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!

Beef with Vegetables & Noodles

Another recipe from Our Korean Kitchen here, and another success story! I was quite apprehensive of this because there’s a significant amount of preparation required – from making an egg dish, boiling noodles, grating vegetables, marinating beef…

…but the whole thing comes together wonderfully! Lots of different flavours and textures which all work really well together. We were supposed to use sweet potato glass noodles but couldn’t track any down and just went with udon noodles instead because we had some in the cupboard. Accident or not, they worked really well!

Chicken and Squash Laksa

This was supposed to be chicken and pumpkin laksa, but UK supermarkets never seem to stock any kind of pumpkin except at Halloween. Squash is basically the same thing though. We’d had a roast chicken on Sunday, and this recipe from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand is how we decided to use the leftover chicken.

Recipe wise you can probably say this one is pretty healthy – lots of veg in the form of steamed squash, tomatoes, spinach and onion. You steam the pumpkin first and make a paste out of chilli, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lime zest and coriander stalks. Then you fry the chopped onion, followed by the paste, and then add coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring the whole thing to the boil then add the tomatoes and simmer for a little bit (Diana says 7 minutes but I got distracted and it was much longer!). Finally add your chicken and spinach, then serve the whole thing up with some noodles.

There are some great flavours here, but I regret using a regular chilli instead of a birds eye chill as the recipe states. This should teach me to heed Diana’s wise words!

Courgette and Lentil Dhal

How much health can you get in a single bowl? Quite a lot, actually, when you’re using the Thrive on Five cook book. We’ve raved about this book before but the long and short of it is that it contains recipes which will give you your five portions of veg for the day in a single meal. There are a lot of nice recipes in the book (although some of them can get a bit samey – I’m looking at you, mushrooms) and we found this one we hadn’t tried before.

There’s a lot of spices and interesting flavours going on in this meal, but it upset me by requiring the use of the food processor to blitz carrot and celery (I hate anything which creates washing up!). The end result was very tasty but Mark enjoyed it more than me. Some brown rice and chapatis rounded out what turned out to be a very filling and tasty meal.

Followed by a slice of the healthy cake we made at the weekend, it’s 6 portions of fruit and veg in one sitting!

Salmon en Croute

I can’t remember where we first got this recipe for salmon en croute, but it was a firm favourite of ours for a long time – mostly because it’s so simple! The sauce is nothing more than mascarpone blitzed together with spinach. The salmon fillets are wrapped in pastry with the sauce and you’re done.

Normally I would have used ready made shortcrust pastry for this, but I got a bit cocky and decided to make my own. I won’t name the recipe I used but suffice it to say my pastry turned out much too dry and crumbly – it was near impossible to roll and definitely not suitable for wrapping anything in. But I tried all the same.

The end result was still nice tasting, just not very easy on the eyes.

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.

Chicken Curry with Spinach

Whilst searching for inspiration for what to cook this week we discovered that Sainsbury’s has launched a new recipe site in conjunction with the Huffington Post. After having a browse around the new site (“Homemade By You“) I settled on this curry recipe.

We didn’t quite follow the recipe to the letter though. We’d run out of ground cumin so used some roughly chopped cumin seeds instead; due to the sizes of tins at the corner shop we had a higher proportion of tomatoes than intended; and since Sparky isn’t a huge fan of paneer we dropped it from the side dish and just fried up some shallots and spinach.

The end result worked well though and was really tasty. Not an “authentic” tasting curry (Nigel Slater’s quick chicken korma still wins that hands down) but we enjoyed it a lot. Plus the spinach, onions and tomatoes went a long way towards our five portions of fruit and veg!

Salmon in a Creamy Herb Sauce with Spinach

I think I overstretched myself with this one – an attempt to mix up two recipes. The main is salmon in a cream and herb sauce from Nigel Slater’s The 30-Minute Cook. To accompany it, I thought that a spinach dish from Nigella;a Feast would fit the bill. We don’t actually have a copy of Feast, but this recipe is available on her website.

It didn’t go to plan though. In short, my salmon was thick and took longer to cook than expected which meant I had some rapidly cooling potatoes and spinach whilst my salmon was getting more and more burnt on the outside. As a result, the creamy sauce ended up being a bit of a non-starter.

That said, despite the disappointment we both managed to polish off what was on our plates, so it can’t have been too bad. I think that in hindsight I was asking for trouble, taking two recipes which are quite quick to prepare individually, but which in combination meant there was little margin of error.

Quick Chickpea, Spinach and Mushroom Curry

A third and final vegetarian meal of the week from Thrive on Five was almost everything it promised. Quick? Check. Chickpeas, spinach and mushrooms? Check. Curry? Possibly.

This was a light and tasty meal that was perfect for weeknight after work, but a return to this recipe would probably see us trying a different curry flavouring, possibly our own curry paste technique.

Sausage, Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

A quick mid-week supper using leftover spinach from the galettes earlier this week, and the last few sun dried tomatoes bought for last week’s pasta bake and pizza.

Left overs … Add Italian sausage and pasta for an easy mid-week supper.

A photo posted by Two Hungry Boys (@twohungryboys) on

10 minutes later, best served with a Wednesday night glass of red wine.

A photo posted by Two Hungry Boys (@twohungryboys) on