Recipe: Lentil and Mustard Salad

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I would not have put Ethiopian or Eritrean food at the top of my list to try, until a friend took me to an Eritrean restaurant. It was a revelation. Not only is the food very veg*n friendly, with a wide variety of pulse and vegetable dishes available, it tastes wonderful. One of my favourites was a lentil salad that had a kick of heat from mustard or horseradish. I had no idea how to reproduce it, until I came across this recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook.

The hidden ingredient was brown mustard seeds and they add a lovely pungency to the dish. I’ve used puy lentils here, but any whole green lentils would do, including a tin of green lentils, which would make this a really quick addition to a meal of different salads.

NB the water must be boiling for this recipe. Anything less and the dish will be bitter.

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Ingredients
190g puy or other green lentils
1/2 green pepper
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
8 peppercorns
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp boiling water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil

Put the lentils with 500ml of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
When cooked, drain and add to a bowl.
Chop the pepper into small dice and add to the lentils.
Put the mustard seeds and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and grind until you have a coarse powder.
Add the chilli powered and the boiling water and stir.
Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then add the lemon juice and olive oil and stir thoroughly.
Add the mustard dressing to the lentil and peppers and mix through.
Season with salt.

Serves 4 with other salads

Recipe: Chilli Tofu

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Chilli Tofu

This is based on the recipe of Chilli Panner from
Meera Sodha’s Made in India: Cooked in Britain book. The recipe is delicious but it had one great failing as far as I’m concerned – there wasn’t enough of it. Meera’s dish is a snack, I wanted something to use as part of a main course, so I have added more tomatoes to carry the wonderful flavour on for a little longer.

You need to try this recipe. It has bags of flavour and cooks in less than 20 minutes (apart from pressing the tofu). And, considering the amount of garlic in it, it might be my new favourite way of dealing with a snuffly cold!

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Ingredients
400g tofu, drained & pressed, cut into 2cm cubes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 tsp cumin powder
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Lemon wedges, to serve

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and add the tofu. Fry the tofu until lightly browned on all sides. You may need to do this in a couple of batches.
Add all the tofu back into the pan and stir in the garlic, cumin and chilli.
Saute on a low heat for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes.
Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little.
Season with salt & pepper.
Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.

Serves 4

Recipe: Carrot and Lentil Soup

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Come the New Year we all want something healthy to eat, right? But it’s cold and wet so something comforting would be in order as well. Well in these times, my thoughts turn to soup. This is my latest contribution to the easy, tasty, lentil soups pile. The comfort comes from the soft lentils, the taste comes from the star anise which adds a background fragrance and the health comes from the carrots, which are absurdly good for you. The chilli oil is optional, but will clear your sinuses if you’re feeling snuffly on top of the other seasonal ills.

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Ingredients
200g split red lentils
1 star anise
1l vegetable stock
2 large carrots, grated
chilli oil, optional

Put the lentils, star anise and vegetable stock in a saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the carrots, bring back up to the heat and simmer (covered) for another 10 minutes. Remove the star anise and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzling of chilli oil.

Serves 2

2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. And it’s great to see that people still revisit some of our old favourites! Thanks for supporting us – and have a very veggie┬á2016.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Recipe: Lentil and Leek Soup

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I don’t think I will ever stop loving lentil soups of all kinds. This is the latest one I’ve discovered. It’s very simple with only four ingredients and minimal preparation, but it pays back with far more flavour than you would think possible.

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Ingredients
1 medium leek, trimmed and sliced
250g split red lentils
750ml vegetable stock
1 tsp smoked paprika

Add the leek and lentils into a saucepan.
Cover with the vegetable stock and stir in the paprika.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
When the lentils are soft, stir briskly to break them down into a smoothish texture.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add more boiling stock if the soup is a little thick for your taste.

Serves 2

Recipe: Five Veg Chilli

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In the summer I ate at the Grain Store near Kings Cross. When it opened it got a lot of plaudits for giving vegetables the same weight as meat on its menu. To read some reviewers, you’d think it was ushering a whole new era of vegetable-centred food. *Looks around* Yeah, that so worked! Anyway, they do have a higher than normal number of veggie options on the menu and when I was there I had the Chilli con Veggie. I was impressed because they produced a thick, satisfying chilli with no use of meat substitutes, just vegetables.

I didn’t really have a clue how to emulate this until I watched a TV series Kew on a Plate where Raymond Blanc cooked the produce of a splendid kitchen garden. He produced a chilli that was pretty much made up entirely of grated vegetables. Now I knew what to do.

This is great. It is everything I wanted it to be – hearty, satisfying and with no fake meats in sight. I suspect it will do a lot towards your five-a-day within one serving.

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Ingredients
200g dry kidney beans
1 onion
2 medium carrots
1/2 large fennel bulb
1 red pepper
3 stalks celery
1 small aubergine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp marmite
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Soak the dry kidney beans overnight.
Drain, and add to a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender.
When cooked, drain but reserve the cooking liquid.

Grate the onion, carrots, fennel, pepper, celery and aubergine.
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan.
Add the garlic and chilli and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the grated vegetables to the pan and stir.
Cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes.
Add the cooked kidney beans.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fill the empty tin with the juices from the cooked beans and add to the pan.
Add the tomato puree, marmite, mushroom ketchup, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chilli flakes and the cocoa powder.
Stir thoroughly, bring up to the simmering point and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Check for seasoning.
Serve with a sprinkle of coriander leaves over the top.
This goes well with rice or crusty bread.

Serves 4 hearty appetites

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

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This is a lovely, warm, sweet pasta sauce. It’s fine on its own or it could be used as a base for other ingredients, garlic, chilli, balsamic vinegar, olives or all four!

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Ingredients
2 red peppers
4 tomatoes, halved
1 onion, quartered
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Arrange the peppers, tomatoes, onion and carrots on a lightly oiled roasting tin.
Place in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until the carrots are soft and everything is nicely browned around the edges.
Put the vegetables in a blender and blend to a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper.

This sauce needs only reheating while the pasta cooks and a sprinkling of basil as it is served.

Serves 4