I seem to have slipped into making pretty uninspired salads for work lunches recently, so this time I wanted something a little more coherent, with complementary flavours and textures.
Enter broccoli and basil!
I go through phases with broccoli, sometimes I can take it or leave it and other times I really crave it. It’s so nice in salads and paired with basil makes a lovely dish for the end of summer.
I’ve also added butterbeans for a creamy texture, olives and sun dried tomatoes to complement the basil, and cucumber for crunch. Lovely!
Broccoli, butterbean and basil salad
1 medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 400 g tin of butterbeans, drained
30 g fresh basil
3 tbsp water (save it from steaming the broccoli if possible)
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
4 sun dried tomatoes from a jar, and 1 tbsp of the oil
20 small olives
about 6 cm cucumber, diced
salt and pepper
Steam the broccoli until just cooked. I did mine for 3 minutes in the microwave, with a little water.
Pick and separate about 1/3 of the basil leaves and set aside.
Blitz the rest with the oil from the tomato jar, vinegar, water, and salt and pepper.
Mix together the drained broccoli, butterbeans, olives and dressing. Leave to cool completely and then fold through the cucumber and basil leaves.
I’m not sure why potato rosti is so satisfying, but it really really is!
I guess, like with roast potatoes or chips, it’s the combination of potato with a crisp outer layer and a soft inside, which is always going to be such a comforting combination.
This recipe makes a great lunch, combining the rosti with a lovely fresh apple and dill coleslaw, and a savoury, creamy walnut pate.
It’s really quick to prepare if you have a food processor with a grating attachment, but if not you can always slice the cabbage, celery and apple for the coleslaw. The potatoes and carrot do need grating though! The ground ginger in the coleslaw may seem an unusual ingredient, but do try it, it’s just a tiny bit so you don’t taste it as such but it complements the flavours of the vegetables beautifully.
We ate the rosti between the two of us, and had coleslaw and pate left for another meal, but you could serve it as a starter for 4 with the rosti cut into quarters.
Rosti, apple dill coleslaw and walnut pate
serves 2 to 4
for the potato rosti
5 medium potatoes, grated
salt and pepper
1 tbsp oil
for the apple dill coleslaw
200 g white cabbage, grated
1 large carrot, grated
2 sticks celery, grated
2 small apples, cored and grated
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
a pinch of ground ginger
a pinch of salt
15 g fresh dill
for the walnut pate
100 g firm tofu
50 g walnuts
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
50 ml soya milk
1 tbsp dried ramsons or a small clove of crushed garlic
a big pinch of salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
Grate the potatoes first, and then tip them into a clean tea towel and wring out over the sink.
Heat the oil in a (preferably low-sided) frying pan on a medium heat. Add the potatoes, with salt and pepper, to the pan and squash out into a large round, about 5 mm thick. Cook for around 5 minutes until golden brown. Flip, and cook the other side for a further 5 minutes. While the rosti is cooking make the coleslaw. Simply combine the vegetables and apple with the oil, vinegar, dill and seasoning and mix well.
For the walnut pate, whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor or with an immersion blender until combined but still with a little texture.
Serve the rosti cut into halves or quarters, with the coleslaw and pate on the side.
By A. and E.
This weekend Alex and I have been stripping wallpaper and sanding walls, it’s hard work, and so dusty!
So for lunch today we needed something easy and nutritious, with minimal time spent in the kitchen.
We’d picked up some spiralised vegetables cheap at the supermarket the other day, so we combined them with gluten free spaghetti, toasted cashew nuts, tarragon, and a cheaty sauce made from vegan cream cheese (we used violife brand).
It was gorgeous, comforting while still giving us a good amount of vegetables, and some protein from the cashew nuts. The tarragon really makes it though!
It’s a combination of flavours we’ll be making again, possibly with the vegetables diced rather than spiralised, the textures will work just as well.
Creamy tarragon, cashew, courgette and butternut spaghetti
180 g courgette, spiralised or diced
50 g butternut squash, spiralised or diced
80 g gluten free spaghetti
50 g cashew nuts
2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
100 g vegan cream cheese
2 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper
In a dry saucepan on a medium heat cook the cashews, stirring often until starting to brown, around 3 minutes. Tip into a dish to cool.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (use the cashew pan for ease), and cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Steam the courgette and butternut squash (I use the microwave), 2 – 3 minutes each if spiralised, a little more if diced.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pan on a low heat. Add the vegan cream cheese, tarragon and soy milk. Stir until the cream cheese has melted into a sauce.
Mix in the nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste.
Toss through the courgette, butternut and cashews.
By A. and E.
I do tend to serve jackfruit hot, as in the recipes we’ve published before, but it’s great as a salad ingredient too!
So this time I’ve paired it with salty sharp capers, sweet apple and lovely fresh parsley.
There’s a little bit of pickled gherkin too, and a simple dressing made from unsweetened soy yoghurt and Dijon mustard.
It’s a very moreish salad with great textures! We’ll be eating it for work lunches, with some of our gluten free pittas and a simple salad of carrot, cabbage and sugar snap peas dressed with lemon juice. Yum!
Jackfruit salad with capers, apple and parsley. With gluten free pittas!
makes 4 servings
1 tin of young green jackfruit in brine, cut into bite sized pieces (500 g tin, 365 g drained weight)
3 tbsp capers, chopped. Use either the little type or the larger caper berries, either is good. Rinse them if they are the ones packed in salt
1 apple, peeled and chopped
15 g parsley, chopped
2 tbsp chopped sweet pickled gherkin
120 ml plain unsweetened soy yoghurt, or use vegan mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Put the vegetables, fruit and herbs in a medium sized bowl as you chop them. Add the soy yoghurt and mustard and gently mix everything together until well combined.
The capers should season the salad so you won’t need to add salt.
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.
Whenever I make noodle soup, the default flavours I go for are Chinese or Vietnamese. And while both are delicious, the herbs I have growing at the moment don’t quite lend themselves to those flavour profiles, I have a lot of sage…
So, it was time to experiment!
I’ve used a standard vegetable stock as the base, flavoured with a little caraway, and sage, basil and mint for the herbs.
For the vegetables I’ve used tomato, radish, courgette and chilli, which was a great combination, and very pretty too!
Little cubes of silken tofu add protein as well as texture, and a squeeze of lemon completes the dish.
It was really good, ever so satisfying and a new combination of flavours for my noodle soups. A sort of euro pho if you will!
Herb broth with rice noodles, tofu and vegetables
makes 1 large bowlful
500 ml light vegetable stock (I used marigold made to half strength)
a pinch of ground caraway seed, (you really don’t need a lot)
2 tbsp fresh basil, small leaves left whole and the rest roughly chopped 1 tbsp fresh mint, as above
3 fresh large sage leaves, shredded
2 small tomatoes, quartered. I used yellow ones
4 radishes, sliced
1/2 a courgette, diced
green or red chilli to taste, thinly sliced. I used 1 red chilli
a squeeze of lemon juice, about a tsp
a pinch of black pepper
175 g silken tofu, diced
45 g rice noodles
Bring the stock to the boil and add the caraway and courgette. Simmer for 3 minutes until the courgette is starting to soften.
Add the noodles, chilli and sage and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Next, the radishes, tomatoes and tofu. Cook for a further minute, you just want to warm them through.
Carefully stir in the herbs (so as not to break the tofu up), and season with lemon juice and black pepper.
Ackee again! To be honest I was going to do a fried rice type of thing and stir the ackee through at the end, but as it turned out I had run out of rice… the horror!
So instead I used butterbeans and ooh it came out well, there’s something about the richness of the ackee with the creaminess of the butterbeans and the crunchy vegetables that’s ever so satisfying.
You could vary the veg, but if you can, do use the dill, the flavour is gorgeous with the ackee and beans.
As well as being delicious, it’s a super quick dish, and is good hot or cold!
Ackee with butterbeans, vegetables and dill
makes 2 nice big servings
1 540 g tin of ackee (340 g drained weight)
1 400 g tin of butterbeans (240 g drained weight)
1 large carrot, finely diced
100 g sugarsnaps, sliced in half
1 large courgette, diced
1 tsp oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar (or apple cider, or balsamic)
2 tbsp tamari
a pinch of pepper, black or white
3 tbsp fresh chopped dill
It’s dead easy this one! Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan, and stir fry the courgette and carrot for about 3 minutes until starting to soften. Add the sugarsnaps and butterbeans along with the vinegar, tamari and pepper and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
Fold in the ackee, and continue to cook, mixing often until the ackee is heated through. Another 3 minutes should do it!
Stir the dill through at the end.
Asparagus and chilli is a lovely combination, particularly with a little sweetness. So here I’ve used sweet chilli sauce and orange, along with juicy button mushrooms to make a lovely side dish or addition to a salad.
Actually I ate the asparagus and mushrooms on a sandwich… and it was great!
I used a home made sweet chilli sauce which had the orange juice and zest added during the cooking. But as I did not take note of either the quantity of sugar, or water, I used (terrible of me I know!) I’ve given amounts here for using a ready made sauce.
Asparagus and mushrooms roasted with sweet chilli and orange
for 1 serving
50 g asparagus, woody ends removed
50 g button mushrooms
1 heaped tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp orange juice
a grating of orange zest, just a pinch
a small pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Either take a roasting tray that fits your vegetables pretty tightly, or take piece of kitchen foil roughly 20 cm x 20 cm and turn over the edges to make a little inner tray.
This ensures that the sweet chilli sauce doesn’t burn. Mix together the sweet chilli sauce, orange juice and salt.
Put the vegetables in the tray and pour over the sauce, followed by the orange zest. Swoosh them around a bit to make sure they’re coated. Roast for 15 minutes until the asparagus is tender and the mushrooms are cooked through.
This is a nice simple little version of a potato salad, but using sweet potato and creamy avocado instead of the usual regular potatoes.
It’s so easy to make, and goes really well with lots of things!
Sweet potato and avocado salad
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
a pinch of salt
1 avocado, diced
2 tbsp soy yoghurt (or vegan mayo, or coconut milk)
Bring a pan of water to the boil and simmer the sweet potato for 5 or so minutes until tender. Drain and cool.
Mix the avocado with the lime juice and then fold through the rest of the ingredients.
I know stuffed mushrooms are a bit of a veggie cliche, but they can taste so good, so I’m unapologetic about this recipe!
Here the mushrooms are stuffed with spinach, coriander and a few cashew nuts and finished with a ramson, or garlic, oil.
They’re simplicity itself to put together, and so delicious.
We ate them with flatbread, and a butterbean and dill dip.
Spinach and coriander stuffed mushrooms
10 small flat mushrooms, about 6 cm in diameter, cleaned
75 g fresh spinach
30 g fresh coriander
2 tbsp cashew nuts
3 tbsp good oil, plus a little extra to oil the tray
1 tsp dried ramsons, or 1/2 clove of fresh garlic finely chopped
a large pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c. Lightly oil an oven tray.
Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and then arrange them on the tray, gill side up. Wash the spinach and then keeping it wet, transfer to a vented container and microwave for a minute or two until wilted (or you can do this on the hob in a saucepan). Cool the spinach a little and then squeeze out the excess liquid. You can do this through a sieve, or as I do by wrapping it in kitchen roll and squeezing.
On a board chop together the spinach, coriander and mushroom stalks until well combined, then add the cashew nuts.
Mix together the oil, ramsons, salt and pepper.
Divide the spinach mixture between the mushrooms, and then spoon the flavoured oil over the top, about a tsp for each mushroom.
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked through.
Spinach and coriander stuffed mushrooms ready for the oven