Bulgur & Veg Khichree

This recipe is another winner from the book ‘Simple Spice Vegetarian’. It’s actually a mix of rice, lentils and bulgur wheat which I kind of questioned when I first saw the recipe but the mixture of textures and the ability of the different elements to soak up the spices really added something to the flavour. The word kedgeree comes from this word too so you just know it’s going to be good. This is really tasty when you ramp up the ginger content.

Serves 4 (large portions)

Ingredients

  • 200g bulgur wheat
  • 100g rice
  • 150g lentils
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 chilli
  • 5cm ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 150g peas
  • 250ml water
  • salt

Method

1.) Cook the rice and lentils in a pan until tender, Halfway through cooking, add the bulgur wheat. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees C.

2.) In the meantime, peel and grate the ginger. Peel and finely dice the onion, carrot and parsnip.

3.) Make a masala paste by adding the turmeric, coriander and cumin in a bowl with a tbsp water and mixing.

4.) In a casserole dish, melt the ghee and add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the chilli, ginger and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

5.) Add the masala paste and cook until it dries out. Chop up the tomatoes and add to the pan with the carrot and parsnip.

6.) Cook for about 5 minutes then add the spinach and peas and cook for another couple of minutes.

7.) Drain the lentils, rice and bulgur and add to the pan. Add the water and stir everything together. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.

8.) Season before serving.

West Indian Pepper Pot

Back when I was a meat eater I used to like cooking some Caribbean curries from Levi Roots book ‘Caribbean Food Made Easy’. Levi Roots actually became famous on the show Dragons Den, selling his own Reggae Reggae sauce. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to succeed in finding a way to make his curries work without the meat so I’ve just looked at that book wistfully when I see it on my bookshelf. When I saw this recipe for West Indian Pepper Pot in Shelina Permaloo’s book ‘The Sunshine Diet’ I was excited to find some Caribbean food I could eat. With the sweet potato this dish was a little too sweet for me but it definitely brought those flavours of allspice and cinnamon that I was looking for. I think next time I would maybe switch it out with some normal potato but I know sweet potato is many people’s bag. I added a bit of quinoa during the cooking time.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 100g green beans
  • 200g kale
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 10g chives
  • 3 spring onions
  • salt

Method

1.) Peel the onion and finely dice.

2.) Heat the oil in a casserole dish, add the onion. Cook until soft.

3.) Whilst this is cooking, strip the thyme leaves into the pan and finely chop the chilli. De-seed the pepper and chop into chunks. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small cubes.

4.) After the onion has softened, add the marjoram, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and chilli and sauté for another minute.

5.) Add the pepper to the pan along with the sweet potato, stock, kale and green beans.

6.) Cook for 30 minutes.

7.) Chop the chives and spring onions up finely.

8.) Use these to garnish the stew.

Lentil Bolognese

For me, a classic Italian pasta with Ragu is a big comfort meal. Lentils provide all of the protein in the meal you lack from the minced beef/pork and have just a little bit of chew to mix up the texture. This recipe was from ‘Bosh – Healthy Vegan’. I take Italian lessons each week and I’ve learnt that when we ask for a panini it doesn’t make sense as panini is the plural form of sandwich – if you have Italian servers you want to impress, ask for a panino. Learning Italian, it was very difficult going on holiday recently to Spain. The basic phrases you need in both languages are very similar, so I was constantly muddling up the two! Bilbao was beautiful though and I fully recommend a trip and a taste of all their delicious pinxtos (bar snacks).

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tin lentils (400g)
  • 10g fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 50ml red wine
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp marmite
  • 100ml water
  • 320g pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g hard cheese
  • 10g parsley

Method

1.) Peel and finely dice the garlic and the onions. Strip the leaves from the thyme. Bash the walnuts in a pestle and mortar.

2.) Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook on a low heat until soft.

3.) Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

4.) Add the tomato puree, tin of tomatoes, walnuts, lentils, red wine, chilli, oregano, thyme, marmite and water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes to thicken.

5.) Whilst this is cooking, grate the cheese, Chop up the parsley and cook the pasta. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta with some sauce, sprinkle over the cheese and parsley.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap was probably the first Korean dish I ever tried which is probably the same for most people. It’s close to my heart as I love Korean food and culture. I love watching Korean tv shows, the K dramas have so much humour and the mother is always a real character. When I lived in London, I used to go to a gym that had Netflix on the treadmills and I ended up watching so many episodes of K Dramas on there that every lunch, all I could think about were ramen and sushi (Koreans have their own sushi called Kimbap which is bigger and may contain things you wouldn’t normally find in Japanese sushi such as cheese and ham). If you’re interested in Korean TV, I recommend ‘My Love from the Star’ and ‘Hellbound’.

For bibimbap, it’s great to eat out as they serve it on a super hot stone plate which comes out sizzling. This means that you get some really nice crispy bits of rice at the bottom. This is hard to replicate in the kitchen but it’s still nonetheless delicious with all the sauces and different elements. Despite cooking many things separately, they are all things which cook quickly and can be done while you’re cooking the rice. Also the recipe is really customisable so you can really change it up with your favourite veggies/protein. It’s entirely vegan if you omit the egg).

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 120g rice
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 courgette
  • 2cm ginger
  • 2 vegan steaks (I use plant pioneers)
  • oil
  • 100g kale
  • 1 pack mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 spring onions
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp gochjang paste
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp soy sauce

Method

1.) Cook the rice ( I have a rice cooker)

2.) Peel and finely dice the garlic, add to a bowl with the sugar, sesame oil and 1 tsp soy sauce.

3.) Wash and slice up the mushrooms and add to the bowl. Stir and set aside.

4.) Peel the carrot and chop into batons. Chop up the courgette into batons.

5.) In a large frying pan, heat up some oil then add the carrot and courgette. Cook until soft then move to a bowl.

6.) Slice up the steak, pan fry until it’s cooked, then set aside.

7.) Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry until cooked, set aside these too.

8.) In the meantime, finely dice the spring onions and finely chop the coriander leaves.

9.) Add the kale to the pan, fry until start to soften and place in a bowl.

10.) Crack in the eggs and fry the eggs.

11.) Make the bibimbap sauce – in a bowl mix the gochujang, vinegar and soy sauce.

12.) Dish up the rice on two plates. Place the mushrooms, kale, steak, carrot and courgettes around the plate. Put an egg on top. Add a dollop of the bibimbap sauce. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves and spring onions.

Prawns in beer sauce

I’m now doing a month’s alcohol detox as I never made it through dry January so it was a little sad to use beer in cooking without being able to drink any but this was a tasty dinner which I enjoyed. In the last couple of years I’ve really started to enjoy porter and stout beers and a result of my detox I’ve found a really great alcohol free Milk Stout from the company Big Drop. Also, I had a girly dinner at Salvi’s Italian restaurant in Manchester yesterday and they had Crodino on the menu which is like an alcohol free Aperol spritz but actually a little nicer in my opinion as it’s a little sweeter. So there’s a couple of ideas for you if you’re doing non-alcohol. The beer prawn recipe was again in the Vietnamese Market Cookbook. I did change it up a bit by adding tomatoes to the sauce and serving it with rice noodles and broccoli to make it more of a meal.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 250ml beer (I used Birra Morreti)
  • 1 bunch fresh lemongrass
  • 300g prawns
  • 250g tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • rice noodles
  • 200g broccoli
  • 10g coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the lemongrass into stalks

2.) Chop up the tomatoes

3.) Add both to a large frying pan and add the beer

4.) Cook down the tomatoes and lemongrass until the tomatoes really break down and most of the beer has cooked down into a sauce

5.) Add the prawns and simmer until cooked through. Chop up the coriander leaves finely. Slice the lime in half.

6.) Add the rice noodles into a sauce pan with the broccoli. Cover with boiling water and cook until the noodles and broccoli is tender.

7.) Take the lemongrass and discard. Squeeze the lime juice into the sauce. Serve the noodles and broccoli with the prawns and sauce. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Soup

Whilst in Paris, our friend made us a delicious rhubarb crumble and it reminded me that rhubarbs do exist as they’re so underutilised. I was hugely intrigued by this Vietnamese soup from ‘The Vietnamese Market Cookbook’ as to use rhubarb is by itself interesting but to use rhubarb in a savoury recipe is something I’ve never seen before. It seems that the authors added the rhubarb as a happy accident as they just had some rhubarb to use up. The rhubarb adds the sour element and then you get the sweetness from the pineapple. I bulked the soup out with some smoked tofu which also added some protein. I could only find tinned rhubarb but if you get the fresh stuff, do remember that the leaves are poisonous.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 tin rhubarb
  • 160g pineapple
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 spring onion
  • 200g smoked tofu
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the tomatoes

2.) In a casserole dish, heat up the oil and add the garlic

3.) Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, the sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder and a splash of water.

4.) Bring to the boil.

5.) Rinse the rhubarb and chop up the tofu, pineapple and the coriander leaves and spring onion,

6.) Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the water and the pineapple and bring to the boil for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the tofu and rhubarb and cook for another couple of minutes.

8.) Season with the fish sauce

9.) Serve and garnish with spring onion and coriander.