Roasted aubergine and red pepper couscous with halloumi cheese recipe

This is fairly quick to knock up and makes enough for 4 portions, it’s also easy to make vegan by replacing the halloumi cheese with sliced tofu.

Ingredients – Makes 4 portions

220g uncooked couscous

Olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 vegetable stock cube (I use a Knorr stock pot)

330ml boiling water

1 large or 2 medium red onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large aubergine

2 sweet red peppers

1 250g block of halloumi or 1 block of tofu

1 can of cooked green lentils (Lentilles Vertes)

A drop of truffle oil – Optional

Method

Right, heat your oven to 200C, I’ve got a fan oven.

De-seed your peppers, chop them into pieces, make them however big you want.

Chop the aubergine into slices and then into pieces, again, any size you want but bear in mind you want all this to roast fairly quickly.

Throw the pepper and aubergine on baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, add a twist of black pepper and mix it all together.

Put that in the oven to roast and grab the onion(s).

Peel and chop the onions, put them in a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a twist of black pepper, cook over a medium heat until they’re turning soft and almost translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes but don’t over cook the garlic.

Once the veg has been roasting in the oven for 10 minutes take it out, give it a shake and a turn and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Slice the halloumi cheese into 8 slices, add a little olive oil to a frying pan and get it on a medium heat. Add the slices of halloumi and cook until golden brown, keep an eye on them, they can brown quickly. When both sides are done remove from the pan and set aside.

Your roast veg should have had about 20 minutes now, check to see if it’s done, I like it slightly crispy and almost burnt, each to their own. If it’s done, turn the oven off and get started on the cous cous.

Dissolve the stock pot in 330ml of boiling water, add the couscous to the pan with the onions and garlic and place on a very low heat. Add the stock to the pan, stir to cover the couscous and put a lid on the pan.

After 2-3 minutes give the couscous a stir, it should have swollen up and taken on all the water, if it hasn’t, put the lid back on and give it another minute but keep checking.

Once it’s done, drain the lentils and add them to the pan along with the roasted veg and halloumi cheese.

Add the totally optional drop of truffle oil and give it all a good stir, I know it sounds really pretentious but I think it really makes a difference. If you’ve not got truffle oil and you’re tempted to get some make sure it’s a good quality oil with some real truffle, I’ve got some of the Truffle Hunter oils.

Hob Nobs recipe

Hob Nobs

Quick and easy, much more satisfying than buying a pack! These can easily be made vegan by substituting butter for vegan spread.

Hob Nobs
Hob Nobs

Ingredients – Makes 30 – 40 depending on size

225g of self raising flour
225g of sugar
225g of good whole porridge oats
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
225g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
1 tablespoon of hot water

Method

Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In a pan melt the butter, syrup and add the hot water.

When melted add to the dry ingredients.

Mix well, make into small balls and place on a greased baking tray, flatten slightly.

Bake at 180C for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a rack and nom!

Pasta with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Broccoli recipe

Another stolen recipe which has been changed slightly. Originally by Rose Elliot this has tenderstem broccoli added to it and mushrooms taken away. I’m sure it would be just as nice with mushrooms, I didn’t have any though! We had it on day 3 of Veggie August and it made more than enough for the two of us with leftovers for lunch the next day!

Ingredients – Makes enough for 4-6

Olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

3 big cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 vegetarian stock cube (I used a Knorr Stock Pot)

A glug of red wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of sugar

200g of tenderstem broccoli

325g of wholewheat pasta

Method

Add a little olive oil to a pan and over a medium heat add the onion, fry for about 10 minutes but keep moving the onion, it just needs to be lightly browned.

Once the onion is almost done add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, stock cube, red wine vinegar, sugar and season with the black pepper, give it all a good stir and let it heat through.

Meanwhile add the pasta to a large pan of boiling water and cook for around 10 minutes.

Once you’ve got the pasta started add the broccoli to another pan of boiling water and cook for the last 6-8 minutes.

When the pasta and broccoli are cooked drain them both and add them to the tomato sauce.

Give it all a stir and serve!

No meat, no meal?

I suppose I’m a bit of a pretentious fucker when it comes to food, I’ve always found comfort in food, from reading about it, to preparing it, to eating it. I’ve been lucky enough to try all sorts of different things, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and eat in some amazing places, even if sometimes things got lost in translation and “Pork” turned out to be “Dog”, but that’s another story for another blog post…

In the last few years I’ve taken more of an interest in food provenance, trying to buy meat that is locally reared and well looked after or using seasonal ingredients instead of whatever we can import for convenience. I’ve Tweeted about my problem with Marks & Spencer (and I’m sure others) selling potatoes imported from Israel, the last time I checked we could grow potatoes just fine in the UK.

I digress, so, anyway we have a few friends who are vegetarian, we’ve shared food and we’ve been introduced to new things by them. After embarking on my mammoth 1000 mile cycling journey this year and changing what I eat completely we began talking about trying out a vegetarian diet for a month and the idea of “Veggie August” was born.

I’d already cut out a lot of meat from my diet and my wife and I mainly eat chicken when we do have meat, but I adore game and seafood and I head straight to that part of the menu whenever I can. I’ve always felt like I’m full of energy even after riding my 60 miles a week but our vegetarian friends rave about how good they feel just from having moved to a more natural and let’s be honest, ethical way of eating.

So, yesterday was the start of Veggie August, we’re foregoing meat for a month and seeing how we feel. I generally do the cooking at home and for a while have done a mix of meat and veggie food anyway so moving over to vegetarian shouldn’t be too much trouble. I’ve stolen recipes from The Waiting Room, an amazing local vegetarian restaurant and I’ve been pointed in the direction of Becka Eats, a great blog about veggie and vegan food.

So for day 1, we went with Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash, a recipe from Becka’s blog but changed slightly from vegan to veggie purely for convenience! I’m going to add the recipes for what I cook in August to the blog and share how the month is going…

 

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash recipe

Blatantly stolen from Becka Eats this is the first meal we had in Veggie August. The lentils give it a great texture and the sweet potato mash with nutmeg tastes amazing!

Ingredients – Makes enough 4 with leftovers for lunch.

Olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Half a cup of Puy lentils (I could only find Lentille Verte)

Half a cup of green lentils

2 bay leaves

2 onions, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed (Just like your hopes and dreams)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons of tomato purée

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 vegetarian stock cube (I used a Knorr Stock Pot)

250ml of red wine (Why not drink the rest of the bottle?)

3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into equal sized chunks

A splash of milk

A wedge of butter

Freshly grated nutmeg

Method

Wash the lentils, add them to a pan with the bay leaves. Cover with water and and bring to the boil. All in all they probably want around half an hour, you don’t want them to turn to mush so keep an eye on them.

Meanwhile put your sweet potatoes in a pan, cover with water and get them onto boil, they probably want 20-30 minutes.

After you’ve got that sorted, add a little olive oil to a big pan and add the onion, carrots and garlic. Over a medium heat sauté them for about 10 minutes but don’t let them brown. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, wine, pepper, oregano and stock pot. Give it all a good stir and cook for another 10-15 minutes until it’s thickened.

Now would be a good point to pre-heat your oven on to finish off the dish, 200C should be enough.

Around now the lentils should be done, drain them and add them to your tomato sauce. Give it all another good stir and keep warm on a low heat.

Once the sweet potato is cooked drain the water from it, add a good wedge of butter, a splash of milk and half a grated nutmeg. Give it a good mash and check the seasoning.

Spoon the tomato lentil sauce into a baking dish and top with the sweet potato mash, rough it up with the tines of a fork and put it in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes until the mash starts to brown.

Shovel a generous helping into a bowl and enjoy!