Spaghetti Plus Three Sauces

Hope you’re doing well! If you like your sauces, this is just for you.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the purple sauce; roasting the beetroot intensifies its sweetness and makes it far more acceptable to avowed beetroot haters.  There was a surprise conversion at  my table anyway!

Cherry tomatoes, baby beets and small spinach leaves, which are all easily available in June – both in the supermarkets or in farmers’ or street markets – have a more concentrated flavour than their full-grown counterparts, so they make the best summer sauces for spaghetti.  If you serve the sauces on the side (either in little pots or one one side of the plate) diners can choose whether they want to mix the sauces or eat them separately.

The beetroot sauce here was inspired by the soup Borscht, which originated in the Ukraine as  you know but is popular in many other Eastern European countries.  This sweet vegetable is combined with a sour liquid, which is tastebud-tingling stuff; the same principle works by combining the tomato with lime-infused coconut milk.  A contrasting flavour and colour was then needed to balance the meal; the earthy/creamy spinach sauce did it to perfection.

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Ingredients

340g spaghetti

For the Roasted Beetroot Sauce

8 baby beetroots

2 tbs olive oil

pinch of salt

a few grindings of black pepper

half of 500ml pot of vegan yoghurt

For the Cherry Tomato and Coconut Lime Sauce

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 tbs olive oil

1 lime

1 tin of coconut milk

For the Creamy Spinach Sauce

one carton of soya or oat cream

1 200g pack washed organic young spinach

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the baby beetroots in a shallow baking dish, pour on the oil, then shake the pan with gusto to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In another pan, lightly fry the garlic until translucent, very gently.  Set aside. Bake the beetroots for about 30-40 minutes, checking after 30 to see if they are tender.  About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, transfer the tomatoes to an overproof dish with the garlic and oil, shake, then pop in the oven.
  2. While the beetroots and tomatoes are in the oven, after about twenty minutes put a large pan of water on to boil for the spaghetti.
  3. Tip a tin of coconut milk into the food processor, add the juice of a lime and a little salt, then process with the roasted tomatoes until you have a pretty coral colour.  Set aside and wash the bowl of the food processor in readiness for the beetroots.
  4. With a tiny amount of water, cook the spinach with the garlic until wilted.  Turn off the heat and beat in the soya or oat cream.
  5. When the water comes to the boil, put in the spaghetti and cook for about 11 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, process the roasted beetroot with the vegan yoghurt.  (A little juggling is needed if the spaghetti water is ready too much in advance of the beetroot or vice versa.  If the beetroot is ready first, keep the veg in the oven but turn it off and cover the baby beetroot with foil.  If the water is ready too soon, turn off the heat, cover the pan, then reheat the water when needed).
  7. Reheat the sauces (very gently to prevent curdling) about 3 minutes before the end of the spaghetti’s cooking time.
  8. Drain the spaghetti thoroughly and serve the sauces alongside, either collectively or individually, depending on how much you or whoever is doing the washing up is prepared to deal with!

This will cost about £6.83, based on an ASDA/Aldi shop, but you will have yoghurt and garlic left.

Double Corn Stroganoff

A happy Thursday to you!  Do you like this internationally popular recipe? It really began life as a fusion recipe in the 19th Century,  with the Stroganoff family’s French chef adding his own touches to an old Russian recipe, and cooks have been adding their own touches ever since.  Here is a version which replaces the beef with corn, and is delicious and satisfying as well as cruelty-free!  NB:  You can cook the rice the night before if you have time.

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Ingredients

300g firm silken tofu              

juice of one lemon

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

1 tin chopped tomatoes, processed to a puree

1 tbs tomato puree

4 tbs frozen sweetcorn

1 packet baby corn

1 onion

1 tps oil

500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered

300g brown basmati rice

2 red chillies

pinch (or more to taste) of salt

Method

  1. Boil the brown basmati rice for 20-25 minutes, drain thoroughly and leave to cool while you make the stroganoff.
  2. Fry the onion until transparent. Deseed and chop 2 red chillies.  Set aside. 
  3. Add the sweetcorn, mushrooms and baby corn and fry for 5 minutes, stirring all the time.
  4. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, bring to the boil, then gently simmer for five minutes.
  5. Blend together the silken tofu, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Gradually add to the stroganoff and heat through gently until completely absorbed.
  6. While this is heating, fry the reserved chillies in a tiny amount of oil, add the cool rice, toss thoroughly to combine, and heat through thoroughly.
  7. Serve the stroganoff on the rice (unless there are objections) so it can absorb the sumptuous sauce.

If you have none of the ingredients at home, this will come in at about £8.14 (Aldi/ASDA). However, with luck you may have the tomato puree, garlic, tinned tomatoes and rice in already (as they tend to be ingredients which crop up frequently); in which case, you can make this for about £6.84.

 

Ful Masalah with Rosemary Infused Mash

Ful Masalah, if you’ve never had the pleasure, is an East African dish made with fava beans.  I can get these tinned at my local whole food shop, and cook with them a lot, but as I cannot find them in any of the supermarkets I decided to see what this recipe was like with frozen broad beans, which is the same bean anyway.  This recipe was inspired by the Ful Masalah I was served at an Ethiopian restaurant, with the addition of tomatoes which are good at the moment.  This is great to make for a crowd because it can be easily scaled up when pennies allow.

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Ingredients

8 tablespoons frozen broad beans, thawed (doesn’t take long if you spread them out)

4 cloves garlic, chopped fairly finely

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp tomato puree

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

600g organic potatoes

60g vegan margarine

2 tbs soya milk

fresh rosemary leaves, stripped from the stalk using your thumb and forefinger

1 red chilli

Method

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/360F.

  1.  Melt the margarine on a low light, then gently fry the garlic in a nonstick wok for one minute.  Add the tomatoes and garam masala. 
  2. Fry until they begin to break down. Add the  beans.  Gently stir and lift to combine with the tomatoes. Simmer the sauce for ten minutes, slowly stirring the sauce occasionally.
  3. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes or so until tender.
  4. In the meantime, melt the margarine, gently fry the chilli until tender, remove with a slotted spoon, then stir in the rosemary.  Set aside until the potatoes are ready.
  5. Mash the potatoes with the soya milk and stir in the chilli.  Set aside.
  6. Put the broad bean mixture into the bottom of a shallow casserole dish.  Holding a sieve over the mashed potatoes to catch the spiky rosemary leaves, pour the melted margarine into the potatoes and mix in with a wooden spoon.  (It is amazing how quickly the margarine absorbs the rosemary flavour, so do not fear that it won’t be sufficiently infused after such a short time).  Smooth the potatoes over the Ful Masalah and fork it up.Bake for 20 minutes.

If you buy the organic potatoes, tomato puree and chillies in Aldi, and the rest in ASDA, you can make this for around £8.24 (that includes the milk and marg, so if you have these in this is going to be very cheap)!

Lentil and Pesto Roast with Courgettes and Lemony Beans

This makes a good sized portion for an otherwise traditionally British family roast and is equally tasty cold the next day if any slices are left over.  Pesto enhances so many dishes, not just pasta or the ubiquitous panini; as it is both moist and flavourful, a jar of this time-honoured Italian sauce in the cupboard helps to stretch the pennies, because it also keeps well in the fridge once it has been opened.

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Ingredients

4 heaped tsp vegan pesto

250g split red lentils

1 red onion, chopped and fried until translucent (drain well)

85 – 115g breadcrumbs

115g vegan mature cheddar, grated

2 heaped tbs nutritional yeast

2 garlic cloves crushed with 1 tsp sea salt

340g runner (or similar) beans

1 lemon

2 large courgettes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 and thoroughly grease a large loaf tin or a ring tin if you have one.  If you are using a nonstick metal pan, it is still prudent to line the bottom of the pan with greaseproof paper as the loaf can stick in the corners, however carefully you grease them.
  2. Wash the lentils, cover them with water, leaving about 2 cm to spare at the top, then bring to the boil, and turn down to a more gentle boil, but not a simmer.  They will have softened in about 15-20 minutes, but check after 15.  Do keep checking your lentils by stroking the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon; if they look at all in danger of boiling dry or you find some stuck lentils, top up with water just boiled from the kettle.
  3. When the lentils are soft, drain them and mix with pesto, vegan cheddar, garlic and salt into a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs gradually until you have a soft but firm mixture.  It shouldn’t feel too “solid”.  Pack this mixture into your prepared loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until the loaf is firm.
  4. After about 15 minutes into the cooking time, put a pan of water on to boil.  Once boiled, cook the runner beans very gently until tender – probably 15 minutes at most.
  5. Slice the courgettes, then water fry them in a nonstick pan.  This should take about 10 minutes, so start them about 5 minutes after you have started the beans.
  6. After you have turned out the roast, tumble the green beans in the middle (or alongside), then finely grate lemon zest over them.  While still hot, squeeze out one half of the lemon (serve the other half with some water at dinner).
  7. Arrange the courgette slices around the edge.

If you have to buy the nutritional yeast, this will cost around £13.68.  Nutrional yeast tends to cost around £2.95, but you could add more cheese instead if you wanted. Additionally, I did include the purchase of a loaf of bread, but if you have bread in the house, it will save you more.  That said, this does make a good sized roast and there will be enough for the following day.

Squashy Bubble

Even people who aren’t squash fans love this velvety sauce from Italy; combine its richness with the humble Bubble from England and you have a divine mixture of the earthy and the luxurious (as in refined, not expensive).  If you enjoy this sauce, it goes just as well with its authentic  partners, gnocchi and pasta.  And for bubble fans, this is bubble lover’s paradise.  Serves 4.

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Ingredients

For the Bubble and Squeak

500g cooked old potatoes, mashed with 55g margarine then cooled

1 large onion, chopped

good grinding of black pepper

500g spring greens, sliced and steamed until tender

1 tsp Dijon mustard

25g margarine

2 cloves garlic

2 tbs soya milk

1 heaped tbs flour

1tbs oil

For the Butternut Squash Sauce

butternut squash

1 clove garlic

25g vegan margarine

1 30g packet cut fresh thyme; save 3 for decoration, then run your forefinger and thumb along the remaining stalks to remove the leaves

1 150ml carton soya cream

Method

  1. Melt 25g vegan margarine, then fry the onion until transparent. Add the garlic and fry briefly, until the garlic is tender; as always, avoid burning the garlic.
  2. In a big bowl, combine the mashed potato, spring greens, cooked onion, garlic and Dijon mustard.
  3. Whip in the soya milk.
  4. Shape into patties with clean hands, then roll each patty in the flour to coat.  Set aside while you make the sauce:
  5. Steam or boil the butternut squash until tender (about 10-15 minutes).
  6. Fry the garlic in a 25g margarine until softened, then tip the butternut squash, thyme leaves and garlic  in the food processor and blitz until smooth.
  7. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the patties on both sides until brown.
  8. In the meantime, gently heat the butternut squash puree in a saucepan.  When it starts to bubble, turn the heat right down, then add the soya cream. Stir in and heat briefly – for a minute at most.
  9. Put a pool of sauce on a large plate, top with the bubble patties and garnish with sprigs of thyme.

If you buy the thyme, butternut squash, flour and mustard from Aldi, and the rest from ASDA, you can make this for £6.77, excluding the oil, salt and pepper.  I have factored in the margarine.

Spring Vegetable Caponata

This is a top-notch relish without the price tag because all the vegetables are now in season.  Caponata is an Italian condiment with infinite variations, so I thought I’d give it a local tweak with vegetables in season here.  Can be served as part of a vegan Ploughman’s lunch, or an accompaniment to a sandwich, or a side dish at dinner, or as part of a buffet.  It’s an obliging little dish which you can take anywhere!

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Ingredients

3 tbs olive oil

2 medium onions

100g garlic stuffed olives, sliced

1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes

2 tbs cider vinegar

200g baby courgettes, cut into 2 cm baton

200g baby aubergines, diced

2 tbs light brown sugar

zest and juice of an orange

salt and pepper to taste

25-30g fresh basil

Method

  1. Fry the onions for the caponata in the oil until translucent (5-8 minutes).  Stir in the olives, tomatoes, baby courgettes, baby aubergines, zest of the orange and the sugar whipped into the orange juice. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Take it off the heat.
  2. Chop the larger leaves of the basil and stir into the mixture, then when you have decanted the caponata into a pretty bowl, garnish with the smaller leaves.  This is best served a room temperature, so if you want to make it in advance take it out of the fridge half an hour before serving, and garnish with the little leaves at the last minute.

Tesco have brown sugar and basil on special at the moment, so if you can access one, this will cost £7.52 if you do not have cider vinegar in the house.  As always, this factors in all ingredients except the oil.  I was wondering, do you have websites which search supermarkets’ prices where you are living?  They’re so useful if you are on a budget.  I use mySupermarket here – do you have something similar?

Cherry and Pistachio Salad

If you buy the cherries now they’re in high season they won’t be expensive but this salad has a really luxurious feel to it with the succulent fruit and the moreish nuts.  It is just lovely, and really needs no dressing.  I can hardly call it a “recipe”, but it is my favourite salad and I wanted to share it!  Obviously all you have to do is work out how much you want to serve (according to appetite or numbers present), decide on which ratio of nut to cherry would please you, then stone the cherries, shell the nuts and mix throughly.  Serve immediately to keep the nuts crunchy.  

The cost varies enormously from supermarket to supermarket; the cheapest pistachios I found were £1.39 for 150g at Aldi.  Regarding the cherries, they tend to cost between £2.50-£3.00 for 350g in the shops but I rarely buy them there, as I find so them so much cheaper at markets at this time of year.  It all depends on where you live of course, but if you can’t find cherries personally I think pistachio graces whatever it touches!

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Mid-Spring Pie: Sausage, Chickpea and Leek Filo Pie PLUS Fragrant Sausage Stew with Garlic Mash

This mixture makes enough to serve with mash the following day; the accompaniments are so different it is improbable that anyone will notice, but even if they do they’re just as unlikely to complain about this appetisingly savoury Southern European blend of ingredients.

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Ingredients

Piecrust: 8 sheets long filo pastry and 55g vegan margarine, melted

Filling

(divide by half – except the smoked paprika – if you don’t fancy tomorrow’s dish)

11 veggie sausages, sliced and fried until brown

1 extra sausage for garnish, sliced, plus 1 tsp oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

175g baby leeks, topped and tailed, chopped and washed

2 tbs sundried tomato puree

2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tbs olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6.
  2. For the filling, fry the leeks in the olive oil until turning translucent, then add the smoked paprika and fry for another minute.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly until blended.  Set aside half of this mixture for tomorrow.
  4. Brush a 7in springform pan with melted vegan margarine, then add the sheets one at a time, overlapping them as you go and painting with melted butter before each addition. Place them across each other, with a generous margin of pastry hanging over either side.  Make sure the bottom of the tin is completely covered, with no gaps.
  5. Add the filling with care and spread it across the bottom.
  6. Bring up the edges of the pie one by one so that they lie across the filling, brushing each sheet with melted margarine before adding another the next one.
  7. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until nut brown.  A few minutes before the end of the cooking time, fry the sausage slices until brown, then place a ring of discs on the pie as a garnish.

Fragrant Sausage Stew with Garlic Mash

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If you rename yesterday’s savoury mix for the pie, you are more likely to get away with the repetition, but of course it depends on how culinary minded your fellow diners are!  Remove the portion from the fridge at least half an hour before you cook it to allow it to come to room temperature.  If you want to cook this independently of the pie, obviously  you can follow the instructions given for the filling.

Make garlic mash: boil 800g old potatoes (peeled if not using a ricer) for about 20 minutes until tender, then either mash or put through a ricer.  While still warm, melt 55g vegan margarine and gently fry two finely chopped garlic cloves. Mash into potatoes with 1 tbsp plant milk and mix well.  Start gently reheating the stew when you begin mashing/ricing.  Serve on or off the mash, depending on preferences.

Based on an ASDA shop, you can make both dinners for £9.25, working on the basis of an empty cupboard and having to buy vegan margarine and smoked paprika.  If you have either of these already, that’s fab!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pepper and Chickpea Cutlets with Sweet and Sour Sauce

This classic Chinese sauce often graces food from other parts of the world and there is an infinitesimal number of recipes for it out there – we’ve all made it our own!  It certainly elevates these appetising but humble cutlets by combining the earthy with the unexpected to maximise both budget and flavour.  This uses a bag of 3 assorted peppers. Please note that this recipe uses cooked potatoes.  You may wish to get this done before you start on the sauce if you haven’t any leftover tatties.

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Sweet and Sour Sauce

Make this first, then you can simply reheat it when the cutlets are ready.

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped finely

1 red or orange pepper, chopped roughly

1 425g can of pineapple in juice; you need the juice and the fruit (chopped if you can’t find pineapple pieces)

2 green chilli, bought loosely

one 3 cm square of ginger root, chopped finely

2 tbs soy sauce

I tbs granulated sugar

2 tbs tomato puree

Juice of one lemon (but zest it first for the cutlets)

Method

  1. Water fry the onion until translucent, then add the pepper, chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for another two minutes.
  2. Add the soy sauce, chopped tinned pineapple with its juice, lemon juice, brown sugar and tomato paste.  Mix thoroughly.
  3. Blend all the ingredients together by pulsing the food processor until you have a thick sauce with some pieces intact.

Chickpea Cutlets

Ingredients

1 x 240g can chickpeas (drained weight)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped very finely

30g butter or vegan margarine

500g – 600g cooked organic potatoes

2 tbs soy sauce

zest of a lemon

black pepper

flour to coat, if wished

small amount of oil for frying

Method

  1. Mash the chickpeas together with the butter/marg and potatoes.  Grind in some pepper.
  2. Beat in the onion, peppers, garlic, soy sauce and zest of a lemon.  Allow to cool.
  3. With lightly floured clean hands, shape the mixture into rough cutlet shapes.
  4. Put the sauce on to heat through gently, then lightly fry the cutlets in oil (use a nonstick pan if possible) until golden brown on both sides.  
  5. You may wish to serve the sauce separately so that diners can decide how much they wish to pour over.

If you buy the potatoes, ginger root, lemon, bag of 3 peppers, soy sauce and tomato puree at Aldi, and the tin of pineapple, sugar, a loose onion, a couple of loose chillies and a tin of chickpeas at ASDA, with a bit of luck you’ll be able to get this on the table for just over a fiver (£5.07, if my calculations are correct, based upon today’s prices). This does assume you have oil in the house.

The Full Celtic

(Scottish Potato Pancakes, Sweet Potato Irish Coddle, Welsh Rarebit Tomatoes)

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This is a great leisurely feast to make if you love a full cooked breakfast but find the red-faced racing from hob to hob a little stressful; the coddle can be cooked in the oven and the tomatoes can simmer gently while you fry the pancakes.  Tweaking the traditional coddle by using sweet potatoes makes it lighter – it will be too heavy with the potato pancakes otherwise.  The coddle could be made the night before and reheated for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at Gas Mark 6/200C/390F.

Ingredients

For the Coddle 

1 kg sweet potatoes 

1 large onion, diced 

4 vegan bacon rashers 

4 vegan sausages

1 tbs olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

250ml cider

250ml vegetable stock, made with a stock cube

1 small packet parsley, roughly chopped

For the Tomatoes

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbs *Worcestershire Sauce

200g vegan Cheddar, grated

For the Potato Pancakes

450g organic potatoes, cut into uniform sizes

60g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

60g vegan margarine

1 tbs plant milk of choice

Method

  1. Start with the coddle.  Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/390F.  Make the stock by dissolving one stock cube in 250ml boiling water.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 2cm cubes.  Set aside while you lightly fry the onions for three minutes.  This is just to release their natural sweetness – you don’t have to wait until they are translucent.  Scrape the onion into a casserole dish, then use the same pan to quickly fry the sausages for 2 minutes only.  You simply want to brown them.  In the meantime, chop the bacon.  Add both to the casserole dish and mix.  Tip in the garlic, sweet potatoes, cider and stock, cover the casserole dish, then put into the oven for one hour.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes for the pancakes if you are not using a ricer. Boil them until they are tender for about 20 minutes, or less if you cut them small.  Mash (or put through the ricer), then add 30g of the margarine, the plant milk and the flour.  Beat vigorously, then when the mixture is cold, shape into a ball with floured hands, flatten it, then roll it out to 2 cm thickness and cut out your preferred shapes with a biscuit cutter.
  4. Five minutes before the coddle is ready, combine the vegan cheese with the Worcestershire sauce, then, stirring now and then, simmer gently on the hob with the tomatoes until the tomatoes are softened and the cheese has melted.
  5. Melt the rest of the margarine for the pancakes, then fry for approximately two minutes on each side on a high heat to produce a gorgeous crust.
  6. On a large plate, dish out the coddle, top with the tomatoes and the parsley, then surround the whole with your pancakes.  Feast away!

*Chippa is a good vegan brand.  You can buy it at ASDA for 1.29.  Life is another one which you can get in whole food shops, but it is more expensive.

If you buy the sweet potatoes, cider, parsley and plain flour at Aldi, and the remaining ingredients (minus the vegan bacon; you will have to go to a whole food shop for that) at ASDA, this will cost around £15.33, buying everything from scratch.  However, you will have plenty of ingredients for your stores left: potatoes, sweet potatoes, bacon rashers, plain flour, vegetable stock cubes, vegan margarine, plant milk, Worcestershire sauce and vegan cheese. Of course, if you have any of these already, you’ll spend even less.