Italian Veggie Cottage Pie

A nice and easy vegetarian dinner here, and an interesting take on cottage pie from BBC Good Food.

Pretty simple to throw together – cook the diced aubergine first, then add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and some of their oil plus some oregano. Cook for a little bit then add the spinach and let it wilt down.

Add some flour and stir it in, then add some milk and grated cheese and bring to the boil. Let it bubble and reduce so that the sauce thickens, then transfer it all to a pie dish and cover with mashed potato and a bit more cheese. Warming, filling and tasty – plus a good wodge of vegetables!

Tuna and Vegetable Pasta Bake with Greek Yoghurt

Continuing the theme of “Little Twists” from the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website, we’ve given it another go with this vegetable loaded pasta bake with Greek yoghurt.

It’s also a great way to get your five a day – there are a lot of vegetables in this, to which you add chopped tomatoes, greek yoghurt, herbs and tinned tuna. The whole thing goes in the oven with a topping of cheese so that it goes nice and brown on top.

The end result was a great big bowl of very satisfying food. There’s nothing too exciting here – it’s basically just a pasta bake with tuna, but the combination of lots of vegetables, cheese and tuna makes for something very tasty and satisfying. The addition of yoghurt makes for something a bit creamier and richer, but to be honest I don’t think that it really added all that much – it would have been a great meal even without it.

Aubergine, Mushroom and Tomato Curry

Sometimes when you feel like you’ve overindulged, you need a big bowl full of healthy stuff to make you feel human again. This recipe from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries ticked that box.

The first bit of work is to prepare a paste from the various aromatics and herbs. Cooking with shrimp paste was a new one for me – it’s smells very strong and you only need a small amount, but I was pleasantly surprised that in flavour it just gave a mellow base rather than being overpowering.

The paste then gets fried, and then the various vegetables get added. The whole thing finally simmers in some stock – we found it took quite a long time to reduce down to a reasonable consistency, much longer than the book suggested.

The curry this makes is very nice, but doesn’t have a very strong curry flavour. It’s more like a nicely spiced vegetable stew.

Afghani Style Stew with Pine Nuts

Recipes have been a bit thin on the ground this week because I’ve been ill. I had an ill fated attempted at cooking a Nigel Slater lamb casserole earlier in the week and I’m going to blame the illness because it was a disaster – possibly the single blandest meal I’ve ever had.

I’m on the mend now, but feeling the need for something healthy so where else to turn but good old Thrive on Five? Five portions of veg in one meal must help get me on the road to recovery.

This recipe isn’t the easiest – get all the chopping and prepping done first because it’s a tight turnaround between adding each set of ingredients, and if you don’t keep stirring the pan then things will burn and taste bitter. I thought I’d managed it but got caught out and half way through the recipe I tasted it and thought it was disgusting.

By the time I got to the end though, things had improved. The yoghurt helped balance out the bitterness and the end result wasn’t half bad. Lots of vegetables and lots of spice. We also followed it with a dessert of cherries, strawberries and banana so I think that’s 8 portions of fruit and veg just at dinner time… I’ll be back to full health in no time.

Thai Green Vegetable Curry

It’s been a cold weekend here in the UK with our first substantial snowfall of the season overnight. We took a trip into town and were cold to the core when we got back so a spicy dinner seemed an appropriate way to get back to room temperature.

We’ve made curries from Nigel Slater’s recipes before with great success – I love his recipe for a quick korma, and we’ve followed his instructions for curry pastes before and they’ve been great. This time around we were following the guide he lays out in
Appetite.

We made the curry paste to his instructions (which are basically “put it all in a food processor and blitz it”), then fried the mushrooms, aubergine and squash. We added the paste to the vegetables and fried some more before adding chicken stock and coconut milk and left it to simmer for a bit.

End result was nice, but not as hot as I would have liked and perhaps a little bit, dare I say it, bland. On the plus side we made enough curry paste for another meal so I suspect that we’ll be making a chicken version of the same recipe before too long.

Aubergine Moussaka

This recipe isn’t moussaka as you probably know it. Rather than the Greek “kinda like lasagne but with aubergine instead of pasta”, this is more like an aubergine stew. Apparently it’s a Lebanese dish, but all I know if that it comes from How To Eat.

The main recipe uses baby aubergines, but I just used a couple of regular ones. The quantities weren’t quite right – I halved pretty much everything but ended up using about the full amount of aubergine. That’s one of the problems in How to Eat – it’s not always clear how many people the dish is supposed to serve.

End result was really tasty. Apparently the pomegranate molasses are optional, but the meal definitely benefits from them and I can’t imagine it would be as nice without. I sent Mark out in the pouring rain to get some fresh bread to go with this and he came back with an nice freshly baked bit of sourdough which went down nicely with this.

Sri Lankan Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

We may have met Nigella today, but today’s dinner comes from Thrive on Five. It’s a big plate of vegetables with a nice helping of spice.

My ingredient photo is a bit short – I missed out a few things like turmeric, creamed coconut and vegetable stock, but you get the gist. I was a bit worried it wouldn’t all fit in the pan I was using but it did – just.

We served it up with some rice, plus a big dollop of yoghurt topped with cinnamon. There was a little bit more than we could manage, although we had used more butternut squash and cauliflower than we were supposed to simply because of the size of what we bought. It wasn’t the most authentic curry flavour we’ve made (Nigel Slater still wins I reckon) but it was very nice all the same. A very pleasant way to get our five a day.

Vegetable Pasta Bake with a Yoghurt Twist

We continue our exploration of the “Homemade By You” site with this healthy recipe for a vegetarian pasta bake with a Greek yoghurt ‘twist’.

The recipe involves a whole load vegetables making it pretty healthy even when you consider the yoghurt and cheese. We used wholemeal penne pasta for a bit of extra fibre.

Technique wise, it’s very simple. Roast the chopped vegetables in the over, then mix with cooked pasta, chopped tomatoes and herbs and some Greek yoghurt. Sprinkle with some grated cheese and then bake in the oven.

Easy and healthy – and pretty cheap to make, too.

Green Aubergine Curry with Indian Flatbreads

Nigel Slater is fast becoming our “go-to” celebrity chef – his recipes are usually straight forward and always delicious, and besides, Nigella Lawson’s new recipe book doesn’t come out for a few more months yet. 

This vegetarian recipe comes from his column for the Guardian, and managed to have a hot, authentic curry taste and yet very few ingredients (and pleasingly, without the use of curry powder or shop-bought curry paste). The heat comes from minced root ginger, calmed by coconut milk, and made oh-so fresh with a heap of coriander and mint leaves.

The recipe also called for home-made flat breads, and we obliged. Using a 50:50 mixof wholemeal and plain flour, salt and water, they took just minutes to make. It was particularly cool to watch them inflate as they cooked on a hot frying pan. Next time you make curry you MUST make flat breads instead of serving rice. 

Maybe do both.

Vegetable Korma

We’ve really enjoyed Nigel Slater’s chicken korma in the past, so when I realised there was also a recipe for vegetable korma in The 30-Minute Cook I had to give it a try.

The other beauty of this recipe is that it’s chock full of vegetables so plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre – you can almost forget about the lashings of double cream and yoghurt which go into it.