Slow cooked pasta sauce

Slow cooked pasta sauce

Late in from work, I promised to make the Teen something tasty for dinner to be ready when she arrived in from college. Not a lot in the fridge but still enough to make a tasty pasta sauce. I’ve slow cooked meat ragu before so I wondered if I could make a vegan version. At that time of the day, I simply wanted to prepare something which ticked all the boxes but didn’t exhaust me making!

Into the kitchen and I find vegetables, tins of tomatoes, lentils and some wine so I get to work. I let it cook at a low heat and like the meat version, it became richer with the cooking. Served up with penne, it made a very happy Teen. And we discovered that it freezes well too. Win win!

Serves 4

2 tbsp, olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced finely
4 oz mushrooms, chopped finely
1 roasted red pepper, cut into thin slices
4 oz green lentils, rinsed
1 glass red wine
2 tbsp, tomato puree
1 tbsp, dried parsley
1 heaped tsp, dried basil
2 tins, chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tsp, sugar
Ground black pepper and sea salt to season

1. Heat the oil and cook the onion over a medium heat until soft (about 8 mins)
2. Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes
3. Add carrots, mushrooms and lentils cooking for another 4 minutes
4. Add red pepper
5. Add red wine and cook for 2 minutes
6. Add herbs, tomato puree, tins tomatoes and sugar
7. Season with salt and pepper
8. Bring to the boil and then reduce
9. Cook over a low heat for 3 hours
10. Serve with a pasta of your choosing

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

Gigantes, Vegan

Gigantes (or Posh Beans on Toast!)

There isn’t a cuisine we’ve encountered that we haven’t liked but we do have our favourites. The food of mediterranean countries would be one of them – bold flavours, fresh vegetables and delicious tastes. Another bonus is that such cuisine can often be made using cupboard staples.

On Sunday, we ate lunch at a local Greek Cypriot restaurant. And it was perfect. Oodles of garlic and totally yum. The Teen couldn’t finish hers so took the leftovers in a Doggy Bag.

I wanted to make something tasty for the Apres Teen to go with the leftovers. Something tasty, hearty and vegan. Based on what I had in the cupboard, I opted for Gigantes. These I served to her with slices of toasted sour dough bread drizzled with olive oil. Basically, a posh version of beans on toast!

½ lb, dry butter beans (soaked overnight)*
Olive oil
Vegetable stock cube
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½-¾ tsp, sweet paprika**
½-¾ tsp, ground cinnamon**
2 tbsp, tomato puree
1 tbsp, dried parsley
1/2 tsp, dried oregano (optional)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
Sea salt and black pepper

1. Cover the pre-soaked butter beans with water, crumble in the stock cube and boil gently for 50 minutes
2. While the beans are boiling, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan
3. Add the chopped onions, cover so they soften rather than brown and cook for 6-8 minutes
4. Add chopped garlic and cook for a further two minutes
5. Add the paprika, cinnamon, tomato puree, dried parsley, oregano (optional) and tinned tomatoes
6. Season with salt and a good grind of black pepper
7. Drain the beans and add the sauce
8. Simmer for 40-50 minutes until the tomato sauce is semi absorbed***
9. To serve, drizzle a little olive oil over the top

*Can use two tins of butter beans instead of the dry variety
**We like more rather than less spice. You may, however, like to start at 1/2 teaspoon of each. This can be increased once the sauce is made and tasted.
***Reduce cooking time if using canned beans (30 minutes)