Versatile Savoury Lentil Sauce (v)

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Yeah I know. It doesn’t look like much in the picture. A soggy jumble of bits in a wet sauce. If you could smell it though, it would smell GOOD! This sauce can form the basis of so many different things: bolognaise, lasagne, moussaka, savoury lentil bake, shepherd’s pie… I always make in a big batch as it freezes well and it’s a great work day staple to have stashed away for days when you have zero time or energy to cook from scratch.

Last time I made this, I made this quantity as I have a massive Le Creuset pan and it saves time in the long run. Obviously if you have smaller pans or no space in the freezer reduce quantities accordingly…

For 3 batches of sauce, each enough to feed 4-6 people you need:

  • 3 cups brown lentils (green also work, as do puy. Don’t use split red lentils!)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 sticks celery, washed and diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of marigold stock powder
  • 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  1. Begin by cooking the lentils in plenty of water. How long will depend on the age and variety of lentils. My brown ones took 15 mins. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile saute the onion, leek, celery and garlic in the oil until softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes and seasonings to the sauce along with the lentils.
  4. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 5-10 mins.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning. Tis done. Serve like this over pasta for bolognaise or use as a base in numerous other recipes.

Steamed Tofu with Ginger Chilli Sauce (v)

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One of my friends blogged about still eating Christmas food a few days ago. It prompted me to think of different ways to use up the nearly-but-not-quite-finished bottle of cream sherry and the chilli jam I make every year but never seem to eat…

For three portions you need

  • 1 pack firm tofu, drained and cut into 6 equal slices
  • veggies of your choice – we had broccoli and carrots
  • rice or whatever starch you want to use

For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup soya sauce
  • 1/2 cup sherry (or mirin)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp chilli jam
  • large handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped
  • 1″ piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, grated
  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together, check the seasoning and adjust to taste
  2. Cook the rice as per instructions on the packet
  3. Steam the veggies and tofu for 5-6 mins
  4. Serve

Super Purple Breakfast Smoothie (v)

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I’ve long enjoyed making smoothies, but I recently upgraded my blender to a nutribullet type one. Oh my, all that extra power makes for an extra smooth smoothie! This combo used up some bits of fruit in the bottom of the fridge, and turned it my favourite colour. PURPLE!!

For one smoothie you need

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Handful red grapes
  • Handful blueberries
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup non dairy yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  1. Put everything in the blender goblet, invert and blend, blend, blend!
  2. Enjoy and feel super smug.

Butterbean Burgers with Sunflower Seeds and Carrots (v)

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I love good, old fashioned bearded home knitted yogurt veggie fayre. This falls firmly into that camp. Hearty, disgustingly good for you and versatile. We served these hot as full burgers with all the trimmings including sweet potato fries and home made skinny french fries. They were also yummy cold the next day with salad, drenched in hot Thai chilli sauce.

For 6-8 burgers you need

  • 1 tin butterbeans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs (about 3-4 slices bread)
  • 2 carrots, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and garam masala
  • Trimmings of your choice depending on how you want to serve them e.g. burger buns, relishes, salad, chilli sauce etc
  1. In a food processor make the breadcrumbs. Tip into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Blitz the onion and beans together until mushy (20-30 secs). Tip into the bowl with the breadcrumbs.
  3. Swap the blade for a grater attachment and grate the carrots. Yep, tip into the mixing bowl…
  4. Add everything else and squidge together with your hands.
  5. Form into 6-8 patties depending on appetite and greed. Place on to a lined baking sheet and bake in a 180 degree oven for 20 mins, turning halfway through the cooking time. Enjoy 🙂

Roasted Sausages and Apple

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Sometimes you get to that point in the month where (i) you’ve run out of enthusiasm for things to make for tea after a long day at work and (ii) it’s a loooooong time until payday. When those things hit in a double whammy in January you need to be creative! A recipe similar to this appeared in my twitter feed and I adapted it for a veggie feast last week. Quick to throw together, it filled our bellies and used up some sad neglected apples from the fruit bowl.

For three portions you need:

  • 1 pack veggie sausages – we used cauldron but any will do
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into wedges
  • 3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Mashed potato to serve
  • GRAVY!!!!!
  1. Toss everything apart from the sausages in the oil and season.
  2. Roast in a hot (180 degree) oven for 20 mins.
  3. Add the sausages and cook for a further 15-20 mins until everything is done.
  4. Serve with mash, lashings of gravy and whatever other veggies you can find, I think we had peas and sweetcorn from the freezer!

Vegetable Gratin with Butterbeans 

  
I love a good cheese sauce gratin. I’ll smother anything tbh with a blanket of mustardy cheesy goodness. Perfect fuel for these dreary January days. Use any combo of beans and veggies you want. It’s a fab way to use up spare cooked vegetables so don’t feel you have to prep them from scratch. 
For 3-4 portions you need

  • 1 can drained Butterbeans
  • 600ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 150g grated strong cheddar
  • 50g grated Parmesan style veggie friendly cheese
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tsp French mustard (pref Maille)
  • Cooked vegetables eg 3 sliced carrots and 1 head broccoli 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Begin by steaming the veggies until tender. Leave to cool. 
  2. Make the cheese sauce by adding everything apart from the cheeses and beans to a pan and heating gently. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1-2 mins. Remove from the heat. 
  3. Add 2/3 of both cheese and mix until melted and the sauce is smooth. Season with freshly ground black pepper. 
  4. Tip the slightly cooled veggies into an ovenproof dish. Scatter over the beans and distribute vaguely evenly. Pour over the sauce then sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
  5. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 20-25 mins until browned, bubbling and delicious. Serve with potatoes of your choice. 

Hoisin Vegetable and Tofu Stirfry with Quinoa (v)

  
I had planned to do a vegetable and rice noodle salad with crispy tofu.  But it was too cold for salad. So I stir fried it all instead, serving with a mound of light fluffy quinoa instead of rice as it’s quicker to cook and I prefer it. 

For three generous portions you need

  • 1 pack cauldron firm tofu
  • 1.5 cups (American Rob) quinoa
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • 3 cups of cold water
  • 2 onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 pack edamame beans
  • Tenderstem broccoli 
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 
  • 1″ ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  1. Begin by cutting the tofu into strips. Press down into a clean tea towel to squeeze out the excess water. Cut into bite sized pieces
  2. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot. Add the tofu and cook for 5-10 mins over a hot heat until brown and starting to crisp. 
  3. Meanwhile place the quinoa, water and stock into a lidded pan.  Bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat and leave to cook for 8-10 mins until the quinoa has cooked. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on to steam the quinoa until you’re ready to eat it. 
  4. Once the tofu is browned add the onions, chillies, ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 mins and then add the remaining vegetables. Add the hoisin and soya sauces and cover with a lid.
  5. Reduce the heat and leave to steam fry for 2-3 mins until the vegetables are al dente and covered in the lovely dark sauce.
  6. Serve with the quinoa. Attempt to eat with chopsticks. Manage three mouthfuls before giving up and using a fork 🙂 

Antonio Carluccio’s Pasta with Courgette Sauce

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We have an abundance of courgettes in the greenhouse at the moment (look, LOOK!). And the novIMG_6877elty of growing and eating our own food hasn’t yet worn off. Rather than hiding our carefully nurtured and hand reared courgettes in something like cake or a bake like I might do in a few weeks when, frankly, I’ve had enough of them, I served them centre stage in this oh-so-quick but oh-so-good dish from Antonio Carluccio. I skipped on the spinach balls, too much faff for a lazy hot summer Sunday…

For three portions you need

  • 300g pasta
  • 3 courgettes, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 45g parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Begin by cooking the pasta. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the garlic and chilli. You do not want it to colour at all. After 2 or so mins add the courgette and gently heat through. Once the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water.

Add the water to the sauce along with the cheese. Mix thoroughly then drench the pasta with the sauce. Eat and marvel at how easy it was to prepare and how delicious it tastes.

Dairy Free Peanut Butter Brownies

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I’ve long wondered what peanut butter brownies taste like, and now I know. These are a doddle to make – done and dusted in under 45 mins. Not bad for a work night when you’ve run out of cake and need a chocolate hit quick stat! They’re very rich so eat is small pieces! The original recipe is here but I’ve tweaked the method, mainly because I didn’t read it properly but they don’t seem to have suffered for it…

For 16 squares you need

  • 225g peanut butter
  • 200g plain chocolate
  • 280g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g plain flour

Gently heat the chocolate, peanut butter and sugar in a pan until gloopy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time then add the flour. Scrape into a lined brownie tin and bake at 175 degrees for 25-30 mins. You want a serious amount of goo left in the middle once cooked as they’ll firm up on cooling.

Cut into 16 squares and devour. They’re especially nice served warm with raspberry sorbet.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Smug Bastard Homegrown Salad Leaves (v)

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A quick rifle through the contents of the fridge yesterday provided an oddment of vegetables needing to be used: a leek, some broccoli and a butternut squash in the cupboard. The salad leaves in the greenhouse have burst into life – despite being cut three times in four days, there was still a glut of deliciousness begging to be eaten.

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I was banned from using any of the teeny tiny courgettes for another week to let them mature. The flowers are so pretty however so here’s a gratuitous picture…

Unfortunately the boy didn’t like the risotto, but Fuz and I did and there were leftovers for my lunch #win.

For six portions you need

  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 400g risotto rice
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 1 litre veggie stock
  • 1 head brocolli, cut into florets
  • salt and pepper
  • vegan margarine (or butter if you’re not vegan)

Begin by sauteeing the leeks and onion in oil for about 5 mins. Then add the squash and garlic and cook for a further 3-4 mins. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 mins. Once everything is searingly hot, add the wine and allow the bubble furiously for a few mins to reduce. Then add the stock, all in one go, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins. Yes I know this method is sacrilege but I don’t care. It works.

After 10 mins, add the broccoli to the pan and stir. Cover with a lid and cook for a final 5 mins. Check the rice is cooked through and not too chalky. If it’s underdone leave simmering for a final 1-2 mins. Add a generous knob of margarine or butter to the pan and leave to melt into the risotto for 2-3 mins.

Serve with salad leaves on the side and a large glass of it’s-nearly-Friday-so-sod-it-and-it’s-open-now-anyway-so-it-needs-to-be-drunk-wine.