Tofu Singapore noodles

This light and nutritious noodle dish is bursting with aromatic flavours of lime, garlic and Asian spices. Crunchy tenderstem broccoli and firm tofu add great texture to silky ribbon noodles.

 

I love noodles. If I had to eat just noodles (for lunch and dinner, I like a conventional breakfast) for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t mind.

I love a strong taste of garlic. I’d say about 80% of the food I cook contains garlic. Where would we be without it? In an incomprehensible, flavourless world, that’s where. Pasta, noodles, curries, bread and dressings would all be bland without it.

I love most green veggies. Especially tenderstem broccoli. It’s fancier than the frozen or fresh regular stuff, so it’s a tasty and healthy treat to have now and again. You can taste the difference (without meaning to coin a well-known supermarket’s branding); it’s much sweeter and crunchier. Of course if you don’t have any in the fridge, you could use green beans, sugar snap peas, mangetout, or ‘normal’ broccoli of course.

These three elements combined with tarte lime, salty soy and flavourful curry powder soaked up by firm baked tofu, make for a satisfying supper inspired by the rich flavours of Canton.

This recipe is a little more complicated than a standard one pot dish as the vegetables, tofu and noodles need cooking separately, but it means each ingredient soaks up all of the lovely flavours, so it’s worth doing this way.

Ingredients

  • 2½ tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 4 tsp curry powder
  • 100g tenderstem broccoli (or alternative crunchy green vegetable)
  • 2 fresh noodle nests (I used pad thai noodles)
  • ½ pack or 200g tofu (I used Cauldron)

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Firstly you need to extract the moisture from the tofu. Place the tofu on a plate and balance something heavy on top. I used a chopping board with two heavy pans balanced on top. Leave the tofu to drain for as long as you can – 15 minutes should be fine.
  2. While the tofu is draining, put the oven on to gas mark 7.
  3. When the tofu is ready, remove the heavy objects from it and tip the excess water on the plate into the sink. Chop the tofu into rectangles, around 3-4cm long.
  4. Place the tofu on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and put in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown, turning half way through.
  5. Meanwhile, finely slice the pepper and onion.
  6. Put a large non-stick pan on a medium heat and pour in 1 tbsp of sesame oil. Add the onion and pepper and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion turns translucent, stirring frequently.
  7. Add the broccoli and mix in 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 2 tsp of curry powder. Fry for 3-5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and put to one side. Heat a further tablespoon of sesame oil in the pan
  8. Prepare the sauce by adding the remaining soy sauce, crushed garlic, lime juice and brown sugar to a jug. Whisk together.
  9. Remove the tofu from the oven when it’s ready and turn the oven off. Carefully peel the tofu from the baking paper and add to the pan. Pour over half of the sauce you’ve just prepared, ensuring it coats the tofu. Cook for a few minutes, until it’s well marinated. Remove from the pan.
  10. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon of sesame oil to the pan and add the noodles along with the remaining 2 teaspoons of curry powder. Stir the powder in with the noodles. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  11. Return the vegetables and tofu to the pan and stir well. Pour over the remaining sauce and cook for another couple of minutes.
  12. Serve in large bowls with a side of sweet chilli sauce and chopsticks.

This recipe was inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Singapore Noodles

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Aubergine and green bean jambalaya

This hearty vegan rice dish is as flavourful as it is vibrant. Soft cubes of aubergine soak up the wonderful aromas of garlic, paprika and chilli, while the green beans and pepper add a satisfying crunch.

Turn the heat up on your taste buds with this veggie variation of a Louisiana classic. It’s super healthy, simple to make and it’ll be on the dinner table in half an hour. Perfect for a mid-week meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
  • 150g long grain rice
  • 75g frozen or fresh green beans
  • Plenty of salt and pepper
  • Green salad to serve

Method

  1. Put a large pan on a medium heat and pour in the oil.
  2. When the oil has heated up, tip in the onion and pepper and fry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Take the pan off the heat while you add the chilli, paprika, garlic and thyme. Combine the spices with the onion and pepper using a wooden spoon and return to the heat.
  4. Stir in the aubergine, ensuring the spice mixture covers it all. Then add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and rice. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring to combine everything.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  6. Pour the green beans in, season the mixture, stir well, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir 2-3 times while it’s simmering to check the rice isn’t sticking to the pan.
  7. After 20 minutes, try a bit of the jambalaya to check the rice is cooked. Season well and leave to stand for a few minutes. Serve in bowls with fresh green salad leaves.

This recipe was inspired by Leon’s Aubergine Jambalaya.

New Year store-cupboard supper: Aubergine and broad bean curry

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas break and are feeling rested for the new year ahead.

As is only to be expected over Christmas, I’ve been eating a lot of indulgent food and having a few too many large helpings of Bailey’s on ice. I had a break from cooking while visiting family, but am excited to share more recipes with you in 2016.

As I’m sure it has for many people, my January has got off to a frugal start, especially as I’m saving to get married this year. I’m attempting to take packed lunch into work every day this month and trying to resist the temptation of eating out (though I’m doubtful on that front).

This evening I conjured up this store-cupboard supper of aubergine and broad bean curry, which I used with leftover ingredients in the fridge and cupboards. I’m really pleasantly surprised by the end result; it was delicious!  

This is a low-fat vegan curry, using lighter coconut milk. The sweetness of the coconut milk is balanced out by earthy tomatoes, forming a rich, moreish sauce. The texture of the soft aubergine slices are contrasted nicely with the firm broad beans.

I just happened to have a can of broad beans hanging around, but you could easily add an alternative pulse like butter beans, or perhaps some green beans, to retain the lovely green colour.

Serve this with brown rice and a dollop of mango chutney if you fancy and you’re in for a tasty yet healthy meal. And, it’ll be on the table within 45 minutes, so it’s achievable for a weeknight.

Ingredients

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 2 small red onions, or 1 large one
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1.5 tbsp Balti paste, or an alternative medium curry paste
  • 350g chopped tomatoes
  • 250g lighter coconut milk
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 can broad beans or 195g frozen or fresh broad beans

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes
Serves 3

Method

  1. Peel and chop each onion in half, then finely slice and dice them.
  2. Pour the oil into a wok or large frying pan and put on a medium heat.
  3. While the oil is heating through, chop off the ends of the aubergine and slice in half longways. Slice each half into fairly thin half moon pieces, around 3cm, so they’re thick enough to soak up the lovely spices, but not so thick that they’ll take a lifetime to soften.
  4. Add the onion and aubergine to the pan and cook for around 10 minutes, or until the aubergine pieces begin to turn translucent. Stir frequently.
  5. Meanwhile, put some water on to boil in a saucepan, ready to add your brown rice. I use two mugs of water to one mug of rice for two portions.
  6. When the aubergine looks translucent, stir in the garlic cloves and balti paste. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and 100ml of water and bring to the boil, stirring everything in together.
  7. Add the ginger and coriander and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. When the water for the rice is boiling, pour in the rice, stir well and simmer for 25 minutes.
  9. When the curry has been simmering for 15 minutes, tip in the broad beans and mix in with the curry. Continue simmering for a further 10 minutes.
  10. When the curry sauce has reached a deep red colour and has thickened up, take the pan off the heat and season well. Serve alongside the brown rice.

This recipe was inspired by Nigel Slater’s aubergine curry (Guardian website).

Spiced sweet potato and broccoli peanut stew

The textures of succulent sweet potatoes and crunchy wholesome broccoli contrast each other beautifully in this flavoursome vegan stew.

Crushed peanuts mixed in with earthy chopped tomatoes create a thick and rich sauce, underpinned with chilli and cumin, adding a spicy kick.

Serve it with a tortilla wrap for dipping and this stew makes a hearty winter dinner option to warm your cockles on these chilly wintry nights.

I’m obsessed with peanuts at the moment. Any chance I get to make a nutty sauce, I’m there. Peanuts [and peanut butter] add such richness to sauces – from curry pastes to dips – and they’re a good source of vitamins too.

Ingredients

  • 400g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into medium chunks
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 120g crispy wasabi coated peanuts (you could also use chilli coated peanuts)
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 200g fresh broccoli divided into ‘small trees’
  • 500ml cold water

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking times: 35 minutes
Serves 3-4

Method

  1. Put a large saucepan (that you have a lid for) on a medium heat and pour in the oil.
  2. Add the onion and fry for 5-7 minutes, until it turns translucent.
  3. Sit in the cumin seeds and cook for a minute or so then tip in the sweet potato chunks and chopped chilli and stir well, cooking for a further minute.
  4. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and water, stir in with the other ingredients and pop the lid on the pan. Bring to the boil.
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile, place the coated peanuts in a food processor if you have one and blend until fine. If, like me, you don’t have a kitchen big enough for a food processor, then pour the nuts into a jug or similar container with tall sides and carefully use a hand blender. To avoid peanut shards flying everywhere (learn from my mistakes), place a tea towel around the top of the jug while blending to keep the nuts at bay. You may need to stop a couple of times through this process and give the nuts a stir to make sure you’ve blended all of them.
  7. At this point, add the nuts and the broccoli and stir in with the rest of the stew. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Season well and serve in large bowls with warm tortilla wraps.

This recipe was inspired by BBC Good Food’s chard, sweet potato & peanut stew.

Pumpkin, spinach and feta bake

Got a sad looking carved pumpkin knocking around the house? Don’t waste it; savour the tasty spooky sphere of sweetness by making this delicious and healthy autumnal bake.

 

Sweet roasted pumpkin and iron-rich cooked spinach leaves contrast each other delightfully in this one pot dish. The bake is bound together with healthy low fat sour cream and egg, and feta cheese brings a salty richness. A scattering of pistachios on top adds a crunchy texture.

Ingredients

  • 400g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 350g frozen spinach
  • 75g feta
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp low fat sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • A handful of peeled pistachios

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40-50 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Put the oven on to gas mark 6.
  2. Place the pumpkin in a baking dish and pour the olive oil all over. Sprinkle the sage on top and toss gently so the oil and herbs are evenly distributed across the pumpkin cubes. Pop the pumpkin in the oven for 25 minutes, checking on it half way through cooking and turning it over so it cooks evenly.
  3. Meanwhile, put the spinach in a bowl and cover with a plate. Cook in the microwave for about five minutes, stirring half way through. Drain it in a sieve and press a tablespoon on to it to squeeze out the excess water.
  4. Put the sour cream in a mixing bowl and crack in the egg. Use a hand whisk to beat the cream and egg together, and then add in the spinach. Stir everything together well and then crumble in the feta. Season well and give it all good stir.
  5. When the pumpkin is ready, take it out of the oven and transfer it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients, being careful when you do so as it’ll be very hot.
  6. Mix all of the ingredients in together and transfer them to a baking dish. Reduce the oven heat to gas mark 3 and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. The eggy mixture surrounding the spinach should be close to being set.
  7. Take the bake out of the oven and scatter over the shelled pistachios. Serve immediately with a simple side salad.

This recipe was inspired by the Leon Fast Vegetarian’s Baked Spinach, Squash and Blue Cheese.

Cheesy sweet potato and lentil veggie shepherds pie

If ever there were a winter warmer in a baking dish, this vegetarian shepherds pie is it. Far from the traditional carnivorous mince and white potato combo, this jazzed up veggie version is bursting with fantastic flavours that will no doubt have you going back for seconds.

The pie’s filling is made up of a smooth and sumptuous red wine and onion sauce infused with thyme and thickened by hearty cooked lentils. The delicious cheesy sweet potato mash on top really makes the dish, making this the perfect comfort food for these cold, dark evenings.


As a kid I was never much a fan of shepherds pie. It’s one of those beige looking one pots that I dreaded seeing at the dinner table (sorry mum). It fills you up, but fails to fill you with excitement. I think my distinct dislike for it left me a bit apprehensive about trying it again as an adult. But the discovery of this recipe by BBC Good Food has converted me.

And praise the lord, brussel sprout season is upon us. Every year, I look forward to seeing those little green balls of joy on my plate, so I chose to serve the shepherds pie with sprouts roasted in olive oil with plenty of seasoning. Their earthy flavour works well against the sweet potato and rich red wine sauce. But if you’re not a fan of sprouts, you could choose a side of broccoli, kale or green beans instead.

Ingredients

  • 950g or 6 small-medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 large red onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g red lentils, rinsed under a cold tap
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 200ml red wine
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bitesize chunks
  • Enough grated cheddar cheese to cover the top
  • A knob of butter
  • Plenty of seasoning

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes (depending on your vegetable peeling speed)
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves 4

Method

  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a frying pan and put it on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. When the water has boiled, carefully lower the sweet potato into the saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sweet potato has softened enough to be mashed.
  4. While the sweet potato is cooking, add the carrot and thyme to the frying pan and stir in with the onion. Then pour in the wine, 150ml of water and chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, stirring everything in together. Crumble in the stock cubes, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Put the oven on to gas mark 6. At this point, if you’re roasting sprouts, prepare them and put them in the oven.
  6. When the sweet potato is cooked, turn off the heat and drain them in a colander. Pop them back into the saucepan and add the knob of butter and some seasoning. Mash them up with a potato masher until pretty smooth. Put to one side.
  7. Return to your sauce and pour in your lentils. Stir them in and cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes.
  8. When the sauce has thickened up, transfer it to a large baking dish and use a large spoon to flatten it down into a neat bottom layer. Do the same with the sweet potato. Sprinkle the cheese on top and a little bit of thyme if you have any left, then place the dish in the oven for 25 minutes or so, or until the top has started to turn golden.
  9. Serve with greens of your choice and enjoy.

Vegetarian Penang curry with mushroom and tofu

Penang curry, named after an area on the northwest coast of Malaysia, is a rich, fragrant and creamy Thai curry. The main players in this recipe – nutty chestnut mushrooms and fried tofu – are the perfect ingredients to soak up all of the sensational spices in the penang sauce.


Penang curry is without a doubt my curry of the moment. I can’t express how much I love it. I can’t stop eating it. I don’t want to stop eating it. It’s so tasty.

The aromatic flavours of ginger, red chilli, coriander and lemongrass work well with creamy peanut butter and coconut milk. It’s milder than Thai green or red curries and more of a comforting choice with the creaminess from the nut butter.

There’s a street food stall on Lower Marsh Market in Waterloo, London, that serves the best tofu penang curry I’ve ever tried. I’m addicted to it. I try to limit myself to eating it once a week as the portions are huge (and I don’t like to waste food).

To feed my addiction and cut back on pricey lunchtime treats, I wanted to have a go at making it myself. A lot of the recipes I browsed online use ready made Thai red curry paste, but I prefer to make sauces from scratch where I can, to avoid extra unnecessary sugar and additives, so I decided to make my own paste.

I found About Food’s red curry paste recipe a great base for inspiration, making a few tweaks along the way. There are quite a lot of ingredients involved in making the paste, but it’s totally worth it. It only takes five minutes to put together. It’s so fresh and aromatic.

Serve this curry with your choice of rice (I always use brown rice), a sprinkle of fresh, chopped coriander and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce on the side for a bit of extra kick.

Ingredients

  • 200g tofu (I used Cauldron)
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion (½ thinly sliced to add to the curry and hold ½ back for the paste)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 400g can light coconut milk

For the curry paste

  • 3 tbsp light coconut milk (from the same can mentioned above)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ remaining red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh or ground coriander
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp frozen red chilli (or use fresh chilli)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (I used bottled lime juice, but from the fruit is fine)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Drain the tofu. I find the best way to do this is to place it on a plate and carefully balance a heavy object(s) on top – I usually opt for a chopping board and big saucepan. Leave it for 15 minutes or longer if you can be bothered to wait, to get as much water out of the tofu as possible.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the paste. Put all of the paste ingredients into a measuring jug or high-edged piece of tupperware and whizz everything up with a hand blender until smoothish.
  3. At this point, if you’ve opted to cook brown rice, put it on to boil now as it takes 25-30 minutes to cook. If you’re using an alternative, follow the pack instructions.
  4. Next, put a large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the oil.
  5. While the oil is heating up, remove the tofu from its makeshift clamp and chop it into small cubes. Add it to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, turning regularly till it’s golden. Remove from the pan with a fish slice or similar utensil, so the oil remains in the pan.
  6. Pop the onion and mushroom into the pan and cook for a further 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the tofu back to the pan.
  7. Transfer the curry paste into the pan and stir in with the veggies and tofu. Cook for a minute or so and then pour in the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently so the coconut milk and curry paste blend in together. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has turned a rich light red colour.
  8. Season the curry well and serve with the rice, sweet chilli sauce and fresh coriander.

Adapted from the Picky Eater Blog’s recipe.