Food: Smoky chickpea and lentil stew

Here’s a dead simple recipe for a store cupboard vegan alternative to regular stew. The secret ingredient to this (and many other) recipes is time – just allowing it to simmer away and work its magic at a low temperature in the oven.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, chopped finely,

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic,

  • 1tbp of oil (vegetable)

  • 1 tin of chickpeas,

  • 1 tin of butter beans,

  • 150g of red lentils,

  • 200ml of water,

  • 1 tin of tomatoes,

  • 1tbp tomato puree,

  • 1tbp sundried tomato paste,

  • 1tsp dried cumin,

  • 1tsp pimentón,

  • 1tsp chipotle chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon,

  • ½ tsp chili flakes,

  • 3-4 drops of liquid smoke,

  • Small handful of fresh coriander,

  • Small handful of fresh parsley,

 

To serve:

  • Small handful of fresh coriander or parsley,

  • 1 generous dollop of Oatly fraîche,

  • Lots of nice, crispy fresh bread.

 

Method:

 

Chop the onion and the garlic finely and soften in a little oil in a suitably sized Dutch oven. When they’re soft add the tomato puree and allow that to suck up all the extra oil. Add in the chickpeas and the tomatoes, sundried tomato paste, stir and season with salt and black pepper. Add in the lentils and some of the water for now. Season the stew with the rest of the dry spices and give it a good stir. Let the mixture come up to simmering point and then stir in the fresh herbs and the drops of liquid smoke. The lentils should have absorbed some of the water by this point so top it up and place in a preheated oven at 140°C. Allow it to cook for at least forty minutes before checking. Take it out and give it a good stir, give it a bit more water if it’s looking dry. At this stage you’ll need to give it another half an hour at least to let the lentils truly lose their bite and become soft. Keep stirring and checking until it’s the consistency you want. The longer you leave it the better it’ll be, I promise!

When it’s done serve with the chopped herbs, a dollop of Oatly fraiche and a mountain of good bread. It’s the perfect summer stew!

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Food: Whole roasted Levantine spiced rutabaga

Inspired by perusing the NOPI cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi, I came across their recipe for ‘whole roasted celeriac’. This is my interpretation of that kind of dish using a rutabaga.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 peeled rutabaga (Swede, Swedish turnip)
  • 2tbs gram flour, sifted
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs Lakrids salted liquorice syrup, liquorice powder will also work
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of rosewater
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

 

For the pistachio pickled apricots:

  • 5 apricots, halved
  • 1tbs Maille white balsamic vinegar with pistachio nut flavour
  • 1tbs cider vinegar
  • Splash of water

 

Start by placing a baking dish with a layer of flavourless oil into the oven at its hottest setting. Then, boil the rutabaga for 15 minutes in a big pan of salted water.  Whilst it’s boiling you can start making the spice crust. In a bowl combine all the ingredients until they make a sticky, aromatic paste. When the rutabaga is sufficiently boiled, take it out and pat it dry with some kitchen towel/tea towel. Now cover the vegetable in the spicy mixture. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place the covered root vegetable in the oil, so it starts sizzling. Be careful the oil doesn’t spit onto you!

Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, taking it out at regular intervals to turn the rutabaga. Once it’s had its 40 minutes, take out and place a skewer through the middle, If it goes in without much resistance, then you know it’s done, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

If you’re going to make the pickled apricots, I’d do them the night before, so they have time to soak up the pickle. Simply fill up a small dish with the vinegars, place the apricot halves in and top up with a splash of water.

I’d recommend serving this with a great big bowl of fluffy couscous, the pickled apricot halves, tomato wedges and chopped coriander & walnuts.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Columbian potatoes

This is my take on the Colombian dish, Papas con Salsa de Aguacate (potatoes with an avocado sauce), using sweet & purple potatoes, topped with a creamy intense avocado hit. My version has a spicy tomato base to transform it from a traditional side-dish into a tasty plantbased meal.

You’ll need:

  • 3 Sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 purple potatoes/ potatoes roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tin of peeled tomatoes
  • 1tbs tomato pureé
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1tbs Pimentón
  • 1tbs ground cumin
  • 1tbs ground coriander
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely (de-seeded if want less hot!)
  • Black pepper
  • Oil for roasting.

For the Salsa de Aguacate:

  • 1/2 a tub of Oatly fraîche
  • A glug of garlic infused oil
  • 1 avocado
  • Handful of coriander, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Some red onion
  • Salt & pepper

Garnish:

  • Salt for garnishing (I used Saltverk Birch smoked salt)
  • Handful of chopped coriander

Start by parboiling the potatoes in salted water. As they’re boiling, place a baking tray in oven on it’s hottest setting, with a layer of oil (just like you’re making roasties). Whilst they are cooking, fry off the onion & garlic in a pan. When they are sufficiently softened the potatoes should be ready to take off the boil. Drain and place into the baking tray and oil. Flip over until they begin to sizzle. Place back into the oven to start roasting and crisping up.

In a baking dish, place the now softened garlic & most of the onion with the tomatoes, spices and the chilli. I’d recommend roughly chopping up the tomatoes. Season, mix thoroughly and spread evenly across the bottom of the dish.  After around 10-15 minutes, take the potatoes out and place into the baking dish, on top of the spicy tomato base. Place back into the oven, with a lower temperature of 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes before taking out. Leave to cool slightly, before serving.

Whilst the potatoes are in the oven, you can make the indulgent bit, the avocado sauce. In a food processor, place the Oatly fraîche, avocado, coriander, garlic oil, lime juice and the rest of the fried onion. Whizz up until it forms a creamy sauce. Scoop into a bowl. Season to taste. If too thick, you can loosen it up with a bit more lime juice.

To serve, drizzle on the sauce, the chopped coriander and a sprinkle of salt flakes. I used Saltverk birch smoked salt, which matched the smoky spicy taste of the potatoes.

I’d reccomend serving this with a couple of cold cervezas. I paired it with some Columbian Cerveza Aguila.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Food: Sweet potato moqueca

This recipe started as a way to use up some leftover sweet potato I had in the pantry. By now, it’s one of my weekly favourites. Its super tasty and simple to make!

You’ll need:

  • 4 Medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 Large red onions
  • Glug of vegetable oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbs Of palm oil
  • 2 Bell peppers (I used green & red)
  • 1tsp Of tomato pureé
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1tsp Of dried parsley
  • 1 tin Of peeled tomatoes
  • 100ml Of water
  • 1/2 Of coconut milk
  • 1 Vegetable stock pot
  • Squeeze of lime luice
  • Handful of jalapeños, chopped

Coconut Rice:

  • 1 Cup of rice (per person)
  • 1/2 tin of coconut milk
  • Water
  • 1 Dried chilli pepper

Garnish:

  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped.

 

Peel the sweet potatoes & chop into thick chunks. Boil them until soft in a pan of salted water. Once done, drain and set aside.

In a cast-iron pot, fry the onions – cut into strips & 2 cloves of garlic (minced) until soft. Add in a green & red bell pepper cut into chunks. Once everything has lost its toughness add in 2 tsp ground coriander, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, a big dollop of tomato pureé and a generous amount of fresh coriander. Add 1 tin of peeled tomatoes (taken and chopped into thick chunks on a chopping board) with its juice.

Fill up the tomato tin with water and add to the mix, getting out all the tomatoey goodness.

Then add in half a tin of coconut milk, a squeeze of lime juice, a vegetable stock pot, a few jalapeños and a tbs of palm oil – or dendê- which you can get online. Thankfully my mum had some Carotina oil – which is sustainably sourced, cold-pressed red palm fruit oil.

Finally add in the vegetables and season to taste. Cook incredibly slow for 3 hours.

Finish with loads of freshly chopped parsley and coriander.

I served mine with coconut rice, which I made by cooking the rice in seasoned water, the other half of the coconut milk and a dried chilli until fully cooked. The result is somewhat fluffy, somewhat sticky- FULL ON comfort food

I served mine with some lime Lemonaids, but a Brazilian beer such as a Brahma, would pair really nicely!

 

Bom apetite!

Food: Harissa carrot tagine

Here’s an easy recipe for a Moroccan carrot & chickpea tagine. This could not be simpler to make. Feeds 3-4.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large brown onion, chopped finely
  • Large glug of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 medium carrots, chopped & peeled
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tbs agave nectar
  • 1tbs harissa paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 125ml water
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 1 (heaped) tsp sundried tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper

To garnish:

  • Handful of coriander, chopped

 

To start, add the oil to a shallow pan with a lid and bring to a low heat. Next, add the chopped onion and garlic and fry off until soft and translucent.Once done, you can add the carrots, agave and spices. I’d recommend you chop the carrots so that they are ‘rollcut’- which means that you chop on the diagonal and rotate as you chop, this will give the carrots more surface area to suck up the spicy sauce and give an interesting presentation.

To the pan, add in the harissa paste and sundried tomato paste and turn the heat up to medium. Cook out for roughly 1-2 minutes. Once cooked, add in the chopped tomatoes and the drained can of chickpeas. Don’t throw away the chickpea water though, as this can be used as an eggwhite substitute for so many recipes!

Next add in the lemon juice, 125ml of water and the sultanas and stir until everything has melded together. Season with plenty of salt & pepper. Next, you have to let it do its thing. So, turn the heat down on the hob to its lowest setting and put the lid on. Leave on the hob for at least 10 minutes. While it’s cooking away slowly on the hob I’d recommend putting on the oven to a low 140°C. Once up to speed, transfer from the hob to the oven. Now, you can put your feet up as it needs to be in there for at least 2, preferably 3 hours!

In the meantime the kitchen will slowly fill with a lovely North African aroma 😉

Once the time is up, take out of the oven and add in a splash more of water and stir, just to reconstitute everything. Before you will be a rich & hearty tagine. Garnish with a big sprinkle of chopped coriander and it’s ready to serve.

 

We served ours with a mountain of fluffy couscous and some sweet mint tea.

Enjoy!

Drink: Vegan cold bomb

This morning I woke up feeling like absolute death – blocked nose, scratchy throat and phlegm’d up to my eyeballs (sorry!). Deciding to take the matters into my own hands and show it who’s boss, I made up a fiery concoction that will help de-congest, clear your sinuses and help you feel a little less rubbish on those long February days when work, kids and your immune system have got the better of you.

To make, you’ll need:

  • 500ml water
  • Thumb size piece of ginger, grated,
  • A pinch of chilli flakes,
  • A crack of black pepper,
  • 2 Tbs agave nectar,
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper,
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon,
  • Handful of coriander leaves,
  • 2 shots of vodka ( I used ABSOLUT CITRON – because, you know, Scandi!)

The recipe could not be simpler. It’s exactly the kick you need when all you want to do is hide under the duvet and hypnotise yourself with films all day (just me?).

Start by putting the water on the hob, on a medium heat until it starts to simmer. Then, add the agave and stir. When it’s dissolved, add the grated ginger, black pepper, cayenne and chilli flakes. Next add the lemon juice & zest and give it a stir (the heat from the chilli should already begin to tingle your nose). Simmer for 8 minutes. Then, add in the coriander leaves and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Take off the heat and strain into your mug/glass of choice. Leave to cool a few minutes, then add in the vodka. With a final stir of a spoon, it should be done.

Easy and you should be feeling less bunged up in no time!

I’d recommend you sip it though, as it will blow your head off!

Enjoy & Get well soon x

Food: Slow baked lemon & garlic aubergine with a tahini dressing

This is a straight forward recipe for a Levantine inspired aubergine dish with the flavours of Tahini, garlic, lemon, mint and coriander. Serves 2.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • Zest & juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbs garlic infused oil
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt & pepper

For the Tahini dressing:

  • 2 tbs tahini
  • zest & juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • Handful of fresh coriander & mint, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp agave

Begin by chopping the aubergine in half. Place in a dish and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 30 minutes until juice starts coming out of the vegetable. This draws out all the bitterness. Wipe away the salt with a damp piece of tissue and place the aubergine halves in a baking dish. Drizzle with oil and spread the grated garlic and lemon zest onto the flesh of the aubergine, along with the dried herbs and the sumac. Squeeze the lemon juice all over, cover with foil and pop into a preheated oven at 140°C. This needs to be cooked low and slow, so put it in for 1 hour 40 minutes.

While it’s baking you can chill, read a bit, do what ever you want.

Or you could also use this time to make the tahini dressing! Simply spoon 2tbs of tahini into a bowl and add the zest & juice of the other lemon halve. Add in the garlic, agave for sweetness and the chopped herbs. Next, add in the oil and stir. If still a bit too thick, add 1tbs of water until it has a pouring consistency. A crack of pepper and a sprinkle of salt and it’s done.

After  the 1 hour 40 minutes is up, take the foil off the aubergines and turn up the oven to its hottest setting for a further 8-10 minutes, to crisp them up. Once crisp they are ready to serve. To plate up, place the aubergine on the plate and smother it with the tahini dressing. Garnish with some more fresh coriander. We served ours with some fluffy couscous garnished with jewels of pomegranate and fresh spinach cooked with 1 tsp lemon zest and a drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil and some toasted almonds.

Like myself, you could serve a cocktail or rather mocktail to compliment the meal. This drink has all the classic flavours of the Levant. To make you’ll need:

  • 200ml Pomegranate juice
  • A dash of raspberry syrup
  • 2 Sprigs of mint
  • A Squeeze of lemon juice.
  • some lemon flavoured sparkling water
  • Plenty of Ice

To make, fill a glass with a handful of ice. Add in some raspberry syrup (I like to use the Polish raspberry syrup by Łowicz). Next top up the glass three quarters full with the pomegranate juice and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Top up with sparkling water and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Enjoy!