I haven’t done any cooking in there for a week or so. Despite the novelty and convenience of having Papa John’s pizza on a Monday night, pre-packaged pasta and couscous salad on Tuesday night and leftover Papa John’s last night, today I craved something not out of a box or a packet, then remembered I had a soup maker somewhere (if you think the kitchen looks bad, you should see the state of the dining room where the floor is covered with the contents of the former kitchen) and looked in the fridge where I found some spinach and carrots.
I didn’t take much notice of how much spinach was in the bag or how much water I used, so all weights and measures are approximate.
Spinach and carrot soup (serves 2-3)
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tsp stock powder
1 onion, chopped
3 dried whole chillies
salt and pepper
Chuck everything into the soup maker and put on the setting that blends as it goes along.
175g green lentils
1 big bunch of spinach
225g sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm pieces
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1½ tsp garam masala
1½ tsp curry powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
½ tsp salt
40g toasted breadcrumbs
25g plain flour
Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.
Boil the lentils in 750ml water. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer lentils to a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher.
Meanwhile, place the spinach in a saucepan and sprinkle over a little water and heat until wilted.
Steam the sweet potato for 8 to 10 minutes until tender. Add the potato to the lentils and mash thoroughly.
In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil. Add the onion, garam masala, curry powder and cayenne and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the spinach and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, tossing to combine.
Mix the spinach-onion mixture into the lentil mixture. Stir in the eggs, coriander and salt. Fold in the breadcrumbs and flour. Adjust seasonings. Shape into 8 burgers.
In an ovenproof frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil. When hot, add the burgers and cook until browned on each side, 6 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the burgers are firm and cooked through.
Buy Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger at Amazon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve reinstated my Riverford Veg Box delivery and last week I received a box containing – amongst other vegetables – kale and parsnips. Parsnips are usually something I only ever eat when they’re forced on me but they do make a delicious soup, especially when spiced up with a bit of chilli. This soup was a great way to use up some of the kale, too. I felt approximately three-hundred-and-thirty-six times healthier after eating it (until I had some hot chocolate and a couple of biscuits immediately after, that is).
I made this in my soup maker. If you’re making it on the hob, fry the onion and garlic in oil for a few minutes first, then add the rest of the ingredients, simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the parsnip is tender, then blend at the end.
Soup Machine Parsnip and Kale Soup (serves 3-4)
3 parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 large handfuls of chopped kale (minus the thick middle stalks)
1 green chilli, chopped
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1L vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Chuck it all in the soup machine and let your soup machine do its thing.
I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve never been able to make hummus as nice as the ones in the supermarket. Until now, that is. I was browsing the Minimalist Baker website yesterday and stumbled across their microwave hummus recipe. They reckoned it was the best ever hummus so, naturally, I was sceptical but I’ve got to agree with them – this is definitely the best ever hummus and I’m never going back to shop bought. I’m no scientist but the microwaving bit must soften the chickpeas and bring out their flavour, resulting in a smooth, creamy and delicious hummus.
(adapted from the Minimalist Baker website)
1 can chickpeas, undrained
3 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
1/2 cup tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Microwave the chickpeas and garlic for about five minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil and blitz in a food processor, while drizzling in the olive oil, until smooth and creamy.
Because someone – okay, I – forgot to add the spinach to the Quorn curry I cooked last night, I had a bag of spinach in the fridge, going to waste. In my defence though, it was a slow-cooked curry and by the time its eight hours were up, I’d completely forgotten there was another ingredient to go in. Also, the spinach wasn’t going to go to waste as a) I’m going to use it instead of kale in a recipe tomorrow; and b) I made soup out of it at lunchtime today.
My original idea was to make spinach and rice soup, then I changed my mind and thought I’d give spinach and chickpea soup a go and to liven it up a bit, also add some vegetarian Parmesan. It works.
Cheesy Spinach and Chickpea Soup (serves 4)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium potato, diced
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Heat the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic and onion and fry for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
Add the potatoes and fry for another couple of minutes.
Add the spinach and the stock and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and blend.
Add the cheese and blend again until it’s melted through.
Add the chickpeas and return to the heat to warm through.
Veggienomics by Nicola Graimes is a cookbook designed to help you cook delicious money-saving vegetarian meals. Nicola covers what you should keep in your storecupboard and tips on getting the most out of your freezer, along with hints on foraging and growing your own veg.
The recipes are divided into eight chapters: basics and accompaniments, tin of beans (and other pulses), pack of pasta (and noodles), sack of rice (and other grains), bag of nuts (and seeds), carton of eggs, slice of cheese (and other dairy) and box of veg. There are plenty of full-page colour photographs to accompany lots of the dishes.
You needn’t worry the recipes are all basic though – take this linguine carbonara with crispy capers for example that I made last night. Beautifully rich and creamy (my capers didn’t go crispy though).
Linguine Carbonara With Crispy Capers (serves 4)
400g dried linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp bottled capers, drained, rinsed and patted dry
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, deseeded and diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g vegetarian Parmesan cheese, grated
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp chopped oregano leaves or 2 tsp dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta following the pack instructions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the capers, turn the heat down slightly and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp, then drain on kitchen paper. Add the butter to the pan and when melted, stir in the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 3 minutes until softened, taking care that the garlic doesn’t burn.
Mix three-quarters of the vegetarian Parmesan into the beaten eggs. When the pasta is cooked, use tongs to transfer it to the frying pan and reserve the pasta water. Take the frying pan off the heat and quickly pour in the egg mixture. Using tongs, turn the linguine so it becomes evenly coated in the egg mixture, which should thicken without scrambling. Add 2-4 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water, if needed, to keep the pasta moist and to give a glossy sauce. Serve seasoned with pepper and sprinkled with the remaining vegetarian Parmesan and oregano.
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).
The other day, I made a soup so disgusting I had to throw it away. It was a dal soup from a Rose Elliot cookbook and the recipe called for water, not stock, and this made me dubious. But, you know, it’s Rose Elliot; I thought, ‘it’s okay, Rose knows what she’s doing’. She didn’t in this case, I can tell you. It was vile.
Today’s soup is from the mighty Veganomicon cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. This also called for water not stock but I thought, ‘ha, not being fooled again’ and ignored Isa and used stock. Actually, I ignored quite a lot of her instructions as she does tend to make things more difficult for herself (and therefore more difficult for the lazy cook) and so I didn’t roast any garlic and I used Basmati rice, not long-grain brown rice (she said short grain rice doesn’t like tomato broth, but it turned out fine). Because Veganomicon uses US terms and measurements, I had to spend three hours on Google finding out what a 28-ounce can of tomatoes is in English. Apparently it’s two of our usual size ones. They also call haricot beans, navy beans, which is a bit odd when they’re a kind of beige. Maybe the marketing bods didn’t think ‘beige beans’ would sell well.
I’m going to post what I used and how I did it; if you want to know how the expert that is Isa did it, you’ll have to buy Veganomicon. You should buy it anyway, it’s fab, although a lot of the recipes have a lot of ingredients, have a lot of steps and take a lot of time.
This is in no way a ‘drink soup with one hand while mousing around the internet with the other’ soup. You’ll need a spoon to drink it with, possibly even a knife and fork.
Tomato rice soup with haricot beans (serves 4)
(adapted from Veganomicon)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup Basmati rice (or other rice)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
salt and black pepper
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
450ml vegetable stock
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes.
Add the rice, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and stock.
Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
After making the Mexican Vegan Crustless Quiche yesterday afternoon, I had half a bag of spinach left over and spinach is always good to add to a pasta dish (or a curry dish for that matter) for a bit of greenery goodness.
Quorn Meat Free Swedish Meatballs with Tomato and Spinach (serves 4)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bag frozen Quorn Meat Free Swedish Meatballs
2 tins chopped tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 large handfuls of spinach
Salt and pepper
Cook the Quorn as instructed on the packet and leave to one side.
Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.
Add the tinned tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Tear in some fresh basil.
Stir in the spinach.
Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the Quorn and heat through until the spinach has wilted.
Serve with spaghetti and garlic bread (or whatever you like).