Lentil and Pearl Barley Root Vegetable Casserole (v)


Every year I get a bit depressed about the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. But then I remember warming stews and casseroles and honking geese and I feel a bit less dejected. This casserole is a variation on one I make a lot, but for the first time I cooked it in the oven in the hope that the pearl barley and lentils wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. They didn’t! I served with mashed potatoes and steamed spring greens.

For six portions you need


  • 1 leek, sliced into 0.5″ slices
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 small swede cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1.25l vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pearly barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cauliflower cut into bite sized florets
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 100g self raising flour
  • 50g vegetable suet
  • dried herbs
  • salt and pepper
  • cold water to mix to a dough
  1. Place all the chopped veg apart from the cauli into an oven proof casserole pan with the oil and saute, covered, for about 8 mins until the veg are starting to soften.
  2. Add the stock, lentils and pearl barley. Mix well and bring to the boil.
  3. Cover with a lid and place in a 160 degree oven for 30 mins.
  4. Make the dumplings by adding enough cold water to the mix to form a soft dough. Shape into 8 dumplings.
  5. After 30 mins, remove the pan from the oven and add the cauliflower and dumplings to the casserole. Mix the cauli in well to ensure it cooks, and place the dumplings on top of the casserole. Cover with the lid and return to the oven for a further 25 mins.
  6. Season to taste and serve with veg of your choice and pickled red cabbage if you’re feeling particularly northern!


Tempura Vegetables (v)


I used to make this a lot when Lex was younger but I haven’t made it for a while. The muggy hot weather today and a fridge full of veggies prompted me to make it again. It’s based on an Ottolenghi recipe in his book ‘Plenty’. 

For three portions you need

  • A selection of veggies cut into bite sized pieces. Allow about a cup per person
  • 80g self raising flour
  • 80g cornflour
  • 210ml fizzy water
  • Oil for deep frying

Heat the oil in a large pan. Combine the batter ingredients together. Coat the vegetables in the batter and drop into hot oil. Cook until golden brown – about 3-5 mins. You’ll need to fry in batches. Serve with a selection of dipping sauces eg soya sauce, sweet chilli sauce etc. 

Vegetable Paella with Spicy Tomato Sauce (v)

I’m not sure this is authentically paella because it uses easy cook short grain rice. But it’s easy and quick to make and is the first recipe/rice combo I have found that actually works without producing a claggy sticky mess or under cooked rice. It’s also vegan and a brilliant way to boost your veg intake. It’s based on a Rose Elliott recipe for Red Beans with Brown Rice and Vegetables in her fabulous New Complete Vegetarian Cookbook (p246).

For 4 portions you need
2 onions, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
350g easy cook short grain rice
1 tsp tumeric
850ml veg stock
salt and pepper
A mix of vegetables e.g. we used 1 large carrot, diced, 2 sticks celery, sliced, and a pack of stir fry tenderstem broccoli, baby sweet corn, mange tout and pak choi.
1 can drained kidney beans

Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 can tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Start by sauteeing the onion, carrots and celery in the oil, covered. I like to use a large lidded non stick frying pan for this recipe.

After about 10 mins add the rice and garlic and stir well. Add the stock and beans and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 10 mins. Stir then add the broccoli and corn and cover again for a further 5 mins. Check the rice is done and if it is, add the remaining veg and take off the heat and leave covered to steam for a final 5 mins.

For the sauce put everything in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Puree in the pan with a stick blender and leave to one side.

Serve the finished rice with the tomato sauce. Leftovers are delicious cold or used as a stuffing for peppers etc.

Vegetable Fritters (v)

Yes my blog has been sadly neglected recently, but I have moved house again and had a new kitchen fitted and and and and and…..

Anyway. These are dead simple vegetable fritters, one of the first things I made in my lovely new kitchen. They’re very quick and easy to make and don’t require the exact ingredients listed out below, so experiment and see what you come up with.

For 8-10 fritters you need:
1-2 courgettes, coarsely grated
1-2 carrots, treated like the courgettes
1/4 cup plain flour
1 egg (omit if you’re vegan and use water instead)
zest of one lemon
2 handfuls fresh coriander, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for deep frying

Mix the grated veggies with everything else and season. Heat the oil and drop spoonfuls into the hot oil and fry for about 5 mins until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with salad and sweet chilli sauce.

Boxing Day Soup (v)

This is an excellent way to use up those leftover veggies.

For as many portions as you need simply take:
1 cup veggies per person
1 cup stock
salt and pepper
1/4 glass white wine
1/2 onion
2 sticks celery
1 tbsp veg oil

Fry the onion and celery in the oil and then heat the veggies in the stock and wine and blend when hot. Serve topped with left over crunchy roasties if you have any or deep fry some left over new potatoes/limp and soggy roasties. Add a swirl of cranberry sauce to the middle and scoff. Lovely.

Tempura (v)

I have never ever made tempura before. I was under the (mistaken) impression that it was difficult. How wrong I was. It’s easy peasy and tastes delicious. Pass the batter!

This is based on the delectable Ottolenghi’s recipe…

For 4-6 people you need:
About 1.5 kg of different vegetables (I used onions, peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauli, courgettes)
80g cornflour plus a little extra
80g self raising flour
200ml sparkling water
2 tsp oil
pinch salt
oil for frying

Chop the veggies in to bite sized pieces, taking care to make sure the harder ones are sliced quite thinly.

Mix the flours with the oil, salt and water. Mix lightly. Toss the vegetables in a little extra cornflour and then dip them, one at a time, in the batter. Heat some oil for frying in a large wok. Drop the batter coated veggies in one at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan or the temperature will drop and everything will go soggy. Turn in the oil to ensure even cooking and then drain. Serve with soya sauce and sweet chilli sauce for dipping.