Stuffed Zucchini Rounds

Stuffed Zucchini with butternut squash, peppers and cheddar

DSC_0798a

Zucchini or courgettes and olive oil are a simply delicious traditional Italian combination.  Elizabeth David is credited with bringing this vegetable, previously reserved for the aristocracy, into the ordinary English kitchen.  In her book, A Book of Mediterranean Food, published in 1950, she shares a simple courgette recipe, combining the “very young marrow” with butter and tomatoes.

 

 

Taking a cue from the September sunshine over the weekend, we’ve gone for a summer – autumn vegetable flavouring, combining the zucchini with butternut squash.  It’s a light but comforting dish, which we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we have.

 

DSC_0790a

This dish is an easy dish that is perfect for getting little hands involved in the kitchen and Lentil had great fun stuffing all the ingredients into the zucchini and sprinkling the cheese on top (a lot of which ended up on the baking tray)!

The what:

3 Round zucchini, topped and flesh removed

1 onion, quartered

1 yellow pepper, topped, de-seeded and quartered

1/2 roasted butternut squash (you can roast the other half too and use it to make our roast Butternut Squash and Courgette Risotto). Continue reading

Green Tea Salmon

Salmon poached in green tea

DSC_0742a

When I became pregnant with Lentil I gave up coffee and green tea and anything else with caffeine in it – just like most first time mothers-to-be worried that even a drop could be damaging!  I realised I could survive quite well without coffee.  I actually don’t really like coffee, but had become a daily drinker: fetching a latte was an excuse to escape the relentless stressy office environment for five minutes once or twice a day.  I also hopped the caffeine would actually keep me awake no matter how little sleep I got!

Continue reading

Beetroot Risotto

Colourful Beetroot Risotto for a veggie meal or side dish

DSC_0762a

If you’ve seen my Beet, Carrot and Barley Salad you’ll know that thanks Grigson’s Vegetable Book, my bible for all things vegetable, I now know how to prepare and cook beetroot!  This recipe brings together the heavenly combination of beetroot and goats cheese with risotto.

Continue reading

Homemade Gnocchi with Butter and Sage

Quick and Easy Potato Gnocchi

DSC_0679a

This is an old recipe that has been handed down from grandmother to mother to granddaughter and I’m feeling very privileged that it’s now been passed to me by my fairy godmother!  The recipe was hand-written on a piece of paper and included just the raw ingredients, no measurements. So we’ve been eating a lot of gnocchi recently (not that we’re complaining!) in the trial and error process of finding the perfect balance.  And we think we’ve cracked it!

Continue reading

Parmigiana

Parmigiana with a pinch of healthiness.  A great vegetarian option on its own or as a side dish

IMG_4714a

The origins of this traditional dish are disputed. Jamie Oliver refers to it as a “classic northern Italian recipe” and is in good company: Antonio Carluccio confesses “I’ve never known whether this dish is called ‘parmigiana’ because it comes from Parma, or because it’s made with Parmesan cheese”. But  although the name may be claimed by the north, Carluccio concedes that the recipe stems from Sicily in the South.

My own Parmigiana story has less exotic origins! Continue reading

Quinoa stir-fry

I really like this healthy, but tasty stir-fry and better still it’s quick and easy to make.  We hope you love it too!

DSC_03881a

I’ve become a big fan of quinoa recently and luckily the kids seem to like it too.  It’s a great source of protein and really easy to cook.  As such a small grain it’s also great to use in weaning recipes, particularly if little ones have few teeth and are only getting used to managing solids!

Makes 2 large portions and 1 small portion

DSC_0329a

The what:

120g quinoa

100g Edamme beans

a bunch of spring onions

1cm ginger

handful of coriander

2 baby pak choi

5 baby corn

juice of 1/2 lime

small handful sesame seeds

1/2 tbsp sunflower oil

For the sauce:

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp Oyster sauce

DSC_03731a

 

The how:

Cook the quinoa according to instructions on the packet.

To make the sauce mix together all the ingredients.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large saute pan and saute the onions, garlic and ginger.  Remove and set aside.  Add all the other vegetables to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the sauce and cook for a further 2-3 depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables.  Stir in the onions, garlic, ginger and quinoa.  Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and coriander and serve.

 

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Courgetti and Strawberry Salad

DSC_0605a

Since starting my blogging journey, I’ve been inspired by (and in awe of!) the many fabulous health food bloggers out there, creating amazing recipes with deliciously fresh ingredients, and sharing drool-inducing photos of their creations.  It was while perusing some of these awesome foodies’ websites and salivating over their culinary endeavours that I came across spiralizing. Clearly, I am way behind the times – how have I missed all the hype about fruit and veggie ribbons and spaghetti styled courgettes??  I wondered if the spiralizer was just the latest kitchen gadget: something I would use once and then retire to the cupboard over the fridge, which is rarely opened: I need a stool to reach it!

I reasoned that I use my mandolin regularly and love Japanese food.  Surely something food-related originating in Japan can’t be bad?  So after a little research on the various brands and models I purchased a spiralizer online and eagerly awaited its arrival!

IMG_4593a

I’m certainly not giving up on my yummy homemade pasta (mon Dieu!) or carbs altogether.  I think they are an important part of a balanced diet, especially for children.  However, I am bursting with ideas for new recipes using my spiralizer and it is a fun way to introduce kids to new ways of eating fruit and veg.

So here is the first of my spiralizer creations……[drum roll!]

I’ve made this salad both with and without chicken and it’s as tasty either way so if you’re vegetarian just simply leave out the chicken.

Serves 2 adult & 1 child portion.

The what:

2 large (3 smaller) chicken fillets, diced

handful of spinach leaves, stems removed

12g flaked almonds

150g strawberries, topped and quartered

2 courgettes, topped and tailed

3 tbsp natural yoghurt

DSC_0813a

For the dressing:

juice from 1/2 an orange

juice from 1/2 lime

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

a pinch of ground black pepper

Tip: If you don’t have a spiralizer, a mandolin or julienne peeler are just as good for thinly slicing the courgette. If using a julienne peeler, you may find it easier to slice the courgette length-ways.

DSC_0618a

The how:

Marinade the chicken in the yoghurt for a couple of hours / overnight.

You can also prepare the dressing in advance: just give it a good shake / stir again before using as the oil will have settled on top.  Add all the ingredients to a jar and shake well.  Taste test with a spinach leaf.

Pre-heat the oven to 220 (200 fan) and back for about 8 minutes and then flip the chicken pieces over, draining off any excess liquid and bake for a further 8 minutes.  Be careful not to let the chicken dry out.

Meanwhile slice the courgettes, either using a using a spiralizer to make courgetti, a mandolin or a julienne peeler (see tip above).  Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and cook the courgette on medium heat for a couple of minutes to soften.  If you have used a mandolin and have very thin courgette slices, cook on a lower heat and stir and toss continuously in the pan to avoid too much browning, or burning.  Take of the heat and set aside.

toast the almonds in a dry saute pan on medium heat for about 1 minute, tossing regularly, and again being careful not to burn!

To assemble the salad, add the courgetti / courgette slices to your salad bowl.  Place the spinach leave on top and then add the chicken and strawberries. Sprinkle the almonds over the salad and pour the dressing on top.

Enjoy!

DSC_0610a

Chickpea, Orka and Sweet Potato Curry

IMG_5552bWe got a little peckish while at Kew Gardens (so beautiful!) recently and headed to the Pavilion expecting to tuck into one of their summer favourites from the grill and barbecue.  But despite the warm English sunshine there was sadly no barbecue.  We didn’t go hungry though: Peyton and Byrne’s indoor restaurant was serving.  I went for the Indian veggie curry, which was really quite delicious and inspired me to try out my own.  My version has more of a Thai than Indian influence, but its quick and easy to make.  I’ll have to go back for the Full of Spice festival for further inspiration!

As well as being beautiful and great for picnics in this weather, there is also lots of fun for the kids.  Following lunch we wandered along the Xstrata Treetop Walkway to view all the trees from above.  A small warning: the walkway does sway quite a bit in the breeze so probably best avoided by those with Acrophobia!  Next we headed to the Treehouse Towers playground: Lentil had a swell time climbing, sliding, walking ropes and of course getting very dirty in the process.  Thank goodness for washing machines!

Anyway, back to the curry……here is my veggie version:

 

The what:

400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

80g peas

80g okra

4 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

400ml coconut milk

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric

1cm ginger, finely chopped

200ml stock

DSC_0842a

For the Riata:

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 slice pineapple, chopped

4 tbsp natural / greek style yoghurt

1/4 tsp of ground cumin (optional)

a handful of mint, finely chopped

DSC_0885a

The how:

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and saute the cumin seeds, onion and garlic for a minute.  Then add the remaining spices except the turmeric and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, turmeric and sweet potato, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked.  Add the chickpeas, peas and okra and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked, but still have a bite to them.

To make the Riata:

Put the cucumber, pineapple and mint in a food processor and pulse a couple of times so you have small chunks.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the yoghurt and cumin.

Serve the curry and Riata with some rice.  I used brown basmati and wild rice, which works well, but any rice will do.

Enjoy!

 

IMG_5554b

Beet, Carrot and Barley Salad

IMG_5178c

The beetroot of my childhood was the pickled variety out of a jar. I thought that was the only way to eat beetroot and I was not a fan!

Thanks to the superfood revolution, fresh beetroot has become very popular again having found favour with chefs and food writers alike. According to an article by Khaleda Rahman in Mailonline weekly sales of beetroot in the UK now exceed £1 million.

I had a lovely beetroot and lentil salad in Gail’s cafe recently, which prompted me to have a go at creating my own salad with this purple taproot of the beet plant. I’ve never cooked beetroot before so had to refer to my trusty “Vegetable Book” by Grigson to learn how!

It takes a while to cook the ingredients for this salad, but you can do everything in advance.  The beetroot and carrots are oven baked so once you set the timer you don’t need to watch over them.  Of course, I also think the flavours in this yummy salad are worth the cooking time and I hope you’ll agree.

IMG_5162a

The what:

4 beetroot, gently washed (see below)

400g Chantenay carrots, washed

160g Barley (pearl barley is fine, but hulled barley is supposed to retain more nutrients although can be harder to find).

100g Feta cheese

a handful of blanched hazelnuts

a handful of spinach or mixed leaves

squeeze of lemon juice

a handful of mint, finely chopped

for the dressing:

1 tbsp mirin

1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1cm ginger, finely sliced

3 tbsp olive oil

pepper to season

Tip: 

I usually make my dressings in an old jam jar so I can close the lid and give it a good shake to mix it well.  Always taste your dressing too with a piece of fruit or veg from the salad before adding to the rest of the salad and adjust, if necessary.

The how:

Gently wash the beetroot to remove any dirt, place in a baking tray and cover with tinfoil.  Bake the beetroot in oven for about 3 -3 1/2 hours at 150 (130 fan).  To test if the beetroot is cooked Grigson suggests wrinkling the skin and if it easily comes away from the root it is cooked.  Leave to cool, peel and chop.

IMG_5169a

Meanwhile add the carrots to boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes to soften.  Then drain and place in a baking tray.  Drizzle with some olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with the mint.  Cook in the oven for one hour at the same temperature as the beetroot.  Remove and leave to cool.  Remove the ends and chop.

To cook the barley, first rinse it in cold water, place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil, drain, return to the saucepan and cover again with about 300 ml cold water.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 1 hour (until tender), stirring occasionally.

To make the dressing add all the ingredients except the olive oil to a jar, close the lid and shake well to combine.  Then add the olive oil, close and shake again.  Test the flavour with a carrot or piece of beetroot.

To construct the salad, arrange the spinach / mixed leaves at the bottom of your bowl.  Place the barley, beetroot and carrots on top.  Then break in the feta cheese and add the hazelnuts.  Drizzle with the dressing or serve on the side.

Enjoy!

IMG_5178a

Spinach and butter bean burgers

IMG_5027a

It is thanks to Lorraine Pascal that we first ate homemade veggie burgers in our house. Her Spicy been burgers are full of flavour and really quite substantial: “meaty” springs to mind, although obviously they are entirely meat-free!  We try to have a couple of meat-free days a week and as Lorraine’s burgers are a tried and tested formula we make them quite regularly.  To mix things up a little I decided, last week, to try out a few combinations of my own. I was really chuffed that my first creation was an instant success: we all loved them, little Coco included!  I’ve decided it’s probably very difficult to go wrong with veggie burgers.  I haven’t suddenly acquired that illusive culinary goodness status, there is simply a fantastic range of fresh veg available these days, it’s hard to go wrong!

Makes 2 large and 2-3 small burgers

IMG_5012a

The what:

160g sweetcorn (frozen, or of course fresh).  If using frozen, cook for 2-3 minutes.

60g spinach leaves

100g feta cheese

400g butter beans

3 large spring onions, chopped

a handful (ca. 1 tbsp) basil, chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

50g panko (or fresh breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp olive oil

Tip: As we were making these for Coco and her three teeth too, I blended all of the ingredients in blender.  It makes the burgers a little wet, so you need to fry them lightly in the pan before baking so they don’t fall apart.  But for more texture mash the butter beans and mix in the beans, feta and the sweetcorn after you have blended the other ingredients.

IMG_5020

The how:

In a food processor combine the basil, coriander, parsley and spinach and garlic.  Next add the butter beans, spring onions, sweetcorn and pulse a little further.  Finally add the feta, egg and panko and blend to combine.  Season with a little pepper.

For more texture (see tip above) just blend the basil, coriander, parsley, spinach and garlic. Mash the butter beans and add along with the sweetcorn, spring onions, feta, panko and mix well.  Beat the egg, pour into the mixture and stir well to combine.  Season with pepper.

Shape the mixture into the burgers.

Either grill the burgers on each side until lightly browning and cooked through or fry on each side in a little olive oil. Serve with some cream fraiche and a salad.

Enjoy!

IMG_5025

Aubergine, goat’s cheese & squash salad

DSC_0804a

Despite rather cloudy, overcast days, the sun has been making a consistent appearance in the evenings of late providing a great opportunity for some al fresco evening dining!  I’ve been experimenting with a few different salads to have on their own or as an accompaniment to a barbecue.  Here is the recipe for one that passed the Lentil and Papa Lentil test (after a few goes at the dressing!).

Brown, green or puy lentils are usually best for salads as they retain their shape and texture after cooking.  However, I had run out of all of the above and only had split-red left in the cupboard.  The colour actually works well with the butternut squash!  Although they do go a little mushy when cooked: good for Coco and her three front teeth!

The What:

IMG_4966a

1 aubergine, chopped into chunks

1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed

40g lentils (brown, green or puy – see above)

100g hard goat’s cheese (or you can use feta as an alternative)

1 red onion, sliced

a knob of unsalted butter

Olive oil for drizzling

Some spinach leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

5 tbsp olive oil

a little black pepper

Tip: I usually make my dressings in an old jam jar so I can close the lid and give it a good shake to mix it well.

IMG_5075a

The how:

Preheat the oven to 200 (180 fan).

Place the butternut squash on a baking tray and brush with the melted unsalted butter.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes initially.

Meanwhile, place the aubergine chunks on another baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  When the butternut squash has cooked for 10 minutes, add the aubergine to the oven and cook both for a further 25 minutes.

Rinse the lentils and then put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes (until soft).

Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onion on medium heat until caramelised.  Set aside to cool.

Once the butternut squash is cooked, chop into chunks and place in a salad bowl along with the aubergine, lentils, onions and spinach leaves (if using). Break up the goat’s cheese and place on top.

For the dressing add the balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard and pepper to the jar (or a bowl) and mix well.  Next add the olive oil, close and shake well to fully combine. Drizzle the salad with the dressing or serve on the side.

DSC_0803a

For the adults a chilled glass of fruity white wine is a good accompaniment to this salad!

Wedding photos - Carlo Gorgio 582

xx

Asparagus and Peas with pasta

IMG_4580aCoco and I have been eating loads of beans, fruit, pasta, pulses and veg this week.  Mummy says it’s in celebration of National Vegetarian Week.  We’ve had some old favourites from Mummy’s very veggie like Speedy Gonzales Risotto and Flying Lentils.

Mummy and Daddy are also going all green and veggie.  Tonight we’re all having pasta.  Except Mia, she can’t eat the long pasta yet because she only has one tiny tooth.  I made the pasta all by myself. Er, well, Mummy helped me put the tip of the pasta dough into the machine, but I did all the rest!  It was a little hard, but although I’m only two, I’m very strong.  I used my two hands to turn the lever and roll the pasta through the machine until it got really, really thin.   Mummy has made a really quick sauce to go with the pasta using some seasonal vegetables.

Tip:

You can easily turn this into a weaning dish too.  Just puree the asparagus and peas with a handheld blender before adding to the cheese sauce.  Serve with tiny pasta stars or other very small pasta shapes.

The what:

400g asparagus, sliced (you may want to slice it into very small pieces for little ones, or larger if they are a little older)

IMG_4566aa large handful of fresh mint, finely sliced

120g frozen peas

200ml Creme fraiche

50g grated mozzarella cheese

a little nutmeg, grated

pepper to season

 

The how:

Add the asparagus and peas to boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat the creme fraiche in a small saucepan until it liquefies.  Add the mozzarella and stir for 1-2 minutes until the cheese has melted.  Then stir in the asparagus, peas and mint.  Grate in some nutmeg and add some pepper to season.

Serve with your favourite pasta.  Spaghetti and tagliatelle are great with this sauce.

To make your own pasta like me, look at Mummy’s The Italian Dream post (http://bit.ly/1FqigXO).  It’s easy peasy!

Potato and veggie dauphinoise

DSC_0040b

This is my tasty little twist on a traditional potato dauphinoise.  It’s easy to make and great as a side to a fish or meat dish, or even just on it’s own as a veggie option.

Makes 3 large or 5 small portions

The what:

a knob of unsalted butter

1 onion, finely sliced

4 baby leeks, trimmed and finely sliced

1 small courgette, finely sliced

3 medium potatoes, peeled and finely sliced

100ml full-fat milk

200ml cream

100g cheddar cheese, grated

a little nutmeg, grated

Tip: To get really thin slices of potato use a mandolin slicer. The potatoes crisp up nicely in the oven.

DSC_0811a

The how:

Preheat the oven to 200 (180 fan).

Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the onion, leeks and courgette until soft (about 2-3 minutes).  In a separate saucepan heat the milk, cream and nutmeg on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Rub an ovenproof dish with some unsalted butter and empty the onion, leeks and courgette into it.  Next add layers of potato until you have used all of them.  Pour over the sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.  This dish is suitable for freezing.

Veggie mac and cheese

DSC_0376a

Pasta seems to be a favourite at the moment.  If Lentil is given any choice at all, the response is “pasta” even if it wasn’t one of the choices!  I received a very nice and timely cookery class voucher from some friends recently so I have booked myself on the “Pasta Master” class.  I’m not convinced giving up 90 minutes on a Saturday morning is going to make me a master of anything, but it should be a bit of fun.  Will I be posting some homemade pasta recipes soon….who knows?!

In the meantime, here’s a quick ‘n easy veggie macaroni cheese recipe using shop bought pasta!

Continue reading

Carrot & Cauliflower Lentils

Twinkle, Twinkle, little lentils…..

DSC_0817a

Lentils are a great source of protein and really easy and quick to cook.  Luckily our little Lentil loves them too! Even if he’s unwell and his appetite isn’t great, he’ll devour any lentil dish.  You can add whatever vegetables you have in your vegetable drawer.  I’ve married carrots and cauliflower for this recipe.  The carrots help sweeten the dish a little.

Makes 4 portions

DSC_0800a

The what:

15g unsalted butter

1 tsp olive oil

200g cauliflower florets.  The woody stems generally don’t appeal to children (and I can understand why!) so I remove these.

1/2 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

90g puy / green lentils

400ml chicken/vegetable stock

a pinch of pepper to season (optional)

DSC_0789a

The how:

Sweat the onions, celery and carrots in the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add a little olive oil.

Steam the cauliflower, either using a steamer over a pan of boiling water or a microwaveable steamer.  Next add the steamed cauliflower, lentils and stock to the onions, celery and carrots and bring to the boil.  Then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in the pepper to season.

You can freeze extra portions for another day.

DSC_0416a