Frugal Smoky Bean Stew with Feta

I haven’t blogged ALL YEAR. I don’t think that’s too bad to say it’s February though. Anyway let’s get into it, I hate those posts that just complain about how long it’s been etc etc.

What have I been up to so far this year? Well me and Gary have been settling into our new house, making it ours and it’s finally starting to feel a bit more normal and like it’s our home. I’m typing this out sat in front of the fire, it’s such a treat to have a log burner though we are still getting the hang of keeping it lit. It’s a bit of an art!

I’ve also been keeping to my two new years resolutions really well which were:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Stop buying meat in our weekly shops

I’ve not been missing the meat at all, and our weekly shops are a heck of a lot cheaper. I’m still eating it if we go out, but largely trying to be as veg-based as possible to do our bit for the planet.

The water drinking is going great, I’m drinking a pint before I leave the house every day, and then at least three 500ml bottles while I’m at work. I never realised the effect staying fully hydrated can have! I feel more awake, alert and not as groggy in the mornings.

Anyway onto the recipe! I made this up one evening based on what we had in the cupboards. It’s really easy and quick and the leftovers make a delicious lunch. Recipe after the jump!

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Roasted Aubergine with Veggie Ragu

I have my fellow blogger Deepa Mistry to thank for the wonderful aubergine part of this recipe! I hadn’t ever tried roasting an aubergine in half before but her recent Instagram Story persuaded me otherwise and I was so glad I tried it! The best part of her tips was to take the aubergine out of the fridge and cook from room temperature to avoid it being rubbery. It worked!

roasted-aubergine-veggie-ragu

To roast your aubergine, slice it in half and score all over. Rub a little oil all over each half and then place in a hot (150c or so) oven for 40-50 mins, flipping it half way through so it cooks nice and evenly.

While the aubergine was roasting, I made a yummy ragu to stir through its pasta bed. Recipe after the jump!

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Butternut Squash, Kale Bean and Chorizo Stew

Feeing hot hot hot! I’ve really enjoyed the heatwave so far but now my birthday is done I’m starting to crave jumpers, drizzle and Christmas. Anyone else?

I made this stew as a bit of an antidote to the many pieces of BBQed meat we’ve had recently. Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes you just want something vegetabley. If you’re a long time reader (cough, stalker) of my blog you’ll realise I’m obsessed with butternut squash and love thinking of new ways to cook with it, so this was my go-to base for this yummy stew.

Chop your squash up BIG for best results and make sure you use a decent chorizo with a bit of character, not those bland ones. Beans wise I went for a tin of mixed taco beans from Tesco which come in a spiced sauce, but you can use any you like and just add more chopped tomatoes if needed. And obviously if you’re veggie, leave out the chorizo!

Recipe after the jump!

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Veggie Packed Lunch Noodles

I make this recipe so often I couldn’t believe I haven’t blogged it before! These noodles are amazing for weekday lunches, they keep really well and actually taste better for a few days marinating in the fridge! I like to make a big batch and portion out into tupperware for the week.

This is completely veggie but you could add in some leftover meat if you wanted to. There’s plenty protein in here anyway if you’re counting your macros, the egg noodles, shredded egg and edamame are all high protein foods.

One thing I love about stir fries are the colours, especially using lots of fresh veg! How pretty does this pan look? Recipe after the jump!

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Crispy Kale Chinese ‘Seaweed’ in the Air Fryer

I just love getting seaweed with my Chinese takeaway. It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s SO GOOD. I couldn’t believe it when I tried to make some crispy kale in my air fryer and managed to recreate the exact same food – same taste, same texture, same everything!

crispy-kale-chinese-seaweed

I don’t know if the picture does it justice but honestly this is life changing. You have to try this if you have an air fryer and you love Chinese food. If you don’t have an air fryer, I have no idea how it would turn out in an oven, but you could give it a go on a baking sheet with parchment paper to avoid sticking, I just don’t think the results would be as crisp.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 bag kale (yes really, it shrinks!)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Salt
  • Soft brown sugar

Take the kale and remove any stalks, this is really important. You just want the green fluffy leaves. Get them all together on a chopping board and go over them with a knife so they’re finely chopped. Take the sesame oil and salt and rub all over, they really only need a tiny bit of oil or they will go soggy. Pop in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes on 180 degrees and voila! Toss them in the brown sugar and serve.

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Hearty Green Lentil and Chickpea Soup

After the Christmas indulgences, I’ve been trying to stick to a vegetarian diet for as long as I can in January. I’m finding it really easy so far, there’s just a bit more thinking to be done about where I’m getting my protein from. Lentils and chickpeas are both great sources though so I though why not bang them both together in a soup!

Soup is a broad term here as this came out REALLY thick. I think I over-lentilled. So unless you’re feeding a small army, don’t put half a packet of green lentils in like I did. Maybe just 100g or so. But if you do make too much, the good news is this will freeze really well!

See? Not that soupy. But still really delicious! It’s super cheap to make too, you probably already have all the ingredients in your cupboard. I used carrots, peppers and onion as my veg but you can use whatever you like! It’s also completely vegan (just make sure you check your stock cubes).

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Pan Fried Sea Bass with Shallot Garlic Butter

Sea bass is one of my favouritest fish. It’s so light and delicate and hardly needs any effort to be delicious. Pan frying with garlic butter is one of my favourite (and most indulgent) ways to eat it. I first experienced sea bass in Lisbon last year, in a seafood restaurant. They served it salt crusted and it was absolutely beautiful, I couldn’t get over it!

Sea bass seems a lot easier to find now in supermarkets, and it’s pretty affordable in places like Lidl and Aldi. Here’s the (more good looking) picture of this recipe I made for us one rainy Friday night:

Pan frying this fish takes just five minutes so you can faff about getting your sides ready before hand and then put the fish on when everything else is pretty much cooked. You need to make the garlic butter separately though, if you try and fry the fish in the butter the garlic and shallot will burn and it won’t taste nice.

For the garlic butter, chop up one shallot reaaallly finely and soften in a mix of olive oil and butter on a low heat. Once it’s gone see through add 3 cloves of minced garlic and a tablespoon more butter (yes you need a lot of butter for this) and continue on a very low heat for 5 minutes or so while you cook the fish. You’re basically infusing the butter with the garlic.

For the fish, melt 2 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil in a nice big flat frying pan until it’s fizzing slightly, and then put your sea bass skin down. Baste with the olive oil and butter and season as you cook. Give it 3-4 minutes on the first side and then flip it over for another 3-4 minutes. If the fish flakes easily all the way through then it’s ready! Serve with your mash and cabbage, or anything else you like, and then drizzle the butter over the top.

What’s your favourite fish to cook? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Tuna, Rice ‘And All Things Nice’ Stir Fry

Growing up we had a fairly fixed weekly meal plan. Soup Mondays. Fish Tuesdays, baked potato Wednesdays and ‘ricey thing’ Thursdays.

What is a ricey thing? You ask (rightfully so). It can be a number of things – this dish is also known as ‘tuna, rice and all things nice’. The beauty of it is that it can be anything!  The constants are rice, tuna, an egg and soy sauce. The rest can be up to you, and whatever you have leftover in the fridge. Some rules though: tomatoes aren’t quite right. Aubergines haven’t been successful in the past. And stay away from potatoes unless you’re into double carbs. Apart from that, the pan is your oyster.

Growing up the vegetables for this dinner would be chopped the night before and left in containers in the fridge, layered in the order they would need to hit the pan. Like all stir frys, you need to make sure you add the hardest vegetables first to get them cooking, so that it all cooks evenly.

This particular version featured carrots, cabbage, red peppers, onions, peas and mushrooms.

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Griddled Mediterranean Tofu with Vegetables

Now THIS is a recipe that will give you a hankering for summer. Long days, al fresco dining, BBQs wafting through the air… yes please! It feels like so long since we’ve had good weather but now we can see the sunshine again a bit more and it’s so exciting.

We’d usually be thinking of our summer holiday this time of year but with trying to buy a house this year it’s something we’re delaying so we can save, or at least go for a cheap last minute deal. So instead I’m living my summer vicariously through FOOD.

Nothing says summer like griddled vegetables, spicy harissa marinades, no siree. The leftovers also double up as a great lunch.

Don’t be put off by the slabs of tofu. The marinade makes it taste gorgeous and combination of pressing before griddling gives it a nice crisp texture, a bit like halloumi. Speaking of, you could trade the tofu for halloumi, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as healthy. 😉

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Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Fritters

I don’t know why I decided to make these on a Monday night, after a full day at work and a gym session, it just happened. I definitely didn’t think they’d take long to make, and truth be told they don’t, but it’s really hard to make a small amount of mix, and then you need to factor in cooking it all. This recipe made around 18 fritters.

These babies were the solution to a food problem: a lone, large cauliflower taking up too much space, and two sweet potatoes in the cupboard that just needed some love. I knew there must be a delicious way to combine cauliflower with sweet potato, and it turns out, it’s this. Keeping the mixture quite wet means that you get lovely crispy bits of potato that extend past the fritter itself making it almost like a baji. Alternatively if you wanted something more like a pancake you could keep adding more flour until you get a sticky consistency.

Make sure you have a good hour set aside, a decent food processor or grater and lots of cloths to wipe up with. Let’s get frittering!

 

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