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Cover: Gluten free cooking

Meal for 6 people

06Jul 12

Vegetable and Legume Soup

Vegetable and Legume Soup

This delicious and nutritious vegetable and legume soup is traditionally served to break the Muslim fast of Ramadam.  It’s called harira and is usually accompanied by dates, but as I don’t really like them, I’ve left them out of my recipe.  However, feel free to include them if you want the truly authentic experience. I also recommend this Moroccan hummus!

 

Vegetable and Legume Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 125g chickpeas, soaked overnight in water
  • 50g green lentils, soaked overnight in water
  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, washed and chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1tbsp frshly ground black pepper
  • 400g canned diced tomatoes
  • 1tbsp tomato paste
  • 1tbsp cornflour
  • 40g gluten-free soup noodles
  • 4tbsp fresh, finely chopped coriander
  • 3tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
Instructions
  1. Rinse and drain well the previously soaked chickpeas and lentils.
  2. Place in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil.
  3. Boil for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 45 minutes, or until the chickpeas are quite tender.
  4. Drain off the liquid, but save it for later.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large pot until it's hot but not smoking.
  6. Sauté the onions, celery and garlic with the pepper, turmeric and cinnamon for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  7. Add the cooked chickpeas and lentils, the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and 1 litre of the broth from cooking the legumes.
  8. Cook for 20 minutes. Add more broth if necessary.
  9. In a small bowl or glass, make a paste by mixing the cornflour with a tablespoon or two of the broth.
  10. Stir the cornflour paste into the soup a little at a time to thicken the broth.
  11. Add the soup noodles and cook for 5 more minutes or until the noodles are tender.
  12. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the coriander and flat-leaf parsley.
  13. Serve in bowls with a lemon wedge or 2. The idea is for each person to squeeze some lemon juice over the soup according to their own taste.

 

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05Jun 12

Cheese and Potato Pie

Cheese and Potato PieAlthough I suppose it’s not technically a pie as it doesn’t have any pastry, this cheese and potato pie recipe certainly looks quite a bit like a pie so I’m going to stick with the name.  It is baked in the oven like a pie and when you serve it cut into triangle shapes it also looks somewhat similar to a Spanish omelette, although the taste is quite different.  In France they make it with lean bacon and it’s called a truffade.  Whatever you want to call it, the result is very, very yummy and I can guarantee that everyone is going to want second or even third helpings so be sure you make plenty.

I’ve suggested using cheddar cheese in the recipe since it’s the easiest to find, but you can substitute any strong, hard cheese if you prefer.  The French usually use tomme cheese, but I don’t know where to get that here in the UK.  I’ve used Spanish manchego cheese on occasion and it tasted simply delightful.

You Need:

  • 2tbsp sunflower oil
  • 675g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 300ml grated cheddar
  • 1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Grease a deep oven dish with a little of the sunflower oil.
  3. Arrange a layer of potatoes along the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Season this layer of potatoes with the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  5. Coat with a bit of the sunflower oil.
  6. Arrange a layer of sliced onions on top of the potatoes.
  7. Sprinkle this layer with grated cheddar cheese.
  8. Arrange another layer of potatoes (with salt, pepper and nutmeg), onions and cheese.
  9. Keep adding layers until all the ingredients are used up.
  10. Top off with a layer of cheddar cheese.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until it turns a dark golden-brown colour.
  12. Let sit 5 minutes, loosely covered with a sheet of aluminium foil.
  13. Serve with salad on the side.

Ready In:  60 minutes

Serves:  4-6

Difficulty:   2 out of 5

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26May 12

Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves

Greek stuffed grape leavesA great appetiser or party food, these Greek stuffed grape leaves have a more subtle and mellow flavour than the pre-made variety. For more Greek goodness, try these lamb kebabs with cucumber and feta relish.

You Need:

  • 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 250g long-grain white rice
  • 375g gluten-free chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 can (about 200g) grape leaves
  • Juice of 2 lemons

 

Steps:

 

  1. In a medium heavy pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add 125ml of the broth.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer the rice mixture to a bowl and stir in the dill, parsley, mint, oregano, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  7. Fill a deep, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid with water and bring to the boil.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low and blanch the grape leaves in the hot water 5 for minutes.
  9. Drain the leaves on paper towels and trim away the stems and hard veins. Pat the leaves dry with paper towels.
  10. Lay a grape leaf on a work surface, shiny-side down. Put 2 tablespoons of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf.
  11. Fold the stem end over the filling, fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cylinder. (Don’t roll too tightly as the rice will expand as it cooks.)
  12. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling placing the rolled leaves in the pot, seam-side down in a single layer.
  13. Pour the remaining broth, olive oil, and lemon juice over the stuffed grape leaves.
  14. If the liquid doesn’t reach at least halfway up the rolls, add more water.
  15. Cover the pot and simmer 30 to 40 minutes over low heat, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  16. Can be served warm or cold.

 

Ready In:  60 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:   3 out of 5

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22May 12

Indian-Style Brown Rice

indian style brown riceLately I’ve been trying to eat more whole-grain foods, but at first I had a hard time getting down plain, whole-grain brown rice.  It’s just so heavy and seemed to always get stuck in a ball at the back of my throat.  I’ve always loved Indian pilau rice, so I decided to try and make something similar with organic brown rice.  This Indian-style brown rice recipe is the result.

As with most Indian dishes, you need a lot of ingredients that you might not have in your kitchen, so a trip to the shops might be in order before you can start making it.  In any case, I’ve tried to keep the ingredients list as short as possible and only use the most common Indian herbs and spices.  I also added frozen peas to the mix to try and make it into a full meal in itself, although the best thing to do is to top it off with your favourite curry.  It also goes quite nicely with my baked tofu in peanut butter sauce recipe.

You Need:

  • 500g organic brown rice
  • 1.5L water
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps unsalted butter
  • Seeds from 8 green cardamoms
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  •  2 tbsps fresh chopped coriander

Steps:

  1. Melt the butter in a 3 litre pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic slices, cardamom seeds, fresh ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon sticks and sauté for about 2 minutes or until the garlic starts to brown.
  3. Add the rice and sauté for about a minute, stirring constantly and making sure all the rice gets coated and toasted with the butter and spices.
  4. Add the water, salt and turmeric and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the frozen peas.
  6. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.  The exact time varies greatly depending on the brand of rice used.
  7. Drain off any excess water.
  8. Mix the fresh coriander into the rice and serve with your favourite curry.

Ready In:  30-45 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  2 out of 5

Note: Now that I enjoy brown rice, I also eat this brown rice salad with pecans and sultanas. Simply scrumptious!

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13May 12

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Vegetable Black Bean SoupBack in my university days, there used to be a café near my school that served the most delicious Vegetarian Black Bean Soup every Friday, and at a price that even us struggling students could afford.  Ever since then I’ve tried to keep up the tradition at my home, where Fridays are still known as Black Bean Soup day.

The original version used smoked tofu, but I’ve substituted it for firm tofu, fried with paprika and cumin. Of course, if you’re a meat-eater, you could go ahead and substitute the tofu for ham; just make sure you remove it before puréeing. Another hearty broth is this bacon, carrot, butterbean and coriander soup.

You need:

  • 500g dried black beans, soaked overnight in 5 litres of water
  • 250g firm tofu, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.25 litres water
  • A pinch of baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped fine
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 tbsp lime juice (lemon may be used)
  • Fresh coriander, chopped

Steps:

  1. Put the beans in a 5 litre pot with 1.25 litres of water, the bay leaves, half the salt and the baking soda.
  2. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer.
  3. Cover and let it cook for 90 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
  4. Remove from heat. Take out the bay leaves and set aside.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large (at least 9 litres) stock pot on a medium-high heat until it’s hot, but not smoking.
  6. Add the onions, celery, carrot, tofu and more salt.
  7. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and softened, stirring occasionally.
  8. Reduce heat to medium and add the cumin, paprika and garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  9. Add the beans and their cooking liquid back into the mix along with the vegetable stock, molasses and red pepper.
  10. Bring to the boil; then reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Remove from heat and put half of the soup in a blender and purée until smooth.
  12. Mix the purée back into the rest of the soup.
  13. Add the lime juice and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Serve with the chopped fresh coriander as garnish.

Ready In: 2 hours

Serves: 6

Difficulty: 4 out of 5

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12May 12

Easy Onion Bhaji

Easy Onion BhajiI’ve always loved getting onion bhajis from my local Indian takeaway, but I imagined they would be quite difficult to make, so I never seemed to get around to making them myself.  Then, by pure chance, I happened to see them being made while I was waiting for my order and quickly asked the cook if he would mind telling me the basic recipe.  I didn’t have a pen or anything to write with, but luckily I’ve got a pretty good memory.  This easy onion bhaji recipe is what I made the next day by memory from those instructions.

The only real change I made (as far as I can remember) was in the frying methodOnion bhajis, sometimes known as vegetable or cheese fritters served in soups, are usually deep fried, but I wanted to try and make them a little bit healthier and lighter, so I decided to just fry them in a frying pan with a little bit of oil.  They turned out perfectly and were much lighter and less greasy than the typical takeaway fare, while still retaining all of the flavour.

Once you get the hang of making them, you can try substituting the onion with courgette or whatever other vegetable tickles your fancy.  I personally recommend eating them with tamarind sauce, but feel free to use whatever sauce you prefer, or even just eat them plain.

You Need:

  • 500 g Gram flour
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 150 ml water
  • 1.5 tbsps fresh chopped coriander

Steps:

  1. Mix the Gram flour, cumin seeds, chilli powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the onions and fresh coriander and mix well.
  3. Add the water and mix to form a thick batter, making sure the onions are evenly distributed throughout.
  4. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  5. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan.
  6. Drop a tablespoon at a time of the batter into the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  You will need to add more oil for each new set of bhajis.
  7. Remove the finished Bhajis from the oil and let them drain on a wire rack or kitchen paper.
  8. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce or chutney.

Ready In:  30 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:   3 out of 5

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24Apr 12

Turkey and Sun-Dried Tomato Loaf

Turkey and Sun-dred Tomato LoafThis turkey and sun-dried tomato loaf with onion gravy makes for a great Sunday afternoon roast replacement, like this lamb roast with garlic and rosemary.  I like to use turkey mince, but it should work fine with whatever mince you prefer, or even textured vegetable protein if you want to make it vegetarian-friendly.

You Need:

For the loaf:

  • 250g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 65g cornflakes, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ½  medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2tbsps mushroom or vegetable broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g creamy Havarti cheese, shredded
  • 2tsps dried basil
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • ½tsp dried thyme
  • ½tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½tsp salt
  • 700g  turkey mince
  • Vegetable oil spray

For the gravy:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 stock cube (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2tsps thyme
  • 500ml water
  • 4tbsp cornflour + 2tbsp water, mixed together to form a thick paste 

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Submerge the sun-dried tomatoes in the boiling water for a few minutes to soften and then drain. Chop into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the crushed cereal and mix to coat. Set aside.
  4. Over medium heat, sauté the onion and green pepper in the olive oil until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  6. Add to the sun-dried tomato and cereal mixture.
  7. Next pour in the broth and mix well.
  8. Beat the eggs and then add them to the mixture,  jumbling it all together.
  9. Add the cheese, herbs, seasonings and meat and stir until well-blended.
  10. Lightly coat a 23cm x 13cm loaf pan with the vegetable oil spray and then press the mixture firmly down into the pan.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until the temperature of the loaf, when measured with a roasting thermometer, reaches 80ºC.
  12. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to10 minutes before removing from the loaf pan.
  13. While the loaf is baking, prepare the gravy:
  • Sauté the onions in the vegetable oil until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the stock cube, thyme and 500ml of water and bring to the boil.
  • Add the cornflour paste a little at a time until desired thickness is reached.

14. Cut into slices, cover with gravy and serve.

Ready In:  90 minutes

Serves:  8

Difficulty:   3 out of 5

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19Apr 12

Baked Aubergine Parmesan with Tofu Pesto

Baked aubergine parmesan with tofu pestoThis baked aubergine parmesan with tofu pesto has got to be one of my all-time favourite comfort foods.  Filled with lots of cheese and literally dripping with sauce, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  If you’re not a fan of aubergine (like my son) you could substitute it for courgette, wild mushrooms or even a mix of vegetables.

You Need:

For the baked aubergine:

  • 1kg aubergines
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 750ml tomato sauce
  • 300g mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 250g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

For the tofu pesto:

  • 125g firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
  • 500g fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 125g fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Peel the aubergine and slice into 1cm thick pieces.
  3. Sprinkle salt on each side and drain on kitchen towels for about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the pieces over and drain on the other side for 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
  5. Drizzle the oil on the aubergine and then grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
  6. Combine the oregano and tomato sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour a small amount on the bottom of a 23cm x 30cm pan.
  7. Arrange a layer of aubergine along the bottom of the pan, cover with some sauce and the shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Continue layering until you have used all the aubergine, sauce and cheese, ending with the cheese.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until the cheese is bubbly.
  9. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  10. While the aubergine is baking, prepare the pesto topping.  Combine all the ingredients in a blender, starting with the liquid ingredients at the bottom to facilitate blending.  Process on medium speed until the pesto is very smooth. (Click here for another pesto sauce recipe.)
  11. Pour the pesto sauce over the baked aubergine and serve immediately.

Note: Some people like pesto more than others, and so I often put the pest in a bowl on the side so that my guests can serve themselves according to personal preference.

Ready In:  75 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:   2 out of 5

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17Apr 12

Hot and Spicy Chicken with Almonds

Hot and spicy chicken with almondsThe Chinese takeaway just down the road from me serves a great spicy almond chicken which I can never seem to get enough of, so this week I decided to try and make my own.  This hot and spicy chicken with almonds recipe is the result, and while I have to admit it’s almost nothing like the original, it is definitely very tasty!

Make sure you buy the best chicken breasts and almonds you can (preferably organic), as this really does make all the difference. (Feeling nutty this week? I also recommend this chicken stir-fry with ginger and cashews.)

You Need:

For the chicken:

  • 650g skinless and boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 2tbsps olive oil
  • 250g water chestnuts
  • 125g  unsalted almonds

For the marinade:

  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp arrowroot
  • 2tbsps wheat-free tamari sauce
  • 2tbsps sherry or red wine

For the vegetables:

  • 4–5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1tbsp peeled and  grated fresh ginger
  • 3 green onions, chopped

For the sauce:

  • 125ml chicken broth
  • 1tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2tbsps wheat-free tamari sauce
  • 2tbsps Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5tsps arrowroot

Steps:

  1. Begin by making the marinade. Combine the sesame oil, arrowroot, wheat-free tamari and sherry/red wine and place in a re-sealable plastic bag or a large bowl with a lid.
  2. Submerge the chicken in the liquid and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the veggies. Mix together the garlic, ginger and green onions. Set aside.
  4. Combine all the ingredients for the chicken sauce in a separate bowl and mix very well. Set aside.
  5. Take the chicken out of the marinade and place it in a medium-size frying pan that has been heated over medium-high heat.
  6. Sauté, turning often, for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside.
  7. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil, add the vegetables, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken sauce and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
  8. Add the cooked chicken and toss to cover well.
  9. Add the water chestnuts and the almonds.
  10. Heat through and serve over rice or rice noodles.

 

Ready In:  90 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:   3 out of 5

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