Thai Food, Veggie mains

Broccolini & tofu with sesame and mushroom sauce


This dish is a meal in itself, served with some steamed brown rice. It’s similar to the sesame crusted tofu with charred broccoli I made a while ago but with a sauce.

I started by draining a large block of tofu which I cut into cubes and patted dry with a tea towel. Then I put it in a bowl and marinated it in about a tablespoon of light soy sauce. I then heated about 3 0r 4 tbsp. of sesame oil in a frying pan. I fried a handful of cashew nuts and then drained them and put them to one side. I sprinkled about a tablespoon of white sesame seeds on the tofu and then fried it until golden brown. I put the tofu on a tray in a warm oven. Next I strained any remaining sesame seeds from the oil and chopped up and medium onion and fried it in the oil. I added about 3 or 4 sliced cloves of garlic and grated in a similar quantity of fresh ginger. I fried this for a minute or so and then added about 250g mushrooms and a small bunch of Chinese celery. Meanwhile I steamed about 400g broccolini / Hong Kong kale. Once the mushrooms looked cooked I added a tbsp. of light soy sauce, a little dark soy sauce, some ground black pepper and the remaining sesame seeds from the tofu and a tsp. of black sesame seeds. Then I added a couple of tablespoons of mushroom (oyster) sauce and some hot water to make a gravy like sauce and cooked this down a little. I placed the broccolini on a serving plate poured over the sauce, sprinkled on the cashew nuts and arranged the tofu around the side.


Veggie mains

Vegetable stew with lentils and barley


There’s something comforting about a pot of stew. When I was young my mum often made a lamb stew with barley in it. This is a meat free Monday version.

I think you need to be flexible when you make stew using the vegetables you find in season at the market. Today I found a nice cauliflower, some lovely asparagus, and sugar snap peas that I wanted to incorporate into my stew along with some other year round veggies.

I started by preparing all my veg and putting all the trimmings in  a pot with boiling water, some salt and peppercorns and some herbs, bay leaves, dill and rosemary to make a stock. While the stock was simmering I fried a chopped onion in some olive oil, to this I added a few crushed cloves of garlic and some celery and fried it until it began to soften. Then I added a bowlful of chopped mushrooms. Then I added a chopped carrot, a handful of pear barley and two handfuls of brown lentils a couple of bay leaves, some rosemary and a teaspoon or Marmite. I poured in some of the stock and a glass of white wine (optional) ensuring that everything was well covered in liquid and put the lid on and simmered it for about 20 minutes. I added some more stock along with the cauliflower, cut into florets, and the asparagus stems. I cooked this for another 10 minutes or so before adding the sugar snap peas, the asparagus tips, some dill and freshly ground pepper and cooked it for another 10 minutes.

I served it with some mashed potatoes like my mum used to.


Baking, Snacks, Veggie mains

Curried veggie pasties


These are an adaptation of my cheesy veggie pasties and are a samosa / pasty hybrid.

Follow the cheesy veggie pasties recipe but add a teaspoon of curry powder and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds to the pastry. For the filling add a couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt, 2 tsp of curry powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, a tsp of toasted cumin seeds, and a handful of chopped coriander leaves (you can also swap the cheddar for a tub of cottage cheese and the butter beans for chickpeas or lentils if you like). Follow the instructions for the cheesy pasties. These go really well with mango chutney.

Veggie mains

Veggies in ‘pasta’ sauce

Lots of people are making ‘pastaless’ pasta dishes using spiralized vegetables such as courgettes to make courgetti etc. My friend Jaja made a delicious dish this week with courgetti and a veggie ragu. So I thought I’d experiment with a mixed ‘veghetti’. I used just over a kilo of veg for two people so you’re certainly getting your five-a-day here!

I started by frying finely sliced eryngii mushrooms in some olive oil with crushed garlic and some salt. Meanwhile I made ‘ribbons’ from a couple of courgettes and added these to the pan. In a steamer I lightly cooked a leek also cut into long strips and some baby asparagus. While these were cooking I added a slosh of white whine and some cream to the frying pan to make a sauce. Then added in the leeks and the asparagus and a bowlful of sunflower sprouts. I mixed everything together and cooked it until the sprouts started to soften then turned off the heat. I stirred in two beaten organic free-range eggs mixed with a handful of grated Parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper and made sure all the vegetables were coated in the sauce.

It made a nice light meal, certainly not as substantial as a pasta dish but a good alternative if you want something between a pasta meal and a salad. One tip is that quite a bit of liquid comes out of the vegetables, especially the mushrooms and courgettes, so try to use firmer mushrooms, like eryngii and smaller courgettes which are less watery. Also fry off as much liquid at the early stage as you can, adding salt at the beginning should help here. Having said that the juice is very tasty so serve in a bowl with a spoon as well as a fork, or serve with some crusty bread to mop up the juices, but then your back to carbs (not that that bothers me)!

Veggie mains

Matar paneer (pea & cheese curry)

I love Indian curries with paneer cheese in them so today I made some paneer and made Matar Paneer. In fact I love Sag Paneer with spinach too so I will have to do that soon when I have plenty of spinach in the garden. All the recipes I have for this curry are a little differnt so I took what I thought I wanted from each.

So what do you need?

  • 200g paneer cheese
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 an onion (about 50g)
  • About 5cm fresh ginger
  • 2 – 3 large green chillis
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 large tomato
  • 200g garden peas
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp cream
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil

So what do you do?

Start by cubing the paneer and frying this in some vegetable oil in a thick-bottomed frying pan or saucepan (with a lid). When it is nice and golden remove it. In the same oil fry the cumin seeds seeds and the add the onion, finely chopped and fry for a couple of minutes. Spit the chilli and chop in up and peel and finely chop the ginger and add these to the pan. Gring the coriander seeds with the salt add these along with the turmeric and fry while you chop up the tomato. Add the tomatoes and the peas and a some water to cover the base of the pan and put the lid on and simmer for about 10 minutes so the peas and the tomatoes. Add the cream and add the paneer back in an cook for a minute or two more so you have a thickish sauce coating everything. Taste and add a little more salt and some dried chilli if you want.  Finally stir in the coriander leaves and serve.

Thai Food, Veggie mains

Drunken spaghetti / Pad Kee Mao


This is a try fusion dish a Thai-Chinese noodle dish made with pasta instead of rice noodles. The noodle version is similar to Pad See Ew but with spices. The Thai name translates as drunken noodles perhaps because the spicy version is good after a few drinks. It works well with pasta but if you prefer make it withy thick rice noodles. The quantities and ingredients below are just a guideline as you can mix and match the veggies you prefer and adapt the level of spice to suit your taste. This will make 3 – 4 servings.

So what do you need?

  • vegetable oil
  • 3 or 4 coves of garlic
  • 4-6 small birds eye chillies (prik kee noo)
  • 3-4 large red chillies
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 200g firm tofu
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 150g green beans
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • a handful of fresh green peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. veggie ‘oyster’ sauce
  • a bunch of holy basil
  • 300g pasta spaghetti / linguine

So what do you do?

Start by heating a pan of salted water to cook your pasta in and prepare your vegetables. Chop the tofu into small cubes, deseed and chop your large chillies and bell pepper, slice your mushrooms, tomatoes and onion. Take any stringy bits off the beans and take the basil of its stems, you’ll need about a cupful of leaves. In a mortar crush the garlic and small chillies together and lightly crush about a third of your peppercorns too.

Then heat about 4 tablespoons of oil in a wok and fry your tofu until it’s golden then drain it and put it to one side. Then fry your garlic and chilli mix and onion in the remaining oil. While this is cooking put your pasta on. After a minute or so add the pepper and large chillies, and then add the mushrooms. Fry for a couple of minutes then add the tomatoes and pre-cooked tofu. I lightly steam my beans over the pasta for a minute or too as this brings out the green colour in them. Add the beans to the wok along with the remaining peppercorns and the soy and veggie ‘oyster’ sauce also. You can add a little of the pasta water if it seems dry, make sure the sauce coats everything. Then add the holy basil leaves and stir them in. Finally drain the pasta and add this to the wok and cook for a mintue longer so that the pasta absorbs the flavours of the sauce.




The Basics, Veggie mains

Veggie mince / ragu


This is a great way to make a veggie base for dishes that would normally used minced meat e.g. for pasta dishes like Bolognese or lasagna, moussakaveggie chilli, Shepherd’s pie etc. I don’t really like soya based meat alternatives and find this works really well and is packed with vegetables a good way to get your 5-a-day. You’ll need a food processor as the veggies need to be very finely chopped. You can adapt this to use the vegetables you like / have available and flavor / season it according to the dish you plan to make. You can also add lentils / other pulses to it if you like. For about 1.2kg of ‘mince’ I used:

  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large aubergine / eggplant
  • 3 courgettes / zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • 300g mushrooms
  • 600g fresh tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 dried chilli (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. of light (mushroom) soy sauce

Start by putting the oil in a large thick-based frying pan or wide saucepan, that has a lid, and heat it up. Chop the peeled onion into chunks and put it in a food processor and chop it very fine put it in the pan and fry for a couple of minutes. Next do the same with the aubergine and the garlic and add about a level tsp on salt, add these to the pan. Next process the courgettes, carrot and mushrooms and add them. Add the soy sauce and fry for about 5 – 10 minutes, until the liquid that comes out of the veggies evaporates off. Meanwhile blend the tomatoes and add them with the bay leaves, herbs, chilli and a good grinding of pepper. Stir these in to the other veggies and bring to a boil then cover and simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally. You want to slowly cook and reduce this down it will take about 40-60 minutes depending on how juicy your veggies are and how thick you want your mince to be. If you want make a big batch, doubling or trebling the quantities, and then freeze it in meal sized portions.


Penne & veggie ragu.