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.

Borscht – Beetroot soup with feta recipe

A friend gave me some home grown beetroot so I decided to make a bit of Borscht, or beetroot soup!

Ingredients – Makes enough for 3-4

600g (3-4 large beets), peeled and grated coarsely

500g (around 5-6) of ripe tomatoes, halved (I suppose if you’re really lazy you could use a tin of chopped tomatoes)

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

A bit of olive oil

500ml of vegetable stock (I used 2 ‘Knorr Stock Pots’)

Freshly ground black pepper

Some feta cheese

Method

Place the halved tomatoes in an oven dish, pour a little olive oil over the top of them and throw on the chopped garlic.

Place in the oven at 190C (I’ve got a fan oven) until they’re soft, it took me about 30 minutes.

Place the tomatoes in a sieve and rub through into a bowl to remove the skins and pips.

Put a little more oil in a pan and sweat the onion with a twist of black pepper.

Add the stock and beetroot, give it all a stir and bring to the boil for about 10 minutes or until the beetroot is tender.

Stir in the tomato purée.

Using either a stick blender or a normal blender process the soup until completely smooth. If you’ve got white walls take care, it’s easy to spray the soup all over if you’re using a stick blender!

Transfer the soup to warmed bowls and crumble a little of the feta cheese on top.

Serve with crusty bread!

You might also want to…

  • Add a shot of vodka
  • Chill in the fridge and serve cold

Butternut Squash and Spinach Cannelloni Recipe

In the pan...

I’ve neglected the food part of the blog for a while so I thought I’d write this down, I had a butternut squash to use and came up with this!

Ingredients – Makes 6

A 1KG butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-2cm cubes

A little olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

A sprinkle of dried sage

200ml of vegetable stock

175ml white wine

150g of spinach

30g of toasted pine nuts

125g of crumbled vegetarian blue cheese

50g of feshly grated vegetarian Parmesan cheese

1litre of passata

6 sheets of fresh lasagne

Method

Pour a little olive oil into a large pan and add the diced onion, sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.

Add the peeled & diced butternut squash and garlic to the pan, give it a good stir.

Add the herbs, vegetable stock and wine, you may as well pour yourself another glass whilst you’re at it.

Season with freshly ground black pepper, stir, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the squash is just soft.

If there’s any liquid left in the pan, drain it off then lightly mash the squash with the back of a spoon.

Add the spinach, crumbled blue cheese, half the parmesan and half of the pine nuts. Stir the mix and cover until the spinach has milted.

Lay out the lasagne sheets and place a hearty spoonful of the mix on each one, roll up and place in a greased baking dish.

Pour the passata over the cannelloni until they are almost covered and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and pine nuts.

Bake in the oven at 200C for 20-30 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Celeriac and carrot soup recipe

Picked a bag of veg up from the farmers’ market for £1.50 and it made enough soup for a week. It’s easy to make and will keep in the freezer.

Ingredients

40g of unsalted butter (Recipe could easily be made vegan by substituting the butter for olive oil or vegan spread)

2 celeriac, peeled and chopped

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

1 litre of hot vegetable stock (I used 2 Knorr stock pots)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a large pan, melt the butter then add the onion, carrots and celeriac.

Stir to cover the veg in some butter, put a lid on the pan and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes and stock, make sure the stock covers all the veg.

Season with freshly ground pepper and a little salt, remember there’s probably already salt in the stock so don’t overdo it!

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the veg is cooked.

With a stick blender, purée the soup leaving some lumpy veg.

Serve in hot bowls with a chunky wedge of bread!

Spinach, Sweet Red Pepper and Ricotta Lasagne recipe

Another recipe shamelessly stolen from The Waiting Room but changed slightly, serve it with sesame potatoes and some garlic bread to wipe the plate.

Ingredients – Makes enough for 6

Olive oil

4 sweet pointed red peppers, deseeded and cut into large chunks

3 red onions, sliced

1 large onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

250ml of vegetable stock

500g organic spinach

250g ricotta cheese

Dried egg pasta sheets, I used 15

300ml of good bechamel sauce, make your own if you want!

300g of vegetarian mature cheddar cheese, grated

Freshly grated nutmeg, don’t use ready ground

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C, slightly lower for a fan assisted oven.

Add a little olive oil to a large roasting tray and place in the oven for a few minutes.

Place the chunks of red pepper and all the red onion in the roasting tray, turn the veg to cover in the hot oil and place in the oven for around an hour, turning every 15 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it in case it starts to burn.

Remove the roasted red pepper and onions from the oven and set to one side.

In a large pan, gently fry the onion in a little olive oil for about 10 minutes then add the minced garlic.

Stir and fry for a few minutes until the onion is soft but not brown.

Add the vegetable stock and the spinach, stir until the spinach has wilted.

Add the red pepper and onions to the spinach mix along with the ricotta and give it all a good stir.

Add half the cheese to the bechamel sauce and stir to combine.

Layer the mix in a deep oven dish alternating between that and the pasta sheets, I did three layers ending on a layer of pasta.

Pour the bechamel and cheese mixture on top of the pasta and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the sauce.

Grate as much nutmeg over the cheese as you like!

Bake in the oven for about an hour, make sure the pasta doesn’t burn but the cheese goes brown and gooey!