Brussels sprouts and goat’s cheese tart


Waitrose asked if I’d like to take part in their Waitrose Christmas Recipe Challenge which involved recreating a traditional vegetarian main dish especially for Christmas. The dish they wanted me to recreate was a vegetable tart.

Fine, I thought, that’s easy enough; get some puff pastry, bung some vegetables on it, cover it in cheese and put it in the oven. Sorted. Unfortunately, when I mentioned this to The Meat Eater he started getting adventurous and asked if it’d have cream and eggs in it. Before I realised he was just trying to scupper Vegan Monday, I’d already agreed, despite my reservations that adding cream and eggs to a tart probably makes it less of a tart and more of a quiche.

Still, it sounded like a plan, so the only thing left to think of was what vegetables would I use. I thought cranberry and brie sounded nice and Christmassy, The Meat Eater said ‘bleurgh’ (or something like that) and asked for Brussels sprouts. Seriously? Brussels sprout tart? I agreed it at least nodded towards Christmas so I eventually (after asking Facebook what it thought) decided upon Brussels sprouts, leek and goat’s cheese tart (even if it was going to be more of a quiche).

I know goat’s cheese is as ubiquitous on the veggie menu as risotto is at Christmas time, but you’ll have to forgive me for this.

Brussels sprouts and goat’s cheese tart (serves 4)

15 Brussels sprouts
1 leek, sliced
2 baby onions, sliced
125g goat’s cheese, sliced
100g Cheddar, grated
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
3 eggs
300ml double cream
25g butter

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts, along with any hard leaves and cook in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and leave to the side.
  3. Fry the baby onions and leeks in the butter for about 5 minutes, until soft and season with salt and pepper. Leave to one side.
  4. Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix in the cream and grated cheddar.
  5. Line an 8” round tin with the puff pastry.
  6. Add the leeks and onion mixture to the tin.
  7. Add the Brussels sprouts evenly on top.
  8. Pour over the egg, cream and Cheddar mixture.
  9. Place the sliced goat’s cheese on top.
  10. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown, then leave to cool for about 10 minutes to help it set.






Probably not the most Christmassy of dishes but, who cares – it was delicious.


Continue Reading

Aubergine and pasta bake

The Meat Eater looked at his plate and said ‘this looks suspiciously vegan’. Huh? It was covered with cheese and not the slightest bit vegan. The boy is paranoid.


It’s a recipe adapted from Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian. The only bit I adapted was where she uses wholemeal auelli; I used non-wholemeal pasta (as I get moaned at if I use wholemeal despite the taste and texture being identical) and spirals, not auelli (as I haven’t a clue what auelli looks like and anyway, I had spirals in the cupboard).

Also, I didn’t fry the aubergine slices as that’s too fiddly and takes too long. Instead, I brushed some oil over them and roasted them in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Oh, and I used a large can of tomatoes, not 225g.

I didn’t use an egg, either.

And I only used one onion, not two.

Okay, I adapted it quite a lot.


Pasta and aubergine bake (serves 4)
(Adapted from Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian)

1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
450g aubergine
75g pasta shapes
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp dried oregano
50g fresh breadcrumbs
50g cheddar cheese, grated

  1. Fry the onions in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 10 minutes.
  2. Slice the aubergine into thin rounds, brush with oil and bake in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet and drain.
  4. Mix the pasta, tomatoes, ketchup and oregano with the onions and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Put the aubergine slices in the base of a greased shallow ovenproof dish. Spoon the pasta mixture on top, cover with the rest of the aubergine slices and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Continue Reading

Vegetarian Pad Thai


This was probably nothing like an authentic Pad Thai. In fact, I know it wasn’t, because I’ve eaten Pad Thai dozens of times in Thai restaurants. But it had eggs and peanut and noodles in it, so as far as I’m concerned it was a Pad Thai. Feel free to let me know what puts the ‘Pad’ into a Pad Thai.

I thought it was going to be a disaster as it ended up looking more like a creamy broccoli sauce for pasta – despite it not actually containing any broccoli – than an eggy thing for noodles, but it was a success. And, as The Meat Eater said, it had a base of mushrooms and kale, so there wasn’t much to go wrong really.

Vegetarian Pad Thai (serves 2)

1tbsp vegetable oil
50g kale, chopped
2 large mushrooms, chopped
Large handful of beansprouts
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
50g dry roasted peanuts, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok.
  2. Add the mushrooms and fry until almost cooked.
  3. Add the kale and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the beansprouts.
  5. Add the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and lime juice.
  6. Add the eggs and stir everything until the eggs are cooked.
  7. Serve on top of egg noodles (or those other noodles that usually go with Pad Thai) and garnish with the dry roasted peanuts and spring onions.
Continue Reading

Vegan Mondays: Aubergine stuffed with mushroom and chilli


I woke up yesterday morning and decided that, from now on, Mondays would be vegan days. First things first though, and I went downstairs to check if my hot chocolate was vegan. It wasn’t, dammit! But, aha! I had a tub of cocoa in the cupboard, which is vegan. Okay, so it’s two years out of date, but never mind.

Lunch wasn’t a problem. I’d got up so late, I didn’t have any. I felt a bit peckish in the afternoon though so decided to have some cup-a-soup. Then I realised cream of asparagus cup-a-soup probably wasn’t vegan (the ‘cream’ bit gave me a hint), and it wasn’t, but I had a packet of Ainsley Harriott’s Hot & Sour cup-a-soup, which was (as far as I could tell – I’m not an expert at reading labels for non-vegan ingredients). Yay, good old Ainsley.

Dinner was easy, all I had to do was make something and leave out the ‘cover it in cheese’ bit. I had an aubergine and some mushrooms in the fridge, so mushroom-stuffed aubergine it was. The Meat-Eater says veganism is ‘unnecessary’, so he covered his in salad cream and Flora and said it was ‘okay-ish’ (if he hadn’t read on Facebook I was having a vegan day, he’d have said it was nice).

Aubergine stuffed with mushroom and chilli, topped with herby breadcrumbs (serves 2)

1 aubergine, sliced lengthways
2-4 mushrooms, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 slice of bread, crusts removed
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

  1. Score a criss-cross pattern in the aubergine and brush with oil. Bake in the oven at 190C for about 20-30 minutes, until tender. Scoop out the insides and chop.
  2. Whizz up the bread to make breadcrumbs and add the thyme.
  3. Fry the mushrooms in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the tomato and chopped aubergine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pile the aubergine/chilli/mushroom/tomato mixture on the aubergine skins.
  8. Top with the herby breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden.
Continue Reading

Mushroom pot with feta and herb topping


‘There’s too much black pepper in it.’ Honestly, one episode of Masterchef and The Meat Eater thinks he’s an expert. (I agreed with him, but – sshh – don’t tell him that.)

Too much black pepper aside, this was a lovely dish. The feta gave it a wonderful tang.

the-more-veg-cookbookI’ve written out the recipe as it appears in The More Veg Cookbook but I didn’t put any wine in it because, as far as I’m concerned, wine should be in a glass, not in food so I added more stock instead. I also used 200g of feta, not 150g and, as you can see from the photo above, it still didn’t completely cover the dish. Then again, the recipe says to use a casserole or ovenproof pan and I used a wok (a Tefal one that I’ve used for about ten years as a frying pan/saucepan. It’s huge and brilliant and practically cleans itself) then transferred the mixture into an oven dish.

You’ll need about an hour to make this but that’s mostly cooking time, as the preparation is minimal.


Mushroom pot with feta and herb topping (serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green peppers, halved, deseeded and sliced
200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
200g button mushrooms
1 small glass dry white wine
450ml vegetable stock

For the topping
150g feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  1. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole or ovenproof pan, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes on a low heat. Stir in the garlic, oregano, paprika, lemon zest, and some salt and pepper and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the green peppers and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes. Increase the heat, add the wine, and bubble for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Partially cover and cook on a low-medium heat for 20 minutes; it should begin to thicken slightly. If it is too thin, uncover, increase the heat a little, and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. To make the topping, mix together the feta, eggs, half the parsley and a little salt and pepper. Pour this over the mushroom mixture and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the egg has set and the top is golden. Remove and sprinkle with the remaining parsley to serve.
Continue Reading

Black-eyed pea bake


I had a few dilemmas with this. Were black-eyed beans the same as black-eyed peas, as that’s all I could find in the supermarket? After a bit of a Google, I decided they were.

Then, the recipe called for 350g of dried peas/beans. Fine, I weighed out 350g of beans and left them to soak overnight. Oh, that’s a LOT of beans. Do I really need all of them? I didn’t think so and weighed out 350g of the soaked beans, freezing the rest.

While reading the method, it said to fry the onions and garlic and add the beans then cover with water and boil, then whizz up in a food processor. Won’t there be a load of water? Do I drain it first or what? Still, I didn’t need to worry about that, as the water got absorbed or evaporated or something, so all was fine there.

Rose Elliot, in her book New Complete Vegetarian, says this bake goes well with a spicy tomato sauce or a vegetarian gravy and, if you’re like me and not a make-your-own-gravy kind of girl, I can confirm that Bisto complements it beautifully.

I was mega-made-up with this dish. How nice can some puréed beans with breadcrumbs on top be, I thought? Flipping gorgeous!


Black-eyed pea bake (serves 4)
Taken from Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian

350g dried black-eyed peas (soaked overnight)
2 large onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping
50g fresh breadcrumbs
50g grated cheese

  1. Drain and rinse the peas.
  2. Fry the onions and garlic in the oil for 10 minutes or until the onion is tender but not browned, then add the peas, herbs and water to cover.
  3. Simmer gently, until the peas are tender (about 25-40 minutes).
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
  5. Purée the pea mixture in a food processor or with an electric hand blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a greased, shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and crunchy.
Continue Reading

Roasted vegetable slice with mozzarella

Hey look, I made something else that’s reminiscent of a pizza. I had a packet of puff pastry to use up (actually, it was two days out of date but I appear to still be alive), so I made a quick trip to the farm shop for a leek and a courgette and made this quick, easy vegetable slice for dinner.


Roasted vegetable slice with mozzarella (serves 4)

1 pack ready made puff pastry
1 courgette, sliced
1 leek, sliced
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 block of mozzarella, sliced 
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Place the courgette and leek in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and bake in an oven at 200C for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Alternate slices of courgette and tomato onto the pastry, then cover with the leeks and top with the mozzarella slices.

Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Continue Reading

Slow cooked spicy spaghetti with garlic mushrooms

There’s something not quite right about preparing dinner at 11am but  there’s a reason slow cookers are called slow. This meant I was chopping onions and mushrooms in the morning before going to university, so dinner would be sort of ready when I got back. All I had to do was boil up some pasta and dinner was on the table.

I’m not sure if I’m trying to convince myself the flavours are more intense when food’s come out of a slow cooker because I’ve spent the money on it and I want it to be true, or if it really is the case. But both meals I’ve made in it so far have been gorgeous. The chilli and garlic came through perfectly in the spaghetti sauce from this recipe I adapted from the BBC Good Food website. Their recipe says it serves four, but I found it only served two (it could have served three, but I didn’t want to freeze only one portion).


Spicy spaghetti with garlic mushrooms (serves 2)

2 tbsp olive oil
250g pack chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed small bunch parsley leaves, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli flakes
150g spaghetti

Place all the ingredients except the parsley and pasta in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 6-7 hours. Just before you’re ready to eat, cook the spaghetti, drain, mix with the mushroom mix and scatter with parsley to serve.

Continue Reading

Saganaki cheese and spinach stuffed mushrooms

Yamas! sent me some some of their Saganaki cheese to try. Have you heard of Saganaki cheese before? No, neither had I. According to the packet you fry it in a dry pan for 30 seconds each side and it’ll turn brown.

Well, when I tried it, it didn’t turn brown but it did change in texture and taste. I used it with spinach as the topping on a portobello mushroom. I loved it (although the Saganaki was rubbery – maybe I fried it for too long?) but the flavour was too strong for The Meat Eater who said it tasted like blue cheese (it doesn’t).

Anyway, I enjoyed it and finished what The Meat Eater left on his plate.


Saganaki cheese and spinach stuffed mushrooms (serves 2)

150g Saganaki cheese
100g fresh spinach, chopped
2 portobello mushrooms
Reggae Reggae Sauce (or marinade of your choice)

Brush the mushrooms with Reggae Reggae Sauce and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the Saganaki on both sides for about 30 seconds each, then slice into cubes.

Rinse the fresh spinach and cook in the pan you cooked the cheese in, stirring until wilted.

Add the cheese to the spinach and mix together.

Place the cheese and spinach on top of the mushrooms and bake for 10 minutes.

Continue Reading

Pasta with roast vegetables and tomato sauce

I’ve been eating a lot of food out of packets recently, so tonight I decided to have something healthy. There’s a farm shop local to me that sells seasonal vegetables, so I scooted down there to see what they had and made a super-healthy dish that probably contained at least 8 of my 5-a-day.


Pasta with roast vegetables and tomato sauce (serves 6)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
1 aubergine, chopped into chunks
1 courgette, thickly sliced
200g mushrooms, sliced
100g spinach
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp mixed herbs
salt and ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Place the red pepper, aubergine and courgette into a roasting tray and drizzle with some oil. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Fry the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil for a few minutes until soft.
Add the mushrooms and leeks to the onion and fry for about 5 minutes.
Add the roasted red pepper, aubergine and courgette to the onion, mushrooms and leeks.
Add the tinned tomatoes to the vegetables and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the mixed herbs and season to taste.
Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
Serve with pasta of your choice.

Continue Reading