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…

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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.

Apple and blackberry crumble

On the last day of August, as we start to say goodbye to summer and welcome autumn’s charm, our thoughts and stomachs long for roast dinners and hearty puddings. A box of blackberries

I took the opportunity to go foraging for blackberries this weekend as the weather has been lovely and mild. Even though a lot of blackberry bushes are past their prime at this time of year, my boyfriend and I went out to Walthamstow Marshes with our eagle eyes and were in luck as we picked a generous punnet’s worth.

To make the most of our efforts, we had a simple and scrumptious apple and blackberry crumble to follow a Sunday roast. The only ingredient I needed to buy that we didn’t already have at home was cooking apples which I got from my favourite grocers, the International Supermarket, on Walthamstow High Street.

My mum’s crumble recipe, which, as a child she allowed me to have without the fruit as I thought it was too sour (I think she empathised with my sweet tooth) worked a treat.

Ingredients

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 40g sugar for the fruit
  • 2 large cooking apples
  • 300g blackberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar to sprinkle on top

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

Method

1. Turn the oven on to gas mark 5. Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to the boil.

2. Meanwhile, wash and peel the apples, and cut them into cubes (somewhere between 5 and 10cm). When the water starts to bubble, plop your chopped apples into the pan and cook on a medium to high heat for seven minutes. Use a knife to prod one of the apple cubes, and if their texture is soft, turn off the heat, drain them in a colander and set them aside.

3. Here comes the fun part! Tip the flour and butter into a medium sized bowl. Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the flour until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs.

4. Spread the apples out into a small to medium sized baking dish. Pour the blackberries on top and mix them in with the apples so they’re evenly distributed. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit, making sure it gets in all the nooks and crannies. Scatter the crumble mixture to cover the fruit. Lastly, sprinkle the second helping of sugar on top.

5. Put the crumble in the oven for 20 minutes, or until it starts to look golden brown on top. When it’s ready, get it out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

6. Serve with warm custard or some cream. Et voila.

A dish filled with apple and blackberry crumble.

Hearty rice burgers with spiced sweet potato wedges

While I’ve been at home getting over a lingering cold, I’ve finally got round to writing my first proper post (rather a long time coming, I know). While browsing some food blogs earlier, I came across this set of summer vegetarian recipes on the Guardian and decided to have a go at adapting the ‘really hungry burger’ with ingredients I already had at home.

Vegetarian burgers

When eating out, I often find veggie burgers disappointing; the “mushroom burger” which is essentially a portobello mushroom with a bit of cheese on top shoved between a bun (come on, that does not qualify as a burger) and the mushy spicy bean burger are recurring let-downs. So when I saw the ‘really hungry burger’ above, I was pleasantly surprised, as it looks like one monster of a pattie.

To serve two very hungry, greedy people, or for four less hungry, less ‘eyes bigger than your belly’ types, you will need the following ingredients for four burgers:

photo 2

Ingredients

  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 175g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 200g cannellini beans, drained
  • 100g rice or quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 50g oats
  • 5-6 drops of lemon juice
  • a sprinkle of dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp tamarind
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper

And for some spiced sweet potato wedges to go alongside, you will need:

  • 2 small to medium sweet potatoes
  • A healthy helping of olive oil
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper

Method

1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and scatter the dried thyme over the top, frying for 5-10 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened. Take the pan off the heat and pop the mushrooms in a bowl to cool.

2. Add the cannellini beans, garlic, parsley, tamarind and soy sauce to a food processor, or if like me, you do not have space for such a big gadget, pop it in a tall-sided bowl, pull out your “jhoojher”, i.e. handheld food blaster, and pulse until you have a thick, fairly smooth mixture. Add the rice/quinoa, oats, lemon juice and cooled mushrooms and leave to chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, turn the oven on to 230C/gas mark 8. Add your healthy helping of olive oil to a baking dish and pop in the oven to heat up for five minutes.

4. Chop your sweet potatoes in half and then, depending on how big they are, cut the halves into thirds or quarters.

5. Take your baking dish out of the oven and add your sweet potatoes to it, making sure there is a thin coating of oil on each of the wedges. Then sprinkle some cayenne pepper over the wedges and season well. Put them in the oven for 25 minutes.

6. Once your spuds are in the oven, so to speak, line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Get your burger mixture out of the fridge and separate it into four burger shapes. Space each of the burgers out evenly on the baking tray and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

7. While your main events are cooking, slice an avocado and some cherry tomatoes to have as a garnish.

8. When your burgers are looking golden brown on top, they’re ready. Get them out of the oven and carefully lift them on to your serving plates.

9. Give your sweet potato wedges a prod with a knife and if they feel soft then get them out too and serve alongside the burgers.

10. Serve with your favourite sauces: I opted for sweet chilli sauce, low-fat mayonnaise and houmous.

Enjoy!