Vegan, Vegetarian

Khoresh Bademjan (vegan)

Trying out new recipes was not top of my list during recent months. Work and keeping us all sane was the priority. Yesterday, while sporting my ‘Lockdown Grey’ hair, I decided to make something new. To draw from the selection of spices I have but not produce another dish with chili or curry as the dominant taste.

2While I haven’t that much knowledge of it, I have really enjoyed the Persian food I have had. I decided to put together a vegan version of Khoresh Bademjan. I substituted yellow split peas for the meat and it turned out quite delicious. I served it with plain Basmati rice but it would be equally nice served simply with flat breads.

My stash of Sumac was gone (now there’s something I never thought I would run out of!) so I used orange and lemon instead. It worked well and there are lovely citrus-y, garlic-y, flavours to this dish.

Serves 4-6

1lb aubergines, chopped into bite size pieces
Olive oil
Table salt
2 medium sized onions, chopped finely
4-6 cloves garlic, chopped finely (adjusted according to taste)
1 medium sized orange
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Saffron threads soaked in 3 tsp water
1 cup dried split yellow peas, rinsed with cold water
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato puree
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

1. Place chopped aubergines in a colander and sprinkle liberally with table salt
2. Leave aside for 20-30 minutes
3. Zest and juice the orange. Place the zest in the juice and set aside
4. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C
5. Rinse the salt off the aubergines and dry the pieces
6. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes
7. While the aubergines are roasting, heat about three tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan
8. Add the onions, cover and cook gently for 6-8 minutes until soft
9. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes
10. Add the cumin, paprika and cinnamon, cook for 1-2 minutes
11. Add the lemon and orange juices (including the orange zest) and combine with the onion mix
12. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, saffron (with water), the yellow split peas and a good grind of black pepper
13. Simmer for 10 minutes
14. Add the roasted aubergines and simmer gently for 30 minutes (stir occasionally and gently so that the aubergines stay in pieces)
15. Add salt to taste
16. Serve with plain Basmati rice or flat breads

Vegan, Vegetarian

Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

Ah, you can’t beat a summer in Ireland! While you might expect to be knee deep in salad beansingredients and all sorts of delicious fresh produce, wintry fare is often far more suitable. No surprise then that I cooked a Butter Bean and Sweet Potato Curry yesterday for the teen. A one pot dinner which suited the weather perfectly. She ate it while sitting at the window looking out at the lashings of rain!

½ lb dried butter beans soaked overnight or 2 tins of butter beans
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
5 tbsp, sunflower oil
1 onion, cut into thinly sliced rings
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1½ tbsp, fresh ginger grated finely
1 tsp, minced chilli from jar or 1-2 fresh chillis, chopped finely
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, ground cumin
1 tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, garam masala
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, mango powder (optional)
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
2 tbsps, tomato puree
Cup of water
Sea salt
1 cube, vegetable stock
1 tbsp, lemon juice

1. If using dried butter beans – place in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, add the stock cube and boil gently for 30-40 minutes until the beans are softening but still have a bit of a bite. Drain and set aside

While beans are cooking
2. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan
3. Toss the sweet potatoes and carrots in 3 tablespoons of oil and season with salt
4. Roast in the oven until carmelised but still have a slight bite (about 20-25 minutes)
5. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft – about 8 minutes
6. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes
7. Add the chilli and cook for about a minute
8. Make a well in the onion mix and add the spices
9. Let these cook for a minute and then combine thoroughly and cook for a further 2 minutes
10. Add the tomato puree, tin of chopped tomatoes and lemon juice*
11. Cook for 10 minutes
12. Add the beans and roast vegetables
13. Add the water, if needed
14. Cook for another 5 minutes
15. Serve as it is, with green vegetables or some warm naan breads.

* The lemon juice is important as it cuts through the sweetness of the beans and roast vegetables

Vegan, Vegetarian

Romesco Sauce

More experimentation in the kitchen. Whenever I am at my busiest, my mind wanders to cooking and today was no exception. I saw this sauce being made to serve with fish and thought it could be nice to serve as a vegan pasta sauce too.

After scouring a number of recipes, I put together the following. It can be stored for up to a week in the fridge but I doubt this will last that long! The teen ate it with a spoon from the jar and spread it on bread before eating it with pasta. We also thought that it would be a very nice accompaniment to serve with chips or potato wedges.


2 red peppers
4 tbsp, blanched almonds
2-3 cloves, garlic
2 tomatoes, peeled and cored
Pinch of salt
½ tsp, sugar
¼ tsp, cayenne
1 tsp, smoked paprika
2 tbsp, wine vinegar
2 tbsp, olive oil

1. Pre heat oven to 180C
2. Place peppers on an oven rack and roast until soft, turning a couple of times over the 10-15 minutes required
3. At the same time, place the almonds and the garlic on a baking tray to roast for 8-10 minutes, turning the almonds once during the process to make sure they do not burn
4. In a liquidiser, place the tomatoes, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika and vinegar
5. When roasted, remove the peppers, almonds and garlic from the oven and allow to cool
6. Peel the peppers and remove the seeds and stalk
7. Peel the garlic
8. Add the peppers, almonds and garlic to the other ingredients and blitz until combined but the nuts are still slightly visible
9. Add the oil and combine thoroughly
10. Transfer to a sterilised jar


Vegan, Vegetarian

Chana Masala with Roasted Pepper

We’re at that time of the week when the fridge is bare! Time to conjure up something with the softening red pepper and larder staples of onions, garlic and chilli. In the press are tins of tomatoes, chickpeas and my collection of spices. I decide to put that pepper spicesout of its misery by roasting it in the oven to bring out its sweetness and to give it a slightly charred taste. And with the tomatoes and chickpeas, I make my version of Chana Masala. I add mango powder to the spice mix – yes, it does make a difference but it can be left out. I have to admit that I only bought it at the Asian Market as I was curious and then had to go looking for recipes to use it in!

It’s not traditional as I have no tamarind to add to the mix but the Teen declares it to be ‘unreal’ so that is praise enough for me!

Serves 4

1 red pepper, whole
3 tbsp, sunflower oil
I medium onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, chopped chilli from jar or 2-3 fresh chilis, chopped finely
1 tsp, ground cumin
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, mango powder (optional)
1 tsp, garam masala
1 tsp, turmeric
¼ – ½ tsp, salt
2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
6 dried curry leaves
1 tbsp, lemon juice

1. Heat the oven to 200 C degrees
2. Place red pepper on the rack and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning twice through the roasting process
3. While the pepper is roasting, heat the oil in a large saucepan
4. Fry cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes
5. Add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes until soft
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
7. Add the chilli and ginger and cook for a further 2 minutes
8. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, mango powder, garam masala, turmeric, salt and combine thoroughly with the onion mix
9. Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, curry leaves and lemon juice
10. Slice the roasted pepper into thin strips and add to the mix
11. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes
12. Serve with flat breads or rice

Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

‘Masak Merah’ Vegetables

I promised I’d cook the Teen something spicy for dinner. When I looked at my recipes and on line, I knew I wanted to try something different – not the usual coriander-cumin mix or something with coconut milk. After much searching, I came up with a veganpic version of ‘Ayam Masak Merah’ – without the Ayam! Quite simply, it is a recipe with roasted vegetables served with a spiced tomato sauce from Malaysia.

This recipe is a milder version than the traditional ones. It is still not for the faint hearted! I decided to make the sauce in advance and let it stand so that the spice could cook out and come through more evenly. In keeping with the style of cooking the original chicken component, I roasted the vegetables before adding to the sauce. All of this was served up with boiled Jasmine rice.

I used whatever vegetables I found in the fridge and larder. I cut them into sizes so they would cook at the same time. Putting them in a large bowl, I drizzled them in enough sunflower to coat them lightly and seasoned with sea salt. Placing them on a pre-heated baking tray, I roasted them in an oven pre-heated to 180c for about 20 minutes. I give the selection I used plus I threw in some spinach at the end of the cooking time.

Serves 4

1 stick lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 bulb garlic, chopped
3 hot chillies, chopped (with seeds in)
1½ inch, ginger, chopped finely
3 star anise
½ tsp, black cardamon seeds

3 tbsp., sunflower or vegetable oil
1 stick, cinnamon
1 tsp, turmeric
1 tsp, fennel seeds
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tube, tomato puree
½ cup, tomato ketchup
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
6 kaffir leaves
1 tsp, sugar
1 tbsp., lime juice
Sea salt

Sunflower oil

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size cubes
2 large carrots, cut into batons
2 bell peppers
2 large handfuls of spinach (added 5 minutes before the end of cooking)

1. With a pestle and mortar, crush the star anise with the cardamon seeds
2. Put in the blender with the lemongrass, garlic, ginger, onion and chillies
3. Blitz into a rough paste
4. Heat the oil and fry the paste for 2-3 minutes
5. Add the cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, coriander and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes
6. Add in the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, tomato ketchup, sugar, kaffir leaves and lime juice
7. Bring to the boil and simmer at a low heat for 30 minutes
8. Season with salt to taste
9. Add the roasted vegetables, coat in the sauce and cook for another 15 minutes


Pickles, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Gone mad picklin’!

I’ve always loved pickles. When I was little, I would sneak a silver skin pickled onion off the drinks’ tray. And I would wince, sucking the vinegar out of the little onion. There wasonioin something thrilling about it to a small person!

Pickles from Poland were always my favourite. There was a sweetness to the pickles rather than the sharp, face wincing, pickling liquid I had first encountered. Pickles were something I bought, not something I thought of doing myself.

Until this summer…

I’ve been making jars of pickled red onions, cucumber and more recently, Kimchi. I was surprised not only at how delicious they are but also at how easy and cheap it is to make them. We opened the first jar of pickled onions, put them on some mature cheddar – heaven! We’ve used these in sandwiches, salads and curries and the cucumbers in salads.

Red onions
1 1/2 pint storage jar with clips

1lb red onions, sliced very thinly
1½ cups, white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns

1. Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan
2. Heat slowly until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved and thenm remove from the heat
3. Pack about one third of the onions into the jar
4. Add a few peppercorns
5. Repeat process until jar is full
6. Press the onions down into the jar leaving about an inch from the top free
7. Pour in the warm vinegar mix
8. Allow to cool before sealing and put in the fridge
9. Store for a couple of days before using
10. When opened, store in fridge and it will keep for about 4 weeks

The process is similar to the one above and the result is equally delicious. The recipe makes 1 1/2 pint jar.

3 large cucumbers, sliced very thinly
1½ cups, white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
2-3 small sprigs of dill

1. Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan
2. Heat slowly until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved and then, remove from the hob
3. Pack a third of the sliced cucumbers into the jar
4. Add a sprig of dill
5. Repeat process until the jar is full, leaving about an inch from the top free
6. Pour in the warm vinegar mix
7. Allow to cool before sealing and put in the fridge
8. Store for a couple of days
9. When opened, store in fridge and it will keep for 4 weeks



Spiced roast potatoes with chickpeas

I’m always buying bags of baby potatoes and coming up with different ways to use them beyond steaming and boiling. It can bepotatoes roasting them with garlic, rosemary, sea salt and olive oil – in their skins until golden brown – or steaming them to use cold in a chunky potato salad (made with any one of four mayonnaises: ordinary, garlic, ordinary mixed with chive or curried).

In the winter, the Teen likes one bowl dinners that can be eaten without cooking anything else like rice or vegetables to accompany them. With a bag of baby roasters available, I decided to make a hearty spiced potato and chickpea dish. I roasted the potatoes separately – in their skins – and added in at the end just before serving. It turned out to be rather delicious and a welcome change from older potatoes as these small ones retained their sweet taste.

1lb, baby roaster potatoes cut into chunks
Sunflower oil
Sea salt
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp, grated fresh ginger
1 chilli, chopped finely
1 tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, ground coriander
1 tsp, ground cumin
½ tsp, turmeric
½ tsp, garam masala
½ tsp, mango powder
1 tin, chopped tomatoes
1 tin, chick peas, drained
½ cup water

1. Pre-heat fan oven to 200C degrees
2. Rinse the starch off the potatoes, dry, put into a bowl adding just enough sunflower oil to coat them and a sprinkling of sea salt
3. Heat a baking tray in the oven and when hot, tip the potatoes on to roast for 15-20 minutes until golden brown
4. While the potatoes are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan
5. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes until soft
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
7. Add the ginger and cook for minute
8. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a minute
9. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, mango powder, garam masala and turmeric until combined with the onion mix
10. Add the tomatoes, water and chickpeas
11. Simmer over a gentle heat for 15 minutes
12. Using a slotted spoon, add the roast potatoes to the mix
13. Serve immediately*

* Although this is a vegan recipe, I enjoyed a dollop of greek yoghurt on the top of mine


Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Saag Aloo

Spinach arrived late into my life. I think I was in my early twenties before I tasted fresh spinach. Instantly, I knew what all the fuss was about and it has been a firm favouritespinach ever since – cooked or raw. Up until then, the only spinach I knew came in a tin or a frozen block – neither of which I found particularly palatable.

Saag Aloo is made regularly in this home. This is not my recipe, however, so thanks is due to another. I only which I knew who! It is yet another list of ingredients scribbled on a scrap of paper wedged in a cookery book. To whoever came up with it, we thank-you as we have enjoyed eating this many, many, many times!

This can be served as a side dish or as a main dish with naan bread or rice.

2 medium onions, chopped
3 tbsp, sunflower oil
½ tsp, coriander seeds
½ tsp, cumin seeds
¼ tsp, cayenne pepper
½ tsp, ground coriander
2lb, spinach, washed and roughly shredded
1lb potatoes, peeled and cute into bite size cubes
½ tsp, salt
2 tsp,  ground fenugreek
Tin, chopped tomatoes

1. Parboil the potatoes
2. Heat the oil and gently fry the onions for about 8 minutes until soft
3. Add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes
4. Add the potatoes, cayenne pepper, coriander power, salt, fenugreek and tomatoes
5. Cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked
6. Add the spinach, cover and allow stand for 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted



Vegetarian Lasagne


It is years since I made this so I had forgotten how delicious and comforting it is. Made it the other night and there wasn’t a sliver left by morning! Vegetarian lasagne would be my preference over the meat variety but that’s just me. We did feed this to a confirmed carnivore once and he never guessed there was no meat in it! Wolfed the whole lot down *and* asked for seconds!

The method is very straight forward. It may seem that there are a lot of steps but some of these run together so it is not as time consuming as it may originally appear.

This recipe uses a standard size lasagne dish and feeds 4. I prepare it in advance as not only do I like to let the tomato mix stand for a while, I find it easier to put this together when both sauces are cool. I place tin foil over it and slow cook it in the oven. This is my preferred method if using no-cook lasagne sheets to avoid those crunchy ends. I brown off the cheese topping under the grill. I also roast the pepper before adding as I think this enhances the flavour.

What do I serve this with? Mixed salad or garlic bread or both. On occasion, I don’t bother as it is nice enough on its own.

Serves 4

1 red pepper
1 aubergine, chopped into small chunks
2 tbsp, olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 lb mushrooms, sliced roughly
1 large courgette, chopped into small chunks (same size as aubergine)
2 tbsp, tomato puree
1 tin tomatoes (cherry tomatoes if possible)
1 tsp, sugar
1 dessert spoon, dried parsley
1 tsp, dried basil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1½ pint milk*
2 ounces, butter
2-3 tbsp, flour
Lasagne sheets
Grated cheese to cover the top of the lasagne (I use a mix of cheddar and parmesan)

1. Put the aubergine chunks into a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt
2. Heat the oven to 180C and place the red pepper on the rack to roast for about 15 minutes or until soft (turning half way through)
3. Heat the oil and fry the onion gently until soft (about 8-10 minutes)
4. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes
5. While the onion is cooking, rinse the aubergine chunks thoroughly
6. Add all the chopped vegetables to the onion/garlic mix and cook for another 5 minutes
7. Add the tomato puree, herbs, sugar and tinned tomatoes and allow to simmer gently for about an hour
8. Season with salt and pepper
9. In another pan, melt the butter
10. Add the flour and cook over a low heat until pale, stirring all the time to avoid burning
11. Add the milk gradually to combine it with the roux until 1 pint is added to the mix**
12. Season with salt and pepper
13. Cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until it thickens and set aside (cover the pan to avoid a skin forming)
14.  Heat the oven to 150C degrees
15. Put a small amount of the tomato mix at the bottom of the dish and cover with lasagne sheets
16. Cover these sheets with tomato mix. Drizzle with a couple of dessert spoons of white sauce
17 Repeat this until the dish is full. Cover the remaining lasagne sheets with the white sauce making sure to cover the edges of the pasta
18. Sprinkle with cheese all over the top and cover loosely with tinfoil (make sure that it does not touch the top)
19. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes
20. Brown the cheese top under the grill until bubbling

*If I have the time, I heat the milk with a bay leaf and a little grated nutmeg before using it in the mix.

** The remainder of the milk is required if the white sauce needs to be thinned out

Vegan, Vegetarian

Keema (vegan)

The Teen loves Keema so time to try out a vegan version. I usually make it with beef mince, slow cooked in the oven, but this time I cooked it with green lentils on the hob. I used similar spicing to the meat version although the cooking time and style changed.


Neither of us are big fans of Quorn or other meat substitutes so this was a bit of an experiment. The verdict? The Teen proclaimed it to be ‘unreal!’ as she ate a hearty bowl with homemade flatbreads.

1 tsp, cumin seeds
1 tsp, coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
½  tsp garam masala
1 tsp, turmeric
8 ounces, green lentils
2 pints, vegetable stock
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 chilli, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 in ginger, grated
2 tbsp, sunflower oil
1lb potatoes, peeled and cut into large, bite size, chunks
Tin chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tbsp, tomato puree
Ground black pepper
1 cup, frozen peas
Water to add if the mix is too thick

1. Roast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cinnamon in the sauce pan for 1-2 minutes making sure not to burn them
2. Grind the seeds together, add the other spices and cinnamon to the mix and leave aside until needed
3. Put the lentils in a saucepan, cover with 1 ½ pints of cold stock, bring gently to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
4. Leave to cool
5. While the lentils are cooking, blitz the onions, chilli, garlic and ginger into a paste
6. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the paste for 2-3 minutes
7. Add the spices, ground pepper and cook for another 2 minutes
8. Add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, remaining stock and potatoes
9. Cover and cook for 30 minutes
10. Drain the lentils and add to the tomatoes and potato mix
11. Cook for another 20 minutes, adding the peas 5 minutes before the end