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

Chinese dumplings with dipping sauce

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I absolutely love Chinese food and can spend many a happy hour wandering around Asian supermarkets sourcing weird and wonderful ingredients.  I adore dim-sum and can happily sit and devour plate after plate of these…

(Serves 4 – Or just 1 if you’re really greedy like me!)

For the dumplings:

  • 20 ready-made dumpling wrappers (Available from most Asian supermarkets – just check that they’re egg-free)
  • Punnet of chestnut mushrooms – finely chopped
  • Punnet of oyster mushrooms – finely chopped
  • Garlic clove – finely chopped
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 4 spring onions – finely chopped
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Red chilli – chopped
  • Fresh ginger – chopped
  • 1 spring onion – chopped
  • 1 garlic clove – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar

For the dumplings:

  1. Heat the oil in a wok
  2. Add all the other ingredients and gently fry until the mushrooms are lightly browned
  3. Drain the excess liquid off
  4. Carefully place a small spoonful of the filling into the centre of each dumpling wrapper
  5. Fold the wrapper over and seal the edges using a small amount of water around the edge
  6. Once all the dumplings are filled and sealed heat for a few minutes each side in a non-stick frying until brown

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For the dipping sauce:

  1. Combine all the ingredients, mix and serve

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Caramelised red onion and cranberry gravy

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I love this gravy.  It’s rich and sweet and goes amazingly well with bangers and mash!

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 red onions – peeled and sliced
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • Half a pint vegetable gravy (made with veg gravy granules)
  • Large handful of frozen cranberries
  • Sprinkle of fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Gently fry the onions over a low heat for 15 minutes
  3. Add the maple syrup and fry for a further 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the gravy, cranberries, rosemary and salt and pepper
  5. Heat through for a further 5 – 10 minutes until the cranberries start to burst
  6. Serve with vegan sausages and kale and potato mash

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