I love paneer. If I see a menu and it has paneer on it, I will order it without a doubt, preferably alongside a thick, garlicky daal of some description. As the cheese itself is quite flavourless it lends itself to being mixed with punchy flavours and spices. This Tikka Paneer and Pilaf is one of those meals which you start in the morning before work (mixing the marinade) and then finish off in the evening. And, as usual, it’s ready in around 30 minutes and won’t break the bank; a perfect vegetarian midweek meal.
Sundried tomatoes, paste and pesto always hang around for a bit in my kitchen. I never seem to use a whole tub or jar so am left with trying to find different ways to use them up. And why not mix them with mashed potato! This Baked Aubergine, Halloumi and Tomato Mashed Potato is really rather very good; especially when you get a forkful of everything at once. Great for using up a few odds and ends too and you could easily stretch this to feed four people just by adding an extra aubergine and a few more potatoes.
Wholesome food always makes you feel good; it’s made from humble ingredients and is full of good things like beans, vegetables and whole grains. I normally eat slow cooked, what I would describe as wholesome, meals in the autumn and winter but this easy white bean stew with purple sprouting broccoli is the perfect dish for this time of year. It’s quick and easy to make, is full of seasonal vegetables and is absolutely delicious. Using seasonal veg not only makes the best of what’s around but means it’s super cheap to cook up too, feeding four people for around £4.50 (most of what I used was organic too!).
It’s always interesting to try something different with a classic. Not content with, although always very welcome, standard macaroni cheese I wanted to add a few bits here and there to make it extra special. I dreamt up my beer, mustard and onion macaroni cheese and set about making it. I wasn’t sure how best to incorporate the beer so I settled on trying out a beer béchamel.
You will need (for 2):
- 150g macaroni
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 100ml milk
- 200ml beer – preferably a bitter (if you’re not sure what’s what, this guide can help!)
- 50g strong cheddar, grated
- 100g emmental, grated
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 2-3 tsp caramelised onions
- Salt and pepper
Cook the macaroni according to packet instructions. Preheat and oven to 180C.
To make the beer béchamel melt the butter over a medium heat then add the flour. Cook the flour for at least one minute. Mix together the milk and beer then slowly add this to the butter and flour, stirring all the time so you don’t get any lumps. Cook the béchamel for a few minutes until thickened then remove from the heat.
Pasta bake has got to be one of the best comfort dishes going. Plenty of carbs smothered in tomato, cheese or cream sauce with all sorts of lovely other bits in there; bacon or mushrooms being my favourite. For me a pasta bake is normally a weekend dish as it takes a bit of time to make, however, this recipe using gnocchi takes only 45 minutes from start to table and is mighty tasty and super simple too. Not only that, if you serve it with salad you’ve got five different vegetables (fruit if we’re being picky about the tomatoes and aubergine) all in one meal. Say hello to my Aubergine, Butterbean, Pesto and Gnocchi Bake.
Hang on, a sausage roll that doesn’t have any sausage in it? Correct. I absolutely love a proper sausage roll; when the juices run out of it and caramelise under the flaky pastry. To pack a picnic with a couple of sausage rolls and a flask of tea is to pack a fine picnic as far as I’m concerned. So what’s with this vegetarian creation? My reasons are threefold: firstly, at this time of year I need pastry; secondly, I love spinach and particularly spanakopita and thirdly I wondered what a vegetable ‘sausage’ roll would be like.
Sometimes you end up with all sorts of bits and pieces in your fridge; half a bit of something there, a few nibbly bits leftover here and I find these little pieces a great source of inspiration. This recipe is a speedy one which makes use of a few ingredients I can find in my fridge more often than not. Lovingly referred to as ‘pasta with fridge bits’ this particular version was a delicious Spaghetti with Balsamic Tomatoes, Olives and Mozzarella.
You will need (for two):
- 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 175g spaghetti
- 1 ball mozzarella, torn into smaller pieces
- Small handful olives, roughly chopped
- Small handful fresh basil, large stalks removed, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat an oven to 200C. Put the cherry tomatoes into an oven proof dish in a single layer. Drizzle over the vinegar, olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper. Put the tomatoes into the oven for 20 minutes.
The next pasta recipe up my sleeves is a super quick one; ideal for a midweek meal you need in a hurry but still want it to be tasty too. My Spicy Tomato Fusilli with Garlic Pangrattato takes less than thirty minutes from fridge to plate, is super cheap and great at using up odds and ends you may already have in the fridge and cupboards.
You will need (for two):
- 175g pasta (I used fusilli)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 chilli, diced (I used a jalapeño but use whatever you have)
- Oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper
- 1 slice stale white bread
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the onion cooks blend the bread in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs.
If you fancy going out and trying your hand at foraging there isn’t much of a better time to start than now. Wild garlic is one of the best things to look for as it’s so distinctive; you smell it before you see it, the leaf is fairly specific and if you’re still not sure you can tear the leaves and do an additional sniff test before you start taking it home. I fancied my hand at baking some Wild Garlic Bread, sort of tear and share style, so off I sauntered to my favourite wild garlic spot to get picking.
I’ve never much been a fan of chilli cone carne; I’ll eat it but usually it’s a bit harsh and acidic for me because of the tinned tomatoes and I’m not that keen on kidney beans. However, I love the principal of it; plenty of chilli, spice and flavour and I’ve been working on my own version for a while. I think I’ve cracked it. My Lentil and Black Bean Chilli has all the same flavour but none of the meat; I promise, you won’t miss the minced beef at all. I’ve said this is enough for four but actually it’s probably enough for six and it’s amazing with homemade guacamole and plenty of rice.