Zesty guacamole

Guacamole has got to be one of the world’s best dips. Hailing from Mexico, it’s a tasty avocado-based condiment that compliments many types of dishes – from burritos to salads – and it’s healthy too. I love everything about it: the colour, the texture, and of course its wonderful flavour.

This recipe was inspired by one I saw in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg – a staple cookbook for vegetarians who like fuss free, hearty food. It’s super speedy to make and goes nicely with Mexican mains like fajitas and enchiladas.

Ingredients

  • Guacamole2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp natural yogurt
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves 2-3

Method

  1. Prepare the avocados: slice down the middle until you reach the stone, pull the two halves apart and remove the stone by hand or with a knife if it doesn’t pop out easily. Make a small tear in the skin and carefully peel it off each side of the fruit. Chop into small cubes.
  2. Pop the avocados into a small bowl. Add the lemon and lime juice, chilli flakes and oil and stir well with a tablespoon, until the avocados turn into a paste. Don’t worry if it’s a bit chunky; it’s good to keep some texture.
  3. Add the yogurt and stir in well until it blends in with the other ingredients.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve – depending on how messy your mixing gets, you may like to transfer the dip to a new bowl.
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Aubergine chilli

Vegetable chilli is a great mid-week meal; it’s healthy and versatile, giving you the chance to tick off a number of your five-a-day in one pop. And, it’s flavoursome and quick to make. 

I got an email from Sainsbury’s magazine this afternoon, advertising their veggie chilli recipe so I decided to base my concoction on that. However, there’s one obvious fault with their recipe: it’s got no chilli in it! Absurd, surely?

It’s quite rare that I’d go out of my way in the week to buy extra ingredients especially for a dish. I will generally match what’s in the fridge and cupboards and try and create something tasty. Wasting food is one of my pet hates. Hence this slightly left field dish.

IngredientsAubergine chilli

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 peppers (I used 1 orange and 1 yellow), chopped roughly into squares
  • 1 medium aubergine, cut into small cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 200g green lentils
  • a squirt of tomato puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • a large sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • 0.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 100ml water
  • pepper to taste

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 2-3
Suggested sides: basmatic rice and a corn cobette on the side

Method

1. Put a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and pour in the olive oil. Wait for it heat up: pick the pan up and if it swirls around easily, it’s ready.

2. Add the onion and peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften.

3. Pop the aubergine into the pan and sprinkle the salt and pepper over it. Cook for 5 minutes, mixing frequently, until the aubergine is tender.

4. Add the garlic and spices and lower the heat slightly. Combine thoroughly with the vegetable mixture.

5. Pour in the tomatoes, tomato puree and lentils, and stir. Turn the heat up and add in the water. Bring to the boil, stirring often. Simmer the chilli gently for 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, cook the rice and the corn cobette.

7. When the chilli has thickened, season it to taste and serve with the rice, sweetcorn and some guacamole or sour cream.

Recipe to follow for my home made citrus guacamole…

Green beans in a curried tomato sauce

Green beans: a vegetable I will take, or quite happily, leave. I never buy them and rarely order them if eating out. But as I was given some beans, freshly picked from an allotment, I thought I’d make the most of them by adapting a new Yotam Ottolenghi recipe I was recommended.

Yotam Ottolenghi has a talent to transform even the dullest of veggies into absolutely delicious dishes. I went to his restaurant in Islington for my birthday earlier this year and tasted a number of his small plates. Oh my! So many flavour sensations!

This simple recipe has converted what I once saw as a tasteless, rubbery vegetable into a soft, succulent meal protagonist complimented by a rich, flavoursome tomato sauce.

Green beans with rice

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g green beans, trimmed
  • 200g (half a can) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1.5 tsp paprika
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Pour the olive oil into a medium-sized frying pan or wok. Add the onion and fry for five minutes, until soft.

2. Add the garlic, cumin, cayenne, paprika and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Stir in the tomato puree and then the chopped tomatoes. Mix the spices and tomatoes together well and cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the beans, stock and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, stir well and bring to the boil.

5. Pop a lid on top of the pan and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beans are soft and the sauce has thickened. Add some water – as and when – if the sauce becomes too thick.

6. Twenty minutes into the simmer, put some rice on to cook.

7. When the beans are ready, serve them in two large bowls with the rice. A dollop of creme fraiche and a green salad will accompany this dish nicely.

As easy as that.

Tofu pad thai

I first visited Thailand in 2009; it was the first stop in a round-the-world backpacking trip after university. It opened my eyes to a completely different culture, nothing I’d ever experienced before. I loved it so much, I went back to explore more of its wonders over new year this year.

If the country’s stunning beaches and incredibly hospitable people aren’t enough to warrant a visit, then combine those things with its amazing (and very cheap) food and you’d be a fool to miss out.

Pad thai to Thai people is like a roast dinner to us Brits. It’s a staple dish and is sold almost everywhere. And it’s delicious in all its varieties. Traditionally it’s served with shrimps, but restaurants are always happy to make a vegetarian version with tofu if you ask.

This version I make is a sexed up stir fry. A cheat’s pad thai. It’s very quick and simple to make. It’s an adaptation of a traditional pad thai I saw on BBC Good Food combined with a sauce based on a recipe from one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks at the moment, Leon Fast.

Tofu pad thai

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 courgette, sliced into half moon pieces
  • 200g Cauldron Original Tofu (this works well, but you can use other varieties)
  • 2 portions of dried medium egg noodles (I used Sainsbury’s own)
  • 150g frozen stir fry vegetables
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the sauce

  • 2 heaped tsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp warmwater
  • 2 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • a few drops of rice wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Firstly, pop your block of tofu on to a large plate. Put a chopping board on top of the tofu and balance a heavy frying pan on top. Leave this for 15 minutes or so to drain out as much water as possible. The firmer the tofu, the better.
  2. Put a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and drizzle the olive oil all over the pan. When the oil is hot enough to move around the pan freely when you lift it up, add the onion and fry for five minutes, until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, half-fill a saucepan with cold water and bring it to the boil. Add the stir fry vegetables to the water.
  4. When the tofu is firm enough, chop it up into 5cm cubes. When the onion is cooked, add the tofu and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Next, add the two portions of noodles to the saucepan with the vegetables and boil for 2-3 minutes.
  6. While everything else is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a tall-sided bowl and whiz them together with a hand blender, being careful not to let the liquid splurt out of the bowl (and go all over you, which has happened to me before). When you’ve smoothed out most of the peanuts in the peanut butter and the mixture is runny, give it a quick mix with a spoon and leave it to stand.
  7. Add the courgette to the frying pan with a dash of soy sauce and stir it in with the onion and tofu.
  8. Drain the stir vegetables and noodles with a colander and shake the excess water over the saucepan so you don’t lose any valuable noodles.
  9. When the courgette pieces are soft, add the noodles and vegetables to the frying pan, mixing all of the ingredients in well with each other. Do this for five minutes or so, or until everything is well mixed.
  10. Pour the sauce over the mixture in the frying pan and stir in until it coats everything.
  11. Lower the temperature to a low to medium heat, and using a wooden spatula or spoon, squash all of the mixture to one half of the pan. Pour the egg into the other half of the pan and mix it constantly until it has a runny, scrambled consistency.
  12. Mix the egg in thoroughly with the rest of the pad thai and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Serve in bowls, with a slice of lime and crushed peanuts on the side if you’re feeling fancy.

And that’s how you make a speedy pad thai.