Tag Archives: beans

No need for a veg box this week – home grown goodies from Mum

27 Aug

Wednesday is normally my veg box day, but I went to see my parents at the weekend and came home with this gorgeous back of fresh veggies! Going to visit my Mum’s allotment was one of the highlights of my weekend, she puts an awful lot of work into it but gets so much back in return. It’s not just the veg (although as I’ve said before about a million times that you can’t beat home grown), but the community and the satisfaction of putting love and effort into something and being rewarded. I don’t have a garden but don’t have the time for an allotment either, I am more than a little envious.

Anyway, my Mum said “lets just pop over to the allotment and pick a couple of bits for you to take back with you” and I ended up with all of this. We picked:

A massive bundle of beans. I think it’s going to be beans with everything for the foreseeable future.

Three different sorts of courgette – yellow, green, and round. The round courgette was more like a ball of marrow than a courgette. I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, stuffed it with felafel mix, and baked it.

A butternut squash. It’s still very under-ripe, but after a few weeks of sitting on a window ledge (sunny, but not in direct sunlight) it will be ready to go. I love squashes and I’m really looking forward to them being in season. My Mum is also growing massive pumpkins, so hopefully I’ll have one of those soon as well.

Some long peppers. She broke one of the “rules” of vegetable gardening and planted some seeds out of a supermarket pepper. It’s a bit risky because the seeds might not be fertile, or might produce peppers completely different from the parent plant, but luckily it did work and they’re absolutely beautiful, really fruity and with a much more interesting flavour than peppers from a shop.

A box of tomatoes. As you can probably see, they got a bit squashed in transit (I’m a public transport girl), but it didn’t matter because I decided on the journey to turn them into a bit batch of tomato sauce, after I spotted this recipe from JB at frugalfinefreshfood.com. The sauce was delicious, somehow both fresh and rich at the same time. We had some over the felafel-stuffed courgette, and I’m about to reheat the rest to serve with some pasta, veg, and tofu.

She also gave me a couple of bulbs of garlic, not freshly picked but definitely home grown.

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In my veg box this week – cucumber, raspberries, beans

30 Jul

This week we have:

Cucumber
I refuse to accept that someone doesn’t like cucumbers unless they’ve tried real cucumbers. I like supermarket cucumbers, but compared to organic or home-grown ones they’re watery, bland, and disappointing. I’d definitely recommend growing them – as well as being one of those veggies that is a million times better if you grow your own, they’re also really easy to grow and if you get a huge glut you can make a year’s worth of pickles for your burgers. Sadly we’re not growing them this year, but we’ve had one a week in our veg box for the past several weeks. As well as putting them in a salad, I also like just cutting off a chunk and nibbling on it.

Raspberries
Mr Veg teases me that I’m so ruled by my stomach that I’m not interested in growing anything that I can’t eat, and he’s absolutely right! I’ve finally (after seven years together) let him grow some flowers, they have absolutely no purpose but they make him happy, and I have to admit that they do brighten up our garden. Anyway, what does this have to do with raspberries? Oh yes, I’ve decided that when we have a house with a proper garden I’m going to fill the flower beds with as many fruit bushes as I can get away with, especially raspberries. I love the idea of pottering around the garden, picking raspberries and scoffing them while I do the gardening. Or sitting in the sun with a book and a glass of wine and a bowl of freshly-picked raspberries. Bliss. There’s a lot of different things I could do with these, but you know what? I’m just going to eat them.

Two kinds of beans
Another of my favourite things about the summer. We’ve got some speckled runner beans, and the darkest French beans I’ve ever seen. They’re so lovely to look at, it’s almost a shame to cook them as they lose the colour and end up green.

IMG_6810-2

Also received this week: beetroot, tomatoes, red pepper, chard, sweet potato, courgette, spring onions, regular onions, apples, bananas.

In my veg box this week – purple sprouting broccoli, parsley, fava beans

9 Apr

This week we have:

Purple sprouting broccoli
It’s broccoli! It’s purple! What’s not to love? We grew both purple and white sprouting broccoli a few years ago, and for a couple of months we had a never ending supply of home grown broccoli. You would think we’d be sick of it but no, it was glorious.

A big bag of parsley
From time to time I get a surprise herb in the veg box. If it’s something I use a lot or can use a lot of in one go (like basil) that’s great, but parsley… Seriously? I use it but I can’t recall a time when I’ve ever needed 50g of it. I’ll either use the whole lot to make parsley pesto, which I’ve never tried before but like the sound of, or this week it will be parsley in everything.

Fava beans
The veg box company are trying to promote fava beans at the moment. Apparently farmers (especially organic ones) grow them between crops to improve the soil, but because nobody in this country eats them they have to export the beans to the middle east. I’m a huge fan of beans and lentils so I am very happy to try them. They look like large lentils, similar to yellow split peas or chana dal, and that’s exactly how I’m going to cook them. I’m going to make a lovely lentil curry and serve it poured all over some rice and the broccoli. Lush.

Also received this week: onions, carrots, potatoes, two tiny red cabbages, a slightly moudly swede (yes, I have complained), mixed salad leaves, oranges, pears, bananas.

Carrot and white bean hummus

16 Feb

My carrot hummus in a wrap with sunflower seeds, grated carrot, and mixed leaves. Delish!

I feel incredibly lucky to live just a couple of minutes walk from a local, independent deli. It’s my favourite place to get lunch if I’m at home on a Saturday or in the week. They’ve got tonnes of different salads (the best being a roasted vegetable and butter bean ratatouille), incredible sourdough bread, olives, loads of different kind of teas, and a good selection of fruit and veg. A few weeks ago I bought some carrot hummus from the deli, and it was ok but not what I was expecting at all – there were no beans and, even worse, no tahini. It was quite expensive for what was, essentially, just a pot of mashed carrots. Even if it was disappointing, at least it inspired me to create a new recipe. Carrot and white bean hummus, with tahini!

Slightly blurry carrot hummus

Recipe (makes one big pot):

  • 2 medium carrots (about 150g), peeled and chopped into 1cm slices
  • A 400g tin of white beans (I used butter beans but any white beans would be fine), drained
  • Half clove of garlic, mashed to a pulp with a pinch of the salt (I don’t use too much garlic in hummus because I usually eat it at work. If you’re not eating it at work or don’t mind scaring your colleagues, feel free to use a lot more.)
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablepoons of lemon juice
  • A pinch of ground cumin

Put the carrots in a saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes or so until tender. Drain and allow to cool.

Put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and lemon, and adjust if necessary.

Keeps for up to three days in the fridge.

Vegan breakfast burritos

9 Feb

Burritos are one of my favourite weekend breakfasts. Whether you’re hungover or just feeling like you need a bit of an indulgent treat, some protein and veg wrapped in a tortilla is bound to make you feel much better without being too heavy or greasy. I like to combine something vaguely mexican with anything breakfasty, and encase them together in a corn or whole wheat tortilla (or to be honest, two or three). Here are a couple of recent combinations:

Spicy canned refried beans, scrambled tofu with onion and sweetcorn, avocado.

Half a potato waffle, a vegetarian sausage, diced tomato, avocado, borlotti beans, hot sauce.

Here are a few more ideas for fillings:

  • guacamole
  • hummus
  • vegetarian bacon or tempeh bacon
  • grated carrot
  • salsa
  • grilled courgettes
  • roasted peppers
  • hash browns
  • fishless fingers (it might sound a bit odd but they go really well with avocado)
  • fried or grilled mushrooms
  • beans in spicy sauce
  • savoury french toast

What would you have?

Two-soup Sunday, part one – any veg minestrone

18 Aug

I love soup. It’s healthy, filling, usually cheap, easy to make, requires minimal thought and co-ordination, and best of all, you can put pretty much anything in it. Making soup is a lovely calm activity for a gentle Sunday morning, and if you make a massive batch you’ll have a couple of days worth of packed lunch for work too.

Minestrone is the King of versatility. It surprises me that most recipes give a set list of vegetables with precise quantities. Surely it’s more fun and more practical to just throw in whatever seasonal vegetables you have to hand?! It does make my recipe look a bit strange, but that’s just how I like to do things. The point is, if you open the fridge and feel a bit baffled by the random selection of veggies inside, minestrone is a quick and tasty solution.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (completely optional, but almost obligatory in the Veg house)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or any other herb that works well with what you’ve got)
  • diced fresh veggies – a dinner plate piled fairly high is about the right amount (or 2 carrots, 2 courgettes, 1 red pepper, and a handful of broad beans if you want to follow a list)
  • 120g small pasta or broken spaghetti
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 tin any kind of white beans (235g drained weight)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan with the lid on, sweat the onion in the oil over a medium-low heat for up to 10 minutes, without colouring.

Add the garlic, chilli, herbs, and vegetables, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.

Add the pasta, tomatoes, drained beans, stock, and tomato puree, and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes, until the pasta and vegetables are tender.

Check the seasoning and serve. Top with croutons, cheese, toasted pine nuts, or pesto, or enjoy it naked.

This keeps well in the fridge for a few days but be warned – the pasta will gradually soak up the liquid and it will become less soupy over time, but still utterly delicious!

Vegetarian fun with a slow cooker

27 May

I have a real weakness for kitchen gadgets. I think I might be addicted to them, I really need a bigger kitchen so I can fit them all in. I’ve always been a bit of a mad scientist in the kitchen, and I think having a lot of equipment really helps me play the part. One of my favourite kitchen gadgets is my slow cooker. Pretty much any recipe for stew, casserole, soup, curry or chilli can be adapted for the slow cooker. It’s an economical way of cooking, and with a bit of planning you can put your dinner on in the morning and spend the rest of the day feeling smug about not having to cook in the evening (I fully accept that this is slightly flawed logic, but there are some days when this can be an advantage).

When I first bought my slow cooker, I found a forum thread about them, and excitedly asked if anyone had any vegetarian ideas. I was very quickly shot down by some very condescending folk saying there was no point, slow cookers are made to soften up tough meat, and vegetables cook quite quickly anyway. Well, if you tell me I shouldn’t do something it only makes me want to do it more, so I set out to prove them wrong. Slow cookers are great for vegetarian food, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Here are a few things you should know about vegetarian slow cooking.

The cost. Using a slow cooker is one of the most energy-efficient modes of cooking. Running a slow cooker for eight hours uses less than half the electricity of running an electric stove for one hour. Great if you’re on a budget.

Timing. So, there was a nugget of truth in what the rude forum people said, vegetables don’t take as long to cook as meat. You could cook a vegetable stew in 4-6 hours, if you include dried beans (see below) it will take at least a couple of hours longer. You can get things started a bit quicker by adding hot ingredients, by using boiling water instead of cold, for instance. Don’t do what Mr Veg and I did on the day we bought ours. We arrived home from buying it at about 5pm and were too excited to wait until the next day to try it. We put in frozen veggie sausages, green lentils, raw onion and cold stock. It was obviously a massive failure and we ended up eating slightly crunchy lentils at 10 o’clock at night.

Beans. Dried beans are a lot cheaper than tinned ones, and they work really well in a slow cooker. They absorb flavours a lot better than tinned ones too. As always with dried beans, you must soak the beans in water overnight before cooking them, and then boil them for at least 10 minutes before putting them in the slow cooker. The slow cooker is too, well, slow to destroy the toxins found in the dried beans, so you must soak and parboil them first.

Fake meat. You can cook fake meat in a slow cooker (think vegetarian “chicken” stew or sausage casserole), but I find the result a bit strange. It does take on a lot flavour, but also absorbs an awful lot of water and ends up soft and squishy.

Rice. A slow cooker also works well as a rice cooker, so if you have trouble getting rice right you could try it this way. Put equal volumes of rice and boiling water into the slow cooker, along with any flavours you want to add, cook for a couple of hours and voila! Perfect fluffy rice. I’ve made some pretty mean Jamaican rice and peas this way.

Salt. When cooking in a slow cooker, you should always always check for seasoning and add salt at the end of the cooking time rather than the beginning, for two important reasons. Firstly, if you are cooking dried beans you shouldn’t cook them in salted water as it can toughen the skin (yuck). Secondly, during cooking the amount of water with reduce (through evaporation and absorption), and the flavour will get more concentrated. What tastes right at the start could end up horribly salty later on.

Herbs, spices and other seasonings. Some flavours go a bit flat after eight hours in a slow cooker. It takes a bit of trial and error to work this out. I’d say as a general rule, aromatic or warm seasonings, such as dried herbs or ground spices are best added at the start of cooking. Fresh or zingy flavours, such as fresh herbs, green leafy veg, ginger, citrus and chilli are best added towards the end of cooking.

Dumplings. For me, a stew wouldn’t be a stew without a few dumplings. For eight dumplings (a generous amount for two people), about 45 minutes before you want to eat mix 50g of dry fat (e.g. grated cheese, vegetarian suet, margarine) with 100g self-raising flour, any herbs or spices you like, and enough water to bring it together into a soft dough. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces, roll into balls, and pop on top of the stew. Put the lid back on and leave them to puff up in the steam from the stew. Lovely.

Adapting recipes. It’s easy to adapt favourite recipes to the slow cooker. There are three basic rules and trust me, they are very basic:

  1. the simmering part will take a lot longer than standard cooking;
  2. if the recipe says you should fry something (e.g. onions, spices), then fry them before adding them to the slow cooker;
  3. repeatedly removing the lid of the slow cooker lets all the precious heat out and slows down cooking, so try and add as many of the ingredients at once, rather than in stages.

Here’s an example. I recently made Hottie Black-Eyed Peas and Greens, one of the many excellent recipes from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (you can also find the recipe on the PPK website at: http://www.theppk.com/2011/12/hottie-black-eyed-peas-with-ginger-sweet-potatoes-apples/). Soak the beans overnight, them parboil them for 10 minutes. Fry the onions and garlic as described in the recipe. Put the fried onions and garlic in the slow cooker, along with the drained beans, water, tomato sauce and broth. Cook for around 8 hours. When cooked, add the greens, hot sauce and liquid smoke, and check for seasoning. Leave for a few more minutes until the greens are cooked.

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