Braised Gem Lettuce Broth

This recipe uses the hearts of little gem lettuces. I always find I’m left with them when I use gem lettuce as I’m not so much a fan of the bitter taste. So I figured out an easy way to make something tasty out of them – braising them with a herb broth. You start by charring the lettuce hearts before adding your garlic, leeks, herbs & stock. After it’s simmered away you’re left with a silky broth that’s comforting yet light, with layers of flavours. It’s perfect served with some crusty bread to mop up the bowl.

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Serves 4

 1 tbsp butter, 6 gem lettuce hearts cut in half, 1 sliced leek, 3 cloves of garlic chopped, 2 pints of vegetable stock, 2 tsp wholegrain mustard, 1 small bunch of spring onions roughly chopped, a small bunch of parsley finely chopped, 1 lemon quartered

Optional, fresh herbs for garnishing such as tarragon or sage leaves

Method

1/ Heat the butter in a large lidded deep frying pan on a high heat then arrange the gem hearts, middle part down, in the pan. Fry for a few minutes and let them brown, slightly charring the edges, then carefully turn each one over and pour over the sliced leeks.

2/ Leave the leeks & gem hearts to cook until the lettuce has browned on the other side too then add the garlic and stir everything together for a few minutes. Once the leeks have softened pour over the stock and mustard, stir, place the lid on the pan and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

3/ Let the stock and vegetables simmer for around 20 minutes. Just before serving, add the chopped spring onions and parsley then serve with a wedge of lemon to be squeezed over. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

Tenderstem Broccoli Salad with a Creamy Carrot Dressing

Here’s a warm and satisfying salad with a creamy carrot dressing. The carrot dressing is from my most recent cookbook purchase, Wholefood Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin. Slightly charred Tenderstem broccoli flavoured with crispy garlic, sliced red chilli and lemon zest sits on top of a bed of earthy lentils and spinach, served with the creamy carrot dressing. The dressing is simply made of blended cashews along with grated carrot, lime juice and olive oil for a sweet & sour balance.

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Serves 4

200g brown lentils, 2 large handfuls of baby spinach

For the Tenderstem broccoli

200g of Tenderstem Broccoli, 3 garlic cloves chopped, 1 red chilli de-seeded and sliced, 1 tsp of lemon zest, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper

For the dressing

115g grated carrot, 35g cashews, 60 ml olive oil, 120 ml water, the juice of 2 limes, 1 spring onion sliced, 1 large garlic clove sliced, half a tsp of salt, 1 tbsp soy sauce

Method

1/ Pre heat your oven to 200 C  and start cooking your lentils while you prepare the broccoli. I rinsed then simmered mine in boiling water on the hob for around 20 minutes until they’re tender.

2/ For the broccoli, place all of the ingredients in a large baking dish and shake around so the broccoli is covered in the oil, garlic, zest & chilli. Season well with salt & black pepper.

3/ Bake in the oven to 20 minutes or until the broccoli starts to crispen on the edges.

4/ Meanwhile place all of your ingredients for the dressing in a blender and whizz for around a minute until everything is mixed well and has smooth consistency. Check the taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking by adding more soy sauce or lime juice for example.

5/ Once the lentils have cooked, drain then lay over a bed of spinach then arrange the broccoli on top making sure to include all of the crispy chilli and garlic! The spinach will start to wilt under the warm lentils then drop over a couple of spoonfuls of the creamy carrot sauce and enjoy.

Mulled Wine Fruit Crumble

This dish is a spiced winter warmer, based on the classic apple crumble. Poached apples and pears in red wine and mulling spices topped with a crispy nutty crumble. A comforting dessert which you can serve with friends and family then re-heat the leftovers the next day (if you have any!).

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For the mulled fruit:

Serves 4-6

3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths, 3 pears, peeled, cored and quartered, 4 large pieces or orange peel each studded with 3 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tbsp sugar, 375ml (½ bottle) red wine, 250g frozen black cherries, 50g mixed dried fruit

Oatly crème fraîche, to serve (dairy free ice cream would also be delicious)

For the crumble:

100g of brown sugar, 200g flour, 100g of oats, 100g vegetable oil, a pinch of salt, a handful of crushed almonds

Method

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C

2/ Put all of the ingredients for the mulled fruit into a large ovenproof baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3/ Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together all of the crumble ingredients except the almonds, you can use your hands to ensure everything’s mixed together well.

4/ Once the fruit has poached in the mulled wine and softened, spread the crumble over the top and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the crumble is golden and crispy.

5/ Place the almonds on a baking tray in the oven 5 minutes before the crumble is ready and toast them.

6/ Serve warm with a dollop of Oatly crème fraîche or dairy free ice cream and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

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Festive Falafel & Beetroot Dip

A tasty starter or perfect for a party, these festive falafels are flavoured with roasted chestnuts and cranberries. The beetroot dip is an earthy sweet alternative to houmous, it’s been topped with crushed pistachios and pomegranate seeds that makes for a delicious festive accompaniment.

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Festive Falafel

Makes around 20

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces, 400g can chickpea, drained, 200g ready-cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped (I used Merchant Gourmet Whole Chestnuts), ½ tsp chilli flakes, 2 tsp cumin seed, 1 garlic clove minced, small pack coriander roughly chopped plus a little more to serve, 85g dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons of plain flour

Method

1. Pre heat the oven to 200C

2. Spread the sweet potatoes over a baking tray and drizzle in a teaspoon of olive oil, shake in salt and freshly ground pepper then place in the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes or until soft. When ready, take out to cool down.

3. Meanwhile put the remaining ingredients into the food processor except for the coriander and cranberries and blitz but not into paste, keep it a little lumpy. Season generously and in a bowl, mix in sweet potatoes, cranberries and coriander with your hands. Shape dessertspoon-sized balls of the mix into 20 or so pieces and place onto a greased baking tray. (You can use the same tray the sweet potatoes were baked on to save on washing up!)

4. Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until crispy on the edges and piping hot.

5. Serve with the fresh coriander and beetroot dip.

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Beetroot Dip

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, 1 cooked beetroot (I used pre-cooked beetroot), chopped into pieces, 1/2 tsp salt, juice of 1 lemon, 1 garlic clove minced, 2 tbsp tahini, 1 tablespoon of pomegranate seeds, a few crushed pistachios to garnish

Method

1/ Blend all of the ingredients except for pomegranates and pistachios in the food processor until smooth. Taste to check for flavour, you might want to add a little more salt or lemon juice if you have any.

2/ Spoon into a bowl and serve with the pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachios decorating the top.

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Chestnut Tart with Sprout Slaw & Glazed Carrots

This chestnut tart is one I made last Christmas with friends and it went down a treat. It’s a recipe by Anna Jones that I’ve slightly adapted by adding fresh chilli and I’ve given couple of accompaniment ideas. The tart can be served cold or hot, it works both ways, so a good easy meal the next day with any leftovers. If you choose to bake it for a further 20 minutes after adding the topping, the consistency turns into an almost quiche- like tart that goes golden brown on top. The Sprout Slaw is a fresh alternative way to use Brussels sprouts and will convert any sprout avoiders! It’s served with a sweet mustard vinaigrette and toasted desiccated coconut. The warm caramelised chantenay carrots with a zesty twist will round off the dish with a warm and earthy element. I would recommend this menu for a dinner party with friends during the festive period.

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Chestnut Tart

Serves 4-6

For the chestnust tart base

600g butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks, 100g shelled pistachio nuts, 100g pumpkin seeds, 100g pre-cooked whole chestnuts (I used Merchant Gourmet Whole Chestnuts), 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp maple syrup, the zest of 1 lemon, A small bunch of thyme, remove the leaves

For the topping

1 large shallot, finely sliced, 100g shredded cavolo nero leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, remove the leaves, 1 large green chilli, sliced with the seeds left in, 500g silken tofu, 1 lemon

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C, place the squash onto a baking tray with some salt, a good grind of fresh black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, then roast for 30 minutes, or until golden and soft.

2. Around 5-10 minutes before the squash is ready, place the pistachios and pumpkin seeds onto a small baking tray in the oven for them to toast until crispy or just starting to pop.

3. Take everything out of the oven and place all of the ingredients (except the topping ingredients) into a food processor and blend until a pasty mixture is formed. It’s fine to have a few lumps though! 

4. Tip the chestnut base mixture into an oiled 24cm loose-bottomed tart tin. I also use tinfoil to loosely wrap around the outside of the tin for any excess oil to be caught on. Using the back of a spoon to press the mixture into the tin taking care to ensure the edges are neatly filled, then make a slight dip in the middle for the filling to sit in. Roast for 40 minutes, or until crisp at the edges.

5. Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan then fry the sliced shallot for a few minutes before adding the cavolo nero, thyme and sliced chilli. Cook for a few more minutes until the cavolo nero starts to crispen.     

6. In a bowl, whip the silken tofu with the juice of a lemon and half its zest, plus a good pinch of salt and pepper.

7. Spoon the silken tofu evenly over the top of the chestnut tart base,  then top with the chilli & greens, you can heat this further so the silken tofu is warm and quiche like for a another 20 minutes in the oven or serve as it is.

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Sprout Slaw

500g Brussels sprouts, 50 g almonds, toasted and rougly chopped, 50 g dried cranberries, 5 tablespoons desiccated coconut, toasted

Maple mustard dressing

5 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove minced, ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Method

1. Cut off the tough ends of the sprouts and any browning outer leaves. Then finely slice them as thinly as possible.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, syrup, mustard and garlic then in a serving bowl, add the shredded sprouts with the almonds and dried cranberries and combine well so the sprouts are coated in the dressing . Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the top and serve.

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Glazed Carrots

500g chantenay carrots, juice from 2 oranges, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 large knob of butter – I used Naturli’ Vegan Block, ½ a bunch of fresh thyme

Method

1. Place the carrots in a large, wide pan and just cover with water. Add a good pinch of salt and grind of black pepper along with the orange juice, vinegar and butter.

2. Bring to the boil and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and starting to caramelise.

3. Stir through the fresh thyme and serve.

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Chilli Sausage Rolls

These are a delicious meat free alternative that boasts plenty of flavour and have a slight kick from the chilli added. Make a big batch of these then freeze a few for when you’re in need of a quick snack. Just bake from frozen for 20 minutes. The ingredients are simple and easy to get your hands on. I like to eat mine with English mustard and tomato chutney on a bed of rocket.Chilli_Sausage_Rolls_1 copyChilli_Sausage_Rolls_4 copyChilli_Sausage_Rolls_8 copy

Ingredients

130g walnuts, 4 small onions or 1 large chopped, 3 garlic cloves chopped, 1 carton of silken tofu, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt, 3 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 tsp mixed herbs, 1 tsp chilli, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 120g oats, 1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry, freshly ground pepper, 2 tbsp black sesame seeds, 1 tbsp milk

Method

1/ Pre-heat the oven to 170C and take out the pastry from the fridge.

2/ Process the walnuts until crumbly then add to a large bowl. Then process the onion and garlic to a paste and add to the walnuts.

3/ Drain the tofu then add to the processor along with the herbs, spices, soy sauce and salt. Process until smooth then add to the bowl and stir together along with the oats. You want a consistency that almost holds, not too sloppy but you don’t need it too firm. Add more oats if you need to. Finally add 20 or so twists of freshly ground pepper to the mix and combine.

4/ Next, lay out your pastry on a board. Fold it in half length ways then open out and cut along the crease so you have two long pieces of pastry. Along the middle of each piece, spoon half the oat mixture so you have a long trail of the mixture running along the middle of each piece of pastry. To fold the sausage rolls, stretch over one side of the pastry to cover the oat mixture, then do the same for the other side. Now you should have what looks like a giant sausage roll, turn it over so you have the neat side on top then cut into 8 even pieces and place onto to a baking tray. You can use the baking paper the pastry comes with on for the baking tray. Repeat for the second half.

5/ Brush the milk over the sausage rolls then sprinkle the sesame seeds on top before baking in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Alternatively you can freeze half before baking them so you have some to cook at a later date.

6/ Serve warm with your favourite sides and enjoy!

Berry Crumble with Nut & Oat Topping

This easy crumble can be whipped together anytime in under an hour. Cardamon infused gingery mixed berries topped with an oat and nut crumble served with a spoonful of coconut cream makes for a delicious warming dessert or breakfast treat. Try the recipe below the photos if you like the sound of it!

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Serves 4

Ingredients

500g mixed frozen berries, 4 cardamon pods, a thumb sized piece of ginger grated, 60g sultanas, 60g plain flour, 100g oats, 60g dairy free butter, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 50g mixed nuts chopped, 1 tbsp cornflour, 2 tbsp golden caster sugar, 4 tbsp coconut cream

Method

1/ Preheat the oven to 170C. Gently stew the mixed berries, ginger and sultanas with the cardamon pods. Keep the lid on for around 10 minutes until it starts to bubble.

2/ Meanwhile make your crumble by rubbing the butter, oats and flour together to form a breadcrumb like consistency. You might need to add some more flour if it’s a bit sticky.

3/ Stir through the cinnamon & nuts then shake out onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the crumble starts to brown.

4/ Once your fruit has started bubbling, take it off the heat and try to find the cardamon pods to remove them with a spoon. Mix the cornflour in a bowl with a little water then stir it through the fruit so it thickens slightly. Pour the fruit into an oven proof dish or skillet then top with the crumble, sprinkle over the sugar and bake for 10 minutes until juice starts to bubble around the edges.

5/ Serve whilst still hot with a spoon of coconut cream and enjoy!

Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Swede

This shepherd’s pie is rich and packed with plenty of texture from the crunchy carrots, soft cabbage and buttery lentils. The mashed swede top makes for a lighter alternative to the usual white potato mash. It’s delicious served alongside steamed greens with a squeeze of lemon and fresh black pepper.

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Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1/2 tsp chilli flakes, 2 small onions, 2 medium carrots, 1/4 white cabbage, 3 garlic cloves,  1/2 a swede, 1 tin of plum tomatoes, 1 tsp marmite, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp dried herbs such as sage, oregano & thyme, 1 tbsp tomato purée, 200g frozen peas, 1/3 cup of red lentils, 1 tbsp dairy free butter, salt & pepper, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Method

1/ Pre-heat your oven to 180 C, boil the kettle and prepare your vegetables by chopping everything finely. Gently boil the swede in salted water whilst you start on the filling.

2/ Heat the carrots, onion & cabbage in a large saucepan over a medium heat, season and let them sweat until soft. Add the garlic and balsamic vinegar then place the lid on and let everything cook for a couple of minutes.

3/ Stir through the tinned tomatoes, 100 ml of water, the dried herbs, chilli flakes and tomato purée. Break the tomatoes up a bit but it’s good to leave some big chunks. After a few minutes and once everything’s gently bubbling away, add the marmite and red lentils, you might need to add a dash more water, enough to cover the lentils then season.

4/ Simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally and tasting to check the flavour. You might want to add more salt, pepper, chilli, marmite or tomato purée according to your taste.

5/ Whilst your filling is simmering, check your swede is soft when you pierce it with a knife, drain and mash it with the butter, mustard and salt & pepper. Then pour your vegetable filling into an oven dish, top with the swede mash and bake for 30 minutes.

6/ Once the edges are bubbling, take out and garnish with the fresh thyme and serve on its own or alongside green beans with a squeeze of lemon.

 

Pancakes with Orange & Saffron Compote

These pancakes are made using whisked aquafaba which is bean juice. You can use aquafaba in the same ways you would egg whites and in this recipe I’ve used it as the egg substitute. Don’t worry, you can’t taste any bean flavours in these pancakes! The recipe makes a batch of fluffy pancakes that can be topped with either sweet or savoury toppings. I’ve made a simple orange compote with stewed oranges, a pinch of saffron and a little maple syrup then served them with a spoon of yoghurt.

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Makes 10 – 12 pancakes

Ingredients

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, 230g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 300ml oat milk, Coconut oil to fry with, 2 large oranges, a pinch of saffron, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 4 tbsp Alpro coconut yoghurt

Method

1/ Preheat the oven to 100 C (this is to keep your pancakes warm), drain your chickpeas and measure out 135 ml of the chickpea juice (aquafaba).

2/ Whisk the aquafaba with an electric hand whisk at a high speed for 5-10 minutes until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder then beat in the oat milk until you have a smooth batter.

3/ Slowly fold your whisked aquafaba into the batter. Heat a large frying pan with the oil over a medium heat. Once hot, carefully ladle your pancake mix into the pan leaving space between. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until brown, before transferring to an oven proof plate and covering with tinfoil to keep warm in the oven. Repeat this process until your batter is used up.

4/ Whilst your pancakes are cooking, peel your oranges removing any large pieces of pith. Cut into chunks, place in a saucepan over a medium heat with the maple syrup and saffron. Gently simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.

5/ Once your pancakes are all cooked, plate them up and serve with a spoon or two of your compote and spoonful of yoghurt.

Orange, Polenta & Olive Oil Cake

This orange, polenta & olive oil cake is light and moist with a zingy tang from the citrus. The olive oil has a subtle taste behind the sweetness and you could probably make this with vegetable oil if you preferred, although I haven’t tried that yet. The polenta adds a slight grainy texture to the soft sponge and it’s delicious served while it’s still warm with some yoghurt, coconut cream or vanilla ice cream. It will keep in an airtight container for up to five days.

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Ingredients

120g polenta, 90g ground almonds, 140g self raising flour, 120ml plain soya yoghurt, 120ml olive oil, 120ml maple syrup,  60ml freshly squeeze orange juice, 1/4 cup oat milk at room temperature, the zest of two large oranges, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 50g pistachios lightly blitzed in a food processor.

For the orange drizzle: ¼ cup maple syrup, 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Method

1/ Grease and line a 7″ springform cake tin. Pre heat the oven to 160c.

2/ Whisk the liquids (yoghurt, olive oil, milk, maple syrup and orange juice) into a jug, then leave to one side.

3/ Stir all of the dry ingredients (flour, polenta, ground almonds, baking powder and orange zest) into a large bowl then pour in the liquid mixture and stir until everything’s well combined.

4/ Pour your cake mix into the tin and place in the centre of your pre-heated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

5/ Once it’s cooked through, place on a wire rack and allow your cake to cool slightly in the tin. Whisk together the maple syrup and orange juice then poke holes into the top of the cake with a cocktail stick and pour the syrup over the cake evenly and generously.

6/ When the orange syrup has soaked into your cake you can take it out of the tin. Decorate with the pistachios, then serve it with a spoon of yoghurt or coconut cream.