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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Herby bean burgers

These hearty bean burgers are packed with tasty goodness. They’re the perfect veggie option for summer barbecues and are a great base to add tasty toppings to, like halloumi cheese, mediterranean roasted vegetables and salad.

Herby bean burgersSummer has finally arrived; the weather has been absolutely scorching this week, so inevitably the London air has been taken over by the wonderful smell of barbecue smoke. I’ve been craving burgers, salads and some fizzy cider to wash it all down with.

I’ve been trying to make an effort to buy in season produce of late, so the inspiration for making these burgers came from broad beans being grown on home soil.

The broad beans bring a nice firm texture to the burger, whereas the butter beans balance things out with their softness. The onion, herbs and marmite work together well to add subtle, earthy flavours and the oats and egg bind the patties together for a classic shape.

This recipe makes four burgers. You could have two in buns with salad for a filling main course, or one each as part of a BBQ with other vegetarian options like vegetable kebabs and sausages.

Ingredients

  • 200g broad beans, removed from their pods (though it’s cheaper to buy them frozen or tinned)
  • 200g butter beans
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus some more for frying)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • Plenty of seasoning

Method

1. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
2. Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil, add the broad beans and butter beans, and cook for three minutes, then drain in a colander.
3. Tip the beans and the onion mixture into a large bowl, add the parsley and marmite, season well and stir everything together. Use a hand blender to mash the ingredients up until they form a thick, smooth paste.
4. Add the oats and egg to the bowl and stir in with a wooden spoon. Leave the mixture for 10-15 minutes, so the oats can soak up the egg.
5. At this point, I started to prep my sides, like some homemade guacamole and halloumi cheese. Depending on what you want to serve the burgers with, you can use this time to get other bits ready.
6. Here comes the fun bit. Using your hands, divide the mixture up into four mounds, and shape each one into a round burger shape.
7. Using your frying pan from earlier, pour in a further tablespoon of olive oil and put on a medium heat.
8. Add each of the burgers to the pan and squash them down with a fish slice, so they’re a decent size and not too thick. Fry them for five to seven minutes on each side, or until they brown up.
9. Serve in wholemeal buns with fresh salad and sauces of your choice. I always recommend having cheese on a burger, and halloumi goes really well with these. You might also like to add some roasted pepper and onion. The more toppings, the better!

This recipe is based on Pat’s Broad Bean Burgers recipe from one of my favourite veggie cookbooks, Leon Fast Vegetarian.

Mediterranean potato, tomato and pepper salad

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week and the May Bank Holiday in the UK, impress your friends and family by having a go at making this wonderfully flavoursome Mediterranean potato, tomato and pepper salad.

It’s really easy and cheap to make, looks exotic and appetising, and it’s low in fat!

As the weather slow starts to warm up (if we can brush off this pesky rain), and you’re thinking of organising a barbecue, serve this salad as a summery side dish, or as an alternative addition to a veggie Sunday lunch.

It can easily be doubled, tripled or multiplied further if you’re feeding the masses.

Mediterranean potato salad

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 Charlotte or new potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 5 green olives
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • A small handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Half-fill a medium to large saucepan with cold water and sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil.
2. Pour the olive oil into a decent sized frying pan and put on a medium heat. Add the onion slices and fry for 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften.
3. Meanwhile, when the water has boiled, add the potatoes and cook them following the pack instructions – which is usually around 15-20 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and oregano to the frying pan and and cook for a minute or so, stirring frequently.
5. Tip in the sliced pepper and fry for a further 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
6. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and season well at this point. Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Prod one of the potatoes with a knife and if it’s quite soft, they’re ready. Drain them over the sink using a colander.
8. Mix the potatoes and olives in with the tomato mixture and heat through for a few minutes. Give the sauce a taste and see if it needs more seasoning.
9. Serve the mixture in a large bowl. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and scatter over the mixture.

If you make this dish, I’d love to hear how you get on with it. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

This recipe is based on BBC Good Food’s Mediterranean potato salad.

Vegetable paella and what to eat before running a marathon

It’s been a bit quiet on the Peckish Pescy front the last few weeks. By no means have I been less peckish, but I’ve been so busy preparing to take part in the London Marathon (which I am very pleased to say that I completed yesterday in 4 hours and 20 minutes) that I’ve not had an opportunity to write about all of the tasty food I’ve been eating.

Food in the week leading up to a marathon

I did a fair bit of reading about what to eat in the week leading up to a marathon, and across the board, oats, carbohydrates like basmati rice, pasta and sweet potatoes, oily fish and plenty of fruit and vegetables came out on top.

Paella: a penultimate pre-marathon dinner

On Friday, as a penultimate pre-marathon dinner, I decided to make vegetable paella, ticking the carbs and vegetables boxes.

Vegetable paella

Paella, a rice dish which originates from Valencia in Spain, is a meal I associate with holidays and festivals. My favourite memory of eating paella has got to be on a summer holiday to Spain with my best friend from university, Claire, back in 2007. We stayed in a little coastal town called La Pineda in Catalonia and stumbled across a modest and slightly bizarre cafe/restaurant down a side street, with a big TV playing MTV music videos.

At the time, Claire and I were both strict vegetarians so we were delighted to see an interesting looking vegetable paella on the menu. It had all sorts of vegetables in it, including brussel sprouts, which was unusual, but absolutely delicious! I feel hungry just thinking about it!

Paella traditionally contains meats like chicken, rabbit and chorizo, but there are different varieties like seafood paella and more contemporary vegetarian versions.

Vegetable paella recipe

This version of paella is vegan. I love the variety of vibrant colours from the pepper, tomatoes, asparagus and peas. This is a really wholesome dish filled with tasty and healthy ingredients. The fresh taste of the flat leaf parsley brings the dish to life and is complimented by the tarte and zesty lemon juice.

Vegetable paella in a panYou could easily add in other vegetables like carrots, butternut squash and green beans. Or if you fancy making it fishy, you could add in some seafood like prawns and squid.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small red onions (you could use one large onion), finely chopped
  • 150g paella rice (I used Sainsbury’s paella rice)
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 400g can/carton of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped into 4cm chunks
  • 3 asparagus spears, sliced into quarters
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • A generous handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Plenty of sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Drizzle the oil into a large frying pan (ideally you should use a paella dish, but a frying pan does the job) and put it on a medium heat.
2. Add the onion and pepper and fry for five minutes, or until the pepper begins to soften, and then pop in the dried thyme and paprika. Stir for a minute or so and then gradually add the stock, stirring constantly, followed by the tomatoes.
3. Season well and cook for 15 minutes, adding the asparagus slices after 7-8 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally.
4. Pour in the frozen peas and cook for a further five minutes, or until the peas have warmed through.
5. Take the pan off the heat and squeeze over half of the lemon juice. Sprinkle the parsley over the paella and stir through. Season well.
6. Serve in large bowls with the remaining quarters of the lemon and garnish with a piece of parsley.

This recipe has been adapted from BBC Good Food’s easy paella recipe.

Halloumi, asparagus and thyme roasted potato salad

I first tried halloumi cheese about ten years ago. One of my very talented friends, the wonderful Charlotte, put on a dinner party for a group of us for her birthday; a very civilised thing to do at the age of 17. As soon as I tried it, I loved it and have never looked back.

Halloumi is a Cypriot cheese made from sheep and goat’s milk. Its texture is like no other cheese. It’s chewy and squeaks against your teeth as you bite into eat, which may sound a bit odd, but is so satisfying. It tastes super salty and is simply delicious.

Of the many cheeses I appreciate, halloumi has got to win the award for being the fun cheese, because it’s usually served as a vegetarian option at events like summer barbecues and in American-style diners where indulgence is encouraged.

I wouldn’t advise eating this cheese raw, it’s very much a food that should be cooked, either by frying, grilling, barbecuing or baking it. It’s really versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes, especially fresh, warm salads.

I put this halloumi, asparagus and potato salad together with ingredients I had in the fridge. I hadn’t initially intended to include potatoes, but I had some spuds that really needed using up (at the point where they were sprouting) and thought they would add an earthy and filling base to the meal.

Halloumi, asparagus and potato saladThe mixed salad leaves add a lovely crisp crunch and the silky smooth baked asparagus spears compliment the salty halloumi delightfully. The honey and mustard salad dressing adds some moisture to the dish and contrasts well with the salty cheese.

This is a really fresh dish that can be served as a light dinner or a hearty lunchtime treat.

Ingredients

  • 1½ tbsp sunflower oil
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 200g pack of halloumi
  • 250g asparagus
  • 4 small to medium white potatoes
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 4 large handfuls of salad leaves – I used a Sainsbury’s watercress, rocket and spinach salad bag
  • Plenty of sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp wholegrain mustard

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Half-fill a medium saucepan with cold water, add a sprinkle of salt and bring it to the boil.
2. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, give them a rinse and then chop them up – to about half the size of a standard roast potato. When the water is boiling, carefully lower the potato slices into the pan and boil gently for 5-10 minutes, until they begin to soften, but don’t let them cook to the point of becoming fluffy.
3. As the potatoes are cooking, put the oven on to gas mark 6. Pour the sunflower oil into a large baking try and sprinkle over the dried thyme. Place in the oven to heat up.
4. Drain the potatoes in a colander and shake off any excess water. Take the baking tray out of the oven and tip the potatoes into the tray, distributing them evenly. Use a wooden spoon to cover the potatoes in the thyme and oil, then season well and put in the oven for 30 minutes, turning them over with the wooden spoon half way through so they crisp up on all sides.
5. While the potatoes are cooking, chop the woody ends off the asparagus spears and then chop each of the spears in half. After 30 minutes, take the baking tray out of the oven and make some room for the asparagus spears, so they are only one layer deep. Coat them in the oil from the pan and pop the tray back in the oven for 15 minutes.
6. Next, chop the halloumi block lengthways into six chunky slices.
7. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and drizzle in the ½ tbsp olive oil. Add each of the halloumi slices to the pan and fry for 10 minutes or so, turning every few minutes so they turn a golden brown on both sides.
8. While the halloumi is cooking, mix together all of the salad dressing ingredients in a jug.
9. Check on the potatoes and asparagus. When the potatoes have crisped up and the asparagus has softened, they’re ready to serve.
10. Lay the salad leaves in the bottom of large pasta bowls or plates and scatter over the potato slices. Place the bottom slices of the asparagus on top, and then lay the tips over the top of them in the other direction, so they make a sort of asparagus noughts and crosses shape. Place the halloumi slices on top and drizzle over the salad dressing.

Feta, courgette and chickpea salad

Cooked courgette ribbons, soft and succulent mushrooms, firm and filling chickpeas, and crunchy red onion make a tasty and healthy base for this warm salad. Cooked with a touch of cumin and topped with crumbly feta cheese, this dish makes a perfect light lunch. And, you can have it on the table within 15 minutes.

Feta, courgette and chickpea saladThis salad is a bit of a melting pot of cuisines. It came about from bits and bobs I had left in the fridge and cupboard.

Courgettes and mushrooms are two of my favourite vegetables. Their flavours are subtle yet satisfying and they’re incredibly versatile. They can be used in everything from curries to salads, on top of pizzas or in dips. They work well in this salad as they are soft and juicy.

The chickpeas and cumin bring exotic, Middle Eastern flavours and the richness of the feta cheese finishes the dish off delightfully.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • ½ red onion, roughly sliced
  • ½ courgette, thinly sliced lengthways
  • 150g chickpeas
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 30g feta
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves one

Method

1. Put a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and pour in the sunflower oil.

2. Add the mushrooms and courgette and fry for two to three minutes. Mix in the onion and fry for another couple of minutes, until the onion begins to soften (but not too much; it’s better with a bit of bite).

3. Pour in the chickpeas and scatter over the cumin. Cook for another three to five minutes, stirring throughout.

4. Serve the mixture in a pasta bowl or on a plate. Crumble over the feta and season well.

Sweet potato and goat’s cheese pearl barley risotto

Pearl barley is a great grain. It’s cheap, easy to cook and filling. It has a unique, nutty taste and a light and bouncy texture. I like to think of it as quinoa’s less pretentious sibling.

As the days are getting slightly milder, I’m starting to steer away from hearty, wintry foods, and thinking about lighter, more wholesome ingredients.

To celebrate Meat Free Week, I’ve put together a simple and tasty vegetarian pearl barley risotto with a variety of delicious tastes and textures.

Pearl barley risotto

The flavour of the soft, roasted sweet potato is complimented by the pungent thyme, alongside rich and creamy goat’s cheese, all mixed in with the pearl barley. A topping of crisp, green salad leaves adds a fresh, peppery element and the smoky, toasted pumpkin seeds finish the dish off with a satisfying crunch. Great as a lunchtime or evening meal.

Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
    • Low fat cooking spray
    • Knob of butter
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 150g pearl barley
    • About 550ml vegetable stock
    • 2 small sweet potatoes, sliced into 3-4cm cubes
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • Small handful of pumpkin seeds
    • Plenty of salt and pepper
    • 75g soft goats’ cheese
    • Rocket, spinach and watercress leaves to garnish (or alternative salad leaves)

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Put the oven on to gas mark 6. Pour 1 tbsp of oil into a medium-sized baking dish and place in the oven to heat up.
  2. Place a large frying pan or wok on a medium heat and pour in 1 tbsp of oil.
  3. Add the onions to the pan and fry for five minutes or until soft, stirring frequently.
  4. After a couple of minutes, take the baking dish out of the oven and add the sweet potato, coating all of the pieces in the oil using a fish slice or large spoon. Scatter the thyme across the dish and turn the sweet potato pieces over in the oil again, to make sure they’re fully coated. Place in the oven for 25 minutes, checking them half way through. Turn the pieces over to make sure they are cooked throughout.
  5. Meanwhile, add the knob of butter to the frying pan and move it around the pan with a wooden spoon until it melts. Pour the pearl barley into the pan and stir in with the onions. Cook for five minutes.
  6. Lower the heat slightly. Gradually add in the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring in with the barley. Wait until the stock has been absorbed by the barley and then add the next batch. Repeat this until all of the stock has been added; this should take between 20 and 25 minutes, by which time the barley should be cooked. Give it a taste after 20 minutes – it should have a little bit of bite.
  7. While the risotto is cooking, put a small saucepan on a medium heat and spray in three squirts of the cooking spray. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook for five minutes, or until they start to brown and make a slight popping sound. Take off the heat and place to one side.
  8. There should still be a little bit of liquid left in the pan from the stock; make sure it doesn’t dry out. If it does, add a little bit of water. Then stir in half of the goat’s cheese until it melts in with the liquid. Season well.
  9. Take the sweet potato out of the oven and add to the pan, stirring well so the pieces are evenly distributed among the barley.
  10. Serve in large pasta bowls, topped with the salad and seeds, and crumble over the remaining goat’s cheese.

If you like this recipe, it would be great to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment or a question below.