Simple Vegetable Soup

1 Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 stick celery, sliced
1 Courgette, diced
1 cup green lentils
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh marjoram or oregano, chopped
1 stock cube (veg or chicken)
1 tbsp tomato puree,
1 tin chopped tomatoes,
1 pint water,
1 tbsp oil,
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Lightly fry the onion, peppers, celery together in the oil until softened. Add the tomatoes, stock, water, garlic, courgette, lentils and herbs, and bring to the boil, simmer until the lentils are tender, adding more water if necessary. Taste when all vegetables are cooked, season as required, adding tomato puree to taste also. If too thick add a little more water, if too runny simmer a while longer until the required consistency. Use a stick blender to blitz half of the soup (or more, dependin on how chunky you like it.)

Adventures in Veggieland – Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Spinach Filo Pie.

So as part of my new year healthy kick I am trying to eat less meat, and am being basically veggie during the week. In order to keep it interesting I am putting  a lot more effort into cooking. Recipes old and new. Most have been pretty successful. I had a dalliance with buckwheat I wasn’t too fond of – but I think that was a reult of one false move in making a dressing for it. I’ll try again another time.

Last night’s meal was interesting – Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Spinach Filo Pie with pine nuts. Could be vegan if you use oil instead of butter maybe – or does filo have butter / eggs? not sure – I will leave it to the vegans among you to decide. For that matter, do vegans eat honey? My OH called it “cornflake pie”. maybe you could substitute cornflakes for the filo top 😉

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1 pack filo pastry (about 10 sheets)melted butter or oil
half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 shallots, sliced
2 handfuls spinach
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small pack pine nuts
1 handful raisins
1tbsp cumin seeds
1tbsp coriander seeds
1tsp black peppercorns
1.5tbsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 220 degrees (or as instructed on filo pastry pack). spread squash and sweet potato onto a baking sheet and spray with oil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes.
Dry fry the wholes spices, and grind. Add the cinnamon. Toast the pine nuts, and then add to the spices and set to one side.

Gently fry the shallots and garlic until softened, and then add the spinach and raisins. Cook until wilted, and then add the spice / pine nut mix, and stir through the honey. Add the roasted squash and sweet potato to the spinach mix, and combine thoroughly.

Place a sheet of filo into the base of a pie dish, then brush with butter or oil. Add another sheet, and repeat with half the packet. Then add the vegetable filling. Layer and butter the remaining sheets on top of the filling, and finally fold all the outer corners of the sheets in on themselves on top of the pir to leave a messy ruffled top. Make sure all of the extremities are brushed with oil, then bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with salad, yogurt and maybe some hummous.

Baked honey ribs


This is a long time favourite of mine.

Pork spare ribs (1lb or enough for two)
3tbsp soft brown sugar
4tbsp honey
2tbsp tomato ketchup
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp mustard
2tbsp white or red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 200c/180c(fan) gas 6

Put all sauce ingredients in a pan and heat, whisk to mix the mustard in as the sugar dissolves.
Brush the ribs with sauce and place in oven proof dish, and pour the remainder of the sauce over them before putting in the oven.
Cook uncovered for an hour or so. Then turn the oven right down to 50 and cook for another half hour.
Take the ribs out and put on a plate. Pour any remaining sauce back in the pan, and boil rapidly to reduce to a sticky syrup, and pour back over the ribs to serve.
Goes great with baked potato and barbecue bacon beans. (dice 2 slice bacon, 1/2 small onion and fry till crispy. Add a tin of baked beans, half a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Mix, heat, pour over potato and cover with cheese if you’re feeling really luxurious.)

Happy Halloween, (Beef and) Pumpkin Pasta

Flesh of one medium pumpkin – (carefully hollowed out and turned into scary lantern)
1 onion
1 yellow pepper
2 sticks celery
2 cloves garlic
1 tin chick peas
1 tin tomatoes
tomato puree
minced beef. (optional)

Pasta shapes

Chop veg into similar sized pieces, add to a pan with a little water and olive oil if you like.
Sweat down until pumpkin starts to cook and release water.
Add beef and distribute thoroughly. Add chick peas, tomatoes tomato puree and herbs and spices, and stir.
Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer – cook until pumpkin is tender and the sauce has reduced as desired.

Cook pasta shapes as instructed – stir cooked sauce through cooked pasta, coat liberally with grated parmesan

Sundried Macaroni Carbonara

A bit of a twist on the traditional charcoal burner’s favourite.  No cream – just good fresh, free range eggs. The heat of the pasta cooking pan will warm them through – but if it’s too hot you may get a scrambled eggy texture which isn’t what you want.  I suppose the eggs are technically still raw – so probably best avoided by pregnant women or those with dodgy immune systems.  In which case, replace with a sploosh of cream and some more cheese.

1 smoked chicken breast, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
5 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 courgette, cut in thin slices
Enough macaroni (or other pasta) for 2 people
4 eggs, beaten
250g strong cheese, grated (eg. parmesan, gran padano, or mature cheddar – half fat works ok)
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

Cook the pasta as per the pack instructions.

Meanwhile, shallow fry, (using fry-light if you like, or just a spoon of water to keep from sticking) the onion, chicken, courgett, and sundried tomato until cooked through.

Mix half the cheese into the beaten egg, with 1tbsp black pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it, and then return to the pan. Mix through the chicken and vegetables. When these are combined, stir through the egg mixture so all the pasta is coated, then add the remaining cheese and pepper.  Serve.


Fish and Chorizo stew (and veg alternative)

1/2 Chorizofish and chorizo stew
white fish – eg. Pollack
1 red onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 can chickpeas
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/2 pt chicken stock
1 tsp italian herbs
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 pinch saffron

Chop Chorizo and vegetables into small pieces (around 1cm). Crush garlic. Add all to a wide bottomed pan, with stock, tomatoes, drained chickpeas, and the tomato puree, herbs and spices.

Mix so all ingredients are well combined, and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for 10 Minutes.

Chop fish into chunks, and add to the stew after 10 minutes. Continue to simmer until fish is cooked.

Serve with saffron rice.

Nb. To veggify – or pesky/veggify for those who eat fish but not meat. Replace Chorizo with 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and add some more veg, or potatoes instead of the meat and fish as required.  Also swap chicken stock for fish or veg stock. Or just water and a bit of salt.

Quorn and vegetable curry

350g Quorn chicken style pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, chopped
1 inch Ginger, grated
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 tsp black peppercorns, ground
1 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds, ground
1 tbsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can light coconut milk
1 can chickpeas
1 tbsp tomato purée

Fry Quorn, onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, and peppers in fry light, for about 5 mins, adding spices and a little water to keep moist.

Add tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk and tomato puree, bring to boil then turn down to a simmer for about 20 mins or until the quorn is cooked through.