Tag Archives: delicious

Chargrilled Broccoli and Beans with Chilli, Garlic and Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

10 Jul

I know broccoli isn’t usually the most exciting of vegetables. I know it can be a bit bland and boring. Time to rethink that. With this treatment it transforms into a shining star.

Seriously, we can’t get enough of it. The Washer Up, my toughest critic, has claimed it his favourite thing. To quote “This is the best thing you’ve ever made”. You can’t argue with that can you?

My best friend Tara bought me the Ottolenghi cookbook for my birthday. I am steadily working my way through it and every recipe that I have tried has been a definite winner. It’s all about the flavour and colour which is the kind of food I love. It has a definite Middle Eastern theme, but not solely. There are recipes from all over the world.

What I noticed, while flicking through, was that a lot of the food is cooked on a griddle pan. It adds to the flavour and appearance of a dish, giving a certain smokiness and the attractive black stripes that make such a difference to the overall impression.

I didn’t own griddle pan. I do now. Get ready for chargrilled everything.

It is chargrilling the broccoli and then drenching it in a garlic & chilli infused olive oil that makes this dish so special. You can serve it on its own, as a side dish with anything, or make it the star on top of some sweet soy rice noodles. Either way it’s delicious. You need to try this. 

Chargrilled Broccoli & Beans with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

serves 2 -3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 1 large head broccoli
  • a handful of french beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced (or 1 hot red chilli)
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • 250 gr fat (XL) rice noodles (or any noodles)
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or use soy sauce plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of cashew nuts or flaked almonds, toasted

Separate the broccoli into florets with small stems still attached. Trim off  the stalk ends of the beans. Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for exactly 2 minutes (no more). Then quickly transfer it, with a slotted spoon, to a large bowl of iced water, to stop the cooking. Now do the same with the beans.

Drain the broccoli & beans in a colander and then spread them out on a clean tea towel and leave to dry completely.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and rinse under the cold tap to stop them sticking together. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dried veg with 3 tbsp olive oil and season generously with salt & black pepper. Place a ridged griddle pan over a high heat and leave it for 5 minutes to heat up. Grill the veg in batches so it’s not too crowded. Leave them for a minute on one side then turn them over so they get nice char marks on all sides. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and continue to griddle the rest.

Meanwhile put the 75 ml olive oil in a small saucepan with the sliced garlic & chillies. Cook them over a medium heat until the garlic just starts to turn golden brown. Don’t let it burn. Remove from the heat and pour the hot oil over the bowl of hot broccoli & beans and toss together well. Check seasoning.

Heat up a wok, or large frying pan, over a medium high heat, add in the cooked noodles, kecap manis (or soy sauce & honey), sesame oil and oyster sauce. Heat through the noodles and then throw in the veg. Toss everything together well and serve in deep bowls.

Squeeze over some lemon/lime juice and sprinkle with the toasted nuts and chopped coriander.

You are going to love this. Broccoli has never tasted so good, honestly. If you don’t own a grill pan go out and buy one now.

It’s just a bit of a bitch to clean….. Apparently.

Things that made me smile today…..

Dragonflies…

Butterflies….

And bugs…

Hasta Luego!!

Lentil and Spinach Dhal with Cashews and Coriander

9 Apr

This is my kind of comfort food.  All the flavour of a take away curry with none of the fat. It is easy, quick to cook (after the chopping) and really delicious. You could serve it with some whole grain rice if you like or poppadoms but on its own is just fine and filling enough. The soft spicy lentils with the irony richness of the spinach are topped off with toasted crunchy cashews, fragrant coriander and all the flavours are brightened by the zingy lime juice.

Lentil & Spinach Dhal with Cashews & Coriander

serves 3, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  •  1/2 tsp panch pooran (an Indian whole spice mix) use fennel seeds if you can’t get any
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • about 250 ml veg stock
  • a 400 gr jar/ tin cooked lentils, rinsed
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes 400 gr
  • about 150 gr fresh spinach leaves (about half a bag)
  • 125 gr cashew nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (about 1/2 a lime) and some wedges to serve
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped and leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and panch pooran/fennel seeds until they start to pop. Then stir in the onions, celery, carrot, a big pinch of salt & grinding of black pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes until softened but not browned then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another minute being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the ground spices and a splash of stock if it seems dry and cook for another minute.

Tip in the lentils, tomatoes, veg stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes then add the spinach, put the lid on and cook for another few minutes until the spinach has just wilted.  Season with salt, stir through the chopped coriander and lime juice and taste for seasoning.

Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with a handful of toasted cashew nuts and coriander leaves with some extra lime wedges on the side.

 From the lentils you get an excellent balance of protein and complex carbohydrate as well as iron, B vitamins and soluble fibre that provides sustained energy and balance blood sugar levels. The carrots & spinach are super rich in beta carotene, which helps to protect the body from cancer and benefits the skin. The spinach also provides lots of vitamin C, folate and iron. Tinned tomatoes contain lycopene, another powerful anticancer nutrient and the cashew nuts supply protein, zinc & fibre.

I really didn’t know it was this easy to eat more healthily. I thought it would be a lot more difficult to give up cheese but I really don’t miss it and, as I said yesterday, I am not hungry, which is amazing if you know me. I am always hungry!! If you are not interested in the health benefits just ignore the paragraph above and enjoy the food. I just think it’s surprising/interesting how many good nutrients you can get from food and how good it tastes. And I haven’t even started on the health benefits of turmeric yet…..

Buen fin de semana!!

Green Bean Pilaf with Toasted Almonds, Pine Nuts and Raisins

8 Apr

I’ve decided to go on a detox diet for a month to see if I can lose some weight. It means no meat (obviously), eggs, dairy, wheat, sugar or alcohol for a month. My friend has lent me a Carol Vorderman detox book that has some good recipes in it that I am using as a base to work from. They are all quite basic in the flavour department so I will be amping up the spices to make sure every dish is delicious and full of flavour as well as healthy. I don’t want it to feel like I am on a diet or that I am being deprived and I definitely don’t want the food to be boring in any way.

I started about a week ago and I am definitely noticing a difference. I feel less bloated, lighter and less hungry, which is surprising. This is my breakfast smoothie that I am having every day. It is one or two crushed ice cubes blended with 1 banana, 5 or 6 strawberries, a big slice of pineapple, the juice of half an orange and a handful of oats. It is a lovely way to start the day and keeps me full until lunchtime which is great because I walk/jog 4.5km every morning with the dog.

This was my first vegan gluten-free meal, as you can see there is a little bit of crumbled Feta on the top, but that was the last of it I promise… Well I’m not promising anything really. That’s too much pressure and there is an amazing vegetarian “Scotch Egg” & piccalilli recipe that I am desperate to try. The only thing I am promising is that there will never be a boring, tasteless, bland recipe on this blog so don’t worry. I have plenty of exciting South American, South East Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian recipes up my sleeve that you wouldn’t even know were detox, so here we go…

Green Bean Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts & Raisins

serves 4, vegan & gluten-free without the Feta. Adapted from Carol Vorderman’s Detox Recipes

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced in half lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 300 gr wholegrain (brown) rice
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 225 gr green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 30 gr pine nuts
  • 30 gr flaked almonds
  • 50 gr raisins (I used moscatel they are bigger & juicier)
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped plus leaves for garnish
  • a handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • greek feta (optional)

Toast the pine nuts and almonds in a dry frying pan, shaking occasionally until browned. Don’t take your eyes off of them or they will burn. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until softened but not browned then add in the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Add the coriander, cumin and rice and cook, stirring for a minute until the grains are glossy. Add the veg stock and the raisins and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid is almost absorbed and the rice is nearly cooked. Add the green beans, salt, pepper,stir, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes until the beans and rice are cooked. Stir through the chopped herbs, taste and serve sprinkled with the toasted almonds, pine nuts, a few parsley leaves and some crumbled feta (if using).

Wholegrain rice provides fibre, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and iron that white rice does not. Leeks and onions are rich in allyl sulphides which are protective against heart disease and cancer as well as providing folate and vitamin C. Pine nuts & almonds provide protein & calcium and are super-rich in heart healthy vitamin E and monounsaturated oils.

All that and it tastes great too, enjoy!!

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