Tag Archives: vegetables

Saturday Night Pasta with Olives, Tomato and Chili

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Staying in this Saturday night? Lucky you: it is the perfect time to cook yourself some delicious, easy pasta, open a nice bottle of wine, and catch up on Ray Donovan or whatever else you are into at the moment. Don’t worry about the washing up, either: you only need 2 pans!

Have a lovely weekend!

You will need (for 2):

4 tbsp olive oil
2 anchovies in olive oil, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small red chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp capers in brine, drained
About 10-12 mixed green and black olives, halved
250 g cherry tomatoes
250 g wholewheat fusilli

salt, pepper

Method:

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a frying pan, heat up the olive oil over a medium heat, and add the anchovies and chili. Cook for 2 min, stirring, then add the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Cook for about 8 min, then add the olives and capers and leave to cook until the pasta is ready. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan, tip the sauce into the pan and combine. Serve with grated Parmesan, if you like.

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Filed under Mains, Pasta, Vegetables

Butternut Squash, Feta and Spinach Roast

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With all this windy, cold weather, I was in the mood for some nice comfort food tonight; a tender beef stew maybe, or simply sausages and mash. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go the the butcher’s at the weekend, so I am having to rely mostly on vegeterian options this week.

I am, and forever will be, a committed carnivore, but I really enjoy a meat-free option every once in a while. Having no meat in the house usually forces me to step out of my comfort zone a little bit, and find interesting ways to cook vegetables.

This is one of my favourite meat-free dishes; it is quick enough to prepare on a weeknight after work, and it features feta which I adore. It is easy to substitute some of the ingredients depending on what you have available (parsnips, sweet potatoes or turnips work very well here too).

If you don’t fancy pumpkin seeds, try some toasted flaked almonds or cashew nuts instead.

You will need (for 2):

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp thyme

A few pinches chili flakes

1 butternut squash

2 large carrots

1 large onion

3 garlic cloves

2 handfuls spinach leaves

200 g feta

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220ºC/ fan 200ºC / gas 7.

Peel the butternut squash, cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and membrane with a teaspoon, discard. Cut the flesh into cubes (roughly 2 cm). Peel the carrots and cut into thick slices.

Peel the onion and cut into rough 1 cm cubes. Peel and crush the garlic.

In a roasting dish, mix the squash, carrot, olive oil, thyme and chili. Use your hands to mix thoroughly so the veg is well covered with the oil and flavourings. Bake for 20-30 min or until tender.

Meanwhile, wash and drain the spinach. Chop the feta.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the feta, spinach and pumpkin seeds to the dish, mix briefly, and return to the oven for 5 min.

Serve with some crusty bread.

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Filed under Mains, Vegetables, Vegetarian

“Sweet Chick” Chorizo Stew

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Every night, I race from work to nursery, where I pick up my Little Greedy Tadpole (19 months). Then I race home from nursery. Then I race around the kitchen trying to prepare dinner as fast as I can (no wonder I am exhausted…).

Dinner on a weeknight therefore needs to be quick, nutritious, grown-up enough for me and Mr Greedy Frog to enjoy, but also suitable for our little one. This recipe is a good example of something that works, and it features some of my go-to ingredients: sweet potatoes and chickpeas (hence the rather daft title).

I tend to rely heavily on tins of pulses; they are very quick to cook and can be used to bulk out pretty much any meal. I also try and have some sort of root vegetables in the house at all times, as they tend to keep rather well. Finally, I always have some onions and garlic, because a life without them is just not worth living!

The ingredients in this recipe can be modified at will, depending on what needs using up in your fridge or cupboard; potatoes, mushrooms, leeks, butter beans or any other vegetables or pulses could be added, it also tastes lovely with some feta added in at the last minute, and the stock can be replaced with a tin of chopped tomatoes and a bit of hot water. In fact, pretty much anything goes!

I make some sort of variation of this about once a week, and I don’t think I have ever made the same combination twice. I would love to hear from anyone trying this with different ingredients, as I am always looking for new ideas, so please pass on any suggestions!

You will need (for 3 portions):

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
100 g chorizo, diced (if feeding a toddler, make sure you don’t serve them any of the chorizo as it is a bit hard to chew for little teeth, although they will enjoy the taste it gives the stew)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 handfuls basmati rice
500 ml hot vegetable stock
1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained
2 bay leaves
Paprika
Salt, Pepper
Grated parmesan, to serve

Method:

Heat up the olive oil on a medium heat in a large, deep pan with a lid. Fry the onion and garlic for about a minute, then add the chorizo, sweet potato and rice. Stir well for a few seconds.

Add enough stock to just cover, sprinkle with a bit of paprika, salt and pepper, add the bay leaf and chickpeas, and cover with the lid. Leave to cook for about 10-12 min, stirring once or twice, until the rice and sweet potato are cooked through and tender. Check the seasoning, then serve and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan.

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Cold Weather: 0, Greedy Frog: 1! Slow-cooked Beef and Dumplings

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I came back from visiting my family in France with, among other goodies, a new, huge, heavy cast-iron pan. I had been coveting one such pan for a very long time, but the price tag meant that I couldn’t afford one; not unless I defaulted on my mortgage payments, that is. My amazing parents, however, decided to buy one for me as an early Christmas present (have I mentioned they are amazing?), and it is fair to say that I have rarely been as excited as I was when I opened the box.

I know some of you might think that I am pretty pathetic, getting all excited over a pan like this, but I don’t care what you think, because I’VE GOT A NEW PAN!!!!

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Well, that’s the gloating neatly out of the way now, so let’s talk a bit about the recipe…

This dish is delicious, a mixture of meltingly tender beef, tasty veg and gravy, and light, fluffy dumplings… It is the ultimate antidote to cold, dark evenings. I like to make a big batch of this on a Sunday, and keep some back for the Monday night; I find it incredibly comforting when it starts getting dark on a Monday afternoon, and with the whole working week still ahead of me, to know that there is a lovely warming meal waiting for me at home that just needs re-heating…

This stew will freeze beautifully (without the dumplings), and any leftover sauce works really well with pasta, especially if you cook the pasta in it. Oh, and it is also very cheap to make!

The dumplings recipe is Jane Grigson’s, from “English Food” (one of the first cookbooks I bought after moving to England, I was very intrigued by the notion of a whole book about English food…).

You will need:

For the stew:

1 kg beef shin, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
2 onions
3 carrots
2 celery sticks
1 leek
4 cloves garlic
250g chestnut mushrooms
10g dried wild mushrooms (I used chanterelles)
1 handful plain flour
salt
pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
25cl red wine
1 tbsp tomato puree
500 ml beef stock
200 ml hot water

For the dumplings:

125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
60g shredded suet (vegetable suet is fine)
Water
1 tbsp chopped herbs of your choice (I used thyme)

Method:

Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in a bowl of hot, freshly boiled water.

Chop the onions, carrots, celery and leek. Quarter the mushrooms. Crush and peel the garlic.
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Season the flour generously with salt, pepper and the oregano. Toss the meat in the flour until evenly covered.

Heat up the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-based lidded pan. Shake any excess flour off the meat, and add to the pan; turn regularly until brown all over.

Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and leek, and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the tomato puree and cook it out, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure all the tasty bits are incorporated in the gravy. Bring to the boil, then add the stock, the rehydrated mushrooms with their water, and top up with hot water if needed (the liquid needs to cover the meat almost completely.

Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to the minimum setting, put the lid on, and leave to simmer gently for about 4 hrs, stirring every so often.

30 min before you are ready to serve, make the dumplings. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and suet in a bowl. Mix with enough water to form a slightly sticky dough. Flour your hands and form into dumplings; I usually make 6 large ones but you could make up to 12 smaller ones.

Check the seasoning of the beef gravy, and add your dumplings to the pan, making sure there is plently of liquid there as they need to be poached. Put the lid back on and cook for another 10 to 20 min, depending on the size of the dumplings. Serve with hot, buttery mash.

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Filed under Mains, Meat dishes

Pasta Bake With Goat’s Cheese and Turkey Meatballs

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I do not run for anyone. Not only do most of my shoes not allow it, but if I am totally honest I also find it rather tedious, and let’s face it, exhausting.

I am always happy however, to support friends running for charity in any way I can. Which is why this weekend I was delighted to welcome at Greedy Frog Towers two dear friends brave (and fit) enough to tackle the Great North Run.

The night before the race, I prepared this dish for them, with pasta for energy, plenty of vegetable goodness and lean protein in the form of turkey meatballs. It went down a treat!

They both finished the race and did amazingly well, raising a lot of money for Cancer Research in the process, and I am very proud of them.

You will need (for 6):

For the meatballs:
400 g turkey mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp dried sage
salt, pepper

For the sauce:
olive oil
2 large peppers
a handful mushrooms, chopped
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic

To finish:
500g pack pasta
1 small log goat’s cheese
1 tsp dried sage

Method:

Preheat your grill to medium-high. Grill the peppers on all sides until black and blistered, then place inside a plastic bag. Wrap this plastic bag into another one, then reserve until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, mix all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and form into golf-ball size meatballs.
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Heat up the olive oil in a large, deep pan. Gently fry the meatballs until golden on all sides. While the meatballs are cooking, peel, de-seed and dice the peppers. When the meatballs are well coloured, add the peppers and mushrooms to the pan, stir gently (taking care not to break the meatballs), and cook for 2 min more.

Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 min.

Preheat your oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ Gas 6. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain. Butter a large ceramic or glass baking dish.

Spread a layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish, and top with a layer of pasta. Repeat until you have used up all the ingredients. Slice the goat’s cheese, and distribute evenly on the dish. Sprinkle the sage, then bake for 15 to 20 min, or until the cheese slices start to take colour.image

Serve with some fresh crusty bread.

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Another “No Cheese” Rant: Authentic Gratin Dauphinois

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I was fortunate enough to spend 3 years studying in Grenoble, in a part of the French Alps called the Dauphiné. And it just so happens that this region is the birthplace of Gratin Dauphinois (or dauphinoise potatoes as it is called in English).

When I say that I was “fortunate”, it is because at the end of these wonderful 3 years, I headed back home with the recipe for Gratin Dauphinois in my back pocket (and a Master’s Degree in Business, but who cares? You can’t eat a degree).

Now, for those of you who read my Quiche Lorraine post, you will know that I don’t like it one bit when people mess with a beautifully simple recipe. This also applies to Gratin Dauphinois. THERE IS NO CHEESE IN IT, just potatoes, milk, cream, eggs and seasoning. That is all you need!

This gratin is perfect as a side dish with roast meats, or as a main with a few slices of cured meats.

You will need (for 4):

About 1.2 kg potatoes
2 eggs
750 ml milk
4 tbsp double cream
1 clove garlic
100g butter + extra for the dish
Nutmeg
Rosemary
Salt
Pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 C/ fan 180C/ gas 6-7.

Peel the garlic and cut in half. Rub the cut side over the bottom and sides of a large oven dish. Butter the dish.

Peel and wash the potatoes, then cut into 2mm slices.

In a large jug, beat the eggs, then add the cream and milk. Season.

Put a layer of potato slices over the bottom of the dish (you don’t need to be neat), then pour some of the milk mixture over it. Repeat until the dish is full or you have used up all the ingredients.

Season, sprinkle some grated nutmeg on top, and some rosemary. Dot small pieces of the butter all over.image

Bake for about 45 min or until golden and cooked through.

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Filed under Mains, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

The poor, un-sexy globe artichoke

Globe artichokes are not sexy. They are not fashionable, and rather hard to find in Britain. Most people I know have never tried one.

Why is this? Does the name put people off, I wonder, with its suggestion of choking? Or is it its large, tight leaves and almost Jurassic appearance?

Whichever way, I think it is a real shame. Artichokes are delicious, nutricious and easy to prepare, and they should be a lot more prominent on people’s shopping lists.

Now just to be clear, I do NOT hold shares in any artichoke-growing conglomerate. I am not here to brainwash anyone into eating artichokes. To me, they are simply a taste of my childhood, and I think it would be nice if more people gave them a chance.

The best way to cook them is to steam them. So dig out your pressure cooker, and after just a few simple steps, you will be ready to enjoy this little treat.

Here’s how:

Snap off the stalk, and steam for around 22 min (slightly more if your artichoke is large)

Place in a shallow bowl, and pull out the tougher leaves around the
base.

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You are now ready to enjoy the first part: the leaves.

In a small bowl, mix some crème fraîche with a dash of lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper. Pull a leaf out, dip the fleshy part into the cream, then put it in your mouth, and scrape with your teeth as you pull it out. (at this point I shall refer you back to the word “un-sexy” in this post’s title).
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Keep doing this until you reach the central leaves, and have exhausted the fleshy ones.
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Grab the leaves firmly in your hand, and hold the base of the artichoke in your other hand. Pull firmly apart, and you should be left with just the base, covered with thin, straw-like bristles.
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Pull these out, they should come out easily.
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You will be left with just the heart. With a small knife, trim any harder bits away from underneath.
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Cut into chunks and eat with the rest of your cream dip.

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Filed under Vegetables, Vegetarian