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.

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.

Lemon & Caper Cauliflower Orzo

My husband was asking for something with roasted cauliflower and I came across this charred cauliflower and orzo dish on BBC Good Food. I’m not sure how authentically Italian it is. I was just in Rome and I saw all the classics – Spaghetti alle Vongole, Lasagne, Carbonara, Rome’s version of Arancini (suppli) and more focaccia and mozzarella than you can shake a stick at but nothing with cauliflower and orzo. Nonetheless it’s still molto buono as they say in Italy. Rome is a beautiful, richly historic city and I’m now watching Suburra on Netflix which is an engrossing Italian crime drama set in Rome allowing me to relive all the sites.

Serves 3 (I doubled the recipe which Served 1 with leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g orzo
  • 4 tsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 100g rocket

Method

1.) Heat up the grill

2.) Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Chop up the cauliflower and place over the tray.

3.) Grill for 10 – 15 minutes until charred.

4.) Cook the orzo in a pan of boiling water until soft.

5.) Make up the stock and peel and dice the garlic. Zest the lemon.

6.) Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and capers and fry for a minute.

7.) Drain the orzo and add to the pan, add the cauliflower, the lemon zest, add the lemon juice to the pan and the vegetable stock.

8.) Cook for a couple of minutes then serve up with the rocket sprinkled over.

Garden Soup

I made this Italian garden soup just before I went on holiday to Rome with the hope of tricking myself that we’ve reached spring. That illusion has been well and truly decimated after returning to the UK in the midst of Storm Eunice. The wind speed reached 130mph in the Isle of Wight this week, trees were blowing over and some of the Millennium Dome blew away. So perfect soup weather, even a ‘Zuppa dell’Orto’ as it’s called in Italian (or even maybe for ‘Zuppa Inglese’ as I was surprised to learn means trifle in Italian). Even with the torrential rain, my crazy cat Gino was so desperate to go out after not being able to whilst we were away for 5 days that he was sitting in our garden using the plastic chair as a makeshift umbrella. I can’t say he’s inspiring me much to leave the house after he keeps coming back in the house soggy and bedraggled. This soup can be made up from leftover vegetables in your fridge so if you’re lucky you won’t have to leave the house either.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 bulbs fennel
  • 120g spinach
  • 2 tins broad beans
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 30g parmesan/pecorino

Method

1.) Peel the onion and finely chop. Heat some oil in a casserole dish and cook the onion until soft.

2.) In the meantime, chop the tomatoes in half, slice the fennel, peel and cube the potatoes and make up the stock.

3.) Add the tomatoes, fennel, spinach, tins of beans, potatoes and stock to the casserole dish.

4.) Simmer for 25 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

5.) Grate some cheese and add to the soup, season with salt and pepper before serving.

Double Corn Salad

I was only going to post on the blog until half time was over but as ever, my team are making it a painful experience. Cristiano Ronaldo is the only redeeming feature these days. It’s even dimmed my love of football somewhat though I’m still considering taking a week off work in November to watch some of the World Cup. I have to say I was a little bit sceptical when I saw this recipe for a salad containing popcorn in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’ but he’s been right about everything else in that book and I was very pleasantly surprised. The dressing is also really good. I love a tangy dressing. Only thing is I don’t know if it’s just my English mustard or English mustard in general but its very hot and probably 1 tsp of that stuff is enough. The recipe also makes a lot of dressing so you could make some and have it with a lunch salad all week. You can also serve with some toasted ciabatta croutons.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 50g popping corn (ok Jamie pops his own from kernels which is definitely the cost-effective way but I was lazy so I got the microwave stuff)
  • 2 corn on the cobs
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 4 spring onions
  • 30g mature cheddar
  • 30g blue cheese
  • 6 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp English mustard (or 1 if it’s very hot)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 10g coriander leaves

Method

1.) Put your popcorn in the microwave or heat in a pan with 1 tbsp oil and a lid until popped.

2.) Cook the corn on the cobs in the pan, turning over with a fork when the side a little charred.

3.) Set the corn to one side. Chop up the lettuce and add to a mixing bowl. Finely chop the spring onions and the coriander leaves and add to the bowl.

4.) Make the dressing by adding the cheeses, yoghurt, garlic, mustard and white wine vinegar into a blender. Blitz until smooth.

5.) Cut the corn from the corn in the cob. Hold in place with a fork if the corn is still hot. Add the corn to the salad bowl.

6.) Mix everything in the salad and divide between the plates. Drizzle over the dressing. Sprinkle over some popcorn. Serve.