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Leek, tahini and saffron sauce with split peas and roast vegetables

The leek, tahini and saffron sauce is definitely the star here!
Not that the split peas and veg aren’t tasty, but the sauce, savoury from the tahini but with a lovely sweetness from the leeks, and an exotic earthiness from the saffron is gorgeous.
The lemon juice brings all the flavours out beautifully!
The split peas are cooked with sweet potato until very soft, making a sort of mash, then combined with yellow peppers, courgette and cherry tomatoes roasted on a very high heat so they have lovely little charred bits. It makes a great comforting base for the sauce!

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Leek, tahini and saffron sauce with split peas and roasted vegetables

makes 4 servings


for the split peas
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 cm ish cubes (mine was around 500 g unpeeled)
125 g yellow split peas
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground fennel
1/4 tsp dried thyme
450 ml hot water
for the roasted vegetables
1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 courgette, diced
240 g cherry tomatoes
1 tsp oil
salt and pepper
for the sauce
400 g leeks, sliced (I used baby leeks, but one regular leek should do it)

50 ml water
2 tbsp tahini
a small pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp water
juice of half a lemon
a pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees c.
Put the split peas, sweet potato, herbs and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, partially covered, stirring every so often, until lovely and soft. Mine took 40 minutes. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon to break up some of the peas and the sweet potato.
While the peas are cooking roast the veg. Combine all of the ingredients in a large roasting tin, mixing well to distribute the oil over the vegetables. Roast for 30 minutes, turning the vegetables over once.
To make the sauce, microwave the leeks with 50 ml of water until tender. Mine took 4 minutes in total, stirring after every 1 minute burst. Tip the leeks and their steaming water into a food processor, and add the tahini, lemon juice, salt, and the saffron with its soaking water. Whizz together until well combined, but still with a little texture.
Mix the roasted vegetables into the split peas, and serve with the sauce rippled through.


By E.

2

Cauliflower soup with quick pickled beetroot and chilli

Cauliflower soup is such a lovely comforting thing. But this time, as well as the velvety soup I really wanted something to cut through it a little, and give a bit of zhush!
So I made the soup using my oven method, adding herbs and a little garlic to enhance the flavour of the cauliflower.
And then a quick pickle with beetroot, chilli, balsamic vinegar and plenty of black pepper. The combination of flavours is great!
I’ve specified a Turkish chilli as they’re a mild type which doesn’t overpower the cauliflower. They’re the ones that are about 20 -25 cm long and light green.

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Cauliflower soup with quick pickled beetroot and chilli

serves 2 – 4


for the soup
1 small cauliflower (about 350 g without leaves), roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 – 2 sticks celery, chopped (mine were small so i used 2)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
800 ml hot water
a pinch of salt
for the pickle
2 small cooked beetroot, diced
1 long Turkish chilli, thinly sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees c.
Put all of the soup ingredients into a casserole dish (I use a 22 cm cast iron one), stir, cover and pop into the oven for 1 hour.
The vegetables should be very soft after this time. While the soup is cooking, make the pickle. Simply mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Give it a stir every so often if you’re passing.
When the vegetables are done, remove the bay leaf and blend the soup. I used an immersion blender which does a pretty good job, but a jug blender would get it even smoother.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and spoon the pickle into the centre.


By E.

10

Blueberry and lemon rice flour pancakes 

Ah, rice flour. Since having to eat gluten free, this is the flour I seem to use the most of! We’ve used it in the past to great effect with coatings and baking, so now was the turn of the blueberry pancake.. I’m happy to report these came out ever so well, light, fluffy, tasty and they soak up syrup nicely…

 

ready to eat!

 
The method is just the same as for traditional pancakes, with just a bit of tweaking of ingredients.

Makes 6×4 inch pancakes

Ingredients:

200ml soya milk

Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon syrup

Grated rind from a lemon

100g rice flour

20g tapioca flour

teaspoon baking powder

Quarter teaspoon xanthan gum

50g blueberries
Start by adding the lemon juice and syrup to the soya milk, this will thicken it and provide a slightly sour flavour.

In a mixing bowl add all the other ingredients, except the blueberries, and whisk together to incorporate.

Add the soya milk mixture to the four mixture and whisk again to leave you with a thick batter.

Heat a, lightly oiled, frying pan on a medium heat.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of mixture into the pan and drop a few blueberries onto the batter.

  

 
Flip the pancake over when the top starts to look set and the underside is a golden brown. Cook for another couple of minutes till golden on both sides and the blueberries have burst.

Repeat for the rest of the batter.

Serve with more blueberries, syrup and anything else you fancy!

By A

5

Creamy curried Jackfruit

Jackfruit is a really interesting ingredient! I’ve never used it fresh (it’s prohibitively expensive round here if you can get it at all…), but the tinned young green jackfruit in brine has a mild flavour and a great texture.
There are lots of recipes around using it for vegan pulled ‘pork’, which is really delicious, but this time I really fancied trying a rich, creamy curry in the style of a korma or pasanda.
The sauce is gorgeous, mildly spiced and very rich! So I’ll be getting 4 servings out of this, although it would be very easy to eat it in 2…
I’ll be having it for work lunches with a rice salad full of lots of veggies, lime and coriander. It’s definitely worth experimenting with jackfruit if you haven’t already, the texture is great and it picks up flavours beautifully. A while ago I made a simple stew with jackfruit, mushrooms and carrots which was lovely, and one I think I should revisit!
Just make sure not to buy the ripe jackfruit in syrup, that would not be good in a savoury recipe…

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Creamy curried jackfruit

makes 4 servings


1 large tin of young green jackfruit in brine, drained (280 g when drained), cut into small wedges
8 cherry tomatoes, chopped (or 2 regular sized tomatoes) including juice and pulp
2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cassia
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp ground fennel seed
1 bay leaf, ground (or put it in whole and remember to remove it before serving)
4 cardamom pods, seeds only, crushed
1 tsp grated fresh turmeric, or 1/4 tsp powder
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 tbsp dried methi (fenugreek) leaves
4 tbsp ground almonds
1 tbsp tomato paste
200 ml coconut milk
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped (or use frozen, as I did this time. It’s not as nice as fresh but it’s pretty good)


Heat the oil in a high sided frying pan (with a lid) or saucepan on a medium low heat. Add the cumin, cassia, coriander, fennel, bay and cardamom. Cook, stirring all the time for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, turmeric, ginger, asafoetida and methi and cook for a further 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have started to break down.
Next add the tomato paste, almonds and jackfruit and give everything a good stir. Mix in the coconut milk and simmer gently, covered, for around 15 minutes.
As the jackfruit heats through it will soften, and with a little pressure from a wooden spoon, some parts of the fruit will separate into strands. Sprinkle the coriander over the top.


By E.

5

Crystal rolls with dipping sauce

The rice paper wrappers have been lurking in my cupboard for a while, and I’ve been slightly hesitant over using them, now that I have, I really shouldn’t have been worried! You soak each individual wrapper just before you use it in warm water for 2 seconds, then they are surprisingly robust to both roll up and eat.

  

The filling was going to be my lunch salad for today, but this has transformed the lunch into something so much more sophisticated… And pretty!

Makes 4

Ingredients:

For the rolls

4 Vietnamese rice paper wrappers

A handful of baby spinach, the smaller the leaves the better

1 tomato

Half a red pepper

50g edamame beans (shelled)

Half an avocado

For the dipping sauce

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

Half teaspoon finely chopped coriander

2 teaspoon tamari

Juice of half a lemon

Quarter teaspoon apple cider vinegar

The pulp from the tomato
Start by assembling the dipping sauce so the flavours have time to meld add all the ingredients for the sauce together, adding the pulp from the tomato to it. Leave to stand.

Slice the avocado, tomato and red pepper lengthwise.

Dip a wrapper in warm water for 2 seconds until softening, place on a flat surface and add small quantities of each filling, I found about 6 beans, one or two pieces of tomato, one piece of avocado, 2 or 3 spinach leaves and one piece of red pepper about right for my wraps.

  
Roll up the wrap like you would a burrito!

Serve with the dipping sauce.
By A

4

Mushroom, beetroot and lentil slice with polenta mash crust

I’m a bit obsessed by the combination of urad chilka (black split lentils) and mushrooms at the moment, I think it’s the dark earthy colours as much as the flavours! I wanted to combine them with beetroot for a little sweetness and horseradish for heat, but fancied something a bit different than stew, or soup.
So I’ve used a combination of potato, butternut squash and sweet potato mashed with polenta to make a lovely flavoursome alternative to a pastry crust. And, of course, it’s rather healthier too, not being made with fat.
I should possibly have made a little more effort with the ‘lattice’ top, it looks like I have lovingly arranged wotsits on top… but it’s really very tasty!

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Mushroom, lentil and beetroot slice with polenta mash crust

serves 4 to 6


for the polenta mash crust
400 g potato, cut into 1 cm cubes
200 g butternut squash, cut into 1 cm cubes
150 g sweet potato, cut into 2 cm cubes
(The proportions of vegetables are approximate, change them if you like! Also, there’s no need to be too precise with the size of the cubes, but as the sweet potato cooks more quickly make sure the pieces are roughly twice the size of the other vegetables)
around 1 litre of hot water
150 g quick cook polenta
4 tbsp tapioca flour
salt and pepper
about 2 tsp oil
for the mushroom, beetroot and lentil filling
250 g mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
150 g urad chilka or lentils of your choice
1/4 tsp dried thyme
around 600 ml of the mash veg cooking water
2 cooked beetroot, cubed
4 cm fresh horseradish, grated (or 1-2 tbsp mustard)
1 tbsp cornflour, slaked
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Lightly oil a 15 x 25 cm baking dish.
Put the potato, squash and sweet potato in a saucepan, add the water and some salt and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for around 15 minutes until soft.
While the vegetables are simmering heat the olive oil in another pan, and saute the mushrooms for a few minutes until softened.
Add the lentils and dried thyme, and then when the mash veg are done, around 600 ml of their cooking water.
Bring to a simmer and cook for around 25 minutes until the lentils are soft and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Mix the drained potato, squash and sweet potato with the polenta, tapioca and salt and pepper and then mash. Tip 3/4 of the mixture into the baking dish, and using your fingers, squash it out to cover the base and go up the sides.

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Pat the crust into the dish like this

Spray or drizzle with a little oil and bake for 25 minutes until starting to brown at the edges.
When the lentils are cooked add the beetroot, horseradish and cornflour and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the lentil mixture into the baked crust. Use the reserved polenta mash to make a top for the pie, there should be enough to cover the whole top rolled thinly if you don’t want to do a lattice.
Spray or drizzle with a bit more oil, and bake for 25 minutes.


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Fresh from the oven, topped with wotsits… erm… lattice

By E.

2

Gluten free, vegan, almond biscuits

Ahh biscuits.. It’s cold, icy, and miserable outside but I don’t mind at all as I’ve got these yummy scrummy biscuits for dipping in hot tea!

 

ready to be dunked

 
They are really simple to make and bake very quickly, really, from the point of sitting and thinking to oneself ‘boo, I have no biscuits’ in a mere 15 minutes you can have biscuits!

Makes 12.

Ingredients:

80g cornflour

60g ground almonds

10g tapioca flour

Quarter teaspoon xanthan gum (not essential, but does make the biscuit a little more robust)

Pinch salt

50 g coconut oil

60g golden syrup or agave syrup

25g dark chocolate to decorate

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade

Start by mixing together the cornflour, almonds, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and salt.

Weigh the coconut oil and golden syrup into a bowl and microwave on short blasts till the coconut oil has melted, the two will remain seperate, don’t worry!

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together to form a soft dough.

Roll out to about 5mm thick and either using a cutter or a knife, cut into 12 biscuits.

Place on a lined baking sheet and put in the oven for between 6 and 7 minutes, or until the biscuits are turning golden.

  

Take the biscuits out of the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Melt the chocolate in short blasts in the microwave, the using a spoon artfully dribble chocolate over the top of the biscuits. 

By A

6

Celeriac and horseradish coleslaw

Just a quick one today! There’s still fresh horseradish root left from our Christmas pie recipe, so I made this coleslaw the other day to go with our work lunches.
It’s punchy, crunchy and tasty!

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Celeriac and horseradish coleslaw

makes 6 servings


for the vegetables
250 g celeriac
190 g red cabbage
1 celery stick
1 carrot
5 cm fresh horseradish root
for the dressing
4 tbsp of a neutral flavoured oil, I used vegetable oil
3 tbsp soya flour
120 ml soya milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp sugar
a pinch of salt


Shred the cabbage and celery thinly, and grate the celeriac, carrot and horseradish. I used a food processor which made it ever so quick, but you could do it with a sharp knife and a box grater too.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, or whizz them up in an immersion blender attachment. The dressing should thicken and be smooth.
Combine the vegetables with the dressing and refrigerate, covered for at least an hour to let the flavours come together. The coleslaw keeps well for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, and the cabbage softens nicely as it sits.


By E.

6

Veg filled pancake wrap

Okay, it’s a rubbish title, but a tasty, quick, colourful and healthy food!

I’m calling it a pancake wrap, as it really is part way between the two, it’s made out of a batter, but is a bit more substantial than a pancake!

The pancake wrap holds together well, and the filling is full of the tastes of summer! Sweet carrot, peppery rocket, bright tomatoes,crunchy celery, creamy avocado.. the tangy dressing really lifts the wrap and pulls the flavours together.

  

 
I’m using a mix of flours for the wrap but a pre-mixed gluten free plain flour should work in the same way.

The side I’m serving it with is our crispy potatoes to make a really filling meal.

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the pancake wrap

50g potato flour

40g brown rice flour

10g tapioca flour

100ml water

1tsp oil (I used sunflower)

Half a teaspoon dried tarragon (not essential but very tasty)

Pinch of salt

For the veg

1 carrot scrubbed and cut into strips with a vegetable peeler

Large handful of Rocket

1 celery stick chopped

1 tomato sliced

Half an avocado sliced

About 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves

For the dressing

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lime

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

Heat a frying pan.

Mix together all the dry ingredients for the pancake wrap, so the flours are incorporated with each other, then whisk in the wet ingredients. Pour half of the mix into the hot pan and swirl round quickly to cover as much of the pan as possible, cook till the top looks dry then flip and cook for another couple of minutes.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.

Plate up by piling the veg onto the pancake wrap, then drizzle over the dressing and roll up for eating!

  

By A

4

Mushroom and lentil soup

There’s no getting away from it, this soup is brown. Unashamedly, intensely, dark dark brown.
I was going to artfully strew something green over the top to pretty it up a bit, but then I though no, it’s mushroom soup and it’s mushroomyness should be celebrated!
It’s a gorgeously velvety soup, which doesn’t need any oil to help with the richness. And as well as the intense colour, happily the mushroom flavour is lovely and intense too!

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Mushroom and lentil soup

serves 4


350 g large flat mushrooms, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, sliced
125 g urad chilka lentils, rinsed (split black urad dal)
1 litre light vegetable stock (hot), I used marigold vegan and gluten free stock powder made to half strength
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp tamari
a good big pinch of black pepper
a small wedge of lemon per person


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.
Put the vegetables, lentils, stock, bay leaves, thyme and allspice in a large ovenproof casserole pan. Mine is 22 cm in diameter and it was pretty full! Stir, cover, and put it in the oven.
Cook for 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times. When the soup is cooked ladle around half of the vegetables and lentils into a blender, along with as much of the stock as you can (do it in a couple of batches if you need to). Blend until smooth, and then return to the pan.
Add the tamari and black pepper and stir well. Reheat if needed and then serve with the lemon wedges to squeeze into the soup at the table.


By E.