Spinach, sun-dried tomato and goat’s cheese roulade

This sounds really complicated, but actually it’s a doddle, and looks incredibly impressive. I served it cold when I made it last night, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be hot. If you can’t get hold of fresh goat’s curd, which is basically just a low fat soft goat’s cheese, any soft (i.e. rindless) goat’s cheese would do.

Serves 2-3

3 large eggs

oil for greasing

300g spinach

8 sun-dried tomato halves (in oil)

100g fresh goat’s curd

salt

1. Grease a small, flat baking tray (or swiss roll tin) and line with a sheet of greaseproof paper, which must be around 4cm bigger in width and length than the actual tray, thus forming a rim round all four sides (this is so the eggy mixture doesn’t just flop off).  Grease the greaseproof paper – a pastry brush is good for this.
2. Place the eggs in a large bowl with a pinch of salt,  and whisk until frothy. You’ll know they’re done when you can pull the whisk out and draw a figure of eight with the trail that the egg makes.

3. Pour the egg mixture onto the prepared tray, and spread out evenly.

4. Bake in the oven, gas mark 4, for around 15-20 minutes, or until just beginning to go golden brown on top.

5. While this is cooking, lightly steam the spinach with a pinch of salt.  Don’t overcook.

6. When the egg mixture is cooked, remove from the oven, and invert the tray onto a large chopping board or work surface. Carefully peel off the greaseproof paper. Don’t worry if quite a lot of it seems to have stuck – as long as it hasn’t got holes in it, you’re ok.

7. Spread the goat’s curd over the egg mixture, covering it completely.

8. Spread the spinach over the goat’s curd, then chop the sun-dried tomatoes, and make a line of them in the middle of the rectangle.

9. Roll up as you would a swiss roll, then chill until you want to serve.

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Mushroom and butterbean burgers

These little burgers are really simple to make – all you need is a hand-held blender and a bit of patience when you’re frying them.  They taste lovely and mushroomy.

Serves 2-3

1 can butterbeans

1/2 red onion

250g chestnut mushrooms

salt & pepper to taste

plain flour for coating

sunflower oil for deep frying

1. Finely chop the onion and slice the mushrooms, and place together with the drained butterbeans and seasoning in a large bowl.

2. Whizz up the mixture with a hand-held electric blender until smooth.

3. Using your hands, shape the mixture into small patties, about 5cm in diameter.  Roll each pattie in the flour to coat.

4. Heat 2cm oil in a large frying pan and fry the patties in batches.  When they are brown on one side, turn over and fry on the other side.  You may find that any excess flour burns in the frying pan, in which case you’ll need to change the oil after you’ve fried each batch.

5. Keep warm in a low oven.

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Vegetable moussaka

I doubt if any Greek would recognise this, but it’s nonetheless tasty.  I refrained from using pulses or any other meat substitute, instead going for a purely vegetable base.  It’s much lighter, and you’ve got eggs on top for protein.  I used peppers and mushrooms just because I happened to have them in the house, but other vegetables such a spinach or courgettes would be equally good.

Serves 2-3

8oz new potatoes

1 large aubergine

olive oil for frying

1 onion

1 clove garlic

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

6oz mushrooms

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

salt & pepper to taste

8 fluid oz low-fat natural yoghurt

2 eggs

10z parmesan cheese

pinch of nutmeg

1. Cook the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender.  Set aside to cool (or even better, use left-over potatoes).

2. Slice the aubergine and fry in about 2 tbsp olive oil until nearly cooked.  Aubergine tends to soak up a lot of oil.  To minimize the amount of oil used, make sure it’s very hot before you put the aubergine in, and fry on a very low heat.  The oil will soak up very quickly but the aubergine should continue cooking in its own juice without burning, as long as you keep an eye on it.

3. Set the aubergine to one side, and heat another tbsp oil in the pan.

4. Finely chop the onion and garlic, and fry over a gentle heat for 2 minutes.

5. Slice the mushrooms and roughly chop the peppers and add to the pan.  Continue cooking until tender.

6. Add the tomatoes, oregano and seasoning, and continue cooking until most of the tomato juice has been reduced. 

7. Place the vegetables in a large oven-proof dish.

8. Slice the potatoes and place a layer over the vegetables.

9. Layer the aubergine slices over the potatoes.

10. Whisk together the yoghurt, eggs and a small amount of seasoning with a fork, and pour over the top of the vegetables.

11. Bake at gas mark 5 for around 40 minutes.  Half way through the cooking time sprinkle the freshly grated parmesan and nutmeg on top.

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Cauliflower with chickpeas and coriander

This vaguely Middle-Eastern inspired dish is just as good cold as it is hot.  I served it with taboulleh – cracked wheat salad.

Serves 3-4

1 medium onion

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium cauliflower

1 green pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp sultanas

2 tbsp fresh coriander

1 can chickpeas

salt & pepper to taste

1. Finely chop the onion and gently fry in the olive oil in a large saucepan for 2 minutes.

2. Break the cauliflower into small florets (the smaller the better), roughly chop the pepper, and add both to the pan.  Continue to fry for another 2 minutes, stirring regularly.

3. Add the cumin and fry for 1 minute.

4. Add the water and sultanas and put a lid on the pan.  Cook gently for around 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

5. Add the drained chickpeas and the chopped coriander, and season to taste.

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Mozarella, tomato and basil salad

I can hardly claim to have invented this recipe, as it’s so classic Italian, but here’s the version I made last night.  I used low-fat mozarella, not out of choice but because the shop had sold out of the full-fat version, and it was perfectly acceptable.

Serves 2

125g mozarella cheese

8 ripe tomatoes

1 small bunch basil

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

1. Slice the mozarella and tomatoes and mix together with the roughly torn basil leaves, oil, vinegar and seasoning.

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Pan-fried asparagus, mushrooms and carrots with chickpeas

I was too tired to cook properly last night, not helped by the fact that I had to make some home-made burgers (not veggie, in case you’re wondering) for my son. So I have to admit that this isn’t the best of my creations.  It tastes perfectly nice, and it’s good if you’re in a hurry, but it’s not wildly interesting.  Having said that, it’s a damn sight better than some of the vegetarian creations I’ve been served in pubs and restaurants.

Serves 2

1oz butter

4 shallots

2 cloves garlic

2 medium carrots

1 bunch fine asparagus

8oz chestnut or button mushrooms

1 can chickpeas

salt & pepper to taste.

1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan.

2. Finely slice the shallots, garlic and carrots, and add to the pan.  Fry gently for 5 minutes.

3. Chop the asparagus into lengths of approximately 3cm, and add to the pan.  Continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.

4. When the vegetables are nearly tender, add the mushrooms.  Continue to fry until soft, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the chickpeas and seasoning, and heat through.

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Butternut bhajis with quick raita

If you’ve got a load of butternut squash that needs eating, what do you do?  Make bhajis, of course!  I made up this recipe as I went along, but it seemed to turn out ok (as usual my partner drooled over them, but he tends to drool over everything).  I served it with a very quick raita, so quick that it really amounted to cheating, but you could make a nicer one if you’ve got time.  If you’re vegan, the bhajis would be perfectly acceptable on their own.  If you’re not familiar with gram flour, it’s Indian chickpea flour, and you can normally find it in Asian grocery shops or healthfood shops.

Serves 2-3

For the bhajis

1lb butternut squash

1 red onion

2 tbsp fresh coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

5 tbsps gram flour

salt & pepper to taste

sunflower oil for deep frying

1. Peel the butternut, scoop out and discard any seeds, and chop the flesh into large chunks.

2. Boil in lightly salted water for 10 minutes, or until tender.

3. Mash the butternut with a potato masher.

4. Finely chop the onion and coriander, and add to the mashed butternut along with the cumin and seasoning.

5. Add the gram flour.  If the mixture looks very sloppy you might need to add an extra tablespoon or so, but bear in mind that these little bhajis are intended to be quite soft on the inside.

6. Heat 2cm of oil in a large frying pan, and when hot drop dessertspoons of the mixture into the hot oil.  Fry on one side until brown, then flip over with a spatula and do the other side.  You’ll probably need to do several batches.

7. Leave to drain on a double layer of kitchen towel, then put in a pre-heated oven to keep warm.

For the raita

Half a cucumber

3 tbsps Greek yoghurt

1 tsp dried mint

1/2 small onion

salt & pepper to taste

1. Finely chop the onion and cucumber, and mix with the remaining ingredients.

Serve the warm bhajis with the raita over the top.  They are good as a side dish, with rice and curry.

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