Broad Beans with Bacon and Paprika

Broad beans

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

This is another quick and tasty recipe. I like to serve it with roasted chicken. Or have it chilled as part of a salad buffet.

2 tablespoons olive oil
150g rindless smoked streaky bacon, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
400g to 500g frozen broad beans, defrosted
Splash of water

Heat the oil in a wide based pan and sauté the bacon until almost cooked. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan a sauté until softened and starting to colour. Return the bacon to the pan and add the paprika, salt and pepper and stir well. Stir in the broad beans, add a splash of water, cover and simmer for 5 minutes of so until the beans are hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Egg Curry

Egg curry lr cropped

Serves 2

This is another quick and delicious vegetarian dish. I like to serve it with small roasted potatoes. Potatoes with curry is a match made in heaven!

You may notice that I say to use organic turmeric. Organic turmeric is more intensely flavoured than non-organic. If you don’t have organic, just bump up the amount of turmeric a bit.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp organic turmeric
1 ½ tablespoons tomato puree
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1 x 400 g tin coconut milk
6 hard-boiled eggs, halved

Heat the oil and sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the chilli and continue to sauté until the onions have softened. Stir in the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the ginger and stir-fry for another minute.

Stir in the salt, black pepper and turmeric and cook off for 30 seconds. Add the tomato puree and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the tamarind and sugar, then pour in the coconut milk. Bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer and stir to mix well. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until you are happy with the consistence of the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If you prefer a completely smooth sauce, pass it through a sieve.

The sauce can now be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

To finish the dish, bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer, add the eggs and serve as soon as they have heated through.

Celery and Stilton Soup


Serves 2 to 3

This classic vegetarian soup is strong and rich and – here’s a bonus – dead easy to prepare.

45g butter
5 celery sticks, trimmed and diced
45g flour
700ml vegetable stock
300ml milk
Salt (not too much as the butter, stock and stilton are all salty too)
Ground black pepper
200g to 250g stilton, crumbled

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and when it is foaming add the celery. Sauté until softening, approx. 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and slowly stir in the stock and milk. Return to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the celery is soft, approx. 15 minutes.

Once the celery is soft, take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for 10 minutes. Use a stick blender to blitz the soup to a smooth, creamy consistency.

Return the pan to a gentle heat and stir in the crumbled stilton. Keep stirring until all the stilton has melted and been incorporated into the soup. Check the seasoning.

At this stage the soup can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

Carrot and Cumin Soup

Carrot and Cumin Soup LR

Serves 6

This is a quick but delicious vegetarian soup that I like to have for lunch on its own or for dinner with lots of crusty bread and butter. There are some classic flavour combinations that have stood the test of time and carrot and cumin is one of them. If you haven’t tried it before, what are you waiting for?

3 tablespoons butter
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 to 4 celery sticks, trimmed and diced
6 to 8 carrots, trimmed, peeled and diced
2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle and mortar
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 litre vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Cover and sweat the vegetables for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and increase the heat. Stir in the cumin and chillies and allow the spices to cook off for one minute. Add the stock, bring it to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.

Leave the soup to cool slightly, then puree with a stick blender. Bring it back to a simmer and you are ready to go.

This soup can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

Puy Lentils with Indian Spices


Serves 4

Continuing my Indian theme, these spiced lentils are fantastic as part of any Indian meal. And any leftover lentils are excellent eaten cold for lunch the next day.

For the Fragrant Stock…

500ml water
12 green cardamoms, crushed
8 cloves
6 bay leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pinch sugar

Simmer, uncovered, all of the ingredients together for 40 minutes. Strain to remove the solids and add enough water to make up to 500ml.

For the finished dish…

250g Puy lentils
4 tbs vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 level tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp ground cumin
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 generous pinch cayenne
1 ½ tbs tomato ketchup
1 to 2 tsp garam masala (depending on its strength)
30 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
Water (or any remaining liquid from the cooked lentils)
2 tbs fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tbs mint leaves, finely chopped
1 level tsp salt
Juice of ½ a small lemon

Wash the lentils thoroughly and add them to the boiling stock. Simmer until cooked, approx 30 – 40 minutes. When ready, drain if needs be to remove any excess moisture but reserve the liquid.

Heat the oil in a wok until hot. Stir fry the onion until softened and browning then add the garlic and stir fry for a further 30 seconds. Add the coriander, cumin, ginger and cayenne and stir fry for another 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato ketchup then add the garam masala and tomatoes and stir in enough water (or lentils cooking liquid) to make things mobile. Add the coriander, mint and salt and stir to heat through. Add the lentils and stir to mix thoroughly. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then season to taste with salt, lemon juice, cayenne and sugar.

Tomatoes baked with Cream and Mint


Serves 2 for lunch or 4 for a starter or side dish

This delicious dish is packed full of flavour and is not as rich as you may expect. I like to have it for lunch with a bit of crusty bread. Alternatively, why not try it as a starter or as a side dish to accompany grilled chicken or fish?

This dish is vegetarian.

6 large ripe tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
A couple of pinches of sugar
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh mint
250ml double cream
60 or 70g (use plenty!) of grated parmesan

30cm x 20cm lasagne dish or glass/ceramic baking dish

Cut the end cores out of the tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to stand for 45 seconds. Drain and slide off their skins.

Cut the tomatoes into thinnish slices. Layer the slices into the dish, overlapping them slightly. Season generously with salt and black pepper and sprinkle over the sugar.

Place the mint sprigs in a small saucepan and pour in the cream. Bring to a boil and simmer vigorously until the cream has almost halved in volume. Remove the mint and pour the cream evenly over the tomatoes.

Sprinkle the surface with a generous amount of grated parmesan. Bake in a hot oven for about 25 minutes until the dish is bubbling, thickened and browned.

Orange, Olive, Walnut and Date Salad with Harissa Dressing

Dates lr

Serves 4 as a starter

This is a lovely salad to eat as a starter in summer. It is light and fresh with a slightly exotic flavour. The bad news is that it is so good that you won’t have any left overs.

For the dressing…
50ml olive oil
1 tablespoon harissa
2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground
Salt to taste

Whisk together all of the ingredients.

Prepare the oranges…
3 to 4 large oranges, depending on size

Remove the rind from one or two of the oranges either with a zester or with a knife and slice into fine julienne. Set aside until ready to serve.

Cut the segments from the oranges, making sure to remove all pith. Save any orange juice in a bowl and store the orange segments in it until ready to serve.

For the finished dish…
Lime juice to taste
Crisp lettuce (Iceberg or Cos) roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
12 green olives, pitted and halved
12 walnut halves
6 dates, stoned and halved

Pour any orange juice from the oranges into the dressing and taste, adding some lime juice if it needs some sharpness.

Add the olives, walnuts, dates and dressing to the orange segments and stir to mix well.

Place some lettuce on each plate and spoon over a portion of the orange, olive, walnut and date mixture. Decorate with the orange rind.

Waldorf Salad

walnuts low res

Serves 4

You’ll do well to find anyone who doesn’t like this classic salad! It works perfectly with almost any lunch or dinner time buffet. And, hoorah, hoorah, it’s dead easy to make!

This salad was created by the Maître d’ of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1896. In its original version, it only included apples, celery and mayonnaise. The walnuts came later. Some modern versions have lost the plot and are no longer recognisable as a Waldorf Salad. I’ve seen versions with dates, pine nuts, grapefruit, pears and, believe it or not, even Cajun seasoning! Give me a break. Fine, make a salad like that if you will, but don’t call it a Waldorf Salad. Classic recipes create an expectation in diners’ minds and they feel cheated if you go too far off-piste.

Grapes are sometimes added, as in my recipe, as they lighten the dish and add a subtle sweetness.

For the dressing…
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Simply mix the ingredients together!

For the finished dish…
100g walnuts, quartered
100g apple, diced
100g celery, diced
100g red grapes, halved

Cut the walnuts, apple, celery and grapes into similar sized pieces. Mix in the dressing and stir to make sure everything is evenly coated. That’s all there is to it!

You can make this salad ahead of time. It will keep quite happily in the fridge for several hours.

Spiced Lentil Salad

Spiced lentils 2 low res

Serves 4 as a side dish

This is a tasty make-ahead dish that’s great as a side dish with baked chicken or fish. It is also ideal as part of a buffet. But actually I like it so much I like to make it a meal of it, a nice big bowl full with lots of crusty bread and butter. Puy lentils are a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, they are low in fat and they make you feel full so you are less likely to have snack attacks. Pretty much an all-round winner!

Don’t be tempted to add salt to the water for the lentils or to cook them in stock that contains salt. Lentils cooked with salt tend to go hard, so it’s always best to season them after cooking.

250g puy lentils, rinsed well under running water
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
9 sundried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
1 to 2 large red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ rounded teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ rounded teaspoons ground cumin
1 rounded teaspoon ground black pepper
Extra salt for seasoning

Simmer the lentils in a large pan of unsalted water until they are cooked but still have a slight bite to them. This will take about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently sauté the onions for five minutes. Add the sun dried tomatoes and continue to cook for a further five minutes or so until the onions are softened and golden. Add the chilli, garlic and salt and continue to sauté for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the oregano, cumin and black pepper and stir fry for two minutes, making sure the mixture does not catch.

Mix the sauce into the cooked lentils. Taste the dish and add salt as necessary, stirring well to make sure the salt is evenly distributed.

Cool and chill in the fridge until needed.

Raw Moroccan Spiralized Carrot Salad

WP_20150710_20_30_51_Pro      WP_20150710_20_31_06_Pro

GUEST RECIPE – thanks to Sally Thompson for this recipe and for the photos.

Sally made this salad for me and LW a few weeks ago and it was delicious. The amount of seasoning you use is entirely up to you – it all depends how salty or spicy you want it. It is a tasty vegan dish that is great as a snack, light lunch or as part of a buffet. We had it as part of a vegan meze dinner, sitting on our terrace watching the sun go down. Magic!

2 large carrots, cut in half widthways and spiralized
2 medjool dates or 4 small dates, chopped
A few whole almonds crushed (optional)
Juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon
Juice of a quarter freshly squeezed lime
Season to taste with fresh flat leaf parsley, Himalayan salt, coarse black pepper, chilli flakes, cumin, coriander, paprika and ancho chilli powders

Mix all of the ingredients together. Chill & serve!