Tag Archives: carrots

In my veg box this week – long-awaited greens

7 May

It has been a couple of weeks since we had a vegetable box. Last week Mr Veg and I both took part in the Living Below the Line challenge to raise money for Action Aid. For five days we each had a food budget of £1 a day, and as the vegetable box costs £15 a week it was one of the first things to go. Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I’m a huge vegetable fan (hence the name), so going from eating a variety of seasonal fruit and vegetables to just eating the absolute cheapest we could find was one of the most difficult parts of the challenge. I had to buy in bulk to get enough to eat, so the only fresh food we had was a huge bag of carrots, two bunches of bananas, and a couple of other bits. I normally aim to eat at least 5-7 portions of different fruit and vegetables a day, so it was a huge shock.

I’ve been interested in food poverty for a while, so to actually experience it, even though it was just for a few days, was a really important experience for me. It was difficult. It was frustrating eating bland and unvaried food. I suffered from caffeine withdrawal, general lethargy, extreme grumpiness, and my health started to suffer. I am immensely grateful that it was just five days, and it has inspired me to do more to help people who aren’t so lucky.

I’ve been blogging about the whole experience on the Living Below the Line website, so if you want to read more about what we did and why, or if you’d like to donate, please visit https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/amydittrich.

So after all that you can imagine that I’m so very thrilled to finally get a box of lovely fruit and vegetables. I’m always excited to get home from work and find the box on my doorstep, but I was especially so today. This week I’m particularly happy to have:

Muddy carrots
Yes, we have carrots every week and yes, we had an awful lot of carrots last week, but proper organic muddy carrots have so much more flavour than the cheap watery ones from the supermarket. Even if they only end up in a salad I will relish every bite.

Real potatoes
Again, we have potatoes every week, but after being stuck with horrible tinned potatoes last week it’s just lovely to have real ones again.

Spinach and spring greens
One of my worst cravings when we were Living Below the Line was for greens, so to have two different greens in one week is amazing! I’ll be putting one in a creamy pasta dish, and cooking the other with some spices, I just haven’t decided which way round yet…

Also received this week: coriander, a leek, mushrooms, onions, oranges, apples, pears, bananas.

Action Aid: http://www.actionaid.org.uk/

Live Below the Line: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/


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.

Swede and carrot soda bread (vegan)

13 Oct

Soda bread is much faster and easier to make than regular bread. Bicarbonate of soda reacts with acid to quickly produce carbon dioxide, which gets trapped in the dough and makes it rise quickly. Usually, the acid would come in the form of some sort of soured dairy, such as buttermilk, yoghurt, or whey. For vegans, non-dairy milk curdled with cider vinegar work equally well.

Adding root vegetables to soda bread adds moisture and flavour. I decided to try this when I got yet another swede in my weekly vegetable delivery. I like swede but I’m seriously lacking interesting recipes for it. It can go in soup, curry, mash, and ummm…. that’s about it. One of my colleagues keeps raving about carrot and swede mash which is undoubtedly now my favourite thing to do with it, so I decided to expand on that combo and try it in bread. It was worth the gamble. It’s glorious, and particularly good dunked in some spicy soup.

Recipe (makes one loaf)

  • 300ml your preferred non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 100g each swede and carrot, grated
  • 200g plain flour
  • 200g wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease a large baking sheet.

Mix the milk and vinegar together in a mug, and leave to curdle while you get the rest of the ingredients together.

Put all of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Add the curdled milk and mix until it just comes together into a ball. Don’t over-mix it or knead it, you’ll knock out all of the gas that makes it rise.

Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet, and slash a cross in the top with a wet knife (this helps it rise evenly). Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the loaf has approximately doubled in size and is golden brown all over, including underneath. Enjoy hot or cold.

Come back nut roast, all is forgiven!

2 Oct

Nut roast. It’s one of those dishes that vegetarians and vegans dread. Usually the domain of unimaginative chefs (see my stuffed pepper post for the full rant) or boring old hippies that only eat bland, brown food and probably crochet their own underwear (let’s face it, we all know at least one). I’ve decided to reclaim nut roast for the mainstream. Nuts are tasty and nutritionally dense, it’s a travesty to waste them on something boring. Here they are in a delicious, colourful roast. Rich chestnuts are paired with crunchy walnuts and seeds, and jazzed up with herbs and a hint of spice. As well as forming the centrepiece of a traditional Sunday roast, alongside a mound of roast potatoes and a gallon of gravy, it can be used to stuff vegetables (I think squash would be amazing), or cold as a sandwich filling.



... and after

… and after

Recipe (serves 6-8)

  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus extra for oiling the tin
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped (a food processor will do a fine job of this, seeing as you’ll be using it anyway)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed then chopped
  • 200g cooked chestnuts
  • 50g walnuts
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs or ground crackers
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • a big handful of fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and thyme on this occasion)
  • half a teaspoon of hot chilli powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly oil a small loaf tin.

Fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat for about five minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and carrots, and cook for a further five minutes or so.

Put the chestnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Tip into a large bowl, then repeat with the walnuts. It’s easier to control the consistency if you blend the two different kinds of nuts separately.

Add the fried vegetables and the rest of the ingredients to the nuts in the bowl. Mix well, and check the seasoning. Press this mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for around 30 minutes until nicely browned. Enjoy hot or cold.

Two-soup Sunday, part two – vegetarian lentil and not-bacon

18 Aug

Soup can be many things: from chunky to smooth, from elegant to “throw it all in and see what happens”, from creamy to spicy, from a delicate starter to a full-on main course. One of soups most important roles is that of a comfort food. As a child, whenever I was ill my Mum would feed me tinned lentil and bacon soup, and no matter what was wrong it would always make me feel better. I’ve now been a vegetarian for a very long time, and while you can get plain lentil soup in a can that is just as comforting (if not more so), I’ve been on a bit of a mission to create a vegetarian version of the meaty kind from my childhood.

The key to this is liquid smoke. It’s quite expensive in the UK, and you have to buy it online, but a little bit goes a long way. It’s probably not going to fool a meat eater, but a hint of smoke in a soup or stew is just enough to trick a vegetarian brain into tasting bacon. Even without the liquid smoke it’s still a tasty soup though, and just as comforting.

Recipe (serves 4-6)

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3-4 medium carrots, grated
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a good sprig each of rosemary and thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional, we put chilli in pretty much everything in the Veg household, whether it’s appropriate or not)
  • 2 cups of split red lentils
  • 7 cups vegetable stock (1.75 litres)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or more if you want it, but be careful!)
  • 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 carrots, garlic, herbs, cumin, and chilli, and sweat with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes, again without colouring.

Add the lentils and stock, bring to the boil then simmer for a further 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and starting to go mushy.

Add the liquid smoke, then check for seasoning. Serve and enjoy!

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!

%d bloggers like this: