Aubergine & Chickpea Curry with Turmeric
TURMERIC ~ Nature’s Natural Wonder! Turmeric is one of Nature’s most powerful healers. It’s an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antioxidant. It’s a liver detoxifier, and a pain killer. It’s used in the treatment of depression, Alzheimer’s, certain cancers, digestive disorders & helps metabolise fat.
Get cooking with it! Add a teaspoon to the cooking water in rice, pasta or other veg dishes.
We’re harvesting a steady supply of deliciously long aubergines at the moment, so here’s a dish that makes great use of them.
Ingredients: Pre-prep ~ 2 aubergines, thinly sliced in rounds, then halved ; 2 table spoons turmeric; 1 heaped tea spoon sea salt; 1-2 table spoons sunflower oil, per batch of frying
Preparation ~ 3 table spoons sunflower oil; 1 table spoon fenugreek seeds; 1 large onion, peeled & chopped; 1 fresh chilli, chopped; 1 dessert spoon pre-blended madras curry powder; 1 dessert spoon garam masala; 1 heaped tea spoon corn flour; 1 dessert spoon lime pickle (optional); 2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges; 400g jar of cooked chickpeas; 200ml coconut milk; 6 large fresh spinach leaves, torn; large bunch of fresh coriander
Pre-prep: Mix the turmeric with the salt in a large bowl, then toss in the slices of aubergine and stir to coat each slice. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and when hot, drop in as many aubergine slices as will fit in the pan and fry gently on both sides until golden brown. Lift out and set aside. Continue frying all the aubergine slices in this way, using more oil as necessary with each batch. Allow to cool.
For the rest, gently heat remaining oil in a large saucepan. Add the fenugreek seeds and after 2 mins, add the chopped onions and fresh chilli and stir well. Mix the curry powder, garam masala and corn flour together and bring to a paste using a little cold water. Add the lime pickle if using and mix well. Pour this over the onions and chilli and stir quickly to get a smooth thick paste. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and continue mixing well. Allow to gently bubble for a minute then add the chickpeas, the prepared aubergines and finally, the torn spinach leaves and coriander.
Simmer very gently with the lid on for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes until ready to serve. Serve with chutneys and pickles and indian flatbreads. You can vary the veg according to what’s in your garden and waht’s in season…
Artichoke, Apple & Chickpea Salad, with Toasted Walnuts
This salad is de-lish, packs quite a punch and is full of good-for-you-ingredients…
APPLES~ Packed with health boosting properties. Most of the goodness is in the skin however, so wash well & keep it on! Add one to your soups for undetectable delectable goodness!
CHICKPEAS~ Contain high levels of protein & are easily digestible. They’re a very good source of folate, manganese & copper, and low in sodium & saturated fat. Get chic with chickpeas and include them in your diet!
GLOBE ARTICHOKE ~ Aids digestion & assists liver function. Steam or boil fresh globe heads for 30 to 40 mins. Pick off one leaf at a time, dip in a piquant sauce & drag the flesh off with your teeth! Very primitive & great fun! Also makes a fab center piece table decoration!
WALNUTS ~ Walnuts have long been associated with ‘brain food’ not only because of their 2 hemispheres & wrinkled appearance, but because of their high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids. These are fluid & flexible structural fats found in walnuts, flaxseed and cold water fish which maximize the brain cells’ ability to usher in nutrients and eliminate waste. As well as flaxseeds, they are the best vegetarian source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
SWEET CORN~ Provides more starch & calories than most vegetables. A good food for steady blood sugar levels. Scrumptiously sensational straight from the cob!
Salad Ingredients: Serves 4 or 6 ~ 400g jar cooked chickpeas, drained; 240g tin of artichoke hearts, drained & halved; 125g tin of sweet corn, drained; 1 medium red apple, cored & sliced; 2 cups shelled walnuts, toasted
Dressing; 1 heaped dessert spoon Dijon mustard; 3 heaped dessert spoons mayonnaise; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 1/2 lemon juice; black pepper
Drain all the Salad Ingredients well. Char-grill the artichokes then allow to cool. Gently toast the walnuts and allow to cool. In a small bowl mix together all the Dressing Ingredients.
In a large serving bowl, mix the chickpeas & corn together with the dressing ~ adding a little at a time so as not to overdo it. Toss in the apple, then finally add the artichokes and sprinkle the walnuts on top. Serve as a side or main with warmed walnut bread or baked sweet potatoes…
Cheese, Onion & Potato pie by Alistair Handy
This one’s too easy to resist! And it’s just what we need in this still-chilly weather! Whoever is doing the rain dances, could they please stop!
- 60g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 8kg potatoes, such as nicola or dutch cream, skins left on and finely sliced
- 120g grated tasty cheese
- 1 bunch sage, leaves picked
- green salad to serve
Heat the butter in a frypan over a medium heat and fry the onion until it becomes soft and translucent. Preheat oven to 200°C. Lightly grease an 18cm x 7cm springform tin and press an overlapping layer of potato slices around sides. Next, create a layer of concentric rings of overlapping discs to cover base. Spread a little onion and cheese across the base, season with sea salt and ground black pepper, then dot with 4 sage leaves. Cover this layer with potato, and continue alternating potato and cheese, onion and sage layers until you reach the top of the springform tin. Brush pie with butter, place on a baking tray, and loosely cover with foil.
Bake for 1½ hours, then remove foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the potato is crisp. Remove and allow to cool a little. Cut into generous slices and serve with a green salad and chunk of your favorite bread!
Couldn’t be simpler!
Caramelized onion Spiced tofu tart
Sadly, tofu gets a lot of bad press, which is a shame because it’s a very worthy ingredient. It’s packed full of nutrients and is the richest non-dairy source of calcium. It’s high in iron & potassium, and contains omega-3 fatty acids which may help to lower blood cholesterol.
Get munching Girls! Tofu may also ease menopausal systems since it has lots of weak oestrogen-like compounds. Evidence suggests that it has some anti-breast cancer activity for the same reason.
What type of Tofu? Always have the right kind of tofu for your recipe ~ firm or silken. Firm tofu can be cubed, crumbled, sliced or smoked. It can be marinated, sautéed, scrambled, kebabed or grilled. Pat it dry and do what you like! Silken tofu is much softer so it is often used blended with other ingredients to make dressings or cakes. And it’s widely available without being genetically modified! Check it out!
250g sweet potato, peeled, sliced & part boiled; 400g firm tofu, drained & crumbled with a fork; 1 table spoon harissa or other chilli sauce; 50g butter; 5 large onions, peeled & sliced; 70g brown sugar; 1 packet ready made pastry (or make your own);
add Goat’s Cheese & Sun Dried Tomatoes: It’s easy to add variety to this basic tart! Try it with
200g goat’s cheese, sliced; 8 sun dried tomatoes, chopped; S&P
Part boil the potatoes (about 5 minutes) then drain & set aside to cool. On a flat surface, pat the tofu dry with kitchen towel then crumble roughly with a fork. Tip into a bowl and toss with the chilli sauce. Allow to marinade while the potatoes are cooking.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the sliced onions and season well with S & P. Gently fry with the lid on for 5 mins. When they are soft and transparent, add the sugar & stir.
Simmer gently with the lid on for 10 minutes.
Heat the oven to 180C / gas 4.
Roll out the pastry into a greased flan dish. Line the pastry first with the sliced potatoes, then tip in the tofu mix. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the onion mix on top of the tofu. Arrange the sliced goat’s cheese on top (if using) covering the whole of the tart, then randomly sprinkle over the sun dried tomatoes (if using).
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked.
Leave to cool to allow the tart to set, but serve warm.
COLESLAW or Kool Salade, as it was once known!
Endlessly variable, enviously easy and enormously good-for-you! Go raw and add this salad to your main meal at any time of the week!
The term “coleslaw” arose in the 18th century as an Anglicisation of the Dutch term “koolsla”, a shortening of “koolsalade”, which means “cabbage salad”. Here’s one of my versions of a kool salad…
For the salad ~ finely sliced red cabbage,
grated apple, grated or cubed cheese.
For the topping ~ pine nuts, walnuts,
sunflower seeds, chopped dates…
…as I said, the variations are endless!
Get some goodness into today!
Copies of Nikki’s recipe book
Mushroom & artichoke paté with blue cheese & black olives
This is one of my favourite and most popular recipes. Did you know that mushrooms are incredibly good for you? Even the non-magical types are magical! Ancient civilizations believed that mushrooms had super powers and now modern science is coming to the same conclusion. Mushrooms are very high in anti-oxidants and are the only non-animal source of vitamin D. High in minerals such as potassium, they are also a source of riboflavin, niacin & selenium ~ an essential trace element shown to help protect against prostate and breast cancers, as well as heart disease. Mushrooms contain a high amount of vitamin B12.
So make room for mushrooms today!
You can use any type of mushroom for this recipe, although we’ve got into the habit of using shiitakes, simply because Sean is in the habit of growing them off our own oak logs! It’s quite mad really, but also incredibly exciting.
50g butter; 1 onion, peeled & chopped; 1 heaped teaspoon ground black pepper; 5 large mushrooms, wiped, destalked & coarsely chopped; 3 artichoke hearts, drained & chopped; 1 handful pitted black olives, chopped; 1 cup breadcrumbs; 1/2 lemon, juiced; 1 tspn black olive tapenade (optional); 50 gms blue cheese, crumbled; handful fresh parsley, chopped. A final crack of black pepper & a twist of lemon slice.
Gently heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion. Sauté until translucent, then add the black pepper. Stir, then tip in the mushrooms, artichoke, and olives. Mix through then toss in the breadcrumbs, lemon juice and tapenade (if using). It should be a sticky mix at this stage. Throw in the cheese and parsley and mix through. Serve in individual ramekins warm or chilled, with a final crack of black pepper and the lemon slice. Or stuff into a grilled Portobello mushroom, or warmed pittas, or just heap onto hot toast. Freezes well.
Variations & Vegan version: Add some pine nuts for a bit of crunch or a few mashed chestnuts for a protein fix. You can make this recipe completely animal free by switching butter with margarine and omitting the cheese. Simples!
Veggi Wellington ~ recipe by Andy Waters
One to try if the kids are around and fancy helping, or you can wrap it all up on our own in no time!
I’m going to try this one tonight, and knowing me, I’ll probably adapt it in some way! Would you make any changes?
- 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks
- 1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked
- 1 sprig of thyme, leaves picked
- 2 red onions, peeled and sliced
- 100g of chopped peeled chestnuts, optional
- 2 slices of sourdough bread
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 10g of butter
- 250g of button mushrooms, finely sliced
- 200g of baby spinach
- 50g of pine nuts
- 500g of puff pastry
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp of milk
- 200g of curly kale
- 2 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 3 pinches of salt
- 2 pinches of pepper
Add the sweet potato to a large roasting tray with a good splash of olive oil. Using a pestle and mortar, bash the rosemary and thyme lightly for 1-2 minutes to release the flavour. Scatter over the sweet potato. Cover the tray with tin foil and place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes until soft. Remove and allow to cool. Meanwhile, place a saucepan over a medium heat and add a dash of olive oil. Once hot, add the onions along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently cook the onions, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned. Add the crumbled chestnuts to the pan and cook for further 2 minutes. Toast the bread until dark and golden and drizzle with a small dash of olive oil. Tear into small chunks and set aside. Add the torn toast to the pan with the onions, stir to combine. Stir in the lemon zest and remove the pan from the heat. For the mushrooms, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until all the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off and they are soft. Squeeze in a little lemon juice. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the contents into a blender and blitz into a paste. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Tear the kale into small pieces and cook for 2 minutes, then add the spinach and cook for another 30 seconds. Drain and set aside. In a bowl, mix the kale and spinach with the pine nuts, a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Now assemble your Wellington. Roll out the puff pastry on a sheet of baking parchment until approximately 30cm x 40cm, then spread the mushroom mixture on top. Toss together the spinach, squash and onion-bread mixture. Spoon it in a thick line down the middle of the pastry, leaving a gap at either side so you can join up the edges of the Wellington. Hold one side of the baking parchment and lift it, with the pastry, towards the centre of the Wellington so the filling is half covered. Peel the baking parchment back, leaving the pastry in place, then repeat with the other side. The pastry should overlap in the middle. Beat the egg with the milk and brush it over the pastry to seal the join. Fold up the ends so the filling doesn’t leak out, then carefully roll the Wellington onto a baking sheet, with the seal underneath. Brush all over with the remainder of the egg mix. Bake for 45 minutes until puffed up, golden brown and hot through the middle.
This is a classic vegetable dish from the Provence region of France. It’s a lot easier to make than it is to say! The first half of its name is believed to be slang for chunky stew, while the second half is from the french ‘touillir’ – to stir. So there you go! You can stew it or sauté it or pop it in the oven and you can use a variety of seasonal veg either from your garden or your local market. Its a very versatile dish and I keep changing it depending on what’s available.
The basics are always onions, aubergine, courgettes and tomatoes, and the flavouring is always marvelously Mediterranean with fresh basil and thyme and olives too if you fancy. You can serve it stuffed into round courgettes or massive marrows or just plain and simple accompanied with fluffy couscous or rice.
4 table spoons olive oil; 1 large onion, peeled & sliced; 1 aubergine, chopped; 1 courgette, sliced into rounds or half moons; 2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges; 400ml jar of good quality tomato sauce; fresh basil, thyme and parsley. Optional extras include black or green olives; fresh fennel; red or green pepper; broccoli; peas; artichoke hearts; red or green cabbage; carrots and even chilli if you want to add a lot of kick.
Heat the olive oil then toss in the onion and aubergine. The aubergine will soak up most of the oil so stir thoroughly to coat well. Season with salt and pepper. After 5 minutes add the courgettes, tomatoes, tomato sauce and fresh herbs. Simmer very slowly and gently for 30 minutes. Add a little water if necessary. Before simmering, add any of the above optional extras that have taken your fancy. Blanch & drain broccoli or carrots or frozen peas before adding, drain artichoke hearts, chop peppers and slice fennel or cabbage. It’s that easy!
Serve with some chevre chaud sliced on top with a side dish of couscous, rice, or potatoes…
Sizzling Veg Chilli
There’s nothing like a hot chilli to spice up your life! Considered the “king” of spices, all chillies – even dried and powdered varieties – are packed with nutrients and minerals. They are known to act as a natural pain killer, reduce joint inflammation, lower blood sugar levels, inhibit prostate cancer cell growth, prevent stomach ulcers, and, as we’ve all experienced from time to time, relieve congestion. The heat of the chilli is mostly in the fleshy white membrane and in the seeds, so be careful how you handle fresh chillies.
2 cups green lentils; 1 onion peeled & chopped; 2 red chillies, chopped; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 carrot, grated; 125g cooked red kidney beans; 125g sweet corn, drained; 400ml of good quality tomato sauce; 1 packet fajita spice mix; handful of fresh parsley
Cook the lentils according to instructions, drain and set aside. While the lentils are cooking, sauté the onions & chilli in the olive oil for 5 minutes on a medium heat. Toss in the carrot, kidney beans, sweet corn and tomato sauce. Stir in the fajita spice mix, cover and simmer gently. When the lentils are ready, add to the veg chilli along with the parsley. Mix together and serve hot from the pan or transfer to a serving dish.
Great rolled into tortillas along side other mexican style dishes such as guacamole, tomato salsa, sour cream and grated cheese, or piled high into baked potatoes, or used as a base to make veg chilli lasagne. Add breadcrumbs or rice to any leftover chilli to make patties or burgers.
Tangy Thai Pumpkin Soup
Ridiculously easy, velvety smooth, delightfully delicious, this tangy thai style pumpkin soup is great to scoop into mugs and warm your hands around on dark winter evenings gathered round a cracking camp fire as you wait your turn to take a glimpse through our telescope, or, as we did just recently, snuggled up together on these still chilly but tantalizing early spring nights.
We always grow lots and lots of pumpkins as they’re power-packed with antioxidants and they’re very versatile in a number of savoury dishes. And, they can even be baked into cakes! What’s not to like?
Well, actually, cutting and scooping out all those seeds is not one of my favourite vegetable preps, but I have to say, the amount of flesh you get for all that hard work is certainly worth it and goes a long way. I roasted and froze batches of it that wasn’t ear-marked for other recipes through the winter. Seasoning, sprinkling with dried herbs then roasting cubes or ‘boats’ of pumpkin adds aroma and deepens its natural nutty flavour.
750g roasted pumpkin, cubed; 1 red onion, chopped; 1 inch fresh ginger, grated; 1 red chilli (or more for a hotter taste!), chopped; 1 tbs vegetable oil; 400ml coconut milk; 400ml vegetable stock; zest & juice of 1 lime; 2 more limes for garnish, quartered; 2 generous handfuls of fresh coriander; 2 tbs desiccated coconut.
In a large pan, gently sauté the onion, chilli and ginger in the oil until the onion is transparent. And the pumpkin, mix in and turn off the heat. Stir in the coconut milk and leave to cool. When cooled, add the zest and lime juice and a handful of coriander. Blend in batches until velvety smooth and return to the pan. Gently heat through, stirring in as much vegetable stock as desired to get the right consistency for you. Check seasoning. Scoop into mugs or bowls, squeeze a lime wedge over and garnish with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut and chopped coriander. Serve hot! Also good with a scattering of smashed pistachios!
So wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, try this easy recipe to warm you through from top to toe! Bon Appétit!