Halloumi Bake

Healthy food can still be rich and unctuous. This makes a great week night dinner or you can assemble and bake the following day.

Packed with flavour and protein, this makes a deeply satisfying meal. I love it served with salad and crusty bread.

Ingredients

200 Grams Halloumi (allow the halloumi to come to room temperature before using)

340 Gram Tin of Chick peas

400ml Passata

150 Grams Mushrooms (roughly chopped)

1 Onion (roughly chopped)

1 Courgette (roughly chopped)

Large sprig of thyme

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Add oil to a large pan over a medium heat, add onion, courgettes and mushrooms, and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, stirring until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Add the chick peas and passata, and simmer for a another 5-10 minutes before transfering to an oven proof dish
  4. Slice the halloumi into 1cm think slices and brush or spray with a little oil
  5. Top the vegetable mix with the halloumi and bake for 25-30 mins or until the cheese had turn a rich golden brown.

Champ and Chilli Pie

It can still get cold, so comfort food is still on the menu. This is a variation on a Shepherd’s pie, I started making this a couple of years ago to use up some leftovers.

If you’re one of those organised people who plans meals for the week then you can make the champ and the chilli for separate meals in advance and just assemble before you bake it

There’s a decent amount of vegetables in this chilli but you could also swap it for an entirely vegetarian chilli if you’re not a meat eater

Ingredients

For the champ

1kg Potatoes

250 ml Milk

5-6 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)

Salt

For the chilli

400 Grams Minced beef

1 Onion (chopped into 1cm chunks)

100 Grams Mushrooms (chopped chopped into 1cm chunks)

50 Grams Sweetcorn

2 Stalks of celery (chopped into 1 cm chunks)

1 Red Pepper (chopped into 1 cm chunks)

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

1 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Chilli flakes (increase this if you like a hotter chilli)

400ml Passata

400 Gram Can of black beans or kidney beans

Coriander (optional, but I usually add a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander)

75 Grams Grated Cheese (I used mature Cheddar)

Method

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop into equal sized cubes before boiling in salted water until soft and then mash thoroughly
  2. While the potatoes are cooking add the milk and scallions/spring onions into a small pot and simmer over a very gentle heat
  3. Stir the milk and scallions into the mashed potatoes and mix well, check if it needs more salt.
  4. For the chilli, heat a large high sided frying pan and add the mince and allow to brown
  5. Add the tomato puree, spices and sliced vegetables and beans and cook for 5 minutes
  6. Add the passata and simmer for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the chilli has thickened
  7. Transfer the chilli to a large oven proof dish and then top with the champ mix
  8. Spread the champ across the chilli with a fork, so that the top has a rough texture (this will help give a lovely crunch once its baked). Sprinkle with grated cheese
  9. Cook in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees (Celsius) for 30 minutes

Middle Eastern Barley and Feta Salad

I have been over indulging lately and my body was crying out for something healthy and delicious. I love this salad, its packed with colour, texture and flavour and is full of protein.

Barley is a much underrated ingredient and used mostly in soup and stews, but is also amazing in risottos and salads.

This salad is substantial enough to eat on its own but is also fantastic as a side dish or part of a mezze, or in a wrap. This will in fridge in an airtight box for 2-3 days.

Ingredients

75 Grams Barley (dry weight)

100 Grams Radishes (finely sliced)

2 Scallions/spring onions (finely sliced)

50 Grams Almonds (rough chopped)

2Tbsp Pumkin seeds

50 Grams Pomegranate seeds

100 Grams Feta (crumbled into junks)

2 Tbsp Mint (finely sliced)

1 Tbsp Coriander (finely sliced, you can use parsley if you don’t like coriander)

For the dressing

2 Tbsp Olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cook the barley according to the instructions on the packet. Lightly oil a shallow baking tray and spread the cooked barley across it to cool
  2. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl, add the dressing and stir well

Feta and Vegetable Slice

Vegetarian main courses can be a bit Meh.  This yummy mix of vegetables, lentils and creamy feta cheese wrapped up in delicious flaky pastry makes great quick weeknight dinner and packed with protein.

You can change up the vegetables you use depending on what you have (it’s a good way to use up left over veggies).  You can also used canned lentils, and I always use shop bought flaky pastry (because who really ever makes it from scratch).  You can also make the filling the day before, so all you have to do is assemble and bake if you’re short on time.

I made one large pastry parcel that can sliced up, but you could also make 4 individual ones if you prefer.

Ingredients

1 Sheet of shop bought puff pastry (pre-rolled)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Leeks (sliced)

2 Peppers (sliced)

150 Grams Cooked green lentils

150 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

200 Grams Feta cheese

1 Tsp Dried Thyme

2-3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

Salt and pepper

1 Beaten Egg (for brushing)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the vegetables over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, stir in the cooked lentils and feta cheese
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  4. Place your pastry on a sheet of baking parchment. Leaving a border of 2cm, place the vegetable mix on on half of the pastry sheet. I use a slotted spoon to drain off any excess liquid from the vegetable mix
  5. Lightly brush the edges of pastry with beaten egg and fold the pastry over to cover the filling. Press the edges of the pastry together with a fork (or you can crimp it if you’re feeling fancy)
  6. Brush the pastry with some beaten egg, if you want to make things look pretty you can lightly run a knife across the pastry in a criss Cross pattern (be careful not to go too deep and pierce the pastry)
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown

Fake Away Orange Chicken

On the days when I’m not in the mood for cooking I enjoy a good Chinese take away.

This can be expensive, and not especially healthy. One of the dishes I enjoy is orange chicken. Sometimes it can be overly sweet and the chicken is deep fried, making it high in calories.

My version is a bit healthier, but still delicious. It’s perfect for a week night dinner if you want something a bit different and is pretty quick to make. I don’t like this dish too sweet (I think there is enough sweetness from the orange), but if you prefer you can add a tablespoon of honey to the sauce if you have a sweet tooth.

Ingredients

500 Grams Chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces)

2 Oranges (finely grated zest and juice)

250 ml Chicken stock

1 Tbsp Rice wine or cider vinegar

1 Tbsp Garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Ginger (finely chopped, or 1 Tsp of ground ginger if you don’t have any fresh)

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Oil

1 – 2 Tbsps Cornflower (mixed with a small amount of water until its a smooth thick liquid)

Seseme seeds and finely sliced scallions/spring onions (optional) to garnish

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken. Cook for 5-10 minutes until nearly cooked
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the garlic and ginger, cooking for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add the stock, salt orange juice and zest and the chicken to the pan and simmer
  4. When the liquid has reduced by about a third, add your cornflour mix to the pan stir well.
  5. Simmer for a further 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened
  6. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced spring onion and serve with rice or noodles

Chicken and Gnocchi Traybake

On cold days you want eat something wholesome and delicious with very little effort, and this is perfect. Roast chicken veggies and potato dumplings mmm.

What’s even better is that everything is cooked in the same tray, so you have fewer dishes to wash.

I use shop bought gnocchi, as most of us don’t have time to make them. This helps make this a really easy dish, that just needs to be assembled and then the oven does the work.

Ingredients

8 Small or 4 large chicken thighs

1 Leek (cut into chunks)

1 Red pepper (cut into chunks)

100 Grams Spinach

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tbsp White wine or cider vinegar (I promise you won’t taste vinegar, but it will help bring out the flavours)

500 Grams Bag of Gnocchi

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Sprinkle the olive oil on the base of a large roasting tray
  3. Place the chicken, Leeks, peppers and gnocchi in the tray and sprinkle with smoked paprika, salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, and remove from the oven. Sprinkle the vinegar over vegetables and add the spinach and mix through the contents of the tray
  5. Bake for a another 15 minutes and the serve. Double check that the chicken is cooked (the juices should run clear, cook for longer if they aren’t)

Almondina

After Christmas many of us want a break from big heavy sit down dinners. With cheese and grazing boards becoming popular, almondina are the perfect addition to lend some interest if you’re bored of crackers.

This is also a great recipe to use up any left over nuts or dried fruit. I actually think it’s better to have mix of fruit and nuts.

Ingredients

175 Grams Nuts (I used a mix of almonds, walnuts and pecans, but any mixture will work)

125 Grams Plain flour

25 Grams Brown sugar

125 Grams Dried fruit (I used roughly chopped apricots and dates, if you are using smaller fruit like raisins or sultanas, keep an eye in them during the second bake as they can catch quickly)

1/4 Tsp Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

1/2 Tsp Salt

175Ml Milk

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Grease a loaf pan
  2. Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and combine
  3. Stir in the milk with a wooden spoon and when thoroughly mixed transfer to the loaf tin and bake for 60 minutes
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  5. Wrap in cling film and freeze for 1 hour. This will help you slice the almondina thinly. Do not freeze for longer than this
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment
  7. Take the almondina out of the freezer and remove the cling film
  8. With a bread knife, slice the loaf into 1/2 cm thick slices and place on the baking sheet for 12-15 mins (until they brown around the edges), before cooling on a wire wrack
  9. These will last in an airtight container for up to a week

Pierogis (Polish Dumplings)

Potato and cheese pierogi

I visited Krakow recently, and loved everything about the place. What I really fell in love with were pierogis, served in pretty much every restaurant.

Our food guide told us the it’s really common in Polish homes for members of the family to get together and make huge batches of pierogis, especially at certain times of year, like Christmas.

This weekend I got together with my Krakow travel companions to drink maybe more than we should and make pierogis.

A few cocktails while cooking with friends. If you’re entertaining family over the holidays I would recommend this as a great way to get everyone involved and keep them entertained.

Pierogis are fairly easy to make and we worked in a kind of production line which made it even easier. I would definitely recommend getting your friends together and giving communal cooking a go. By the time you chat, laugh and have a few drinks you can make loads of them. I didn’t have a recipe for these so we used the BBC Good Food recipe and the dumplings tasted exactly like what he had in Poland.

Pierogis freeze well, double up on the recipe and you can pull them out of the freezer for a quick week night dinner. You can also make a sweet version by simply replacing the filling with raw blueberries and serve topped with sour cream.

Blueberry pierogis with sour cream

Ingredients

For the dough

250 Grams Self Raising Flour (sifted)

1 Tsp Salt

3 Tbsp. Vegetable oil

250-300ml Warm Water

For the filling

250 Grams Mashed potatoes (this is a great way to use up left overs, make sure the mashed potatoes are cold before using)

50 Grams Butter

1 Onion (finely chopped)

250 Grams Cottage Cheese

Method

  1. Add the flour and salt to a bowl, add the oil and then gradually add water and mix until you have a soft dough. Gather into a ball, knead for 5 minutes, wrap in cling film. Chill for 30 minutes
  2. While the dough is resting, melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown
  3. Mix the potatoes and cottage cheese together and stir in two thirds of the fried onions. Mix until thoroughly combined
  4. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible (nobody wants a thick doughy dumpling). Use a cookie cutter or class to cut 4-5 cm circles
  5. Put a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of the circle and lightly wet the edges of of circle. Fold over to create a half moon and press the edges closed tightly
  6. Heat a large pot of water to just before boiling, add the pierogi, about 6-7 at a time (depending on the size of your pot, just be careful not to overcrowd the pot)
  7. When the pierogi start to float, lift out with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Keep cooking the pierogi until all the dumplings are cooked.
  8. Serve on a large plate, and sprinkle the remaining fried onions over the top

Spicy Yellow Split Pea Soup

Autumn is definitely here, and it’s time to break out the one pot comfort food recipes. I love recipes that I can make from what I usually have in a cupboard or the fridge and this one of them. Dried yellow split peas are really cheap, and packed full of protein and fibre. They also work brilliantly in Indian dishes like dhal.

This is a really rich satisfying, cheap and easy to make meal. Perfect for chilly days when you want something nutritious and satisfying. It’s also packed with lovely warming flavours like ginger, chilli and garlic.

This soup freezes well or can live in your fridge for 3-4 days.

Ingredients

1 Leek (finely sliced)

2 Carrots (grated)

250 Grams Yellow split peas

1 Litre Vegetarian stock (I used 2 stock cubes to make this)

Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated), or 1 Tsp of ground ginger if you don’t have the fresh stuff)

1 Tsp Tumeric

3-4 Cloves of garlic (minced)

1 Tsp Chilli powder

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

Method

  • Heat the oil in large pot over a medium heat, and add the leek and carrot. Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Turn up the heat bring the soup up to just before the boil
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Serve topped with toasted hazel nuts or pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch

Spinach Falafel

Sometimes if you’ve been overindulging your body tells you to eat something healthier. When that happens, this what you should be eating. Packed full of flavour and protein these little falafel are great as the protein element of a main meal or in wraps for a tasty and filling packed lunch. These falafel are baked rather than fried, which helps make them even healthier.

I made these with cannelini beans, (I thought I had chickpeas in the cupboard, but you could probably use any type of tinned beans). These are also gluten free and suitable for vegans.

Ingredients

400 Gram Can of cannelini beans or chickpeas

2 Tablespoons Porridge oats

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 Tablespoon Tahini

2 Cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)

100 Grams Spinach

1 Teaspoon Salt

Handful of Coriander or parsley (toughly chopped)

Tablespoon Sesame Seeds (optional)

Oil for spraying

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Add all ingredients (except the sesame seeds) to a food processor and blend until you have a smooth mix
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment, the falafel mix should be quite soft, so I used a tablespoon to scoop the mix on the baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you are using them and bake for 15 minutes before turning them and bake for another 15 minutes