Carrot and orange soup

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I love making soups – they’re so simple to do and there are unlimited numbers of combinations of flavours and ingredients.  Also, most soups keep well in the fridge for a few days and make great healthy snacks and lunches or as a starter for a dinner party – simply warm them up when needed.

We’ve been getting huge bunches of carrots (carrot-tops included) over recent weeks in our veg box so I’ve been basing a lot of our meals around them (sorry G!)  Today’s lunch was a very simple carrot and orange soup, which literally took me about twelve minutes from walking through the door to sitting down to eat.  

(Serves 4)

  • Bunch of organic carrots – approximately eight, scrubbed, topped and tailed and roughly chopped
  • 2 organic oranges
  • 2 gloves of garlic – peeled and crushed
  • Drizzle of organic sunflower oil
  • 5 teaspoons or ground coriander
  • 2 pints of vegetable stock (I use Kallo organic stock cubes)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the ground coriander and garlic together with the carrots
  3. Sauté for about 3 minutes
  4. Grate the zest and the juice of the oranges to the pan (I also often add the remaining peel and flesh for additional flavour and then just remove before blending)
  5. Add the veg stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 8 minutes to soften the carrots
  6. Blend and return to the heat (I use a hand-held blender most of the time as it’s much quicker and makes far less washing up!)
  7. Season to taste and serve

Jamie Oliver’s Vegan Keralan Curry

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I’ve really noticed in the last couple of years more mainstream celebrity chefs are including plant-based meals in their cookery books and TV shows, which is fantastic.  This delicious Keralan curry is one of Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals – it’s deliciously fragrant with a great fruity twist from the addition of the pineapple and a wonderful variety of textures. This dish really takes me back to a wonderful few weeks spent in Southern India sampling the amazing light and fragrant curries – A great part of the world to visit if you’re vegan!

I didn’t actually make the minty yoghurt this time but you could easily make it with unsweetened soya yoghurt to make the entire meal dairy-free.

The link to the recipe is below: 

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/keralan-veggie-curry-with-poppadoms-rice-minty-yoghurt

Mushroom and pepper Stroganoff

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Despite it still (officially) being British summertime the weather here has been decidedly wet and windy today.  This vegan Stroganoff is perfect comfort food for rainy days but also holds its own at dinner parties if you’re entertaining.  You can make it ahead of time (meaning more quality time with your guests) – just warm through on the night and don’t add the soya cream or fresh parsley until you’re ready to serve.

(Serves 4)

  • 1 punnet of organic closed cup mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 punnet organic chestnut mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 organic red pepper – sliced
  • 1 organic green pepper – sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 1 organic white onion – chopped
  • Sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed spice
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use one by Biona)
  • 1 dessertspoon of Marmite
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup soya cream (I use an Alpro one)
  • Bunch of fresh parsley – chopped
  1. Add the sunflower oil to a large pan and warm
  2. Add the paprika and mixed spice and allow to dissolve in the warmed oil (be careful not to burn)
  3. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and cook for a few minutes to allow the onion to soften
  4. Add the mushrooms, peppers, Worcestershire sauce, Marmite, brandy and a generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
  5. Stir and cook for approximately 10 – 15 minutes
  6. Stir the soya cream and fresh parsley through just before serving

I served it here with long grain rice but it’s equally delicious with tagliatelle

Vietnamese summer rolls with tofu

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First of all I feel I need to apologise to anyone reading this from Vietnam – I realise that in comparison to the little works of art that appear on the table in Vietnam and Vietnamese restaurants around the world these are a little slap-dash to say the least!  BUT they do taste amazing plus they’re really healthy and quick to prepare.  

They make a great starter at a dinner party  – you can just stick all the ingredients on the table and let everyone assemble their own – nothing like getting your guests to do the hard work!  Personally, I think these make a great TV dinner.

(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light meal)

  • 8 vietnamese rice paper wrappers/spring roll wrappers – You can buy these from Asian supermarkets, health food shops and some regular supermarkets
  • 2 organic carrots – sliced into thin batons
  • Half an organic cucumber  – sliced into thin batons
  • 3 organic spring onions – sliced lengthways 
  • Small pack of organic marinated firm tofu – thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh mint
  • 1 portion of vermicelli rice noodles
  • Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
  • Splash of soy sauce – I use a low-sodium one
  • Hoisin sauce for dipping
  1. First of all pop the vermicelli rice noodles in a bowl with boiling water to soften
  2. Heat the toasted sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the tofu
  3. Splash a few drops of soy sauce over the tofu and fry for a few moments each side until it turns a golden brown
  4. Pour some boiling water into a large, flat-bottomed plate – this is to soften the rice paper wrappers – they just need a couple of seconds immersed in the water
  5. Place the water-softened wrapper on a plate and fill with ingredients
  6. Fold opposite ends in and then roll up, lengthways, as tightly as you can – this does require some practise!
  7. Serve with a small bowl of hoisin dipping sauce

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Carrot and cashew nut pâté

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This recipe was inspired by an amazing meal I had recently at Acorn Vegetarian Restaurant in Bath.  They did actually give me the recipe for it at the time which I’ve since misplaced so this is my own version.  It makes a great starter for a dinner party or a healthy and tasty snack or light-lunch on its own.

(Serves 4)

  • 6 carrots – roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Handful of cashew nuts (unsalted)
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Heat the oil in the pan and add the spices until they are dissolved
  2. Add the carrots and pan-fry for about ten minutes to soften
  3. Add the cashew nuts and fry for a few more minutes
  4. Season to taste
  5. Blend all the ingredients but not too much – you still want to retain some texture from the carrots and cashew nuts
  6. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.  Alternatively it keeps well for a day or two in the fridge if you want to get the prep done for a dinner party nice and early
  7. Serve with fresh bread

Chestnut mushroom, thyme and toasted pine nut risotto

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Mushroom risotto is one of my favourite comfort-foods.  Apart from the time spent stirring (which I actually find strangely therapeutic) it’s really simple to make and it’s just really delicious and always manages to make a bad day a bit better.  I served this one with a rocket salad plus ciabatta and some dipping oils plus a creamed asparagus dip.  (I bought the asparagus dip from an Italian deli but will definitely be making it in the future as it was really delicious and simple to make.)

(Serves 4)

For the risotto:

  • 1 large mug of Arborio rice
  • 2 punnets chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 2-3 pints of vegetable stock (I use Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes)
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • Handful of toasted pine nuts
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Drizzle the olive oil into a large pan
  2. Add the garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes to soften
  3. In a second pan add the vegetable stock and keep this simmering on a low heat 
  4. Add the rice and cook for a few minutes on a fairly high heat until the edge of the grains of rice begin to go translucent
  5. Turn the heat to low
  6. Add the glass of wine to the rice and stir
  7. Continue to stir the rice until the wine is absorbed, all the while “massaging” it in order to release the starch, which adds to the creamy texture of the risotto at the end
  8. Add stock from the other pan as you go and continue to stir the risotto for a few more minutes
  9. Add the mushrooms and half of the thyme
  10. Continue with the process of stirring and gradually adding the stock for approximately 40 minutes.  You want the rice to be cooked but still to retain a slightly nutty texture
  11. Before serving add the salt and pepper to taste, the toasted pine nuts and the remainder of the fresh thyme

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For the lemon dipping oil:

  • Small cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  1. Combine the ingredients and and allow to stand at least one hour before serving

For the rosemary dipping oil:

  • Small cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of fresh rosemary
  1. Combine the ingredients and leave to stand for at least one hour before serving

Serve with freshly baked ciabatta – You can make your own but I cheated and bought mine from Waitrose!

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Samphire salad with lemon and olive oil

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Samphire grows wild along the marshy coastlines and estuaries of Northern and Western Europe and has a distinctive fresh and salty taste.  Not only is it delicious but it’s also really good for us  – it’s high in vitamins A, C and B and is a great source of folic acid.  I’ve even heard it recently described as the “next big superfood”.

Samphire season in the UK is fairly short (July to August) so do make the most of it whilst you can.   I’ve often had it either deep-fried or lightly boiled in restaurants but I bought some today and it was so fresh that I just served it raw with lemon juice (to balance out the saltiness) and a drizzle of olive oil.

This makes a great side-dish.

  • Generous handful of samphire, washed, roughly chopped with stalks removed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients and serve

Caramelised onion and rosemary flatbread, cherry tomato, olive and rocket flatbread plus a side of samphire salad with lemon and olive oil

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I know I only posted a flatbread recipe a few days but at this time of year they’re just perfect. Quick and easy to prepare, delicious and great for sharing with a group of friends and a good bottle of wine.   I bought some freshly picked samphire earlier from a little road-side stall in Norfolk and couldn’t wait to use it.  This is one of my favourite vegetables!  There are so many incredible ways to prepare it but this samphire was so fresh and delicious that we just ate it raw with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.  Delicious!

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Caramelised onion and rosemary flatbread:

  • 1 flatbread (I bought these ready-made from Crosta & Mollica, available from Waitrose)
  • 2 small red onions (sliced)
  • Dash of red wine vinegar
  • 2 generous sprigs of rosemary
  • Garlic and oregano-infused olive oil (see below)
  1. Pop the onions in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and cook on a low heat for around 40 minutes, with a splash of red wine vinegar
  2. Assemble the infused olive oil, caramelised onions and rosemary on a flatbread for 5 minutes at 180°C

Cherry tomato, olive and rocket flatbread:

  • 1 flatbread (as above)
  • Large handful of organic, on-the-vine cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Large handful of organic rocket
  • Spanish Couchillo olives (available from Waitrose)
  • Garlic and oregano-infused olive oil
  1. Assemble the infused olive oil, cherry tomatoes and olives on the flatbread and pop in the oven for 5 minutes at 180°C
  2. Once cooked add the rocket and serve

 

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Garlic and oregano-infused olive oil:

  • Small cupful of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  1. Add the chopped garlic and fresh oregano to a cup of olive oil and leave in the fridge overnight
  2. You can sieve the olive oil before using but for these flatbreads I included the oregano and garlic

Samphire salad with lemon and olive oil:

  • Generous handful of freshly-picked samphire, washed, roughly chopped and stalks removed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  1. Wash the samphire and then roughly chop, removing the stalks
  2. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the samphire
  3. Drizzle over the olive oil and serve

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Zucchini, broad bean and pea soup

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This is my favourite summer soup and I make it really regularly during the warmer months.   Very simple to make with delicious fresh flavours.

(Serves 4)

  • 1-2 zucchini/courgettes – diced
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen broad beans
  • 1/2 a cup frozen peas
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • Handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • About 1 pint of organic vegetable stock (I use Kallo stock cubes, which are also gluten-free as well as being vegan)
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan
  2. Add the chopped onion and gently fry for a couple of minutes, to soften
  3. Add the diced zucchini to the pan and gently fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the vegetable stock, peas, broad beans and fresh herbs and cook for a further 3-4 minutes
  5. Remove from the heat and blend (I just use a hand-held blender as I find it easier in a small kitchen plus there’s less washing up!)
  6. Return the soup for he heat, squeeze in the juice of one lemon and season to taste
  7. Serve with fresh, crusty bread

Butternut squash, apricot, chickpea and almond tagine with cous cous and red onion and pomegranate salad

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I spent some time in Morocco a few years ago and just fell head-over-heels in love with the place.  This really reminds me of my time there and is a great dish for a simple supper with friends as you can do most of the prep before your guests arrive, meaning more time spent chatting and less time in the kitchen.

I do have a tagine cooking pot which I often use but you can just as easily use a casserole dish with a lid.  You ideally want one that can go on the hob and then in the oven.

(Serves 4)

For the tagine:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • Generous splash of olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 tin of organic chickpeas (drained)
  • 2 tins of organic chopped tomatoes
  • 1 medium-sized bag of organic, dried apricots – chopped
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of dried red chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper to season at the end
  1. The first step is to peel the butternut squash.  My friend Sarah gave me a great tip on how to do this which is to immerse the squash in boiling water for a couple of minutes first – this makes the peeling SO much easier!
  2. Chop and de-seed the squash and put it to one side
  3. Pour the olive oil into the bottom of the tagine or casserole dish and add the spices
  4. Once the spices have dissolved add the garlic and the onion and fry for a few minutes to soften them
  5. Add the butternut squash, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and dried apricots
  6. You may wish to add some water at this stage to ensure that all the ingredients are covered with liquid
  7. Stir and place in the oven, with the lid on at 180°C for about one hour.
  8. Sprinkle with toasted almond flakes before serving.

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Whilst the tagine is cooking you can prepare the salad;

(The idea for this salad is actually taken from a Nigella Lawson cookbook so I can’t claim it as my own BUT it’s delicious and works really well with this tagine.)

For the salad:

  • 1 large red onion
  • Pomegranate seeds (you can de-seed your own or you can buy them ready-to-go from most supermarkets)
  • Pomegranate juice
  • 1 lime
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  1. Slice the onion and pop into a bowl.
  2. Squeeze over the lime juice and and pomegranate juice.
  3. Leave to stand for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Pour off the excess liquid, add the pomegranate and fresh coriander just before serving.

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Serve the tagine with the salad and a big bowl of cous cous.

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 Enjoy!