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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Recipes with water

20Apr 12

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Red lentil and sweet potato soupIt’s funny, as a kid growing up, I always hated sweet potatoes (and pumpkin for that matter, as they’re virtually the same when cooked), and it was all my mother could do to get me to eat even the tiniest mouthful.  However, somewhere along the way, I developed a taste for them, especially when they’re mixed with other veggies or pulses that I like more.  I invented this Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup one day when I had some sweet potatoes I needed to use up before they went bad, and the result was an instant success both for me and my family.

The soup is very filling and the sweet potato provides lots of dietary fibre, beta carotene and vitamin C.  As I mentioned before, cooked sweet potato and cooked pumpkin are virtually identical in taste, so if you want, you can go ahead and substitute an equal quantity of pumpkin for the sweet potato to create a tasty pumpkin soup.

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, washed and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 500g red lentils
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1.5 tsp curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsps salt (to taste)
  • 3 tbsps fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Spanish Sherry Vinegar

What you have to do:

  1. In a large stockpot, sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the onion turns translucent.
  2. Add the potatoes, sweet potatoes and lentils and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the salt, curry powder, ground coriander, black pepper and bay leaf and sauté for another minute.
  4. Add the water and stir well, make sure you get any spices that may have stuck to the bottom.
  5. Cover the pot, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes and sweet potatoes are nice and soft, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher to make a slightly chunky purée.
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve in soup bowls and garnish with a teaspoon of fresh coriander and a splash of sherry vinegar.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty:  Easy

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26Mar 12

Broccoli Feta Rice

Broccoli Feta RicePerfect for when you need a quick and easy, but still tasty and healthy, meal for unexpected dinner guests. This Broccoli and Feta Rice dish is a family favourite that’s sure to please even the pickiest of palettes.  I came up with this one summer evening a few years back when we organized a spur of the moment dinner party with some friends we’d invited over for drinks, only to realise that purple sprouting broccoli, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese were quite literally the only things I had in the fridge!  After a quick inspection of the cupboards I found a bit of Basmati Rice and inspiration struck!  Not much more than 20 minutes later and we were happily stuffing our bellies with this tangy, cheesy delight.

Ever since that day, this has been my “go to” dish for any last-minute meal requirements.  As an alternative you can replace the cherry tomatoes with sun-dried tomatoes, preferably the kind that come in a jar with olive oil.  If you have the loose, dry kind, be sure to rehydrate them in hot water with a little olive oil before adding them to the mix.  Also bear in mind that sun-dried tomatoes are notoriously salty, and when combined with the salty feta cheese it can be a bit much, so don’t add any more salt until the end and always test it first!

What you’re going to need

  • 1 medium head of broccoli, chopped, about 2 cups
  • 1 200g package of feta cheese, chopped in cubes
  • 1 pack cherry tomatoes (approx. 25 units)
  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 3 cups water with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you have to do

  1. Steam the broccoli for about 10 minutes, or until it is tender, but still a little al dente.  Set aside.
  2. Cook the rice in the salted water with the bay leaf until it’s tender but not mushy (about 25 minutes).
  3. Drain the rice and place it in a large serving bowl.
  4. Add the broccoli and feta cheese to the rice, along with the herbs, salt and pepper.
  5. Stir the mixture well, adding more salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve warm or cold.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves:  4

Difficulty: Easy

 

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14Feb 12

Hearty Seitan Stew

Hearty Seitan StewOne of my favourite meals when I was growing up was a beef and potato stew my mother used to make for us, especially in the winter.  It was just the perfect thing for warming your belly and bones after a long day of playing outside in the cold.  Naturally, when I became a vegetarian this was one of the first recipes I just had to emulate in a meatless version.  Hearty Seitan Stew is the result of a few months of trial and error to get the mix just right.  The thick broth, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and deliciously chewy wheat gluten (seitan) make for a wonderfully filling and satisfying dish that even my unrepentant meat-eating brother can’t help but admit to loving.  In fact, even my mother has said she prefers it over her original beef version, although to be honest even I’m not sure I’d go that far!

What you’re going to need

  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g ball of seitan (wheat gluten)
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, washed but not peeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 litres of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you have to do

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is nice and hot, add the diced onion and fry until it turns translucent.
  3. Chop the potatoes and carrots into medium sized chunks and add to the onions.
  4. Keep frying for a minute or two, stirring continuously.
  5. Cut the seitan into 2cm chunks and add to the mix along with the frozen peas, the vegetable stock cube and the herbs and spices and keep stirring for 1 more minute.
  6. Add the water, cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender, approximately 45 minutes.
  8. In a small bowl or cup, mix the corn-starch with just enough water to form a dense but runny paste.
  9. Bring the stew up to a boil and add the corn-starch paste, stirring continuously, in order to thicken the broth.  Add more as necessary until desired consistency is reached.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Difficulty: Easy

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