‘This is a paid advertorial with Tesco’
February is a month of two halves for me. Coming off the back of January (which arguably hold the dullest days of the year) February feels like a welcome relief – even more so as we nudge our way towards Spring. After Valentines it’s like we’ve somehow hit our stride again and I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying these brighter, longer days. Cornwall (and Penzance in particular) is especially beautiful at this time of year, so our evening walks along the prom are back on the rota and our menu gets a slight tweaking too. Once that sun begins to make an appearance my mind turns eagerly towards lighter dishes that take very little time to prep … really, what I’m after is a simple ‘construct & go’ affair, which is where this spiralized squash spaghetti recipe with rocket pesto comes into play.
I might make my living as a cookbook author but sometimes there’s nothing nicer than letting someone else do all the hard work for you. Like most people I often turn to the internet for inspiration and Tesco’s ever expanding catalogue of plant based recipes is a super place to start. It’s so incredible to see the interest that vegan food is garnering at present and I am really heartened when a brand like Tesco not only embrace it but also endeavour to make plant based eating that little bit easier.
I’ll always be drawn to savoury dishes first but for those of you with a sweeter tooth than myself there’s everything from triple layered Birthday Cake to moreish Cinnamon & Pecan Pastries to satisfy those cravings … both of which look seriously tempting and, more importantly, seem an absolute cinch to make. Because I’m always pushed for time when it comes to dinner though (heck, who isn’t?) this nifty noodle recipe immediately grabbed my attention. I whipped it up in mere minutes and as it only uses six basic ingredients, it’s incredibly budget friendly too. It went down such a storm with my Husband, he requested I siphon off a little for his lunch the next day, which I promptly popped in a handy weck jar.
It’s funny how sometimes the simpler the meal, the better it’s received. When there’s less stress involved, you can spend more time chatting at the table rather than slaving over the stove – and if you think I’m exaggerating, I have been known to lavish several precious hours over a midweek evening meal, ahem. Because food is my life (and my work) having something tasty on the table in record time is a real treat. I’m pretty sure my Husband appreciates it too – he might not say it but I suspect he’d much rather I was conversing with him than fretting in the kitchen, so recipes like these quickly become go-to’s when I’d rather labour over the socialising than the actual cooking.
And whilst it might not exactly be picnic weather yet (close though, so close!), I’ve already earmarked this dish for taking to the beach or park. I’m getting into the habit of prepping dishes on a Sunday evening (well, trying to) and this is going to make for a delicious addition to my weekly repertoire. I reckon it would make for a wonderful topping to any buddha bowl – grain, greans, beans, you know the drill.
If you fancy giving it a go yourself then follow this link to the recipe page or for more ideas head over to the Real Food Vegan Hub. For this dish you will need a spiralizer, or at the very least, a vegetable peeler, which can be used to make ribbons. I opted for a fine spiral but if you’d like it more ‘spaghetti’ like I’d advise using the slightly larger attachment – both equally delicious, just a slightly different texture. If you can’t get your hands on already toasted hazelnuts then you can simply pop them in a pre-heated oven at 180c for 5-7 mins before transferring them to a clean tea towel. Rub vigorously until the skins are removed an et voila, perfect toasted hazelnuts for your pesto!
Let’s face it, this summer is an absolute wash-out. I’ve been so disgusted with the lack of sunshine that I’ve taken to making comfort food as a emotional remedy to these relentless weather woes. If you follow me on instagram you’ll know that I tucked into a full-on crumble mid-week and here I’ve opted for a warm autumnal squash salad in an attempt to ignore the rain battering the windows outside … it kinda worked. Luckily, we have a new addition to our home in the form of Whinnie the rescue dachshund. We’ve been wanting to rescue a dog for many years now but timing and circumstance meant we’re only getting around to it now … truthfully, I am so glad we waited until we were settled into our current house because this whole situation at present just feels so ‘right’. Being the over-thinker I am, I often worry if I am putting things off unnecessarily but in this instance I know it was sensible to ensure we were in a place where we could offer an animal in need the perfect loving home. Having lived in rentals for years also restricted our ability to adopt a dog, which is why buying our first home felt so liberating … finally we were answerable to no-one.
Having Whinnie around during the day is so unbelievably wonderful … I feel like there is more purpose in my day, which has ultimately resulted in my most productive week in months. Because we’re up slightly earlier and her needs essentially come before our own, I find I’m structuring my day slightly differently to ensure she gets her walks in (plus play and cuddle time) – and because there’s way less time to procrastinate my dwelling tendencies are kept to a minimum and instead I’m simply getting on with the job at hand.
Because I’ve been creatively drained of late (there is a reason for this, I promise!) it’s taken me a couple of months to get properly back in the groove. Thankfully I seemed to have found my rhythm again, which is a relief after a rather depressing lull – when my inspiration is lacking everything in my life suffers … something that can be exasperated when you live in a quiet little corner of the world, particularly when the weather has been downright depressing. Then again, being confined to my kitchen is often when I do my best work … that and limited ingredients usually push me to be more inventive but also force me to simplify dishes, and right now I’m all about simplicity.
griddled squash salad
with blistered grapes and a tangy tahini dressing
what you’ll need
1 butternut squash
1 tsp. sumac plus more for garnish
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper
2 tbsp. light tahini
1/2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1/2 tbsp. agave or other sweetener
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
juice 1/2 lime
pinch of salt
1 small bunch organic black grapes
10g fresh mint
what you’ll need
pre-heat a griddle pan on a medium-high heat. halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and cut into 1cm slices. brush with oil, season withe salt and pepper and dust with sumac. place the slices on the griddle pan and cook for 5-7mins each side, pressing firmly to ensure they are sufficiently seared. transfer to a plate and immediately cover with foil … they will continue to steam and cook through. repeat until all the slices are cooked, tossing in the grapes in the final few minutes until they are blistered but still hold their form.
place the tahini in a bowl along with the pomegranate molasses, agave, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and salt. whisk together until it forms a thick paste before thinning out with a little water … around 2-3 tbsp.
arrange the squash on a large serving platter and scatter over the grapes. finally, drizzle over the tahini dressing before finishing with some finely chopped mint and a smattering of sumac. serve.
I made this salad over a week ago so the details are sketchy to say the least but this is the general jist of the dish … kale meets black beans meets sweet potato. Nothing wild or crazy, juts a solid little salad that will see you right through to autumn and beyond – because it’s technically a warm salad it kind of straddles all seasons, in my opinion. Also, I just felt like posting, even if it’s not perfect or a concrete recipe, it’s gives a better indication of how I actually cook … usually on the fly and with whatever few ingredients I have to hand. Recently I’ve been buying my produce in small batches from our local organic grocers and only going to the supermarket if I really need a specific ingredient that I can’t find elsewhere. Buying local and seasonal (and indeed organic) is becoming increasingly more important to me but I’m also mindful of cost, which is why my dishes probably contain fewer ingredients that they usually do – and truthfully, they might be better for it. Like style, I tend to think food is best when pared back to the essentials with maybe just one unexpected flourish to make it stand apart … this is how I dress and how I cook, in fact – and maybe even how I decorate my home. Speaking of homes, we have been hard at work getting ours into shape. It looks like a wreck still but we can see the progress and I suppose that’s all that matters. We’re focusing on the upstairs at present … working our way down and finishing with the biggest job at hand – the kitchen. For that, we want a handcrafted open-shelving style space, which may or may not come to fruition depending on how much we have left in the budget although we’ve been pretty frugal so far … doing most of the work ourselves means we’ve saved a ton in labour costs. Of course, there are certain things we won’t tackle such as plumbing and plastering but other than that we’re happy to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing pictures of our progress and maybe I’ll do a specific renovation post.
Kale Salad with black beans & za’atar roasted sweet potatoes
with a balsamic orange dressing
what you’ll need
1 large sweet potato
1 heaped tsp. za’atar
zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp. olive oil
sea salt and pepper
for the kale salad
150g kale, leaves stripped
Juice of 1/2 orange
200g pre-cooked black beans
2 tbsp. hemp hearts
salt and pepper
Balsamic & Orange Dressing
1 heaped tsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
juice 1/2 orange
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. agave or coconut palm syrup
pinch of salt and pepper
what you’ll do
Pre-heat the oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6. Peel and cube the sweet potato, and transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle over the za’atar, orange zest, olive oil and season generously. Toss to coat and bake for 30mins until crispy and golden, shaking the pan from time to time.
Tear the kale into bite-size pieces and add to a large mixing bowl. Squeeze over the orange juice, lightly season with salt and pepper and massage the leaves until they begin to soften. Set aside to wilt further in the juice.
Place the dressing ingredients in a bowl and vigorously whisk until it emulsifies. Drain and rinse the black beans and transfer to a small bowl. Pour over half the dressing and gently combine.
Add the black beans to the kale and spoon over the remaining dressing before adding the sweet potatoes and hemp hearts. Toss to combine, sprinkle over a smidge more za’atar and serve.
I’m typing and watching a video simultaneously here. Not the most effective way of writing a blog post but in my defense I’m still trying to arm myself with all the ‘facts’ before this dreaded referendum on Thursday. It probably goes without saying that I’m worried. As in, terrifed. More specifically; ‘quaking in ma boots’, can’t sleep, feel sick/sad and generally despairing at the world. Ya get me? Y’see, I emphatically, desperately (like a toddler clinging to its Mother’s legs) want to remain in Europe but (and truthfully, I’m loathed to even think it) that reality is increasingly looking pretty darn dicey … if any of the endless ‘leave’ comments on the internet are anything to go by anyway. I have to concede I’m surprised at how effective Boris and his cronies have been during this campaign … throughout one particular televised debate I even found myself being semi-convinced by the 350 million a week argument – or maybe it was just a case of ‘if someone says it often enough and loud enough’ you begin to believe it. Know what I mean? And even though I hate getting political (especially on a food blog of all places) this matter is close to my heart – and given that I’m a ‘heart on sleeve’ kinda gal, I honestly couldn’t let this whole debacle drift by without directly addressing it. So here goes.
Guys, we are on the brink on something massive here – and it potentially ain’t good. I’ve listened to the experts (from both sides!) and it’s abundantly clear to me that we are better off ‘in’ the EU. Apart from all the single-market shenanigans (which is more or less over my head) and immigration complications (as if it isn’t complicated enough already) I personally (and perhaps rather selfishly) like being a part of Europe … particularly (especially) as an Northern Irish person living in England. In my opinion, it’s a singularly beautiful unifying identity we all have in common … my Husband is English, I am Irish, but together we are European. I know, totes silly, but that’s how I feel.
And look. I know we’re all concerned about the NHS – Lord knows my family has seen the best and worst of it these last two years but if we think we’re going to protect it by voting ‘leave’ then we are seriously deluded. We are also beyond bonkers if we think Boris and his pals have our best interests at heart and wouldn’t jump at the first chance to privatise our beloved healthcare system. Closer to home (well, my first ‘home’ that is), little old Northern Ireland is going to feel the full force of this EU exit if it in fact comes about. Want to return to the days of borders and checkpoints? Well, your wish could very well be BREXIT’s command. Yup, that’s right. My family will have to go through a whole customs and exiles rigmarole just to get a pint of (dairy-free) milk from Muff – and lets not even think about how much it could potentially destabilise the peace agreement. These are the things that quite literally keep me up at night.
Oh man, this has gotten way serious all of a sudden and I almost feel like I should delete all of the above and keep my mouth firmly shut. But I won’t. I’ll simply leave you with this. No-one knows what will happen if we leave the EU but as with most splits it will likely be full of heartache, bitterness and more. The path will not be smooth and the end result may not be what we had anticipated … there’s no rainbow at the end of this road and there’s no bringing back a post-war Britain full of hope and glory. Impending doom doesn’t feel too far off at this stage and I’m almost resigned to the fact that come Friday morning, I will be clinging to my Irish passport (perks of being born in Norn Iron) reciting the words ‘I’m still a European, I’m still a European … ‘ whilst simultaneously clicking my imaginary sparkly shoe-clad heels. By then the madness will undoubtedly have officially infiltrated the UK at large, leaving half the population in utter despair and wondering where on earth we go from here. Pessimist much? Okay, suffice to say, I am firmly in the remain camp – and not just ’cause I like having the option to roam about Europe at will but because I truly believe we are better/stronger as one European nation and have more to offer unified than apart. Like all slightly dysfunctional families, we might gripe at one another and not always see eye to eye but at the end of the day we’ve got each others backs. Let’s not needlessly throw that away. M’kay? Love you all. Peace out.
What have sushi rolls go to do with this? Absolutely nothing. But they taste flipping delicious and require no sushi rice – just making your maki-roll life that wee bit easier.
what you’ll need
4 nori sheets
1 small head cauliflower
1 spring onion
1 thumbsize piece of ginger
1/2 green chilli
few sprigs of dill
1 large pre-cooked beetroot
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 handfuls spinach
salt and pepper
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
for the quick pickle
1/2 red cabbage
1 large carrot
2 tbsp cider vinegar
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 tbsp agave
few sprigs of dill
for the dip
2 tbsp dairyfree mayo
1 tsp chipotle paste
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 heaped tsp salt
what you’ll do
for the quick pickle, roughly chop the veg and place in a bowl. whisk the cider vinegar, agave, lemon juice and salt together and pour over the chopped veg, stir to combine. finely chop the dill, stir through to coat and set aside to pickle.
place the cauliflower, spring onion, ginger, chilli, dill and a pinch of salt in a food processor. pulse until is looks like rice. set aside.
heat the sesame oil in a skillet and quickly wilt the spinach. season and set aside to cool. squeeze out any excess liquid and roughly mince.
slice the beetroot length-ways.
place the nori sheet on a rolling mat, shiny side down and lightly brush with a little sweet chilli sauce. layer on another nori sheet. spoon over half the cauliflower mix, leaving a section at the top of the wrap for sealing purposes.
near the rolling end, evenly distribute the spinach before layering on the beetroot. season and sprinkle over some chilli flakes.
using the mat tightly roll the sushi wrap away from, squeezing the roll as you go. wet the end section with a little water, seal and set aside with the join underneath.
fill a jug with water and wet a large knife. carefully slice the end piece off the sushi roll and then cut into even maki rolls – be sure to wet/clean the knife between each.
repeat the process using the remaining two nori sheets and plate up.
whisk the mayo, chipotle paste and lemon juice together. serve alongside the sushi and pickle.
Christmas Day. One of the most eagerly awaited holidays of the year. Full of magic and wonder … unless, of course, you happen to be in the kitchen. In which case, that magic and wonder is replaced with sweating and swearing, and vows to be more way prepared next year. Well, next year has arrived folks so it’s time (and believe me, there still is time!) to put those best laid plans into action. Here then is my crucial six-step plan, which will hopefully make Christmas Day just that teeny bit more bearable … please note; copious amounts of wine will still be required.
1. Let’s cut right to the chase. Any decent plan requires a list and here’s how mine tends to play out. It all begins on Christmas Eve – but don’t worry, we’re not spending the whole day in the kitchen, that would just be silly. I want you to be able to savour every moment – but also get yourself a little ahead of the game for tomorrow. I begin with breakfast … that’s Christmas Day brekkie I’m referring to and, in my opinion, baked goods are absolutely the way to go. Pumpkin Bread has become a bit of a tradition in our house, and it means we can open our gifts at leisure. A fresh pot of tea (or cafetiere of coffee) are the perfect accompaniment – maybe a few fresh figs or other fruit to pick on, and you’ve got yourself a delicious festive breakfast that will quash any hunger pangs but still leave plenty of room for that hefty midday (or, in our case, late afternoon) dinner.
Here’s my go-to Pumpkin Bread recipe. Got more people coming? Just double the quantities and divide between two loaf tins. Whammo.
2. Okay, now you’ve made your breakfast bread it’s time to turn your attention to your starter. Trust me, unless you’re happy to faff about in the midst of preparing arguably the biggest/ most important meal of the year then you’ll want this one done and dusted and ready to be re-heated as and when needed. This year, I’ve opted for a seriously simple Chestnut Soup. In the past, I’ve opted for stuffed mushrooms but when you’re cooking for five or six, have limited room in both your fridge and oven, this can be a logistic nightmare. And besides, everyone is going to adore this silky smooth Chestnut Soup – it’s just enough to whet the appetite without over-facing everyone.
3. Likewise, dessert needs to be a breeze, especially after consuming a plate of food the size of your head. We tend to leave quite a gap between our main on Christmas Day, meaning we enjoy it more. This year my Sister has requested my Mince-pie Galette (although my Mont-Blanc Cups would also be a good option), which can be partially or fully prepped in advance. For those wanting it completely fresh on the day you can simply make and refrigerate the pastry the day ahead, then roll it out when required. Otherwise, make the whole thing a day or two before (it keeps well, loosely wrapped in foil in the fridge) and then gently heat before serving. I wholeheartedly insist you serve it with both (soya) cream and ‘ice-cream’. That and the Downton Christmas special equals festive perfection.
4. Don’t forget nibbles and drinks … my go-to drink is a glass of chilled prosecco with a splash of pomegranate juice, and (optional) dash of gingerbread syrup. You could also make my Pomegranate & Thyme Mocktail – to make more than one, skip the cocktail shaker method and simply double, triple or quadruple the ingredients. Place everything in a large jug and stir with wooden spoon. Divide the base mixture between the glasses and top with sparkling water – or for an alcoholic version, champagne.
For nibbles, I’m going down the Bloody Mary Bruschetta Route, partially because the colours scream Christmas but also because my version contains vodka. What can I say … ’tis the season!
5. Set the table. Or, at the very least, delegate someone to do it for you. I always seem to be rushing prior to serving up, so I like to make sure the table is ready to go well in advance. Whilst everyone is busying themselves getting ready, take a moment to chose a simple theme that will really show off your food. I’m all about self-service, so like to lay everything out, which means that pretty bowls and crockery are essential. Dot the table with a few votives and foliage but don’t over-do it … people like to have room to ‘breathe’ too. I like things somewhat informal so minimal is the order of the day. I think of these few precious moments as the calm before the storm so enjoy it. Now’s the time to potter, play and savour that Christmas spirit.
6. Onto the main event. I tend to go through all the side dishes I want to make and highlight those that can be made ahead without impairing the taste. I’ve also narrowed it down over the years … reducing my sides from upwards of twelve (seriously) to around eight or nine, depending on how I’m feeling. Here’s this years choices:
(2.) Maple Roasted Parsnips
(4.) Sweet Potato Casserole (recipe in ‘Keep it Vegan’)
(5.) Roast Potatoes
(6.) Gravy (here’s a YouTube link to my ‘Easy Vegan Gravy’ recipe)
(7.) Cranberry Sauce
(8.) Carrot & Sage Slice
That’s quite a hefty list as it is but imagine trying to make all that on the day … er, nightmare! These are quite traditional offering so if you’re after something a little more unusual may I suggest the following:
From my preferred side-dish list above, here are the ones that I can easily prep ahead:
Braised Red Cabbage, Cranberry Sauce, Carrot & Sage Slice, Sweet Potato Casserole (don’t add the pecans until the following day) and Gravy.
Thus leaving these remaining dishes for the day:
Maple Roasted Parsnips, Roast Potatoes, Pan-fried Sprouts and the Tofurkey.
Seeing it laid out like that already makes it seems much more manageable. I get someone else to peel the potatoes meaning I can then happily prep the parsnips and slice the sprouts. I’ll cook the tofurkey as instructed and then cover it in foil until needed, thus freeing up space in the oven. Most of my dishes take a maximum of 30 minutes to reheat so I’ll par-boil the roasties before popping them in the oven first … in case you’re wondering I’ll coat them in a basic sunflower oil and roast them for abut 45mins or until they properly crisp up. A few minutes later, I’ll roast the ‘snips and then gently re-heat the Braised Cabbage on the stove. Ensuring everything on the stove is re-heated at a medium temperature tends to keep panic to a minimum too. Sprinkle over the pecan topping before baking the Sweet Potato Casserole until piping hot along with the Carrot & Sage Slice, which is essentially acting as my ‘stuffing’ element this year. The last dish you want to cook is your Sprout because you want to ensure they still some freshness and bite. Stir-fry them on a high heat in some coconut oil and serve immediately.
Like I mentioned above, I don’t personally serve everyone individually, I simply lay everything out on the table and let everyone help themselves. For me, this is all part of that communal eating atmosphere I love so much. Pass the gravy will ya!
Sometimes I don’t know where to begin a post – particularly if I haven’t blogged in a while. Y’see, occasionally I need a bit of a time-out … mostly, and for some inexplicable reason, these ‘time-outs’ seem to always chose their own time, rather than the other way around. I guess it mostly depends on my mood, and I’ve got to be brutally honest here, but my mood has been somewhat all over the joint these last few weeks. Feelings of guilt for not being with my family at a time when they need me most torment me a lot, and occasionally render me useless. Unfortunately my Husband is the one who has to deal with these emotional meltdowns, which I know can be tiresome and wearing – especially when coupled with a crazy workload. Bad wife.
And even though there’s so much great stuff happening, hanging (or should that be clinging for dear life) onto the good stuff can still be difficult. I try to relish these moments but we humans are strange bunch – no matter how much we seemingly have, we always want more. I’m totally working on this flaw, by the way, but it ain’t easy.
In the meantime, there’s always pudla. There’s a similar recipe in my book ‘Keep it Vegan’ but this is a new and equally yummy version … the batter is much thinner and technically speaking, it’s probably more of a socca than the former. Fried until crisp and then whacked under a grill, it renders the perfect base to make a pizza – of sorts. Truthfully, I couldn’t be bothered to get into making a full-on sauce so all the toppings are raw – carrot ribbons, roughly chopped tomato, diced avocado, rocket and a whole other array of tidbits that make up this moreish dish. Whilst it makes for a perfect lunch option (you could totally eat it cold at work), I think it would be nice served as a ‘nibble’ at a dinner party – just make sure to quarter them for ease of eating. Plus, they are so wonderfully vibrant, they’re sure to be a little talking point – and a certain mood lifter … just what I happen to be in the market for, ahem. What else can I say – the time to up your pudla game is now!
what you’ll need
80g gram (chickpea) flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
pinch of cayenne
juice of 1/2 lemon
30ml extra virgin olive
2 tbsp olive oil
1 x carrot
2 cherry tomatoes
large handful of rocket
3 tbsp hummus
juice 1/2 lemon or lime
pinch of chilli flakes
what you’ll do
sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl. whisk in the water and lemon juice before drizzling in the extra virgin olive oil until you achieve a silky smooth batter. cover and set aside for at least 1hr.
meanwhile, prep your toppings – cut the carrots into ribbons, roughly chop the tomatoes and season generously. dice the avocado, squeeze with a little lemon juice to avoid browning. toss the rocket with some evoo and balsamic vinegar and make the hummus sauce by stirring in the juice of 1/2 lemon until smooth.
pre-heat the grill. heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and ladle in half the batter, spreading to edges with the back of the spoon. cook until the edges begin to curve in and the bottom is perfectly golden (I use a palette knife to lift up the sides and peek) before finishing it off under the grill.
layer up the topping, starting with the rocket and followed by the carrots, tomatoes and avocado. dollop over the hummus sauce and finish with a smidge of sriracha, smattering of nutritional yeast and a few chilli flakes. lightly season and serve.
It’s officially pumpkin time and I’m getting in early this year with a savoury dish that will knock yer socks off. There are so many ways to serve pumpkin but I adore it simply roasted and served in a warm salad alongside a few of my other favourite seasonal ingredients … cavolo nero being just one! There’s certainly a lot happening in this plate (what with the crunchy toasted pine nuts, chewy raisins and creamy tahini, maple dressing) but each component plays a vital part in bringing these incredible ingredients together in one harmonious plate of yum. I honestly can’t think of a better way to welcome in this most glorious time of year – almost like a gentle farewell to Summer and a fond hello to Fall.
Walking around Loe Bar last Sunday and watching all the autumnal colours appear almost before my very eyes made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, I couldn’t wait to get cracking with all my harvest-time cooking. With so much incredible produce at our disposal at this time of year, I can’t help but get so excited for the season ahead … crumbles, pies, stews and so much more. Bring it on!
what you’ll need
1/2 medium-sized edible pumpkin
2 red onions
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp chilli flakes (plus more to serve)
4-5 stalks of cavolo nero or kale
1 large garlic clove
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp raisins
for the tahini dressing
1 tbsp tahini
juice 1/2 orange
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
salt & pepper
what you’ll do
pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Cut the pumpkin into wedges, scoop out the seeds and add to a large baking dish along with the quartered red onion … I like to keep the skins on for cooking, as they retain their shape much better – you can peel it off once cooked.
toss the pumpkin and red onion in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, chilli flakes and pepper – don’t salt them at this stage or the vegetables will leech their juices and lose that ‘roasted’ quality. Roast for around 45-50 minutes until soft – the red onion may be cooked a little sooner, in which case remove with a slotted spoon and set aside until needed.
heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. finely slice the garlic clove and add to pan. gently sautee for a minute or two, ensuring it doesn’t colour before tearing in the cavolo nero (or kale). season with salt and pepper and stir fry on a medium-high for several minutes – you’re aiming for a slightly crispy texture.
heat a small dry skillet and toss in the pine nuts. toast over medium-high heat, shaking frequently to ensure they don’t burn – 5-7 minutes should suffice.
place all the dressing ingredients into a pestle and mortar and vigorously mix until smooth.
once the pumpkin wedges are perfectly roasted, remove from oven, season with salt and pepper, and set aside for a few minutes to let them cool slightly. now it’s time to build your salad …
place the pumpkin wedges on a large platter-style plate before dispersing the cavolo nero. scatter over the red onion, pine nuts and raisins before finishing with the creamy tahini, maple dressing. finish with a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes. serve at room temperature for an impressive starter or divide between two for a main course – it’s excellent served alongside some freshly cooked millet.
I don’t know about you but I regularly find my cupboards (and fridge) almost completely bare, and in those instances I try to cobble something together that vaguely resembles a complete meal. This ‘salad bowl’ was the result of one such foraging scenario where I was able to utilize a couple of half-used peppers, a handful of cherry tomatoes, as well as some dried goods in the form of bulgar wheat and whole almonds … oh, and lets not forget that broccoli. Broken into tiny, bite-sized florets and served completely raw … in case you weren’t already aware, I kinda adore raw broccoli – crunch, crunch, crunch!
Griddling the cherry tomatoes was the key to bringing the simple salad dressing to life. I toyed with the idea of toasting the almonds too but thought it might interfere with the taste and texture too much, so raw they remained. Stirred through the bulgar wheat, the dressing really boosts the, er, blandness (?) of this nutty, nutritious grain – regardless, I’m a bit obsessed and use it regularly, hence why I have a glut of it in my cupboards.
So, a bit of this and a bit of that ain’t so bad … I even managed to shoehorn a bit of protein in there too – hurrah! Next time your pantry is in need of a restock, why not have a rummage and see what odds and ends might make a decent (or at the very least, passable) meal.You might be pleasantly surprised.
what you’ll need
1/2 large red pepper
1/2 large yellow pepper
1 small head of broccoli
1 cup bulgar wheat
for the sauce
handful of cherry tomatoes
1 scant cup of almonds
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp agave or other sweetener (optional)
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
what you’ll do
Heat a griddle pan. Cut the peppers into large pieces and place skin-down in the pan … cook until the skins blacken and then remove from the pan. Wrap tightly in cling film and set aside for 5-10 minutes before unwrapping and gently peeling away the skin – do not rinse under a tap. Cut into thin strips, season and toss with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Add the cherry tomatoes and griddle until they become lightly charred and soft to the touch. Pulverize the almonds in a food processor before adding the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and seasoning. Whilst the sauce is blitzing slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil until it thickens. Check for seasoning and if it needs a little added sweetness, put it in now – blitz again to combine and refrigerate until needed.
Pour the bulgar wheat into a large bowl and add the same amount of freshly boiled water (i.e. 1 cup), cover and set aside until the bulgar wheat has fully absorbed the water. Fluff with a fork and stir through half the sauce.
Cut the broccoli into small bite-size pieces (keep any remaining stalks for soups and stews) and begin assembling your bowl. I used a large platter-style bowl, placing the roasted pepper strips in the centre before spooning the bulgar wheat around the outside. Dot the broccoli florets here and there, and serve with the remaining sauce.
Simple, wholesome – and cheap!
Summer has officially hit Cornwall and I’m about to vacate the county for Ireland. Typical. Not that I don’t love a jaunt ‘home’ but the temperature there never quite reaches the heights it does here and I always feel a slight chill even on the balmiest of days – who am I kidding, Ireland doesn’t do ‘balmy’. Of course, it’ll be great to see the folks, spend time with my Dad who has just finished his third round of chemo, and celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary … quite a milestone by anyone’s standards! Being the creature of habit that I am though, I always find it difficult settling into a new routine – that adjustment period shows me what a home bird I really am. I crave structure and being a writer means I can construct my own timetable – a luxury that is thankfully not lost on me. There’s nothing I love more than splitting my day into palatable little sections … most of which revolve around tea/snack/lunch/coffee breaks – in a way it’s bliss. Unless I’m working to a tight deadline.
Now that the book is ‘done’ (I’ve put it in inverted commas because I don’t think a book is ever really done but at some point you have to move on … plus there’s always bits and bobs that need tweaking) I now find myself in a weird limbo scenario and so my inclination is to return my attention to ‘Keep it Vegan’. To that end I’ll be doing a few little promo things here and there (another IrelandAM appearance is on the cards for the 7th July), as well as continuing to promote my more summery recipes – perfect for the coming months! Keep an eye on my twitter and instagram accounts for details.
And then there’s this blog. The place and vehicle that started this whole ball rolling. I already am feeling a lot more connected to this space than I have done in a long time … so much so, I’ve even dusted off the DSLR in a bid to regain my confidence behind the camera. Slowly does it though because it really would seem that I’ve forgotten how to use the damn thing – settings, schmettings.
Today was a salad day (nothing special but still… ) and so I thought it would be good practice to shoot something that didn’t have any time constraints or pressures. The focus still ain’t perfect but I think I’ve been able to achieve a slightly nicer quality to these shots than I have done in a very long while. Like I said, they’re a long way from being perfect but I won’t go down without a fight. And now for the recipe … creamy avocado, tart blackberries and not forgetting that gingery dill dressing, it really is a wonderfully simple seasonal salad with a difference.
what you’ll need
large handful of mixed lettuce leaves
1/4 yellow pepper, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
for the dressing
1 heaped tbsp dijon
1 garlic clove, grated
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp hazelnut oil or evoo
1/2 tbsp agave
juice x 2 clementines
pinch of salt and pepper
15g freshly chopped dill
what you’ll do
Arrange the salad leaves in a shallow bowl. Scatter the sliced pepper around over the leaves, sprinkle over the spring onion and dot the blackberries about the bowl.
Separate the sliced avocado into a fan shape and place in the centre of the bowl.
Place all the dressing ingredients (apart from the dill) into a bowl and whisk vigorously until it emulsifies. Add the chopped dill and whisk to combine. Spoon generously over the salad, paying particular attention to the avocado.
Finish with a final scattering of roughly chopped dill. Serve.
Okay, okay, so I’m a day late to the game but hopefully just in time to inspire your meat free meals for the rest of the week. I’ve delved into the ‘peasoupeats’ archives to come up with a varied menu that should (fingers crossed) cover all bases… from soup to salads and even sushi, there’s a little bit of everything but do let me know what your favourite is. Personally, I’m all about the Sweet Potato & Pearl Barley Stew but that’s probably because I haven’t fully transitioned from my winter diet yet – yup, still craving that warmth! The pearl barley is certainly lighter than rice but has that ‘stick to yer ribs’ quality that I’m so loving right now. If you’re currently getting yourself in shape for summer though, the Noodle Salad for One is a super option – filling yet light and full of flavour. Anyway I’ll let you decide – there are six recipes to choose from and they’re all pretty delicious and, as ever, super easy. Happy ‘Meat Free Week’ everybody!
Humdinger Hummus Sandwich
Possibly the perfect lunchtime sammie crammed full to the brim with hummus, sprouts, avocado and more. I’m a total bread/carb fiend so this is my ideal midday scenario and best of all it takes minutes to make. Om nom nom.
Summer is creeping up on us and soon I’ll be bemoaning the fact I didn’t get in shape sooner. When I do finally get into the swing of things though, I’ll be relying on salads like this to see me through … tasty, filling and seriously simple to make.
Another mainstay in my kitchen, this spiced lentil soup is the ultimate comfort food. Make a big batch tonight for a go-to pot of yumminess throughout the week … #meatfreeweek sorted.
Fill it with whatever you fancy or stick to this grated carrot, peashoot & pepper version – either way, this is a sure-fire weekend winner for when you have a little more time to play in the kitchen. Get yourself a bottle of sake for a full-on Japanese evening experience and say ‘cheers’ to going meat-free!
Yes, the weather is warming but that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave stodge. This pearl barley stew is a huge favourite of mine because it feels indulgent whilst still managing to retain some healthy credentials – who says comfort food can’t be good for you, eh?
I like to make the most of my solitary meals and this one features frequently – hence it’s addition here. It was originally commissioned for Marcus Samuelsson many moons ago and it still gets a great reception to this day… I hope y’all enjoy it too!