Stuffed, baked Lumaconi pasta

Alas the only picture of this dish would be of two empty plates smeared with sauce and watched over by two burping, sated diners. It looks nice and it tastes great and if you want to see what it looks like then get off the computer and get into the kitchen. Now dammit!

This needs to be baked in a lidded dish large enough to lay out the pasta at the bottom of the dish. Assume 6 pieces of pasta for each person and test the dish size by laying out the right amount of pasta straight from the packet.

Ingredients (Serves two as a main meal)

  • 1 tin chick peas (or approx 2.5 cups of home cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • Lumaconi pasta or other large pasta that can be stuffed. About 6 pieces each
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • half a cup of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 large zuchinni
  • 1 medium onion, crushed (put it through the garlic press. WARNING – onion juice squirted in your eye hurts)
  • 3 to 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbl spn light miso
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 to 2 cups of water or stock
  • olive oil
  • 1 tspn paprika
  • 1/2 tspn smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tspn cumin
  • 1/2 tspn cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • cracked pepper
  • tamari sauce
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves

Method

  • Lightly saute the chickpeas in a closed saucepan with a splash of olive oil with the garlic, onion, paprikas, cumin, and cayenne. Take off the heat and mash. Add a generous splash of tamari and the carrot, mix thoroughly and set aside until cool enough to handle the mix
  • While the chickpea mix is cooling pour a generous splash of olive oil in the bottom of the baking dish. Put the oven on to warm. Chop the eggplant and zuchinni into large chunks. Chop the celery and the herbs, have a glass of wine, go feed a bird some seeds and whistle to them a bit. They’ll think you’re mad and pity you for not having wings but the gift of some seed to eat will see you good.
  • Stuff the Lumaconi pasta with the chickpea mix and lay out the pasta at the bottom of the oiled baking dish. If there is any mix remaining just add to the dish.
  • Top the pasta with the chopped herbs and the bay leaves
  • Add the zuchinni, eggplant, and chopped celery. Add the miso and a generous grind of pepper
  • Cover with the tomatoes
  • Add the wine and water/stock
  • Bake covered in a prewarmed medium oven for about an hour. Check about the 40 minute mark to make sure it is not drying out. If so add more water/stock.

 

Courgette and Aubergine Stroganoff

A very hearty tomato stew, thickened by cashew cream. Is it Stroganoff? Strictly not of course, but then again sometimes a close brush with reality is all we need to anchor ourselves to the thin crust of sanity.

The day this dish entered our damaged and seemingly deranged world the overnight air had frozen the heavy dew on the roof at Ridgesong and long, thin tongues of ice slid off the eves as the morning sun broke weakly threw the heavy mist. Brrr….. At that, my little lovely, is what a fire is for!

Serve with Garlic Bread. Enough for two for a hearty stomach full.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium courgettes
  • 1 medium aubergine
  • a fistful of green beans
  • 1 small onion
  • lashes of garlic
  • 1 tin tomatoes, or equivalent of fresh
  • 1 medium red capsicum (roasted)
  • a BIG dab of sweet miso
  • some white wine
  • about 1/2 litre of stock
  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked for at least four hours in a cup of boiled water
  • 1 cup of chickpeas
  • lots of rosemary from the garden, chopped
  • lots of parsley from the garden, chopped
  • 2 to 3 tspns of hot cayenne
  • 4 to 5 tspns of sweet paprika
  • 1 tspn of smoked paprika
  • 1 tspn of ground black pepper
  • 1 tspn of ground cumin
  • a generous pour of olive oil

To make:

  • wizz the cashews with the liquid to cashew cream and reserve
  • Barmix the onion, garlic, tomatoes, capsicum, miso, and wine. Use some of the stock too if needed
  • chop the aubergine, courgette, and beans into big chunks
  • lightly saute the spices to release the flavours
  • add the vegetables, chickpeas, herbs, wine, stock, and sauce
  • simmer for hours on a low heat (preferably on top of the lovely warm fireplace). The vegetables should be well cooked but not mushed
  • stir through the cashew cream
  • serve with garlic bread and red wine

Recipe: Anna Jones’ Four colours of portable picnic dips

Each of these easy dips use tinned pulses as a base. They all follow the same formula: once you get the hang of the ratios, you can experiment and try different flavour combinations. They each follow the same basic method.

Prep 20 min
Serves 4

Easy hummus
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin chickpeas
Garlic: 1 small clove
Tahini: 1 tbsp
Citrus: Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Liquid: 4 tbsp olive oil, 100ml ice water
Top with: olive oil, toasted and bashed coriander seeds, lemon zest, pul biber (Turkish chilli flakes)

Black bean and cumin hummus
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin black beans
Garlic: 1 small clove
Tahini: 1 tbsp black tahini
Citrus: Juice of 2 limes
Liquid: 4 tbsp olive oil, 200ml ice water
Top with: black sesame seeds, toasted cumin seeds

Summer herbs butterbean dip
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin butter beans
Garlic: ½ small clove
Liquid: 4 tbsp olive oil, 150ml ice water
Citrus: Juice of 1 lemon
Top with: more herbs, olive oil

Pink cannellini and beetroot dip
Pulse: 1 x 400g tin cannellini beans
Garlic: 1 small clove
Liquid: 200g cooked beetroot, drained and pureed
Tahini: 1 tbsp
Citrus: Juice of ½ lemon and ½ orange
Liquid: 200g cooked beetroot, drained and pureed
Top with: orange and lemon zest, sliced radishes

Put the drained tin of pulses, garlic, tahini (if using) and citrus juice and zest (if using) into a food processor and blitz smooth, adding the oil/water/beetroot bit by bit until you have a creamy dip. Add your toppings, then serve with raw vegetables, crackers and flatbread for dipping.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jun/18/anna-jones-recipes-puy-lentil-picnic-salad-dips#img-1

Sweet potato and rice burger

Oh dear…the Bloody Bonza Bucketty Beetroot and Bean Burgers did not pass muster from the tough judges running the Inaugural Mangrove Country Fair Veggie Burger Taste Test.

Head Taster Shrek saying “I really, really liked the flavour, quite a meaty consistency if I can use that word, and they held together pretty well.” Cheeky and Mrs Shrek however expressed their concern over the colour “I just don’t understand why any vegetarian would want a burger that looks so red – its like meat. Veggie burgers needs something green in them”.

The killer however was the case of shall we say “bottom burps” that all the tasters were afflicted with afterwards. Personally I don’t get this….the 4B burgers have been made and eaten quite a few times in the VegHead household and we can’t report any subsequent windy-pant problem. However we’ll settle for the judge’s final word in this and so we’re submitting another entrant: Sweet potato and rice burgers.

For the putting in:

  • 1 large potato, peeled and quartered
  • Sweet potato to approximately the same size, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1/3 cup of dry rice, cooked to just beyond al dente
  • 2/3 cup of oats, ground to flour – not quick cook oats (to make these gluten free follow the same advice as in the 4B recipe)
  • 2/3 cup of cooked chickpeas, roughly mashed
  • 2/3 cup of green peas (either frozen, or if using fresh blanch first)
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of dried mixed Italian herbs
  • 2 tablespoons of tamari
  • Olive oil
  • NB: For those looking to use this recipe for catering size proportions, such as we did for the Mangrove Mountain Country Fair and the Gasfield Free Mountain Districts Declaration, base all ingredient amounts on using 1kg each of sweet potato, potato, (uncooked) rice, oats and frozen peas. You can expect about 60 generously sized burgers from such a mix – which each burger formed into a ball a little smaller than a tennis ball. When making such a large mixture I have found it to be best to mix the peas through the cooked rice, and mash everything else together separately. Refrigerate both mixes overnight in covered containers. Fork the rice/pea mix to separate then combine everything in a large container (or split the mixes into equal portions and do in batches if need be). There is no better way to evenly combine such a large quantity than to just do it with your hands.

To prepare:

Boil the potato and sweet potato until soft, then drain and mash.

Meanwhile, saute the onion over a medium heat in a generous amount of olive oil until transparent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds, then add the spices (not the herbs) and continue for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Mash together the potatoes, sweet potatoes, herbs, onion/garlic/spice mix, oat flour, tamari. Once mixed add the cooked rice and the peas, and thoroughly mix by hand or with a spoon until completely combined.

Cover and refrigerate the mix for at least 2 hours before forming patties.

Cook patties in a cast iron pan until crisp on both sides.

Patties can be frozen uncooked, once formed separated by squares of waxed paper. Uncooked mix should keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Handy Tip: When forming veggie patties use an “egg ring” to get a good tight burger and also ensure even sizing. Form a ball of mix (experience will show how much you’ll need) and press tightly into the ring using palm or a flat spatula. Lift off the ring before cooking. You can either do this directly into the pan, or if preparing for later cooking form the patties in this manner onto the waxed paper. If a wider, thinner burger is desired to suit the size of the bun then squash the pattie as it cooks, just before turning it over to cook the other side.

Penne Pasta Bake

It’s not spaghetti tempehgnese. It’s not lasagne. It is pasta based though – and it cooks in the oven (mostly). Woo hoo…it’s Penne Pasta Bake.

Here’s who you need to bring to the party:

  • 1 cup of uncooked penne
  • Half a medium aubergine, chopped into large chunks
  • Half a medium cauliflower, separated into large florets
  • One small onion; halved into hemispheres then quartered and separated (basically you want big chunks)
  • More garlic than is socially acceptable; roughly chopped.
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite (destoned) olives
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup of marinated artichokes (if whole artichokes then cut them into quarters))
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked chick peas (or a standard sized can)
  • A spring of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • A small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Ground black pepper
  • Miso (or your favourite vegetable stock)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine (plus extra for you)
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup of capers (optional)

Here’s what you know you want to do:

Start preheating the oven (220c) and while doing so lightly toast the pine nuts (now this will challenge your multi-tasking skills won’t it!?! There is nothing quite as disappointing as singed pine nuts)

Cook the penne according to the manufacturer’s instructions but for half the time.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic over a low heat in an ocean of olive oil. At the last moment add the pepper then remove from heat.

Throw the cooked mix into a deep, lidded oven-proof pot (take the lid off first or you’ll make an awful mess).

Add the parsley and rosemary.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain about a cup of the liquid back into the saucepan you cooked the onion etc in and reserve the rest of the liquid. Add the miso to the saucepan and dissolve in the cup of pasta water and the white wine.

Layer in to the oven proof dish in the following order; the pasta, the fresh herbs, the aubergine, the chickpeas, the olives, artichokes and sundried tomatoes (and chopped capers if using) and the cauliflower.

Pour the miso stock over and then drizzle very generously with olive oil.

The level of the water should be a centimetre or two below the cauliflower i.e. the florets should be exposed. If you need more liquid to achieve this level use some of the reserved pasta water; discard what you don’t need.

Bake, covered for 30-45 minutes.

Just before serving mix through the pine nuts (no…I hadn’t forgotten them!)

Handy Tip

For the first 15 minutes after putting the meal in the oven crank the temperature up, I mean really crank it. This will get the party started (especially if you’ve had a few glasses of that white wine) and much reduce overall cooking time. After 15-20 minutes reduce the heat to 220c. A gentle word of advice from experience; much sadness results from forgetting to turn the over down from FURNACE and back to 220c.

 

Greek Moussaka

I found this recipe a while ago, and bookmarked it.  I knew that one day soon I would think to myself, hmmm, I feel like cooking something different today.  And today was the day.  I am often happy to cook meals that I have cooked many times before, as they involve little thought, unlike Veghead, who much prefers something new and exciting to come from the kitchen.  The original recipe I found on the blog of Carol J. Adams, who was given the recipe by Shirley Wilkes-Johnson, apparently a vegan who had been around for a very long time.  I changed the recipe around a little bit, due to our preferences, and reduced the amounts significantly as there were only two of us eating it, not ten.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large eggplant, stem end cut off and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 medium potatoes, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 tab extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium chopped onion
  • 1 inch slice of red capsicum, chopped
  • 120g mushrooms, chopped or quartered
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup passata (recipe called for 1 tab tomato paste but we didn’t have any)
  • here the recipe calls for 1 package ground beef style veggie meat (I have no idea how much that is as the recipe is American). I used chickpeas, 1 or 1 1/2 cups, which are yum, unlike the sound of that fake meat.
  • 2 tabs fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tspn cumin powder
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1/4 tspn black pepper
  • 1/8 tspn each cinnamon and nutmeg

Bechamel sauce ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tabs cornstarch
  • a couple of thin slices of onion, finely chopped (the recipe called for powdered onion, but why would you bother)
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1/8 tspn pepper

What to do:

Preheat oven to 204.4 repeater degrees celsius (this is the metric conversion of 400 fahrenheit).  205 degrees is probably OK.  Place the eggplant and potato slices on well oiled baking trays and brush them with more oil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

While the eggplant and potatoes are roasting, sauté onions, capsicum and mushrooms in olive oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or so.

Stir in tomatoes and passata until mixed.  Add chickpeas and the herbs and spices.

In an oiled baking dish, add a layer of eggplant slices, then a layer of potato slices.  Add a layer of the chickpea mixture then cover with potato slices, then the rest of the eggplant slices.

To make the Béchamel sauce, blend all the ingredients together and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  Pour sauce over eggplant.

Bake at 176.667 degrees celsius for about 30 to 35 minutes.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers are good the next day.  This statement is actually written in the recipe but I think that is so obvious that it doesn’t need to be said at all.

Golden cauliflower in a glorious sea green bed of ginger spinach

Your powers of multitasking will be required to create this dish of two stir fries. The cauliflower takes a little longer to cook, as the spinach is just being wilted, so start that cooking first. The golden colour comes from a mixture of powdered turmeric, as well as some grated fresh turmeric root.

In the golden cauliflower…

  • half a red onion – roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 3 cm length of turmeric root – grated using a ginger root grater
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of spanish smoked paprika
  • olive oil for frying
  • Saute all ingredients together in a heavy based pan – should take between 5 and 10 minutes

In the glorious sea green spinach…

  • a generous colander full of washed and well drained spinach leaves
  • a generous handful of green beans – topped and tailed and halved
  • a cup of chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 4cm length of ginger root – grated
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • a splash of tamari
  • olive oil for frying
  • In a large wok, saute everything. Start with the garlic, cumin, mushrooms, and beans, cooking these on their own for about 1 minute. Add everything else and toss to ensure even mixing

Serve, with the spinach arranged in a ring around the plate, and the golden cauliflower in the centre. Squeeze half a lime lightly over the meals before serving.

TGV Pumpkin soup

Travelling to Cannes last week on the train, The VegHead knew that the rail buffet sarnies would be as edible as a monkey’s earlobe. The day before travelllng, this soup was made, then warmed up again just before leaving and poured into a thermos.

Paris never seemed as welcoming…

In…

  • 1/2 cup of chopped pumpkin – boiled til soft
  • 1/2 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 teaspoon of Berbere paste
  • olive oil
  • water

Do…

  • lightly saute the chick peas with the paste
  • mash the chick peas with a fork
  • blend the cooked pumpkin with some water, to your desired soupy consistency
  • mix through the mashed chickpeas
  • take the train to Cannes. Take some pita bread with you. Go to the buffet car when you’re hungry and ask for a large waxed paper cup to pour the hot soup into. Watch the fellow passengers eating vending machine sandwiches and feel superior.

Broad bean hommous

SheWhoMustBeFed fffzzzzzz’d up the pressure cooker today, so it was the VegHead’s duty to follow up with some hommous. Unfortunately, SheWhoMustBefed was doing three batches of beans; adzuki, chickpea and butter beans. The adzuki beans got done first, leaving The VegHead with an hour before having anything to do as the chickpeas weren’t ready.

How to pass the time?

Fiddle…fiddle……fiddle…..

Decided to lightly saute the garlic and cumin for the hommous.

Then had time to think and so decide to use half and half chickpeas and broad beans.

Fortunately by then the chick peas were ready!

What went in…

  • half a cup of cooked chick peas
  • half a cup of blanched broad beans
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • olive oil
  • french walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Doing….

  • very lightly saute the garlic and cumin in a little olive oil
  • blend / bamix everything together

Its a hing thing

Hing is the Indian name for asofetida, which together with a big, fat, grated root of fresh turmeric is the spice that gives the most to the flavour of this chick pea curry. Many recipes have asofetida thrown in to the hot oil at the beginning of cooking, together with the other dried spices and chillies. However The VegHead finds that its flavour is overcome and lost if this is done, and prefers instead to sprinkle a little in once most of the cooking has been done.

Friday’s are the principal shopping day for the VegHead larder, and so Thursday nights tend to be “whatever is left” night. A shiny black-skinned aubergine begged to be eaten, and a pile of orange sweet potatoes just cried out to be culled somewhat. These, together with the big jar of chick peas in the fridge formed the basis for dinner.

The Thursday night larder:

  • 1 medium aubergine – cubed
  • 1 medium sweet potato – cubed
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 small onion – diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – chopped
  • 1 chilli – chopped
  • 1 thumb sized turmeric root (substitute 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder if unavailable)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • small pinch of fenugreek seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon of asofetida powder
  • 1 tablespoon of miso (or substitute vegetable stock)
  • sunflower oil
  • water
  • corn flour (or other thickening agent)

To do:

  • dry roast the spice seeds for 10 minutes or so, then grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle
  • roughly mash the chick peas with a “potato masher”
  • fry the dried spices, chilli, onion and garlic over a low heat for a few minutes (if using powdered turmeric add at this stage too)
  • add the chick peas, sweet potato, and aubergine. Mix thoroughly and cook covered over a low heat for several minutes
  • add the tomato and miso, and enough water to cover. Bring to a steady, low simmer and maintain until the sweet potato and aubergine are tender but not mushy
  • if using fresh turmeric root, grate and add now (best to only grate fresh turmeric root just before using or it browns quickly through oxidisation). Also add the asofetida powder. Simmer for another few minutes.
  • thicken the sauce. The easiest way to do this is to scoop out the vegetables into a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving just the sauce in the pan (off the heat). Then spoon out a little of the sauce into a small bowl, add a little corn flour, and mix all the lumps out with a fork. Then add the corn flour mix back into the rest of the sauce in the pan, and mix through thoroughly over a low heat. Then add the vegetables back in. This might sound fussy but it ensures a lump-free thickening experience at the expense of two extra bowls and a slotted spoon in the washing up.
  • bring the saucepan back to a low simmer
  • serve with rice or idli

Chick Pea and Brinjal with tumeric and methi leaves

This recipe relies pretty heavily on you having some fresh Turmeric Root. Though turmeric root is the source of the more common dried turmeric powder, it has a subtly different flavour. Turmeric root should is best grated on a ceramic ginger grater, just before you need to add it to the dish – it oxidises very quickly and then the bright orange turns a rusty brown.

The act of grating turmeric root is also recommended for anyone who wishes to go to an X-Files themed fancy dress party as The Cancer Man. It is incredibly staining, and even if you immediately wash your hands your finger tips will be left with an orange tinge reminiscent of a 2 pack a day habit for a day or so. It is quite a cheerful colour actually and will serve as a happy remembrance of a lovely meal even as you sit the next day in yet another interminable business meeting getting a numb arse, and an earache from all the corporate nonspeak.

Ingredients:

  • a small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 baby brinjal (aubergine), cut into thin wedges. It is best not to cut the brinjal until just before you need it, as the cut flesh quickly oxidises and turns brown.
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of dried black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 3 cardamom (seed) pods
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 6-7cm (approx) long turmeric root, grated
  • 1 cm (approx) of ginger root, grated
  • tablespoon of light miso paste (or similar vegetable stock source)
  • 1 cup (approx) of methi leaves
  • (up to) 1 cup of water
  • vegetable oil

Zee making:

  • de-pod the cardamom seeds from the pods, and then dry roast together with all the other dried spice seeds for 5-10 minutes. Then grind to a course powder in a mortar and pestle.
  • saute the spices, together with the onion
  • add the chickpeas, tomatoes, miso paste, garlic, grated ginger and water and simmer for ten minutes on a low flame
  • add the brinjal and the grated turmeric root continue to simmer for a minute or two. The brinjal should best be still a little crunchy. Simmer longer however if that is not to your taste.
  • stir through the methi leaves and serve

* Image of turmeric root sourced gratefully from www.food-info.net

A superior Morrocan Hommous

Subtle variety is the reason that the masses trawl happily up and down the aisles of the supermarket, dazzled by the almost endless variations of milk, bread, snacks. This then is “Superior Moroccan Hommous” – as opposed to “Lesser Not-Moroccan Hommous”.

Bushra tells it like it is, “Hommous should not be made with tahini. All these people, they put tahini in their hommous. Is no good. Makes you feel urgh-agh-ugh-ugh [for full effect, clutch your stomach and try to look as bloated as possible at this point]. These Greek people, these Lebanese, these whatever, they don’t know that they are doing. Not like that in Morocco. We make the best hommous. No tahini. Chick peas….yes. Olive oil…yes. Garlic…yes.A pinch of cumin…yes. And it must be Morrocan cumin, not tthat terrible Indian cumin! A pinch of salt. Lemon juice. Blend and blend until smooth. More olive oil if you need, more lemon juice if you need.”

Bushra might just be ever so slightly opinionated on this topic. She is however right that this variation makes for a lighter hommous.

Ffffsssssst

Ffffsssssst….That’s the sound I can hear from downstairs.

SheWhoMustBeFed is doing her weekly task of pressure-cooking up a weeks worth of dried beans. This is a once a week task that provides all the beans in whatever we then cook. Almost every week we pressure-cook up a batch each of chick peas, butter beans, and one other.

The first two are staples in a number of other recipes that we cook every week (not that I’ve posted anything with butter beans in it yet but by the end of this week I will have). The latter we change depending on what we’ll be cooking later; haricot, kidney, black, adzuki, black-eyed….

This process is much cheaper than buying precooked tinned beans, and comes with a lower “footprint” than using the more heavily pre-processed and packaged tins.

Moral: pressure cookers are your best friend (OK…a Bamix is your best friend who you see every day and a pressure cooker is like your other best friend who you only see once a week but who is a uniquely wonderful and useful person to know)

Hommous…Hommos…Hummus…its all just chickpea paste to me

The basic ingredients of hommous are something I’ve known for a while. Recently I have however discovered “the trick” that suddenly made for a much more evenly blended and light consistency.

What you need

  • A lemon
  • Light tahini
  • One clove of garlic
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Chick peas
  • (Optional) chopped parsley

What to do

Here’s “the trick”….what I used to do was blend up the chickpeas first and then add everything else. The resulting hommous was OK, but it could have been smoother IMHO. So then I thought….” Hhmm…..Tahini Sauce has almost the same ingredients as hommous only without the chickpeas…..I wonder…..”

As an aside; if you’ve never made Tahini Sauce then here’s what happens: When you blend tahini, water and lemon the mixture first gets amazingly gooey and then as you add just a l-i-i-i-i-ttle bit more water it suddenly changes consistency and becomes more a mousse consistency. You have to see this happen to understand the change.

So….blend in this order:

  • half a lemon worth of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • (optional) a few sprigs of chopped parsley
  • water (until it gets the mousse texture). At this point the mixture should be slightly “wet” as the chickpeas will then thicken the mixture.
  • THEN….add and blend the cooked chickpeas until the mixture thickens to the desired consistency – I figure you’ve all bought ready-made-hommous so you know what you’re aiming for. Remember that after refridgeration the mixture will thicken slightly.

Chick Pea and Beetroot tagine

Beetroot is a misunderstood thing. Gorgeously purple. and almost the entire plant is edible….but more on that at another time. Seeing as today we had potatoes at lunchtime (see “Roast Potato and Onion Soup) then it seemed too-much-of-a-good-thing to have a starchy vegetable at dinner time. Hence…beetroot.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium beets. Top and tail, scrub and segment into smallish wedges
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (“garbanzo beans” if you’re a seppo)
  • 1 small onion. Thinly sliced.
  • 1 clove of garlic. Chopped.
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin powder.
  • 2 teaspoons of ground pepper.
  • Olive oil.
  • Sesame oil.
  • 2 tablespoons of light tahini.
  • Water.

What to do..

  • Preheat oven (I also put the empty tagine in straight away to begin to heat, while I get on with the preparation. As it is very heavy pottery it takes a long time for the tagine container itself to come to heat, and until it does the food inside is not cooking one little bit. Preheating the tagine can save you 30 minutes cooking time later)
  • Combine all ingredients except for the sesame oil into a tagine. If you don’t have a tagine then use any covered baking tray that is about 30cms in diameter.
  • Add water until the level is about 1cm below the edge of your tagine.
  • Bake on high for 45 minutes to 60 minutes
  • Lightly drizzle on the sesame oil before serving

Nice with couscous (or other grain), or some steamed vegetables.