) make a charming, food friendly wine; choosing a good producer is suggested.

Smoky butter beans & greens – serves 4

  • 200g brown rice
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g spring greens or chard, roughly chopped (if using chard, cut out the stalks and chop into short lengths, then roughly chop the leaves)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • natural yoghurt, to serve

Rinse and cook the rice. We use a rice cooker but you can cook in a pot according to the pack instructions or cook in salty boiling water for 20-25 minutes, then drain.

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan with a lid. Add the greens, season with plenty of salt and pepper, then cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring now and then, until wilted (if you are using chard, add the stalks first and cook for a few minutes before adding the leaves).

Add the garlic and cook without the lid for a few minutes, stirring. Add the butterbeans and stir until heated through, then add another tbsp of olive oil, the cumin seeds  and the smoked paprika. Stir to combine and allow the flavours to come together, then serve over the rice with some natural yoghurt.

(Original recipe by Celia Brooks Brown in BBC Good Food Magazine, May 2010.)

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Lentil & Lemon Pasta

We loved this! Something a bit different when we’re all fed up with our usual pasta staples. Also perfect for using leftover coriander, which seems to be an almost permanent feature in our veg drawer. Of course you can use whatever pasta you happen to have. The original recipe suggested fettuccine, we used trofie – no matter.

Wine Suggestion: a simple white that veers towards texture rather than ripe fruit is your match for this. We had a La Piuma (meaning feather) Pecorino Terre di Chieti from the western coat of central Italy. Pecorino was an obscure local variety of grape, but one we increasingly suggest and drink and think it has a great future; a charmer.

Lentil & lemon fettuccine – serves 4

  • 140g Puy lentils or brown lentils
  • 300g dried pasta
  • 50g butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • large handful of coriander, leaves and stems roughly chopped
  • 150g Greek yoghurt

Rinse the lentils in a sieve, then put into a medium saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tender (careful not to overcook as we did). Add plenty of salt about 10 minutes into the cooking time. Drain and keep warm.

Cook the pasta, then drain and return to the pan. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion until lightly golden, then stir in the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir the lentils, onion and garlic, lemon zest and juice, coriander and yoghurt into the cooked pasta. Finish with plenty of black pepper.

(Original recipe by Celia Brooks Brown in BBC Good Food Magazine, May 2010.)

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Chachouka

This is the second version of this we’ve done in the last few weeks. Both times inspired by two extra peppers in a pack when we only needed one. This version is more caramelised and uses less fresh ingredients but it also takes a lot longer to cook. We loved the addition of saffron too.

You can cook the sauce the night before if you like  or keep half of it for the following day. You just need to reheat, then crack in the eggs and bake.

Chachouka – serves 4

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp hot smoked paprika
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • 400g tin plum tomatoes, squeeze with your hands to break them up as you add to the dish
  • 4 eggs

Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan, then add the cumin seeds and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are soft and wilted. Add the paprika and saffron, then the tomatoes and some seasoning. Cook gently for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. If you can’t put your pan in the oven just transfer the sauce into a baking dish. Make holes in the mixture and gently break in the eggs (easier if you break into a mug first). Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the eggs are set but the yolk still runny.

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Rearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

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Guacamole

We have a stash of chilli in the freezer which makes for perfect Friday night food. We like our chilli with a ridiculous number of extras including grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh coriander, lime wedges, tortilla chips, rice or jacket potatoes and a big bowl of guacamole. Do not feel limited to serving this with a chilli either as we’ll spread this on toast, have with jacket potatoes or tortillas, or whenever the notion takes us.

Guacamole – serves 4

  • ¼ white onion, chopped
  • 25g fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 big green chilli, chopped, leave in the seeds
  • 4 small avocados, roughly chopped
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • juice of ½ lime

Put the onion, most of the coriander and the chilli in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt and grind to a paste.

Add the avocados to the pestle and mortar with the rest of the coriander, the oregano and the lime juice. Pound until mixed and chunky, then season to taste with some more salt or lime.

Serve with chilli or on top of toast.

(Original recipe from Where the Wild Cooks Go by Cerys Matthews, Penguin Books, 2019.)

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Cheddar Cheese Risotto

We found Nigella Express on our bookshelves and thought it might be useful these days when we’re looking for simplicity and store cupboard ingredients. This is Nigella’s Cheddar cheese risotto that we made with some limp looking scallions and the dregs from a packet of chives. Also popular with the 6 year old.

Wine Suggestion: A full-bodied white with texture, depth and importantly a freshness to make it feel lighter than the body and rich food demand. Our choice the Rustenberg Chardonnay, a stand-by exemplar of an oaked Chardonnay.

Cheddar cheese risotto – serves 2 adults and 1 child

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a few scallions, chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 125ml white wine
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 125g cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives

Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan, then add the scallions and cook until softened.

Pour in the rice and stir for a minute so the rice is all coated in the butter and oil.

Turn up the heat, then add the Dijon mustard and white wine. Keep stirring until the wine has been absorbed.

Gradually add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another. Keep going like this until the rice is al dente – about 18 minutes.

Stir in the cubes of cheese and keep stirring until the cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning, then ladle into warm bowls. Top with some chives if you have them.

(Original recipe from Nigella Express, Chatto & Windus, 2007.)

 

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Shakshuka

We needed a green pepper for another dish, but could only get a mixed bag of three leaving us with a red and yellow pepper needing to be used. The clocks have changed and so we had brunch, very unusual in this house where our human alarm clocks goes off at 6am most days. Jono has been mastering a new skill and so we had this with freshly baked sourdough. Don’t think we’ll be eating another bite until this evening!

Shakshuka – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil (we used olive oil)
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 400g tin of cherry tomatoes
  • 115g baby spinach (we used frozen spinach, boil for a minute or two to wilt, then drain, squeeze out water with hands and chop)
  • 4 medium eggs
  • ½ small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • ½ small bunch of dill, roughly chopped (we didn’t have any dill but used some fennel fronds)

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the onions and peppers and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the garlic and spices and stir for another minute, then add the tomatoes, spinach and 100ml of water. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Make four indentations in the mixture and gently crack an egg into each one (we find it easier to crack the eggs into mugs and pour them in). Cover with a lid or foil and cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes or until the eggs are just set. Scatter over the herbs and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli Pasta Bake

We’ve been cooking pretty much as usual since Covid-19 struck and we’ve all had to stay home. We are trying even harder than usual though to use what we already have. The only fresh ingredient you need here is broccoli, we used purple sprouting as it’s in season but any broccoli will do. Hopefully you have everything else in your cupboard or fridge already, if not the corner shop should have it.

Wine Suggestion: a simple white wine with a bit of freshness and texture is all that is needed here. Our selection is the Macchialupa Falanghina from Benevento in Campania, Italy, which over delivers but is joyfully fresh and vibrant.

PSB and Pasta Bake – serves 4

  • 250-300g broccoli, cut into florets (we use stalks and all)
  • 250-300g penne pasta (or whatever short pasta you have)
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 large handfuls of grated Cheddar cheese (or any leftover cheese)
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard (or any mustard)

Cook the pasta in loads of salty boiling water and add the broccoli for the last 4 minutes. Drain and leave to steam dry in the pot.

Make a cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour. Keep stirring for a minute, then gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring all the time. Keep stirring now until the mixture bubbles, then leave to simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mustard, one large handful of cheese and plenty of seasoning.

Tip the cooked pasta and broccoli into the sauce and stir gently. Tip into an ovenproof dish and put under a hot grill for a few minutes until browned and bubbling.

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Paneer Tikka Masala

Being thankful for sunshine and all we have this evening. The clocks will change tomorrow and hopefully things will take a turn for the better soon. In the meantime stay at home and eat well. This is super straightforward but flavour-packed! Serve with steamed basmati rice and naan bread from your local takeaway.

Wine Suggestion: A lager style beer. To be a little “craft”, even though they’ve been brewing since 1824, we chose the C&A Veltins Grevensteiner Helles which had character and smoothness in equal proportions.

Paneer tikka masala – serves 3

  • 3 tbsp curry powder (the recipe suggests tikka curry powder, we had hot so that’s what we got)
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 200g paneer, cut into small cubes
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 400g passata
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • a knob of butter
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • steamed basmati rice and naan bread (to serve)

Mix the 1 tbsp of the curry powder and the yoghurt together in a bowl, then stir in the paneer and peppers and leave to marinade while you make the sauce.

Heat the oil in a pan, then add the onion and cook until soft and starting to brown a little. Add the ginger and garlic and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of curry powder and stir until fragrant, then stir in the passata, tomato purée and sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the cream and cook for another couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to high. Spread the paneer and pepper out over a non-stick baking tray or a tray lined with foil, then place under the grill until charred and sizzling. Turn everything over to brown on both sides.

Tip the panner and peppers into the sauce, add a knob of butter, the coriander and some seasoning and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve the curry with rice and naan.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, March 2020)

 

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Mushroom, Cider & Blue Cheese Soup

We made this soup on the strangest St Patrick’s day ever. There was no parade, the restaurants have all closed down and city streets are virtually empty. There is lots of panic buying going on, the supermarket aisles for tinned goods and toilet rolls have been decimated. We’re not down though, we’re positive we’ll all get through this and hopefully be stronger and better people on the other side. We’re continuing to buy fresh food, there’s lots of it available, and cook nice recipes like this soup by Gill Meller.

Mushroom, cider & blue cheese soup – serves 4 to 6

  • 500g wild and cultivated mushrooms (we used all chestnut mushrooms as it’s not autumn and wild ones aren’t available)
  • 25g butter, plus an extra bit, for frying
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 750ml veg stock or chicken stock
  • 250ml dry cider
  • 100ml double cream
  • 75g blue cheese, plus extra to serve if you like
  • a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped, to serve

Clean the mushrooms with a damp piece of kitchen paper and roughly chop them but keep about 100g over to fry and use as a garnish. The mushrooms for the garnish can be sliced.

Melt the butter in a large pan with a splash of olive oil, over a medium heat. When it starts to foam, add the leek, potato, onion and garlic. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the onion is soft but not browned. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the stock, cider and some seasoning, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Purée the soup until smooth (or smoothish if you’re using a stick blender).

Add the cream and blue cheese to the soup and gently return to a simmer. Season to taste and keep warm over a very low heat.

Heat a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a frying pan and sauté the reserved mushrooms for 8 to 10 minutes or until well cooked and golden brown. Season the mushrooms.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with the mushrooms and parsley sprinkled over. You can also sprinkle over some more crumbled blue cheese if you like.

(Original recipe from Time by Gill Meller, Quadrille, 2018.)

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Paneer, Tomato and Kale Saag

This is from Meera Sodha’s amazing veggie book, East. We have Meera’s Indian recipe books and we often cook the recipes she writes for the Guardian. This book has an Eastern, but not exclusively Indian, influence and the recipes are mouthwateringly good. We’ve noticed people have mixed reactions towards kale, if you’re on the fence we reckon this is probably the best kale-based dish we’ve ever eaten. We served with naan bread from the local takeaway.

Panner, tomato & kale saag – serves 4

  • 500g kale, discard the stems and roughly chop the rest
  • rapeseed oil
  • 450g paneer, cut into 2cm dice (if you’re buying 200g packs just buy 2)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp brown rice syrup (we used runny honey)
  • 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk

Blitz the kale in a food processor and chop it very finely. Unless your food processor is huge you will need to do a few batches.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan, that you have a lid for. Fry the cubes of paneer for a couple of minutes on each side or until they have taken on a nice golden colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat another 2 tbsp of oil in the same pan and cook the onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the tin of tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until reduced to a paste. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and honey (or brown rice syrup) and mix in well.

Stir in a handful of kale at a time. It will seem like you have too much but it will wilt in perfectly. Stir in the coconut milk, then bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Add the paneer to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes with the lid on. Keep an eye that it doesn’t dry out and add a splash of water if necessary.

Taste to check that it has all come together and the kale is tender. Remove from the heat and serve with warm naan bread.

(Original recipe from East by Meera Sodha, Penguin Books, 2019.)

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Mushroom Stroganoff

This is a healthy dish but it tastes really good and quick to cook so perfect for mid-week. We served with brown basmati but you use wild rice (or white rice of course).

Wine suggestion: really good with an earthy red wine and tonight it was off the beaten track, courtesy of a holiday last year to the Jura. Stephane Tissot’s Vieilles Vignes (old vine) Poulsard provided the answer. Lighter bodied but full of character and personality; we’re sorry we don’t see more of these, a thoroughly un-modern and thirst quenching wine.

Mushroom Stroganoff – serves 2

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 300g mushrooms, chopped
  • 150ml beef stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp half-fat sour cream – I’m pretty sure we will have just used full fat here, not being fans of half-fat anything!
  • small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  • 250g cooked rice (you can use one of those pouches if cooked rice if you like)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and paprika, then cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to the boil, bubble for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens, then turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream and most of the parsley. Don’t do this over the heat or your sauce could split.

Serve with warm rice and the rest of the parsley.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Monastery Soup

The second Bulgarian recipe we’ve cooked from Black Sea by Caroline Eden and one of the best soups we’ve had in ages. We think it’s the combination of sweet peppers and parsnip with the spicy broth that makes it so good. Serve with a good slick of olive oil and a dollop of sour cream on top.

Monastery Soup – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large red or yellow pepper, diced very finely
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 parsnip, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 700ml veg stock
  • a tin of haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • a tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • flat-leaf parsley & mint, chopped (to serve)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (to serve)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream or crème fraîche (to serve, optional but good)

Warm the sunflower oil in a large pot, then add the pepper, onion, parsnip and carrot with some salt. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

Add the paprika, chilli flakes, garlic and some black pepper and continue to cook for another few minutes. Add the stock and beans and turn up the heat. When the soup starts to boil, turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through (try one of the carrots). Remove from the heat and divide between warm bowls. Sprinkle over the herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. A spoon of sour cream on top is also really good.

(Original recipe Black Sea by Caroline Eden, Quadrille, 2018)

 

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Fusilli with Chestnut Mushrooms, Leeks and Mascarpone Cheese

This pasta sauce can literally be made in the same time as it takes to boil the pasta. The recipe is easily halved for two and therefore good for using up mascarpone.

Wine Suggestion: A tasty supper like this pairs well with unoaked Chardonnay, particularly from slightly cooler areas like the Maçon in Burgundy. Tonight’s choice, the Domaine Manciat-Poncet Maçon-Charnay which has a fresh joy to it with red apples and citrus flavours.

Fusilli with chestnut mushrooms, leeks and mascarpone cheese – serves 4

  • 45g butter
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 4 pinches of cayenne pepper
  • 400g fusilli pasta
  • plenty of freshly grated Parmesan to serve

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the butter and allow to melt. When the butter is foaming add the mushrooms, leeks and garlic and fry for 5 minutes.

Add the mascarpone and cook for another minute or so, stirring continuously. Stir in the chives and cayenne pepper, then season carefully with salt and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in lots of salty water according to the timings on the pack, then drain and return to the same pan.

Pour the mushroom sauce into the pasta pan and stir together for 30 seconds before dividing between warm bowls.

Sprinkle over the Parmesan and serve.

(Original recipe Gino’s Pasta by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2010.)

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Vegan Achari Brussels Sprout Curry

Sprouts are not just for Christmas. They’ll be around for ages yet and we love them. This is also a useful dish for those choosing a spell of Veganism. Serve with yoghurt (non-dairy if you wish) and naan breads.

Wine Suggestion: tonight we opened a German white lager, the Grevensteiner Naturtrübes Helles. A slightly cloudy and smooth beer with fruit hints and a refined malty touch. This has character and roundness and is a good foil to the curry and a compliment to the Brussels.

Vegan Achari Brussels Sprout Curry – serves 2

  • 750g brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered or halved depending on size
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 green chillies, very finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Bash the mustard, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds together in a mortar as finely as you can, then stir in the nigella seeds.

Heat a large frying pan, then add 2 tbsp of oil. When hot, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes before adding the spice mix, then continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until the onions are soft and browning. Stir in the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for a few minutes more.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and the salt, then cook for 15 minutes. Add 400ml water and the sprouts, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for until just tender – start checking after 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with lemon juice before serving.

(Original recipe by Meera Sodha in The Guardian, Saturday, 21 December 2019.)

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Spinach Rarebit with Poached Eggs

We sporadically try and make an effort with breakfast on the weekends though more often than not we fall back to poached eggs on toast – not that there is anything wrong with that. This rarebit was nice for a change and we’ll definitely be skipping lunch!

Spinach rarebit with poached eggs – serves 2

  • 100g baby spinach
  • 125g mature cheddar, grated
  • ½ english mustard – we used Dijon
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg yolk, plus 2 eggs for poaching
  • 4 small slices of sourdough
  • rocket dressed with lemon juice to serve

Put the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water, then leave to cool. Squeeze out as much water as you can then chop.

Put the cheddar, mustard, scallions, worcestershire sauce, egg yolk and spinach in a bowl, season and stir to combine.

Poach the eggs in a small pan of simmering water.

Heat the grill to high. Toast the bread on both sides then spread the rarebit mixture over the slices. Grill until golden and bubbling, then top with an egg, plenty of black pepper and some dressed rocket on the side.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in Olive Magazine, December 2019)

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Spiced Crispy Egg & Lentil Curry

This is a great lentil curry but the star of the show is definitely the spiced crispy eggs. We’ll definitely be making these again with other dishes that could do with a crispy egg. Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Wine Suggestion: the spices in this dish will fight with tannins so we’d suggest pairing with a white wine. Our choice this evening was the Chayeau Pesquie Terrasses Blanc, a blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Clairette and Grenache Blanc – a real southern Rhône style blend with fresh stone fruit and citrus flavours.

Spiced crispy egg and lentil curry – serves 4

  • 100g red lentils
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp oil for frying
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 4 cardamom pods, squashed
  • a thumb-sized piece of root ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 green chillies, sliced
  • 100g baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • a small bunch of coriander, chopped

FOR THE CRISPY EGGS

  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp paprika

Put the lentils, onions and tomatoes in a pan with the turmeric and a teaspoon of salt. Add water to just cover, then simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Drop the eggs into boiling water and cook for 7 minutes, then plunge them into iced water and leave to cool.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan, then stir in the cumin, coriander and cardamom. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the cooked lentils and 100ml water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then add the spinach and cook for another 10 minutes.

Peel the eggs and heat the tbsp of oil in a frying pan. Add the eggs, turmeric, paprika and some salt. Cook the eggs until they start to blister and crisp.

Stir the garam masala and fresh coriander into the curry and serve with the halved eggs and some steamed basmati rice.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, December 2017)

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Christmas Nutroast

We made this nut roast in January when we were attempting to go meat-free for a few weeks but still wanted something suitable for Sunday lunch. This would make a great centre-piece for a veggie Christmas dinner and we’d also recommend for any celebratory meal, heaps of flavour and definitely challenged our pre-conceived notions about nut roast. Serve with all the usual trimmings.

Wine Suggestion: given the season we’d suggest a Southern Rhöne red, especially one that has fresh spices in the aromas. The Chateau Pesquie Terrasses rouge we think is sophisticatacted and wholesomely satisfying and a wine rack regular, though a step up at this time of year is needed so we opened a wine from Domaine de la Vieille Julienne. Known for their superb Chateauneuf-du Papes, we instead went for their Cotes du Rhone lieu-dit Clavin which is rich, smooth and powerful; a very sophisticated red indeed and belies it’s lowly classification … a hidden gem.

Christmas Nut Roast – serves 8

  • olive oil
  • 100g quinoa
  • 500g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped into 2cm pie
  • 200g vac-packed chestnuts
  • 2 springs of rosemary
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 large field mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 60g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 120g dried apricots, chopped
  • 150g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 40g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

FOR THE SPICED TOMATO SAUCE:

  • 3 red chillies, halved lengthways but joined at the stalk
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 15g fresh thyme
  • 2 large roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 2 x400g tins of plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°C/gas 4.

Scrunch up a wet sheet of greaseproof paper and use to line all sides of an oiled 1.5 litre loaf tin. Leave an overhang at the ends so you can lift the roast easily out of the tin later.

Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the pack, drain, then leave to cool in a large bowl.

Put the butternut squash, onions and celery into a large roasting tray, crumble in the chestnuts, strip in the rosemary leaves, add the paprika, oregano, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and 2 tbsp of olive oil, then toss well. Roast for 40 minutes, adding the mushrooms for the last 10 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven and tip the vegetables into the quinoa bowl. Finely grate in half the lemon zest, add the breadcrumbs, then add the apricots and nuts. Add the eggs and mix well, then transfer to the lined loaf tin, piling it up high. Roast for 45 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a roasting tray set on the hob over a medium heat. Add the chillies and cinnamon stick and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Remove the chillies and cinnamon and set aside, then add the garlic and most of the thyme leaves and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, tomatoes and a tin full of water, breaking the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon, then add the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally.

Lift the nut roast out of the tin and sit into the sauce, discarding the paper. Sprinkle over the cheese and place one of the chillies on top with a few thyme sprigs and drizzle with a little oil. Return the rest of the chillies and the cinnamon to the sauce and roast for a final 15 minutes, then leave to sit for 5 minutes. Finely chop and stir the chillies into the sauce (according to taste), then slice and serve.

(Original recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, Penguin, 2016.)

 

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Cauliflower & chestnut soup

Got chestnuts? We made this with a vac-pack we still had in the drawer from last Christmas. A really delicious soup and perfect for using a post- or pre-season chestnut surplus!

Cauliflower & Chestnut Soup – serves 4

  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 250ml milk
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • 150ml double cream
  • 200g pack vacuum-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 25g grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the onion and cook gently for 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Add the cauliflower, milk and stock, then bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.

Add the cream, season well, and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the chestnuts, then blend with a hand blender until smooth. Season to taste and serve with shaved Parmesan, lots of black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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