Pumpkin, chickpea & spinach curry

08/11/2015

pumpkin & chickpea curry

I’m very excited this week as I’ve just booked a dream holiday to Kerala, South India in January! I’m so unbelievably excited! It’s somewhere I’ve longed to go to for a while and I can’t believe I’m finally going. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful beaches, go for walks, visit temples, and of course, eat lots and lots of incredible veggie Indian food! If any of you have any tips for places to visit please do leave them in the comments.

It was a long running joke amongst my friends when I first went veggie that the only thing I could cook was a curry; and a pretty basic curry at that. At that point, I was a) a poor lowly intern and b) pretty new to the whole vegetarian cooking thing, so although they may have had a valid point, I think I had some good excuses too.

The thing is, I love a curry. Sometimes that spicy aromatic flavour is just what you need, and all the extras (bhajis, chutneys, parathas…) make it such an exciting dining experience. There are some excellent veggie Indian restaurants in London where I’ve tried some incredible dishes – coconutty beetroot curry anyone? – but I just don’t seem to have mastered it at home. All of my curries have historically all tasted the same, and pretty bland too.

So when my mum brought me back some amazing fresh garam masala from Dubai, I vowed to give curry making another go and finally make one that was full of flavour. And I think I’ve finally cracked it!

pumpkin & chickpea curry

This recipe is bursting with lots of lovely spices and a bit of heat, and has a great combination of the pumpkin, chickpeas and spinach. The ingredients aren’t too obscure though and the recipe isn’t too complicated, so even those new to the veggie cooking scene should be okay with it.

Once you’ve conquered this one recipe you can use it with all sorts of different combinations of pulses and veggies. The coconut milk can also be subbed for tinned tomatoes if that’s more your thing. So give it a go, and soon you can start making it for your friends aaaalll the time!

Do you have a signature dish? What’s the one recipe that you really want to perfect?

Pumpkin, chickpea & spinach curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hr
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut/rapeseed/groundnut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-sized chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped (remember that the smaller the chilli, the hotter!)
  • 5cm chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Heat oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add onions and fry for 10 minutes until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for 3 minutes. Add cumin, coriander and turmeric and cook for another 5 minutes. If the spice mix starts to catch on the bottom of the pan, you can add a drop more oil or a splash of water.

Add the pumpkin, coconut milk and bay leaf and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through.

Remover the lid, add the chickpeas, spinach and garam masala and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve with rice, flatbreads, and all the other tasty extras as desired.

Autumn cosiness and a warming soup

25/10/2015

Squash & fennel soup

I’ve just been reading about the Danish phenomenon of ‘hygge’; the concept of cosiness, or, more precisely,  “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things”.

Log fires, candlelight, knitwear and hot chocolate are all ‘hygge’. And as the clocks go back and the nights draw in, I definitely like the sound of ‘hygge’ and will be fully embracing the concept over the next few months. Autumn is without doubt my favourite season, and I love having an excuse to batten down the hatches, drink copious amounts of tea, and snuggle under a blanket with a film.

I reckon soup also fits into the category of ‘hygge’. What could be more cosy on a chilly autumnal day than a bowl of warming soup?

This recipe uses two of the best veggies of this time of year – squash and fennel, whose flavours go hand in hand and work well together in this tasty soup. Roasting the veg brings out their sweetness, and the slightly sharp fennel flavour cuts through the richness of the squash perfectly.

Having a weekly organic veg box means I get to try some of the more unusual seasonal produce. For this recipe I used a Red Kuri squash. It’s a small, hard squash, originating from Japan, which has a creamy texture and a rich, chestnut-y taste when roasted. Look out for it at your local greengrocers or market, or replace with pumpkin/butternut squash if you’re unable to find it.

Serve with some warm, crusty bread and enjoy next to a crackling fire whilst wearing your best jumper – autumn cosiness at its best!

squash & fennel soup prep

Roast squash and fennel soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hr
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Ingredients  red kuri squash 

  • 1 Red Kuri squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, skins still on
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped (or substitute dried)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Place squash, fennel and garlic cloves on baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes, until tender and the edges of squash are starting to caramelise.

Pop the garlic cloves out of their skin and add to a pan with the fennel and squash cubes. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add lemon juice, parsley and seasoning to taste. Liquidise in a blender. Garnish with extra parsley or fennel fronds if desired.

Chargrilled courgette salad with rocket and feta

14/07/2015

courgette salad 1 resize

Well, knock me down with a feather; the sun seems to have hung around for a while! We’re actually having a summer! I don’t know about you, but I’ve very much been enjoying this sunshine, being outside and having a bit of colour on my face so I don’t look like my usual ghostly self.

This time of year is when local, seasonal produce is at its best. All those strawberries, asparagus, cherries and broad beans are such a treat. For me though, the most exciting summer veg is the good old courgette. So easy to grow, so fresh and so versatile.

I got some delicious courgettes in my veg bag this week, as well as a whole load of rocket, and I knew immediately what to do with them. This salad is a perfect light summertime lunch. Simple enough to throw together to take to work, but just special enough for it to take pride of place at any barbecue or alfresco dining table. It was definitely the envy of my colleagues at lunch today!

I used my griddle pan to chargrill the courgettes, but this would be perfect to do on a barbecue, or under the grill would work just as well. Chargrilling the courgettes brings out a lovely sweet smokiness, plus they look cool. Mix it up by adding some butter beans or chickpeas for extra protein, or sub the quinoa for pasta if that’s more your bag.

courgette salad 2 resize

Chargrilled courgette salad with rocket and feta

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20-30
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Ingredientscourgettes resize

  • olive/rapeseed oil for grilling
  • 2 medium sized courgettes
  • 75g quinoa
  • 80g rocket
  • 80g feta
  • large handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • pinch of chilli flakes or finely chopped fresh chilli

Slice courgettes lengthwise or diagonally, about 1 cm thick. Brush each side lightly with oil and place on hot griddle pan. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until tender and with those cool grill marks.

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa and cook in boiling water for about 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, rocket and mint.

Place quinoa mix on serving plate(s). Arrange courgettes on top and crumble over the feta.

Dress with the lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkle with chilli.

Mexican bean salad

28/06/2015

mexican salad ingredients

Hooray for summer! It’s time for evening strolls, beer gardens, swims in the lido, and alfresco dining!

So of course, with all those barbecues and picnics you’ll be having, I thought I’d bring you a great recipe for a tasty salad for those very occasions. This one is a fave of mine as it’s super easy, fresh and makes use of some great summer produce. Plus the Mexican vibe goes really well with all those ice cold beers and mojitos you’ll be drinking! Arriba!

mexican salad

I’ve also tried this heated up as a filling for veggie tacos or baked sweet potatoes and it works really well – topped with the obligatory guac, cheese and sour cream of course.

I used fresh corn on the cob which I got in my brilliant veg bag scheme, but canned sweetcorn would work just as well. Similarly, I used cherry tomatoes, but feel free to use whatever tasty guys are in season where you are. And if you like your Mexican with a bit of a kick, you could add chopped fresh chilli, chilli powder or chilli sauce – mix it up!


Mexican bean salad

Ingredients

  • 2 ears of fresh sweetcorn
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • glug of olive oil
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Cook corn in boiling water for 5 minutes (it should still have a bite). Leave to cool and remove kernels from cob.

Place corn, beans, onion, tomatoes, pepper and coriander in large bowl and toss.

To make the dressing, combine olive oil, juice of limes, paprika and cumin in a small bowl or jug  and mix well.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.