Monday, 17 April 2017

Risotto with Green Beans & Butternut Squash

Risotto with Green Beans & Butternut Squash

I was looking back through my blog the other day and realised that I've not posted any risotto recipes; that's probably because my girls aren't keen on risotto.

Anyway, I recently made this dish to share with friends, which went down very well. It certainly made a change from the ubiquitous mushroom risotto!
  • 1½ cups risotto rice
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 150g/6oz green beans, cut into 2.5cm/1" pieces
  • 150g/6oz Manchego cheese; half grated, half cubed (or an alternative strong-flavoured, hard cheese)
  • 75g/3oz semi-dried or sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley or oregano chopped (or ½-1 tsp dried herbs)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped (or ½-1 tsp dried herbs)
  • olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to season
Heat the oven to 180C Fan/190C/Gas 5/375F

Roast the butternut squash (drizzled with olive oil) for around 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft and browned. Sprinkle with the sage before the final 5 minutes of cooking time.

Cook the beans in a pan of water for around 8-10 minutes, until just cooked; drain.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan.
Gently cook the onion and garlic until soft. Add the rice and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the white wine and stir well.
Add the stock, a little at a time, stirring occasionally. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is al dente. Stir in the cooked beans and parsley/oregano.

Gently, mix in the grated cheese and chopped tomatoes. Season to taste.

Spoon into a serving dish and top with the roasted squash and remaining cheese. Return to the oven for a minute or so to allow the cheese to melt slightly.

Vegan version: simply omit the cheese or swap the grated cheese for 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes.

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Churro Waffles with Caramel Sauce

Churro Waffles with Caramel Sauce
These churro-style waffles are cooked in a waffle maker rather than being deep fried like traditional churros. I made mine in my trusty Sage Waffle Maker, however there are cheaper gadgets on the market. You could cook these like drop scones on a large non-stick frying pan, if you don't have a waffle maker.

Makes 4-5 large waffles
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups SR flour
  • 1⅓ cups milk  
  • ⅓ cup soft brown sugar                   
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • a pinch of cinnamon
For the cinnamon sugar, mix ingredients together.
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
For the caramel dipping sauce, heat ingredients together in a pan or in the microwave and stir thoroughly.
  • 1 cup dulche de leche/caramel condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk or double cream
Beat all of the waffle ingredients together to make a smooth, thick batter.
Heat your waffle maker or frying pan on a medium-high heat.
Cook waffles until golden brown.

Whilst warm, dust on both sides with the cinnamon sugar.

Serve drizzled with the hot caramel sauce.

Top tip: Make a chocolate sauce by melting chocolate and mixing with double cream or evaporated milk. Heat gently until you have a smooth, warm sauce.
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Thursday, 30 March 2017

Black Bean Chilli Burritos

Black Bean Chilli Burritos
Since I've been back working full time, I've had less time for both blogging and cooking, so I've been devising some really quick and easy family meals down to necessity. This recipe uses store cupboard ingredients and can be made in around 15 minutes.

Fills around 6-8 wraps
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 100g/4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tin black beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp. chipotle paste
  • 1 handful fresh coriander/cilantro roughly chopped
To serve:
  • a pack of tortilla wraps
  • 1 pack of Mexican-style microwave rice
  • 100g grated cheese
  • salad/salsa/avocado/jalapeños etc. to serve
Heat a drop of oil in a pan, on a medium heat.
Fry the onions for a few minutes, until soft. Then add the peppers, garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 5-7 minutes, until the peppers are almost tender.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and warm through for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the rice and warm the wraps.
Fill each burrito with some rice, beany mixture and cheese.
Serve with the optional extras.

Vegan version: simply omit the cheese and check the wrap ingredients.
Top tips: Look for black beans in the World Foods section of your supermarket, as they're usually around half the price of the branded version.
Use the same mixture to top nachos.

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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Pasta with Aubergine & Mozzarella

Pasta with Aubergine & Mozzarella
Aubergines (eggplant) are in scarce supply at the moment, due to adverse weather conditions in Europe, and the quality has been quite variable. However, I spotted some lovely plump specimens in Tesco's the other day, so came up with this recipe to use them in.

This is a really simple, vegetarian pasta dish. The aubergine  takes a little while to cook, but everything else can be thrown together in minutes.

You could swap the aubergine for courgettes, mushrooms or whichever vegetables are cheap and in season.

Serves 4
  • 2 large aubergines, sliced thickly
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, roughly torn
  • 500g packet of fresh pasta
  • olive oil for frying
For the herby dressing:
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small chilli, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
Fry the aubergine in batches until soft and brown in colour (alternatively, brush with oil and bake in the oven.). Remove from the pan and chop roughly.

Make up the dressing by whizzing all the ingredients together in a mini-blender until fairly smooth, like a pesto. Warm the dressing through, in the pan which you cooked the aubergine in, while the pasta is cooking. Do not allow the garlic to colour, as this will give a bitter taste.

Cook the pasta and drain.

Mix the pasta, aubergine and dressing together. Top with the cheese.
Pop under a hot grill/broiler for a few minutes or microwave for 1 minute, if you want to warm the cheese though.

Serve with a seasonal salad.

Vegan option: Replace the cheese with some toasted pine nuts. For extra protein, add a drained tin of chickpeas to the dressing to warm through, before combining the remaining ingredients.

Variations: For a tomato sauce, simply add a can of chopped tomatoes to the dressing. Simmer for 10 minutes, before combining with the pasta and cooked aubergine.
Swap the mozzarella for feta.

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Saag Paneer Parathas

Saag Paneer Parathas
Unfortunately, work has been taking priority recently and blogging has had to take a back seat. I've been meaning to post for a while and finally managed to finish writing up this recipe...

Although I made it through January without a morsel of cheese passing my lips, I'm afraid to admit that cheese is well and truly back on the menu.

As street food is becoming more and more popular, I thought I'd blog another one of my favourite Indian snack recipes. The same filling could also be used to stuff chapattis, tortillas or even paninis if you prefer. I use a mini-blender to chop all of the spice paste ingredients, but you could chop then by hand if you don't have one.

Fills 4-6 parathas

For the spice paste:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1-2 green chillis, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
For the filling:
  • 250g/10oz fresh spinach (or frozen, defrosted)
  • 200g/8oz paneer, cubed
  • 150ml/ cup passata
  • 4-6 frozen, uncooked parathas (check ingredients, if vegan) 
Microwave or steam the spinach as per packet instructions. Cool and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Chop roughly, if using fresh spinach. 

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil on a medium heat.
Fry the paneer for a few minutes, turning regularly, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Add the mustard seeds to the pan, along with a drop more oil. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the onion and spice paste.
Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is just starting to colour.
Add the cooked paneer and spinach and stir though.
Add the passata and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, until you have quite a dry, thick filling.

If you have a panini press or George Forman-type grill, heat it up. If not, cook the parathas one at a time in a large frying pan on a high heat.

Take one frozen paratha and heat it for 1-2 minutes on the press/grill/pan. Turn over and fill with a generous spoonful of filling. Fold in half, or roll like a burrito and cook for a further minute or two on each side, until golden brown.

Serve with onion salad and your favourite chutneys.

Vegan version: swap the paneer for a tin of chickpeas to make a chana saag filling.
Top tip:  double the amount of passata to make a saag paneer side dish.

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Saturday, 7 January 2017

Veganuary 2017

A slightly belated Happy New Year! 
I can't believe all the festivities are over and I'm back at work already!

This year, both Miss K (now aged 15) and I are attempting Veganuary. In case you don't know, Veganuary is a campaign in association with Viva! to encourage people to go vegan for January and "Eat delicious, healthy food, save lives and help the environment."

As a long-time vegetarian (myself) and a lifelong one (Miss K), I reckon we've done our bit to save more than a few farm animals' lives between us, however the dairy and egg industry does, of course, play on our minds from time to time. It's something which I don't often blog about, as I try not to be a 'preachy' type of vegetarian; I am married to an omnivore after all.

After a week of eating a vegan diet, I've only encountered a couple of obstacles. One is that you can't easily buy vegan cakes and I haven't had time for any guess what I've been craving? The second is eating out as a vegan; this seems to be incredibly difficult if you're a strict vegan but the Veganuary website has this covered for a variety of chain restaurants.

If you've recently discovered my blog, you might like to know that I try to avoid fussy recipes and fashionable 'out-there' ingredients, as I work full time and have a family to feed, who want wholesome, tasty but not weird, vegetarian meals. I don't have time to faff around for hours, or to knit my own quinoa, goji berry and spirulina brownies, but I do enjoy cooking.

Although not all of my recipes below are vegan, they are all budget friendly, relatively low in fat and can all be easily adapted (for example, if the recipe uses Quorn or cheese, simply swap for a vegan alternative.) I hope you enjoy them. Please let me know what you think, by leaving me a comment if you do try any of my recipes.

Veganuary meal plan - week 1
Veganuary meal plan - week 2
A cheap and lower-fat meal plan for Veganuary

For an amazing array of vegan recipes, take a look at the Veganuary recipe index.

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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Keralan Vegetable Stew

Keralan Vegetable Stew, Vegan
This South Indian vegetable curry is made with a thin, aromatic, spiced coconut-milk sauce so it's more like a soup or stew than a traditional, British curry. The flavours are also more akin to Thai cuisine than a North Indian-style curry, but this recipe utilises seasonal, British vegetables, so it's very economical.

Although it's not exactly fat-free or low in calories, it makes a delicious, warming and vegan start to the New Year, especially if you're doing Veganuary.

Serves 4
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamoms, pierced with a knife or lightly crushed with your thumb
  • a sprig of fresh or dried curry leaves
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. grated, fresh ginger
  • 2 thin, green chilies, slit in half
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into batons or slices 
  • 1 cup of green beans, cut into 1"/2.5cm pieces
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets or 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • ½ cup boiled water, optional
  • 1 tsp sugar, optional
Heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil in a large saucepan.
Add the onion and whole spices and cook for a few minutes on a medium heat.
Add the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Throw in the green beans and potatoes along with the coconut milk.
Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on, until tender.
Add the mushrooms and broccoli/peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Season with salt, black pepper and sugar, to taste.
Add some of the water to thin the sauce if needed.

Serve with rice, appam, roti or paratha.

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Ricotta and Amaretti Cake - Suma Bloggers Network

Christmas is just around the corner, so I wanted to create a new, festive recipe for the Suma Bloggers Network.  I decided on a dessert dish, which had to and taste special enough for the festive celebrations, without being too rich or heavy. As I had some amaretti biscuits from Suma, I wanted to use them in something other than a tiramisu and felt that they would add both texture and flavour to a cake.

My Italian-inspired Ricotta and Amaretti Cake is a cross between a cheese cake and a sponge pudding and has quite a  dense texture. It provides a seasonal alternative to the traditional Christmas pudding, which my daughters are not keen on it.

Serves 10
  • 50g/2oz softened butter
  • 1x250g/10oz tub ricotta
  • 150g/6oz soft brown sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 100g/4oz ground almonds
  • 200g/8oz amaretti biscuits, roughly broken (from Suma)
  • 100g/4oz good quality chocolate (I used Montezumas Dark Chocolate, Bean Machine, from Suma), chopped into chunks
  • 2 tbsp very strong, cold coffee (2 tsp coffee granules to 2 tbsp. boiling water)
Preheat the oven to 150C/140C Fan/Gas 2/300F.
Grease and line a loose-bottomed 20cm round cake tin.

Put the butter, ricotta, sugar and eggs into a large bowl. Whisk for 5 minutes until thick, smooth and creamy. Then gently stir the coffee, flour and ground almonds.

Fold in most of the chocolate and biscuit pieces, but retain and handful of each.
Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin. Scatter with the remaining biscuits and chocolate and press lightly into the cake mixture.

Bake for around 45 minutes or until golden brown, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning out.
Dust with cocoa powder or icing sugar before serving.

Serve warm with cream, ice cream or custard. tips: Swap the coffee for 2 tbsp of  Tia Maria or Amaretto liqueur. For a more traditional Christmas flavour, omit the chocolate and add the equivalent weight of dried fruit, pre-soaked in the liqueur.
Gluten free option: Check that your amaretti biscuits are GF. Swap the flour for GF flour and add some GF baking powder if needed.

Integrity Statement As a member of the Suma Blogger's Network, I will receive a selection of complimentary products from Suma every two months, to use in recipe development, and will blog an original recipe for the Network.   

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Pizza with Aubergine and Two Cheeses

This is a really simple dish which I have tried to recreate, after eating it at a local pizzeria. My version cost a fraction of the restaurant version and almost tasted as good...I just need a pizza oven for Christmas!

Make 2 large pizzas
  • 1 quantity basic pizza dough
  • 2 medium aubergines/eggplants, thinly sliced
  • tomato sauce (or tomato puree)
  • fresh basil and dried oregano
  • 2 balls of mozzarella, drained and chopped
  • 100g/4oz parmesan style cheese, thinly sliced or shaved
  • olive oil
Make the dough and tomato sauce.

Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a large frying pan.
Fry the aubergines in batches on a medium-high heat, adding more oil as needed. The aubergine slices need to be soft and golden brown.

Preheat the oven to its hottest setting.

Roll or stretch the dough to make 2 large pizza bases. Place on greased baking sheets.

Top each base with several tbsp. of tomato sauce, then scatter with the chopped mozzarella and herbs.
Arrange the slices of aubergine and parmesan-style cheese over the top.

Bake in a hot oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the base is golden brown.

Vegan version: Omit the mozzarella, sprinkle the tomato sauce on each pizza with 2 tbsp. of nutritional yeast flakes. Top with the aubergine and drizzle with a little more olive oil before baking.

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Spicy Paneer & Vegetable Spring Rolls

Although spring rolls are normally considered a Chinese delicacy, these Indian-inspired creations are quite different in taste. After eating some of these crispy morsels at a local cafe, I thought I'd have a go at making them myself, whilst watching the Diwali fireworks going off in my neighbourhood.

So long as you can buy ready-made spring roll pastry, they're simple enough for kids or any novice cook to prepare, but look quite impressive.
  • 2 cups (around 225g/9oz) paneer, crumbled or grated
  • 1 cup each of frozen or tinned petits pois and sweetcorn
  • 1 tsp freshly-grated ginger
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic 
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh, chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp chat masala (optional, but worth using if you can find it)
  • 10 sheets of spring roll pastry
  • vegetable oil, for frying
First make a flour/water paste using 1 tsp flour to 1 tbsp water (this is your 'glue' for the pastry).

Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
Take one spring roll sheet and place a heaped tablespoon of mixture by one corner (see photos above).
Spread a little of the paste along the opposite two edges.
Fold the bottom corner of pastry over the filling and roll once.
Fold in each side of the wrapper and roll towards the far corner (like a burrito).
Repeat until all of the filling has been used up.

Heat a good glug of vegetable oil in a large frying pan, on a medium-high heat. Shallow fry the spring rolls in two batches, cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain well on kitchen roll and keep warm in the oven.
Alternatively, brush generously with vegetable oil and bake in the oven at 190C/180C Fan/Gas 5/375F for 10 to 15 minutes, turning once.

Serve hot or warm with salad and your favourite chutneys/pickles, or try my Indian restaurant style mint sauce and onion salad.
To make this into a main meal, simply serve with rice and dhal.
Meat Free Mondays

Vegan variation: swap the paneer for 2 cups of mashed potato.
Filling variations: to make the paneer filling go further, add two cups of mashed potato and double the spice quantities.
Swap the peas and sweetcorn for cooked chickpeas (chana) if you prefer.  

Suitable for freezing. Batch cook in advance and freeze if you are cooking for large numbers over Diwali, Eid, Christmas or any other celebrations!

I'm adding this post to the Meat Free Mondays linky at Tinned Tomatoes.

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Mulled Cider with Pumpkin Pie Spiced Biscuits - Suma Bloggers Network

Mulled Cider with Pumpkin Pie Spiced Biscuits (vegan)
As I've just been given a jar of pumpkin pie spice by a friend, I though I'd better put it to good use and create an autumnal recipe for the Suma Bloggers Network. I've paired the (vegan) spiced cookies with some warming, mulled cider, both of which would be great for Bonfire Night.

For the mulled cider
Serves 2-4
  • 1 litre of good quality vegan cider (I used Aspall cyder from Suma)
  • 2 pouches of mulled cider spice (from Suma)
  • 2 tbsp soft, brown sugar, or a little more to taste
Put the spice pouches into a pan, along with the cider and sugar.
Warm the cider gently on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the cider is just starting to simmer (don't boil it!). Turn the heat off and allow to infuse for 10 minutes.
Serve warm.

For the biscuits
Makes 20
  • 200g/8oz SR flour
  • 100g/4oz dairy free spread/margarine
  • 100g/4oz soft brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp black treacle/molasses
  • 2-3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/Gas 4/350F
 Blend the spread and flour together using a food processor.
Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well to form a firm, smooth dough.
Roll the dough into around 20 small balls.
Place, well spaced apart, on greased baking trays.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, before removing onto a wire rack to cool fully.

Suitable for freezing. 

Top tips: For any North American readers, this recipe uses alcoholic (hard) cider.

Integrity Statement As a member of the Suma Blogger's Network, I will receive a selection of complimentary products from Suma every two months, to use in recipe development, and will blog an original recipe for the Network.   

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Sunday, 2 October 2016

Super-Quick Microwave Chocolate Traybake

Super-Quick Microwave Chocolate Traybake
My microwave mug cake recipe has always been popular with my kids. Now they're teenagers, they can whip up a pudding themselves in record time and have adapted it to their own particular tastes. As they often want to entertain friends and there's a boyfriend on the scene, I thought I'd better come up with a recipe which can me made just as quickly, but can feed several hungry teenagers!

Serves 4+
  • 50g/2oz peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 50g/2oz butter or dairy-free spread
  • 1 egg or equivalent vegan egg replacer
  • 2 tbsp date, agave or golden syrup
  • 25g/1oz unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 75g/3oz SR flour
  • 50g/2oz soft, brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Toppings: your choice of chopped (dairy-free) chocolate, vegetarian sweets, dried fruit/chopped nuts, chocolate-hazelnut spread, jam, nut butter or a combination of any of these.
Put the butter and nut butter into a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for 20-30 seconds to melt.
Stir well and mix in the sugar, syrup and vanilla.
Beat in the egg or egg equivalent and finally stir in the flour and cocoa powder.

Grease and line the base of a microwave-safe dish (around 15cm round or square).
Spoon in the mixture and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon.
Spoon or sprinkle your topping/s over the surface of the mixture.

Cook for 3-4 minutes on high in the microwave, or until the edges are cooked and firm and the middle still looks just slightly undercooked. Check after 2½-3 minutes, to ensure it doesn't over cook.

Leave in the dish and allow to cool for 10-15 mins.
Cut into 4-9 pieces.
Remove from the dish and serve warm or cold with custard or ice cream, if so desired.

Suitable for freezing.

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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Granose Meat-Free Mixes - A Review & Give-Away

Granose Meat-Free Mixes
I generally like to make most meals from scratch, but sometimes it's good to have a few convenience products to fall back on. I hadn't tried packet mixes for a while, so was interested to see how the new range of Granose Meat-Free mixes, from Symington's would compare to ready-made products.

In the UK, we have access to a wide variety of processed, chilled or frozen vegetarian products, but sometimes, it's useful to have a standby in the cupboard. Maybe you're a not vegetarian but occasionally have veggie friends or family over, or maybe you need a product which doesn't need to be chilled. For example, when camping or on Duke of Edinburgh type expeditions, or to take on holiday to countries where vegetarian products are still hard to find, such as France. They would also be great for students going away to university, who might have limited fridge and freezer storage.
"Granose has a 100 year history, making it the natural choice when it comes to providing dried mix meat free meals that are healthy, hearty and delicious. What’s more, they are easy to prepare and designed entirely with your convenience in mind. Granose means goodness, for all the family.
There are 6 products in the range, Meat Free Lincolnshire Sausage Mix, Meat Free Burger Mix, Meat Free Bolognese Mix, Meat Free Savoury Mince Mix, Falafel Mix and finally the Soya Mince."
With this in mind, I tried out some of the products to see how they compared to ready-made products.
All of the products are labelled as vegetarian, but actually appear to be vegan too. The mixes were really easy to prepare as you basically add water, stir well and leave to firm up, before shaping into burgers, sausages or balls (I used my burger press). You then bake, fry or barbecue.

The joy of packet mixes, is that you can add extra ingredients, such as herbs or spices to vary the flavour, so if you like your falafels spicy, you can add some extra chilli! One thing I will mention, is that I found I needed a little less water (just a few tablespoons less) than stated on the packet, so don't add it all at once. I brushed my burgers and sausages with oil and barbecued them; they held together surprisingly well.

The finished products all tasted pleasant, but had a different (less meaty) texture to ready-made products which my teens were a little dubious of! Once we'd added the required amount of ketchup, relish etc, I think they tasted pretty good. Maybe not as succulent, but certainly a good, convenient alternative.

If you want to try out the products yourself, they are available at Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Holland & Barrett.

You also have a chance to win a selection of Granose products. Just leave my a comment, telling me your favourite vegetarian/vegan convenience product and fill in the Rafflecopter entry form. 
UK ONLY, closes midnight 3rd Sept. 2016. 

 Integrity Statement
 I received the products pictured in consideration for a review  and giveaway. All views expressed are genuine.

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Monday, 15 August 2016

Very Green Salad with Rocket & Watercress

Salad with Rocket & Watercress
As you may have noticed from my previous post, I've been growing my own fruit and vegetables in raised beds this year, in an attempt to avoid the destructive deluge of slugs and snails. I must say, it's been pretty successful and I haven't had to buy any salad leaves for quite a while. As I'm now over run with rocket (arugula), I've been adding it to every salad I make, but haven't really allowed it to be the star of the show.

This very green salad is a great way to use up a glut of rocket and is a good source of vitamins, iron and calcium. The quantities are deliberately quite fluid, as you can use a mix of any salad leaves you have to hand, or need to use up.

Serves 4 as a side salad
  • 2 handfuls/cups of bitter salad leaves (rocket, watercress etc.)
  • 1 handful/cup of sweet salad leaves (lettuce, spinach etc.)
  • ⅓ cucumber, sliced
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • 50g/2oz green olives
  • 50g/2oz walnut pieces or pine nuts
For the dressing - mix these ingredients together in a cup or small bowl.
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (I used my Cretan Olive Oil from Arnaud Gillet)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 NCRWash the salad leaves and blot dry.
Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a bowl.
Pour over the dressing and turn lightly to coat the ingredients.

Chill until needed. 

Keeps for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

I'm entering this recipe to this month's No Croutons Required Challenge, co-hosted by Jacqui at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen

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Friday, 5 August 2016

My Kitchen Garden

This summer I've created my own kitchen garden in raised beds. I bought the raised bed kits from Wickes and built them myself; OK, with a little help from Mr.O! I filled the beds with a lasagne (layers) of peat-free bought compost, soil from the garden, garden compost and barbecue and bonfire ashes.

In an attempt to thwart the millions of rampaging slugs and snails which inhabit my garden, I surrounded each bed with about 20-30 cm of gravel. This does seem to be doing the trick, but I still need to pick out the little blighters which do make it across.

I'll admit that I've rather overcrowded the beds this year, but everything still seems to be growing well. I've planted just a few plants each of: runner beans, green beans, broad beans, courgettes, butternut squash (grown from seeds which I dried and saved from a shop-bought squash), tomatoes, herbs and chillies.

I've also been growing mixed salad leaves including lettuce, rocket and watercress.
As we eat a lot of salad and I like a bargain, I've come up with a thrifty way to grow salad leaves for the price of a couple of bags of shop-bought leaves.
  • Lettuce: Buy a 'growing' pack of mixed lettuce for £1-2 from your local supermarket, split them up and plant them out, you can start picking the leaves within 7-14 days and can be harvested for over a month if you keep them well watered.
  • Watercress: Just plant a few odd sprigs of left over watercress from a bag of salad. Look out for the pieces which have little roots attached to the base of the stems. Again, with a few weeks, they'll have spread and will be ready to start harvesting. I was quite amazed that watercress doesn't need to be grown in water!
  • Rocket: This is really quick and easy to grow from seed. Just sprinkle a row of seeds every couple of weeks and pick the larger leaves off as soon as they're ready.
My courgettes have just started fruiting and my runner beans won't be far behind, so look out for more recipes featuring my kitchen garden harvest.

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