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!


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.


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.


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

By E.


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!


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.


Okra and mushroom tempura with horseradish dipping sauce

Okra isn’t something I cook with much, it’s not easy to get round here. So it’s quite a treat to have some to play with!
I decided to go the tempura route this time, partly because there’s still rather a lot of fresh horseradish left from the Christmas pie recipe, and with horseradish often being used as a wasabi substitute it seemed to fit nicely with the vaguely Japanese theme.
I’ve done mushrooms too, because they work so very well in tempura batter, and make a nice contrast to the okra. Crisp batter, tender vegetables, and punchy dipping sauce. A treat indeed!


Okra and mushroom tempura with horseradish dipping sauce

serves 2

for the tempura
100 g okra, cut in half lengthways
2 large flat mushrooms, cut into 5 mm slices
100 g gluten free flour
1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder
a pinch of salt
120 ml ice cold sparkling water
3 tbsp cornflour (corn starch), for dredging
oil for deep frying
for the dipping sauce
1 tbsp finely grated fresh horseradish
3 tbsp tamari
1/2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
a pinch of sugar

To make the dipping sauce, simply combine all of the ingredients and leave for a few minutes for the flavours to infuse.
It’s best to work quickly when making tempura, so make sure the baking powder and salt are mixed into the flour, the water is measured out, and the vegetables are prepared.
Get the oil on to heat up. I used a 22 cm cast iron saucepan with about 4 cm of oil in it, which was 750 ml. Heated on a medium flame it took 5 minutes to get hot enough, so a little drop of the batter sizzles on the top if the oil.
Sprinkle the cornstarch onto the vegetables, and toss to coat.
Put the flour mixture and sparkling water into a bowl and whisk lightly, it should be lumpy.
Shake each piece of vegetable to remove excess cornflour and then dip into the batter. Lower carefully into the oil. Don’t overcrowded the pan! Fry in batches, for around 3 minutes until crisp.


Tempura frying!

Drain on kitchen paper before serving with the dipping sauce.

By E.


Christmas main – Artichoke, fennel and chestnut pie with horseradish oat pastry, tomato cranberry carrot sauce, and Christmas fries

So now it’s time for our Christmas main recipe!

Okay, so essentially it’s pie and chips (hey, we’re northern after all…), but ramped up with new and interesting flavours and wow it’s a great meal, even if we do say so ourselves!

The traditional Christmas dinner vegetable accompaniments with a vegan gravy are always delicious, but this year we really wanted to go for something different, and totally celebratory!

The pie itself has a delicious herby creamy filling full of vegetables and chestnuts, with a pastry made with toasted oats and fresh horseradish. The little kick that the horseradish brings is so good, and works beautifully with the filling.

The sauce was a revelation, it sort of evolved as we went along… The cranberries were a last minute purchase, but they really bring something to the sauce. It’s definitely one we’ll make again, it’d be great with pasta but it’s also lovely as a ketchup type of thing for dipping.

And the Christmas fries! We wanted potato and parsnip to feature in the recipe, but thought what fun it would be to do something different than the usual roasted version. So Alex hit on the idea of making them into shoestring fries, and they’re seriously delicious! We’ve added sweet potato too, and also fine green beans which fry up beautifully, the skins blister and the flavour is intensified.

Then because you have to have brussel sprouts with Christmas dinner we’ve simply steamed them and served them on the sauce, a really tasty combination.


Christmas fries! With artichoke, fennel and chestnut pie, tomato cranberry carrot sauce, and brussel sprouts

serves 4


for the pastry

200 g gluten free flour

80 g gram flour (chickpea and split pea flour)

100 g gluten free oats

200 g vegetable fat (we use trex)

1 tsp xanthan gum

2 tbsp fresh horseradish, thinly grated (carefully, it’s very pungent!)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp cold water

for the filling

150 g tinned artichokes, drained and quartered (about 1/2 a 400 g tin)

1/2 head of fennel, chopped

1/2 tbsp oil

45 g cooked chestnuts, quartered

300 ml soy milk

1 1/2 tbsp cornflour, slaked in a little cold water

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp chopped fresh sage

salt and pepper

for the tomato cranberry carrot sauce

1 400 g tin of plum tomatoes

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp tamari

1/4 tsp gluten free yeast extract

a sprig of rosemary

40 g fresh cranberries

a little water to thin the sauce if you like, maybe 100 ml

for the Christmas fries

1 large potato, cut into matchsticks and dried in kitchen paper

1 medium sweet potato, cut into matchsticks

1 medium parsnip, cut into matchsticks

150 g fine green beans

oil for deep frying


to serve

200 g brussel sprouts, or as many as you like


Preheat the oven to 190 degrees c.

In a large roasting tin toss the fennel and carrots with the oil, but keep them separate as they are for different parts of the meal. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes, and then remove the fennel, it should be cooked through and browned in places. Stir the carrots and return to the oven for a further 40 minutes, they should be browned, very soft and reduced in size by around 1/2. The flavour will be very intensely carroty which is what you’re looking for.

While the vegetables are cooking get on with the pastry and filling for the pies. In a dry pan toast the oats for a few minutes, stirring often, until they smell toasty. Cool a little. The pastry is best made in a food processor, this keeps the pungent fresh horseradish under control! Whizz the toasted oats until they have broken down. Add the gluten free flour, gram flour, xanthan gum, horseradish and salt to the processor and pulse to combine. Next add the vegetable fat and pulse again until it all looks, well, lumpy! Add the water a little at a time until the pastry forms a ball.

To make the filling, heat the soy milk until it’s just simmering and whisk in the cornflour to thicken. Add the herbs and salt and pepper and cook on a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring often. Mix through the artichokes, fennel and chestnuts and cool a little.

Transfer the pastry to a clean surface and roll out carefully (it’s quite a soft dough), using a little flour if needed. Line the pie dishes, ours are 12 cm in diameter and 3 cm deep. We used enamel pie dishes, and to be honest it was pretty difficult to get the pies out, when we make them again we’ll use disposable foil dishes.

Roll and cut lids to fit your pie dishes. Fill the dishes with filling and top with the lids, pressing around the edge to seal. Cut a little hole in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake ( at 190 degrees c) for 40 minutes.

Next the sauce! Put the roasted carrots, tinned tomatoes, cranberries, tamari, yeast extract and rosemary in a saucepan on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 – 20 minutes until the cranberries are soft and the sauce is thick. Remove the rosemary and blend the sauce using an immersion blender. If you want to be cheffy, pass the sauce through a fine sieve to give a velvety texture. Thin with water to your desired consistency, we kept ours quite thick. Reheat in the saucepan when you need it.

To make the fries, heat the oil to 160 degrees c and drop the vegetables in. We used an electric deep fryer, but it’s a very small one so it took a few batches! Keep them warm in the oven as they’re done if you’re doing the same. The potato, sweet potato, parsnips and green beans all take 4 minutes to cook through. We tried the green beans fried from raw, and steamed in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then dried on kitchen paper. We preferred the steamed version, but both are good. Salt the fries.

Steam or boil the brussel sprouts just before serving. We steamed ours for 3 minutes in the microwave.

To serve, carefully turn the pies out and plate the sauce, fries and sprouts as you see fit.


Okay, so we were a little silly with plating the sprouts and sauce…


By A. and E.