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.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, AUBERGINE & GREEN LENTIL SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING
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
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- 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.
- Meanwhile cook the lentil according the instruction on the packet, if it’s not cooked already.
- 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.
When vegetables are ready, serve on a bed of cooked green lentil and drizzle with tahini sauce. Serve warm or at room temp.
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.
ASPARAGUS, LEEK AND FETA CHEESE TART
(Adapted from Delicious magazine)
500g shortcrust pastry
knob of butter
2 leeks, sliced
100g asparagus tips
200ml double cream
100ml whole milk
3 large free-range eggs
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- 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.
- Reduce oven temperature to 170C.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a jug, mix together double cream, whole milk and eggs. Season, then pour into the case.
- 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.
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!
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Scrape the mixture into a small serving bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.
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 AND CORIANDER
I always say, if I had to choose to have just one cookery book, it would definitely be Eat by Nigel Slater. I just love his approach to food and cooking, his frugal, seasonal, simple no-fuss, but innovative and always delicious food. So, this book is never far away from me and I constantly refer to it either for recipes or just for inspiration.
One of my absolute favourite recipe from it is an Aubergine and Chickpea dish. It’s embarrassingly easy to make, but it always gets a ‘wow’ reaction from everyone who tries it. The main thing is to season the dish well, as both of the main ingredients (chickpeas and aubergines are rather bland by nature). You can eat it as a main or make it as a starter on its own or on a slice of good toasted bread.
AUBERGINE AND CHICKPEAS
(Recipe is taken from Eat book by Nigel Slater)
1 large aubergine
1 400g can of chickpeas
sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 garlic cloves
black pepper and salt to taste
- Slice an aubergine into thick rounds and place them in a single layer in a grill pan or on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, scatter with a tablespoon of chopped rosemary needles, salt, black pepper and 2 cloves of finely crushed garlic. Cook under an overhead grill, adding a little more oil as necessary, for 10 minutes or so, until the aubergine is golden brown and tender. Turn each piece and allow to brown lightly on the other side.
- Drain a can of chickpeas and warm half the contents in a small pan with a little olive oil, salt and some black pepper. Blitz in a blender or food processor with half the grilled aubergine to give a soft, quite smooth puree. Fry the reserved chickpeas for a few minutes in a little oil in a pan tip hot, then stir, whole, into the puree. Correct the seasoning then serve with the warm, grilled aubergine and some bread.
From a long experience cooking this dish, I can say that sometime, I found the grilled aubergines can be a bit dry, so I prefer to bake them in the oven instead. It takes a bit longer then grilling, but the end result is much better. Also, the puree can also come out a bit dry, in this case, just simply add more olive oil/splash of water. You can play around with adding some spices or herbs you like. Serve any green veg or chunky potato chips on the side.
This is a simple, gentle (although, you can add as much chilli as you wish) vegetable curry that works either as a side dish or as a main course with rice.
According to Saveur magazine, in order to get this dish as close to the authentic flavour as possible, it is essential to let the paste of chillies, turmeric, ginger, and garlic gently sweat before stewing the collard greens in coconut milk.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have fresh lemongrass on hand, adding a dry one instead.
INDONESIAN – STYLE GREEN AND COCONUT CURRY
(Original recipe comes from Saveur)
1 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 big onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 red or green Thai chillies, minced
1 (3″) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dry lemongrass (or 2 large fresh stalks)
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
400g collard greens, stemmed and cut crosswise into wide strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Combine turmeric, onion, garlic, chillies, and ginger in a small food processor and purée, adding up to 4 tbsp. water, to form a smooth paste; set aside.
2. If you are using fresh lemongrass, trim tip and root ends of lemongrass stalks and remove tough outer layer. Using a meat mallet, smash lemongrass to ﬂatten and tie into a knot.
3. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom or cast iron pot over medium-low heat; add reserved paste and lemongrass (dry or fresh); cook, stirring often, until very fragrant, 10–12 minutes.
4. Add sugar, salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer over medium heat.
5. Add collards; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 40 minutes.
6. Remove lemongrass; season with salt and pepper and serve warm.
To celebrate The Pancake Day (yesterday) I chose a less conventional recipe for pancakes. Someone, probably, would debate even if you can call them ‘pancakes’, but that’s how we call them at home and I will continue to do so.
When we grew up, we didn’t really have any ‘take away’ places and the only ‘fast food’ we knew, it was the food made by our Mums and Babushkas. It was always the food with few ingredients, probably not always healthy (but what sort of ‘fast food’ is?), but always comforting and delicious! These pancakes are in that ‘fast food’ range. And you don’t need to wait for Pancake Day to have it really, it’s perfect any time, when you crave for the comfort food.
4 potatoes, peeled
4 tablespoons plain floor
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt to taste
vegetable oil for frying
soured cream for serving
- You can grate finely, coarsely, or mince the potatoes by hand, or you can simply put it in a food processor and blitz it until it becomes fine mass without any big pieces (imagine you blend the soup, so the consistency of the potatoes should be like that).
- Add the eggs, flour, salt and mix thoroughly to avoid lumps.
- In a pan pour oil, wait until its hot (but not burning!), put potato mixture with a spoon. Fry each side until brown, flip. The pancakes brown rather quickly, so do not walk away very far from the pan, keep an eye on them.
- When the pancakes are cooked put then on kitchen towel to drain the excess of the oil. Serve meanwhile they are hot, on its own or preferably with soured cream.