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30 Minute Soul Food – Spicy Rice & Beans…

New home & new job has left my kitchenware feeling rather unloved.  My food processor is gathering dust and my matroyshka measuring cups have become mere ornaments to pretty up my kitchen.  My foot’s on the mend which means I’m out and about more now, and have less time to poke about in the kitchen like I did a few months ago.

Anyways, when there isn’t enough time to spend all day cooking, this one pot wonder is a life saver; throw everything in a pan, put the lid on it for a bit, then serve.  This is a real hug in a bowl, or a bowl full of hugs… Spicy, hearty, warming, stomach filling… I could go on!  And the end result is always delicious – slightly different every time I make it, but that’s the fun of it – it’s definitely food for the soul, and satisfying enough for times when you’re feeling greedy.  Enough rambling, here’s (roughly) how I make my Spicy Rice & Beans…

One Pot Wonder!

totally warming food for the soul!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 large red chilli, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed / finely chopped
  • 1 400g tin red kidney beans – drained & rinsed
  • 1 400g tin black eyed beans – drained & rinsed (or any other bean you fancy! Adzuki works well!)
  • 1/2 cup frozen sliced green beans
  • 225g long grain rice
  • 750ml vegetable stock (preferably hot)
  • 100g tomato puree
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep pan and add the onion & pepper – fry on a fairly high heat for around 5 minutes until the onion starts to brown
  2. Turn down the heat, add the garlic, chilli, paprika, smoked paprika & chilli powder and fry for a further minute
  3. Throw in your canned beans, frozen beans, hot stock, tomato puree and cayenne – mix well and bring to the boil
  4. Stir in the rice, cover and simmer gently for around 20 minutes (until water has been absorbed and rice is tender)
  5. That’s it – serve, and enjoy!

See, I said it was easy.  If this isn’t comfort food then I don’t know what is.  Best of all, it lends itself to whatever fresh/frozen ingredients you’ve got lying around – perfect for one of those ’emptying the fridge’ days.  If you’ve only got one tin of beans, add more veg; I’ve made it with carrot, courgette, sometimes mushrooms – and I’ve even been known to throw in a diced potato.  Yes, I make it that often!

The above quantities will make 3-4 portions (generously) as a stand-alone main dish. Use common sense; if you need to feed more people, add more stuff! If anyone tries it, I’d love to hear how yours turns out!

MeatFreeMonday: Paella Baby!

Wow, what a one-pot-wonder! This recipe is full of flavour, what a way to kickstart the week!  I’ve tried my hand at making paella before, but it was less than amazing.  I wanted to try again because I’m always drawn to the lively colours, and it’s rice – I love rice!  Looking back, my first paella fail was probably down to me over-complicating it, because tonight this was so easy and quick to make!

Here’s the recipe, it’s vegan and gluten free!

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

160g spiced tofu, chopped (I used this one by Cauldron and it was fantastic)

200g paella rice

170g chopped mushrooms

2 green peppers, sliced (I only had green peppers here, any colour is great)

1 carrot, diced

1 medium courgette, diced

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

750ml vegetable stock

pinch of saffron (about 1/8 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons paprika (you could use smoked, but maybe use less of it)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup of frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)

3 spring onions, sliced

juice of 1 lime

 

Method:

  • Add the saffron to the hot vegetable stock in a jug or a bowl and leave to infuse
  • In a large deep pan, heat the oil over medium/high heat
  • Add the tofu, mushrooms, carrot, celery, courgette and green peppers and heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring and shaking every so often as it simmers
  • Stir in the garlic and chilli and leave for about 10 seconds
  • Add the stock (with saffron) and keep the heat high, bringing it to the boil
  • Stir in the paprika and cayenne
  • Once boiling, stir in the rice, cover and keep on a medium heat to a fast simmer for 18 minutes until the rice is tender and almost all of the water has been absorbed (don’t poke about with it during this time or the rice will release it’s starch and you’ll end up with risotto!)
  • Open the lid, put the peas evenly on top of the paella, then re-cover and allow them to steam for 1-2 minutes
  • Take off the heat, stir in the lime juice and spring onions, and serve!

The above quantities came out with 3 generous portions. Simple! This is definitely my new favourite one-pot-wonder, it even had B’s seal of approval (and he’s a proper carnivore!).  You could change up the vegetables and use whatever you fancy or whatever you have to hand – throw in some tomatoes, maybe some green beans – I’d definitely use the Cauldron tofu again, it’s marinated and lightly spiced so goes really well in this dish.  Happy Meatless Monday everyone!

 

 

MeatFreeMonday: Sweet Potato Tacos (gluten, dairy free!)

I haven’t been around here much lately.  Things have been a bit crazy with househunting and one thing and another, but tonight I made Tacos that I just had to share with the world.  They were born from the simple fact that I had sweet potatoes in the cupboard that needed eating.  I’d like to say I made my own taco shells, but I didn’t.  B found the corn shells we bought on offer when they fell out of the cupboard this morning – so the decision was made, we were having sweet potato tacos for dinner!

They were sweet, tangy, creamy, and spicy all at the same time.  As well as being stupidly easy to make, they are healthy and filling too.  Here’s how I made the filling for roughly 8 tacos…

 

Ingredients:

3 small-medium sweet potatoes

400g tin white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

50g frozen spinach

1 red onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 red chilli, sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 tsp each of: paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder

freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ground flax seed

8 gluten free taco shells

 

Method:

  • Peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes
  • Place them in a bowl, cover, and microwave for approx 7 mins, checking half way through – cook until tender
  • Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat the onion and green pepper in a little oil until they soften (a few minutes)
  • Add the garlic, chilli, spinach and beans to the pan, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes (until the beans are soft and the spinach has defrosted)
  • Add the cooked sweet potato to the pan, along with the spices, flax seed & oil
  • Mash the mixture together with a potato masher until the potato & beans are fairly smooth, don’t worry about the odd lump & bump, then turn off the heat
  • Heat the taco shells in the microwave for around 1 minute 30 seconds
  • That’s it – serve! Add salad, cheese, salsa, guacamole or anything else as desired – we had naked tacos – just the above mixture inside corn shells, and they were amazing

 

So there you have a satisfying taco filling – tasty and healthy, and no need for any micro-protein-pretend-beef-mince.  Happy Meat-free-Monday everyone!

Hungry for Homemade BBQ Sauce?

I’ve been playing around in the kitchen, because it’s Friday and tonight, I want to make a pizza to end all cravings for Dominos.

The pizza bases were ready to go, I just needed to create a tangy, oozy BBQ sauce to tickle the tastebuds with just the kick you need for a Friday night in.

Why don’t I just buy a jar of gluten free barbecue sauce to top the pizzas? Well, because this way is more fun, and have you read the ingredients list on a jar of sauce lately? It usually makes for scary reading.

Just a note on how to make it, it’s a really simple sauce to put together, and while there may seem like a lot of ingredients, I just used what I had to hand.  If there’s something on the list you don’t have or don’t usually buy, see if there’s something you have in your cupboard that you can substitute.  Recipes are great for inspiration, but you can always tweak them to suit your tastes.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, chopped

2.5cm piece of ginger, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, chopped

300ml water

5 tbsp tomato puree

3 tbsp honey (please use agave nectar instead to make this vegan)

1 tbsp tamari sauce

1 whole star anise

1/2 tsp each of: paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper

2 tsp molasses

juice of 1/2 lime

optional: 2 tsp cornflour

 

Method:

  • In a saucepan, heat the onion, pepper and ginger in the oil until they soften
  • Add the garlic and chilli and heat for no more than another 30 seconds
  • Now add the water and turn up the heat
  • Add in all the other ingredients, except for the lime juice
  • Bring this up to the boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes
  • It should now start to smell like BBQ sauce. Add the lime juice and heat for about a minute.
  • Take it off the heat, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth (depending on how good your blender is, you may want to fish out the star anise before blending)
  • At this stage, I like to put it back into the pan and add cornflour to thicken it up.  To do this, mix 2 tsp cornflour into about a tablespoon of water, and add it to the sauce.  The cornflour needs heat to thicken, so simmer the mixture for a further 5-10 minutes

That’s it! Allow to cool, bottle it, jar it, put it straight on your pizza, mix it in with some pasta, dip your chips in it – the choice is yours!

This recipe makes about 400ml sauce, scale it up or down to suit your needs, or store the leftovers in the fridge and it should keep for a few days.

Bitter-sweet Beetroot with Sexy Spinach Quinoa…

This is a short & sweet, simple recipe. It’s fool proof.  But don’t let that fool you – it’s delicious; tasty and satisfying.  You have my word.

I was inspired when I found this recipe for the beetroot: a baker’s doesn’t original recipe so using 4 medium sized fresh beetroots, I sliced them, drizzled over some balsamic vinegar and honey (just switch this to some agave nectar to make this dish vegan), covered with tinfoil and popped them in a hot oven for 30 minutes, at around 220 degrees.

While they were in the oven, I got onto making the quinoa.  Quinoa is up there as one of my favourite grains, and it’s something that I had never even tried before I went gluten free.  Now, I don’t know how I lived without it – there are so many things you can do with it, and it always tastes amazing. Below is how I made it tonight…

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper (of any colour – I used orange), finely chopped

1 clove of garlic (a nice fat one, minced or finely chopped)

75g fresh spinach

250g quinoa (dry weight)

600ml hot vegetable stock (I use GF bouillon powder)

Method:

  • In a large pan, gently heat the onion and pepper in a little oil for around 10 minutes, until they soften
  • Stir through the garlic and add the hot stock
  • Add the quinoa to the pan, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes
  • When there is very little water left to be absorbed, put the spinach on top of the quinoa, cover the pan and allow it wilt for a few minutes.
  • When the spinach is wilted, stir it through the quinoa, and serve…
  • Take the beetroot out of the oven (it should be tender now) and serve with the quinoa – drizzle over any juices left from the beetroot pan!

That’s it. As easy as that.  It’s a perfect mid-week dish when you’re tired from work and need feeding quick.  I got 3 servings out of the above quantities, so it fed me and B tonight, and there’s leftovers for B’s lunch tomorrow. Happy days :)

Homemade Vegetable Lasagne (gluten & lactose free)

Homemade vegetable lasagne, just as it should be; hot, oozy and messy, with garden peas & chunky chips!

I don’t have the inclination to let it rest long enough for the layers to firm up properly. That’s just because I’m greedy and by the time it comes out of the oven I want to just put my face in the lasagne pan.  This is a vegetable lasagne without any weird mycro-protein-whatever-textured-stuff… just vegetables & tomatoes, with a homemade white sauce (made with lactofree milk & cheese, and gluten free flour).  I have been known to make my own pasta sheets for this but tonight I used sainsburys gluten free pasta sheets (dry).

Ingredients:

  • for the vegetables…

2 small yellow onions, finely chopped

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

2 good sized courgettes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced / finely chopped

500g carton of tomato passata (sieved tomatoes)

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp basil

1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp mustard powder

  • for the sauce:

20g plain gluten free flour

200ml stock (COLD!)

200ml lactofree milk

knob of ‘butter’ (or dairy free spread)

100g grated lactofree cheese

black pepper & parsley to taste

  • also…

250g dry lasagne sheets

100g grated lactofree cheese for the top

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and start with the vegetables…

  • in a large pan, heat the onion and pepper in a little oil until they start to soften
  • add the courgette and heat for around 5 minutes until it softens
  • add the garlic, stir through, and then add the passata
  • stir in the basil, mustard and oregano, and add the whole bay leaf
  • bring this to a simmer and heat for 10 or 15 minutes before turning off the heat

Meanwhile sort the cheese sauce…

  • add a little milk to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps, then add the rest of the milk
  • mix in the stock, and pour it all into a cold saucepan
  • add the butter to the pan, and heat very gently, whisking, until it comes to a simmer
  • stir in the cheese before adding the parsley and black pepper to taste
  • keep it on a gentle heat, and keep an eye on it while you begin to assemble the lasagne

To layer the lasagne…

  • oil / grease a lasagne pan (24x28cm works well) and cover the bottom with the pasta sheets
  • onto that add a layer of vegetables, then a little cheese sauce on top of that
  • repeat the pasta – vegetables – cheese sauce layering until you come to your last sheets of pasta
  • top the final sheets of pasta with a thick layer of cheese sauce, then sprinkle over the grated cheese
  • pop this in the oven for 30 minutes

Once it’s cooked and the cheese is golden brown, take it out of the oven, and ideally let it rest for 20 minutes – this will allow the layers to firm up and it will be easier to cut and serve… me, I don’t have the patience for that, but if you’re cooking for guests you might want to.

This is one of those dishes that’s so tasty and satisfying, it really doesn’t need meat (or ‘fake’ soya-protein-pretend-meat).  This recipe might come in useful to any omnivores looking to give up meat for lent! :)

MeatFreeMonday: Chilli Sin Carne

Meat-Free Monday: Chilli Sin Carne – with fluffy rice & chunky chips… delicious!

Recipe here – it’s different every time I make it, but that’s the general idea :)

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