Big plates

Bigger plates and main dishes

  • Lightly Spiced Vegetable Tagine

    There is nothing quite like a warm tagine with some lovely fluffy cous cous. This is a filling, nutritous dish and you don’t have to have a clay tagine to make it. Like most of the dishes that I post, the vegetables you use are up to you and you can experiment. This is definetely a dish that can be prepared beforehand and so great for when you finally can have friends over again! A handful of black olives really add something to this dish and a sprinklng of finely chopped parsley before serving will make it very appealing to the senses.

    1-2 x tbsp olive oil
    1 x lge onion – chopped
    2 x cloves of garlic – grated
    1 x lge carrot – large cubes
    1 x lge potato – large cubes
    1/2 x sweet potato – cut into large cubes
    2 x cups of large cubes butternut squash (peeled)
    1 x tbsp ground turmeric
    1 x cinnamon stick
    1 x tsp ground ginger
    1 x tsp harrisa paste
    pinch of saffron strands (if you have)
    1 x 14oz tin of chopped tomatoes or passata
    1 x 14oz tin of chick peas
    handfull of black or green olives
    2 x tsp honey
    2 – 3 x cups of vegetable stock
    Salt & Pepper to taste
    (optional additions: peas, green beans, cauliflower, turnips, spinach etc.)

    In a large cassrole pan, add in the olive oil and heat to a medium heat. Add in the onions and saute gently until starting to soften. Now add in the grated garlic and all the spices and cook for a few more minutes until you can smell the spices.
    Now add in the potato cubes, diced carrots and butternut squash (cut them big enough so that they don’t disintegrate while cooking). Stir to make sure they are combined with all the spices. Add in your vegetable stock, honey, salt & pepper and chopped tomatoes. Cook on a high heat for about 7-8 minutes and then reduce the heat, put the lid on and cook for another 15 minutes. You can now add in the sweet potato chunks if using (it cooks much quicker than the other veggies) and the chick peas – test after about another 10 minutes with a knife – you want the veggies to soften but now breakdown. Add in the olives and do a taste test – add more salt & pepper and check liquid levels.
    Put the lid on tightly and turn off the heat – leave to rest for 5 – 10 minutes. If you have a decorative tagine, transfer the mixture to it or a nice decorative dish will do just as well. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.
    Serve with couscous and fresh soft pitta breads. Comfort food at its best! 🙂

  • Aloo Gobi – Cauliflower, Potato, and Pea Curry

    A traditional vegetarian dish served at nearly all Indian restaurants and this is healthy and very easy to put together. I love cauliflower and the great thing about cooking this from home is that you can put as much or as little spice as you like. This dish doesn’t use coconut milk and very little oil – so it is not a heavy dish at all. Served with warm wholemeal naan, it has a lot of flavour and digests very well. I will definitely be making this again!

    Ingredients 2 x medium potatoes  – chopped into cubes (peeled is best for this recipe) 1/2 a large cauliflower – chopped into florets – (try and get them roughly the same size) 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes 1 x cup frozen peas 2 x tbsp olive oil 1/4 inch – peeled and chopped ginger 1 x medium onion  – chopped 3 x large garlic cloves  – peeled and halved 2 x tbsp BOLS mild curry powder 1 x tsp Garam Masala 1/4 x tsp cayenne pepper 2 x tsp Turmeric 2 x tsp cumin 1 x tsp salt 1 x tsp pepper 1 x tbsp ketchup or agave syrup 1 x tsp sea salt 1 x tsp ground black pepper

    Method Boil your chopped potatoes in a large pan for about 8 minutes in lightly salted water, then with a slotted spoon drain them and set aside. In the same boiling water add in the cauliflower florets and cook until just soft, drain and set aside with the cooked potatoes. In a food blender, add in the chopped onion, peeled garlic cloves, ginger, tinned tomatoes, ketchup or agave, olive oil, and blitz. Add the tomato mixture to a large pan and heat to medium temperature so the mixture starts to gently simmer. Add in the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, garam masala, salt and pepper, and stir. Add in the cup of frozen peas and stir through. Cook for about 5 minutes until the peas are cooked, then add in the cooked potatoes and cauliflower and warm through for about 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and serve. This is the sort of dish that gets better as it sits so you can always leave it for a while and then gently reheat. I served it with bulgur wheat and warm wholemeal naan and a cucumber and tomato salad – delicious!

  • Chickpea and Plantain Curry

    Another wonderful Ital dish – I got the original idea from the Original Flava cookbook (this is the recipe that made me pick up the book and buy it!) it’s full of flavour and the plantain adds such a lovely sweet flavour – I love this with brown rice and a piece of naan bread. Make sure the plantain you use are ripe (should be speckled brown and gives a bit when you squeeze it).

    Ingredients 2 x tbsp vegetable oil of your choice 1 x large onion  – chopped 3 x fat garlic cloves grated 1/2 red bell pepper (chopped) 2 -3 tbsp BOLS mild curry powder 1 x tsp Garam Masala 2 x jars of chickpeas in brine 1 x 400g can of coconut milk 1/4 cup of water 2 x ripe plantain Sea salt 1 x tsp ground black pepper a handful of chopped frozen spinach (optional) 1 x scotch bonnet pepper

    Method Add your oil to a large pan and bring to a medium heat. Once hot, add in the chopped onion, red pepper and the garlic and fry gently for 4-5 minutes. When the onions start to soften, add in the curry powder, garam masala, salt, pepper and add a small splash of water, a small amount of the coconut milk and combine everything into a paste. Drain and wash the 2 jars of chickpeas (the jarred chickpeas are way better than the tinned ones) then add into the curry paste mixture and stir. Now add in the rest of the coconut milk and a 1/4 cup of water. Slice your plantain into thick slices and add into the mixture, test the seasoning and then put the lid on a cook for about 20 minutes. If the mixture is too thick add a little more water. Add in the frozen spinach (if using) and stir finally add your scotch bonnet gently on the top. Put the lid back on a simmer for another 5-10 mins. I have this with either seasoned brown rice or bulgur wheat and a little cucumber and tomato salad.

  • Aubergine Parmigiana

    This is winter comfort food! A really nice dish to serve for a lunch with friends, you can leave it in the oven cooking nicely – leaving your kitchen smelling delicious and you free to chat 🙂 (my favourite pastime!) I would normally serve this with fresh warm bread and a lightly dressed crunchy salad…………..

    3 x large aubergines
    2 x 400g tinned plum tomatoes
    1 – 2  x tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
    1 x red onion – finely chopped
    3 x fat garlic cloves – grated
    1 – 2 tsp dried oregano
    1 x tsp red wine vinegar
    1 x tsp tomato puree
    1 x tbsp tomato ketchup or sugar
    a handful of fresh basil leaves (save some torn leaves for garnish)
    sea salt
    black pepper

    Cashew topping
    150g cashews
    1/2 tsp garlic salt
    1 x tsp sea salt
    4 x tbsp nutritional yeast

    Chop the aubergines into 1cm slices – lay the slices into a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt to draw out any bitterness and leave for 15 mins.
    While waiting, make your cashew topping. Put all ingredients in a small food processor and blitz until a coarse powder – set aside.
    After 15 mins rinse the aubergine slices with water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
    Heat a frying pan to a medium heat and brush each aubergine slice on both sides with a little olive oil. In batches, gently fry the aubergine slices on both sides until just golden brown. (It’s worth the faff – trust me!)
    Set the aubergine aside and now it’s time to make the tomato sauce.
    Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add in the finely chopped red onion, stir and then grate in the garlic.
    Cook the onion until soft and then add in the tins of plum tomatoes (as in my other recipes – use a wooden spoon to mash and squash the tomatoes to a pulp). Now add-in the tomato puree, tomato ketchup, oregano, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. (PRE-HEAT YOUR OVEN NOW TO 180 DEGREES)
    Let the sauce cook gently for about 20-25 minutes and let it thicken a little, then add in the basil leaves and stir through. (test the sauce and adjust salt & pepper as necessary).
    Get a deep baking dish and spread a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom and then layer the aubergine slices on top. Then add a layer of tomato sauce and a layer of aubergine and repeat until all is used up (make sure the last layer is tomato sauce)
    Now sprinkle over the cashew topping and pop in the oven for about 34-40 minutes until the aubergine is cooked but still has a bit of bite.
    Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 mins – sprinkle over some chopped basil leaves – serve!

  • Mushroom Bolognese

    So, peeps – I wasn’t expecting much from this recipe, to be honest – I needed a quick mid-week recipe that was easy to put together and would satisfy. Trust me by the time I get home from a long day at work I can totally appreciate why people feel like sticking something from the freezer into the oven! I was very pleasantly surprised by this cheeky little bolognese 🙂  – it was really tasty and filling and so easy to make. It lasts for a few days in the fridge and is also perfect for taking to work for lunch.

    Ingredients 1 x  red onion  – finely chopped 1 – 2  x tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil) 2 x fat garlic cloves grated 1 x medium carrot – diced into very small cubes 1 x 300g pack of mushrooms – diced very finely 1/3 cup of red wine (this really makes a difference) 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes 1 x tbsp tomato puree 1 x tbsp tomato ketchup 1 x bay leaf 1x tsp oregano (optional) sea salt & black pepper to taste (always use sea salt – NEVER table salt) A small amount of hot veg stock or plain boiling water if needed

    Method Chop your ingredients first – makes life a lot easier (onion, carrots and mushrooms) In a large pan gently heat the vegetable oil and then add your chopped onion, carrots and garlic and cook for about 7-8 minutes until they are getting soft. Now add in the tinned tomatoes (plum tomatoes are sweeter than chopped tomatoes, so as a rule, they are the only ones I use) mash the tomatoes with a wooden spoon until they have disintegrated. Add in the tomato puree, ketchup, red wine, bay leaf, oregano (if using)  and salt and pepper, stir thoroughly and finally stir in the mushrooms. Allow to simmer for about 15 mins, adding in a little hot vegetable stock or boiling water if the mixture becomes too thick. While the bolognese is simmering, bring a boiling pan of salted water to a boil and add enough wholewheat spaghetti (or pasta shape of your choice) for those eating (the bolognese should feed 4 adults). Once cooked, drain the pasta and add to the bolognese mix and stir through. If fewer people are eating remove some of the bolognese mixture for later use and add in your pasta (you get the idea!). Serve with a crisp salad and enjoy!

    NOW this is not just a speedy recipe which tastes delicious but it is also nutritious  – All types of edible mushrooms contain varying degrees of protein and fibre. They also contain B vitamins as well as a powerful antioxidant called selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues. Tomatoes are the best source of the carotenoid pigment lycopene. Some studies suggest it can help prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers.