Aubergine and spinach dhal, roasted butternut, crispy garlic

 
Aubergine & spinach dhal, roasted butternut, crispy garlic.JPG
 

Perhaps it’s the influence of the recent influx of vegetarian clients but I seem to be going through a bit of a veggie phase.
Whilst I know fully plant-based doesn’t suit me, it’s nice to discover predominantly vegetarian dishes that are easy to adapt to most tastes. If you really can’t do without the extra protein, for example, then just put a grilled chicken breast on top of this dhal, or keep it as it is and embrace the vegan dinner.
Aside from being ridiculously tasty, this aubergine and spinach dhal also keeps well so make a big batch and you’ll have lunch for days.

Ingredients to feed 4 (or 2 plus 2 lunches)
250g red lentils, rinsed
1 medium aubergine, cubed, (350g approximately)
100g spinach, washed and roughly chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds scraped out, cut in half lengthways then sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of coconut milk
2 + 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
thumb sized piece of ginger (50g), peeled then grated
2 green chillies, pierced
1.5 tablespoons of medium curry powder
2 teaspoons of turmeric
a bunch of coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves set aside
sea salt and black pepper to season
rapeseed oil to cook

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, put the butternut squash slices on a roasting tray, drizzle with some oil, season with sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked.
Whilst the butternut is roasting, make the dhal.
Place a large saucepan on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil.
Add 2 cloves of sliced garlic, the grated ginger, the 2 pierced chillies, and cook for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the curry powder, turmeric, coriander stalks and aubergine and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the lentils, chopped tomato, coconut milk and 200ml (half a tin) of water. Season with a couple of pinches of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Bring to boil, turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir every now and then to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom.
The consistency should be similar to porridge and the lentils should be soft.
Stir in the spinach and season again with sea salt and black pepper.
To make the crispy garlic, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add the 4 cloves of garlic and cook until golden in colour (a couple of minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and put on a sheet of kitchen towel to remove the excess oil.
To serve, put a couple of ladles of the dhal in a bowl, top with roasted butternut squash slices, crispy garlic and a handful of fresh coriander leaves.

Lamb keema with turmeric potatoes

In my opinion there is not much use in food being “healthy” if it doesn’t taste good.
I live for food with lots of flavour.
This beautiful keema recipe uses warming spices to add flavour to lamb mince and vegetables. The turmeric and nigella seed potatoes are totally delicious plus turmeric is a pretty decent spice to have more of.

In case you are wondering, this recipe is super easy. Just throw a few things in pans and the job is done.

Keema, turmeric potatoes.JPG

Ingredients (feeds 2 plus there will be a little bit left over for lunch)
For the keema:
400g organic lamb mince
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bunch of coriander, leaves picked off and stalks finely chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled & grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds for milder flavour)
2 tablespoons of garam masala
100g each of spinach and green beans
sea salt and black pepper to season

For the potatoes
500g baby new potatoes, sliced in half
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each of turmeric and black onion seeds (also known as nigella seeds)
1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil
sea salt and black pepper


Method:
Put the halved potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, put a frying pan on a high heat. Add the lamb mince and onions straight away and cook until the mince has browned (5-10 minutes). No oil is required for this as the lamb mince contains enough fat.
Take the pan off the heat, tip the pan to one side, push the onion and lamb mixture to the upper part of the pan and spoon off any excess fat that collects at the bottom. This step is optional.
Put the pan back on the hob, turn the heat down to medium and start adding the spices: 2 crushed garlic cloves, the chopped coriander stalks (you can replace this with a teaspoon of ground coriander for a quicker option), the grated ginger, the chilli, the garam masala and season well with sea salt and black pepper.
Cook for a couple of minutes to allow the flavours to intensify.
Add the chopped tomato, season again and cook for another couple of minutes.
Now stir in the beans and spinach and cook for 5 minutes until the green beans are tender. Taste and season again if necessary.
Put another frying pan on a medium heat. Add the tablespoon of rapeseed oil, the crushed clove of garlic and teaspoon of black onion seeds. Cook for a minute then stir in the potatoes and turmeric. Season well with sea salt and black pepper, stir and cook for a couple of minutes more.
To serve, divide the keema and potatoes between two bowls, reserving some for lunch if you’d like.
Top with plenty of fresh coriander leaves.

Duck egg, potato & broccoli

Confession time: I have a mild obsession with eggs.
In fact, I want you to start your day on eggs (obviously only if you a. like them and b. you aren't vegan).
Hopefully, by now you may be asking why, so here are the reasons:
- eggs are high in protein, protein ensures that you actually feel full and don't end up craving sugar half an hour later
- they are nutritious - soooooo many vitamins & minerals
- they are sustainable - good quality organic or free-range eggs are a sustainable food source
- they taste good and are super easy/quick to cook - many bonus points there

This beautiful 15-minute brunch recipe uses duck eggs (think larger hen eggs with more golden yolk), baby new potatoes and broccoli.
I had it for brunch but it's a decent enough lunch and dinner also. 

 
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Ingredients for 2
500g baby new potatoes, sliced in half lengthways
160g tenderstem or sprouting broccoli
3 spring onions
1 clove of garlic, crushed
rapeseed oil
2-4 duck eggs, I used Clarence Court duck eggs
chilli flakes and parsley to garnish (optional)
sea salt and black pepper to season

Method:
Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to boil.
Simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and tender.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, trim the broccoli and trim and slice the spring onion.
At the very last minute of the potatoes cooking, drop in the broccoli and bring back to boil. Drain immediately and let it steam for a minute.
Put a frying pan on a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of rapeseed oil, the spring onion and crushed garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the potatoes and broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Put another frying pan on a medium heat, add a splash of rapeseed oil and crack in the eggs. Be careful with how much force you put the eggs into the pan with, as I discovered, duck eggs have larger yolks which will burst if not handled with care.
Cook the eggs to your liking.
Divide the potato mixture between two plates, top with one or two eggs each and sprinkle with some chilli flakes and parsley (if using).

A plant based high-protein breakfast bowl

If you've ever popped along to one of my nutrition talks or cookery demos you'll know that I'm a huge advocate of protein for breakfast. It's the one thing that ensures no 10am food cravings. 
Sadly this is somewhat more difficult on a plant-based diet where carbs are the star of the show.
This quinoa & mushroom breakfast bowl utilises vegan ingredients naturally high in protein, all without skimping on that all important flavour. It's the kind of  10 minute recipe that makes a great breakfast or brunch but also keeps well in the fridge.

 
Quinoa & mushroom protein bowl.JPG
 

Ingredients for 2:
180g quinoa (dry weight)
200g exotic mushrooms, sliced,  I used a mix of shiitake and oyster mushrooms
200g cherry tomatoes
Leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of good quality British rapeseed oil
2 tbsp tamari (this is a traditionally brewed soy sauce that is free of gluten but soy sauce also works)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
Watercress or pea shoots to garnish
1 avocado, sliced (optional)

Method:
To cook the quinoa, rinse twice then add just enough water to cover the grains. Bring to boil and cook on a medium heat until all of the water has evaporated. Fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, put a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the rapeseed oil, mushrooms, thyme and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for another couple of minutes. 
Add the quinoa, cook for a minute then pour in the tamari.  Cook for a couple of minutes to heat through.
Divide the quinoa mix between two bowls. Top with a handful of watercress or pea shoots and half a sliced avocado.