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.

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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.

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.