Spiced whole roast cauliflower (10 mins prep/1 hour cooking)

spiced whole roast cauliflower

I have been wanting to try this all year and can now confirm that it really does work!  You cover a whole cauliflower with a marinade of Greek yoghurt and spices, roast it in the oven until it is brown then put it in the middle of the table so people can cut off chunks.  A unique, low carb/fat and delicious meal and it only takes 10 minutes to prepare then up to an hour in the oven!  Perfect for a mid week dinner.  Serve with a salad.  And don’t be put off by the the fact it looks a bit like a brain…

spiced whole roast cauliflower

spiced whole roast cauliflower

Spiced whole roasted cauliflower

1 medium head cauliflower
4 heaped dessert spoons Greek yogurt
Zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder (depending how fiery you like it!)
1/2 tsp ground cumin/cumin seeds
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp mild curry powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°/gas mark 5. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove the leaves and stem.  In bowl, mix the yogurt with the lime zest, chilli powder, cumin, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper.

Put the cauliflower on a baking tray and use a spoon to spread the marinade evenly all over it.  Roast until the surface is dry and well browned, for between 45 mins – 1 hour.  Place on the table and let people cut off wedges.  Serve with a salad!

My fella’s low-calorie roast sweet potato, broccoli and prawn salad (40 mins prep)

If you read my blog regularly you will know that my fella normally only gets excited over Rustlers burgers and biscuits.  Not so anymore.  He has been on a low-calorie health kick and – shock horror! – might actually be getting his five (veg and fruit) a day.  In his quest to eat delicious and filling low-calorie meals, he discovered that you can eat loads of veg and prawns without racking up many calories (in this case we reckon about 300 per portion).

sweet potato broccoli prawn low calorie salad

This salad is a one-tray meal so it saves on washing up. We both agree that roasting sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, prawns, garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil then squeezing over fresh lemon juice is really tasty and satisfyingly filling.  In my fella’s words ‘it’s so nice I can literally eat it’.  I’m quite annoyed that one of our most regularly eaten dishes was invented by him and not me…

There are lots of alternative ingredient options for this dish – cauliflower, carrots, parsnips and onions are also delicious roasted; soya beans could be heated separately and added at the end; you could top the salad with seeds, spring onions or herbs; and if you don’t eat prawns you could scatter on shaved parmesan or crumbled feta before serving.

To offset this superfood meal, I am collaborating with a cafe to bring you an Algerian omelette recipe – naughty, unique and definitely NOT low in calories.  Watch this space!

My fella’s low-calorie roast sweet potato, broccoli and prawn salad (serves 2)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in to small chunks
Head of broccoli, roughly cut in to florets
6 asparagus tips, chopped in to 1 inch pieces
180g cooked prawns (any kind), drained
Optional – handful pine nuts, toasted (you can do this yourself by heating in a hot, dry non-stick pan for 1-2 mins, shaking regularly until lightly browned)
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Small sprinkle chilli flakes

Juice of 1 lemon
Large glug olive oil

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees.  Put the sweet potato chunks in a non-stick roasting/baking tray, coat in a large glug of olive oil and mix. Put in the oven for approx 30 mins, turning every 5-10 minutes to avoid burning. Once tender, add the broccoli, asparagus, prawns, garlic and chilli flakes and roast for a further 10-15 mins, turning regularly. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Once everything is cooked through and slightly browned, take out of the oven and add the lemon juice.  Mix.

Serve in bowls topped with the pine nuts.

Mussels with cider, leek and shallot sauce (ready in 25 mins)

mussels

Now it is blustery and cold outside I can’t stop eating brothy comfort food, and the great thing about this dish is it is filling yet low in calories. The tender mussels sit in a subtly flavoured sauce of cider, leeks, shallots, garlic, parsley and creme fraiche. There is something quite therapeutic about washing the mussels during the preparation and then messily prizing them out of their shells in order to eat them. Bread (ideally baguette) is essential for soaking the sauce up as you go along and wiping the bowl clean at the end!

This recipe is based on one by Sainsbury’s but I have adapted it slightly. Allow just 25 minutes to make this dish and make sure you have an extra bowl at the table to put the empty shells in!

Please excuse the lower quality photo above – my boyfriend’s camera is away this weekend…

Mussels with cider, leek and shallot sauce (serves 4 with bread)

1kg fresh mussels
Olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 leek, trimmend and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped
300ml cider (original recipe specifies Somerset cider but you don’t need to be too specific – just don’t use really cheap stuff!)
1 heaped tbsp lighter creme fraiche
1/2 x 28g pack parsley, chopped
Baguette or bread, to serve

Wash the mussels under cold running water, removing the beards and any dirt. Discard any mussels that are open. Heat a large glug of oil in a pan and add the shallots and leeks. Cook for 5 mins until softened then add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Pour in the cider and cook for a further 5 mins.

Tip in the mussels, cover with a lid and cook for 4-5 mins, shaking/stirring occasionally until all the shells have opened. Discard any that remain closed.

Stir in the creme fraiche and half the parsley and season with ground black pepper. Ladle in to bowls and top with the remaining parsley. Serve with bread to mop up the sauce.

Based on a recipe by Sainsbury’s

The People’s French onion soup with cheesy toasts – ready in 30 minutes

easy french onion soup

I love a stocky soup, especially when it starts to feel cold outside. Slurping up onion soup and dipping bits of cheesy toasts in to it is deeply satisfying. Traditionally this soup is topped with small rounds of baguette and melted gruyere cheese but I had to budget hard with shopping this week so used regular bread and cheddar cheese, and dried herbs. Still delicious and a simple dish to make as long as you don’t mind chopping and stirring a bit!

Plus you have the added bonus of finishing off the wine with your meal.

The People’s french onion soup (serves 4)

Olive oil
4 largish onions, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
A large knob of butter
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
A good sprinkle of dried herbs
Salt and pepper
180ml dry white wine (cheapest is fine)
3 cubes veg stock, crumbled (I like OXO)
2 – 4 pieces of any bread (allow half to one slice per person depending on how hungry people are)
Approx 80g cheddar cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add all the onions, stirring regularly to avoid burning. You may need to add more oil. After about 10-15 minutes they should be soft and a little sticky. Add the butter, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, continuing to stir. Add the wine, cook for another 5 minutes to reduce it down and then add the stock cubes and some boiled water until you are happy with the consistency. It should be be pretty watery. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile place the toast under the grill on one side until browned, take out and top the other side with the grated cheese and then finish off grilling that side until the toast is brown and the cheese is melted. Cut each slice of cheesy toast in to 4 pieces. Ladle the soup in to bowls and top with the pieces of toast. Eat greedily.

Caribbean saltfish with peppers and onions (20 mins plus soaking time)

I recently had saltfish for the first time, cooked by St Lucia born Marilyn.  She topped it with peppers and onions, and I had a rude amount of it.  You have to soak the saltfish before cooking (to rehydrate it), and then once it hits the saucepan it becomes tender, flaky and delicious and, of course, pretty salty.  A simple dish with lots of flavour!

saltfish with peppers onions

Saltfish is eaten lots in the Caribbean alongside a fruit called ackee, which I will have to try next time.  It is also popular in Spain where it is eaten with tomato sauce and potatoes.  And I think it goes well with a salad or some rice.  We live in a multicultural area so can buy the saltfish in our local corner shop or supermarket, but am not sure how easy it would be to find otherwise!

Allow at least a few hours for soaking the saltfish before making the dish, and change the water at least once!

Ingredients (serves 4)

300g saltfish (skinless and boneless)
2 different coloured peppers, cut in to strips
1 onion, cut in to strips
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Once the saltfish has soaked, give it a good rinse to get off some of the salt, then chop it in to chunks.

Fry the peppers, onion and garlic in vegetable/sunflower oil for about 5 minutes until softening and then add the fish.  Heat and stir for about another 10 minutes until the fish is tender, cooked through and flaky. Serve alongside some rice, salad, or if you want to be really authentic, ackee.

LA-style all green salad (ready in 15 mins)

LA style all green salad

This must be what the figure conscious celebs of LA eat. It’s super healthy, full of greens, lentils (canned for ease!), seeds and a deliciously tasty yoghurt dressing with cumin seeds. It only takes 15 minutes to prepare and is guaranteed to make you feel virtuous. I couldn’t resist having some mozzarella on the side though…

LA style all green salad

The recipe is courtesy of Sainsbury’s magazine (supermarket magazines are the best place to find clever recipes in my opinion). Here are a few tips for super-charging salad, also courtesy of Sainsbury’s: ‘liven it up with flaked salmon or sliced chicken; bulk it out with drained, canned beans; add roasted tomatoes, courgettes or cooked grains such as quinoa or pearl barley, to create more interesting textures and flavours; sprinkle toasted seeds or nuts on top for added crunch’.

LA-style all green salad (serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, crushed
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
80g fat-free natural yoghurt
1 medium head broccoli, broken in to florets
250g asparagus, trimmed
200g watercress
410g tin green lentils
1 ripe avocado, chopped
40g seed mix

Make the dressing: combine the olive oil, cumin, garlic, lemon zest and juice and natural yoghurt. Set aside.

Steam/boil the broccoli until just tender, adding the asparagus for the final 2 minutes.

Toss together the salad leaves with the asparagus, broccoli, lentils and avocado. Divide between 4 plates and drizzle with the dressing and serve scattered with the seeds.

Recipe from Sainsbury’s magazine

Charred lettuce and spring onions with goats cheese

charred lettuce spring onions

This is what loving food is all about – making discoveries like this. Who knew that lettuce can be enjoyed not raw? I have had high expectations of this recipe, based on one from River Cottage Everyday, ever since I book marked it years ago.

You can cook the lettuce on a bbq or indoors like me on a very hot griddle or frying pan (although a frying pan will lack the charred lines effect!) It only takes a few minutes to cook the lettuce and spring onions until they are brown and softened, then top them with olive oil and goats cheese. I have added a little balsamic vinegar to give a slight sweetness to the bitter/salty combination. If you leave the lettuce stalks on you can easily load the other ingredients on top then pick it up and greedily eat it all together with your hands! Hugh (Fearnley-Whittingstall) says that lettuce is also delicious braised in stock and wilted in a risotto.

This dish is pretty substantial on it’s own but would also impress as a side dish or starter.

I excitedly bought River Cottage Everyday at a jumble sale and it is a lovely cookbook – full of homely veg, fish and meat recipes and dessert, breakfast and packed lunch ideas. It’s booster bar recipe (basically fancy flapjacks – see recipe here https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/kids-snack-peanut-butter-honey-and-seed-booster-bars/) are a staple in our house – kids and adults love ’em!

Ok, I will stop banging on. Here is today’s recpe:

Charred lettuce and spring onions with goats cheese (serves 2 as a main)

2 little gem lettuces, chopped in half lengthways and stalks left on
10 spring onions, trimmed
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Small goats cheese
Salt and pepper

Brush the lettuces and spring onions with olive oil and place on a VERY HOT bbq/griddle/frying pan. After a few minutes turn them over, ensuring each side is browned and softened. 30 seconds before they are done, pour a little balsamic vinegar on the cut sides and turn over to finish off.

Put the lettuce and spring onions on a plate and top with shaved/thinly cut goats cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Eat greedily with hands!

Based on a recipe from River Cottage Everyday

Awesome hob-to-table veggie moussaka in 30 mins

veggie moussaka

I have always loved Greek moussaka, but always hated all that salt business when preparing aubergines the proper way, and that is why I absolutely love this dish. Even my boyfriend said ‘this is GREAT’ when he had it, and he is a carnivore who usually makes enthusiastic comments about twice a year. It is made with veggie mince but you could always use the real thing.

It has a few fresh ingredients that you can quickly prepare, cinnamon for that exotic touch, and then one star ingredient that saves you a ton of time and introduces instant richness and awesome flavour – chargrilled aubergine pesto.

This dish takes about 30 minutes to make and you can do it all in one pan, then sprinkle it with feta and fresh mint and let people tuck in (it would work fine if you prepared the main bit the night before then added the feta and mint before eating). I am so happy about it that I can’t stop smiling. Seriously!

Ingredients for hob-to-table moussaka (serves 6)

Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Good shake dried mixed herbs
500g quorn mince (or cheaper alternative)
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Jar Sacla chargrilled aubergine pesto
300g feta, crumbled
Handful of mint, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onions, garlic and dried herbs, until soft. Add the veggie mince and simmer for about 10 mins then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, cinnamon, chargrilled aubergine pesto and salt and pepper. Simmer for another 10 mins. Sprinkle the feta and mint over the top, drizzle with olive oil and serve! Perhaps with a light salad.

Adapted from BBC GoodFood 101 One-pot dishes

Kids meal – ranch style sausage and veg kebabs

ranch style kebabs kids snack

My fussy boy likes this. He always gets excited about ‘lunch on a stick’ and food with a tasty bbq coating (even if there are vegetables underneath!) I made these kebabs with frankfurter sausages (you can get meat or veggie versions), potatoes and carrots. They would also work with boiled sweet potato or lightly fried mushrooms and onions. You could add cheddar or halloumi cheese too (don’t grill the cheddar though, obviously..)

The kebabs take about 25 mins to make, and you can prepare the mixture in advance then you only need to grill them for a few minutes before eating. Hope your kids like it!

For further ideas for kids meals/snacks check out this category on the right hand side of the blog.

Ingredients

Potatoes, chopped in to bite size chunks
Carrots, sliced
Frankfurter sausages
Shop-bought bbq sauce

Boil the potatoes and sausages for about 10 minutes (or according to the packet instructions), adding the carrots about 5 minutes in, until cooked but not too soft. Drain, chop the sausages and mix a little bbq sauce in with everything (only use a little as it has a strong flavour). Slide alternate veg and sausages on to a kebab stick (or thin straw if you have none) then grill for a few minutes until lightly browned. Mix some mayonnaise and bbq sauce together in a bowl as a dip if you fancy.

Provencal tomato soup

tomatosoup

Here is a lovely summery soup full of goodness.  It takes about 5 minutes to chop the veg and then 40 minutes to cook on the hob.  You could eat it with a dollop of creme fraiche for extra Frenchness, and add some basil leaves on top for a sophisticated look.  My kids didn’t scream ‘no I want something else’ when I gave it to them, so that’s good…

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

2 tsp tomato puree

1kg ripe tomatoes, quartered

2 bay leaves

Good pinch of sugar

Veg stock (I used one pint of veg Oxo)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, carrot and celery for 1o minutes until softened.  Stir in the tomato puree.  Tip in the tomatoes and add the bay leaves and sugar.  Stir well and cook gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes reduce down slightly.

Pour in the stock using your judgement as to how much to use.  Be careful not to pour in too much or it will be too watery.  Cook gently for approximately 20 minutes stirring a few times.  Remove the bay leaves then puree the soup.  Continue heating it in the pan and season.  Add more stock if need be or cook for longer to reduce it down if it is too watery.  Serve with creme fraiche and basil leaves!

Recipe from the excellent GoodFood 101 One-pot dishes