1 tin of chickpeas (410g)
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp tahini
1tsp cumin seeds (toasted)
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lemon
Olive oil (optional)
Paprika (smoked or otherwise)
2 tbsp water (optional)
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas and sift through to remove any loose skins from the chickpeas. By removing all of the skins (it may be a bit laborious) but it will give you a much smoother result
- Put the chickpeas, tahini, garlic cloves, and cumin seeds in a food blender and pulse for a couple of seconds (I like my hummus to be a bit rustic with a few of the chickpeas still whole, so I don’t tend to blend too much)
- Add in the olive oil and pulse for a few more seconds
- Season with salt and lemon juice to taste
- Serve and add a few whole chickpeas and a little sprinkle of paprika on top
1 large aubergine
2 cloves of garlic
Squeeze ½ lime
1 tsp cumin seeds (toast and grind)
1 tsp tahini
2 tbsp Olive oil
Pinch of salt and grind of pepper
- Light the gas on the hob, then lay the aubergine directly on it. It will blackened on the flame, and when the skin begins to blister and flake, use tongs to turn the aubergine until it is completely charred on all sides.
- Once done, place the aubergine in a plastic bag and when cool enough to handle, strip away the blackened skin and put the flesh (which should be cooked and soft) in the blender along with the garlic, cumin seeds and tahini.
- Blend in short bursts until smooth, adding the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Purple carrot spaghetti
After a bit of a jog on a very cold October morning, I found myself in the supermarket looking for something inspirational for lunch. And what did I find? Purple carrots! I assume, given the rather colourful packaging, that this product was aimed at children, to try and encourage them to eat vegetables and piggy-backing on the commercial wonderland of Halloween. Nonetheless, i was sucked in. Well done marketers. Cartoons and bright colours obviously work in our supermarket aisles.
I have seen a couple of recipes recently profiling the “vegetable spaghetti”, so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity for me to give it a whirl. I chose to add some rice noodles as well to mix the dish up a bit, but you could use (gluten free) spaghetti instead, or even try some other veggies to “spaghetti”.
Now I used sesame seeds and toasted sesame oil to finish this off, but you could use pine nuts or other such ingredients.
1 regular orange carrot
1 purple carrot
1 clove of garlic
1 red chilli (if you don’t like spicy food, only add ½ a chilli)
A good glug of good quality olive oil/rapeseed oil (maybe 5 tbsp)
Salt and pepper
A small sprinkling of Sesame seeds (optional)
1 tsp Toasted sesame oil (optional)
150g rice noodles (fresh, or dried, but if you use dried, make sure you have cooked them according to the packet instructions before use)
- Cut both carrots into long thin sections. I used a mandolin to get them all uniform (ish) so it was quite fast, but if you don’t have a mandolin, this could be quite a lengthy process, but a good excuse to practice your knife skills!
- Thinly slice the chilli and crush the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chilli and garlic and fry for about a minute, make sure the garlic doesn’t burn
- Add the carrot spaghetti and toss to coat in the oil and fry until the carrot has softened. This will take maybe about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the rice noodles and toss to mix in with the carrot, chilli and garlic.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the toasted sesame oil.
- Serve and sprinkle with a couple of sesame seeds and fresh basil.
Macaroni cheese with a twist
It’s cold dark and rainy outside and summer is a long distant memory. However, there is a plus side to this. Wintery food: rich sauces, unctuous cheeses, sweet parsnips, roast potatoes, all the best bits!
So after a miserable journey home through endless puddles and delayed trains, I was ready for some cheesy goodness.
As much as I love macaroni cheese, I always find that an entire plate of nothing but pasta and cheesy sauce gets a bit monotonous. So I decided to mix it up. Not just by adding the mushrooms and a few slices of tomato, but by adding some heat to the mushrooms to cut through the cheese and enliven the taste buds. This comes in the form of smoked paprika (my ingredient numero uno) and cayenne pepper.
And should you be short of time, or the inclination to make a cheese sauce, there is a simple solution. Philadelphia. Or any other such soft cheese you may find on your supermarket shelves. Just mix this into the pasta with a little splash of the pasta cooking water and bingo! Instant gluten free cheese sauce.
500g Pasta – macaroni/penne/etc – I used Sainsbury’s freefrom corn penne pasta
150g mushrooms, sliced
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
150g cheddar – the stronger the better if you ask me. You will need ½ for the sauce and ½ for the topping
And for the sauce:
50g plain flour – I used Doves farm gluten free plain white flour
½ pint milk
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain
- Heat a frying pan and 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and when hot, add the sliced mushrooms. Make sure the oil is hot so the mushrooms go golden brown rather than soggy and watery.
- When the mushrooms are cooked (about 4-5 mins), add the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika, making sure that all mushrooms are evenly coated and cook for another minute.
- Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour and stir until it forms a paste and cook out for 1-2 mins
- Add the milk bit by bit, stirring/whisking vigorously to make sure you don’t get any lumps
- Once you have added all the milk, add ½ the cheese and stir in until you have a smooth sauce
- Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to coat.
- Put ½ the pasta in a shallow oven proof dish, followed by the mushrooms in a layer on top, then the rest of the pasta on top of the mushrooms.
- Place the sliced tomato on the top of the pasta, and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the tomatoes and pasta.
- Put the dish in a pre heated grill for 5 mins or until golden brown.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Now, I made gnocchi once before, but with sweet potato, but I think they were too dense and not the fluffy little pillows that I was hoping for. I think part of the reason was because I boiled the sweet potato rather than roasted and so it retained a lot of water, so I had to compensate by adding LOADS of (gluten free) flour. I learnt my lesson, so this time, roasting was on the cards.
What with Hallowe’en round the corner, I was contemplating pumpkin gnocchi. But obviously my local supermarket didn’t have the same idea as me, so I had to plump for butternut squash. If you don’t fancy this, you could try with (roasted) sweet potato, normal potatoes, maybe even parsnip gnocchi might work… maybe too sweet… I’m sure someone out there has tried it.
2 butternut squash (medium)
Drizzle of olive oil/vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
At least 400g Gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm Plain white flour blend) the amount will probably vary depending on how watery your butternut squash is, so it is best to have a plentiful supply.
- Peel and cut the butternut squash into chunks (smaller pieces will cook faster)
- Put into a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, toss to make sure the squash is coated in the oil and put into a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees Celsius until cooked through (about 30 mins, but again this depends on the size you cut the squash into!)
- When cooked, mash the butternut squash until smooth (I even squished mine through a sieve but I don’t think it was entirely necessary)
- Put the mash into a mixing bowl and add the flour (about 50g) at a time, mixing well, until you get a dough like consistency.
- Lightly dust a clean work surface with (gluten free) flour, take a ball of the dough and roll out into a long thin sausage. It should be about the width of your little finger, and even.
- Chop the butternut squash sausage into little sections of about 1cm each. These are your gnocchi. Try to make sure each piece is the same size so that it cook evenly.
- Boil a sauce pan of water and add about a large handful of the gnocchi. Be gentle with it and don’t try to put too much in the saucepan as it will all stick together.
- When the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are cooked. This should take about 3 minutes.
- Drain and serve with your favourite sauce (I did mine with a beurre noisette sauce with roasted tomatoes and basil, in case you were interested!)
Spinach and ricotta cannelloni
A Saturday night in. What better way to recover from the week than with some home cooking and a trivial pursuit marathon. So here is what I created and served it alongside steamed green beans, served with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
And as if there wasn’t enough cheese in this meal anyway, we found an extensive cheese plate and a beautiful red wine to be a delightful accompaniment to the trivial pursuit and a perfect way to round off the meal. Although in the interests of everyone’s cholesterol levels, the cheese plate isn’t a necessary finale to this meal.
For the tomato sauce
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
300g cherry tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper
For the pancakes
110g plain flour, I used doves farm gluten free plain white flour
For the filling
250g ricotta cheese
50g parmesan cheese
250g fresh spinach
Handful of fresh parsley
50g Pine nuts (save some for sprinkling over the cannelloni when you serve)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
50-100g Parmesan cheese
- Dice the onion and crush the garlic. Sauté with a splash of oil (~1tsp) on a medium/low heat with the chilli flakes until the onion has softened and is translucent.
- Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add to the onion with the tomato puree and about 150ml cold water and simmer for 20-30 mins, adding a little more water if it dries out. Season to taste.
- Roughly chop the spinach and parsley and add to the ricotta in a mixing bowl, along with the nutmeg. Grate in the Parmesan cheese Grate and season to taste.
- Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan (don’t use any oil for this, there is enough oil in the pine nuts), but take care not to burn them. Add to the spinach and ricotta mix, saving a few that you can use to sprinkle over the cannelloni when you serve up.
- For the pancakes: I could tell you how I did it, but Delia pretty much has it covered, so just follow her recipe (but with gluten free flour) and instructions (leaving out the lemon and sugar topping) here.
- To compile the cannelloni, take a pancake, spoon the spinach and ricotta mix down the middle and roll up. Lay the cannelloni rolls in an oven proof dish. I made my rolls quite fat like this
- Pour the tomato sauce over the pancake rolls (cannelloni), grate parmesan over the top (top tip, don’t hold back on the parmesan! But then again, I am a cheese fiend)
- Pop the dish under the grill for ~5 mins, or until the parmesan is golden and bubbling.
- Serve with greens and a sprinkling of pine nuts.
Sweet potato and pea samosas
1 large sweet potato
Small handful of cashew nuts
1 clove garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1 handful fresh chopped coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 fresh green chilli
150g plain flour (I made several batches and used doves farm bread flour blend AND Juvela white flour mix)
50 butter (melted)
- Score the skin of the potato and cut into large chunks and boil until cooked. Add the peas for the last few minutes. When cooked, drain and put the potato and peas into a mixing bowl.
- Dice the onion and crush the garlic and add to hot oil in a frying pan. Sauté until the onion becomes soft and translucent. Don’t let the onion go brown. Then add the cumin seeds and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes
- Add the onion to the potato in the mixing bowl, along with the coriander, garam masala, chilli powder and fresh chilli. Mix well. (You can afford to crush the potato at this point, but make sure you leave some chunks, it’ll make a good combination of textures in the finished product!
- Cover and pop in the fridge for the flavours to blend for up to 2 hours.
- Take the plain flour in a new mixing bowl, add 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil and bring together with a fork, adding small amounts of cold water to the flour until it comes together in a dough. Take care not to add too much water, but if you do, just add a sprinkle more flour to balance it out. You end up with a dough like this:
- Cover in cling film and pop in into the fridge to rest for 15-30 minutes.
- Make a floury paste with a little flour and enough water to make a thick sticky paste (try to avoid making it too lumpy, too thick or too runny) this will be the “glue” to keep you samosas in shape.
- When ready, roll out the dough to about 1mm thickness. If you find the dough crumbles a bit too easy, just add a tiny splash more water.
- Cut the dough into circles the size of a tea plate, then cut in half to make semi circles. (Top tip: If you are not immediately making the dough into a samosa, cover with a damp cloth or the cling film to keep it from drying out.)
- Take a semi circle of dough, imagine cutting it into 3 slices of pizza (but don’t cut!!) fold the 1st third over the middle third like this:
- Then fold the last third over the centre third, using a little of the flour paste to stick it together. You should now have a little cone.
- Take a spoonful of the potato samosa filling and gently put it in the cone, taking care not to overfill the cone
- Now add a little more of the flour paste to the top of the cone and push the edges of the cone together to close the samosa
- Brush with melted butter and pop in the over at 220 degrees celsius for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown
- Serve with chutney as a yummy snack