Thai style lentil soup

Thai_LentiL_Soup

I made this soup out of  the normal ‘base’ vegetables and what I had available. Hence no fresh coriander, which I would have added at the end, if I had had some. This quantity will feed 2-3 people:

  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced)
  • 1 celery stick (sliced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (sliced/roughly chopped)
  • 1 large chilli (green or red: cored, deseeded and chopped)
  • 2 pieces of dried lemongrass (chopped)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (crumbled)
  • 2 generous teaspoons of Thai curry paste (green or red)
  • 50g creamed coconut (the hard block sort, crumbled)
  • 200g good quality tinned of chopped tomatoes (ie 1/2 a tin)
  • 800 ml water
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (or stock cube equivalent)
  • 120g red split lentils (washed under the cold tap in a sieve)
  • 1 bundle of fine rice noodles (c. 60g)
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lime

Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chilli, lemon grass and the kaffir lime leaves. Mix the ingredients well, turn down the heat and stir frequently over a lowish heat for about five minutes.

Add the curry paste, creamed coconut (crumble in), chopped tomatoes, water, stock powder and the lentils. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for about thirty minutes.

Blend the soup – in a liquidiser, food processor, or use a hand blender (my preference because it is so much easier to clean than a liquidiser or food processor) in the saucepan.

Break up the noodles and stir into the soup. Heat the soup until it just starts to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lime juice and grated zest. At this point the soup is very thick. You can add some cold water which will reduce the overall temperature so that it can be eaten immediately (if you are freezing it, the thick soup saves space).

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Torta di spinaci e riso

TortaSpinaciRiso-tile

One reason for making this, is that Rachel Roddy said in her column in the Guardian’s Cook Supplement on 30 January 2016 (which provides the recipe on which this is based), “Italy is where … leftovers really do still rule, helping cooking feel like a continuum” – has she been reading my blog?

Anyway, I also needed to use most of a 260g bag of spinach leftover from a stir-fry. Enough for 3 people:

  • 200g spinach
  • 125g risotto rice
  • small onion (finely chopped)
  • 20g butter
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 40g parmesan (grated)
  • black pepper to taste
  • oil (to brush the cake tin)
  • 1 heaped tbsp bread crumbs

Quickly wilt the spinach in a hot pan. Remove it to a plate, allow to cool, and snip into smaller pieces with scissors.

Cook the rice in boiling water and drain.

Heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion very gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Brush a cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a little oil and dust with the bread crumbs.

Heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).

Mix together the spinach, rice, onion and parmesan, and then mix in the beaten egg and add black pepper. Place the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing the top with a spoon.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I served mine with roasted baby plum tomatoes.

 

Lentil and bulgur pilaf

This is based on an Ottolenghi recipe, which he suggests is one of the ultimate comfort foods. My version contains far less oil and butter, but still seems fairly comforting to me. Enough for 2 people as a main meal.

  • 5 tbsp olive oil;Lentil&bulgar_Pilaf
  • 1 aubergine (cut into 2cm dice);
  • 60g bulgur;
  • 70g green lentils (rinsed);
  • Bay leaf;
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds;
  • 1 medium onion (chopped);
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed);
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric;
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice;
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon;
  • 170ml water;
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds;
  • 1 tbsp raisins;
  • Zest of half a lemon (grated);
  • 15g butter;
  • Black pepper;
  • Lemon juice to taste;
  • Fresh coriander;
  • Greek yogurt (to serve on the side).

Mix 3 tbsp of oil with the diced aubergine. Spread the aubergine on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180C (Gas mark 4), until browned and nearly cooked though.

Meanwhile, cook the lentils with the bay leaf on plenty of water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 12 minutes and drain (they should be al dente).

At the same time, heat the remaining oil in a large oven proof, lidded casserole, and cook the cumin seeds for about 1 minute. Turn down the heat, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, allspice and cinnamon, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the bulgur and the water, bring to the boil, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the aubergines, lentils, almonds, raisins, lemon zest and butter, and season with black pepper. Place in the oven at 160C (Gas Mark 3), and bake for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are just becoming soft.

Stir in lemon juice to taste, and serve sprinkled with coriander and a portion of Greek yogurt.

 

Green lentil stew

Lentil_Stew_Tile

I made a large batch of this, which provided:

  • 1 portion with added kale (cooked for 3 minutes in the stew);
  • 2 portions of pancakes (with 4 large pancakes, bechamel sauce, and grated parmesan; baked for about 25 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4);
  • 2 portions of ‘shepherds’ pie (with mashed potato); baked for about 25 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4).

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 large carrot (chopped)
  • 2 sticks celery (chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (cored, deseeded and chopped)
  • 150g mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • A large pinch of dried oregano
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 120g green lentils
  • 400ml vegi-stock
  • Black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery and red pepper, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Turn up the heat, and stir in the mushrooms and garlic, and stir-cook for two minutes.

Stir in the oregano, tomatoes, lentils and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are cooked. Season with black pepper to taste.

If not all used immediately, allow to cool and store in the fridge (using within the next few days).

Pork and lentils

This is adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe (from Real Food). Great to eat on a cold day. Enough for 2 people:

  • 3 rashers of unsmoked streaky bacon (cut into short, thin strips)NS_Pork&Sausage
  • 250g pork belly (cut into 2 cm cubes)
  • 3 spicy pork sausages
  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 300ml chicken stock (made with a 1/2 stock cube)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 100g green lentils
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Chopped parsley

Gently cook the bacon in a large saucepan or cast iron casserole. When the fat begins to run, increase the heat and add the pork, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown. Remove the meat, leaving any fat behind (you may need to cook the pork in batches).

Add the sausages to the pan, brown them lightly and remove.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook very gently for about 10 or more minutes, until they are soft and golden.

Add the sausages, bacon and pork to the pan, together with the stock, the (whole) sprigs of thyme and the bayleaf. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the lentils and simmer for a further 40 minutes, or until both the lentils and pork are cooked.

Season with black pepper and lemon juice and serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Green pea soup

This is looks good (it’s a lovely green colour) and is quick to make. Serves 2:

  • 1 tbsp oilPea_soup
  • 1/2 onion (finely sliced)
  • 2 rashers of bacon (thinly sliced – preferably unsmoked)
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs of mint (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • Lemon juice and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a largish saucepan. Add the bacon and cook (over a medium heat) for 2 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook very gently for 10 minutes.

Add the peas and the stock. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes.

Purée the soup using a hand blender, liquidiser or a food processor. Then add the cream and heat gently to just below boiling point, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the mint, lemon juice and pepper, and serve.

Barley risotto with pistachios and raisins

Why do we call barley, cooked with vegetables, meat etc, ‘risotto’, when clearly ‘risotto’ refers to rice in Italian? Maybe it’s because ‘barley’ translates as ‘orzo’ in Italian, which the English speaking foodie world expects to be a very small version of pasta (made from durum wheat), which I have always seen described as ‘rice-like’. I think that probably answers the question!

This recipe is an adaptation of one appearing in the Guardian Cook Supplement on 31 January 2015. Enough for 3 people:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)Barley_pistachio&raisin_risotto
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 200g pot barley
  • 1000ml vegi stock
  • Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon
  • Small bunch mint and parsley (chopped)
  • 3 tbsp pistachios (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 3 tbsp raisins
  • Black pepper to taste

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini (mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth)
  • 60g yogurt
  • A pinch of sumac
  • ½ tsp harissa

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the seeds and cook for 1 minute. Turn down the heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the barley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 50 minutes until the barley is ‘al dente’ (add more water during the cooking, if necessary). Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix together the dressing ingredients.

Serve with roasted vegetables (I used some previously roasted butternut squash (reheated in the microwave)).