The Under Cover Recipe Spot
Since undergoing somewhat of a transformation on the meat–eating front I have been enjoying experimenting with some lovely veggie food, and as a couple of people have asked for the recipes I thought I might as well put them all in one place to save me repeating myself. As I don’t usually write them down it also means I can find them too, so it is win-win all round as far as I can see. I will be updating on a regular basis as we experiment a bit more. All of them are tried and tested on unsuspecting dinner guests who had them served along with their usual fare so didn’t feel forced into eating a whole veggie meal if they didn’t want to. Please note that I am not a trained cook or chef and have never written a recipe down in my life until now. I always take the easy option and don’t really go in for measuring stuff to the nth degree, so the recipes I prefer are those which are flexible with the quantities. My absolute favourites are those which run along the lines of ‘chuck a handful of this in’ followed by ‘cook all the ingredients together.’ I am sure the more sophisticated cooks amongst you will throw your hands up in horror, but if that is the case then feel free to measure away to your heart’s content. I use all fresh and organic ingredients where possible and don’t ever use prepared products which mimic meat mince and are created in aluminium vats or soya bean products from suspect sources that may well contain GMO. I don’t use salt either, as when you get used to it you will appreciate just how good the food tastes without it. Just so you know :-).
And no, I don’t mean the green variety your mum used to make you eat as a child. This is another thing I used to do aeons ago, in a life before children. Really easy, really nutritious and incredibly tasty. You can buy fancy sprouting trays (I am trying one out at the moment – so far, so good), but I started out using a huge jam jar and some muslin. Take a few spoonfuls of organic lentils/alfalfa/chick peas/radish seeds, whatever you fancy, put them in the jam jar, add water and slosh around a few times to rinse them then carefully pour away most of the water. Add water again and leave for 24 hours. Next day repeat the rinsing process only tip away as much water as you can without sending all your precious seeds down the sink. Secure the muslin with an elastic band and stand the jar at an angle so the water drains away. So simple it is untrue. Do this twice a day until the seeds start to sprout, which could be anything between 2-5 days. They can turn bitter if left too long, so a bit of trial and error will show you when to harvest them. Delicious added to salads and stir frys. I recently discovered mung beans; delicious sprouted, but if you leave them for longer they become the beansprouts used in Chinese dishes. Yum.
Breakfast in Barley (as opposed to Bali)
Here’s a nice idea for a healthy breakfast that fills you up too as you can add just about anything you want to the base. We cook the barley the day before then store it in the fridge along with the water saved from the cooking. The water is an excellent de-acidifier and it is also a very good remedy for bladder infections like cystitis. Just reheat when required and add a slice of lemon.
a big handful of organic pearl barley
about 1 litre of water
sliced organic almonds, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseed as desired
organic sheep’s yoghurt
whey protein powder concentrate
black grapes/mango/pineapple/raisins, whatever floats your boat
This is the bit you might want to do the night before. A good handful of barley will be enough for several days’ breakfast as it can be kept in the fridge and reheated as required. Rinse the barley and pour on the water. Bring to a boil then simmer gently with the lid on for about 15 mins. You want to use both the water and the barley so don’t allow it to boil away. Once the barley is soft, drain and save the water. Allow both of them to cool before putting in the fridge if you are saving them for brekkie the next day. Next morning all you have to do is reheat some of the barley – as much as you think you can eat less a little bit (the nuts and stuff are really filling) – we heat it up with a bit of organic almond milk which makes it lovely and creamy, and sometimes add in a small ripe banana. Once it is all heated through transfer it to your breakfast bowl and add any of the ingredients above plus loads I probably haven’t even thought about. If you need it sweetened a bit you could add a tiny bit of honey. Just don’t use any of that agave syrup or stevia stuff as they are way too sweet and usually heavily processed. Also, you don’t need to buy flavoured yoghurt. If you want the fruity variety just buy the plain, organic, live variety and add some finely chopped fruit. There – that was easy wasn’t it? And way healthier.
Banana and almond pancakes
These are gorgeous and really quick. You can add all kinds of stuff on the side, whichever fruit is in season. Blueberries are especially nice as are black grapes.
Ingredients to serve 1
1 ripe banana
A heavy sprinkling of flaked almonds
Beat the eggs in a small mixing bowl. Mash the banana and add to the egg mixture, then add the nuts and mix it all up. Heat the oil in the frying pan, add the mixture and cook like a pancake. I’m sure you know how to do that. Turn out onto a plate and add whatever fruit is around and maybe a dollop of yoghurt. These pancakes are so sweet you don’t need to add any sweetener of any kind.
Courgette and carrot pancakes with halloumi
We discovered these on a recent stay in Whitby. I loved them so much I asked the chef for the recipe. He was unable to give me said recipe as he said he made it up as he went along, so, undaunted, I had a little play and I think I just about nailed it. I had them for breakfast but they are equally nice as an evening meal along with something like the chick pea stir fry or similar.
Ingredients to serve 1, possibly 2
Half a courgette chopped really finely
1 carrot, grated
Half an onion, also chopped
Some baby spinach leaves, shredded
A couple of slices of halloumi, chopped
1 eggs, beaten
Preheat grill to medium. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. The next stage is to make them into mini burger shapes. I’ve got a plastic Tupperware burger maker thing that I bought many moons ago as I pitied the party hostess, which it is perfect for this job. It is a low, round, burger-shaped container that you load the mix for 1 pancake into, then a sort of flat, round paddle that you use to squash it down to shape and make it nice and compact, then turn out onto a baking tray. So however you do it, you want to end up with about 3 or 4 little pancakes. Put on a baking tray and grill for about 4 minutes each side or until slightly browned. Serve with cherry tomatoes, steamed spinach, and lashings of fresh, good quality coffee (if you are having them for breakfast).
Totally Delicious Stuffed Mushrooms
I realise there are probably loads of recipes for stuffed mushrooms out there, but this is the one that works for me. You can substitute just about any of the ingredients and if you make too much of the stuffing you can add it to a stir fry, where it is equally delicious. I remember ages ago someone told me that a stuffed field mushroom was the veggie equivalent of a fillet steak. Yeah, right, I thought at the time – I so wasn’t convinced, but now I am and this is currently my favourite dish. A lot of similar recipes use breadcrumbs as well, but as I don’t like bread I leave them out and it seems to work just fine. Feast on …
Ingredients to serve 2
I get organic ingredients where possible but you probably know that already.
Olive oil. Or butter if you feel so drawn.
4 field mushrooms
100g – ish of mature cheddar, grated
1 nice fat garlic clove, chopped
half a red onion, diced
a handful of chopped nuts (cashews are nice if you want a sweeter taste)
1 small courgette, chopped
black pepper to taste
Set oven to heat to 180 degrees
Wash the mushrooms and remove and chop the stalks. Set the mushrooms aside to dry.
Heat frying pan containing a dollop of either olive oil or butter then add all the ingredients except the cheese and allow them to sweat gently for about 5 minutes. Once they have all softened, remove from the heat. Grease a baking tray and line up the mushrooms in an attractive fashion (you will be taking them to the table in this!). Put a couple of spoonsful of the filling into each mushroom. I tend to pile it up quite high as they shrink down a bit with cooking. Add a little mound of cheese to each one and pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. You want to catch them just as the cheese is melting – and voilà! I served it with what I loosely call Barley and Chick Pea Stir Fry and it was a gorgeous combination. Oh and a huge pile of greens of one form or another, lightly steamed.
Barley and Chick Pea Stir Fry
I realise this combination may sound a bit odd, but there is some history to it. I don’t really like eating rice as on the whole I avoid carbs. We tried spelt for a while as it is organic and farmed according to stone age techniques using grain descended from the original source, but even so, we felt very bloated after eating it; then I hit on the idea of using barley instead, which is really, really soothing for your stomach and urinary tract and you can use the water it is cooked in later as a nice drink. Using the barley as a base you can really lob in whatever happens to be in the fridge or sprouting tray. This is what we did last night and it went down a storm.
Ingredients to serve 4
Nice big handful and a bit of barley, cooked as above.
1 large onion (I prefer red)
1 red sweet pointed pepper
1 packet chick peas (unsalted), drained
lots of garlic (we used 4 cloves)
half a large cauliflower, florets cut into very small pieces
1 courgette cut into small chunks
1 bag of baby spinach or curly kale, probably not both
Fresh coriander to garnish (good for the digestion)
Wash and chop everything that needs washing and chopping. You don’t need me to tell you what. Add the oil to the frying pan to warm through then add the cauliflower florets and courgette and a good shake of cumin seeds – I like about a table spoon as it is so aromatic – and a bit of black pepper according to taste. Stir until the cauliflower starts to look a bit softer, usually after about 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and fry until the onions go translucent, then add the pepper and fry for about another 5 minutes then add the spinach and chick peas. Baby leaves are really tender and they wilt nice and quickly. When they have add the barley and stir the whole lot through until the barley is nice and hot. You can also toss some chopped nuts in to make it a bit more filling. Serve on hot plates and garnish with coriander. Gorgeous.
Really? Yup. I do still eat fish, as I seem to be one of those people who doesn’t do very well on a completely vegetarian diet. I had a very wobbly moment a few months back due to being rigorously veggie, but I’ve been a lot better since eating fish. Only not bottom dwellers like prawns – as Swamiji so lovingly calls them- which scoot along the bottom of the sea bed snaffling up all the **** from the other fish. Hence creating this recipe, which avoids bacon and chicken. Although why a seafood dish would include farm animals is beyond me. And I don’t like rice much, hence the barley. So take:
A nice big chunk of fish, skinned and cut into small chunks
One big onion
A few cloves of garlic
About 300g barley (or splet)
A couple of leeks
1 pack of Halloumi
1/2 inch of organic turmeric root, grated
1 tsp paprika
1 glass of white wine
250ml of veg stock
1 red pepper (optional – I’m avoiding it because it makes my joints sore)
Put the barley in about 2 pints of water and bring slowly to the boil. By cooking it this way you get to save the lovely water for consumption later. Once the barley is a bit soft, drain, saving the water, and set aside. Meanwhile, stir fry the onions, leeks, garlic, and mushrooms (and pepper if using) in a wok along with the spices. Once they are soft add the fish and enough stock to stop it all sticking, which is my favourite trick. While this is starting to cook, dice the halloumi and stir fry in a separate pan.Once it is looking brown on the outside lob it into the main wok. Add the barley and stir well to mix up all the ingredients; when this is done add the wine and stir through, then add enough of the stock to start it all bubbling gently. Simmer gently, topping up the liquid as required until the barley is nice and soft- it is really up to you how wet or dry the dish is. There might well be a bit of that wine left too, which you will find goes very well with the meal. Enjoy :-)
Lovely Lentil pie
I love, love, love this. Sadly I am trying to avoid the deadly nightshade family because I am suffering from sore joints and potatoes, aubergines, peppers and tomatoes all make it worse. But as I am very public spirited I will include the recipe here for those of you not facing similar debilitation.
300g Crazy Jack organic lentils, rinsed
4 big potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
a few cloves of garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 sticks of celery, chopped
half a swede, chopped and steamed until soft
250 g mushrooms
grated cheese to taste
Fry onions, leeks, garlic, mushrooms and celery until soft. Add all the other ingredients and leave to simmer quietly until the lentils have cooked and the mixture is only slightly runny. Turn into a baking dish, top with mashed potatoes and cheese, and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is starting to brown. Lovely, and I really miss having it :-(
Strictly Come Dancing Veggie Stew
As every SCD fan knows, it is really important to have food that is either quick to cook, or gently stewing away so you don’t miss any of the action. I was in the predicament last night where my usual chef during SCD (Stephen), was absent so I had to rustle up something suitable. I say ‘rustle up’ with a bit of a grin on my face as it took ages to prepare and some advance shopping, but was reeeeaaallly worth it. I also avoided all the things that would cause sore joints, so good result!
1 squash, chopped. I used onion squash which was interesting. Not really oniony at all, but it looked a nice colour.
3 parsnips chopped
2 leeks chopped
1 big onion, chopped
1 packet of bortlotti/pinto/butter beans (whatever you fancy really)
2 sticks celery
`1/2 inch grated ginger root
1 teaspoonful dried parsley
half a swede, chopped
1 pint of veggie stock
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon of cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon of Garam Masala
chilli powder to taste
Fry all the ingredients until softened, add about half the veggie stock, grab your wine and belt in there for SCD. When someone you don’t like much comes on, go and check on the stew and maybe add a bit more water if you would prefer it to be soup rather than a stew. Although I’m not totally clear on the difference. After you’ve voted for your favourite dancer at the end of the show, retreat to kitchen and dish up. That’s a ’10’ from me then :-)
Oh yes. There always has to be a recipe for nut loaf in the veggie cook book and here is a stonker. There are no fillers like flour or breadcrumbs (well, just a teeny bit of flour that is so small it doesn’t really count) and it is packed with Proper Food like nuts and mushrooms and a little bit of grown up fun in the form of cider. If you want to keep it non-alcoholic I guess apple juice would be a good substitute. I have actually put some quantities in this one as otherwise you could end up with more of a soup, which wouldn’t work as well. Here we go.
Ingredients to serve 4
Lots of garlic
300g mushrooms, chopped
30g of flour (we use gram flour which is gluten free and has a nice taste)
250g pecans chopped or ground if you have a suitable appliance
200g almonds – ditto
1 big or 2 small onions, chopped
120 ml of apple cider
Black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180 and grease a 9inch x 5inch loaf tin
Heat the olive oil and fry the onions until softened then add the mushrooms, garlic and nuts and cook until fragrant. Stir in the cider and flour and cook until the mixture has thickened – about 5 minutes. Turn the mixture into the loaf tin and put in the oven for half an hour. We like it well cooked and a bit crunchy, so after the half an hour we turn the loaf out onto a baking tray and roast it on the other side for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, drink the rest of the bottle of cider and prepare a big pile of greens to be steamed and served on the side. Serve sliced with maybe a little vegetable stock as gravy if you like that kind of thing.
Many thanks to Laurie Sadowski for this recipe, which I have tweaked a bit. She added mixed herbs, which I don’t like, but feel free to add them to the mixture.
Vegetable Curry and Sag Aloo/Paneer
Believe it or not I can actually manage a meal without mushrooms. Here’s a lovely curry that, like all the other recipes, is really easy and you can basically add whatever you want. You will probably see a bit of a pattern emerging here: choose your veg, fry it, starting with the one that takes longest to cook, add the herbs and spices, and cook. Easy. This is what we do for curry then.
Ingredients for 4 (2 people for dinner then lunch another day)
For the curry
Half a cauliflower with florets cut quite small
Half a pack of broccoli
1 aubergine cut into chunks
1 onion, roughly chopped
A generous sprinkling of flaked almonds or chopped cashews
About a table spoon of cumin seeds or to taste
Half a teaspoon of garam masala
A teaspoon of coriander seeds
Lots of garlic
Fresh coriander to garnish
Heat the oil and add the aubergine, cauliflower and broccoli. Grind the cumin and coriander. They are much nicer if you grind them fresh rather than buying the ground variety which can often taste like sawdust and don’t offer much nutritional value. Add all the spices to the pan and mix well. Once it has all started to soften add the onion, nuts and garlic. Turn to a low heat to absorb the spices while you prepare the Sag Aloo/Paneer. We really like curry so to me it is quite acceptable to combine all of these but I realise they are often sold individually.
For the Sag Aloo/Paneer
1 bag of baby leaf spinach, washed and drained
1 pack of paneer, cut into cubes
1 tin of tomatoes
2 potatoes, boiled and cut into chunks
More garam masala
Fry the onion and garlic in some olive oil and as it starts to soften add the paneer, spices and tomatoes. Allow to simmer for a few minutes then add the spinach and potatoes. Turn to low to allow the spices to be absorbed and get back to the vegetable curry. Add a few tablespoons of yoghurt to the mix, or according to taste, and heat through gently. If you heat it too fast it will curdle. Garnish with the coriander and serve both dishes with a side salad or some naan bread (which I don’t know how to make so you will have to buy it). Enjoy!