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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Sweet potato and kale chilli

To celebrate World Vegetarian Day, try this aromatic vegetable chilli packed with a wonderful array of spices. Serve it with brown rice and a dollop of sour cream, and you’ve got the perfect warming dinner for these chilly autumnal evenings.

Sweet potato and kale chilli

There’s nothing better than a hearty veggie chilli. You can serve it with rice, tortilla chips, potato or polenta chips, with sour cream, guacamole, grated cheese; the options are endless.

I’m not a fan of the standard five bean chilli you’ll find in many pubs across the UK; I think that’s a bit of a cop out. What you need is a variety of tasty vegetables to bring vibrant colours and a wealth of textures, as well as adding nutritional goodness. This recipe ticks all of those boxes.

I had an abundance of sweet potatoes in the cupboard and some leftover kale that I wanted to incorporate into a one pot dish. And I bought some cannellini beans on a whim to make a change from the usual pulses I buy. I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s vegetable chilli recipe, and adapted it to include kale and cannellini beans.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 80g kale
  • 1 pepper (I used an orange one as that’s what I had in the fridge)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp frozen red chilli (or you could use chilli flakes)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (plus a bit extra to season the sweet potatoes)
  • 400g can cannellini beans, drained
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (plus a bit extra for the sweet potatoes)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (plus extra for the sweet potatoes)
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Plenty of seasoning

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves 2-3

Method

  1. Heat the oven to gas mark 6.
  2. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil into a medium-sized roasting dish and swirl it around so it’s evenly dispersed. Pop it in the oven to heat up.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into small cubes.
  4. Take the roasting dish out of the oven and tip the sweet potato cubes in. Sprinkle over a bit of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cumin and use a wooden spoon to coat all of the potatoes in the oil and spices. Season well and put back in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put a large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the remaining olive oil.
  6. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Chop the pepper into relatively small bitesize chunks and add to the pan. Cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
  8. Add the chilli, spices and fresh coriander and stir in with the onion mixture.
  9. Pour in the cannellini beans and chopped tomatoes and mix everything in together.
  10. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Check on the sweet potatoes after 15 minutes, and give turn them over using a metal spoon so they cook evenly on all sides. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until they have softened.
  12. When the chilli has been cooking for 15 minutes, stir the kale into the pan.
  13. Whent the sweet potatoes are ready, take them out of the oven and add them to the chilli. Season well and serve with brown rice or a side dish of your choice.

Kale and mushroom risotto

Curly kale is the superfood of the moment. It’s everywhere; in all the new salads on the supermarket shelves, and in healthy juice recipes featured in magazines and online.

I’ve bought kale a few times in the past – but only ever to grill it with salt on top – because it tastes just like ‘crispy seaweed’ that you get in Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants. It’s delicious (grill on a baking tray for 10 minutes – try it)!

But I wanted to do something different with the widely praised green vegetable this time; to make it the protagonist of a meal, and to cook it more traditionally.

Kale and mushroom risotto

So I conjured up this lovely risotto, inspired by one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes. Controversially, I used cider vinegar instead of white wine which would usually be used to cook risotto rice, and I was pleasantly surpised – the dryness of the vinegar worked well with the flavours of the earthy mushrooms and rich cheese.

This satisfying risotto dish incorporates the dark green leaves of curly kale, with the smooth texture and nutty taste of chestnut mushrooms. It’s a wonderfully green and nutritious meal that’s quick enough to make mid-week.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 5 squirts of low-fat cooking spray
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • A knob of olive spread
  • 150g curly kale
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 550ml vegetable stock
  • 1 mug arborio rice (roughly 200g)
  • 3 tsp cider vinegar (I used Aspall’s)
  • Approx. 50g extra mature cheddar cheese, grated (or another flavoursome hard cheese)
  • Plenty of ground rock salt and black pepper
  • A sprinkle of vegetarian-friendly parmesan

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil and the olive spread in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onion, garlic and dried thyme and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Meanwhile, pour the stock into a small saucepan and keep on a low heat.

3. When the onion has softened, add the rice, stirring in with the other ingredients and cook until the grains have started to become transparent. When this is the case, pour in the cider vinegar and stir in with the rice mixture for 10-20 seconds, until the liquid cooks off.

4. Reduce the heat and add a ladleful of stock to the rice. Stir every now and again, and when the rice has absorbed the stock, add another ladleful. Continue this process on a low heat until all of the stock has been used, for 25 minutes or so.

5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until they start to let off some liquid. Take them off the heat (but keep the hob on) and put to one side.

6. Place the frying pan back on the hob and squirt in the cooking spray.

7. Rinse the kale in a colander and place it in the frying pan along with 1 tbsp water and some salt. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes, turning the leaves over every now and again so they’re well-covered by the water. When the leaves turn a vibrant green and have softened, they’re ready.

8. Tip three quarters of the kale into a measuring jug and use a hand blender to shred the leaves into fine pieces.

9. Going back to the rice, give it a taste – it should be fairly soft, but with a bit of bite. If it’s not quite ready, add a bit more water. When it’s cooked, there should still be a bit of moisture from the stock left in the pan. Add the grated cheddar and plenty of salt and pepper to taste.

10. Finally, stir the shredded kale in well and give it another taste. Add some further seasoning if needed.

11. Serve the risotto in large bowls, with the remaining whole kale leaves and mushrooms on top. And if, like me, you’re guilty of sprinkling cheese on top of all your food, a cheeky bit of parmesan wouldn’t go amiss.

Butternut squash boats stuffed with cous cous and feta

The sweet, soft roasted butternut squash and red pepper are juxtaposed by the sharp taste of the crumbly feta.  Combined with the filling and flavoursome cous cous, this dish makes for a healthy and hearty vegetarian dinner. 

This meal idea is based on a BBC Good Food recipe, substituting quinoa for cous cous. It’s not the speediest of dishes to prepare, as the butternut squash needs roasting for some time before being stuffed with the other ingredients, so it’d be best to make this on the weekend, or when you’re not strapped for time.

Stuffed butternut squash with grilled asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 100g feta, cut into cubes
  • 1 100g packet of instant cous cous (I used Ainsley Harriott’s Sundried Tomato & Garlic flavour)
  • 8 asparagus spears, or another green vegetable of your choice.
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small squares
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Low fat cooking spray (some more olive oil will do if you don’t have any of this)

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

Method

1. Turn the oven on to gas mark 6.

2. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and score the flesh diagonally, both ways. Sprinkle the sage over both halves, pop them on a baking tray and drizzle over some olive oil. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the flesh has softened.

3. Meanwhile, get the filling ready. Prepare the cous cous as per the packet’s instructions (usually pour into a bowl and pour boiling water over so it covers the grains, leaving some extra liquid to be soaked up. Stir well and leave for five minutes). When the grains have absorbed the water, fluff them up with a fork, and pour over the majority of the lemon juice, holding a little back, and drizzle over a little bit of olive oil. Mix the liquids in, so the cous cous remains fluffy and doesn’t dry out.

4. After 30 minutes, take the baking tray out of the oven and carefully place the chopped pepper at the side of the tray. Sprinkle half the rosemary over the pepper and pop back in the oven for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, put the grill on to a medium to high heat. Chop off the bottom ends of the asparagus spears and place on a baking tray. Spray five or six times with the cooking spray, season and place under the grill for 10 minutes, or until nicely brown, turning them every now and again with some tongs or a fork.

6. When the squash and peppers are cooked, take them out of the oven. Tip the peppers into a bowl with the cous cous, spring onions, feta, carrot, and the remaining rosemary and lemon juice. Stir and season well.

7. Press the cous cous filling onto the squash with a metal spoon, and pile it as high as you can! I found that I had some filling leftover, and you could always serve this on the side so it doesn’t go to waste.

8. When you’re ready, put the squash back in the oven for 10 minutes, to allow the cous cous and the feta to begin to golden.

9. Take the asparagus out of the oven and serve neatly on the side of a large plate.

10. Take the squash out of the oven and place it carefully (so the cous cous doesn’t spill out all over the place) on the plate.

Butternut squash and chickpea stew

This hearty vegan stew will warm your cockles on a cold, dark day. The unusual mixture of spices and healthy pulses and grains will surprise and satisfy those taste buds.

Butternut squash is without a doubt one of my favourite vegetables: its orange colouring is wonderfully vibrant, it’s very versatile, tastes deliciously sweet with a satisfying soft texture and goes well with a range of herbs and spices. The only downside is that preparing one can be rather labour intensive, so don’t go hacking into a squash when you’re after a speedy meal.

This dish is based on one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes from his brilliant vegetarian cookbook, River Cottage Veg. The spices and the variety of textures are really what make this a great concoction. The squash, chickpeas and orzo work well together and the mixture of coriander, cinnamon and turmeric inject strong, spicy flavours.

 Butternut squash and chickpea stew

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp dried coriander
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 150g butternut squash or pumpkin, cut into large cubes
  • 250g chickpeas
  • 50g split red lentils
  • 600g vegetable stock
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50g orzo

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
Serves 3

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok (I often opt for a wok) on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry until soft, stirring frequently.

2. Reduce the heat slightly and add in the celery, garlic and all of the spices, along with the black pepper, and stir in with the onions until well mixed.

3. Turn the heat back up to medium. Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and lentils, and stir all of the ingredients in together. Cover and allow to cook for five minutes, so the liquids are infused with the spices.

4. Next, add in the squash, pour in the stock and stir in thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients.

5. Cover and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

6. After 25 minutes, stir in the orzo. Continue with the simmering until the orzo is soft and the lentils have fully absorbed the juices.

7. Season well and serve in large bowls.

Creamy pumpkin and lentil soup

The tricks of Halloween may have been and gone for another year, but pumpkin-based foods are still very much a treat to enjoy through this season.

I was intrigued to cook pumpkin as I’d never even carved one, let alone cooked it. As a fellow squash plant, it’s very similar to preparing a butternut squash, but thankfully, slightly less labour intensive.

Soup is definitely back in vogue on these increasingly chilly, autumnal days. This pumpkin soup dish is a slightly richer variation of a BBC Good Food recipe, using cream instead of creme fraiche. It’s sweet and herby and the toasted pumpkin seeds make for an innovative garnish adding a crunchy texture and salty flavour.

IMG_2698

Ingredients

    • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 small red onions, chopped
    • two thirds of a small to medium sized pumpkin, approx. 800g, chopped into cubes
    • a handful of pumpkin seeds (from the pumpkin you’ve just prepared)
    • 100g split red lentils
    • 2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 l vegetable stock
    • 75ml double cream
    • A pinch of salt
    • A pinch of sugar

Preparation time: 20 minutes (unless you are an advanced pumpkin peeler!)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onions and cook for five minutes or so, until soft. Stir in the garlic, chopped pumpkin and lentils and sprinkle the thyme over the ingredients.
  3. Pour in the hot stock and stir, making sure all of the ingredients are well covered.
  4. Season, cover and simmer for 20-25 mins until the lentils have expanded and the pumpkin has softened.
  5. Meanwhile, wash the pumpkin seeds. Remove any flesh still clinging to them, then dry them with kitchen roll.
  6. Heat the remaining half tbsp of oil in a small frying pan and toast the seeds for five to ten minutes, or until they start to turn a warm golden colour. Take them off the heat and place them on a couple of sheets of kitchen roll. Sprinkle over the salt and sugar.
  7. When the pumpking mixture is ready, take the pan off the heat and pour into a large bowl.
  8. Whizz the cooked mixture with a hand blender until quite smooth (though I like to leave a few lumps of pumpkin in the mix). Pour in the cream and stir with a large spoon. Season to taste.
  9. Serve in large, shallow bowls, with the golden seeds as a garnish in the middle and drizzle over a little bit of cream if you have some left over.

This warming pumpkin soup is perfect as a light evening meal served with crusty bread, or it can be prepared in advance and used for lunches.