Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

I could’ t recommend this veggie version of shepherd’s pie enough. I first tried it when I had to prepare a dinner  for a few vegetarians some time ago. Since then it became my choice of preference, even over meaty version. Addition of the red wine is a must!

VEGGIE SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH SWEET POTATO TOPPING

(adapted from BBC Good Food collection)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 large carrots, finely cubed

2 celery sticks, finely cubed

2 tablespoons thyme, chopped

200ml red wine

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 vegetable stock cubes

400g cooked green/puy lentils (alternatively 1x410g canned lentil)

About 1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

25g butter

85g mature cheddar, grated

Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then fry the onion until golden. Add the carrots, celery and thyme,  continue to cook for a few more minutes. Then pour in the wine, 150ml of water and the tomatoes, sprinkle the stock cubes and simmer for 15 minutes. Tip in the lentils and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile boil the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes or until cooked, drain well and mash with the butter, season well to taste.
  3. Pile the lentil mixture into a pie oven-proof dish, spoon the mash on top, sprinkle over with the grated cheese and some extra thyme if you wish. At this stage, pie can be covered and chilled for 2 days, or frozen for up to a month.
  4. If you are cooking straight away, heat the oven up to 180C. Cook for 20 minutes if cooking straight away, or for 40 minutes from chilled. In both cases cook until golden on the top and hot  and bubbly all the way through. Serve with green veggies of your choice.
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Beetroot Risotto with Prawns and Horseradish

I’ve recently made this risotto for a dinner with the girls and it turned out to be a very successful dish. Considering that the ingredients are slightly unusual for a risotto, they work so well together. Rich and smooth without an overpowering beetroot flavour, and a pretty dish to serve.

 BEETROOT RISOTTO WITH PRAWNS AND HORSERADISH

(Adapted from ‘Dinner at mine’ by Annie Nochols)

Ingredients:

About 800g small raw beetroots

50g butter

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 large tomato or 2 small ones, chopped

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

400g risotto rice

200ml dry white wine

250g cooked peeled prawns

fresh dill to garnish

3-4 teaspoons creamed horseradish

250ml soured cream to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C. Clean the beetroots, leaving the skin on, trim any stringy roots. Wrap up each beetroot in foil and bake for about an hour or until tender. When cooked, remove the beets from the oven, let it cool before peeling away the skin. Grate the beetroots and set aside.
  2. For the risotto, heat the butter and the olive oil together in a large heavy-bottomed pan, add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and cook them on a moderate heat until golden colour and well softened.
  3. Then add the chopped tomatoes and continue to cook for another few minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place the stock in another pan and bring to just below boiling point; keep on the heat.
  5. Add the rice to the vegetable and cook for about 3 minutes or until the grains are slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Now add the grated beetroots.
  6. Then add a ladleful of the hot stock, stir in well and reduce the heat. Keep adding the stock, one ladleful a time, stirring and making sure that each ladleful has been absorbed before adding the next. You don’t need to stir the risotto all the time, but just make sure that it’s not sticking. Continue to cook until the rice is ready and very slightly al dente. 
  7. Once risotto is cooked, remove the pan from the heat, check for seasoning, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  8. For the garnish, mix soured cream with the horseradish, chop the dill. (If you prefer, you can add horseradish straight to the risotto and omit soured cream.)
  9. To serve, spoon the risotto into bowls and top with the prawns, chopped dill and horseradish cream.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

I was given a bag of organic Jerusalem artichokes grown in a local allotment. Although it’s still a mystery why they are called artichokes, as they are more likely to come from potato family; and why they are ‘Jerusalem’, if  they are originated from North America and has nothing to do with Holy Land.

However, I know that one of the best options to appreciate the delicate, sweet and slightly nutty flavour of this wonderful vegetable is soup.

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE SOUP

(Adapted from BBC Food)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

5-7 (depends on the size) artichokes, peeled, chopped

100ml white wine

300-400ml chicken or vegetable stock

50ml double cream

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter (do not allow to burn). Add the onion, cook gently until it has softened.
  2. Add the garlic, cook for another two minutes.
  3. Then add the artichokes, white wine and stock, continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the artichoke has softened. Pour the mixture in to the blender, add cream and blend mixture until smooth.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Cauliflower & Aubergine with Lemony Tahini Dressing

Here is a great winter salad for your lunch boxes or an alternative side dish. You can literally roast any veg you like (butternut squash, beetroot, carrots, courgettes, red onion, etc.) In this instance, my chosen vegetables are cauliflower and aubergine.

Grilled Cauliflower & Aubergine with Green Lentil and Tahini dressing

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, AUBERGINE & GREEN LENTIL SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 cup puy lentil, cooked

1 small cauliflower head, separated into the florets

1 large aubergine, chopped into chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, grated

2-3 tablespoons of hot water

spring onion and parsley to garnish (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Toss cauliflower and aubergine with olive oil, salt and pepper then spread out in an even layer on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring half way through.
  3. Meanwhile cook the lentil according the instruction on the packet, if it’s not cooked already.
  4. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, zest, garlic and salt. Slowly add in the hot water until it’s reached the desired consistency. Stir in parsley and set aside.
  5. When vegetables are ready, serve on a bed of cooked green lentil and drizzle with tahini sauce. Serve warm or at room temp.

 

Asparagus, Leek and Feta Cheese Tart.

Soft leeks and crumbled feta cheese go together beautifully. I also had some asparagus to use up. All together it made an easy vegetarian tart good enough for a party or for a midweek dinner.

Cheese and Leek Quiche

ASPARAGUS, LEEK AND FETA CHEESE TART

(Adapted from Delicious magazine)

Ingredients:

500g shortcrust pastry

knob of butter

2 leeks, sliced

100g feta

100g asparagus tips

200ml double cream

100ml whole milk

3 large free-range eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. To bake the pastry shell first, prick the base of the pastry case all over with a fork. Line the tart tin with baking parchment and fill with ceramic baking beans or dried pulses. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is firm, then remove the beans and cook for about 5 minutes more, until golden brown and biscuity. Let it cool.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 170C.
  4. Blanch the asparagus by adding to a pan of boiling water (a frying pan is best as the spears will fit easily.) Cook for 2 minutes or until bright green. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain on the paper towel and set aside.
  5. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan, then add 2 sliced leeks and cook over a medium heat until softened and golden. Season, then arrange the leeks in a blind-baked tart case, arrange the asparagus spears on top and scatter over 100g crumbled feta.
  6. In a jug, mix together double cream, whole milk and eggs. Season, then pour into the case.
  7. Bake in the oven at 170C for 25-30 minutes or until set with a slight wobble. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then serve.

Mushroom paté/hummus

I’m still on the fence about what this is. Is it a pâté or is it a hummus? It’s smooth and blended, that’s what unites these two, but it lacks the hefty butter content or cream cheese usually in a pâté. On the other hand it has puy lentils, which can classify it as a hummus. Because of these factors, it is a light, healthy flavoursome blend, which can be spread, dipped in, or topped on salads. Enjoy!
Mushroom pâté

MUSHROOM PATÉ/HUMMUS

Ingredients:

250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

1 small carrot, grated

2 garlic clove, chopped

400g cooked green lentils (puy lentil)

handful of chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in saucepan, add the onion, carrot, garlic and sauté 5-7 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re soft and cooked through, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove aside.
  2. Place the mushroom mixture along with the cooked lentils, nuts, lemon juice, soy sauce,thyme in the food processor or blender and pulse to the preferred (coarse or smooth) consistency. Season well with salt and pepper, or lemon juice.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a small serving bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

Mushroom pâté 2

Sweet potatoes, Black beans, Crispy onions and Feta cheese

Here is another one of my adaptations of a Nigel Slater recipe, from his book Eat. In this recipe, his is more like a carrot soup with toppings, which is lovely, but by making it a few times I decided to convert this recipe into the main dish.

The original recipe calls for boiled carrots, but I opted for sweet potatoes instead and to roast them first to intensify their sweet flavour.

Roasted sweet potatoes are pureed and studded with spiced black beans before being crowned with a generous scoop of fried onions.

Sweet potato, black beans, crispy onion and coriander

Mix

SWEET POTATO, BLACK BEANS AND CORIANDER

Ingredients:

600g sweet potatoes
60g butter
3 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 x 400g can of canned black beans
1 red onion, finely sliced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
olive oil for roasting
salt and pepper to season
fresh coriander leaves (optional)

feta cheese and fresh chilli to serve (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Cut the sweet potato into cubes, place them on baking tray with some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until it’s done.
3. Meanwhile melt 30g butter in a pan, add 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds and toast for a minute or two. Drain two cans of black beans and add them to the pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes until it’s warmed through. Leave aside.
4. On another pan melt 30g butter, add the sliced onion and fry until golden brown. Scatter in a large pinch of dried chilli flakes and further teaspoon of mustard seeds. Sizzle briefly. Leave aside.
5. Puree or just roughly mash the cooked sweet potatoes, season to your taste.
6. Divide the pureed sweet potatoes between two large bowls or four smaller bowls and stir in black beans, top bowls with fried onions and garnish with Feta cheese and coriander leaves.
Pureed sweet potato, black beans, feta cheese, crispy onion and coriander