Meat-free Monday – a rice and lentil affair

Tonight I tried a rice and lentil thing that ended up having the consistency of porridge.   Which is just revolting.  But it tasted ok.  A little bland but ok.  I found it on the mobile application of this website, How to cook Everything.

Here you go:

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion, chopped PLUS a large onion, halved and sliced
  • 1tsp minced garlic
  • 1tsp cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed well (I use the orange lentils)
  • 1.4 litres vegetable stock
  • 200 grams rice (I use brown basmati)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Fry chopped onion in large, deep saucepan and fry until tender (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for a further 3 minutes.  Add the lentils, stir and add 900 ml of the stock.

Cook, stirring occasionally until the lentils begin to soften, about 20 minutes.  (If you are using brown basmati rice, maybe shorten this cooking time to about 10 minutes as it takes longer to cook).  Add remaining fluid and add rice.  Cover and turn the heat to low.

Meanwhile, fry remaining onion over medium-high heat until they are dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes.  Scoop onion and drain on paper towel.

Check rice and lentils, should be cooked after 20 minutes and all the liquid absorbed.

The kids didn’t even sniff it and Etienne is so sick with flu he can’t taste anything, but I’ll definitely try making it again even if only so I can get it right.  I’m funny that way.


Meat Free Monday – Chickpea stew

Last night we had this Chickpea Stew I found on Epicurious.  It was lovely last night and absolutely delicious for lunch today!

As usual I did mostly what the recipe asked for.  This means I read the recipe, it looks good and I make a note of what to grab on the way home.  I then usually either forget half the stuff I was meant to get or they didn’t have it at the shop.  Yesterday I got lucky…

The recipe suggests serving with couscous, but we had roast potatoes and salad and it was yum.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 can water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

    1. Place the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion; stirring occasionally, cook until wilted, about 12 minutes. Add the garlic during the last 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook 2 minutes more to mellow the flavors.

    2. Add the chickpeas, the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, honey, lemon juice, water, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and stir in the parsley.

    3. To serve, spoon couscous (if desired) into 4 shallow bowls and top with the stew. Serve immediately.


    Meat-free Monday: Quinoa risotto with Mushrooms and Thyme

    I need to start by saying I didn’t post a MFM recipe last week because of our camping trip, a broken fridge, some defrosted chicken and a resulting chicken pie.  Halfway through supper Etienne reminded me that it was Monday and then sat back and enjoyed my horror with a fork-full of chicken halfway to my mouth.

    This week I tried a Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms and Thyme from Epicurious.  Have I mentioned how much I love Epicurious? (Thanks Rose!)

    The very best thing is that I can be standing in Pick and Pay and look for an interesting recipe on my fancy iPhone, they have a fantastic Mobile application.

    I don’t normally like to make dishes that require more than a single pan or pot, but this was worth it.  None of the kids ate it of course, but at least they ate the baby butternuts Etienne had halved and stuck in the oven.  They even asked where the salad was.  Imagine.

    This is my slightly amended version as the original asks for fancy shiitake and crimini mushrooms.

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 2 onions)
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 250 g packs of mushrooms
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided (I used dried thyme, about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

    Bring 2 cups salted water to boil in medium saucepan. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender and water is absorbed, about 13 minutes.

    Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until onion begins to brown, 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and thyme. Sautée until mushrooms are tender, 6 minutes. Add wine, stir until wine is reduced and liquid is syrupy, 2 minutes. (it took about 6  minutes for this)

    Mix quinoa into mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper.  You are meant to put the cheese over but we completely forgot.  Oops.

    Weekly Meat Free Monday: Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes

    I’m not a big fan of pasta.  It probably has a lot to do with by stomach and Daniel’s skin not being a fan of wheat. So we hardly ever eat pasta.  But last night I felt like having pasta, so I scratched around and found this lovely recipe on one of my favourite food sites, Epicurious.  Here is the link to the original recipe, but I’ll post it here for ease of reference: (the original recipe was in ounces etc so I’ll post the converted quantities here.  You can thank me later)

    • enough pasta for about 4-5 people
    • 1/2 cup plain hummus
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 700 ml cherry tomatoes
    • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
    • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 cup halved pitted kalamata olives
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

    Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Whisk hummus into liquid.

    Meanwhile, heat oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Add cherry tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until blackened in spots, shaking skillet occasionally, about 8 minutes. Mix in chickpeas, garlic, and smoked paprika. Crush some of tomatoes to release juices. Add pasta and enough hummus mixture to coat. Mix in olives and coriander; season with salt and pepper.

    My notes: We left out the olives because Etienne doesn’t eat olives and replaced the hummus with 125 ml cream because I was nervous about the kids not eating hummus.

    Here’s a pic

    It was absolutely divine, the girls even asked for pasta for lunch today, completely unheard of!

    MFM – Lentil Dahl

    This is one of my all-time favourite recipes because it’s so easy to make and tastes delicious!

    The original recipe is a Patrick Holford recipe, but as you know I kind of make things up as I go along, so here’s my version:

    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 cup orange lentils, rinsed
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 tsp vegetable stock
    • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
    • 1 heaped teaspoon curry powder

    Here goes:

    Brown onion in a little oil, add lentils, water and stock and boil for about 10 minutes without the lid.  Add tomatoes and curry powder, turn heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes until it forms a thick paste and all the fluid has been absorbed.




    MFM – Roasted Aubergine and Feta Fritters

    I found this recipe yesterday on Food24 and thought I’d give it a bash for our Meat-free Monday yesterday.  My thing with the recipes is that they have to contain some form of protein and many of the vegetarian recipes don’t!

    They took forever to make and I didn’t want to fry them so I rolled them in balls and stuck them in the oven which would have been fine if I hadn’t put flour on first.  Which meant I still ended up frying them for a minute each.  I really didn’t want to fry anything, but hey.

    Etienne and Isabel ate them, Daniel had a bite and Mignon pulled her nose up, so all in all not so bad from a family feeding perspective.  They are very tasty, but very filling (I did leave the mint out, it would have been too much for the kids) .  I will probably try them again, but without all the breadcrumbs, I just need to figure out what to replace with.  Any ideas?

    Here’s a pic, I served them with Bulgarian yogurt, the combination worked very well!(sorry, the pic’s a bit blurry as the natives were restless, I was way behind schedule!)

    I also have to shamefully admit that I have never actually cooked Aubergine.  I have bought it a couple of times, but it has always just sat there glaring at me and then ends up on the compost heap or with the tortoises.

    Anyone with some helpful hints on cooking Aubergine, please feel free to comment, I never thought I’d be daunted by a friggin vegetable!


    MFM – Baby Marrow and Quinoa Fritters

    I wanted to try something a little different this week as we were dying for something healthy and light after our weekend of indulgence, and this looked beautiful.

    I found the wheat free, gluten free and egg free recipe here and the original here.  We normally do wheat free but ran out of rice flour, so I did a combination of the 2 recipes and it looked really amazing.  Not exactly diet-friendly due to the frying, but hey, it’s Monday. Here’s how I ended up making it (I’m notorious for taking shortcuts and not reading recipes properly.  Whatever.  I blame my Mother.)

    1 onion, peeled and finely diced
    1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp curry powder
    400g baby marrows, grated
    2 cups cooked quinoa*
    1/2 cup self-raising flour
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    Sunflower oil, for frying

    In a frying pan, heat a glug of olive oil and add the onion. Saute until the onion has softened.
    Add the garlic and the cumin and curry powder and saute for a further minute.
    In a large bowl, place the grated marrows, the cooked quinoa, the flour and the eggs and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the onion mixture to the bowl and stir.
    Season with salt and pepper.
    In a large pan, heat enough sunflower oil for shallow frying. Using a tablespoon, spoon
    the baby marrow mixture into the oil and gently flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
    In batches, fry the cakes until they are golden and crisp, which should take no more
    than a few minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon or stainless steel spatula and
    drain on kitchen paper. Continue until all of the batter has been used.

    It was delicious, even the kids ate them.  But maybe only because we told them they were cookies.  They are used to potato fritters, so they were only mildly sceptical about these.

    Here is a pic: (I’m no professional food photographer, so please forgive me!)

    *quinoa: Quinoa is a grain from South America that is a protein, not a carb, which is a big win in my book!  The easiest way to make it is literally to rinse, add to a pan, add water so that it is 1:2 quinoa to water ratio and a little vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer  until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  It tastes almost like couscous.

    Chestnut and Mushroom Pilaf

    This recipe is from the Patrick Holford Low GL Diet book and easy as pie as many of the vegetarian recipes are.  It takes about 50 minutes to make including cooking time and you only use a single pan.  Now that’s cooking!

    As a variation you can replace the chestnuts (that according to Etienne taste like nothing) with almonds or cashews, depending on what your fancy is.

    • 170g Peeled Chestnuts (the tins here have 140g and that’s fine for me)
    • 1tbsp olive oil
    • 70ml brown basmati rice
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 2.5cm fresh garlic (I use about 1/2 tsp dry ginger)
    • 150ml water with some vegetable stock
    • 113g chopped mushrooms (I ignore this and use a whole punnet, it cooks away anyway)
    • 2tsp soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup frozen baby peas

    Heat oil in the pan and fry the uncooked rice until it’s pale brown (about 3-4  minutes).  Add garlic and ginger, stir for 30 seconds, add onion and cook for a further 3 minutes.  Then, add mushrooms and fry for another 3 minutes.

    Add in the stock and chestnuts and simmer over a low heat for about 35 minutes until the rice is soft.

    Lastly, add the peas and soy sauce and let it cook for a minute or so until bright green. (the peas, not the rest of the dish)

    It sounds like a weird recipe, but it’s amazing!

    Meat-free Monday

    I’m rather fond of the idea of meat-free Monday and to be honest I could do meat-free Everyday if it weren’t for chicken skin and pork crackling.

    I have come to love vegetarian cooking of late, and along with Daniel’s wheat, lactose and nut intolerances it’s made life very interesting.

    Tonight I made Baked Falafel, from a Patrick Holford recipe and Etienne actually ate it AND didn’t ask for meat afterwards.  Here goes:

    Pre-heat oven to 200 deg C

    • 2 x 410g cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 4 tsp tahini
    • 10 spring onions, roughly chopped
    • 50g sesame seeds
    • 4tsp ground cumin
    • 2tsp ground coriander
    • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

    Blend ingredients until smooth then add:

    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • salt and pepper to taste

    I normally butter a dish and cover the bottom with more sesame seeds and then spoon the mixture into balls and then sprinkle over more seeds.

    Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

    We had this with salad and some roast potatoes, easy meal in a hurry as we don’t even peel the potatoes, just quarter them and chuck them in the oven with some olive oil, salt and rosemary.

    Daniel ate his whole falafel, Isabel didn’t even sniff hers (but ok, she’ll normally eat roadkill if you rinse it properly and she does have a cold) and Mignon ate a bite under duress.  But they all ate potatoes and salad so we shouldn’t complain.

    I would have posted a photo, but I still have no idea how to upload photos to my computer from my fancy new iphone.  Don’t mock, it’s annoying.

    I think Meat-free Monday is a great idea and want to post a vegetarian recipe every Monday from now on.  Trust me, if they aren’t easy to make they won’t be featured here and that’s a promise!

    ps Party theme for the day: Barbie Christmas.  Really.