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!

Ingredients
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

Method
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

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Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian

Tomato, Carrot and Black-Eyed Bean Soup

A need for a last minute supper and no interest in racing to the shops to buy stuff. A good ferret around the cupboard and fridge and this is what I came up with. I blitzed this in the liquidiser but only to blend the ingredients rather than to puree the mix. This gave the soup a nice texture when the beans were added.

Turned out to be very tasty indeed and nicely filling. Thumbs up from the teen who made off with the leftovers for lunch!

Ingredients
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 carrots, grated
2 tablespoons, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon, dried parsley
1 heaped teaspoon, dried basil
¾ pint, vegetable stock
2 tins, chopped tomatoes
1 tin, black-eyed beans*
½ to 1 teaspoon, sugar**
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

Method
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan
2. Add the onion, cover with the lid and allow to cook for about 5 minutes until soft
3. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
4. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes
5. Add the herbs, tomatoes and stock
6. Cook for about 20 minutes
7. Add the sugar according to taste**
8. Season with salt and lots of black pepper
9. Blitz in the liquidiser until the ingredients are blended but not pureed
10. Return to the pan and add the black-eyed beans*
11. Heat through and serve

* With the amount of soup, more beans would be possible to turn this into a heartier soup or even a main meal. Next time, I will try adding a tin of borlotti beans
** I usually like tinned tomatoes cooked with sugar to season. This soup, however, was nicer with less sugar.

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Lamb, Slow Cooked Shanks

Slow cooked lamb shanks  

When the weather is freezing, my need for red meat escalates accordingly. This time I didn’t want anything too heavy so I threw together the following recipe for lamb shanks cooked in the oven. Instead of using red wine, which I felt might overpower the dish, I opted for white wine and it worked very well.

While light in consistency, the sauce was quite intense in flavour. When I tasted it, I longed for some fresh French Bread to dip into it as it was delicious; I’d be completely happy with that on its own! The final dish? It’s rather hearty but perfect winter fare. I ate mine with creamy mashed potato because I am such a creature of habit while the Teen chose whole wheat pasta and both complimented it very nicely indeed. Other alternatives would be to serve it with green beans or flageolet beans instead of potatoes, rice or pasta.

The dish takes time to cook but we think it’s worth it.

Lamb Shanks

(Serves 4)

Ingredients
4 lamb shanks
1 large onion, chopped finely
6 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
4 large carrots, diced
12 fluid ounces white wine
Tin of chopped tomatoes
4 fluid ounces good quality chicken stock
Bouquet garni
Salt and ground black pepper
Sunflower oil for frying

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 220C
2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy casserole dish
3. Brown each of the lamb shanks, removing each from the dish when done and setting aside
4. Add another tablespoon of oil and when hot, add the onion
5. Cover with the lid and allow to soften for a couple of minutes
6. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes
7. Mix in the carrots, coating them with the onion and garlic mix
8. After cooking these for a further two minutes, add the wine and bring to a gentle boil
9. Stir in the tomatoes and stock
10. Season with salt and pepper and tuck the bouquet garni into the sauce
11. Place the lamb shanks on top of the sauce and cover with the lid
12. Pop into the oven and after 10 minutes reduce the heat to 165
13. After 40 minutes, check the casserole and cover the meat with sauce
14. Return to the oven
15. After 1 hour and 45 minutes, remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce down for 15 minutes
16. Replace the lid and let it stand for 15 minutes before serving with an accompaniment of your choice.

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