Oven baked cauliflower and saffron risotto

If you’ve got a cauliflower with lots of leaves, this is a great recipe to use them up! I used about half and half leaves and head which worked very well, and I’ve used celery as the base, but you could easily substitute onion or leek instead if you like. The vegetables are blitzed in a food processor until chopped very finely, which gives the risotto a lovely texture.

It’s a soothing, delicate risotto with just a hint of saffron, and bay as the main herbal flavour. It’ll be gorgeous with a salad of bitter leaves and walnuts.

And it’s also ever so easy to make!


Oven baked cauliflower and saffron risotto – soothing and delicately flavoured

makes 3 to 4 servings


3 sticks of celery

175 g arborio rice

2 tbsp olive oil

400 g cauliflower, with leaves and stems if they’re in good condition

650 ml hot water

a small pinch of saffron

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp dried thyme

salt and white pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, optional


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

Break the celery sticks up a bit and then blitz them in a food processor until very finely chopped. Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole pan on a low heat and cook the celery for around six minutes until it’s dried out a little and softened.

Blitz the cauliflower next, again breaking up the leaves and head a bit. It’s fine if there are some little florets left.

Add the rice to the celery and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to coat the rice.

Add the cauliflower, bay and thyme to the pan, and then 600 ml of the water and the saffron. Stir well. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 20 minutes and then give it a good mix, adding the last 50 ml of water.

Cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes, by which time the rice should be lovely and soft.

Season to taste with salt and white pepper and stir through the basil if using.


By E.



Lentil and pineapple curry with cauliflower and cavolo nero

I may have admitted this before, but I’m an absolute sucker for pineapple in savoury dishes!

This recipe is based on a dhansak, which from Indian takeaways in my neck of the woods, always comes with tinned pineapple in it. I’m pretty sure that’s not authentic but it’s really delicious and comforting!

A dhansak also usually includes rather a lot of garlic, as well as onions and a little chilli, but as usual I’m avoiding using them when cooking for myself and Alex. So as well as the fragrant spice mix, I’ve used a base of carrot and celery, plenty of ginger, and some asafoetida powder. Asafoetida has an oniony flavour, so it’s great to add depth to this sort of recipe. It can be bitter if you add too much though! Bay leaf and black salt also add layers of flavour, and the spiced lentil sauce works beautifully with the sweet pineapple, fresh cauliflower and slightly bitter cavolo nero.


Lentil and pineapple curry with cauliflower and cavolo nero

serves 4 – 6


for the vegetables

500 g cauliflower, stem and leaves too, cut into bite sized pieces

100 g cavolo nero, sliced

1.1 litre water

for the spice mix

3 cm cassia bark

1 tsp fennel seed

1 1/2 tsp cumin seed

1 1/2 tsp coriander seed

7 cardamom pods, seeds only

1/4 tsp black pepper seeds

for the sauce

3 tbsp oil

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

3 tbsp chopped ginger

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1 bay leaf

200 g red lentils

16 cherry tomatoes, halved

3 rings of tinned pineapple, cut into pieces

1/2 tsp black salt (or normal salt)

2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped


First get the vegetables cooking. Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cauliflower and cavolo nero. Simmer for 6 – 8 minutes until tender. Drain the vegetables, but save the cooking water, you’ll need it to cook the lentils.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

While the vegetables are cooking, take a heavy ovenproof casserole pan and put it on a medium low heat. Add the cassia, fennel, cumin and coriander and toast for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a pestle and mortar along with the cardamom seeds and black pepper. Pound until the cassia is powdered, or in small enough bits not to be gritty in the curry.

Heat the oil in the same pan you toasted the spices in, and add the celery and carrot. Cook, stirring every so often for around 10 minutes until starting to caramelise and soften. Add the spice mix and ginger and stir for 1 -2 minutes to allow the spices to lose the raw flavour. Add a little more oil if it looks dry.

Put the lentils, turmeric, asafoetida, bay leaf, cherry tomatoes and 600 ml of reserved water from the vegetable cooking into the pan, stir well and bring to a simmer on the hob. Cover and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.

After this time, the lentils should be collapsed into the stock. Beat the lentils with a wooden spoon to break them up and make them smoother and creamy. Add the salt to taste, and a little more of the cooking water if the lentils are thick. Stir the pineapple, coriander and vegetables through the lentils, and heat through on the hob to serve.


By E.


Cavolo nero, mushroom and broad bean salad with tahini dressing

I think I’m going to be having a bit of a run on tahini based dressings this week…

It’s ages since I’ve had any, but I’ve got a nice big jar now and I’m really enjoying the flavour again! It worked really well in yesterday’s Chinese inspired recipe.

I’ve also recently discovered that tinned broad beans are actually rather nice, I’m not sure why I’d discounted them before. So I’ve combined the beans with some beautiful slightly bitter cavolo nero and juicy mushrooms, salty olives and capers, and a nutty tahini dressing with a drop of vinegar to temper the warm flavour of the sesame seeds. I’m serving it with a little couscous and rocket to make a balanced, and very tasty meal, with great textures.


Cavolo nero, mushroom and broad bean salad with tahini dressing

serves 2


100 g cavolo nero, shredded

100 g mushrooms, quartered

1 tsp oil

1 300 g tin of broad beans (195 g when drained)

75 g green olives, halved if large (mine are the type stuffed with almonds)

5 large capers, quartered (the type with the long stem)

2 tsp tahini

50 ml water

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

75 g gluten free couscous

100 ml boiling water

35 g rocket

salt and pepper


Put the couscous, 100 ml of boiling water and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir, cover, and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.

Heat the oil in a saute pan on a medium heat. Add the cavolo nero, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often for 4 minutes. Turn the heat down low and continue to cook (and stir), for a further 6 minutes. The mushrooms should be juicy, and the cavolo nero should be just turning tender, you still want a bit of chew in it.

While the vegetables are cooking make the dressing. Stir together the tahini, water, vinegar and a pinch of salt. It’ll take a bit of mixing to get it to come together!

Add the dressing and the drained broad beans to the vegetables and toss together so everything is nicely coated. Leave to cool.

For each serving, put a bed of rocket and couscous in a shallow bowl, then the vegetable tahini mixture, and top with olives and capers.


By E.



Oyster mushroom and spinach fried rice with five spice cashews

Yesterday we were lucky enough to get a lovely big bag of oyster mushrooms for £1 from the market in Blackpool. So along with the bunch of proper big spinach that I had, a fried rice dish seemed perfect!


As well as the vegetables, we’ve added five spice cashews for protein, (and because they’re delicious…).

And also, to season the fried rice we mixed tahini with the usual tamari, and it’s really really good, adding a great savoury depth of flavour.


50 g cashew nuts

1 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp five spice powder

a pinch of salt

250 g oyster mushrooms, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

200 g spinach, stems and leaves roughly chopped

250 g cooked rice, we used brown basmati that had been cooked and frozen in portions

50 g frozen peas

10 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tsp oil

1 tsp tahini

1 tbsp tamari


Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok or saucepan on a medium heat and cook the cashews, stirring often, until turning golden. Add the five spice powder and salt and mix well. Using a slotted spoon, remove the nuts from the pan, leaving as much seasoned oil behind as possible.


Add the mushrooms and 2 tsp oil and stir fry until the mushrooms are starting to brown. Add the peas, ginger and rice and stir fry for around 5 minutes until everything is heated through. Mix the tahini and tamari together, and drizzle into the rice mixture stirring to make sure it’s well distributed. Add the spinach, and cook until it’s just wilted. Mix the five spice cashews through just before serving.


By A. and E.



Black eye bean, gherkin and caper salad

I made this salad as part of our work lunches this week, and it was another one of those recipes that tastes much more than the sum of its parts!

I’ve been using up cupboard ingredients this week, so as well as the tinned beans, gherkins and capers have been featuring a lot…

Rather than the little capers I tend to use in salads, this time I have the larger sort (the ones with the stem attached).

I’ve eaten them before, but usually whole. I never realised they are full of little pink seeds! So I’ve taken to cutting each caper into quarters, which I find looks very pleasing in the finished salad.


Black eye bean, gherkin and caper salad

serves 2


1 300 g tin of black eye beans, drained and rinsed (175 g when drained)

2 slices of pickled gherkin, chopped (about 10 cm long)

5 large capers, quartered

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

a small pinch of salt


Just mix all the ingredients together! It’s nice if it sits for at least 20 minutes to let the flavours meld.


By E.


Savoury, nutty protein bites

After the nasty cold both Alex and I had a couple of months ago, we didn’t really feel like we were recovering our energy levels properly. And when you eat a plant based diet that’s always a pointer to look at what you’re eating and make sure your nutrition levels are up to scratch!

We’re pretty good at eating lots of vegetables, but we did wonder if we might not be getting enough protein. So I did a little research, and looked up a selection of ingredients that have a decent amount of protein, but would combine nicely into a little savoury bite.

We’ve taken to eating these for breakfast, 6 or 7 of them eaten throughout the morning keep us going nicely until lunchtime. Energy levels have definitely improved, and they’re delicious too!

They freeze well, but I tend to make a big lot of lentils and millet and freeze it in portions, ready for making a batch of bites up once a week.

Savoury, nutty protein bites

Savoury, nutty protein bites

makes around 52, enough for 8 or so portions

50 g soya flour

20 g peanut powder

20 g nutritional yeast

2 sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped (I actually snip them up with scissors)

1 tbsp dried marjoram

50 g pumpkin seeds

50 g nuts, we like brazil nuts best

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tbsp tapioca flour

35 g small green lentils

50 g millet

a large pinch of salt, and a little more to season the outside of the bites

1 – 2 tsp oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c

First cook the lentils and millet. I simmer them both together in water for around 20 minutes, until soft. Drain and cool.

Put the rest of the ingredients (apart from the oil) in a food processor, and pulse a few times until well combined. You can chop the nuts and pumpkin seeds by hand and mix it all together in a large bowl if you like, but the processor is faster and you end up with a better texture.

Remove the blade from the processor bowl, and tip in the lentils and millet. Using your hands, squash everything together until it’s all well mixed. The mixture should be quite dry, but will hold together when shaped.

Spread the oil into the bottom of a large roasting tin, I use a spray which makes it easier to cover evenly.

Take a small chunk of the mixture, and shape it into a rough ball, it should be 2-3 cm in diameter. Continue until you have used all the mixture, putting the bites in the tin as you go.

Roll them around to coat with a very thin layer of oil, and then sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 30 minutes, shaking the tin halfway through.

By E.


Potato waffles!

One of my favourite comfort foods is the frozen potato waffle, crispy, unassuming, filling and comforting.. So when I bought a very cheap waffle machine, it had to be one of the first things I tried!


golden crispy yumminess

These vary from the traditional frozen treat as I’m using flour to help hold them together, and instant mash potato rather than the extruded potato in the shop bought version, these are deliciously crunchy and tasty and have real potential for adding extra fun ingredients into the mix and there are so many good toppings!

Makes one 6 inch round waffle


60g instant mash potato powder

20g gluten free plain flour

200ml hot water

1 tbsp oil

Pinch of salt

Herbs to taste, I used a mixed teaspoon of sage and oregano

Mix together the potato, flour, salt and herbs.

Add the water and oil, mix together thoroughly.

Leave to sit while the waffle iron heats up.


looking quite unassuming whilst resting..

Smush the mix onto the waffle plate and close the lid, it should spread out to fill the space.

Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.

I’ve made a quick silken tofu scramble to top mine with.

By A


Roast artichoke,mushroom and red pepper quinoa salad with soy yoghurt dressing

It was my turn to make the lunch salads for Ellie and myself, I was in the mood for something simple to cook that would still be filling and tasty.  The roast pepper gives us sweetness, the artichokes a bit of tang, and the mushrooms a deep savoury note. The dressing just lifts the flavours and brightens the meal.

the sachet was pearl and black quinoa!

 I’m using tinned artichokes, and a microwave sachet of quinoa for ease!

Serves two


1 tin of artichoke hearts (240g drained weight)

150g mushrooms

1 medium red pepper

1 200g sachet of quinoa

50ml soya yoghurt

1 tbsp lemon juice

Half a tsp dried mint

Pinch of salt

Start by getting the veg roasting, slice the mushrooms and artichoke hearts in half and cut up the pepper into rough chunks, place on a baking sheet and lightly spray with oil. 

ready to roast

Put in the oven at 200 degrees centigrade for about 35 minutes or until the peppers and artichokes are starting to develop a bit of a char and the mushrooms have shrunken and gone chewy.

For the yoghurt dressing, mix together the yoghurt, lemon juice, dried mint and salt to taste, leave to stand for the flavours to meld.

Microwave the quinoa.

When the veg is done assemble all the foods together, we’ll be eating it cold tomorrow!

By A


Vegan, gluten free, baked apple doughnuts

I’ve been fancying a ring doughnut, and have seen some made using apple sauce in other recipes so thought I’d have a try myself and build the rest of the recipe around how the batter was looking and feeling, I’m pleased with the results, and they are super quick and easy to make.

ready for yumming

They come out very well, with a lovely gentle apple flavour, I’ve made a quick chocolate glaze to top a couple with, but it’s really not necessary they’re good enough on their own, that being said though it’s a great standby recipe to have is the chocolate glaze as its so easy to make and gives great results every time.
I’ve tried this recipe a couple of times now to ensure it gets consistent results, the main lesson I’ve learned from it is don’t bake the doughnuts for more than 10 minutes! As the sugars will start to caramelise too much and you’ll end up with a heavier texture, although it does make for a delicious treat still!

what a difference an additional 2 minutes in the oven makes!

Makes 6

For the doughnuts:
100g gf plain flour
40g sugar
Quarter tsp xanthan gum
Quarter tsp bicarbonate of soda 
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp oil (it needs to be flavourless, I’m using sunflower)
100g apple sauce
Pinch of salt

For the chocolate glaze:
40g dark chocolate
1 tsp soya milk (works as well with almond milk)
1 tbsp melted coconut oil

Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade 

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt so that they are well combined.

Add the oil and the apple sauce and start to mix, it’ll take a little bit of working to get the ingredients incorporated , but when you do you’ll have something resembling a thick paste.

Fill a 6 hole doughnut tray with the mixture and place in the oven for 10 minutes, until the doughnuts are a pale golden brown.

To make the glaze, break up the chocolate and add to a microwaveable dish with the coconut oil and soya milk. 

Pop in the microwave for 15 seconds take out and stir together, it may need a little longer but not much! The mixture should come together to make a beautifully glossy glaze that will set up in the fridge. 

I  find the best way out to cover the doughnuts is to just dip them directly into the glaze while it’s still warm.
By A


Beans baked with tomatoes and chilli

I really wanted something filling and full of flavour for breakfast today, and a root through the cupboards turned up a tin of pinto beans. As I also seem to have been collecting cherry tomatoes over the last week, combining them seemed like a very sensible idea!

So into the oven they went, with smoked paprika and chilli among other things, while I got on with a bit of housework.

The scent while they were cooking was gorgeous, and after an hour I had a beautiful dish of creamy beans and juicy tomatoes with a tangy, sweet and smoky sauce.

A great start to the weekend, and I have another portion for tomorrow, hooray!

Beans baked with tomatoes and chill. What was left of them anyway...

Beans baked with tomatoes and chill. After I’d eaten one portion…

makes 2 servings

1 onion, chopped

25-30 cherry tomatoes, halved

50 g frozen spinach

1 300 g tin of pinto beans, (175 g when drained)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1/2 a green chilli, sliced thinly

1/2 tsp oil

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

Spray or spread the oil into a baking dish, about 25 x 15 cm.

Layer the ingredients into the dish, starting with the onions, then the tomatoes, and then the drained and rinsed beans. Tuck the frozen spinach into the middle and then sprinkle over the chilli slices, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, smoked paprika and some salt and pepper.

Beans before baking

Beans before baking

Cover the dish with foil, leaving a small gap to let the steam escape, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, stir, and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

By E.