Recipe: Sweet Potato, Chickpea & Coconut Curry

Vegan sweet potato, chickpea and coconut curry

I mentioned last week my energy levels had slumped, so I googled to see which foods were good for energy. Among those mentioned were:

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain Vitamin D and, as we all know, at this time of year when summer’s coming to an end and there’s a lack of sunlight, our energy levels can crash, along with our mood. The Vitamin D in sweet potatoes will boost your energy, along with the natural sugars it contains which are released slowly into the bloodstream to keep your energy levels balanced.


Chickpeas are a source of manganese which is important in energy production. So if you ever needed an excuse to eat more hummus, here it is. You’re welcome.

Coconut milk 

Although coconut milk has a high level of saturated fats, those saturated fats are mainly short and medium chain fatty acids which are not stored by the body as fats but provide instant energy to the body.


Tomatoes have a high content of biotin which is also known as Vitamin H which is, confusingly, part of the B complex group of vitamins. But, you don’t need to worry about that (unless you’re doing some kind of medical degree which requires you to know about these things) – all you need to know is that B vitamins help the body produce energy.

So, I had a list of healthy ingredients and, faced with these ingredients, there was only one thing to make – a curry. And not just any old curry but a creamy vegan curry that raised my energy levels and gave me a natural boost.

Maybe I should have called it Sunshine Curry.

Sweet Potato, Chickpea & Coconut Curry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 red chili, deseeded and chopped
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1" chunks
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • Salt to season
  1. In a large saucepan (or Tefal wok, like I use), heat the vegetable oil and fry the onion for a few minutes, until softened
  2. Add the garlic, chili, and ginger to the onions, along with the dried spices and fry for another couple of minutes
  3. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, coconut milk and the sweet potato and bring to the boil
  4. Turn the heat down, season with salt, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  5. Remove the cover and let simmer for another 20 minutes
  6. Serve with Basmati rice



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Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mushroom Risotto

Slow cooked vegetarian mushroom risotto

Slow cooked vegetarian mushroom risotto

I can’t make risotto. I know how to make it, I’m just missing some kind of key risotto-making gene which means whenever I try to make risotto, no matter how much time I take slowly pouring in the stock and patiently stirring for three weeks (or however long it is; it feels like three weeks, anyway), the rice ends up as nasty crunchy bullets. Maybe the rice knows I’m not patient by nature and can feel the hate and resentment when I’m standing there relentlessly stirring instead of doing something far more pleasurable such as, say, emptying the cat litter tray or hanging up my washing.

So, why I decided to give risotto another go, I don’t know but, instead of the stirring-for-three-weeks-on-the-hob method, I had a look for a slow cooker recipe (although, for someone who can’t be arsed to stand around stirring things, I certainly lift the slow cooker lid plenty of times to give the contents a good stir) and found this one.

Usually when I use my slow cooker, I don’t bother with any pre-cooking malarky and just chuck everything in but, given my history with risotto-making, I thought I’d better give it a decent shot at turning out okay and followed the instructions, only deviating by adding garlic as there was no garlic in the original recipe, which led to a ‘what do you mean there’s no garlic in this recipe?’ moment. I mean, how can you have onions and mushrooms in something but no garlic? Crazy.

I’d like to say this risotto turned out perfectly, but I’d be lying. It was certainly tasty and definitely un-bullet-like but it was a tad stodgy and ‘wallpaper paste’ and ‘sticks to your ribs’ wouldn’t be unfair descriptions. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t a disaster and I’d make it again and, if you give it a go, it’ll probably turn out perfectly. I just think risotto and I aren’t meant to be.

Slow cooked vegetarian mushroom risotto

Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mushroom Risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Slow cooker
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4
  • 1.5 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 200g Arborio risotto rice
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 30g butter
  • 225g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 30g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese, grated
  1. Heat the oil and add the onion and cook for 4 - 5 mins until soft.
  2. Add the rice and stir through so all grains are coated and cook for 2 mins.
  3. Transfer the rice and onion to the slow cooker and cover with the stock.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and cook the sliced mushrooms for about 10 mins or until they have browned.
  5. Add the garlic to the mushrooms and cook for another minute or so.
  6. Stir the mushrooms into the rice and cook for 2 - 3 hours on low.
  7. Stir in the vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese in the last 5 minutes.



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Recipe: Butter Bean Pie

Butter Bean Pie

It occurred to me recently that I’ve been making a lot of one-pot meals, for example curries and pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I love curries and pasta but a) they don’t photograph well (at least not when I take a photo of them, anyway) so I end up not putting them on the blog and; b) sometimes I just want something a bit more traditional. And what could be more traditional than a pie?

I haven’t been completely honest here because, although it’s true I fancied something that wasn’t curry or pasta, my main motivation for making something different to curry or pasta was wanting to use up the tin of butter beans I’d found in the cupboard.

Rose Elliot has written a whole cookery book based on beans – The Bean Book – so I had a look in there and saw her bean and leek pie. Knowing The Meat Eater likes a) butter beans and; b) leeks, I knew he’d give it the thumbs up (or at the very least, an appreciative grunt).

I used Flora in this pie but it could be easily veganised by using a dairy-free spread such as Pure or Vitalite.

Vegetarian Butter Bean Pie

Recipe: Butter Bean Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from the recipe in Rose Elliot's 'The Bean Book'
Cuisine: Vegetarian but easily veganised
Serves: 4
  • 400g can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 50g butter
  • 225g carrots, diced
  • 450g leeks, sliced
  • 125g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 225g tinned tomatoes
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 225g ready rolled puff pastry
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas mark 7
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the carrots, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes
  3. Add the leeks and mushrooms and cook for a further 10 minutes
  4. Sprinkle in the flour and mix in well
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and dried thyme and cook gently, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until thickened
  6. Add the beans and season with the salt and pepper
  7. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish and leave to cool slightly
  8. Cover the top of the pie with the puff pastry and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes until golden brown


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Recipe: Asparagus and Potato Tart

Vegetarian asparagus and potato tart

I usually haven’t recovered from the weekend enough to be bothered to cook from scratch on a Monday, but because I had a rare booze-free, exercise-packed, fresh-air filled weekend, my energy levels were up and so I decided I wanted to cook something healthy.

After deciding I wanted tonight’s dinner to involve asparagus, I perused the BBC Good Food website, filtering the results down to healthy options. None of the healthy options particularly appealed, so I took the healthy filter off and saw their free-form asparagus and potato tart, which is what I loosely based mine on. It’s not healthy in the slightest but it’s a big step up from the processed junk I usually heat up in the oven on a Monday.

Recipe: Asparagus and Potato Tart
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Tart
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4
  • 375g pack ready-made shortcrust pastry
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml soured cream
  • 75g asparagus, woody stems snapped off
  • 200g potatoes, sliced
  • 3 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Boil the sliced potatoes for about 5 minutes until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and soured cream, then add the rosemary and season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Line an 8" round pie dish with the pastry, leaving the edges overhanging.
  4. Brush the bottom of the pastry with the mustard.
  5. Layer the pastry with the potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus and top with half the cheese.
  6. Pour the soured cream/egg mixture over the vegetables and top with the remaining cheese.
  7. Fold over the edges of the pastry, trimming if necessary.
  8. Cook in the oven at 200C/180C fan for about 30 minutes.

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Recipe: Vegan Spinach and Mushroom Galette

Spinach and mushroom galette from Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel
Spinach and mushroom galette from Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel

Unfortunately, this didn’t go down too well with The Meat Eater. I loved it – I especially loved the pastry because – round of applause, please – I made it all by myself. I don’t think I’ve ever made pastry before; I might have made some at school I suppose, but that would have been a *cough* few *cough* years ago now.

You’ve got to hand it to The Meat Eater though – he’d do well on Masterchef’s palette test. He said the pastry had an odd taste to it and as I thought back to what had gone into it, I remembered the coconut oil, so that was probably the ‘odd taste’ he was referring to. He did admit to liking ‘bits of it’ though.

Hopefully, the coconut oil hasn’t put you off, so I’m going to post the recipe below as I made it (which is pretty much as it appears in Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel, which I talked about a bit more in yesterday’s post – my version is only slightly simplified). The end result is a kind of quiche-like dish which I reckon would be just as nice cold, as hot.

Please don’t be put off by making your own pastry – this was about as simple as it gets and if I can be bothered to do it, so can you.

Although the recipe below states 240g tofu, I used a normal (normal for the UK, anyway) sized block of Cauldron tofu and pressed it (nothing fancy – just between two saucers), this left me with 275g tofu and I used all of it.

Spinach and mushroom galette from Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel
Went well with broccoli, beans and potatoes


Recipe: Vegan Spinach and Mushroom Galette
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
(adapted from Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel)
Serves: 4
  • 125g wholemeal flour
  • 30g plain flour
  • 60ml coconut oil
  • 125ml iced water
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • 125g spinach
  • 240g firm tofu
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make the pastry. In a large bowl, mix together the flours and ½ tsp salt. Work the coconut oil into the flour, leaving small lumps. Add the water gradually and work until the dough comes together. Roll into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan, add the crushed garlic, mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until the mushrooms release their juices and the juices evaporate. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, steam the spinach until partially wilted, then leave to cool.
  4. Place the tofu, lemon juice, 1½ tsp olive oil, nutritional yeast and the whole garlic clove in a food processor and process until fairly smooth (you might need to add a bit more oil). Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the spinach and fold in by hand.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. On a piece of baking paper, roll out the pastry to a 30-cm (12") round. Transfer the pastry and baking paper onto a baking sheet and spread the spinach-tofu mixture over, leaving a 5cm (2") border. Top with the mushrooms and gently fold the extra pastry up and onto the toppings, pleating as you move around the outside.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


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Recipe: Leek, Mushroom and Goat’s Cheese Tart

Leek, mushroom and goat's cheese tart
Leek, mushroom and goat’s cheese tart

I love these kinds of meals. The kind where you use up what you’ve got in the fridge. So simple, so cheap but, most importantly, so delicious.

Leek, mushroom and goat's cheese tart
Goes great with peas and potatoes

Leek, mushroom and goat’s cheese tart (serves 4)

½ block puff pastry, rolled into a rectangle
½ a large leek, sliced
3 mushrooms, sliced
65g goat’s cheese
1 tbsp butter
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp marjoram
salt and pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the leeks for a few minutes until soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for another few minutes.
  4. Add the herbs and salt and pepper.
  5. Lightly score 1cm from the edge of the rolled pastry and add the leek mixture inside the score lines.
  6. Crumble the goat’s cheese on top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.


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Recipe: Root Vegetable Pie

Root Vegetable Pie

Root Vegetable Pie

The perfect pie for winter – robust and warming seasonal veg, topped with a puff pastry lid. This recipe is loosely based on one in Veggienomics by Nicola Graimes but I didn’t have any celeriac or carrots (I think *someone* forgot to buy carrots, because I’m sure I put them on the shopping list), didn’t use any cider and Nicola Graimes probably didn’t find her plain flour had gone mouldy and had to use sauce flour instead. The original recipe also did something complicated with the pastry; the recipe below is my simplified version.

Root Vegetable Pie (serves 4)

2 turnips, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
10g butter
1 onion, chopped
150g mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 heaped tbsp chopped sage leaves
1 heaped tbsp plain flour or sauce flour
100ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
200g puff pastry
Milk to brush over pastry
salt and pepper

  1. Put the turnips and parsnip in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and stir in the bouillon powder. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Strain the vegetables, reserving the water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the onions for 8 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms, garlic and herbs and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir continuously for another minute. Stir in the stock and cook for 2 minutes until thickened and reduced.
  3. Add the cooked root vegetables, 175ml of the reserved water and the mustard and stir until combined. Season the filling with salt and pepper. Transfer the root vegetable mixture to a pie dish, stir in the cheese and leave to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/180 fan/Gas 6. Roll out the pastry until large enough to cover the dish. Lay the pastry on top of the vegetable mixture and press down the edges. Prick the top of the pastry with a fork and brush the top with a little milk. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
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Tempeh Giardino


So many US recipes specify tempeh, but it’s not easy to find over here. However, the other week when I was buying some vital wheat gluten, I saw some jars of it, so thought I’d get some while I was there.

It looked a strange substance, floating in a jar of liquid and I thought it might be soggy like tofu. On fishing it out of the jar, I was pleased it was quite firm.

The taste and texture is a little strange, but not unpleasant. The Meat Eater said it was ‘neither here nor there’.

This recipe is from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and I’m not going to post the recipe exactly as it is in the book as I’ve already used one of her recipes today making the oatmeal peanut butter cookies but the main ingredients were: a jar of tempeh, 2 courgettes, 1 red onion, a tin of chopped tomatoes, 5 cloves of garlic and some basil. I’m sure you can work out what to do with them (i.e. chuck them in a frying pan).

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Quorn Vegetarian Moussaka


The Quorn Kitchen cookbook said the preparation time would be 10 minutes, with the cooking time being 50 minutes. I’ve always thought the preparation time meant the time spent getting the ingredients together, chopping vegetables and getting it ready before it goes in the oven. Oh no, not in this case. In this case the preparation time was about two weeks. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration but it was more like 40 minutes, than 10 minutes.

When the sauce started to turn a bit brown, panic set in as I thought isn’t evaporated milk used in banoffee pie? Or is that condensed milk? Are they the same thing? Is my moussaka going to taste of banoffee pie? Don’t get me wrong – I love banoffee pie but my culinary tastes don’t stretch as far as some weird moussaka/banoffee combo.

Still, it didn’t taste of banoffee pie, it tasted of yum. Filling, too.

I’m going to post the recipe as it is in the Quorn Kitchen cookbook, but I left out the lentils, allspice or cinnamon (The Meat Eater doesn’t like cinnamon in savoury dishes – he says it makes everything taste like apple crumble), mint and nutmeg. I also roasted the aubergine slices, not grilled them, as I don’t have a grill the size of a small Welsh village (and I don’t know how to use the grill, anyway).


p.s. Quorn asked me to be one of their ambassadors, so I’ll also be blogging about Quorn once a month over at my fitness blog.

Quorn Moussaka (serves 4-6)

350g Quorn Mince
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
100g puy lentils, canned (optional)
390g carton chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground allspice or cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried mint
1 large aubergine, thinly sliced

For the topping

410g tin evaporated milk
40g cornflour
25g butter
25g plain flour
Pinch grated nutmeg
1 free-range egg, beaten
50g grated Cheddar cheese

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a heavy base saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and carrots and fry for 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Add the Quorn Mince, tomatoes, oregano, allspice or cinnamon, bay leaves and mint. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.
  3. Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with the remaining oil and grill on both sides until brown. Lay the aubergine slices on absorbent kitchen paper. Set aside.
  4. For the sauce, pour the evaporated milk into a measuring jug and make up to 1 litre with water. Mix the cornflour to a smooth paste with 6 tbsp of the milk and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the plain flour and cook over a low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually blend in the milk and water mix and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the cornflour paste and continue to cook over a low heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add the nutmeg. Season to taste and stir in the beaten egg.
  6. Arrange the mince and aubergine slices in layers in a large baking dish. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Cover with the sauce, sprinkle with grated cheese.
  7. Bake, uncovered, in a hot oven for about 30 minutes until the top is a rich golden brown and the dish is piping hot.
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National Heart Month: Quorn chicken and leek patchwork pie

Did you know February is National Heart Month? No? Waitrose did and they came up with some recipes to keep our hearts healthy and asked me to test one of them.


There are a few vegetarian recipes on the website, but I love puff pastry, so I decided to vegetarianise their Chicken and Leek Patchwork Pie by replacing the chicken with Quorn Chicken-Style Pieces and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.


Puff pastry isn’t usually associated with healthy living, but because you’re only using a quarter of a packet, you’re not going to overdose on fat.

I was so pleased with how it turned out, it was absolutely delicious and something I’ll definitely make again.


Quorn chicken and leek patchwork pie (serves 4)
(adapted from the Waitrose website)

1 tbsp olive oil
250g leeks, sliced
200g Quorn chicken-style pieces
125ml vegetable stock
125ml milk, plus extra for brushing
1 tbsp sauce flour
150g frozen peas
150g frozen broccoli, defrosted slightly and cut into smaller pieces
30g soft cheese with garlic and herbs
1/4 pack ready-rolled puff pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the leeks and Quorn chicken-style pieces for 5 minutes until the leeks are softened.
  3. Add the stock and milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sauce flour to the pan, bring to the boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until smooth and thickened.
  4. Stir in the peas, broccoli and soft cheese, then tip into an ovenproof dish.
  5. Cut the pastry into 12 squares and arrange on top of the filling – the pastry should overlap a little in places but not cover the filling completely.
  6. Brush the pastry squares with milk and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is piping hot.
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