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

Maple syrup and chilli roasted new potatoes

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These make a really tasty side-dish (although I love them so much that given half the chance I could probably just sit and demolish the lot, all by themselves!)

(Serves 4)

  • Medium sized bag of new potatoes
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Generous drizzle of maple syrup
  • Sea salt
  • Dried chilli flakes
  1. Wash the new potatoes and pop in the oven, with the olive oil, at 180º for 30 minutes
  2. Remove the potatoes from the oven, drizzle over the maple syrup and sprinkle over the a generous pinch of sea salt and dried chilli flakes
  3. Stir and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, before serving

Pesto and yoghurt dip

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OK, so calling this a ‘recipe’ is a little far-fetched as it contains precisely two ingredients and a teeny tiny amount of stirring but I make it a lot and it makes a great healthy dip.

Delicious as a traditional dip or on veggie burgers with tonnes of salad in a bun.

  • 2 small post of unsweetened soya yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons of vegan pesto (you can make your own but I just used a ready-made one here)
  1. Mix ingredients and serve!

Chilli ‘beef’ in lettuce shells

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This Asian-inspired dish is really simple to make and super-tasty.  Sweet and spicy with an extra something from the ginger, spring onions and fresh mint.

Good as a starter, a light main or to share with friends.

  • Bag of frozen soya mince (I used the one by Fry’s)
  • 1 red onion – finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger – finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies – finely chopped (with or without seeds depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoonfuls of sweet chilli sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoonfuls of hoisin sauce
  • Handful of fresh mint – roughly chopped
  • 3 spring onions – sliced
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 small romaine lettuces
  1. Warm the sesame oil in a wok
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for a few minutes to soften
  3. Add the soya mince, sweet chilli sauce, hoisin sauce and water and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove from heat and stir through the mint and spring onions
  5. Fill the lettuce leaf ‘shells’ with the mixture and serve

NB you can vary the proportions of chillies vs hoisin and sweet chilli sauce depending on how you like the spicy – sweet mix

Spinach and rocket salad with oven-roasted tomatoes, avocado, capers, red onion and pan-fried gnocchi

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We eat so many salads in the summer and despite what some people think they really, really don’t have to be boring!  To be honest we rarely eat the same salad twice as it normally depends on what is in the fridge at the time…

I usually pop gnocchi in boiling water for a couple of minutes but this time I pan-fried it for a slightly different taste and texture.

(Serves 2)

  • 2 large handfuls of organic rocket
  • 2 large handfuls of organic spinach
  • Punnet of slow-roasted tomatoes (see previous recipe)
  • 1 bag of gnocchi
  • 1 ripe organic avocado – peeled, stoned and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion – finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • Handful of toasted almond flakes and pumpkin seeds
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Tablespoon of vegan pesto (I often make my own but Zest do a great one)
  1. Pan-fry the gnocchi in a little olive oil allowing to lightly brown on the outside
  2. Assemble the rocket, spinach, tomatoes, gnocchi, avocado, onion, capers, almond flakes and pumpkin seeds in a bowl
  3. Mix the olive oil with the pesto and drizzle over the salad
  4. Toss and serve

If taking this on a picnic then just take the pesto and olive oil separately and drizzle over at the last minute to avoid the salad leaves going soggy

 

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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Flatbread with caramelised red onion, capers, garlic and fresh basil

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I probably could have made the flatbread but I was short of time and Waitrose sell some amazing ones by Crosta Mollica which are vegan.  This is a great starter to share with friends or just to eat all by yourself because it’s really tasty and well, why not?!

  • Flatbread
  • Red onion – sliced
  • Large spoonful of capers
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • Few leaves of fresh basil
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan – add the red onions and cook on a low heat for 20-30 minutes (if you have more time then cook for longer for a sweeter taste)
  2. Assemble all the ingredients on the flatbread on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 4 minutes at 180°C
  3. Eat!

Tempura vegetables

 

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OK, so this may not be the healthiest way to consume your veggies but as a one-off it’s REALLY tasty!  When I first made these I did so as a starter, which in hindsight was a bit of a mistake as everyone was too full to eat the rest of the dinner!  Now I like to cook up a big batch, serve with a couple of dipping sauces and a great movie!

(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

  • Big pile of chopped up veggies – I used carrots, broccoli, peppers, baby sweetcorn and onion but you can pretty much use whatever you have in the kitchen
  • Pan with enough vegetable oil to cover the veggies (I cook mine in batches so as not to use too much oil but if you have a deep-fat fryer then you can do them all at once)

For the batter:

  • Cup of plain flour
  • Teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda
  • Sparkling water – add to create the constancy you need (see below)
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Mix the batter mix in a big bowl – the consistency should be liquid but thick enough to stick to the veggies.
  2. Heat the oil up in the pan – it needs to be pretty hot so the veggies don’t absorb too much oil and go soggy but not so hot that it’s smoking
  3. Add the batter mixture-covered veggies a few at a time and fry until the batter is a pale golden colour
  4. Place the cooked tempura on a few sheets of kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil
  5. Serve with dipping sauces and enjoy!

Note: If I’m feeling lazy then I’ll just serve the tempura with ready-made sweet chilli or hoisin sauce for dipping but often I’ll make up my own, which is super-quick and easy:

  • Approx 3/4 soy sauce to 1/4 Chinese cooking wine
  • Chopped fresh garlic
  • Chopped fresh ginger
  • Chopped red chilli (with or without the seeds depending on how hot you like it)
  • Small squeeze of agave syrup for a hint of sweetness

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