Food: Baked Spaghetti squash with lentil ragù

Having seen them be an Autumnal regular on many American food blogger’s Instagram feeds, I was pleasantly surprised when I found a spaghetti squash at Möllan Market, here in Malmö. I bought a good sized one, for myself and the Mr to share for dinner for 22kr (£1.87), but now was the challenge, what the hell do I do with it?! The solution came in the unlikely form of Instagram, one of my friend’s here in Malmö, Nourish With Julie (IG), also a food and travel blogger, had done spaghetti squash ‘pasta’ the previous night and a little guide to how to cook a spaghetti squash in her stories. So, fired up I decided to put a twist on it, using my lentil ragù recipe to fill the big orange vessels. However, instead of using green lentils I used red ones to have it all meld together to the colour of an Autumn leaf. To make my take on it, you’ll need:

(Feeds 2 (generously))

  • 1 spaghetti squash, de- seeded and cut in half
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g of red lentils
  • 200ml of water
  • Splash of rapeseed oil/vegetable oil
  • 1 tbp of tomato puree
  • 1 tbp of sundried tomatoes/sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • Splash of red wine (optional)
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of black pepper (or more!)
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or a generous handful of fresh if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 bay Leaves

Herbed breadcrumbs:

  •  100g (usually 3-5 slices) of stale bread
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Sprinkle of salt ( I used Halen Môn Anglesey sea saly)
  • Pepper

Garnish:

  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • Drizzle of garlic-infused oil

 

Start with the spaghetti squash, on a chopping board, cut it through the middle (be careful at this step, as the knife may not go through the flesh easily, depending on the individual squash) and scoop out all of the seeds. The seeds you can use as a snack, by seasoning them with spices and a little oil and oven baking them so don’t throw them away! Once you have two halves of squash, now with empty cavities, brush a little oil on them, followed by a crack of salt and pepper. Place them face down on a baking tray and place them into a pre-heated oven at 180°c for roughly 40-50 minutes (depending on the size of the squash).

Whilst the squash cooks you can sort out the ragù.

Fry the onions and garlic in the oil over a medium heat until soft. Stir in the tomato paste and the tin of tomatoes. Season with the herbs, the salt and the black pepper and add the splash of wine if you have it.

Pour in the lentils and add ¾ of the water to the mix. The lentils will suck up the water as they cook. give it a good stir – add more water if it’s looking a bit thick. Simmer on the back ring on a medium heat until the lentils are soft. Take out the bay leaves and set aside.

Once the squash halves are done, take them out of the oven and rough the flesh up a bit with a fork. Next, fill with the ragù and top with some herby breadcrumbs. You can easily make these by taking some stale bread and the dried herbs and blending them up with a food processor. Once broken down into seasoned breadcrumbs, top the ragù, as you would with some Parmesan, drizzle with some garlic oil, a sprinkle of the salt and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

When the top is all golden, garnish with some basil leaves and serve with a side salad with a punchy dressing and some bread. As the squash are quite substantial on their own, you wont need a lot to go with them.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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Food: Posh beans on toast

Here’s a way to up-level the almost cliché of budget meals, for Brits at least; beans on toast. My way to  have a gourmet dinner after a long day of work.

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 tin of baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 1 tin/ carton of butterbeans
  • 2tbs tomato purée
  • 1tbs sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • 1tsp chipotle chilli powder
  • 1tbs smoked paprika
  • 2tsp garlic infused oil
  • Splash of liquid smoke
  • Sprinkle of smoked salt (optional), (I used Falk smoked salt flakes)

For the toast:

  • Any bread really, but I’d recommend a nice crusty sourdough
  • Vegan butter

The recipe couldn’t be any easier, start by heating your pan on the hob on medium. I’d recommend putting the oven on around the same time, to a temperature of 180°C.  You could do the whole dish on the hob, but if you’re using a cast iron Dutch oven, like myself then I advise you should finish them in the oven. As I’m using tinned butterbeans, they can have a strange aftertaste to them and by putting them in the oven to finish, removes that taste and also concentrates the sauce to make a more gourmet dish.

Once the pan is heated up add in your baked beans, just as you would if you were making conventional ‘beans on toast’ and add in the tomato purée, paste and the array of spices. Stir and leave the spices a couple of minutes to cook-out into the tomato sauce. During this time, you should open and drain the butterbeans, but crucially don’t throw the liquid, or aquafaba away- you can use it to thicken up sauces, soups etc.

Add in the drained beans and stir them through the sauce. Leave for a minute or two on the hob before placing the pan in the oven. Place them on a timer for 8 minutes. Whilst the beans are doing their thing in the oven, get the toast ready and buttered. When it’s time to take the beans out, stir throughly and serve. Finish with a sprinkle of smoked salt.  I’d recommend pairing the hearty dish with an equally robust IPA.

Feel free to be creative with this recipe, why not add in a pinch of onion powder, a spoonful of mustard or even a splash of beer, the possibilities are endless!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Food: Cilento ciambotta

Here’s a great recipe for using up the vegetables you have left in your fridge. Plus, it’s one of those that kind of works for all seasons, whether frosty Winter or a breezy Summer evening.

You’ll need:

  • 1 aubergine, cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tsp sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 courgettes / zucchini, cut into coins
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • Handful of new potatoes, cut into pieces (I used purple potatoes)
  • Handful of good black olives
  • Splash of good red wine
  • 1tbs chilli flakes
  • Handful of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • 1tsp dried basil
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt & Pepper

 

Start by chopping the aubergine into pieces and place them in to a colander (over a bowl). Sprinkle salt over them and wait until it starts extracting it’s juices (this stops it becoming bitter). This should take 30 minutes or so.

While this is doing, in a Dutch Oven, fry the onions and garlic on a medium heat until they turn translucent. Then add in the tomato pureé & paste and fry until it’s cooked out. Next add in the tin of chopped tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes. Now is probably time to check on the aubergine.

Once the juice has been extracted from the aubergine, Rinse with some water, and add into the pot, along with the courgette, olives and herbs. Top up with some good red wine and stir. Season with salt & black pepper, not forgetting the aubergines might still be a little salty.

Place into a pre-heated oven at 140°C, for 50 minutes. In this time the wizard that is the Dutch oven/ cast-iron casserole will do it’s magic and meld everything together. After 50 minutes is up, take the lid off and check if the potatoes are done, by pricking them with a fork. They should be, as cutting them into small pieces, shortens their cooking time, however, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.

Serve, with a good drink and a nice loaf of bread

Enjoy!

 

Food: Umami rice balls

So, recently I felt like absolute death and didn’t fancy cooking anything elaborate. But during a window of not feeling quite as bad I rattled together this little beauty with leftover rice.

You’ll need:

  • 300-500g of leftover cooked rice,
  • 1 medium onion, chopped,
  • A handful of spring greens,
  • 3-4 mushrooms,
  • 1 tsp tomato pureé,
  • 1 tbsp Suma mushroom pâté,
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary,
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs,
  • 2-3 aubergines slices (in oil), chopped,
  • Salt for sprinkling (I used Saltverk Birch smoked salt)

For the Tomato umami drizzle:

  • 1tbs Kecap manis
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs tomato ketchup
  • Splash of water to thin

For the Rosemary, garlic & smoked paprika mayo:

  • 4tbs vegan mayo
  • 1tbs Pimentón
  • 1tsp dried Rosemary, ground
  • 2tsp garlic infused oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan) and chop all the ingredients that need chopping. Fry the onion lightly in a little oil until soft, add the mushrooms and spring greens and continue to fry gently until they’ve softened down. Add the tomato puree and the pate and stir through.

In a big bowl stir all of the ingredients including the herbs into the rice and bring together with your hands into balls (roughly tennis ball sized). Place the balls onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven until they’re crispy on the outside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Whilst they are in the oven, mix together the ingredients for the umami drizzle & the punchy mayo in bowls. Take the balls out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. To serve, place in a bowl/ plate and cover them with the drizzle, sprinkle them with salt and serve the mayo on the side.

Enjoy!

 

Food: Spanish porkless stew

My recent affinity with Jackfruit continues with this recipe for a vegan alternative for Spanish Stew, full of the flavours and textures of the hearty Mediterranean classic!

Serves 4.

  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes,
  • 1 large onion, chopped,
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced,
  • 2/3 roasted peppers,
  • 1 tin of butter beans,
  • 2 tbs pimentón,
  • 1 tin of green Jackfruit,
  • 1 tsp tomato paste,
  • 1 tsp chilli powder,
  • 1 tbs dried rosemary,
  • A splash of sherry,
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary,
  • 125ml or a glass of red wine,
  • 2/3 Bay Leaves,

To make the picada:

  • 3tbs flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2/3 slices of stale baguette
  • 3tbs of the stew stock

Start off by frying the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the tomato paste and cut the peppers into small pieces and add to the paste. Let it cook out then pour in the tomatoes and let it simmer while you prepare the Jackfruit.

Drain the Jack Fruit and the butter beans.  Prepare the Jackfruit by cutting the flesh away from the hard, pineapple-like core. Add them, along with the beans, to the sauce.

Then, simply add the spices, the red wine and season with salt and black pepper. Cover with up to 500ml of water and let it simmer while you prepare the picada. A picada is an essential accompaniment to Catalunian stews.

Start by toasting the almonds in a dry frying pan. Keep an eye on these as they burn easily. When they’re toasted take them off the heat. Add the almonds and the bread to a pestle & mortar and crush until they resemble rubble. Continuing to grind, add in the stock from the stew bit by bit until it resembles a thick paste.

Once this is done add it back into the stew and stir thoroughly. Next, place into an oven on 140°C and let it cook for 3 and half hours on a low heat. Once the time is up, take it out, leave to cool slightly and serve. Remember to take out the sprig of rosemary and bay leaves before serving!

Enjoy with some crusty sourdough and a glass of red wine (or a crisp cerveza as I did 😉 )

¡Salud!

 

Food: Creamy aubergine pesto pasta

I had an extra aubergine in my fridge and I didn’t know what to do with it – well this a perfect for a midweek evening meal!

Feeds 2/3

To make you’ll need:

For the pesto:

  • A big handful of spinach
  • A handful of watercress
  • A handful of basil
  • 20g blanched almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 10g nutritional yest, ground
  • Some Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

For the dish:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 4 tbs of the pesto
  • 180g dried tagliatelle
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • Handful of wild rocket
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Vegan cream cheese- I used Oatly
  • Splash of Non-dairy milk- I used Oatly
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1tbs garlic infused oil

 

To start, all you have to do is blend up the leaves, nuts and garlic with a stick blender until smooth. Pour in the oil bit by bit until it’s a runny paste and then set aside. Next, add the nutritional yeast and season with salt & pepper then blend again. Done!

Prepare the aubergine by cutting it into coins and place them into a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and leave for 30 minutes until the juices have extracted. When this happens, pat them down with a wet cloth, sprinkle them with the rosemary and place on a chopping board. Chop the coins of aubergine into thick strips. Once this is done you can start cooking.

Set a shallow pan on a low heat with a glug of garlic oil. When the pan heats up, add in the aubergine and fry until it starts to soften. When this happens, squeeze the juice of half a lemon in and place the lid on for it to steam in the juices. Leave the lid on for a good 6-7 minutes or so. This is the time you can start the pasta. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted & oiled boiling water until sufficiently ‘al-dente’.

When you’re ready to take the lid off, the aubergine should be soft and the skin should have become a bright fuchsia. Now add in the pesto and allow it to cook down. Splash in some oat milk and a generous nob of cream cheese. Drain the pasta and stir through with a big handful of wild rocket. Make sure the sauce clings to everything – the heat of the dish will wake the rocket up. Heap into bowls and season with freshly ground black pepper.

I served mine with a large, crisp glass of white.

Buon Appetito!

 

Food: Pulled jackfruit sandwich

This is a recipe for a very convincing vegan alternative to the popular ‘pulled pork sandwich’.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tin of green jackfruit
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tsp sun dried tomato paste
  • 1tbs tomato purée
  • 2 tbs of smoked paprika
  • A splash of Chinese black vinegar
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1tsp garlic infused oil
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke,
  • 1tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsb Dijon mustard
  • 1tbs agave
  • A Spinkle of dried chilli flakes
  • 1tsp chipotle chilli powder
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • A sprinkle of muscavado sugar
  • Salt & pepper

 

For the homefries:

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • A glug of olive oil
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • A Sprinkle of paprika salt

 

For the smoked paprika mayo:

  • 3 tbs vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

 

Making the sauce is easy. Just place all of the ingredients (minus the jackfruit) into a pot (I used my trusty Dutch oven) and place on the hob on a medium heat. Once it starts reducing and releasing its smoky aroma into the air, take off the heat and set aside. Here’s where you can put the jackfruit in.  To prepare simply drain, place on a chopping board and cut the flesh of the pieces away from the core. Then place into the pot. It should already start to look like the real deal – the flesh of the jackfruit instantly turns stringy, looking uncannily like pulled pork! At this point you could cook the jackfruit and then serve, but being lazy I just left it in the sauce overnight – plus I’m sure by doing this the flavour permeated the whole flesh.

When you’re ready to cook simply place on the hob on a medium heat and stir. The flesh should be starting to flake and have a meat – like texture to it. Continue stirring for roughly 8-10 minutes until the Dutch oven has had time to warm up. If some of the flesh remains un flaked I’d recommend using a masher or a wooden spoon to loosen it up. Again, you could serve it at this point, however (In my opinion) ‘pulled pork’ needs to be put in an oven to bake, thus this has to do the same. Into a preheated oven at 160°C it goes for 30 minutes.

While it’s in the oven you can start preparing the fries element. To do this simply cut the potatoes into wedges (skin on) and parboil in salted water. Then, place the potatoes into a mixing bowl along with a glug of your oil of choice (I used olive oil) toss the potatoes in the oil and sprinkle them with the chopped fresh parsley and dried rosemary. Scatter evenly on a baking tray. Unless you make these in advance you’ll have to use the smaller oven, whilst the pulled jackfruit is cooking. Preheat the smaller oven to 180°C. Once ready, place the homefries in and cook for 30 minutes. Check half way through, making sure they’re browning nicely.

Once the time is up, take both the pulled jackfruit and the homefries out and leave a few minutes to cool slightly. It’s now time to serve. On your plate/platter of choice place a sourdough bun (cut in half) and spread on 1tsp of Dijon mustard. Next, spoon on a pile of the pulled jackfruit. Then a layer of balsamic dressed rocket. Finally, top with some kind of pickle element (I used my homemade lingonberry pickled onions) and the sandwich element is done.

For the fries, simply place in a dish and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt (I used the paprika salt that my mum made me for Christmas).

You’ll need something to dip the homefries in. Here’s an easy way to make a vegan spiced mayo. Simply squeeze some mayonnaise into a bowl, add mustard, lemon juice and smoked paprika. Mix until it comes together into a smoky and smooth dip. Season to taste.

We served it with a cocktail. I wanted to make an American classic, so we went for a Manhattan. Looking at the back of the cupboards however, it turned out that I had dry vermouth, not sweet vermouth. So I adapted it ever so slightly. To make you’ll need:

  • 2 parts whisky
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • A dash of simple syrup (I used some homemade brown sugar simple syrup)
  • 2 dashes of bitters
  • A handful of ice
  • 1 Maraschino cherry
  • Some orange peel.

To make, pour the whisky, simple syrup, bitters and vermouth into a cocktail shaker, along with a handful of ice. Twist and squeeze the orange peel around a couple of martini glasses, releasing the oils. Shake and pour into the glasses. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

Enjoy!