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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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.

Pumpkin, pepper and pearl barley stew

This seasonal stew is the perfect meal as Halloween and Bonfire Night approach. Pumpkin, pepper and sweetcorn bring a satisfying sweetness to the dish while the spices contribute a rich depth of flavour.

It’s packed with an array of colourful veggies and nutritious pearl barley grains so it’s really good for you. It’ll be on the table in 40 minutes and will please your vegan friends.

This comforting stew is sure to delight your tastebuds and leave you feeling nicely full.

 

Ingredients

  • 275g pumpkin, chopped into small cubes
  • 60g frozen sweetcorn (or you could use tinned)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 60g pearl barley, rinsed under cold water
  • 100g cabbage (I used sweetheart), finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, cubed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh coriander to serve (optional)

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

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, pepper and garlic and cook for five minutes.
  2. Add the spices and pumpkin and mix together well. Cook for a further five minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the tomatoes, cabbage and stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and pour in the pearl barley and sweetcorn. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the pearl barley has cooked through with a little bit of bite left.
  5. Season well and serve in large pasta bowls with a coriander garnish on top.

This recipe was inspired by Leon Fast Vegetarian’s squash, corn and bean stew.

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.

Breaded halloumi, pomegranate and green lentil salad

Thick slices of halloumi encased in crunchy panko breadcrumbs are scattered with sweet yet tart pomegranate seeds. The taste and texture of these two main players contrast each other perfectly. Served with warm, earthy green lentils, this colourful autumnal salad is packed with a wealth of fine flavours.

Pomegranate. A fruit I’ve never bought in its raw form. I’ve encountered it in juices and in cocktails, but I’ve never prepared one myself. The inspiration for this dish came from Petek, a Turkish restaurant in Finsbury Park I went to recently where I had a starter of halloumi scattered with pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranates are a superfood. They add a lot of nutritional value to your diet containing vitamins, iron and a good source of fibre. And the ruby red seeds are so vibrant, they inject a lovely colour on to your plate of food.

I’ve wanted to make breaded halloumi for some time now, and when I came across Sita’s Simply Delicious recipe for panko halloumi sticks, I was so intrigued by the use of yogurt as a binding agent rather than egg, that I got my hands on some panko breadcrumbs stat.

Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese-style breadcrumbs. They’re bigger than standard breadcrumbs and are lighter in flavour. They seem to be en vogue in the food world at the moment, as they keep cropping up in recipes I come across, not just for Asian dishes such as katsu curries but also in fishcakes and other veggie dishes. I got mine in Sainsbury’s.

Ingredients

  • 250g pack of halloumi
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 60g panko breadcrumbs
  • 5 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 30-50g plain flour
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • A handful of mixed salad leaves
  • 6 or so slices of cucumber
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, chopped into quarters
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g green lentils
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 small red onion
  • Plenty of seasoning

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

Method

  1. Slice the halloumi block in half lengthways. Then slice each half into three lengthways, so you have six chunky pieces.
  2. Heat the oven to gas mark 8.
  3. Get three small to medium sized bowls or tupperware and add flour to one, yogurt to the second and the panko breadcrumbs and dried parsley to the third. Give the breadcrumbs and parsley container a bit of a shake so the parsley is dispersed evenly throughout the breadcrumbs. Line them up in this order as your production line.
  4. Get a baking tray ready to pop the halloumi onto once you’ve breaded it.
  5. Now here’s the fun part. Take your first slice of halloumi and dip it into the flour, making sure to coat all sides thoroughly. Repeat the process for the yogurt, making sure you get a healthy amount on all sides so there’s enough moisture for the breadcrumbs to stick to. Lastly, coat the halloumi slice in the breadcrumbs, again making sure you coat all sides thoroughly, and pop the slice onto the baking tray. Repeat this process for the other halloumi slices.
  6. When you’ve breaded all of your halloumi, put the baking tray in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the lentil salad. Cut the onion and pepper into thick slices lengthways.
  8. Pour the olive oil into a frying pan and put on a medium to high heat. Add the pepper and onion and fry for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  9. After 10 minutes of the halloumi being in the oven, flip the slices over so they cook on both sides evenly.
  10. When the pepper and onion have cooked, reduce the heat and pour in the lentils and dried basil. Season well and mix together. Cook for 5 minutes.
  11. Check on the halloumi slices. If they’ve browned up nicely, then they’re ready to serve. But I found that they were a bit reluctant to brown up. If this is the case for you, then put them under the grill on a high heat for a further 5 minutes to get that lovely golden colour.
  12. Slice the pomegranate in half and scoop the seeds out into a bowl using a fork.
  13. Place the salad leaves, cucumber and tomato together on the side of the plate or bowl. Add the lentil mixture to the other side and arrange the halloumi slices on top. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and garnish with a bit of fresh basil if you’ve got it.

Tip: If you fancy a bit of something extra to dip your halloumi slices into, pour a little bit of sweet chilli sauce on the side and thoroughly enjoy.

Aubergine and asparagus curry

This delicious vegan curry of juicy pan-fried aubergine and crisp and crunchy asparagus is bursting with fantastic flavours from India and Southeast Asia.

At the base of the sauce is a fiery homemade curry paste packed with a wealth of spices, and strong hints of garlic and chilli, which is offset by the sweet and creamy taste of coconut milk and thickening chopped tomatoes.

Aubergine and asparagus curry

The fusion of traditional Indian spices like turmeric and cumin and Southeast Asian ingredients like coconut milk and ginger, as well as seasonal asparagus make this dish really interesting and unlike anything I’ve tasted before.

Serve it with poppadoms to start and sides of brown rice and chapattis and you’ve got the perfect filling feast.

It’s sweet, spicy and scrumptious – give it a go and let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 small to medium aubergines
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 8 asparagus spears
  • 165ml can of coconut milk (or use just less than half of a regular 400g can)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the paste

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp crushed chillies
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Optional sides

  • 1 mug of brown rice
  • 2 chapattis
  • 4-6 poppadoms
  • Mango chutney

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Tip all of the curry paste ingredients into a measuring jug and use a hand blender to whiz them together until they form a thick paste.
2. Take one of your aubergines and slice it lengthways, then cut each half in half again. Then slice each quarter into three. You should have 12 pieces altogether. Repeat this process for the second aubergine.
3. If you’re planning on serving your curry with brown rice, then put the water on to boil for your rice at this point. If you’re not, ignore this point and move on to number 4! Brown rice takes about 25 minutes to cook, twice the amount of time it takes white rice. I use half a mug’s worth of rice per person, with double the amount of water (my mum’s failsafe instructions).
4. Pour one tablespoon of sunflower oil into a large, non-stick frying pan on a medium to high heat. When the oil’s hot, lift the pan up and tilt round so the oil is evenly dispersed around the pan. Add half of the aubergine slices and fry for 5-7 minutes, until they start to soften and brown up. When the first batch is done, lay the slices on some kitchen roll on a plate or chopping board. Pour in the second tablespoon of oil and repeat the process for the second batch.
5. Put a wok or a large saucepan on a medium heat and add in a tablespoon of oil. Pour in the curry paste and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add the aubergines and mix in with the paste for a couple of minutes, until they’re well coated.
6. Pour in the coconut milk and chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
7. Chop the woody ends off the asparagus. Add them to the pan and mix them in, then cook for a further five minutes.
8. While the curry is finishing cooking, heat the chapattis in the oven as per the pack instructions.
9. Season the curry well and serve on a large plate with the brown rice along with the chapattis, poppadoms and chutney.

Aubergine and asparagus curry

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s aubergine and green bean curry in his book River Cottage Veg.