Zingy courgette and pea soup

This is a super zingy summer soup using courgettes and peas so it’s super healthy as well as tasty and so easy to make! Continue reading “Zingy courgette and pea soup”

Three cheese Ravioli with tomato sauce

chicken and mushroom ravioli

This is a very simple and easy to follow recipe for  ravioli using three cheeses which serves 4 as a starter or two as a main course. Continue reading “Three cheese Ravioli with tomato sauce”

Gnocchi with tomatoes, pinenuts and blue cheese

Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat as the gnocchi aren’t homemade but it’s still damned good and let’s face it, sometimes needs must! It’s such a quick and easy dish and the soft pillowy gnocchi with the garlicky sauce and oozy cheese are the perfect comfort food after a busy day. Glass of red wine mandatory. Continue reading “Gnocchi with tomatoes, pinenuts and blue cheese”

Pearl barley risotto with roasted squash, red peppers and rocket

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the squash and peppers in a roasting tray with a good drizzle of olive oil and the leaves picked from the thyme sprigs. Season and toss well and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until tender. Give it a good mix halfway through.

Pour the stock into a small pan and keep warm over a low heat.

Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in another pan (I used a deep-sided frying pan with a lid) and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add the barley and cook for one minute.

Start adding the stock a ladle or two at a time, stirring well and making sure all the stock has been absorbed before adding more. This will take 30-40 minutes – the barley should be tender but still al dente. When you’re happy that it’s cooked, put the lid on, turn the heat off and leave to stand.

Take the squash and peppers out of the oven. Add these to the risotto with the parsley and gently mix through. Divide between two warmed bowls and top each with the rocket and parmesan. Another drizzle of olive oil and some balck pepper and you’re good to go.

Lentil and roast carrot salad with feta

lentil and roast carrot salad with feta

Method:

A great lunch dish, ideal for taking to work. Roasting the carrots with honey gives them a lovely sweetness which contrasts beautifully with the sharp saltiness of the feta.

Warm the lentils in a pan with a little extra water.. Put the spinach and spring onion in a colander and then pour over the warmed lentils to drain (this will also wilt the spinach and soften the onions). Drizzle over some olive oil and squeeze over the lemon juice. Add the mint, mix well and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C. Put the carrots on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the cumin seeds. Season well and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Drizzle over the honey and roast for a further 5 minutes or until just tender. remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To assemble, mix the lentils again, divide between two plates and scatter over the roast carrots and feta. Drizzle over a little more oil and add a grind or two of black pepper.

Tagliatelle with parsley and walnut pesto

Tagliatelle with parsley and walnut pesto

Method:

A Tagliatelle twist on the traditional basil/pine nut pesto. So easy but so tasty!

Put the parsley, hazelnuts, garlic and lemon zest in a food processor and whizz to a semi-smooth paste. Add the parmesan and then, with the food processor going, drizzle in the olive oil gradually until everything is emulsified. Taste and add salt and pepper accordingly.

Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan with the reserved cooking water and mix through the pesto.

Serve immediately with more grated parmesan.

Garlicky pumpkin risotto

pumpkin-risotto

Method:

Make the pesto:
Pulse the basil, garlic and pinenuts in a food processor to a coarse paste, adding enough olive oil to produce a loose-textured puree. Pour into a bowl and fold in the parmesan.

Cook the garlic:
Blanch the 6 cloves in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain all the water off then add 200ml of the stock and half the butter. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until the garlic is really soft and the stock and butter have reduced to a syrupy glaze. Remove from the heat. (You can do this up to 4 hours in advance).

Cook the pumpkin:
Heat oven to 200C. Toss the pumpkin cubes with the olive oil, season and roast for 10-15 minutes until just tender.

Make the risotto:
Sweat the onion in the remaining butter in a large shallow pan until soft – about 5 minutes. Tip in the rice, raise the heat and toast the rice until translucent. Lower the heat and add the remaining stock a ladleful at a time, stirring well until the stock is completely absorbed before adding the next ladleful.
Once the rice is al dente, fold in the two cheeses, garlic cloves and pumpkin. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Serve with a drizzle of pesto on top.

Vegetable fried rice

vegetable fried rice

Method:

Heat a wok or large non-stick frying pan and then add the oil. Add the peppers first and fry for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients and stir fry for a few minutes before adding the rice.

Continue to stir fry over a high heat until the rice is heated through. Add the salt and pepper and mix through.

Move the rice to one side of the wok or pan and add a little more oil. Add the soy to the beaten egg and pour this into the space in the pan. Stir the egg to cook through before mixing the rice in.

Taste and add more salt or soy if needed.

Gnocchi with creamy mushrooms and spinach

Method:

First, prepare the spinach. Put it into a large sieve or colander and pour over a kettleful of boiling water so that it wilts. Leave it to drain and once it is cool enough, squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible before chopping roughly. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. Fry them over a fairly high heat for five minutes or so until they are nicely browned and have given out all their liquid. Tip them out into a bowl and set aside.

Pour a little more olive oil into the pan and add the shallot. Fry for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes more before adding the white wine. Allow to bubble until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Return the mushrooms to the pan along with the chopped spinach and mix everything together. Add the creme fraiche along with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.Simmer gently so the sauce thickens a little.

Meanwhile heat your grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi. Cook according to packet instructions but generally the moment they rise to the surface, they are ready. Drain.

Grate some nutmeg into the sauce and add the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can be quite generous with the nutmeg. Mix the gnocchi in with the sauce then spoon into a gratin dish. Grate over a generous amount of parmesan and place under the hot grill for a few minutes until golden and bubbling. Leave to cool for a minute before eating or you’ll burn your mouth (like I did).

Broccoli, feta and chickpea salad

Broccoli, feta and chickpea salad

Method:

Cook the broccoli in salted water until tender. Drain and rinse under a cold tap. Set aside.

Mix the chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, olives, hazelnuts and parsley in a large bowl. Add the broccoli, a good glug of olive oil, the lemon juice and some black pepper (you probably won’t need salt as the feta is quite salty) and mix everything well together.

Finally, add the feta and give another mix, trying not to break up the feta too much. Divide into two bowls and drizzle over a little more of your best extra virgin olive oil.

 

Onion bhajis

Onion bhajis

Method:

Serves 2 as a starter or wee snack!

Fry the onion gently in a couple of tbsp of the oil, stirring freqently until soft and translucent but not coloured – about 10 minutes. Add a pinch of cayenne, a pinch of salt, half tsp turmeric, half tsp ground coriander, quarter tsp ground cumin and quarter tsp ground ginger. Mix well, turn out the heat and set aside.

Measure the gram flour into a large bowl and add half tsp salt, quarter tsp ground cumin and half tsp ground coriander. Mix well. Mix the tomato puree with a shot glass (or egg cupful) of water. Add this to the flour and spice mixture along with the cooked onions.

Mix everything well together – it should be the consistency of thick batter.

Heat the oil in a wok or large pan and deep-fry dessert spoonfuls of the mixture, in batches, until quite dark and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the lemon and pickles.

 

Cauliflower bhajis

cauliflower bhaji

Method:

Serves 4 as a starter.

Put the cauliflower in a frying pan with 100ml water, the onion, knob of butter and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and leave to cook. When the water has evaporated, add the spices and let them cook out with the cauliflower and onion, making sure everything is well coated. Leave to cool.

Warm the milk in a pan and add the saffron. Take off the heat then add a good pinch of salt and some black pepper. When it has cooled a bit, add the egg and the gram flour. Mix to make a batter and then add in the cauliflower mixture. Mix well but carefully, so the cauliflower doesn’t break up too much.

Fill a wok or large pan one-third full with oil. When hot, drop in tablespoons of the cauliflower batter and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning regularly until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.

These are good served just with some salad and a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, you could make a yogurt dip – mix some natural yogurt with a squeeze of lemon, chopped cucumber, chopped fresh mint and coriander.

 

Spiced Parsnip Soup

parsnip soup

Method:

Heat the oven to 200C. Grind the cumin and coriander seeds, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar. Put parsnips in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and scatter over the spice mixture. Toss the parsnips well to coat them. Roast in the oven for about half an hour or until soft and golden.

Meanwhile, fry the onion and celery in a pan until soft and slightly coloured. Add the potato and lentils and mix through. Add the stock and the roasted parsnips. Simmer until lentils are cooked, about 20 mins. Use a stick blender to whizz until smooth.

Spicy butternut squash soup

Method:

Heat the oven to 200C. Grind the coriander seeds, chilli flakes and a good pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar. Put the squash in a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over the spice mixture and mix to coat well.

Roast in the oven until the squash is soft and golden at the edges.

Meanwhile, fry off the onions until soft, add the curry powder, lentils and stock and simmer. Add the squash when it is cooked and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20-30 mins. Add a pinch of garam masala and blend well with a stick blender until smooth.
(Use vegetable stock instead of chicken if you want this to be a vegetarian dish)

Pasta with garlicky greens

pasta with garlicky greens

Method:

This is a quick and easy tea and very tasty too.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the shallots and garlic with a pinch of salt and fry gently for about 15 minutes, stirring so it doesn’t catch.

Add the broccoli (or other greens) and the wine. Let it bubble for a minute before covering so that the broccoli cooks in its own winey steam.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water.

Once the broccoli is tender, add the creme fraiche. Heat through then melt the cheeses into the sauce. Add the black pepper and parsley. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning – it may not need salt as the cheeses are quite salty.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Mix well and serve straight away with more parmesan and a glass of white wine.