Feeding a cold (with lentils)

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I write this swaddled in a blanket, trying to get over a cold which my loving husband passed on to me last week. It is taking its sweet time to leave. I’ve tried nudging it with Night nurse*, smothering it with sleep and Sudafed*,  and now I’m going to flush it out with food – chicken soup, stews, all the good, warm, autumnal stuff.

*Other cold/flu medicines are available.

One of my recent favourites that might help to do the trick is a kind of lentil stew with tomatoes, mustard, garlic and thyme. It’s from a book the OH and I are a little obsessed with at the moment: A Modern Way to Cook by Anna Jones. All vegetarian/vegan dishes, all amazing. There will be more of her recipes on this blog soon.

I admit, lentils don’t tend to get people excited, but these are blinking tasty – I’ll let the photo’s convince you…

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Garlic & thyme lentils with roasted tomatoes, breadcrumbs, and mustard cream 

lightly adapted from A Modern Way to Cook

Ingredients

For the lentils:

300g green/puy lentils

4 cloves garlic

1 tomato

a few sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 vegetable stock cube

Glug of oil and splash of red wine vinegar (optional)

For the tomatoes:

400g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

olive/rapeseed oil

2-3 slices wholemeal bread, blitzed into crumbs

small bunch fresh thyme (or equivalent dried)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

For the mustard cream:

2 tsp english mustard (or to taste)

100g cream cheese

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1. Preheat the oven to 220C and boil a kettle of water.

2. Put the lentils in a large pan with the tomato, the 4 cloves of garlic (unpeeled), the bay leaves, and the sprigs of thyme. Dissolve the stock cube in 1 litre of boiling water and pour over the lentils. Bring the pan back to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat and simmer gently for 25-30 mins, until the lentils are tender and most of the water has evaporated.

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3. Whilst the lentils are cooking, put the cherry tomatoes on a roasting tray – cut side up. Drizzle over some oil, sprinkle over the lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven and roast for around 15 minutes.

4. Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, put the breadcrumbs on another roasting tray with the thyme leaves and the chopped garlic clove. Drizzle over some more oil and put in the oven with the tomatoes for a further five minutes.

5. Meanwhile, mix the mustard with the cream cheese and set aside.

6. When the lentils are cooked, scoop out the tomato, the garlic, and the bay leaves. Discard the bay leaves and put the tomato into a small bowl. Pop the garlic cloves out of their skins and mash into the tomato to create a rough paste, before stirring this back into the lentils. Check the lentils and add a glug of oil and a splash of red wine vinegar to the mixture, and extra seasoning if desired.

To serve: Ladle the lentils into a bowl and spoon over some of the mustard cream. Scatter over the roasted tomatoes and the breadcrumbs, and get cosy…

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Hopefully this will get my cold moving – wish me luck!

Meat Free Freak

So this week is ‘Meat Free Week’ in the UK (and I believe, Australia). I must confess, it has taken me by surprise – I only found out about it yesterday (after having already bought food for the week… with meat in it!). What a bad food blogger, I should have my finger on the pulse(s). Sorry.

Although I won’t be taking part fully this year, the OH and I are regular meat-free eaters here and have fairly easily gone a week without it in the past, so I don’t feel too bad…

If you want to find out more about the campaign the official website is here, but the general aims of this week seem to be to raise awareness of how much meat we as a nation eat (more than double the world average!), and how this can impact on our health and the environment. Also thinking more about where our meat comes from, and whether it is ethical or sustainable, which is something I personally find important.

If you are attempting Meat Free week this year, or just want some veggie ideas, then here are some of my favourite non-meat meals, and some I can’t wait to try!

For those needing a burger or similar:

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Portobello burger with broccoli pesto & almond-crusted courgette fries (Sheerluxe)

When burgers look this good, what’s not to like? The recipe doesn’t include how to make broccoli pesto, but I (helpfully) made some last week to go with gnocchi so here is a super-quick run-through of how I made it:

Take 1 head of broccoli, chop roughly and blanch in boiling salted water for approx 3-4 minutes. Lightly fry a garlic clove, and dry fry/toast approx 75g pine nuts. Drain the broccoli and add to a blender or food processor with 100ml olive oil, the toasted pine nuts, the garlic, 1 mild chilli and approx 50g of grated parmesan cheese. Blend to a paste to create the pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

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Epic Crispy Quinoa burger with beer-caramelised onions, gruyere and sweet potato fries (half-baked harvest)

WHEN BURGERS LOOK THIS GOOD, WHO NEEDS MEAT?! Sorry for shouting, but this looks ridiculous and I need to make it soon. When only something dirty will do…

Something a bit healthier:

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Broad bean, feta and new potato quesadilla’s

These beauties are a delight, and quite spring-like. Broad beans, peas, new potatoes, feta, mint – just lovely.

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Carrot Fritters with halloumi & sweet lemon dressing (sheerluxe)

Another spring-like delight, these went down a storm at a veggie dinner party we gave a while ago. The sweet lemon dressing makes it special.

Comfort food:

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Truffled gnocchi with mushroom ragu (simply delicious)

Posh comfort food that is… anything with truffle in I will eat (I think), and a ragu with mushrooms sounds comforting and stodgy and lovely when there’s still a chill in the air – like today!

d96d56cc14c6ca4713149d6adc2f9987 Tenderstem & Split-pea curry with caramelised shallots (Red online)

Chilly comfort food again – lentils, pulses and split-peas are some of my staples and they are elevated with the caramelised shallots and tender stem broccoli in this recipe.

Lunch:

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Roasted cauliflower & mushroom quinoa salad with balsamic vinaigrette (closet cooking)

A lovely salad which is excellently very tasty cold as well as hot. Make a big batch of this and it’ll last most of the week! We tend to put blue cheese in it instead of goats, but whatever you choose it’ll taste great. Very filling too.

Brunch: 

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Griddled sourdough with halloumi and mushrooms (Red online)

Three of my favourite words in one sentence there – sourdough, halloumi, and mushrooms. Could easily be supper instead of brunch if you (i.e I!) wanted.

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Baked eggs with spinach and black garlic soldiers (red online)

Had to get eggs in there for brunch! This sounds delicious, and I’m sure normal garlic would work just as well as black – or maybe even wild garlic?

A Quick one:

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Molletes (sheerluxe)

The recipe for these little mexican delights involve making your own re-fried beans and fresh tomato salsa which, although admirable, is not needed if you just want something tasty – as you can buy both quite easily at the supermarket. It is therefore just a case of opening a couple of tins, putting it all on some ciabbata buns and putting it under the grill. Simples 😉

You might recall I did a post on an (almost) meat-free week a while back, and the recipes there are some of my favourites too, but I didn’t want to replicate. Therefore, the link is here if you’d like to take a look.

Meat-free or not, have a tasty week!

Vegging Out

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I ate too much. This was a good week, but probably not very good for me. It involved a LOT of meat.

To try and counteract that a bit, the OH and I ate (almost) vegetarian food for (almost) a week last week… (It was five days, and there was a tiny bit of belly pork involved).

Anyway, we found some tasty recipes to cook, and i really didn’t miss meat much, so i thought i’d share them with you.

Sunday

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Normally on a weekend we will indulge in an english breakfast or a variation on one at some point. It’s normally grilled, and the eggs are often poached, so not the worst meal you could have – but having just watched a programme about how bad processed meat is for you, we didn’t feel much like indulging in sausages and bacon anyway! Instead we had sweetcorn and spring onion fritters, grilled halloumi, grilled cherry tomatoes, and lambs lettuce. It looks colourful and vibrant and it tasted yum. Fritters were adapted from Lavender and Lovage.

Monday

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Nigel Slater’s Sweet Onions with Lentil Stew

This is the recipe with the teeny bit of meat, but it’s really just to add depth of flavour. This isn’t the healthiest of recipes, as the onions are slowly cooked in butter, but considering the rest of the ingredients are lentils, carrot and some spices, it’s so delicious! We had it with creme fraiche and a seeded roll, it’s a really good autumnal tasty stew, and you could easily forgo the meat if veggie.

Tuesday

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Smoky Sweet Potato & Bean Cakes with Citrus Salad

These vegetables cakes are a BBC Good Food recipe and are four of your five a day! They have a bit of a kick with coriander, spring onions and chipotle paste, and are surprisingly filling. You could always treat them as a burger and have it in a bun if you wanted too…

Wednesday

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Lemon & Aubergine Tagine with Almond Cous Cous

Another BBC Good Food recipe, aubergine is a great meaty vegetable, and this Tagine is only 361cals, but filling. The Harissa makes it pretty spicy so we had some natural yoghurt with it too, and the almonds in the cous cous are a nice extra.

Thursday

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Spicy Buckwheat Noodles with Tamarind Sauce

This is a recipe by Hemsley Hemsley, two sisters who create healthy recipes without gluten, or refined sugar. We substituted the buckwheat noodles for whole wheat ones, as they were easier to find, and we used honey instead of maple syrup because I didn’t want to spend five pounds on maple syrup that we probably wouldn’t use up in time.  This had broccoli, mushrooms, green beans, spring onions and cashews in, and a really flavourful sauce, using tart tamarind (which I love). A dish we will be making again…

If anyone’s got any other tasty vegetarian dishes I should try let me know!