Posts Tagged With: stews

Quick Green Lentil Stew

This is one for the ‘Beach House Basics’ page; the place to go for simple food, prepared with love (of course!).  Good food does not necessarily mean complex with loads of ingredients and this is one that we make regularly.

Sometimes, when writing this blog, I forget that people just want something easy.  I normally put the more elaborate or special occasion dishes that we make, but really, the everyday food is just as good, just not quite as fancy.

This stew can be made with puy lentils, which many would class as the best, I feel that green lentils make a good substitute (and are cheaper).  The lemon, chilli and coriander give the stew a lift, making it great for this time of year (its springtime in Britain).

Like so many recipes, this could be used as a side dish, but for me, it deserves to be center stage.  Adding the potatoes means this is a definite main course filler.

The coriander is something we had in the kitchen, but you could use any fresh green leaf herb really and the lemon could always be a lime instead.

This recipe needs dried lentils that need soaking (overnight).  Otherwise this is minimal fuss and maximum munch!

This recipe will be a good dinner for two people, though we normally cook in bulk and dip into it over a few days.

Green Lentil Stew

The Bits 

1 cup of green lentils (soaked overnight) or one tin, 1 clove garlic (finely chopped), 1 great carrot (chopped) , 2 large tomato (chopped), a few new potatoes (sliced), 1/2 teas of chilli flakes, 1 big handful of coriander, juice of half a lemon, a glug of olive oil, 1 pint of good veg stock (as needed).

Do It

Drain soaked lentils (a quick wash for them) and cover with your veg stock (approx 1 inch above lentils) in a saucepan.  Add a little sea salt and bring gently to the boil, then cover and simmer.  Cook as per packet guidelines (30 minutes should do), try one for ‘bite’.

Once lentils are 10 minutes from being cooked, stir them and add your potatoes (it should be looking quite stew-like by now) and cook for 5 minutes, then add your garlic, chilli, carrots and tomatoes, cook for a further 5 minutes.  Then stir in the olive oil, lemon juice and coriander and place a lid on the stew, turning the heat off.  Let the flavours marinade for a few minutes and then serve.

Serve

We normally have it topped with a little olive oil and toasted sunflower seeds, with brown rice and yoghurt.   Just by itself with a fresh green salad is also great.

We Love It!

This is perfect for when you only have a small window of time to work your kitchen magic!

Foodie Fact

These wonder legumes are filled with cholesterol lowering fibre, they also help to maintain your blood sugar levels.  They contain high levels of six important minerals, two vitamin B’s and protein, with hardly any calories.

 

 

Categories: Budget, Dinner, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Berber Date Tagine with Orange ‘Kech Pilaff

Berber Man

The food we cook reflects our journey through life.  It’s been a long old dusty road with some tasty nibbles along the way.

Much of my inspiration for recipes and greater experiences in general have taken place away from the shores of my island home, Britain.  It is a grey Sunday today, in need of some sun and spice, so I re-visited Morocco for a classic(ish) tagine and pilaff meal.

I probably ate this alot when I was there, but due to the fog of time and the sheer influx of brilliant tagine in the streets of Marrakech (‘Kech) and beyond, I forget.  One tasty tagine seemed to blend into another, until you have a very long tagine spell which many people would just call ‘travelling around Morocco’.  Find out more about our passion for tagine pots here.

The Berbers are the indigenous people of Morocco, desert and moutain folk.  They have lived in Morocco since the beginning (whenever that was?!), well before the Arabs came and conquered North Africa.  Berber is one of the official languages of this incredible land.  Here’s some Nas El Ghiwane to get you in the mood:

We love the combination of spices and dates, there is bags of harmony in this dish with the lovely flavours of coriander and mint to finish things off.
You may use tinned tomatoes, but we prefer fresh. The orange is an addition that is not normally used in Morocco, but we’re a long way from Marrakech!

This is not cooked in a tagine (ours is stuck in Spain), but if you have one, what a great excuse to dust it off……

Blanched Cauliflower

The Bits

Berber Tagine
1 large cauliflower (leaves and all), 4 carrots, 1 big handful of stoned dates, 1 potato (for thickening sauce), 4 ripe tomatoes (chopped into small chunks, or 1 can of good organic toms), 1 ras el hanout (if you can’t get hold of this, I suggest a mix of your favourite spices.  That’s all it is really), 1 teas turmeric, 1/2 teas chilli powder (be careful here!), 1/2 teas coriander seeds, 2 teas chopped ginger, glug EVOO (E.xtraV.irginO.live Oil), 1 onion (chopped), 3 cloves garlic (chopped), 1 handful of chopped coriander and 1 of chopped mint, 750 ml (a wine bottle size) of good veg stock, juice of 1 orange, s + p to taste.

Dates and spices

Orange ‘Kech Pilaff
Glug of EVO, 1 onion (chopped) handful of roasted almonds, 1/2 handful of currants, 1 teas ground cinnamon, 350g long grain rice (we normally prefer brown rice, tastier and better for your belly), zest 1 orange.

Do It
In a large pan, blanch your potato, cauliflower (use the leaves as well, they are very tasty) and carrots. Add potato first for 5 mins then add the rest for 2 mins. Drain the veg well and refresh with cold water. Place in a bowl and add spices and ginger, stir, leave covered for a couple of hours to infuse and get yummy. Save the water for stock, approx 1.5 litre needed for the rice and tagine.  Just add an onion, a stick of celery, a carrot, some good stock powder, a bay leaf and some mixed herbs and slowly boil for 30 mins.  Strain out all bits and thats it.  A light veg stock.

Heat oil in a good heavy-based pan and gently fry you blanched veg for 5 mins, they should be getting nice and golden, then add onion and garlic and cook for another few minutes, add tomatoes dates and veg stock and simmer for 20 mins on low heat.  Season here, add orange juice and stir in the coriander and mint.  Do not over cook the veggies, they are not so good mushy.

Orange and Almond

For the Pilaff, heat oil in a pan and cook almonds for 5 mins then remove when golden. In the same oil add the onion and currants cook for 2 mins, add cinnamon then rice and coat all in all. Then pour over hot stock, cover tightly and cook for around 15 mins (depends on rice, remember no lifting the lid! Keep all that good steam in).  Remove from heat and cool for 5 mins.  Stir and lift with a fork before serving to seperate the rice and make it fluffy.

Finally, add the orange zest and almonds to the rice, stir again and serve with your tagine on your finest, colourful, platter (or just a plate).

The Berber Tagine

We Love It!

The crunch of the roasted almond, sweetness of the dates makes for a very rich sauce which is lifted by the zing of the orange, it all makes for a real taste sensation!  This was one of those dishes that really surprises you with its deliciousness.  This is now my favourite tagine recipe (until next time that is….)

Foodie Fact

Cauliflowers just don’t get  the credit they deserve.  They are full of good stuff.

Cauliflowers are full of vitamin C and manganese and a broad spectrum of anti-oxidants that give your system a real boost.  It’s also anti-inflammatory, aids digestion (plenty of fibre here, like most of the cruciferous bunch i.e Kale, Brocolli etc).

The coarse green leaves, which we love to munch on, protect the centre of the cauliflower, reducing the chlorophyll and making it white.

Boozie Bit

This is not booze actually, but we had some chilled Clipper Tea with this.  The ‘Green Tea with Echinecea’ variety, in a tall glass with plenty of ice, lemon and a dollop of honey.  You could very easily add booze to this, I’m thinking vodka or maybe gin would be pleasant.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Recipes, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

El Limonar Stew – A Taste of the Spanish Sun

The 'El Limonar'

The ‘El Limonar’ is not an everyday stew.  It reflects the culture and produce of a special little corner of Spain, the Costa Calida.

This dish that would suit any occasion this summertime, especially a special time when you are eating outside in the sunshine with the people who you love, a time when you are planning to open a few bottles of good wine (it is a Spanish stew after all!) and let the world just pass you by.

‘El Limonar’ is the name of the place my parents have in Spain, its near Cartagena, Murcia, for me it is one of the worlds most beautiful and relaxing places.  The lifestyle in Spain is slow, steeped in history, with much fiesta and siesta.  Relaxing is a way of life and food and drink play a major role in everyday life and traditional celebrations.

When I am in Spain, more than anywhere else in the world, I can happily revert to the wise words below:

‘Sólo un idiota puede ser totalmente feliz.’

‘Only an idiot can be totally happy.’

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Mediterranean sun brings life to the dry red earth.   Murcia is the hottest and driest region in Spain, but the local farmers use a lot of new technology and plenty of old world know-how to make the most of the parched land.  The area is covered with lemon, almond and olive trees, many old and gnarled.  A whole host of incredible local produce blooms with stunning flavours.  This stew combines many of these treats, most notably the sweet and smoky local pimenton (paprika).  We use Coato Paprika, an excellent local co-operative (http://www.coato.com/en/about-coato/).  The figs and almonds reflect the Moorish (North African) influence who were here for hundreds of years.  You can hear the sound of North Africa in every flamenco song.

Being a veggie in Spain is tough, we eat at home most of the time, using the produce from the local markets.  Old men and women gather every Sunday in a car park down at  the port and sell their crops.  We have our favourite olive lady, pepper man, spice mama, knife gypsy, Moroccan mint seller etcetc.  There are an array of characters and smiles.  I love to browse a good market.  It is also very cheap, which makes it that touch more satisfying.

The occasion for the ‘El Limonar’ was a visit from Rob and Linda.  They are super foodies who we met in a local cafe.  These shiny people deserved a treat so I put together this deluxe version of one of my tried and tested simmered chickpea recipes.

The technique is to simmer the chickpeas down until only a little stock remains (chickpea stock is delicious, almost beefy!) then begin to add the ingredients.  I find this retains a lot of flavour and gently cooks everything.  This stew did have some added roast vegetables, but it was most definitely a special occasion.

The best way to recreate this is in a colder country is to buy as much organic produce as possible.  Beautifully ripe tomatoes and a good quality Spanish paprika will give this dish a real taste of the Med!

Local Murcian Pimenton from Coato Cooperative, Totana

This is enough for 4 with plenty for lunch the next day (we are bulk cookers at  the B.H.K).

The Bits

5 cups of fat chickpeas (pre-soaked overnight), 1 bay leaf, good veg stock (enough to cover the chickpeas in the pan by 1 inch, maybe 1 litre), one big red onion (all veg chopped into interesting looking chunks), 1 large sweet red pepper, 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 5 sweet tomatoes, 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, 6 sundried tomatos, 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 2 tbs Coato paprika, 1 big glass of Spanish red wine (for authenticity), 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 teas of thyme, zest and juice of one large unwaxed lemon, 2 smoked dried peppers (if you can get your hands on them), 1 handful of roasted unsalted almonds (soaked overnight), 1 good handful of chopped dried figs, 1 good handful of pitted green olives (preferably manzanilla), chopped mint, coriander and parsley, s + p, olive oil to start and finish.

Do It

Most of these steps can be done beforehand and kept in the fridge overnight, the flavours will intensify.  Even better, cook everything for a little less time, get the stew together and re-heat it on the day. 

Add your pre-soaked chickpeas and one bay leaf to a pan of good veg stock, it should cover them by 1 inch.  Bring to a gentle boil then simmer until tender, normally 1 hour.   Skim of white froth regularly.  If the stock evaporates too quickly, put a lid on it.  After cooking the chickpeas should be just poking through the stock.

While they are simmering, chargrill in olive oil your large chunks of aubergine (should be well coloured and gooey inside), pepper, onion and courgette in a frying pan or griddle.  Best to do in batches and keep warm in a covered plate.  I chargrill my cherry tomatoes quickly to give them a little colour.

Add the paprika to the chickpeas and stir in well, then the tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and thyme, put the heat up and before it reaches a boil, add the rest of the ingredients except the wine, which you add just before the stew is about to boil.  Season.  Little finesse here, but maximum flavour!

Once the stew has reached a very gentle boil put the heat down to low and leave simmering, covered for one hour letting the flavours infuse nicely.  Check that the sauce has thickened and is not too thin, if so, turn the heat up and cook down.  Do not boil, this kills flavour.

Just before serving, check seasoning, add a glug of olive oil for shine and richness (or a glug of oil from your jar of sun-dried tomatoes as I did), the lemon juice and most of the chopped mint, coriander and parsley, mix gently in.

Serve

I topped it with a splash of olive oil, some of the left over herbs, finely sliced dried fig and a fistful of crushed almonds.

We ate our stew under the stars, over halved roasted butternut squash with brown rice, a spinach salad with a lemon and honey dressing and a cucumber and local spring onion (like wild garlic) yoghurt.  I think Rob and Linda were amazed at how much we eat!  It’s difficult for me to not get carried away with a kitchen full of amazing produce.

Jane having our 'millionare lunch' (which cost 8 euros)

Foodie Fact

Good old Christopher Columbus got his greedy hands on the pepper plant in South America and like everything else he found of value, brought it back to Spain (I’m not a huge fan of the behavior of these old explorer/conquistador types).

Paprika is made by grinding dried peppers, different paprika uses different peppers and can be sweet, smoked or spicy.  Paprika is used extensively in the cooking of Spain and also quite randomly, Hungary.  Good Goulash would be lost without it.  The name ‘Paprika’ actually comes from the Hungarian word for ‘Pepper’.

Paprika has a high sugar content which must be considered when cooking with it.  It burns easily.

By weight, Paprika contains more Vitamin C than lemon juice.

Boozy Bit

I haven’t had the chance to write about wine in a while.  Thank you Spain for giving me the excuse!

This is best with a wine from the south of Spain.  The stew incorporates many of the flavours of this evocative land, therefore the local wines compliment it perfectly.  We went for a young ‘Casa De La Ermita’ Organic Monastrell from Jumilla (a local wine region), with ripe fruits, lovely vanilla scented oak and dark violet colour.  Monastrell is generally a concentrated wine with good structure and this one held its own with this blockbuster stew.

Casa De La Ermita is a wondeful winery and you can buy the wine in the U.K., I think I even saw it in Tescos.  The Crianza is a very stylish example of the quality of wine now produced in Jumilla, formerly a very ‘rustic’ wine growing region.  They also make a great white and an interesting Petit Verdot.

Here’s their site:

http://www.casadelaermita.com/vinos/casadelaermita_tintoecologico.php

'Casa De La Ermita' Crianza, fine wine from Jumilla, Spain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Dinner, gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, photography, Recipes, Relax, Special Occasion, Travel, Vegan, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin and Almond Tagine

Tagine Market

I love Morocco, the sleepy mountain villages and endless desert sands.  I always made time for the local spice markets, checking out the intoxicating mix of aroma and colour.  I shipped many bags of the stuff back to Spain, running the gauntlet of some very suspicious customs officers and barking Alsatians.  Apparently my bag smelled like a vagrant (must have been the intense cumin?!)

The variety and freshness of these spices make a tagine.  It’s a bit like Guinness and Ireland, something is lost when eaten anywhere outside of its Motherland.

Add fistfuls of dried fruits, olives and ras el hanout and you have a perfect expression of Morocco’s incredible produce.  This is one of those evocative dishes that can sum up the spirit and atmosphere of a diverse country, on one platter, better than a lengthy commentary or travel article.  It’s basically Morocco on a plate.

Having said all of this, due to financial constraints (being a skint traveller), I rarely ate in decent restaurants during my stay there and have had better Moroccan food in London than Marrakech!  My Moroccan diet mainly consisted of triangles of manufactured cheese, handfuls of figs and the ubiquitous flat bread.

However, I was lucky to meet some truly amazing and hospitable folk, who invited me into their homes (the finest place to sample true culture and food worldwide).  I especially remember a chap named Khalid, staying in his family home in Taroundant made me understand the importance and pride attached to the traditional of the tagine.

I met Khalid in a spice market and immediately realised he was the kindest of sorts.  He showed me around the old city for days, but one afternoon he took me, with a big gang of friends and family, to an oasis where we sat under a fig tree and shared a delicious lunch.  We ate straight from the dish, with hunks of bread and greedy hands.  It contained a few spices, vegetables and a whole lot of care and pride.  It was not a tagine strictly speaking, we cooked it in a heavy pan with a good lid, as we do in the B.H.K (we’re tagine-less, hence the generic tagine pot picture), but it’s almost as good.  Only the name changes, its called a ‘Gimb…….’ something or other.  The results are very similar, but you just lose some of the mystique and authenticity.

Tagine is named after the earthenware dish used in the cooking.  The dish is normally cooked slowly and captures all the condensation, making the dish moist.  It’s an easy and healthy way to cook vegetables.

This recipes is slightly more complex than Khalids, and not completely traditional.  It’s another one of my Mum’s favs.  We are lucky here that we have a wonderful organic farm, just over the way, that grows brilliant pumpkins.  Good pumpkin is as important, as the spices.  Use fresh spices and keep all opened spices in a cool place in a tightly sealed container.  Being tagines-less at the moment we opt for a thick bottomed pan or a casserole pot:

Makes one big tagine or pan full, enough for four.  Like all stews, it is better left a while in the fridge to infuse and serve the next day.

The Bits 

Handful of dried apricots (chopped into large chunks), juice of one lemon (add rind finely chopped for more zing), 1 inch root ginger (chopped), 2 tbs tomato puree, 3 cloves garlic (chopped), 2 tsps smoked paprika, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 2 cardoman pods (split or bashed), 2 tsps ground cinnamon, 1 small pumpkin (chopped and roasted, skin on), 1 carrot (chopped into chunks and roasted), 1 tin chickpeas (drained), 5 tomato’s skinned and chopped (or a good tin of chopped tomatoes), 1 tbs honey, handful of fresh coriander (chopped), 2 red peppers (roasted and chopped), salt and pepper, handful of unpeeled roasted almonds.
(If we could get hold of some ras el hanout, we may substitute that for all the spices except paprika.  A handful of pitted olives can add an extra tang to the dish.  Especially good when feeding carnivores for a bigger flavour.)
Do It
Start by frying off you pumpkin chunks, carrot and pepper in a pan with olive oil.  Cook quickly, until coloured nicely, then set aside in a covered dish.
Heat the olive oil in a casserole and stir in the lemon juice, tomato puree with the spices.  Season with s/p.
Add chopped tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots and peppers, cover the dish.
Cook over a very gentle heat, stirring occasionally for about 20-30 mins.
Stir in the almonds, apricots, ginger and garlic and cook for another 15 mins.
When the pumpkin is good and soft, add the chick peas giving a good mix.
Cover and cook about 15 mins until everything is tender, then stir in the honey.
The tagine should be checked regularly and water topped up if required.
Serve
With an extra splash of olive oil, the chopped coriander and a generous dollop of creamy yoghurt and a scattering of almonds and seeds.  Accompanied traditionally by a nice warm flat bread or cous cous.  We made it gluten-free and opted for some quinoa.  ‘As you wish, you are free’ as many of my Moroccan friends would say.
We Love It
Moroccans make some of the finest stews, they are so blessed with amazing local ingredients.  As I said, this is really Morocco on a platter and that makes it a glorious thing.  It’s the perfect winter stew, bursting with spice, flavour and bright colours.
Foodie Fact
Pumpkin, and most very orange veggies, are packed with the important anti-oxidant beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into Vitamin A.  It’s also a good source of fibre, Vitamin C, K and E and loads of different minerals.   Even its seeds are packed with goodness, especially omega 3 fatty acids.
The big orange beauty is a member of the cururbitaceae family, making it a relative of the cucumber and can grow to be 25 kgs in weight.

The Djem El Fna, the mad Market Square in Marrakech

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Lunch, photography, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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