Parsley and Almond Pesto

I was having one of those nights when I came home and there was nothing in the fridge that immediately lept out at me for dinner.

I cobbled this together from what I had at hand, and it was amazing. Gorgeous with pasta, its also fabulous drizzled over roast potatoes, or use it as a spread to tasty up sandwiches. This pesto is really versatile, I stirred some through plain boiled rice and the freshness of the parsley and slight hum of garlic totally transformed it. This takes 5 minutes to make and will live in a jar in your fridge for 3-4 days (if it lasts that long)

Bright green and full of flavour.

Ingredients

100 Grams Almonds

25 Grams Parsley (stalks and all)

100 ml Olive oil

25 Grams Parmesan (you can use vegan parmesan if you have dairy free diet)

1 Clove of Garlic (roughly chopped)

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a dry frying pan toast the almonds until they are lightly browned and smell nutty
  2. Add the almonds to a food processor and blitz until the almonds look like course sand
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz until we’ll combined, check if it needs salt and pepper. Some people like it super smooth, but I prefer it a bit chunkier. Serve with pasta or roast vegetables, save any left over pesto in an airtight jar in the fridge

Homemade Granola

Shop bought granola can be expensive and sometimes a bit blah. This version is a feast of different tastes and textures. It’s also quick and easy to make, and tastes better than anything you can buy.

I like to team it up with some Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit for a quick and wholesome breakfast that will definitely keep you full until lunch. It also tastes really good sprinkled over ice cream for some crunch. This will keep well in airtight container for 10-14 days.

Rich aand crunchy, straight from the oven.

Ingredients

250 Grams Porridge oats

100 Grams Dessicated coconut

25 Grams Sunflower seeds

25 Grams Pumpkin seeds

50 Grams Pitted dates

50 Grams almonds

100 Grams Peanut butter

3 Tbsp Maple syrup

100 Ml Vegetable oil

Team your granola up with some Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit for a quick and satisfying breakfast

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl
  2. Get your hands in and makes sure the peanut butter is rubbed thoroughly in the mixture
  3. Transfer to a baking tray, and put in an oven preheated to 180 degrees
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, half way through take the mix out and stir the mixture to make sure it cooks evenly

Home Made Harissa Paste

Harisss Paste

I love harissa, it’s fantastically versatile and can be made for a fraction of the price of the pre made brands. Visit your local Asian supermarket to buy your spices, and this will be even cheaper.

Harissa is great smeared on chicken or lamb before cooking. It’s also delicious mixed with yoghurt and drizzled over roast vegetables, or mixed with mayonnaise to add some zing to toasted sandwiches or burgers. This traditional Moroccan paste makes any tagine come alive.

This recipe will make a large jar of harissa paste that will live quite happily in your fridge for several weeks, or you can share with a friend. It also makes a nice gift for anyone who’s a foodie. This is quite firey, so use with care at first.

Spice Mix

Ingredients

120 Grams Chilli flakes

1 Tsp Carraway seeds

1 Tsp Coriander Seeds

1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds

1 Tsp Salt

4 Cloves of garlic

3 Tbsp Olive oil

Method

  1. Cover the chilli flakes with boiling water, and soak for 30 minutes before draining through a sieve.
  2. In a dry frying pan toast the cumin, coriander, and carraway seeds until you smell the spices. You can grind these with a pestle and motar. I don’t have one, so I used the end of a rolling pin which worked well
  3. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and whizz until the paste start to look smooth
  4. Transfer to a clean jar and keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks

Asian Slaw

I could eat this everyday, it’s a glorious mixture of crunchy fresh vegetables, chilli heat, and creamy peanut butter.

Perfect for vegetarians and vegans, it’s goes well with fried tempeh, or in wraps or sandwiches. For meat eaters it’s delicious as a side dish with chicken or steak or to add crunch to a burger.

Asian Slaw

Ingredients

Handful of finely sliced white cabbage

1/2 Red pepper

1 Small carrot (grated)

50 Grams Endame beans (I use frozen ones that I defrost first)

5 Radishes (finely sliced)

Small handful of finely sliced sugar snap peas

1 Tbsp Sesame seeds

1 Finely sliced red chilli pepper

2 Tbsps peanut butter

1 Tbsp White wine vinegar

Method

  1. In a dry pan, toast the sesame seeds until they start to brown, and set to one side
  2. Combine the sliced vegetables in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the peanut butter and vinegar, mix well
  4. Mix the peanut butter dressing in with the vegetables and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and mix well

Butternut Squash and Pea Curry

This is an easy, healthy curry that even the most ardent meat lovers can enjoy.

Don’t be put off, if it seems that there are a lot of ingredients.  I know I prattle on about how good Asian supermarkets are, but you can build up a good stock of cheap spices that will help change how you cook.

Ingredients

500gms Butternut Squash (peeled, deseeded, and diced)

200gms Frozen Peas

150gms Red Lentils

1 Large onion (chopped)

2 Tbsp Coconut or other oil

1 Red chilli pepper

4 Cloves of garlic

1 Tsp Fennel seeds

1 Thumb sized piece of ginger

2 Tsp Garam Masala

2 Cardamom pods

500ml Vegetable stock

2 Tbsp Chopped coriander

Serves 4

Method

  1. Add the fennel seeds and cardamom pods to a dry pan and toast until you can spell the spices.
  2. Add the coconut oil and once heated add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The onions should be cooked gently until they caramelise and turn brown.  Taking the time to do this might seem like a bit of a faff, but it does help improve the depth of flavour
  3. Add the butternut squash (which has been diced in 1.5cm cubes), and continue to cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes
  4. Grate the ginger and add to the pan along with finely chopped chilli, garam masala, red lentils, and vegetable stock, cook for a further 10 minutes
  5. Add finely chopped garlic to the pan, along with frozen peas, and cook 5 more minutes
  6. Check that the butternut squash is tender, and check the seasoning and adjust to your taste. (I usually go easy when adding chilli, as it’s always easier to add more, but if you like a super hot then go nuts)
  7. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread (or both if you’re a total carb junkie like me).  This curry reheats really well, and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days

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Coastal Food Foraging

I’m fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where you are never far from the sea. Despite this as a nation we don’t eat enough sea food. We definitely don’t take advantage of the absolute heaps of sea vegetables and edible coastal plants we have access to

On a mild but rainy day, the immensely knowledgeable David (former National Trust Ranger, with a passion for coastal flora and fauna), was kind enough to share a small portion of his encyclopedic knowledge with me and a small bunch of other food nerds.

To make things even better David’s partner Celia, an extremely talented and well known chef in her own right, treated us to a fabulous meal centered around foraged food.

Who knew that trendy foods like sea purslane can be collected for free!, and scurvy grass was used as far back as the Romans to give sailors a massive hit of vitamin C on long voyages, (it also tastes like wasabi).

Other top discoveries were pepper dulse, which tastes somewhere between an oyster and black truffle, OMG it tastes so good.

All sorts of terrestrial plants such as sea spinach, sea radish, wild peas and orach all make amazing salad vegetables, and sea vegetables like channel wrack, and sea spaghetti are super tasty when lightly steamed and are bursting full of iodine, and other trace elements that are really good for you.

Who would have thought of baking fish in sea weed. Celia treated us to hake wrapped in sugar kelp and it was properly delicious. She also made us a feast of breads seasoned with seaweeds, dulse butter, wild garlic pesto, and great salads.

Get out and get foraging, make sure you check what you are picking, and don’t be a d’ck and over pick plants that are scarce. Other than that, go forage!

Red pepper and cannellini bean dip

I love dips, along with crudités, oat cakes, tortilla chips etc. (usually with something alcoholic).

Red pepper and cannellini bean dip

Most shop bought dips are pretty awful, and this dips is quick, and, easy to make and tastes so much nicer than the gloop most supermarkets try to pass off as dip.  If you’re having friends round, it’s also something you can give the poor vegan who has to miss out on the cheese based scrumptiousness that usually goes so well with drinks.

Ingredients

400gm Can of cannellini beans

Juice of half a lemon

2 Roasted red peppers (I use the ones in jar, but you can roast your own peppers if you prefer)

1 Clove garlic

1 tbsp Olive oil

Salt

Method

  1. Drain the beans, and retain some of the water the beans came with.
  2. In a blender or food mixer, add the beans, peppers, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and blitz until the mixture is smooth
  3. If the mixture is too dry, add a little of the water the beans came in.
  4. Taste the mixture and season with salt if necessary