Lentil and red pepper soup

I guess lentil soup tends to be seen of as more of an autumnal type of a meal, but I’m not one to shun a soup at any time of year! And red peppers are summery, no?
Anyway, it was delicious, filling but not too heavy and it’s so very easy to make.
There’s nothing like making a big pot of homemade soup so you have something wholesome waiting after a long day at work!


Lentil and red pepper soup

makes 4 servings

1 large red (bell) pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 small onion or leek, diced
175 g red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp smoked paprika
900 ml hot water
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.
This is so easy it’s barely a recipe…
Put all of the ingredients bar the salt and pepper and nutritional yeast in a large casserole dish. Cover, and cook in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring half way through. Whizz it up a little using an immersion blender if you like, but it’s not really necessary.
Season to taste, and stir through the nutritional yeast just before serving.

By E.


Herb salad with lemongrass lentils and peanut dressing

Yesterday morning Alex and I took the tram into Blackpool, and as it happened the shops we wanted to visit were either closed or closed down! But the trip wasn’t wasted, as the greengrocers on Topping Street had gorgeous big bunches of herbs and spinach at a very good price. So we came away with dill, coriander, parsley and spinach, hooray!
Having such an amount of lovely herbs immediately brought to mind Vietnamese food, so that’s where the inspiration for this salad came from. Rather than rice or noodles though, we’ve gone for small green lentils and cooked them with lemongrass.
The liquid left over has great flavour, so we’ve used that as the base of a peanut dressing. Along with toasted cashews, the nutty zesty dressing, and masses of herbs and vegetables, it’s a fresh, protein filled salad to take for work lunches which will keep us going all afternoon. I’m looking forward to it already!


Herb salad with lemongrass lentils and peanut dressing

makes 4 servings

for the salad
30 g fresh coriander, chopped (plus a little extra for the lentils, see below)
30 g fresh dill, chopped
2 carrots, shredded or grated
1 courgette, shredded or grated
120 g baby corn, sliced
150 g cashews, toasted
for the lentils
300 g small green lentils
2 stalks lemongrass, cut in half and bashed a bit to release the flavour
5 g fresh parsley, chopped
5 g fresh coriander, chopped
600 ml water
75 g spinach, washed and sliced
for the dressing
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tbsp peanut powder, or peanut butter
3 tbsp lime juice (1 tbsp for the dressing, and 2 tbsp to finish the salad)
100 ml lentil water, top up with stock if there isn’t enough left
1 tsp oil (omit if using peanut butter)
a large pinch of salt

First set the lentils cooking. Put the lentils, lemongrass, parsley, coriander and water into a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook for around 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. If you’re using a saucepan keep it mostly covered so that you don’t lose too much of the liquid.
Add the spinach for the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain the lentils, reserving the liquid, and remove the lemongrass. Set aside to cool. While the lentils are cooking prep the carrots, courgette, baby corn, coriander and dill and toss them together in a large bowl.
Toast the cashew nuts in a dry saucepan until starting to brown and then tip out to cool.
Using the same saucepan, heat 100 ml of the lentil cooking water on a low heat until just starting to bubble and whisk in the tomato puree, peanut powder, 1 tbsp of the lime juice, the oil, and salt. Cool.
Mix the lentils, cashew nuts and dressing into the bowl with the vegetables and herbs, along with the other 2 tbsp of lime juice.

By A. and 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.


Roast baby kale and apple salad with orange marinade and lentils

It’s finally getting colder here, there’s a refreshing snap in the air in the mornings now. It’s actually starting to feel like autumn! But the sun is still hot in the afternoons, so my original idea for a hearty salad using baby kale felt like it needed a brighter note. I have a few oranges left over from summer cup cocktails a couple of weeks ago, so I made a herby, smoky, orangey marinade to roast the apples and kale in. It works really well, adding a sweetness and citrus hit to the rich kale and tart apples, without overpowering them. I’ve added some roasted almonds for protein and flavour, and overall it makes a very satisfying and interesting dish. And tasty too of course!

My baby button hole kale was from asda and is a whole little plant with stems and leaves (see the picture below), but you could use normal kale or any dark leaved cabbage, just adjust the cooking time if you’re using leaves only.

Baby kale and apple salad with orange marinade and lentils

Roast baby kale and apple salad with orange marinade and lentils

serves 2

2 baby button hole kale, quartered

1 apple, sliced (the eating kind rather than a cooker, it’s better if it holds its shape)

1 400 g tin of green lentils, drained and rinsed (or cook your own, around 80 g of dried)

40 g salted roast almonds

for the marinade

1 orange, zest and juice

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp liquid smoke or smoked paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Baby button hole kale, whole...

A baby button hole kale, whole…

And quartered!

And two quartered!

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.

First start the marinade. Put the orange juice, orange zest, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf in a bowl and mix together. Set aside for ten minutes or so, this allows the dried herbs to soften and start to release their flavour.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and add the kale. Cook at a fast simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the kale and put it in a large roasting tin, along with the apple slices.

Add the liquid smoke, olive oil and some salt and pepper to the marinade, mix and then tip over the vegetables. Mix well to make sure everything is coated, and then arrange the apples around the edge of the tray, leaving the kale in the middle. Roast for 10 minutes, and then turn everything over. Pop back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. When it’s done the kale should be just starting to crisp at the edges and the apple should be soft, and golden from the orange juice.

Remove the kale and apple to a bowl, and mix the lentils and almonds through the remaining marinade in the roasting tin.

To serve, put a few lentils in the bottom of each dish and then pile the kale and apples on top, finishing with the rest of the lentils.

By E.


Beetroot, sage and lentil soup

This one was really just a chuck it all together type of a lunch, but it turned out so nicely I thought it was worth sharing it!

The sweet beetroot goes beautifully with the intensely herbal sage, and the lentils add a lovely earthy background flavour, as well as a softer texture.

I’ve used urad dal (split black lentils), as I love the texture in soups, but red lentils would be great too.

Beetroot, sage and lentil soup

Beetroot, sage and lentil soup

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Beetroot and mushroom lentils baked with mustard celeriac topping

It’s been a funny old time for weather the last few days on the Fylde coast, a combination of bright blue skies and the sort of sunshine that makes me break out the factor 50 sunblock (it’s that time of year again, boo…), and driving rain with winds that whistle down the chimney.

So while I was having a lovely afternoon creating the bright springtime ackee recipe from yesterday, I also made this savoury, earthy, lentil dish. I wasn’t sure how the mustard celeriac slices would work, but goodness they’re a delicious topping! And the scent that permeated veganbungalow as it was cooking was absolutely gorgeous.

Beetroot and mushroom lentils with mustard celeriac topping

Beetroot and mushroom lentils with mustard celeriac topping

makes 4 servings

for the lentils

100 g red lentils, rinsed

100 g green lentils, rinsed

1 small leek, sliced

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

200 g mushrooms, sliced

180 g cooked beetroot, diced (I used the sort you can get in a vacuum pack at the supermarket, they’re very cheap and I use them a lot)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried marjoram

1/2 tsp caraway seed

500 ml vegetable stock, hot

for the celeriac

500 g celeriac, sliced into pieces around 5 cm x 5 cm and 2 mm thick (I found that half a celeriac root after peeling was about 500 g)

2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp mustard, I used a hot Polish type which is quite sweet

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c.

For the lentils, simply put all of the ingredients in an ovenproof casserole dish and give it a mix. Cover, and pop in the oven for 50 minutes, checking the liquid levels after 30 minutes. The vegetables should have released some liquid and there should be enough for the lentils to soak more up when the celeriac topping goes on.

Toss the celeriac slices with the oil, mustard, and salt and pepper and arrange evenly over the lentils. Carefully as the casserole dish is hot!

Cover and bake for another hour, removing the lid for the last 30 minutes. The celeriac should be cooked through and slightly browned on top.

It doesn't photograph so well, but goodness me it's delicious!

It doesn’t photograph so well, but goodness me it’s delicious!

By E.