Tasty roast chickpeas – a quick snack or versatile ingredient!

roast chickpeas

Canned chickpeas are cheap, healthy and versatile – the cheapest can costs 40p in many supermarkets.  If you roast them in the oven with some oil and a crumbled stock cube (or with a shake of dry seasoning such as cajun seasoning, or dry spice such as garam masala, paprika or ground coriander) then the chickpeas go golden brown and absorb the flavour.

Great as a simple snack to eat at home or when out and about.  You can also add them to salad or use them as a soup topping to give crunch and texture.

roast chickpeas

roast chickpeas

Yesterday my kids (who like them – hooray!) had their chickpeas along with dinner and then we adults had them later in a salad and with soup, on top of a dollop of creme fraiche and cumin seeds (for my veggie soup recipe click here https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/fantastic-variations-on-a-roast-autumnwinter-soup/).

roast chickpeas

Tasty roast chickpeas (serves 2-3 people as a snack or more people in a salad/as a soup topping)

Can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Good glug of oil (ideally olive oil but I have also used vegetable and sunflower oil)

1 veg stock cube, crumbled (I like OXO as it crumbles easily) or good shake of seasoning or spice (see above for ideas)

Heat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 6.

Put the chickpeas on to a non-stick baking tray, pour over some oil and sprinkle over the stock cube/seasoning/spice.  Mix really well with a spoon.  Roast in the oven for 10-20 minutes, shaking the tray regularly to avoid burning/sticking.  If you want the chickpeas lightly roasted then 10-15 minutes is enough, or if you want them a little crispy 20 minutes should do it.  Depends a bit on the oven – you want them slightly browned.

Remove from the oven and eat on their own, with salad or as a soup topping.


My 30 minute veggie cottage pie

veggie cottage pie

This cottage pie is a great family meal, using veggie mince, veg, tinned tomatoes, garlic, dried herbs, stock cubes, and Worcestershire sauce for a rich, sweet flavour.  The pie is topped with a cheesy mash then grilled for a few minutes to make it crispy and golden.  Healthy, low-fat, gluten-free and ready in 30 mins.  The recipe serves eight so lasted us two days.  I added salt to my portion once on my plate to keep the salt content down for the kids.  We had the pie on it’s own but it would also be nice with salad or bread.

If you have kids who are cynical about veg then make sure you cut them extra small (the veg not the children)!  The ingredients total about £5.50.

veggie cottage pie

30 minute veggie cottage pie (serves 8)

8 smallish mushrooms, cut small

2 sticks celery, cut small

2 smallish carrots, cut small

2 handful frozen peas

300g veggie mince

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Big shake dried mixed herbs

2 tins chopped tomatoes (I use value)

tbsp tomato puree

2 veggie stock cubes (I use OXO reduced salt)

tbsp Worcestershire sauce

450g potatoes, roughly cut (I don’t bother peeling)

2 tbsp butter/margarine

Large handful grated cheddar cheese/grated parmesan

Little milk

Put some oil in a pan and chuck in all the veg.  Heat, stirring regularly, for around 5 minutes, until starting to get tender.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes in some water for around 8 mins, until cooked.

To the veg pan, add some more oil, the veggie mince, garlic and herbs and heat for another 10 mins or so, stirring lots, until the veg and mince are cooked and have absorbed all the oil.

Drain the potatoes, add the butter and mash.  Add a little milk until you are happy with the consistency.  Add the cheese and mix well.  Put aside.

To the veg pan, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cubes.  Heat for another 5 mins until everything is bubbling and smelling delicious.

Pour the veg mixture in to a casserole dish.  Carefully spoon the mash on top and spread it flat, then use a fork to make lines on it.  Pop the cottage pie under the grill for a few minutes until the top is golden brown and slightly crispy.  Eat!  Will last a couple of days in the fridge.

Microwave ‘baked’ sweet potato with feta, chickpea and spring onion topping

This is a super quick and very tasty dinner, ready in about 8 minutes.  You simply ‘bake’ the sweet potato in the microwave for around 5 minutes, then top with a delicious mixture of chopped feta, canned chickpeas, spring onions.  Heat for another minute so the feta melts, sprinkle over the fresh coriander and eat! microwave sweet potato with topping Alternative toppings could be soft cheese with vegetables and/or bacon or some stir fried vegetables with seasoning or sweet chilli sauce, or anything you fancy! Microwave baked sweet potato with topping (serves 2) 2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and skins on Can chickpeas, drained 1/2 – 1/3 block feta cheese, roughly chopped 4 spring onions, chopped small Small handful coriander, chopped (chop smaller than in the photo – I was in a rush!) Little olive oil Pierce the sweet potatoes fairly deeply a few times (careful!) with a knife.  Put them together in the microwave on full power for around 2 1/2 minutes then turn over and heat for another 2 1/2 minutes.  They are ready if soft to squeeze and a knife can be easily inserted.  Heat for an additional 30 seconds at a time if necessary, until done. Meanwhile mix the feta, chickpeas, spring onions and a little olive oil.   Cut open the cooked sweet potatoes and a put a little butter in, then top with the mixture and return to the microwave on full power for 40-50 seconds, until the feta has melted a bit.  Sprinkle over the fresh coriander and eat!

Watercress pesto – versatile, delicious and ready in 5 minutes – yes, 5 minutes!

watercress pesto

A big thank you to Noush for recommending this brilliant watercress pesto recipe to me!  She makes it every week at home because her son loves ‘green pasta’.  It was a big hit in my house too, despite my kids not normally going near watercress, because they love pesto!

watercress pesto

watercress pesto

It takes just 5 minutes to whizz the pesto up in a food processor and it can be eaten in lots of different ways – stirred through pasta with anything you fancy; dolloped on top of pizza; on chicken; spread on to sandwiches with salad and/or cheese, or as a salad dressing.  Watching my kids eat it is very satisfying because watercress is packed with goodness.

watercress pesto

watercress pesto

The pesto will last up to a week in the fridge in a sealed container topped with a layer of olive oil, and the amount in the recipe should last for around four family meals, depending on what you use it for (it’s about a jar’s worth).  Hope you like it as much as me!

Watercress pesto

1 bag watercress (or other leaves like spinach or rocket)
1 clove garlic, crushed
60g grated parmesan (I don’t always have this at home – it’s fine without it)
Generous handful pine nuts (or whatever nuts you have – I have used walnuts, brazil nuts and pecans too)
Squeeze of lemon
Olive oil

Put everything except the lemon and olive oil in the food processor and whizz it until everything is finely chopped.  Add the oil (as much as it takes to get the consistency you want) and then a squeeze of lemon to suit your taste (usually between 1/4 and 1/2 a lemon).  Season with salt and pepper.  Store in the fridge for up to a week with a layer of olive oil on top to keep fresh.

Salted caramel and chocolate tarts (only 20 mins painless preperation!)


Salted caramel has been all the rage for a while now, and for good reason, as it’s gorgeous!  This salted caramel and chocolate tart recipe is pretty painless as it uses shop-bought pastry and tinned Caramel (both available from supermarkets).  I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but I LOVE tinned Carnation caramel.  I often eat it with a spoon before even starting the recipe and end up with little bits of it smeared across my face. It is AMAZING stuff.

salted caramel and chocolate tart

To make these yummy tarts you simply spoon the caramel in to the pastry, sprinkle over some salt and top with the melted dark chocolate.  If you like you can swirl some white chocolate in for extra effect.  All this only takes 20 minutes.

salted caramel and chocolate tart

salted caramel and chocolate tart

I would recommend making the tarts the evening before so the filling has time to firm up in the fridge and strike the right balance between firm and gooey against the crumbly bite of the pastry.

You can use any chocolate for this recipe.  I used the value stuff to keep costs down, and it cost about £4.80 to make 6 tarts.  You can eat the tarts on their own or along with some ice cream.

For another recipe using tinned caramel check out this cheat’s banoffee pie  https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/cheats-banoffee-pie-ready-in-30-mins/.

Salted caramel and chocolate tarts (makes 6)

397g Carnation caramel (or cheaper alternative)

6 small ready baked sweet pastry bases (available from supermarkets)

Few pinches salt

100g dark chocolate (cheap is fine!)

Optional – 40g white chocolate for swirling on top (cheap is fine!)

70ml evaporated milk from a tin (available from supermakets)

Lay out the pastry cases.  Spoon about 2 heaped tsp caramel in to each, until 2/3 full (you will probably have some caramel leftover).  Sprinkle each caramel filled tart evenly with a little salt – how much you use is personal preference but I imagined each tart was a poached egg and sprinkled the salt quite generously!

Melt the dark chocolate and evaporated milk, stirring lots, very gently together, either on the hob or in 10 second bursts in the microwave.  If in the microwave stir between each burst.  Divide the melted chocolate between the tarts with a spoon.  Now gently melt the white chocolate and put a dollop in the middle of each tart, then use a toothpick (or similar) to draw lines out of the middle of the dollop like a star and then swirl it a bit to create a marbled effect (my attempt at this wasn’t great and definitely needs more practice but turned out fine).  Put the tarts in the fridge, ideally overnight, so they firm up.  Eat greedily and messily with hands.

Recipe adapted from http://www.carnation.co.uk

Salad Nicoise – summery, wholesome and ready in 20 mins

This is a very pretty summery salad originating from the French city of Nice.  It is full of textures and delicious flavours including tuna (canned or fresh is fine), potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, anchovies (optional!) and a vinaigrette dressing (I used shop-bought to keep it simple).  It only takes 20 minutes to make, is light yet filling and the cooking can be done in one pan to save on washing up!  My kids had a simplified version of it, using just the tuna, potatoes, eggs, green beans and a little of the dressing.

easy tuna nicoise

Salad Nicoise is also a great salad if you want a low-calorie or gluten-free meal.  If anchovies frighten you, I urge you to try them in this salad.  Chopped small they add a lovely, salty flavour and are not overwhelmingly fishy!  As a side note, they are also great for adding richness to tomato sauces and cheese sauces, and they dissolve completely once hot.  This dish comes to about £4 in total.

Salad nicoise (serves two hungry people or four as a side dish)

4 new potatoes, quartered

2 eggs

Large handful green beans, trimmed if necessary

5 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Small can tuna

1 little gem lettuce, roughly chopped

8 pitted black olives, torn in half

Optional – 4 tinned anchovies, chopped small (add lovely salty flavour)

Good shake of vinaigrette dressing (available in supermarkets)

Optional – a few torn basil leaves

Put the potatoes in a pan of boiling water along with the eggs (still in their shells).  Once the potatoes are nearly tender (after about 8 mins or so) add the green beans.  Cook for a further 3 mins then take off the heat and drain.   Take the shells off the eggs and cut each egg in to six.

Put the gem lettuce in to a salad bowl, then top with the potatoes, eggs, green beans, tomatoes, tuna, olives and anchovies (if using).  Shake over a generous amount of the vinaigrette.  Scatter over the basil, if using.  Take to the table and tuck in!  Add more vinaigrette at the table if necessary.

Seriously good leek and cheese toasties

So delicious that I had to reblog this post from 2012! The toasties are a great breakfast/brunch treat for the weekend…


This may not sound very sophisticated but it is SO good!  There’s something about leek, cream and cheese which is a bit special, especially when it tops a couple of pieces of crunchy toasted bread.  And it only takes about 15 minutes.  It’s very rich so serving it with some steamed, buttered asparagus should fill you up plenty.  Recipe courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.


(Photo from www.wildinthekitchen.wordpress.com)


15g butter
2 leeks, trimmed (white and pale green part only), washed and sliced
A sprinkling of dried mixed herbs
3 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche
50g mature cheddar or other well-flavoured hard cheese, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 thick slices good, robust bread

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the leeks. As soon as they are sizzling, turn down the heat and sweat gently, stirring, for 8 minutes. Stir in the…

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