VEGETABLE BIRYANI

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VEG BIRYANI

Preparation & cooking time: 1 hour
Makes: 6 large bowlfuls 

I made this meal over the weekend because it is one of my girlfriends all time favourites! She absolutely loves biryani so I though I would treat her and make a big bowlful. The flavours that you get from this dish are great; it all starts by making your own curry paste, this really makes a difference and it is so easy to make! You can use different vegetables as well but I have just gone for our favourites; I especially love the cauliflower with the curry spices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of oil
  • 3 large handfuls of frozen peas
  • A large handful of asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of white mustard seeds
  • 500g basmati rice
  • 1/2 lemon
  • A handful of coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds

For the curry paste (makes three large tablespoons of paste): 

  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • A small bunch of coriander
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • A green chilli

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 220C. Place the oil in a large roasting tray and place the tray in the oven and get the oil nice and hot. Once the oil is nice and hot, place the cauliflower, onion and potatoes in the tray along with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix together so that all of the vegetables are coated in oil. Place the tray into the oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until the veg starts to get a nice colour to it.

2. Whilst the vegetables are in the oven, you can make your curry paste. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the seeds and toast them for a couple of minutes until they are starting to turn golden brown. Put the toasted seeds into a blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blitz until you have a nice smooth paste.

3. Boil the water in a kettle. In a large jug, mix together the boiling water, chilli, mustard seeds and curry paste.

4. After the vegetables have been in the oven for 15 minutes, take the tray out of the oven and add the basmati rice, peas and asparagus to the tray. Pour over the water-curry paste mixture and combine everything together. Cover the tray tightly with tin foil. Turn the oven heat down to 190C and put the tray in the oven for 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes the rice should be nice and fluffy and all of the liquid should have been absorbed. To serve the biryani, squeeze over the juice of the lemon and scatter the coriander leaves and seeds over the top. Delicious!

ASIAN NOODLE SOUP

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Noodles soup main

Preparation & cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Makes: 2 large/4 medium portions

Recently, both me and my girlfriend have felt under the weather with colds etc. so I wanted to make something that would really blow the cobwebs away and make us feel better; this recipe did not disappoint! The dish is full of green vegetables, garlic, chilli, ginger and lime which are all things that make me feel refreshed and healthy. There is nothing more satisfying than a big bowl of noodles and broth; and you have to be really noisy when you eat it! I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • A thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, sliced (seeds removed if you aren’t keen on spice)
  • 1 green chilli, sliced (for garnish)
  • 1 large bunch of coriander, stalks finely sliced and leaves set aside for garnish
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, bruised with the heel of your knife
  • 3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock 
  • Juice of 1 lime, plus extra wedges for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 200g thick rice noodles
  • 2 large handfuls of tender-stem broccoli, cut in half
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, spiralised (or grated if you don’t have a spiraliser) 
  • 1 pak choi, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • A handful of beansprouts, for garnish

Noodles soup second

Method:

1.   Bring a large pot of water to the boil and then throw the noodles into the water. Cook the noodles a couple of minutes under the instructed amount on the packaging as you want the noodles to keep a nice texture when added to the broth. Drain the noodles in a colander an run cold water over them to cool them down; leave them to one side.

2.   Whilst the noodles are boiling you can prepare the broth. Place a large pot over a high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add in the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and coriander stalks and fry for five minutes, or until the onions are soft. Once the ingredients are soft, pour in the litre of vegetable stock, dark & light soy sauce and lime juice and bring to the boil.

3.   Let the broth simmer for 10 minutes allowing the flavours to really come together. After 10 minutes, remove the stick of lemongrass from the broth and put the asparagus and broccoli into the broth to cook for a few minutes until they have softened slightly but have kept a nice bite to them.

4.   Evenly portion the noodles, carrots and pak choi into 2 or 4 bowls and pour the hot broth and vegetables over the top of them (this will warm them through). The carrots will keep a really nice crunch. Put a small handful of beansprouts on top of the noodles with some coriander leaves and sliced green chilli. Place some lime wedges on the side of the bowl and enjoy!!

Nutrition:

(see Know Your Food Page)

Red onion: Onions are made up of around 90% water and hold low amounts of essential nutrients e.g. vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese.

Garlic: Garlic contains several nutrients, but due to the low quantity that is eaten it won’t play a huge factor in terms of getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals. In large quantities, garlic holds a lot of vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese and phosphorus.

Ginger: Ginger contains a lot of manganese and iron with moderate amounts of vitamin B3 and B6.

Chilli: Red chillies contain a large amount of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and iron. They are also a good source of most B vitamins, especially B6.

Coriander: Coriander is particularly rich in vitamin A, C and K as well as a good source of manganese, iron and potassium.

Lime: Limes, like with other citrus fruits, are an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.

Broccoli: Broccoli is an amazing source of vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibre.

Asparagus: Asparagus is an excellent source of dietary fibre, protein, vitamin C, vitamin E and especially vitamin K. It is also a good source of iron.

Carrots: Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin K and vitamin B6.

Pak choi: Pak choi is an excellent source of both vitamin A and vitamin C.

Asparagus, pea & mint risotto!

Italian, Specials, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Makes: 2 generous portions
Preparation & cooking time: 45 minutes

For me, risotto is one of the most comforting foods going! A good risotto is so easy to make and with a little love and attention you will have a base risotto recipe with endless options (it is a great meal to impress people with as well!)! A risotto should be smooth, creamy and oozy! When you shake the pan the risiotto should move like the waves, or ‘onde‘ as the Italians say, and should never be thick and stodgy like the ones I have been served so many times in numerous restaurants! Peas and asparagus are in season at the moment so it makes this recipe even better! You can use the base risotto recipe and you can add whatever ingredients you like, but seasonal vegetable (see what else is in season here) risottos really stand out in my opinion. I made this recipe for my girlfriend and myself so (as she is vegan) I have left out the butter and the parmesan cheese (which are used in traditional risotto recipes), but I will tell you when you will need to add it in if you would like to use these ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • I litre organic vegetable stock (homemade is the best!)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 1 small glass of dry white wine/vermouth
  • 4 – 6 sticks of asparagus, sliced diagonally
  • 75g peas (fresh if possibl;e but frozen are excellent as well)
  • 4 – 5 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1.   In one pan heat the stock; you need to make sure that it is hot when you add it to the rice so that it doesn’t slow down the cooking process, and in another large, thick based pan heat the olive and add the onions, celery and carrots and fry slow for around 10 minutes until all ot the vegetables have softened. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice to the pan and turn it up to a high heat. The toasting of the rice is a really important part of making a good risotto as the heat cracks open the rice and allows it to absorb lots of the awesome stock.

2.   The rice will carry on frying so keep stirring it and after a minute the rice will have turned slightly translucent. At this point add the in the wine/vermouth to the pan and continue to stir. The aroma you will get will be amazing and the harshness of the alcohol will all be cooked away and you will be left with the most amazing flavour!

3.   Once the wine/vermouth has been absorbed by the rice it is time to add in the first ladleful of stock. Turn the heat down a little now so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Now that you have added your first ladleful of stock, it is very important to keep stirring the risotto and massage all of the starch out of the rice to give the risotto its amazing texture. After the first ladleful is absorbed by the rice, keep adding ladlefuls of stock to keep it moist and keep stirring! Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before you add the next. This process should take around 15 – 18 minutes.

4.   After 8 minutes, add the peas and the asparagus to the stock pan and ladle in with the stock as you have been doing.  After 15 minutes taste the rice to see if it is cooked. The rice should be soft with a little bite. If it is not cooked then keep adding stock and stirring unitil it is cooked through.

5.   Once the rice has cooked, take the pan off of the heat, check the seasoning and add the mint. If you want to use butter and parmesan, add a knob of butter and a small handful of parmesan now and stir it in. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to rest for 3 minutes. This is a really important stage as it will allow of the ingredients to relax and allow all of the flavours to incorporate together! Serve and eat as soon as possible whilst the risotto has its amazing texture.

I hope you like this recipe everyone. Let me know what you think of it. 🙂

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