Whole-roast munchkin pumpkins with pumpkin and sage risotto

Pumpkin risotto

I made this for the family this weekend as part of a Halloween lunch and it went down really well, especially with the littlest Munchkin!  We ate this as a main course but if you reduced the amounts it would also work well as a starter at a dinner party.

 

Good old autumn comfort food…

(Serves 4)

  • 4 Munchkin pumpkins
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 6 shallots – peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • 1.5 mugs of Arborio rice
  • 1 cup of dry white wine or dry Vermouth
  • Couple of pints of vegetable stock (I use Kallo stock cubes)
  • 1 mug of pureed roast pumpkin or, if you’re feeling lazy a jar or tin of pureed pumpkin (I bought mine from Ocado)
  • Chopped fresh sage (dried will be fine if you don’t have any fresh herbs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the whole, munchkin pumpkins on a a baking tray and in an oven at 180° for about 45 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan and then add shallots and garlic for a few moments until they soften and then add the maple syrup, allow them to caramelise for a few minutes.
  3. Add the rice on a high heat for a few moments until the edges of the rice start to go translucent then add the wine/Vermouth.  Reduce the heat and then gently massage/stir the rice with a wooden spoon to help release the starch.
  4. Have a pan of simmering vegetable stock at the side and slowly keep adding stock to the risotto, stirring as you go for around 30 minutes minutes.
  5. Remove the pumpkins from the oven and carefully remove the tops and scoop out the insides, removing the seeds as you go.
  6. Mash the pumpkin flesh with the back of a fork and stir into the risotto.
  7. Add the pumpkin puree and sage and cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring and adding more stock as you go.
  8. The risotto is ready when you have a nice, creamy texture but the rice grains still have a bit of a ‘bite’ to them.
  9. Season the risotto to taste.
  10. Spoon the risotto into the scooped-out pumpkins  before replacing the tops and then arrange the rest of the risotto on the plate, alongside the pumpkin.
  11. Happy Halloween!

Penne with an aubergine ragu

IMG_9097Yes, I know that strictly speaking a ragu is made with meat but this is it’s healthier, happier aubergine cousin.  I always crave wholesome, hearty fare at this time of year and this definitely hits the spot.  Happy autumn-eating folks!

(Serves 4)

  • Olive oil
  • 3 medium-sized aubergines
  • 2 medium-sized red onions, diced
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of smoked paprika, depending on taste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (I use the sundried tomato one from Waitrose)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • Small glass of dry red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Penne – enough for four people, depending on how greedy you are (we are very greedy!)
  1. Dice the aubergines into approx 1cm squared cubes.
  2. Place the aubergine cubes in a baking dish with a generous splash of olive oil, toss to ensure all aubergine is covered evenly.
  3. Bake at 180° for approx. 45 minutes until browned and slightly caramelised
  4. Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil up in a pan and add the onions and garlic
  5. When the garlic and onion is softened add a drizzle of maple syrup, smoked paprika and tomato paste, stir through and cook for a few more minutes until onions begin to caramelise
  6. Add the red wine and simmer for approx 10 minutes before adding the tin of tomatoes, continue to simmer for approx 45 minutes
  7. Combine the sauce and aubergine and season to taste
  8. Combine with the cooked penne and serve

Lentil ragu with fresh herbs and linguine

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This is such a quick and easy recipe and great for the end of the week when you hardly have any food in but haven’t quite found the time to go to the shops.  (This seems to happen a lot in our house!)

(Serves 4)

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • One large red onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • 2 cups of split red lentils
  • 1 cup of veg stock
  • 2 tablespoons of sundried tomato paste
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Generous sprinkle of dried dill
  • Handful of fresh herbs (I used dill, mint and parsley)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Linguine (cooked as per instructions)
  1. Heat the olive oil up in a saucepan
  2. Add the garlic, onions and maple syrup and soften the onions, allowing them to caramelise slightly
  3. Add the paprika and tomato paste and stir through
  4. Add the lentils, chopped tomatoes, veg stock and dried dill
  5. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if needed
  6. Add fresh herbs and serve over linguine

Aubergine and tomato bake

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Autumn really makes me crave comfort food and this ticks all the boxes when the days get shorter and colder.

(Serves 4)

  • 2-3 aubergines – sliced lengthways
  • 1 red onion – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves – peeled and crushed
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Handful of wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Add the garlic and onions and gently fry for a few minutes
  3. Add the maple syrup and fry for another few minutes to help caramelise the onions
  4. Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika and salt and pepper
  5. Simmer for 15-20 minutes
  6. Place the aubergine slices in the bottom of an ovenproof dish
  7. Cover with a layer of the tomato sauce
  8. Continue building up the layers, finishing with a tomato sauce layer
  9. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and thyme
  10. Bake in the oven at 180° for 30 minutes

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Sweet potato and spinach curry with spiced rice

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True to form the British bank holiday weather is looking as grey and gloomy as we’ve come to expect.  Cheer yourself up with a big bowl of warming and healthy curry…

(Serves 4)

For the curry:

  • One large white onion – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – peeled and finely chopped
  • 1″ of fresh ginger – finely chopped
  • 4-6 sweet potatoes – peeled and chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of frozen spinach
  • Generous drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 8-10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon of growing cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1/2 pint of veg stock (I use Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes)
  • Approx. 1 tablespoon of creamed coconut
  • Salt and pepper to season

For the rice:

  • 1 large mug of Basmati rice
  • Generous drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 4-6 cardamon pods
  • 1-2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 4″ piece of cinnamon bark
  • 6-8 cloves

For the curry:

  1. Heat the oil in the pan
  2. Add the curry leaves, fennel seeds, dried chilli flakes, fenugreek, cumin and cinnamon for a few moments to allow them to dissolve in the oil
  3. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and gently fry for a few minutes on a low heat to soften
  4. Add the tomato paste
  5. Add the sweet potato, veg stock and coconut milk
  6. cover and simmer for approx. 20-30 minutes
  7. Add the creamed coconut and spinach – stir thoroughly
  8. Simmer for a further 3-5 minutes
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste

For the rice:

  1. Heat the oil in the pan
  2. Add the cardamon, turmeric, cloves and cinnamon bark
  3. Add the rice, give it a quick stir and then gently fry for 2-3 minutes on a low heat
  4. Add 2 mugs of cold water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes

NB You may wish to remove the cinnamon bark, cloves and cardamon pods just before serving

Vegetable tart with caramelised onions

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This is such a quick and easy supper and as we usually have a pack of pastry in the freezer (no, I don’t make my own – no judgment please!) plus plenty of veggies around it’s a great option for when you’re low on ingredients and short of inspiration.  It’s also great cold so a good option for picnics and packed lunches.

(Serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 pack of Jus-Rol puff pastry (ready-rolled for ultimate laziness)
  • 2-3 onions (peeled and sliced)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • 2-3 zucchini (sliced)
  • 4-5 large vine tomatoes (sliced)
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Grease a baking tray
  2. Place the pastry on the tray and pinch around the edges
  3. Pour the oil into a pan and add the onions – gently heat through to soften and caramelise
  4. Add a generous drizzle of maple syrup to the onions for the final few minutes of cooking
  5. In another pan add olive oil and slowly shallow-fry the zucchini slices
  6. Spread the caramelised onions evenly over the pastry and then alternate the zucchini and tomato slices
  7. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts, oregano and salt and pepper over the vegetables
  8. Pop in the oven at 220° for 30-40 minutes
  9. Serve with new potatoes and a large green salad

Pan-fried gnocchi with zucchini, kale, spinach, pine nuts and pesto

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This is really simple, quick to make and healthy.  Plus at this time of year I always crave something a little lighter than the rich and heavy foods of the Christmas period but before I’m quite ready to head back to salads!

(Serves 2)

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • One bag of fresh gnocchi (egg-free)
  • 2 organic zucchini
  • Two large handfuls of organic kale
  • Two large handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Small handful of pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan pesto
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Fresh juice of 1/2 a lemon
  1. Heat up a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick pan
  2. Add sliced zucchini and gnocchi and fry for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally
  3. Add the chopped kale, pine nuts and pesto and fry for a couple more minutes
  4. Add the spinach and season to taste
  5. Mix through and serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

Pan-fried sprouts with chestnuts and a hint of chilli

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This is one of my favourite side-dishes at Christmas-time.  Although not popular with everyone I absolutely love sprouts and personally I could happily eat them at any time of the year!

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

  • 450g of sprouts – with stalks and any brown leaves removed
  • 200g of chestnuts – roughly chopped (I bought mine from Merchant Gourmet)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sprinkle of dried chilli
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Steam the sprouts for 5 minutes to soften
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then add the sprouts and chestnuts
  3. Pan-fry for approximately 6-7 minutes
  4. Add chilli, salt and pepper to taste

Vegan pizza breads

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These are so simple and quick to make and they’re an ideal way of using up day-old French stick.  You can be as creative as you like with the toppings.  I tend to use whatever we have in…

(Serves 2)

  • 1 French stick
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • Passata
  • One organic red onion – peeled and sliced
  • Couple of handfuls of organic mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 organic green pepper – sliced
  • Green olives – de-stoned and sliced
  1. Fry the onions on a low heat with a drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup to caramelise
  2. Cut the French stick in half and slice down the middle
  3. Grill the crusty side of the bread under the grill for a few minutes
  4. Spread the passata over the bread
  5. Meanwhile gently fry the peppers and mushrooms in a little olive oil
  6. Assemble the onion, peppers, mushrooms and sliced green peppers on the bread
  7. Pop back under the grill for a few minutes
  8. Serve with a green salad

Lentil, aubergine and kale curry

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It’s hard to beat a really good homemade curry.  I love this one – it uses lentils as a base and then I pretty much just chuck in whatever other veggies I fancy on the day.  No hard and fast rules – just go with what you fancy.

Much healthier than a takeaway and quick and easy to make too!

  • Drizzle of sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 red onions (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 aubergine (chopped)
  • Half a mug red lentils
  • Two mugs of vegetable stock (I use Kallo organic veg stock cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 2 large handfuls of kale (roughly chopped)
  • 1 punnet of organic cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan with the aubergine and shallow fry for a few minutes, until browned on all sides
  2. In another pan heat some oil and add the spices and the onions for a few minutes to soften
  3. Add the lentils followed by the veg stock, tomato puree and fried aubergine.  Simmer for approximately 20 minutes
  4. Add the kale, cherry tomatoes and seasoning and cook for a further 5 minutes
  5. Serve with rice and a wedge of lemon