Tag Archives: gluten-free

Chewy Fruit and Nut Muesli Bars

28 Feb Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

This is the next recipe in my Sweet & Healthy series. I used to buy muesli bars all the time, I took them to work and college to snack on in the afternoon, you know when you get that craving for something sweet. The companies that make these spend millions on packaging and marketing to make you believe that they are the healthy alternative and are actually good for you.

So no true.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Nearly all of them are packed with sugar and oil or butter so that any goodness you might be getting from the fruit, seeds and nuts is completely irrelevant. You might as well buy a toffee apple with a side order of candy floss.

Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Making your own is really quick and easy, you have complete control over what goes in them and you aren’t paying for fake organic looking packaging and advertising campaigns with sunny farms in them. If you don’t like raisins leave them out, prefer hazelnuts to almonds then put them in instead.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars Recipe

Makes 8-12 depending how you cut them. Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 90 g (1 cup) oats (gf)
  • 5 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • 4 Tbsp oat milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little oil.

Put the chopped banana, oats, coconut, vanilla, flaxmeal, cinnamon and honey in a food processor and pulse together slowly. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse together again. You can blend it really well or leave some bits chunky.

Tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet and shape it into a flat, even square about 1/2 cm thick with a spatula. It takes a bit of time & patience to make it even but they will be easier to cut into squares or rectangles later. Top with a few more flaked almonds and sunflower seeds and press them down a bit.

Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. Cut into 12 squares or 8 rectangles while still warm. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

It is my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop this Saturday 2nd March 5pm-9m. We will be making and tasting:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Dark Chocolate & Orange Almond Torte

Chocolate, Date & Walnut Energy Truffles

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

All of these recipes use wholemeal spelt flour or ground almonds rather than processed flours. We use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and use honey, maple syrup or miel de cana instead of refined sugars.

Here’s a preview of the cookies. If you are lucky I might have time to share the recipe with you next week…

Vegan Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

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Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

18 Feb Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is the next recipe from my Sweet & Healthy series that I didn’t realise I was doing until I just looked at all the recipes and photos I had waiting to publish and noticed that they were all sweet treats that are good for you. The previous recipe in the (now) series was for this Vegan Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is because The Washer Up likes something sweet to take to work with his lunch and I always end up snacking on whatever it is too, so it has to be healthy. These are brilliant for breakfast if you don’t have time to make anything and terrific for that afternoon tea break when you need a sweet fix.

Apple & Pear Oatmeal Muffins

They are like sweet apple and cinnamon porridge in a handy portable muffin disguise. And the oats really do keep you full for longer, it’s true. There is no butter and no sugar in these just olive oil and honey for sweetness. I made them using ground almonds to keep them gluten-free but you could use wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour instead.

I adapted the recipe from an amazing website called The Healthy Chef. I have the feeling it won’t be the last time I use one of her recipes if these muffins are anything to go by.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffin

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Makes about 12 muffins. Gluten-free. Adapted from The Healthy Chef

  • 200 g (2 cups) rolled oats (GF)
  • 125 g (1 cup) ground almonds (or wholemeal/spelt flour)
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) flax meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) raisins (I used moscatel, so juicy)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml/1 cup (2 small pots) goat’s (or Greek) yoghurt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 1 pear

Preheat oven to 160 C and line your muffin tin with paper cases.

Add the oats, flax meal, raisins, yoghurt, oil, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, honey and beaten eggs to a bowl and mix together. Leave to soak for 10 minutes to soften the oats.

Then grate in the apple with the skin and any juice up to the pips and mix through. Then add the ground almonds (or flour) and fold in gently.

Use an ice cream scoop (or large spoon) to fill the muffin cases then sprinkle over a few oats. Bake for 15 minutes then slice the pear into thin circles and place one on top of each muffin. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Brush the tops with a little honey while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Coming up soon in my Sweet & Healthy series: Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars and Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies.

Hasta Pronto!

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Chocolate, Hazelnut and Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

5 Feb Chocolate Hazelnut Date Caramel Tart

Vegan Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Tart

This tart is amazing. Seriously gorgeous, and it’s vegan and gluten-free. It tastes like Millionaires Shortbread with nuts in.

Chocolate date Caramel Hazelnut Tart

There is a crumbly nutty crust made with ground almonds and coconut oil then a layer of date caramel (new favourite thing) filled with toasted hazelnuts. Then it is finished off with a layer of dark and delicious chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of chopped nuts. It’s chewy, sweet, crunchy and crumbly at the same time and it has no butter no refined sugar and no flour. Do you love me?

Chocolate Hazelnut Date Caramel Tart

Be warned though, it is very addictive and quite rich. Like that could be a bad thing. You have to make it just to let your friends and family know how delicious vegan desserts can be. No one would guess and they will all want the recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Date Caramel Tart

This is one of the recipes from my Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop, the next one of which is on Saturday 2nd March from 5pm – 9pm at the Pepe Kitchen Cookery School in Benalmadena, Malaga.

At this workshop I will be demonstrating how to use olive oil and coconut oil instead of butter in baking as well as showing how to use wholemeal spelt flour and ground almonds instead of bleached white flour. We will also be using honey, maple syrup, molasses and dates instead of sugar for natural sweetness and oat milk replaces cow’s milk and cream.

The chocolate we use is either 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate or pure cocoa powder.

We will be making and tasting:

  • Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Almond Cookies made with spelt flour & coconut oil
  • Chocolate, Date & Walnut Truffles with Coconut: delicious little bites of energy & protein
  • Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling: made with spelt flour & coconut oil
  • Moist Chocolate & Orange Cake made with whole oranges & ground almonds
  • Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with ground almond crust

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Tart

Vegan Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart Recipe

Serves 8, Vegan, Gluten-Free. Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen

  • 250 g (2 cups) ground almonds
  • a pinch of salt (Himalayan if possible)
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup or miel de cana
  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) organic unrefined coconut oil, melted

Oil a 9 inch tart tin, loose bottomed if possible. Put the ground almonds & salt in a bowl, add the maple syrup/miel de cana and melted coconut oil and use a fork to blend it together until it is well combined and resembles crumble mix, a few minutes.

Tip this into the tart tin and press it out all over the base and up the sides firmly & evenly with your fingers. Prick all over the base with a fork. Put in the fridge for a t least 20 minutes. Then preheat the oven to 175 C and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden but not too dark. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

  • 10 Medjool dates, soaked in 120 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • 2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  •  a pinch of salt (Himalayan)
  • about 110 g (1 cup) toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Remove the stones and blend the soaked dates with the soaking liquid, melted coconut oil, salt & vanilla until smooth, thick and creamy. Stir through 3/4 of the chopped hazelnuts and then pour/scrape the mixture into the cooled tart case. Spread it out evenly with a spatula. Put in the fridge to set while you make the chocolate layer.

  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup/miel de cana
  • 4 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 50 g raw (1/2 cup) pure cocoa/cacao powder

Blend the maple syrup/miel de cana and melted coconut oil together until well combined. Add the cocoa/cacao powder and blend again, scraping down the sides if necessary, until smooth.

Pour this over the date caramel hazelnut layer and spread out evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle over a little sea salt and the remaining chopped hazelnuts.

Put back in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Tart

I thought you might like to see a little YouTube video of my Healthy Baking Workshop (savoury & sweet) that took place on Sunday morning. The next one is on Saturday 23rd March 10-2pm. Just click on the link below…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=7tU9pZPNnb4

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Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup with Star Anise

4 Feb Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

I am a bit of a soup freak at the moment. They are quick, easy, cheap and good for you. Lunch doesn’t have to mean a sandwich especially if you are a bit of a delicate flower like The Washer Up. Bread is not his friend, it gives him all sorts of grief that I won’t go into here but his system can’t cope with it anymore so his lunches for work have been a bit challenging recently.

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

We had a big bunch of carrots in the fridge and I had never made a carrot soup before so I began to think about flavour combinations. Carrot & coriander was too obvious although I couldn’t resist a little on the top for garnish.

Carrot Orange & Ginger Soup

Ginger has a wide range of health benefits including proven anti inflammatory effects that help alleviate the symptoms of gastrointestinal distress or indigestion. This is one of The Washer Up’s main complaints after eating bread (or anything at the moment) so ginger was definitely going into this soup. Not that I can’t bear to listen to the winging anymore you understand. I am just not that patient.

Did I really say “Just eat this and shut up!”?

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

Carrot, Ginger & Orange Soup with Star Anise Recipe

Serves 2-3, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • coriander stalks, finely chopped (optional) save some leaves for garnish
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 Tbsp grated/minced ginger
  • about 400 g carrots, washed & grated (not peeled)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 tsp honey/sugar/agave syrup
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • half an orange
  • goat’s yoghurt/sour cream/crème fraiche to serve (optional)

Sweat the onions, celery, coriander stalks, ginger and star anise in the oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt for 7-10 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the grated carrots, honey and stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes.

Pick out the star anise before blending carefully until smooth. Add a big squeeze of the orange juice and season with salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust salt, honey, orange juice as required. Add more stock if it is too thick for you.

To serve: bring back up to heat and serve in warmed bowls topped with some coriander leaves and a swirl of crème fraiche if using.

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

I have some more lunch ideas that don’t involve bread coming up soon. Including some Moroccan Spiced Squash & Feta Empanadas that he is very happy with.

Buen Provecho!

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Tarta de Santiago with Mandarin Orange Compote

4 Jan Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago

Some of the almond blossom are out early this year. The almond trees don’t normally sprout their barely pink candy floss blooms for another few weeks at least but the mild weather we had over Christmas has tricked them into thinking it is nearly Spring.

Almond Blossom

They are so pretty and decorate a fairly bare landscape at this time of year. Not much is happening on the vegetable front either at the moment where I run with the dog. There are few lettuces, cabbages and some chard. What there are plenty of however, at this time of year, is oranges. They are everywhere, like the bright sunny reminders of where we live. We live in Andalucia, land of oranges and mandarins.

Oranges

Oranges and almonds are a classic combination that complement each other perfectly in cooking. I have used them together before in this Mandarin Almond Drizzle Cake, these deliciously light Ricciarelli Biscuits and in this Butterbean Tagine with Quinoa & Halloumi

Mandarins

These organic mandarins were 60 cents a kilo at the market consequently I have quite a few. So apart from using a lot to decorate the lounge and kitchen over the holidays and snacking on them in the afternoon, I needed to find a recipe that used a few of them up.

My friend Caroline also has a tree on her terrace heavy with navel oranges so that every time I see her I leave with a huge carrier bag full of them. They are brilliant for juicing, The Washer Up has two, freshly squeezed, with his breakfast every morning, but I still needed to use some, to make room in the kitchen apart from anything else.

Tarta de Santiago.

Tarta de Santiago is a deliciously moist almond cake from Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Pilgrims and tourists visit the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where the relics of the apostle Saint James (Santiago in Spanish) are thought to be buried. They also probably all eat some of this cake as it is in every bakery window, dusted with icing sugar and decorated with the shape of the cross of the Order of Saint James.

Tarts de Santiago with Orange Compote

This was one of the first desserts on our menu at the restaurant when we opened it 11 years ago. The bakery down the hill made it for us, this was before The Washer Up had perfected his pastry skills and made all of them himself. We served it warm with a hot cherry sauce which was also gorgeous if you can get hold of some cherries where you are.

This version of the cake is beautifully light because the egg whites are whisked (to a meringue basically) and folded in separately. It is gluten-free as it is made using ground almonds and dairy-free because there is no butter or milk added. The mandarin orange compote is made with honey instead of sugar and can be served warm or cold.

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago with Mandarin Orange Compote

Serves 8, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free. Adapted from Time for a little Something

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • large pinch of ground cinnamon
  • the zest of one orange
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 250 g ground almonds
  • icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°. Prepare a 24-cm springform cake tin by roughly cutting a circle of baking paper a little bigger than the loose base of the tin, and put this over the base before clipping the tin back together. Rub the base & sides with a little oil.

Whisk the egg whites and salt in a large clean bowl until soft peaks form. Then whisk in half the caster sugar (100 g) a tablespoon at a time, until you have a glossy meringue texture.

In another large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the caster sugar, orange zest, almond extract and cinnamon. Beat until thick and increased in volume.

Now fold in just a little of the egg white mixture into the yolks to loosen it then fold in the rest gently, taking care not to deflate the mix too much. Then gently fold the ground almonds in too.

Spoon/pour  the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes. Check it after about 30-35 minutes – if it is browning too quickly, put a piece of baking paper over the top of the tin so the cake can still cook but not brown any more. Once the cake is golden and springy, remove it from the oven and let it cool in its tin for 10 minutes

When it is cool, run a knife around the edge, turn it out onto a plate, remove the baking paper from the base and serve upside down. Dust it with icing sugar just before serving. You can make a template of the traditional St James Cross/Sword and put that in the middle of the whole tart before dusting with icing sugar which is how it is usually served.

Or I used a cross from a necklace that my dad bought me and used that on each piece of cake!! Thanks Dad xx

Tarta de Santiago

Mandarin Orange Compote

  • 500 g oranges & mandarins
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Cut the top and bottom off the oranges then cut down around following the line of the peel to remove it all.

Using a sharp knife, cut in-between each membrane to remove a segment of orange into a small sauce pan. When all segments are removed squeeze juice into pan too.

Peel mandarins and remove as much white pith as possible and any pips.

Put all ingredients in small pan, bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 mins or until soft and jammy. Puree, taste and adjust honey to your liking. Leave to cool or serve warm with the cake.

Tarta de Santiago

This cake can be served as a lovely light dessert perfect for this time of year or with your afternoon tea.

Have a Lovely Weekend! Feliz Reyes!

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Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Soup with Chestnut Dukkah

2 Jan Cauliflower Soup & Dukkah

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup & Chestnut Dukkah

This is another one of the recipes from my party mezze workshop. We served this spicy, warming soup in little cups with teaspoons. You don’t really need a big bowl of soup as part of a buffet/mezze but a little cup is just the right amount to get you started. I put little bowls of the dukkah on the table for people to sprinkle on top of their soup and to dip their bread into.

Spiced Cauliflower Soup & Dukkah

Dukkah (or duqqa) is an Egyptian spice mix traditionally made with ground hazelnuts. I added some ground roasted chestnuts to the blend for a seasonally festive touch but if you can’t get chestnuts don’t worry. They sell roasted chestnuts at the side of the road here at this time of year, on little stalls. They roast them in big pots, you can see the smoke rising and smell them before you see them.

Chestnut Dukkah

There are millions of different recipes for Dukkah, every family has their own but this is a pretty basic version using hazelnuts, cumin and coriander seeds, sesame seeds and black pepper.

The word “Dukkah” is derived from the Arabic word “to pound”. Not surprisingly, all the ingredients are pounded in a mortar & pestle (or processor) into something between a powder and a crumbly paste. It is served as an accompaniment to meals. You dip your bread in some good olive oil (thankfully we have just taken delivery of this season’s harvest of local olive oil which is like liquid gold) then dip it into the dukkah. The spice mix sticks to the oil, then you taste it and you will be instantly addicted.

Andalucian Olive Oil

Sprinkle it over soups, stews salads, hummus, yoghurt, anything really. It’s my new favourite thing. I’m thinking of using it in a dessert for a bit of savoury kick. You could add it into a crumble mix or maybe it would work with this fig & almond fumble. Then you would have a dukkah fig fumble. Try saying that after few sherries. It’s pronounced Doo-kah by the way.

Cauliflower Soup & Dukkah

Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Soup with Chestnut Dukkah

Serves 4 -6 (or more if you are serving it in little cups). Vegan, Gluten-Free

  • 1 med-large cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced (or 1 onion chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp harissa paste or chilli flakes (optional)
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander (plus extra for garnish)

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the leek/onion with a pinch of salt for 3 or 4 minutes until softened then add the garlic and all the spices stirring to coat and cook for another minute or so.

Add the cauliflower florets and the water and stir to coat in the spices. Pour in the veg stock, the cauliflower should be covered by the stock, if not add some water and season well with salt & black pepper. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for about 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is really tender.

Carefully puree with a stick blender or in a processor, taking care not to splatter hot soup everywhere. When completely smooth add a squeeze of lemon and the fresh coriander and blend again.  Pour the soup back into the pan to reheat, taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon if required. You may need to add a bit more stock or water to thin it down to the required consistency.

Serve topped with some fresh coriander and the dukkah.

Chestnut/Hazelnut Dukkah Recipe

  • 100 g roasted chestnuts and/or hazelnuts, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

If not already toasted, roast the chestnuts/hazelnuts in the oven for 5-10 minutes, watching carefully, until golden. Remove some of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them, while still warm, in a clean tea towel and set aside to cool.

If not already toasted, toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden and pour into medium bowl.

Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan, shaking occasionally, until fragrant and they start to pop. Pour into a mortar and pestle and grind to a powder. Pour this into the bowl with the sesame seeds.

Put the cooled chestnuts/hazelnuts into a food processor and blend/pulse until finely ground. Stir this into the bowl with the spices and add the salt and black pepper. Mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Moroccan Cauliflower Soup & Chestnut Dukkah

Enjoy!!

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Fesenjan – A Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew

11 Nov Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew

I have been wanting to make a vegetarian version of the savoury and sweet Persian celebration dish, Fesanjan for a long time. It is normally made with chicken or lamb but I have used aubergine and sweet potato as the meat replacements. Pumpkin or squash would also be lovely in this or maybe even some meaty mushrooms.

The reason that I have been desperate to make this is because I love pomegranates. There are hundreds of pomegranate trees were we walk with the dog and The Washer Up is always screaming at me to stop taking photos of them, but I can’t.

“Not another bloody picture of a pomegranate” he says “How many do you need?” he asks impatiently  “You must have thousands already, along with all the pictures of blooming oranges”.

“It’s what I do!” I reply.

This is the perfect dish to showcase the beautiful pomegranates that are plentiful and cheap here at the moment. I use their ruby jewels a lot as a final garnish, like on this Lebanese Lentil Salad where their sweet and sourness pops in your mouth, livens up the whole dish and, of course, they look lovely. I have also topped this Savoury Feta Cheesecake with a generous glistening pile of them for an impressively dramatic but surprisingly easy to prepare dinner party dish.

In this dish though it’s the juice that gets to take a leading role. Traditionally pomegranate molasses (a reduced thickened pomegranate syrup) would be used but I can’t seem to find any here. I used the juice of four pomegranates and some veg stock as the liquid in which the vegetables are cooked. Along with the ground walnuts that thicken the stew while it cooks, these are the two most important ingredients in the recipe. They give it colour, texture and flavour.

You can obviously buy pomegranate juice in a carton if you like, but I wanted to try it with my beloved pomegranates. Juicing a pomegranate is quite a mission but you get used to it. I did most of it on my normal hand orange juicer, bursting any jewels left in the top of the juicer and squishing the juice out with my fingers. I then squeezed what was left in the fruit directly into the pot by hand. I got about 500 ml of juice from four big pomegranates.

Fesanjan – Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew Recipe

Serves 4. Vegan, Gluten-free.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 large aubergine 300 g, cut in 1-2 cm cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato 400 g, scrubbed, cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • salt & black pepper
  • 200 g walnuts, finely ground in a processor plus some chopped for garnish
  • the juice of four pomegranates (about 500 ml) reserve some jewels for garnish
  • 500 ml stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • fresh parsley leaves to serve

Heat the oil, in a large pot, over a medium heat and cook the onion with a pinch of salt for about 4 mins until softened, then add the spices, cook for a minute or so (add a splash of stock if it’s dry), then add the ground walnuts, aubergine & sweet potato. Stir to coat in the spices then add the pomegranate juice and stock.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 15 mins. Remove the lid then simmer again for 25-30 mins until the sauce is thickened, it shouldn’t be liquidy.

Taste for seasoning, it should be quite sweet and a little sour. Add more salt, lemon or honey/sugar until you are happy. Serve garnished with pomegranate jewels, chopped walnuts and a few parsley leaves. This isn’t authentic but it isn’t the prettiest of dishes otherwise, it’s very brown so the pomegranate seeds brighten it up a bit.

Serve with some plain rice and a herby green salad like the ones we served the lovely Iranian family that we cooked for over the summer. They use herb leaves whole as a salad leaf rather than as a garnish. I topped it with pomegranate seeds obviously, but then I am obsessed. Apparently.

I hope they approve of my vegetarian version of Fesenjan!

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