Veggie mains

Spicy mushroom and cashew pasta

This is another vegan pasta dish inspired by a spicy mushroom and cashew nut dish I had recently at an Issan (northeastern Thai) restaurant. It was served with small rice noodles, here I made it with pasta. I think the mushrooms, cashews and garlic make a great combination of flavours and textures here.

mushroom pasta

For two servings I started by putting the pasta water on to boil and then fried a handful of cashew nuts, on a medium heat, in about 4 tbsp. oil (you can use olive oil or any oil you prefer). Once they become golden brown I removed them and the fried about 8 cloves of peeled and softly crushed garlic until they were golden and crispy and I then added put them with the nuts. Then I fried a dried chilli in the pan and put it aside, you can just use chilli flakes if you prefer adding them at the next stage. The amount of chilli you use will depend on your chilies and how spicy you like things. The oil will now be flavoured with the chilli and garlic.

Next put on about 200g of pasta and fried about 300 g sliced mushrooms, I used orinji mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt. When they were almost cooked I crumbled the chilli (remove the seeds if you want to control the spice) and added it into the pan. I drained the pasta reserving some of the water and added about half a cup of the pasta water to the mushrooms and let this reduce a little into a sauce and then added the pasta and stirred so it was covered in the mushroom sauce. I served on a bed of asparagus, and then sprinkled over the cashews and garlic.

 

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Veggie mains

Avocado pasta

This makes a great lunch or light meal and is perfect if you’re not sure whether you want a salad or a hot pasta dish. It’s fresh but creamy and very quick and easy to make. It will be ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. This will serve 2.

So what do you need?

  • 200 – 250 g pasta
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small / 1/2 a large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 / 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • a squeeze of lemon / lime juice
  • a sprig of basil leaves
  • some chilli oil (optional) or some ground black pepper

So what do you do?

First put the pasta on to cook. The chop the onion and start to fry it gently in the olive oil, chop up the garlic and add it. Chop up the tomatoes and them once the onion starts to soften. You don’t want to cook the tomatoes too much just heat them up really. When the pasta is nearly done cut open one of the avocados and mush it in it’s shell. Pour some of the pasta water into the pan with the veggies, probably about 1/2 a cup, turn off the heat and mix in the mushed avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few torn up basil leaves. Stir this to make a sauce. Then drain the pasta and add it to the pan and add the second avocado chopped into chunks. Stir together and serve with a drizzle of chilli oil and garnish with some basil leaves.

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The Basics, Veggie mains

Courgette, cashew & blue cheese pesto

Pesto

I love pesto but it’s not always easy to find Italian Basil here in Chiang Mai. The bugs have eaten my basil plants, but today I found fresh basil in the market so changed my dinner plans to pesto. I decided to mix things up a bit with the pesto adding courgette and blue cheese. Feel free to stick to parmesan if you prefer in the pesto. I served it with whole wheat past and fried mushrooms. The whole meal takes about 20 minutes. This will make enough pesto for 4 servings.

So what do you need?

  • 1 good handful of cashew nuts
  • 2 medium-sized courgettes
  • a large bunch of basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of half a small lime
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 50g blue cheese

First, bring a pan of water to boil for the pasta. Then dry fry the cashews in a frying pan until they just begin to change colour and put them in a blender. Put about 2 tbsp. olive oil in the frying pan and add the courgettes, chopped into pieces, and the garlic. fry until the courgette softens but before it browns and add this to the blender. I then put my pasta on and fried the mushrooms in the same frying pan.

Next grate the lime zest into the blender and squeeze in the juice and add the blue cheese, salt and pepper. Pluck the basil leaves off the stalks, about three large handfuls of leaves and add to the blender. When the pasta is almost done blend the pesto, I like to keep some of the texture of the nuts. Then add about 1/2 cup of pasta water to the pesto and blend this in. Drain the pasta and add the pesto. Stir so the pasta is well covered with the pesto and serve with the mushrooms and a grating of parmesan.

 

 

 

 

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Baking, Veggie mains

Chestnut, pumpkin and leek stuffing

stuffing

This is a festive stuffing that can easily be made vegan a great option for veggies at Christmas or Thanksgiving. Just make sure the meat eaters don’t eat it all before you get a look in! This will make 1 large baking dish approximately 30 x 20 cms.

So what do you need?

  • 1 baguette (a day old one is great)
  • 400g pre-cooked chestnuts
  • 400g pumpkin fesh
  • 200g leeks
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • about 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 250-300 ml veggie stock
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • a few springs of thyme
  • a few sage leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • butter (optional)

So what do you do?

Start by heating your oven to 175 degrees C / 350F. Peel and deseed your pumpkin and chop 400g of the flesh into cubes about 2 cms in size. crush a couple of cloves of garlic and then put the pumpkin, garlic a tbsp. of olive oil an a pinch of salt an a good grind of pepper into a baking and give it a mix and roast the pumpkin for about 15 mins in the oven until it starts to soften. Meanwhile chop the bread into cubes about 2cms and put in a large mixing bowl. Slice the leek and lightly steam it for a few minutes then add to the bowl. Break the chestnuts roughly into halves and add to the bowl. Crush the remaining garlic with about 1/2 tsp. salt and add this to the bowl with some ground pepper and a good grating of nutmeg, about a third of a nut, and the chopped herbs then add in the roasted pumpkin and pour over a good amount of olive oil and mix everything together. The add the stock, with the marmite dissolved in it, which will be absorbed by the break and make the stuffing soft. Then spread the stuffing in a greased baking dish and grate a little more nutmeg on the top and either drizzle over a bit more olive oil or put small bits of butter over the top. Put back in the oven and bake for about half an hour until the top turn crisp and golden.

 

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Veggie mains

Lentil and aubergine stew

stew

At the weekend I saw a picture on Ottolenghi’ s Instagram feed which was a lentil and aubergine stew that looked very tasty so I decided to make my own version. I was pretty easy to make and is really earthy and delicious. I decided to spice the stew with middle eastern spices and added smoked paprika which gave it a lovely smoky flavor. Feel free to adapt the herbs and spices you used to suit your taste. This made a enough for 4 servings. It’s great with bread or mashed potatoes but I served it with savoury scones.

So what do you need?

  • a large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 5 or 6 skinned tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes)
  • about 120g dry brown lentils
  • a couple of bay leave
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  a couple of stalks of dill
  • sea salt
  • plenty of olive oil

So what do you do?

Start by chopping the onion and frying it in a large frying pan. Fry it for a minute or two in some olive oil and the add the garlic. Cut the auberine into chunks of about 4-5 cms in size and add this and a couple of pinches of salt to the frying pan. The aubergine will soak up the olive oil so add more as necessary to fry it and add the cumin and coriander seeds. Once the onion starts to brown transfer the veg into a heavy saucepan with a lid. Add the lentils, chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and cover with hot water (or veggie stock if you have it), you can rinse the frying pan out with water and add it to the pan too. Cover the pan and bring to the boil and then simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the lentils are cooked, the sauce has reduced and thickened a little and the aubergine is soft, tender and starting to break up. Chop the dill and add this along with half the paprika and taste and add more paprika and salt to taste. Like most stews and curries it will taste great the next day too!

 

 

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Veggie mains

Spaghetti with cabbage, garlic, chilli and breadcrumbs

spaghetti

This is a quick and easy pasta dish that makes a tasty supper or quick lunch. It’s pretty healthy, especially if you use whole wheat pasta, and it’s basically vegan, but if you like you can add some butter. This recipe is for two portions.

So what do you need?

  • 250g (whole wheat) spaghetti
  • 250 – 300g finely sliced cabbage
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1.-2 dried chillies
  • salt
  • 1 slice of whole meal bread
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • a knob of butter (optional)

So what do you do?

Start by heating a saucepan of salted water to cook the pasta in. While this is coming to the boil, crumble the slice of bread into breadcrumbs and crush a clove of garlic and add it with a pinch of salt to the breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a frying pan and fry the breadcrumbs gently until golden brown and crisp and put them to one side in a bowl.

Once the pasta water boils cook the pasta and over the boiling pasta steam the cabbage for a few minutes in a sieve. Slice the rest of the garlic and fry it in the remaining olive oil until it starts to turn light brown and then add the chopped chillies. The cabbage should have started to soften by now and you can add it to the frying pan along with a pinch of salt. Sauté the cabbage while the pasta continues to cook you can add a little of the pasta water to help soften the cabbage. Once the past is cooked drain it and add it to the cabbage fry for about a minute so the pasta absorbs the flavours of the oil. At this stage you can add the butter and lemon juice if using them. Divide into two bowls and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs.

 

 

 

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Veggie mains

Veggie kebabs

BBQ.jpg

I’ve been making veggie and tofu kebabs for the BBQ for over 25 years and they’re still one of my favourite things to put on a BBQ. This will make about a dozen skewers. They’re really good served with satay sauce.

You can make them with your favourite veg or what’s in season.  Start by soaking some bamboo skewers in water to stop them burning on the BBQ. Then prepare the tofu. Take a block or two of firm tofu and  cube it into squares of 2-3 cms then shallow fry it turning occasionally until golden brown. This will add to the texture and flavor of the tofu. After frying the tofu make a marinade by crushing 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and about half a dozen pepper corns add a tbsp. of sesame or olive oil, a tbsp. veggie oyster sauce and a tbsp. soy sauce, a tbsp. or two of sesame seeds and a tsp. of turmeric powder. Mix the marinade together and then cover the tofu with it in a bowl.

Next prepare the other ingredients, chop a couple of courgettes a large bell pepper, a couple of onions and a bowlful of mushrooms into chunks that are a similar size to the tofu. Put them in a bowl and drizzle with some oil, sesame or olive work well. Then assemble the kebabs by putting skewering the various veggies on them putting something quite sturdy at each end to stop them falling apart. Place them on a plate and drizzle over and remaining marinade. Cook on a lowish BBQ turning occasionally until the vegetables are cooked, they won’t all cool at exactly the same speed but if some veggies get a little charred that adds to the flavor. For the satay sauce follow the recipe here.

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