Moroccan M’hanncha, Spiced Vegetables in a Pastry Casing

This looks a lot more complicated than it actually is.

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If there is ever a dish that I have struggled to photograph: it is this one right here. From the disasters I had rolling up pastry to the dilemma of how to make a blob of pastry look pretty: I’ve been through it all. The traditional m’hanncha spirals several times like a snake as you can see from the cookbook image, whilst mine looks more like a curled up sloth. However, I can assure you that for what my version of this dish lacks in aesthetics, it has in flavour.

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During my second attempt at this much beloved dish I miscalculated the amount of pastry I would need and let’s just say that the results left much more to be desired (see embarrassing photo below). Granted, the original recipe from Jamie Oliver had called for filo  pastry instead of puff pastry, I was clearly destined for failure. Nevertheless, this story is one of perseverance and you can tell from the other (less embarrassing) photos that I eventually prevailed.

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The combination of sweet dates and spicy veg works wonders and makes for an epic journey for your tastebuds. Everything is wrapped up in a crispy, flaky pastry crust and that just sends it right over the edge!

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Moroccan M’hanncha                                                                    Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

  • 1 and ½ cups of wild rice (can substitute quinoa, barley or brown rice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 red onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dates, soaked and deseeded
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (can substitute dried apricots)
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (optional)

Method:

  1. Start by cooking the wild rice according to the packet instructions. In this case, 1 and ½ cups of wild rice translates to 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Allow to steam for 10 minutes before using.
  2. Whilst the rice is cooking, add the olive oil, chilli flakes, cumin seeds and coriander to a large frying pan on medium-low heat and cook for 30 seconds or until the spices are fragrant. Throw in the butternut, onions, garlic and red peppers and stir to coat in the spices. Cook the vegetables with the lid on for about 20 minutes, or until the butternut is fork tender. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the dates finely add them to the vegetable pan with the cranberries and wild rice. Squeeze the lemon over the veg mix and stir to combine. Make sure to really mix everything together.
  4. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Dust a worktop with flour, you don’t want your pastry to be sticking to the counter! Roll out your puff pastry into a large rectangle that’s about 70cm × 30cm. Spread your filling in an even layer over the top of the pastry, leaving a ½ inch border. I recommend wetting your hands for the next part because we’re about to rolllllllll this up!
  5. Be careful with this part, as you’ve seen this can end in disaster. Carefully roll up the pastry into a long roll, being careful not to tear the pastry. As we are using puff pastry as opposed to the traditional filo roll, this is going to be a lot bulkier than the traditional m’hanncha. Curl the ends of the roll towards each other, if you can, try to get it to spiral like a snake. Th first time I made this, I was able to get 2 curls but the last time attempts haven’t been as successful…..
  6. Bake the pastry in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Slice and serve with the vegetable broth if desired, enjoy!
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Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma with Spinach Hummus

A flavour party in your mouth.

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Hello and welcome to the first recipe of 2018! Having survived my first year of college without a kitchen, I felt like I needed to take baby steps in the kitchen. You’d be surprised by how unsteady your hands can be when you haven’t handled a knife in ages.

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So here we are: right back at the basics. There’s nothing complicated here: just chopping some vegetables, making a marinade and handling a blender, surely I could get that right? If you want to go a step further, then you can make your own naan bread (which is precisely what I did) using this recipe.

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Quick rundown: you’ve got your brown sugar carrots, your curry roasted cauliflower and the creamy spinach hummus that ties it all together. This is a really weekday lunch idea, if you want you can roast some extra broccoli and have different variations of vegetables throughout the week! I can also see this as a post-workout meal, you’ve got to load up on all those healthy vegetables!

Roasted Vegetable Sheetpan Shawarma

Ingredients:

For the shawarma:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5-6 medium carrots
  • 250g cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced in half
  • 4 pieces of naan bread or 4 pita pockets

For the spinach hummus: 

  • 1×400g can of tinned chickpeas
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley, torn

Method:

  1. Start by preparing the vegetables. In a small bowl, toss together the olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon. Chop the carrots into sticks that are about an inch long. Toss the carrots and brown sugar mixture together, ensuring that the carrots are completely coated in the sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, throw together the vegetable oil, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and black pepper and stir to combine. Toss the cauliflower with this curry mixture and make sure that the cauliflower is completely coated in the mixture.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Lay the brown sugar carrots, curry cauliflower and sliced red onions in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Place the lemon halves on opposite ends of the sheetpan. Drizzle some olive oil over the vegetables and top with a crack of salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Whilst the veg are in the oven, combine all the ingredients for the spinach hummus in a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes. The texture should be smooth but slightly runny, closer to ricotta cheese.
  5. To assemble, spread the spinach hummus on the naan/pita and top with an assortment of the roasted vegetables. Squeeze some of the roasted lemon over the shawarma. Enjoy!

 

 

Broccoli & Lentil Curry

I honestly cannot understand people who hate broccoli.


Now hold on- give the poor vegetable a chance! Broccoli has been unfairly lumped with the most hated vegetables, amongst brussel sprouts, cauliflower and beetroot. All of these vegetables have redeemable qualities; except you beetroot, you’re absolutely hopeless.


I find that the reason why people hate these vegetables is often not because of the way the vegetable tastes but the way that it is prepared. Broccoli is often steamed until it becomes a mushy lump of green slime. I’m here to show you that broccoli doesn’t need to be steamed into submission, it can be thrown into a curry just before serving, left to soften and absorb the flavours of the curry and come out tasting fantastico! Don’t believe me, just give this recipe a try.

 

Broccoli & Lentil Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • a cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1×14 oz tin of coconut milk
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 200g chopped broccoli florets
  • 200g chopped green beans
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional for serving: chopped peanuts, fresh parsley, naan bread, jasmine rice, squeeze of lemon juice

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large non-stick saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and the cinnamon stick. Fry the onions on high until starting to turn golden brown.
  2. Add the curry paste and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes or until the tomato paste is starting to caramelise; you’ll be able to tell by the browning of the tomato paste on the edges and the smell of the curry. Slowly pour in the coconut milk, stirring whilst you do so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the curry is too spicy then add more coconut milk.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil before adding the lentils and reducing the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are cooked- they should be soft but not firm to the bite. Throw in the broccoli and green beans and stir to coat in the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. If you find that the curry is too thick for the broccoli then add ½ cup of water to loosen it up.
  4. Just before serving, stir the garam masala and lemon juice through the curry and season one last time with salt and pepper. Serve hot with some warm naan and jasmine rice- enjoy!

Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

In case you were wondering what I brought back from Switzerland, it was a bunch of cheese.


Seriously, there’s a pound of Gruyère in my fridge. As I type this post, I have to restrict myself from running to the kitchen to sneak a bite. Naturally, I would want to dump it all on top of my pasta and drown in the calorific goodness. That’s what this recipe is all about, it’s a comfy one pot winter meal. I chose to transfer my pasta into a baking dish just to make it easier to transfer to a friend’s house. You could make this all in one pot and save yourself the washing up!


If you’re looking to try out more pasta dishes, check out the Pasta category on the blog. A few of my favorites include this INSANE pasta sauce, this One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake and this Butternut Squash and Kale Ravioli




Gruyère Spinach Tortellini Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1×14 oz can tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
  • 300g uncooked tortellini (I used spinach + ricotta but you can use any of your choice)
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and if using a baking dish, grease lightly with some butter. Alternatively, you can bake the tortellini directly in the skillet, thus making it a one pot meal.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large cast iron pot and fry the onions on high heat until translucent. Add the basil, rosemary, basil and oregano to the pot. Stir to coat the onions in the dried herbs. Throw in the minced garlic and toss with a wooden spoon until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Throw in the tortellini and toss to coat in the sauce. Add the chopped spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted, remove from heat. If using a baking dish, transfer the tortellini and sauce to the baking dish. Top with the grated mozzarella and grated Gruyère.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling adn the cheese is a deep golden brown. Serve hot! If desired, top with some fresh basil and grated Parmesan. Throw in some crusty bread and white wine and you’ve got a winning dinner!

Cosy One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake

Yes I know, this one is a mouthful.

But hear me out about this one: it will be one of the most, if not the most delicious dinner you will have this year. And for the amount of effort that goes into it, it’s almost unbelievable how delectable it is.  


Everything gets thrown in one pot and left to simmer and in 30 minutes you have a winning dinner. This was my first attempt at homemade vegan cheese, and it could not have gone better. I’ve linked the recipe that I used below, I really think that it’s worth the effort! It’s simple, cashews are soaked overnight and then blended with nutritional yeast, garlic and fresh herbs. The texture is similar to that of a cream cheese dip, and the flavour is simply outstanding. 


I paired this with a sweet white wine; one of the perks about vegetarianism is not having to rely on the meat dish for the choice of wine. I’m sure there are several other nuances that go into this decision such as the amount of spice in the dish and the richness of the sauce but I’m going to go with what feels good. Sometimes food doesn’t have to have restrictions, its all about what makes your tummy happy. This dish definitely makes my tummy happy!



Cosy One Pot Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1×14 oz can of tinned tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 400g farfalle pasta, uncooked (you can substitute any other short pasta like tortellini, rigatoni, macaroni or fusilli)
  • ¼ cup spinach pesto, homemade or storebought
  • ¼ cup vegan ricotta (this is a good recipe)
  • Optional for serving: fresh basil, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, glass of white wine, crusty bread

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Fry the onions and mushrooms until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot. Stir to combine, making sure the tomato paste has dissolved, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta to the pot and stir well to ensure that the pasta is submerged in liquid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Stir the pot occasionally, if the pasta is not yet done and the sauce is close to burning then pour in ½ cup of vegetable stock or water. When the pasta is done, the sauce should be very thick.
  3. Drop tablespoons of spinach pesto and ricotta over the top of the pasta bake. Cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with some nutritional yeast and fresh basil. Leftovers will keep well if tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 4 days.

 

Hearty One Pot Vegetable Stew

It’s been a while since I’ve made a comfy, stay-at-home-and-put-your-feet-up kind of stew. That’s exactly what this is for.


It’s just a simple, no-fuss recipe, where everything on the ingredient list should already be in your pantry. This is really a clearing-the-fridge type of dinner, meant to get rid of all those unsavoury veggies sitting at the back of the pantry.


It’s the kind of dinner you make when you’re exhausted after work. Anything can go in here: potatoes, mushrooms, parsley even. If you’re feeling a bit sneaky then you could even add a glass of red wine to the pot (I won’t tell) or a cup of Guinness beer to really jazz it up.


Hearty Irish-Style Vegetable Stew 

Ingredients

  • 1 and ½ yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped roughly
  • 100g tomato paste (about 4 tbsp)
  • 750ml vegetable stock (3 cups)
  • ¾ cup dry brown/red lentils
  • ¾ cup split green peas
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Method

  1. Heat some oil in the bottom of a large cast iron pot. Fry the onions until soft and are just starting to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and carrots and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes, or until darkened considerably, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn. Pour in the vegetable stock and add the lentils and split green peas. Stir to combine everything, the tomato paste should have dissolved in the stock and the lentils and peas should be completely submerged. Add the oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary and cayenne pepper. Season again with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat and allowing to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add another cup of stock or water if the stew gets too thick and is at risk of burning.
  3. Once the pulses have cooked, taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Give the pot a good stir before serving. This is best served on top of some steaming mashed potatoes or rice. Enjoy!

 

 

Thai Basil Cauliflower

Need an easy vegan dinner option? Look no further muchacho.

 It does not get easier with this one. Saute some veg, throw in a couple of spices, pour in the liquid and you’re done! Don’t let my meagre list of vegetables stop you, the sky is the limit! Throw in some mushrooms here, a leek there or some capiscum here. The only rule is to keep it colourful; that’s what makes this dish fun!

Whenever I’m feeling lazy or just having a bleh day, this dish comes to the rescue. My bed is only lonely for the 15 minutes that it takes to prepare this dish and come running back!

Thai Basil Cauliflower                                                                                    serves 2 

Ingredients

  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
  • 100g sugar snap peas
  • 200g cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (or honey if not vegan)
  • ¼ cup vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup Thai basil, chopped loosely
  • optional add ins: a squeeze of lime, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, crack of pepper

Method

  1. Heat a small saucepan on high heat and add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry until the onion is soft and the garlic and ginger are very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
  2. Add the carrots, peas and cauliflower and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the soy sauce and fish sauce before adding the brown sugar. Stir to coat the vegetables and cook until reduced to a syrup, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the vegetable stock and throw in the Thai basil. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low and covering the pot with a lid. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced. Serve immediately on top of rice or noodles.