Tag Archives: vegetarian

Things I have been cooking lately #104: Spicy lentil bake

This lentil bake is sort of reminiscent of a moussaka but with more Middle Eastern flavours. The base recipe that I built this on showed the different layers as all being beautifully separate but when I cut into this it all kind of glooped together. That didn’t make it any less tasty though and I quite liked the fact that it all merged into a delicious goo. Of course that made it a nightmare to photograph so please don’t let the rather bland photo put you off, if you’re looking for a filling, healthy vegetarian dish, this is a knock out.

Spicy lentil bake

Very loosely inspired by this recipe on One Green Planet

2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 spring onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500g pre-cooked green lentils
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 tablespoons of harissa pasta
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
A handful of chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon dried cumin
1/2 cup water

For the cheese sauce
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 handfuls of cheese

For the layers
1 aubergines
2 courgettes

2 extra cups of cheese

Preheat your oven to 180 C.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the spring onions until lightly golden. Add the garlic and fry until also golden. Add the red pepper and harissa and cook until the red pepper has softened. Add the lentils and mix well. Then add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 20 minutes.

While that’s on the go, slice the aubergines and courgettes lengthwise and cook them in your griddle pan until you have the nice grill lines on them. Set aside.

Then make the cheese sauce. Heat the olive oil until runny. Then remove from the heat and stir in the flour and a pinch of salt to form a paste. Add the milk a couple of tablespoons at a time and mix well after each addition ensuring that there are no lumps. Return to the heat, stirring continuously until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add the cheese and stir over the heat until you have a smooth sauce.

In a large baking dish spread half the lentils. Then a layer of cheese sauce. Then a layer of courgette and aubergine. Followed by a layer of lentils, a layer of courgette and aubergine and a final layer of cheese sauce. Then top with the additional cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Serves 6 – 8


Things I have been cooking lately #57: Stuffed butternut and sage millerighe

I have to say that this “posh pasta bake” as Mr O referred to it is probably in the top five most delicious things I have ever cooked. We were literally licking the bowl. Butternut, sage and nutmeg is my new favourite flavour combination. This recipe, which I adapted from how sweet it is might seem a little fiddly but it’s 100% worth it.

Stuffed butternut and sage millerighe

40 millerighe tubes (Millerighe is kind of like giant rigatoni. You could also made this with giant pasta shells or turn it into a lasagne)

For the butternut mixture
650g butternut, cubed (I bought two packets of preprepared squash. Cutting up a whole butternut is painful but if you have the time go for it)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

For the sauce
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper

For the topping
1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
10 – 12 fresh sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Put the cubed butternut in a bowl, add olive oil, salt, pepper and mix well. Line a baking tray with foil and spread out the butternut mixture on it. Bake in the oven for 20 mins, flip over and bake for another 20 minutes.

While the butternut is baking, put a pot of salted water on to boil. Add the millerighe and cook according to the package instructions. Drain, add a tiny drizzle of olive oil to stop it from sticking and set aside to cool.

Now make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and then add the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir together to form a paste. Remove from the heat and add the milk a little at a time, whisking well after each addition to ensure there are no lumps. Keep adding until all the milk is incorporated. Add the parmesan cheese. Return to the heat and bring to a simmer, whisking all the time. Simmer, while continuing to whisk, until the sauce thickens. Set aside.

Take the butternut out of the oven and put into a medium sized bowl. Heat a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the butter, onions and garlic to the saucepan and cook until the butter starts to brown slightly. Add the butter mixture, mascarpone and parmesan cheese to the butternut and mash with a potato masher until smooth.

Stuff each millerighe with a little of the butternut mixture using a spoon and lay them in a medium sized baking dish. Cover with the sauce and then sprinkle over the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese and sage leaves. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4


Things I have been cooking lately #56: Spinach and lentil dahl

I know they get a pretty bad rap but I love lentils. Cooked with some creativity they are tasty, filling, high in fibre and a great vehicle for all kinds of other flavours. That’s why I am always on the look out for new lentil recipes. I adapted this warming vegetarian dahl from The Flexi Foodie.

Spinach and lentil dahl

125g red lentils
1 small red onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of pureed fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or corn oil
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
250g fresh or frozen spinach
200ml coconut milk
100ml water
Juice of half a lemon

Cook the lentils for 8 minutes in boiling water. Drain and set aside.

Finely chop the garlic and onion. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onions. Cook at a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for one more minute.

Add the spinach to the pot and wilt for 2 – 3 minutes. You might need to do this in batches.

Add the coconut milk, water and lentils and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2


Things I have been cooking lately #48: Warm roast vegetable, chickpea and feta salad

This is a great mid-week meal that can be thrown together with very little effort – in fact my slightly less experienced husband made this according to instructions while I was out for a run. You can serve it with some brown rice to make a vegetarian meal or it would make a great side at a BBQ.

Warm roast vegetable, chickpea and feta salad

2 courgettes
1 red onion
2 aubergines
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200g sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 tin chickpeas, drained
50g feta or goat’s cheese, crumbled
Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 200 C. Chop the courgettes, aubergines and red onion into 1 inch chunks and put in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, garlic and a little salt and pepper to the bowl. Mix well so that all the veg is coated in oil. Line a large baking dish with foil and spread the veg across it evenly. Pop in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

When the veg is ready, allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, feta and parsley and mix gently.

Serves 4 when served with rice.


Things I have been cooking lately #37: Vegan Ice-Cream

When I read the recipe for this dairy-free ice-cream it seemed a bit too good to be true but I’ve made it twice now and the texture and flavour are amazing. It’s just as good as “normal” ice-cream. Whether you are vegan, lactose intolerant or just want to try a less indulgent dessert. This is a winner.  I experimented with two different versions and both were great.

Chocolate vegan ice-cream

1 tin full fat coconut milk
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup cocoa

Beat all ingredients together until well combined and fluffy. If you have an ice-cream maker pour into the ice-cream maker and churn for 30 minutes. If like me you do not, pour into a freezer safe container. Remove from the freezer ever half an hour and beat again every half an hour until frozen in order to break up the crystals. It should be set after about 3 hours. I would suggest making this and eating it as needed. If you leave it too long in the freezer it goes a bit solid, although I have had some success with lobbing it all into the blender and whizzing it to softer texture.

Makes about 600ml

Coconut vegan ice-cream

1 tin full fat coconut milk
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup desiccated coconut

Instructions as above.


Things I have been cooking lately #3: Thai summer veg curry

Who doesn’t like a nice veggie curry, eh?

Thai summer veg curry

Source: Adapted from BBC Good Food

2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste

400ml vegetable stock

2 onions, finely chopped

1 aubergine, cut into chunks

100g green lentils

200ml coconut milk

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into wedges

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into wedges

140g frozen peas

100g bag spinach

Heat a large saucepan and then add the thai curry paste and a splash of the stock. Then add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the aubergine and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the coconut milk, lentils and remaining stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the peppers and simmer for ten more minutes. Stir through the peas and then add the spinach and cook until just wilted.

Serve with brown rice and mango chutney. Serves 4.

Things I have been cooking lately #2: End of the month dhal

This is the cheapest, tastiest, easiest thing I know to cook. It probably costs a total of about £1 to make and will fill you right up. If you don’t fancy eating it on its own, you could use it as a side dish and if you want to stretch it even further, you can increase the stock and make it into a soup.

End of the month dhal

100g red lentils

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala

400ml chicken stock

Half a red chilli, finely chopped – at the supermarket they always want to sell you a bag of 5 chillies, I can never get through 5 chillies before they go off so I buy the little pots of pre-chopped chilli. More expensive but if you think of all the chillies I’ve had to throw away, not really. I put in about half a teaspoon of that. Alternatively if you really are VERY broke you can use half a teaspoon of hot chilli powder or flakes. Also if you like your food hotter/milder you can dial the chilli up or down accordingly.

1 small onion, grated

½ a small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped (optional)

Chuck everything, except the fresh coriander in a pot. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for twenty minutes. Stir in the coriander if using. Done. If you want to make it a little creamier you can also stir in a tablespoon of natural yoghurt after it’s finished simmering. Serves 2.

Things I have been cooking lately #1: Roast vegetable stew

I’m introducing a new blog feature called Things I Have Been Cooking Lately. I spent a lot of time noodling around in the kitchen, making and experimenting with things.

I am hardly a future Masterchef contestant since I mostly work from recipes and make things that are easy. I do believe that cooking from fresh wherever you can is both doable and desirable, so I want to start sharing the recipes that I’ve tried, tested and given the seal of approval, starting with:

Roast veggie stew

Source: Adapted from BBC Good Food

3 courgettes, trimmed and cut into thick slices

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 aubergine, cut into thick slices

2 Large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Dried coriander

Dried cumin



Olive oil

Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped.

Turn the oven onto 220 C (or 200 if you have a fan oven). Put the courgettes, garlic, onion, aubergine and potatoes in a large roasting tray. Add a Jamie Oliver style drizzle  (flood) of olive oil and then sprinkle over a good whack of the dried coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir everything around so that the veg is covered in the oil and seasoning. Put into the oven for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so, so that the veg gets cooked on all sides.

Once you’re 45 minutes are up put the roasting tray straight onto the stove top at a medium heat. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes and stir gently, while bringing to a slow simmer. Then add the fresh coriander and stir it through. Done!

Serve with couscous or as a side dish to whatever else you’ve dreamed up. Hard to describe just how delicious this is. Also it keeps really well for weekday work lunches. Serves 4 – 6 when served with couscous.