Lentil and Pearl Barley Root Vegetable Casserole (v)

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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

Casserole

  • 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

Dumplings

  • 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!

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Freekah with Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas (v)

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My mum made this for us over Christmas. It was delicious and the perfect antidote to all the rich food we had been eating. This is my version.

For 4-6 portions you need:

  • 200g freekah or bulghar wheat
  • 1 litre veggie stock
  • 300g cooked chickpeas
  • 3 mixed peppers, cut into rough chunks
  • 1 sweet potato cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 carrots cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 onions ditto
  • 1 aubergine ditto
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 pack each of flat leaf parsely and mint, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp baharat
  • salt and pepper
  • houmous to serve
  1. Begin by tossing the aubergine, carrot and sweet potato in 3 tbsp olive oil and the baharat. Roast in a hot (190 degree) oven for about 30 mins.
  2. Meanwhile place the freekah in a pan with the hot stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 mins. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid and leave to steam for a further 15 mins. Keep warm.
  3. Add the peppers, onions, chickpeas and remaining oil to the roasting tin and continue to cook for a further 30 mins.
  4. Add the fresh herbs and pomegranate molasses to the freekah. Mix. Season to taste.
  5. Toast the pine nuts and mix into the cooked veggies and chickpeas.
  6. Serve with hummus, salad and pitta bread.

Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers (v)

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The last pressure cooker I used blew up on me. I heard an earth shattering kaboom and came back into the kitchen to find lentils dripping from every available surface. It was armageddon. I have been too scared to use one since, even tho I know that they’re ace for quickly cooking pulses and making all sorts of yummy food. The Instant Pot has been growing in popularity recently and I took advantage of the Amazon Black Friday deal to get one and assorted accessories as my Christmas present from the teenager. How thoughtful of him 😉

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After doing the initial water test I asked said teen what he wanted for tea and stuffed peppers was the response. So here is my inaugural attempt, and a resounding success it was.

For four portions you need:

  • 4 peppers, tops sliced off and insides removed
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can drained and rinsed kidney beans
  • 2 instant pot cups of paella rice (the instant pot cup is only 160ml so is smaller than a US cup…)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • new potatoes
  • (the spiced tomato sauce I made on the stove)
  1. Put the instant pot onto saute mode and add the oil and onions. Saute for 3-4 mins and then add the garlic and rice. Cook for a further 1-2 mins.
  2. Turn off saute mode and add the wine and stock. Cover with the lid and using manual cook for 4 mins, leave to stand for 10 mins then Quick Release (QR).
  3. Add the parsley and drained beans to the rice mixture and season to taste. I also added a little more liquid at this stage to make them a little looser.
  4. Put the peppers into a pyrex bowl (that will fit inside your IP!) and fill with the rice mixture. Cover with foil. I also made a handle out of foil to make it easier to remove the dish once they’d cooked.
  5. Place on the trivet and add 1.5 cups of water to the pan. Put on manual for 20 mins. I did a QR as I needed to cook the potatoes as well.
  6. For the potatoes, place on a steamer trivet and add 1 cup of water (I have a second pot so that made it easier). Steam for 8-10 mins depending on size and then QR as a Natural Release (NR) might overcook them.
  7. Serve with the spicy tomato sauce and be amazed! The potatoes in particular were delicious due to being steamed. I’ve never done that before as they always take too long in a conventional steamer.
  8. Dream up what your next recipes will be…

Potato and Carrot Tagine with Chickpeas and Peas (v)

IMG_6680Q: What do you do when you want something quick and tasty for dinner but haven’t got much left in the house?
A: Make a tagine!

This recipe has become a staple go to in the lean mid week evenings when I’ve not got a lot of time to get dinner on the table after work, and the veg cupboard is looking decidedly sad and bare. It’s delicious, nutritious and a doddle to make.

For 4-6 portions you need

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 8 new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2″ ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 chillies, sliced
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp each whole coriander & whole cumin
  • 800ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup frozen petit pois
  • 1.5 cups couscous with 3 cups vegetable stock to rehydrate

Begin by sauteeing the onions in the oil for about 5 mins. Add the ginger, garlic, chillies, tumeric, cumin and coriander and fry for a further 2-3 mins.

Add the potatoes and carrots and cover with the stock. Bring to the boil and cover with a lid. Simmer for 15 mins. Add the chickpeas and simmer for a further 10-15 mins depending on how well done the potatoes are. Meanwhile pour the boiling stock over the cous cous and leave to absorb.

Add the peas for the final 2 mins of cooking. Serve with cous cous and a smug smile on yer face.

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