Hassleback al Forno

In Britain we have a tradition of having a roast dinner on a Sunday. This consists of roast vegetables, meat, some gravy and potatoes in some form. Many families still do this but it does tend to use up every pot in the house which has put me off making it just for the two of us. These roasted vegetables with puy lentils cooked in red wine do a nice job of recreating that Sunday lunch feeling without all the extra washing up. Once again this recipe was in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15g thyme
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 100ml red wine
  • 2 400g tins green lentils
  • 100g spinach
  • 4 tbsp yoghurt

Method

1.) Heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Peel the parsnips, squash, onion, carrots and potatoes.

2.) Slice around all the veg but don’t go through the middle at 1/2 cm intervals.

3.) Peel and finely chop the garlic and add to a large bowl with 6 tbsp oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Strip off and add the thyme leaves.

4.) Add the veg to the bowl and coat with all the ingredients.

5.) Pour everything into a roasting tin and roast for one hour.

6.) Once the veg are done, take them out the tin and set aside. Put the tray over the hob and pour in the wine and let it reduce. Then add the tins of lentils with the liquid and the spinach. Stir until the sauce is thick and the spinach has wilted then season.

7.) Serve some lentils with some roasted veg and a dollop of yoghurt.

Wonton Noodle Soup

Wonton noodle soup has always been a great comfort food to me. Generally I’m disappointed by vegetarian dumplings so I was happy to find such a great recipe for them in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’. I have probably made about 2/3 of the recipes in this book and the only one that hasn’t worked was the scotch eggs – I was hugely disappointed with this as I wanted to share one of the few aspects of British food culture that’s actually good. The wontons use butternut squash as the base and miso to flavour it. Depending on what size wonton wrappers you have you will get more or less dumplings. I think I had more than the 24 stated in the recipe using 10cm wrappers.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g butternut squash
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6cm ginger
  • 80g broccoli
  • 1 tsp miso paste (the recipe recommends red but I can only ever find brown)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • wonton wrappers
  • massel chicken flavoured stock
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 nests noodles
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 250g tofu

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.) Cut off the skin of the squash, cut into chunks. Put into a lined baking tray, sprinkle over some salt and pepper and drizzle over a little oil. Roast the squash for 1 hour.

3.) Peel the garlic and ginger and in a food processor, add the broccoli, miso, vinegar, 1 clove of garlic and the ginger. Blitz until fine. Once the squash is roasted, add this to the food processor and blitz to combine. Set aside to cool down.

4.) Once the mixture is cool, you can start to put together the wontons. Get a bowl and fill with water. Get a pastry brush. Put each wonton wrapper on a work surface and put 1 heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the middle. Brush around the filling and then gather up the wrapper around the sides. Pinch together to seal.

5.) At this point, you can either steam the dumplings as is or cook them in a soup. To steam, place a bamboo steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for about 4 minutes.

6.) To carry on making the soup, finely dice the other clove of garlic. Fill a large pan with about 500ml of water and a tbsp of chicken flavoured stock. Bring to the boil.

7.) Add the noodles and cook for a couple of minutes and in this team finely slice the spring onion.

8.) Add the wontons to the pan and continue to cook for a couple more minutes. Cube the tofu and add this to the pan. Cook for two more minutes then add the soy sauce and sesame oil. Garnish with the spring onion and serve.

Vietnamese ‘Chicken’ & Mint Salad

I first made this salad many years ago when I lived in the US. Nigella Lawson was doing a competition on her website where you had to make this salad, plate it and take a picture and the best looking picture won. I was a bit annoyed back then because I’d submitted my photo and plated in a certain way then the person who eventually won posted after me and plated very similarly. But resentment over, this is a great salad, the cabbage makes it nice and crunchy and it’s so easy these days to replace the pulled chicken. I used Linda McCartney’s hoisin ‘duck’. The mint balances the spices very nicely and the fish sauce adds a nice sourness. Anyone who is familiar with Nigella Lawson will appreciate her narrative on the recipe ‘When it comes to chicken, I am very much a thigh than a breast person’. She is my idol!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 clove garilc
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • pepper
  • 200g white cabbage
  • 1 carrot
  • 200g chicken substitute
  • 40g mint

Method

1.) Heat a frying pan and cook the chicken substitute until crispy then set aside to cool.

2.) Make the dressing by adding the chilli to a measuring jug, crush the garlic clove, finely chop and add that, add the sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, a pinch of pepper and oil. Stir and leave to sit.

3.) Shred the cabbage and add to a large salad bowl. Peel the carrot and grate and add with the cabbage. Pick off the mint leaves and chop up and mix in. Peel and finely chop the onion and add that. Add the cooled ‘chicken’. Finally, add the dressing and give everything a good mix. Serve.

Lady Marmalade Salad

I made this salad as an accompaniment to my anchovy and olive pissasladiere. I wasn’t 100% happy with that so I won’t post about it this time but this salad from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’ was really something special even though I couldn’t get the chicory that’s meant to be in it and subbed with Romaine lettuce. You cook down some orange juice then add some honey and vinegar so it’s spicy and sweet and honestly I think I could drink the stuff. Jamie recommends to serve with goat cheese on toast. I remember a few years ago there seemed to be a trend of pairing orange and coffee flavour which sounds intriguing but I never got round to trying it out, probably in cake form.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons pistachios
  • 4 oranges
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon runny honey
  • 2 romaine lettuces

Method

1.) Shell the pistachios then toast lightly in a frying pan.

2.) Bash them up in a pestle and mortar and set aside.

3.) Chop the oranges in half and squeeze the juice out into a small saucepan. Remove any pips.

4.) Simmer until syrupy then take off the heat.

5.) Add the vinegar, olive oil and honey and season with salt and pepper. Mix everything.

6.) Wash and chop up the lettuce and place in a salad bowl. Mix with the dressing. Serve and sprinkle with the pistachios.

Halloumi Orange Salad

It’s kind of summer in the UK (well as much as we get) so I fancied a nice summery salad which I found in this on the BBC Good Food website. The Vitamin C probably did me a few favours with my COVID too. Early this month the two final episodes of Stranger Things aired and I got round to watching them this weekend, it was a bit of an event to manage for as they’re film-length. Even if you haven’t seen this show, you must have heard of how Kate Bush’s song ‘Running up That Hill’ has given her a number one over thirty years after the original song came out. It’s even cooler because she’s now made the record for the longest time period between two number one songs. The song features because in the show there is another world full of monsters called the ‘Upside Down’ and the biggest monster of all ‘Vecna’ can drag you down there if you have something traumatic that’s happened in your past. However, your favourite song can pull you out of it, which is how Kate Bush features. Obviously this led to a discussion on what would be the song that rescues you from Vecna, mine would be Bohemian Rhapsody which in my opinion does for music what the Godfather did for films. My husband stole my suggestion and my friend’s was ‘Life on Mars’. What would you choose?

Serves 2 as main meal

Ingredients

  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 large carrots (I used carrot battons as it was all I could find but the original recipe calls to grate the carrot into ribbons)
  • 225g halloumi
  • 100g watercress

Method

1.) Peel the oranges and cut the flesh away from the pith. Chop into small pieces

2.) Add the oranges and juice to a large bowl. Add the carrots and watercress.

3.) In a small bowl, mix the honey, mustard, vinegar and oil and pour into the salad. Mix everything to coat.

4.) Slice up the halloumi and place on a baking tray with some baking paper.

5.) Grill under a hot grill for 5 minutes until browning and bubbling. Flip with a fork and do the same on the other side. Serve with the salad.

Spiced Carrot Fritters

As may have been clear from this blog I’m a huge fan of Jamie Oliver’s cookbook ‘Veg’ and this might well be my favourite recipe from it so far. I was extra impressed that I’d managed to get it on the table as I’d finally had my first confirmed COVID infection after attending our yearly company conference held in the south of the country this time. Monday to Wednesday was grim living with COVID and the lasting effects of the HIIT class I’d signed up for at the work event but after struggling to work through those days to get all the month-end journals in I decided I couldn’t go on any longer. I signed off work in the morning, had a three hour nap and got woken up by my cat pawing me in the face. When I was a bit better I found the time to watch Taxi Driver which I’ve always wanted to watch so at least my week wasn’t completely wasted.

These delicious pancakes are spiced with cumin, fennel seeds, chilli and coriander but to divert from the topic once again just because I found it quite interesting – I was watching Rick Stein’s India and he was talking about how when the spices started first travelling from India to England, the first one that was really desired was pepper. People really hadn’t had anything like it before with it’s slight kick. It’s so funny as it’s just a table condiment now and not at all seen as exotic!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 150g carrots (I think around 2 medium)
  • 1 green chilli
  • 15g coriander leaves
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 /2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cup self raising flour (I used a measuring jug and filled to one cup level)
  • 1 cup milk (as above)
  • 1 egg
  • oil
  • 100g crunchy veg (radishes/cucumber/carrots)
  • rose harissa
  • 1 bag watercress
  • 40g feta
  • hummus

Method

1.) Make up the salad by chopping up/peeling the veg you’ve chosen. If you’re using cucumber it’s best to cut out the seeds as they will make everything watery. Put these in a salad bowl with the watercress. Crumble in the feta.

2,) Peel and grate the 150g carrots. Add to another large bowl. Finely chop the chilli and coriander leaves and add to the bowl. Chuck in the fennel and cumin. Peel and slice the onion and add to the bowl.

3.) In a measuring jug, add the flour and milk and mix well with a fork. Crack in the egg and mix that in too. Pour the batter in with the carrots and give everything a stir.

4.) In a frying pan, heat up some oil and add about 1/2 a ladleful of the mixture. Cook until browning then flip over and brown the other side.

5.) Repeat until you get through all of the mixture.

6.) Serve the pancakes with some salad, a dollop of the hummus and a teaspoon or two of the rose harissa.