Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’


Ratatouille and Rice

It was bonfire night yesterday (seriously, how is it November already?!) and we went out to watch an excellent local firework display with some friends. We had less than an hour between getting home from work and having to leave again to cook and eat dinner so needed something that was going to be incredibly quick. Ratatouille is not that something; however, because it only gets more delicious the longer it’s left it was the perfect thing to cook on Wednesday night and then heat up again last night while the rice was cooking.

I mentioned the last time we blogged about ratatouille that I hadn’t got round to changing my recipe to include aubergine and thought this time was as good as any!

Ratatouille (v2)
Serves 4
Prep time: 10-15 mins (though much of it is while the rest is cooking)
Cooking time: at least an hour

2 medium red onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 large peppers
2 courgettes
1 small aubergine
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Herbs des Provence
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan – keep the heat low
2. Peel and cut the onions into chunks then add them to the pan and stir them into the oil
3. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them finely – add the garlic to the pan.
4. Halve the peppers, remove the stalk and seeds and chop into chunks – add them to the pan and stir.
5. Stir in the herbs
6. Top and tail the courguettes, slice them lengthways and then chop into chunks – add them to the pan and stir
7. Top and tail the aubergine and chop into chunks – add it to the pan.
8. Add 2 tbsps of water to the vegetables, stir them as best you can (there’ll be a lot in there) and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft – stir occassionally to prevent sticking.
9. Tip in the tin of chopped tomatoes, stir, season, then bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for at least 40 minutes.
10. Serve with rice, jacket potato, crusty bread or just have a big steaming bowl full of it on its own!

Rob said this was the best ratatouille I’ve ever made, so I’ll stick to this version in the future, maybe using fresh tomatoes in place of tinned when the season comes back around!

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Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup

I’d spotted a recipe for hearty pasta soup on the BBC Good Food website and decided to give it a go as it had a lot of very high ratings and we had a pack of tortellini in fridge for which we had no plans. This is a really simple recipe that takes minimal preparation (chopping an onion and a couple of carrots). I used kidney beans instead of the green beans because we’ve had a bit of a green bean overload recently! The kidney beans were microwaved for a couple of minutes beforehand to ensure they’d be soft.

It was nice enough, but definitely seemed to be lacking something – perhaps some chilli. I think this is probably something that would appeal to kids whilst getting some vegetables into them. I doubt we’d make this again as it is, but I’d definitely try some kind of tortellini soup again.

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Quorn Lasagne

Vegetarian Quorn Lasagne

Every week, especially in the colder months of the year, we try to cook a few dinners that will serve well as leftovers for lunch the next day. Lasagne is a perfect example of such a dish and even having to heat it up in the microwave can’t spoil the wonderful flavours that have only intensified overnight. The difficulty is making sure you actually have some left 😉

We occassionally have roasted vegetable lasagne (for which I’ll one day share with you a truly delightful recipe courtesy of my boss’ mum!), but usually go for a “meaty” version – beef mince for Rob and Quorn mince for me. I tend to just throw various things in a pan when I make my mince, but I wrote down today’s version so I could at least give some idea!

I’ve tried to give quantities, but I don’t actually measure any of it because it doesn’t really matter.

Quorn Lasagne
Serves 2 (plus leftover mince for freezing)
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 55 mins

For the mince:
1 medium onion, diced (my onion was about the size of a grapefruit (!) & I used half)
1 tbsp mild olive oil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 very heaped tbsp tomato purée
300g bag of quorn mince (don’t worry about defrosting, but bash it around a bit to break it up)
300g passata
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes (try and get good quality ones or they’ll be too watery)
white sugar
salt and pepper

For the white sauce:
20g butter
20g plain flour
250ml semi-skimmed milk
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

3 “non-cook” lasagne sheets
50g cheddar cheese, grated
15g grated Grana Padano (or Parmazano to make it properly veggie!)
Ovenproof dish (the internal dimensions of mine are: l:18cm w:12cm d:5cm)

  1. Heat both types of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onion and stir to coat it in oil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and leave for a couple of minutes.
  2. Crush the garlic into the pan, recover and sweat the onions & garlic, stirring occassionally, for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are soft (if they start to stick, add a tablespoon of water).
  3. Stir in the oregano and thyme followed by the tomato purée. Leave for 30 seconds or so before stirring in the Quorn mince followed by the passata and the chopped tomatoes.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C and make the white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan then take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour until smooth.
  6. Place the pan back on the heat for a few seconds, stirring continuously then remove from the heat again.
  7. Add the milk bit by bit, stirring continuously.
  8. Back on the heat, gradually bring the sauce to the boil, stirring continuously – it should end up satiny smooth.
  9. Reduce the heat as low as it’ll go and leave the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  10. Add the nutmeg and season to taste.
  11. Go back to the mince, stir in a pinch of sugar and season to taste.
  12. Spoon 1/3 of the mince evenly in the bottom of the dish and place a pasta sheet on top (snap it to fit and avoid overlaps). Pour in some of the white sauce and spread evenly. Repeat, then top with the cheddar cheese and finish off with the Grana Padano.
  13. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes – the mince should be bubbling and the cheese turning brown.
  14. Serve and enjoy. (You’ll notice I didn’t use all the mince, put the rest in a freezer bag and you’ll have a quick veggie bolognese to hand next time you can’t be bothered to cook!).
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Vegetable kebabs and corn on the cob

We both love corn on the cob (especially done on the barbeque) and as July marks the start of the season, we’ll most likely be having it a few times over the coming months. This time, we decided to keep everything very simple, griddling the corn and serving it alongside grilled vegetable kebabs.

Vegetable kebabs ready to be grilled

The kebabs were made up of cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, corguette, red onion and red and yellow pepper. They were brushed with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, rosemary and thyme before going under the grill for about 20 minutes, which turned out not to be long enough – the corguette was still a little raw and the onion hadn’t lost all of its kick.

Other than the undercooked kebabs, it was a good dinner – fresh-tasting, light and easy to prepare.

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Roasted peppers stuffed with rice, vegetables and feta cheese

Rob and I don’t always eat together as one of us may be set on having a particular meal, but the other’s just not interested! Tonight, Rob wanted fajitas so I let him go ahead while I set about trying to create something.

I fancied something that felt fresh and light and feta cheese came to mind, this reminded me of the feta-stuffed romano peppers we’d had and I decided that I’d stuff some peppers with a savoury rice, top it with feta and then bake it in the oven.

First thing’s first, the oven needed to preheat to about 200c. For the rice, I sweated off half a red onion (diced) with a crushed clove of garlic, a large flat mushroom (chopped) and seven quartered cherry tomatoes. When this had all softened I added 1/3 cup of rice (65g) and then 2/3 cup of water along with a sprinkling of vegetable stock powder. I gave it a quick stir and then brought it to the boil before reducing the heat as low as it would go and covering the pan. Ten minutes later, I took the pan off the heat and left the lid on to allow the rice to steam for a further 10 minutes (without the veg, this has been my foolproof method of cooking rice since I first discovered it a few years ago). Once the rice was cooked, I added some leftover cabbage and carrot from last night’s dinner, stirred through some chopped fresh basil and fresh thyme leaves along with a generous grind of black pepper.

At this point the rice smelt very strongly of mushrooms, which I hadn’t really wanted – I was after tomato more than anything. It didn’t taste too mushroomy though, but neither was it particularly tomatoey! I considered adding some tomato purée but concluded that this could just ruin it completely and settled for more quartered cherry tomatoes.

I halved two medium-sized red peppers lengthways and removed the stalk and seeds before stuffing them with the rice, topping them with cubes of feta (65g in total) and placing them on a baking tray (there was still enough rice left for a further two peppers – I’ll have it for lunch tomorrow). They were then baked for 30 minutes until the edges of the peppers were getting soft and crinkly and starting to get a little charred.

When I took the peppers out of the oven I was a little disappointed and wasn’t particularly looking forward to eating them, expecting them to be a little dry and really needing something to accompany them. I’m happy to tell you that I was wrong! The peppers themselves were sweet and juicy (I think roasted peppers may be one of the most delicious foods around) and the extra tomatoes I’d added had oozed into the rice to give the extra moisture and flavour that it needed. The feta was crisp on the outside and soft and creamy inside and lifted the rest of the dish from good to really really good.

P.S. The photo shows two pepper halves, but that portion was for aesthetic reasons only and I finished off both peppers!

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Tagliatelle with brocolli, asparagus and a smoked cheddar sauce

Another dish based around one particular ingredient tonight. This time: smoked cheddar, another farmers’ market purchase. It’s a very simple dish that takes about 15 minutes, but does require your undivided attention whilst making the sauce. If the phone rings whilst making this – don’t answer it!

Tagliatelle with Broccoli, Asparagus & Smoked Cheddar
Serves 2 (generously)

150g Tagliatelli
a medium-sized head of broccoli, floretted
a small bunch of asparagus, woody ends snapped off and the rest cut into thirds
For the sauce
1tbsp butter
1tbsp plain flour
1/2 pint milk
60g smoked cheddar, grated
salt & pepper

Firstly, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat. Once completely melted, remove from the heat, add the flour and stir vigorously until completely combined. Return to the heat and cook for a minute, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick. Add the milk, increase the heat then stir continuously until the sauce comes to the boil. Once boiled, simmer for 2 minutes to thicken, then stir in the cheese and season to taste. Leave to cool. (See what I mean about undividived attention?)

Whilst the sauce is simmering, cook the tagliatelle in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet. When the pasta is 4 minutes away from being done, add the broccoli to another pan of boiling, salted water and cook for 3 minutes, then add the asparagus and cook for a further minute (our asparagus was very thin, thicker spears will need longer).

Drain the vegetables and return to the pan, then drain the pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables. Add the sauce (you might not need all of it) and mix well. Serve and enjoy.

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Vegetable bhuna curry on steamed basmati rice

I never used to like curry. It was partly down to the fact that I didn’t like spicy food (that’s changed somewhat over the years, although I still don’t like things too hot) and so people would try to get me to “try something mild, have a korma”. Now, the problem with this approach is that kormas obviously have a very distinct flavour and, as far as I’m concerned, not a very nice one! It wasn’t until my housemates dragged me to an Indian buffet during my final year at university that I started to appreciate this great cuisine. At the buffet, the curry that really won me over was a chicken bhuna and I’ve been a great fan ever since.

When we were planning what to eat this week there was a chance that a vegetarian friend of mine would be joining us tonight so we decided that a vegetable curry would be in order. We’ve done curries from scratch before, but decided to try out a curry paste tonight (we’ve previously just used them for marinades).

Thinly slice 1.5 red onions and put them in a heavy-bottomed pan with a tablespoon of oil to soften over a low heat. Then added slices of a large carrot, chunks of a medium sweet potato and pieces of a whole cauliflower (we were going to use courgette too, but forgot). Add a few tablespoons of water to stop the vegetables from sticking and pop the lid on for a 10 minutes or so. Stir in 140g (half a jar) of bhuna curry paste (we used Pataks), 2tbsps tomato purée, a tin of chopped tomatoes and 200ml of water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for 30 minutes (or until the cauliflower is getting towards the softness you like!) stirring occassionally. Add some mushrooms and tomato wedges and simmer uncovered for a further 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. We served this with steamed basmati rice (two nights in a row!) and a tomato, onion and cucumber salad dressed with lemon juice and a pinch of cumin.

We intended for this to make enough for four (we’ll freeze the rest), but there are still at least three if not four portions left!

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