Pasta e fagioli – One New Recipe A Week

I’ve had a miserable cold this week so was hankering after soup today, whilst ask my 4-year old what she wants for tea and she inevitably says ‘pasta’ so this hearty pasta and bean soup from the Italian Puglia region totally hits the spot. This recipe replaces beans (and i’ve made similar soups before with Borlotti beans which work really well) with chickpeas which my daughter refers to as simply ‘yummy scrummy’. The recipe states that the pasta shapes traditionally used are ‘orecchiette’ or ‘little ears’ but any small-ish pasta shape works well. I actually only had fusilli (twists) in which were fine too.

The recipe is taken from ‘Easy Vegetarian one-pot’ – which is a very handy book including over 100 salads, frittatas, stews, tagines and so on. I amended the amounts from serves 4 down to 3 – it was just me and the 4 year-old this evening so there some left over for my work lunch tomorrow. The chilli flakes give this a lovely warmth and i’d probably add more if it was just for me and my OH. A tasty, filling, healthy and quick to make soup.


250g/9oz dried chickpeas (i just used about 3/4 of a tin of chickpeas)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped (i used half a medium sized onion)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (i just used one)
a sprig of fresh rosemary (didn’t have this so just used dried mixed herbs)
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli/hot pepper flakes
400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree/paste
1.5 litres/6 cups vegetable stock (i cut this down to about half a litre but i like quite thick soups)
100g/3.5oz small pasta shapes such as orecchiete or conchigliette
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve (or veggie alternative. i used a Pecorino cheese)
extra virgin olive oil, to serve

(If not just using a tin of chickpeas…) Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight. Drain and put in a large saucepan with sufficient cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, until very tender. Drain and set asaide.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary and chilli/hot pepper flakes along with a pinch of salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until the onoin has softened.

Increase the heat to high. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree/paste, stock and the chickpeas and bring to the boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat to a medium simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with olive oil.


Channa aur simla mirch and Matar Paneer – One New Recipe A Week

Or Fried Chick Peas and Peppers and Peas and Cheese in Tomato Sauce…

Have to be honest – this is i suppose another guest post by my OH who made these dishes for dinner a couple of weeks after we moved into our new house (5 weeks ago now!) and have either been unpacking/knackered/watching the Olympics in recent weeks (Team GB has 22 Golds at time of writing this – Amazing!) so haven’t got round to adding it. Which is remiss of me because both dishes were absolutely gorgeous and were again from rediscovered favourite The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking. It took only half an hour or so to make both dishes and were served with plain white basmati rice.

So both recipes just taken from the book and any comments in italics:

Channa aur simla mirch (Fried Chick peas and peppers)
1 1/2 cups (250g) chick-peas (we used a tin of chick peas)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 fresh chillies, minced (these were just chopped up)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (dried is fine)
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) pieces
1 medium-sized tomato, washed and chopped (optional)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, washed and cut into 8 wedges each

Soak the chick-peas overnight in water to double their volume (or just use tinned chick peas). Drain them and put them into a pot. Add enough water to cover them by about 3 inches (7.5cm) and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove any froth that has collected on top, cover and gently simmer over medium-low het for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until chick peas are tender. Then drain off the water (save 1/2 cup – 125ml – if you plan to make a sauce) (IGNORE all this if you’re using tinned chick peas instead).
Over medium heat, heath the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the cumin seeds. Then add the minced chilli and ginger. Add the turmeric and asafetida and then follow immediately with the cut pepper. Turn the pieces of pepper with a spoon. When they appear soft and browned, add the drained chick-peas and stir for 3 minutes. Then add the remaining salt. If you would like a sauce, add the water you saved or 1 chopped tomato and cook 5 minutes more. (The 2 medium-szed tomatoes are to be served as garnish)

Matar Paneer (Peas and cheese in tomato sauce)

(You can adjust the thickness of the sauce to your taste by varying the amount of water. Thin, it goes well with rice, thick with chapatis).

8oz (225g) Paneer (Indian cheese now widely available in supermarkets- though you could use any decent hard cheese like cheddar)
ghee or vegetable oil for deep frying (sort-of optional)
4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbs ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 fresh chillies, seeded and minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp asafetida
1lb (450g) fresh peas shelled (we used frozen peas)
2/3 cup (150ml) water
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp garam masala

Knead the paneer well until it is smooth and soft. Then, form it into grape sized balls and deep fry them in ghee or vegetable oil until they are crisp and golden-brown. (NB – if using supermarket bought paneer, you don’t need to do this – OH just cuts the block of paneer – see pic – and just frys in a little ghee rather than deep fry). Remove them from the ghee with a slotted spoon and drop them into a solution of 3 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of turmeric and 2 cups of warm water or whey. Let them soak while you go on to the next step (NB – you don’t really need to do this either…)
In a medium sized saucepan, heath the 2 tablespoons of ghee over medium heat. Then add the cumin seeds, followed by the minced chillies and grated giner. When the cumin seeds are browned (in about 30 to 45 seconds) toss in the asafetida, the remaining turmeric and a few seconds later the peas. Now add the water, cover the pan, and cook the peas until they are tender. Add the tomatoes and cheese balls (paneer chunks). Cook over the same medium heat for 5 more minutes. Just before serving, add a generous squeeze of lemon, and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the garam masala.

Fried chick-peas and peppers and Peas and cheese in tomato sauce

Alu phul gobhi ki bhaji – One New Recipe a Week

Wasn’t sure i’d get this posted this week but i have – Alu phul gobhi ki bhaji is Cauliflower and potatoes in yogurt sauce from The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking by Adiraja Dasa. Now, before you run away screaming, i am not part of the Hare Krishna religion (or any, come to that) but some years ago this was about the only decent vegetarian Indian cookbook you could get and my OtherHalf was browsing at the weekend trying to see how we could use up some frozen veg before moving house, specifically a load of frozen Cauliflower, and came across this recipe.

So, i absolutely can’t take any credit for making this at all but it was so delicious i couldn’t not share it. My OH also said it was ridiculously easy and took less than half an hour. He also made a quick red lentil dahl to go with it too. One thing to note about Hare Krishna Indian cooking is that they don’t use Onion (goes against Vedic principles). The book actually has some really intesting chapters on Vegetarianism (bear in mind i’m not vegetarian – still an interesting read though) aswell as useful information on the kinds of Utensils used in Indian cooking as well as some handy suggested menus and has sections on Spices and Herbs, Milk products, Rice, Dals and Soups, Breads and Pancakes, Vegetables, Savories, Chutneys and Raitas, Sweets and Beverages. Definately worth hunting down if you want to try some authentic Indian vegetarian dishes, and simply skip past the Hare Krishna stuff if it’s not your bag.

Recipe copied from the book:

This technique of frying vegetables first in a masala, then steaming them, can be applied to other types of vegetables as well. People sometimes refer to this method as “curried” vegetables.

1 medium-sized cauliflower (we used few handfuls of frozen veg which we defrosted first)
5 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 dried chillies, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asafetida
4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tbs water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (250ml) plain yogurt
3/4 tsp garam masala
2 firm ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced
1 lemon or lime (we used a bit of lemon juice)

Trim the cauliflower and cut it into flowerets 1 1/2 inches (4cm) long by 1 inch (2.5cm) thick. Rinse them in a colander and let drain.
Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Drop in the cumin seeds and crushed chillies and fry them for 30 to 45 seconds, until the cumin seeds turn golden brown. Add the powdered spices, fry for a few seconds longer, then immediately add the cubed potatoes. Turn the potatoes for 2 or 3 minutes, letting them brown in spots, Now stir in the cauliflower and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the water and salt and put the lid on the pan to trap the steam. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still firm.
Finally, stir in the yogurt and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick. Sprinkle with garam masala and stir gently to mix. Garnish each serving with slices of tomato and a twist of lemon or lime.

Preparation and cooking time: 25 min
(above recipe for 4 people – we reduced amount of potato and cauliflower by roughly half for 2 people).

Cheat’s Easy Onion, Tomato, Spinach and Cheese Tart – One new recipe a week

After the near-disaster of the Blueberry Muffins i decided to try and redeem myself a bit and bake something else immediately afterwards. I’d picked up some pre-made shortcrust pastry (which was reduced in the supermarket – i normally make my own and yes, home-made always tastes better but sometimes it’s just handy to have some in the fridge!) and on the back of the packet there was a recipe for an Easy Bacon, Tomato and Cheese Tart which i decided to adapt and omit the bacon and add some onion and spinach instead (both of which we have loads of at the moment). If you want to make your own pastry then an easy recipe is here on the BBC Good Food website. My comments in italics.

500g JUS-ROL shortcrust pastry (or your own-made pastry)
5-6 Spring onions (i just chopped up one normal onion and softened them in a pan)
4-5 rashers bacon chopped (i omitted this but you could also use Quorn or similar veggie bacon)
3 eggs
250ml milk (i used semi-skimmed)
2 tomatoes
3 heaped tbsp Cheddar Cheese – grated
A few basil leaves (optional)
(i also included a couple of handfuls of spinach wilted in a pan)

Follow pastry preparation instructions. Preheat oven to 200c (180c for fan-assisted ovens)/Gas Mark 6.

1) Roll out pastry and line a 20cm flan tin (i blind baked mine for about 15 minutes or so but you don’t have to do this – my OH’s mum never does and her tarts/quiches are always excellent and not soggy at all – and i’m not just saying that:-)
2) Gently fry the bacon until just cooked and allow to cool (instead i had my chopped onion on a low heat to soften in one pan and had wilted my spinach in another and laid it on a bit of kitchen towel to saok up any excess liquid). Meanwhile beat together then eggs and milk and add seasoning.
3) Scatter the bacon in the base of the pastry case with the (spring) onions and cheese. Add tomato slices on top (i also added the spinach here) then pour in the egg mixture. (I don’t know about you but i always seem to have some mixture seep a bit through my case here and either have to do a bit of damage limitation if its over the tops by added a bit of spare pastry or mopping up any thats spilled onto the baking tray then getting it into the oven as quickly as possible! – i think i may just need a new flan tin…)
4) Bake for approx. 20 minutes until filling is set and pastry is golden. If desired, scatter with basil leaves.

Was really pleased with this (despite TYL refusing to eat any *sigh*) and it was great cold next day for lunch too.



Summer Spaghetti with Avocado – One new recipe a week

I have been waiting for over a week for these Avocado’s to ripen which i bought from Asda (serves me right i know..) and after flicking through Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Meals in Minutes, just had to make this dish. Combining two of my favourite things to eat; the aforementioned Avocado and Spaghetti – both of which I could eat daily and never tire of either.

Rose suggests eating this with hot garlic bread and a leafy salad – we just had big bowls of it which were just as delicious without any accompaniements. The amounts here serve 2, so just adjust accordingly if feeding a family. I didn’t try it on TheYoungLady today (she was a bit of a grumpus today so not really in a mood to try anything new…) but certainly will in future. Its quick, taking only as long as the spaghetti takes to cook, healthy and is a lovely light spaghetti dish. My comments are in italics (apologies for rubbish pics – my Blackberry phone camer is starting to show its age – i must use my camera next time!).

450g/1lb tomatoes (I cheated here and just used a 400g tin of Italian plum tomatoes)
175g/6oz spaghetti
2tbls olive oil (i may have added a tad more.…)
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper (i used sea salt after having acquired a free tube of it from a colleague this week who’d been given two by mistake in her online Waitrose food delivery order..delicious)
1 avocado
lemon juice
6-8 large basil leaves (i used some frozen chopped basil leaves here)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese – optional (or whatever cheese you have handy)

1) First fill a saucepan with 2 litres/3.5 pints of water and bring to the boil for the pasta
2) Put the tomatoes into a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for a few seconds until the skins split. Drain, cover with cold water and slip off the skins with a sharp knife. Chop the tomatoes roughly, removing any hard bits of core. (Or you can skip this bit and use a tin of tomatoes like i did – you will have more sauce but thats ok).
3) When the water boils, add the spaghetti and cook, uncovered for about 8 mijutes until al dente.
4) Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and cook over a moderate heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste and heat gently, just to warm through. Peel, stone and chop the avocado (or scoop/gouge out the flesh as best you can – i find the idea of peeling an avocado messy) and toss it in a little lemon juice.
5) Drain the pasta and return it to the still-warm saucepan. Add the tomato misxture and the avocado and toss well to mix, the tear in the basil (as i was using frozen, i put the basil into the chopped tomatoes at stage 4), check the seasoning and serve. Hand round Parmesan cheese separately, if you like.

Macaroni Peas – One New Recipe A Week

So, spurred on by Saturday’s Sweet Potato Gnocchi i decided to make something from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Everyday which i’d wanted to make since getting the book at the end of last year – Macaroni Peas!

Everyone loves Macaroni Cheese obviously and my OH is the master of it in our house but i really fancied this as it looked quick, had a load of veg in it and thought TheYoungLady would like it (macaroni, peas and bit of cheese – what’s not to like?)

For info – i amended the amounts Hugh suggests for the pasta and peas (as it’s feeding two adults and a 3 year old rather than 4 people) and the amount i ended up with still left enough for us all to have a second serving-spoonful. My amounts and any comments are in italics.

500g Peas (fresh or frozen) or petit pois (i used 300g of frozen peas)
300g small macaroni or smallish pasta shapes such as orecchiette or fusilli, or even risoni (i used 200g of macaroni)
50g butter (i used ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter‘)
1 garlic clove, chopped ( i used one big clove plus a tiny half-clove)
25g Parmesan, hard goat’s cheese or other well-flavoured hard cheese coarsely grated plis extra to serve (i just used mature cheddar)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (just used normal table salt *note to self to get some decent sea-salt though!*)
Shredded basil or flat-leaf parsley to serve (optional)

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, so that you’re ready to cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together.
Put the peas in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender – just a couple of minutes for frozen or very tender fresh peas, longer for older fresh peas.
When the peas are almost cooked, add the pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and add the garlic. Let is cook gently for just a couple of minutes, without colouring, then remove from the heat.
Drain the peas, reserving the cooking water. Put about half of them in a blender with 6 tablespoons of the cooking water, the butter and garlic and the grated cheese. (I just used a hand blender here in a pan) Blitz to a smooth, loose puree, adding a little more water if needed. Combine with the whole peas and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drain the pasta as soon as it is ready and toss immediately with the hot pea sauce. Serve topped with plenty of ground black pepper and more grated Parmesan. Shredded basil of chopped flat-leaf parsley is a goo, but by no means essential, finishing touch. (i had neither!)

This was SUCH a tasty dish and another success all round. The garlic really makes the dish, as does blending half of it. I added a couple more tablespoons of the cooking water, as Hugh suggests, but this is definately going to be a regular tea in our house. Quick too, with really only taking the time it takes to bring a couple of pans of water to the boil and to cook the macaroni.