Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rice 'n' spice: lentil 'risotto' with roasted spiced veg

I hesitate to use the word risotto here: it's certainly not a dish an Italian would recognise. Anyway, lentils and rice are great together, so I thought I'd try to find a different way of cooking them. The result is almost a savoury porridge, with some brightly-coloured spiced vegetables on top. But if you prefer, you could just cook the rice in a separate pan and have the lentils like a daal alongside.

Feel free to vary the vegetables according to what takes your fancy and what you have around.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nutty stuffed onions

It's not often that I can be bothered to stuff vegetables, but this simple stuffing turns onions (not, let's face it, the most glamorous vegetable) into the star of a meal.

This dish is based mainly on store-cupboard ingredients and is quite handy for using up odds and ends - like the half-used packet of nuts that's been hanging around for a little while and risks turning rancid if it's not used up soon. I've suggested hazelnuts but you could definitely use walnuts or pecans, or some other kind of nut if you fancy it. Similarly, if you've got a little bit of leftover rice, bulghur wheat or couscous, or some stale bread that can be turned into breadcrumbs - here's a dish that can use it up.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A healthy feast for January: lentils and winter veg with baked mushroom and poached egg

Lentils are a very under-rated food, I think. Healthy, filling, full of protein - they are just the thing for January when you are trying to undo the effects of Christmas excess. They soak up other flavours and there's something comforting about them. A lentil-based meal doesn't feel like self-denial in the way that a salad might.

Puy lentils are definitely the most chic and the ones you tend to see in salads and other recipes where you want the lentils to keep their shape. But actually, brown lentils do a very similar job and are much cheaper (especially if you buy them in large bags from an ethnic grocer).

This is a dish full of earthy, wintry flavours. There are a few different elements to this, but none of it is difficult and it really doesn't take too long. It's well worth spending a couple of minutes on making the marinade for the mushrooms, as the rewards in terms of flavour are enormous.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Apple, cheese and onion crumble

Apple, cheese and onion is one of those combinations that sounds weird but works surprisingly well.

To be honest, even though I’ve made this a few times now, when I made it this week for the first time in a while I was a bit doubtful about putting apples in a savoury dish. I know you have pork with apple sauce, or maybe pork and apple sausage, but making apple the centre of a meal does seem a little strange. But I urge you to try it, as it’s much better than you might think.