Carrot Salad

Carrot salad might sound boring, stay with me, it’s not!

Turning various veg into noodles and spaghetti is quite commonplace now and this salad kind of plays on that. Don’t worry, no fancy spiralising gadget needed! Unless you have one, which I do as I’m a sucker for a gadget sometimes, then by all means use it, but all you really need is a speed peeler to turn your carrots into ribbons and make an interesting salad.

I’ve said it countless times, salads really aren’t boring and don’t have to just be a sad pile of lettuce with a few token slices of tomato or cucumber. Get creative with them and your lunch break will be better for it!

This salad is great by itself, or as I had it for lunch today, on a load of different salad leaves. It’d be great as a side dish to a curry for something fresh and crunchy, or in wraps with falafel, there’s loads of ways you could try it.

It makes enough for about 2 to 4 portions depending on how you’re serving it.

Ingredients:

2 carrots, peeled
1 stick of celery
1 red chilli, as usual, take the seeds out if you don’t like it hot!
A handful of each, radishes, coriander, pumpkin seeds
Olive oil
Lemon
Salt

Use the speed peeler to make ribbons of carrot, tear the coriander leaves (use the stalks for another recipe), finely slice the other veg. That’s pretty much it! Pop it all in a bowl and toss it with some oil, lemon juice and salt.

It’s a great base for a salad and you can add new things to it to make it different every time. Don’t have any celery, or don’t like it, just switch it out for something else like cucumber or peppers. Use different seeds and herbs. It’s really easy and versatile. Another reason to never have a boring salad again!

Carrot salad with chilli and coriander.

Wild Garlic Pesto

Wild Garlic Pesto

Spring is well underway. It’s a great time of year and it brings tasty veg with it, some of my favourites like asparagus, jersey royals and purple sprouting broccoli. Spring is also home to those few weeks a year when you can get wild garlic!

Since I found out about it, every year I go and pick some. This weekend it was lovely and sunny and while up early walking Dexter the dog, I foraged for some wild garlic to cook with.

Wild Garlic

I’ve seen it being sold in green grocers this year, don’t waste your money! Just go for a walk in whichever woods are closest to you and the chances are pretty good that you’ll find some. Though if you’d really rather buy it, I’ll sell you some! Anyway, how to find it, you’ll know it’s there because of the definite garlicky smell that comes with it. Look for a covering of long green leaves, and later in the season there will be little white flowers too. The leaves are at their tastiest if you pick them before the flowers open, though it’s still alright to eat after, and the flowers are edible too.

Be careful when you’re out looking for it, don’t confuse it with Lily of the Valley, that’s poisonous! If you’re unsure just crush the leaves between your fingers and you’ll smell the garlic, if you can’t smell it, put it down! So, pick the leaves and, if they’re there, pick some flowers too. Don’t be greedy and take too much! The leaves won’t keep for ages in the fridge, so it’s best picked on the day you plan on using it.

Wild Garlic

It goes without saying, but make sure you give it a rinse under cold water before you use it! There’s lots of things you can do with wild garlic, whiz up the leaves with some olive oil and drizzle over anything, like roasted veg, pasta, salad, use it to dip bread in, and you can freeze the flavoured oil, it’s best done in ice cube trays then you can just pop it into a pan to warm up when you fancy it. You can also wilt the leaves like you would do with spinach. Or don’t cook it and add the finely sliced leaves and flowers to salad.

This time I opted to turn the leaves into pesto. Easy to make and it keeps in the fridge for a couple of days. It’s not an exact science, you might need to add a touch more oil or lemon or salt, just make it to your taste, but here’s the general gist for what you’ll need and how to make it…

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of wild garlic leaves
1 lemon (you just need the juice so zest it and add that to something else another time)
1 handful of walnuts (or whatever kind of nuts you have, within reason, I’m not sure those chilli peanuts in the back of your cupboard would work!)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt

(these clearly aren’t technical measurements, I did say it was the general gist of a recipe!)

Add a couple of tablespoons of oil, you might find you need to add more, just see how you go. Blitz everything, in a blender, with a stick blender, or in a mortar and pestle, to the consistency you like, adding oil as needed and seasoning to your taste. That’s it. I said it was easy!

Add it to pasta, on a pizza, use it as a dip, have it on a sandwich, use it however you fancy.

Happy foraging!

Wild Garlic Pesto

Roasted Tomatoes

Jamie Oliver’s Tomato Soup

If you didn’t know, I’m a lover of soup. Proper homemade soup is the best, there’s nothing better than it when you’re feeling cold and tired. It’s the ultimate comfort food for me.

I think because my memories of it were the tinned stuff that was too sweet, I’ve always been a hater of tomato soup. However, I’ve recently become a convert and started to like it, not the tinned stuff though, homemade is always better. I’ve tried this really simple recipe from Jamie Oliver for tomato soup a couple of times now, it’s the one that made me like tomato soup. But me being me, I have to meddle with a recipe!


The first time I made the soup I followed the recipe as it is. Making the soup last night, I decided to roast the tomatoes with some oregano, salt and oil, before popping them into the soup. Turned out to be a worthwhile added step, I love roasted tomatoes, I definitely think it added more flavour to the soup.

Leftovers to look forward to for lunches this week! I might even experiment and use some as a pasta sauce too.

Don’t reach for that tin opener! Give homemade soup a try. It’s easy, healthy and tasty. Try Jamie Oliver’s tomato soup, meddle with it or don’t, it’s good either way!

Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

Veganuary is going well for me again this year, I’ve been cooking lots of my usual favourites and, as usual, trying out some new ideas.

You might know I’ve got a bit of a problem with cookbooks, I have lots, I bought six since Christmas… oops! To be fair they were secondhand and four of them were bargains at a penny each! For me they don’t have to be exclusively vegetarian or vegan. I like the challenge of taking a recipe that isn’t vegetarian or vegan and making it suitable. This approach to cooking has totally changed how I eat and made me try so many more things other than your typical and somewhat expected vegetarian food. Some restaurants could do with taking this approach to vegetarian and vegan food, quit with the boring standard pasta or roast veg dishes.

There’s loads of noodle broth type recipes in my collection of cookbooks. The ones that are meaty are pretty easy to make vegan, lose the meat and meaty stock and switch it out for veg or tofu and veg stock.

This recipe was created by looking at a few different recipes for Thai noodle soups. My first attempt had a real kick, so I toned it down a bit here, but if you like it hot add another chilli or two. It really depends on how hot the chillies are that you buy too, be brave, give them a taste and make a judgement for how many to add. Or, if you aren’t feeling brave that’s alright, just go with one chilli and then have some fresh sliced on the side for people to pimp their bowl with if they like it hot!

This makes enough for two. You’ll need a blender to make the paste quickly, though if you don’t have one, chopping it all up superfine, or bashing it up in a pestle and mortar will work. It doesn’t take long to make, but I’m not great at timing how long stuff takes in the kitchen, sorry!

Ingredients:

For the paste…
1 chilli, keep the seeds in, take them out, whatever you fancy
3 cloves garlic, peeled
5cm ish of ginger, peeled
1 lemongrass stalk
4 shallots, peeled (you could use spring onions here instead)
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp turmeric
1tsp curry powder (I opted for a mild one)
1 handful of fresh coriander use the stalks for this, the leaves to garnish

50g fine rice noodles
1 tin coconut milk
soy sauce
1 lime

That’s the ingredients for the basic broth, make it your own and add whatever veg you fancy, or go for tofu, I roasted some squash and steamed some broccoli. I also sliced some raw sugar snap peas and spring onion to garnish it with.

Thai Spicy Noodle Soup Ingredients

Start by making the paste, chop the ingredients into chunks to help your blender out, pop everything in said blender and whiz it up until it’s a fine paste, you might need to add a bit of water too. In a medium saucepan, heat a little veg oil over a medium heat and fry the paste for a couple of minutes. You should be able to smell the paste, yum! Then add the coconut milk and a bit of water, the amount of water depends on how thick your coconut milk is, just use your judgement, it might not even need any. Turn the heat down as low as it’ll go and let the soup simmer. While it’s doing it’s thing, cook your veg and noodles. Keep checking in on the broth though, don’t let it boil.

When your veg and noodles are ready, add soy sauce and lime juice to the soup to taste, this is personal, I don’t want to dictate how much you should use here! To serve divide the noodles between your bowls and then pop in whatever extras you’ve used. Ladle over the soup and then garnish with the coriander and whatever other bits you’ve chosen to use. Will you go for extra chilli!?

Vegan Spicy Thai Noodle Soup

Got A Cold? You Need A Hot Toddy!

Last week I was struck with a dreaded cold, it’s that time of year when they’re pretty hard to avoid. I set about eating loads of good stuff, vegetables, not a challenge at all for a vegetarian! Soup is perfect for getting loads of goodness in you, so it was time to make some pumpkin soup. Warming and seasoned with curry spices it was a winner, made me feel like I was on the road to being rid of the cold.

Another perfect recipe for when you have a cold is a hot toddy. If you’re a whisky lover then it’s great, if not then maybe skip the whisky and just make a honey and lemon, still good but the boozy warmth is what gives a hot toddy that great medicinal feeling! After a hearty bowl of soup I set about making one of these.

In a mug add…

2 shots of whisky, use whichever you like, this time I went for a single malt, Aberlour 12 year old. The juice of half a lemon. 1 tsp of honey, if you’re vegan then agave would work instead to add some sweetness.

…top it all off with boiling water and garnish with a slice of lemon and, if you like, a cinnamon stick or some cloves.

hot-toddy-ingredients

So the soup and a hot toddy or two seemed to do the trick for me, I’ve kindly shared my cold with my husband, let’s see if it works for him too!