Grow your own salad

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May salad of homegrown herbs, flowers and leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope the sun has been shining on you these past few days. It has been glorious here, although we did have some very unseasonal gale-force winds whipping up a storm last weekend. Luckily, no serious damage done.

My post this week is more of a “show and tell” rather than a recipe or garden feature. I’ve never been one for growing much in the way of salad leaves, but this year, with more time on my hands in early spring, I decided to try my hand. With vegetable seeds in high demand, I was limited in choice, but  2 of my favourites were obtainable and that’s how I ended up sowing pea shoots and rocket.

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Easy to grow, pea shoots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Pea shoots are a crop that you can grow all year round indoors. You just need a container and some compost or soil, and watering can on stand by. I planted up a couple of pots and have had them in the conservatory since the end of April. The shoots don’t like direct sunlight, just bright light and warmth. After 3 ½ weeks they are ready to harvest. The seed packet says that you might get a second harvest so I have cut the first few stems just above a pair of leaves about 3cm from the bottom of the stalk, and now I will wait and see if they shoot up again.

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Homegrown rocket. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Rocket is a leaf for out-of-doors growing according to the pack, but I have grown the leaves on a windowsill indoors before. I did have the ground space outside but I put my seeds in pots because I was convinced the young seedlings would get eaten by the big fat pigeons that strut around the back garden hoovering up the leftovers from the bird feeders. The pots are easier to protect and keep out of greedy beaks.

I planted a few pots with seeds at the same time as the pea shoots. The seeds are so tiny,  it is impossible to sow them thinly. After 2 weeks or so, they were ready to be thinned out. I was able to replant some of the bigger seedlings but the tinniest ones made excellent peppery sprinkles on a salad. By the way, these are the pretty heart-shaped leaves around the edge of the plate above.

Rocket plants grow in clusters of leaves, so when you harvest, snip leaves sparingly from each plant so that the rest of the plant can regenerate.

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Seasonal salad herbs and flowers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Around the garden at this time, I found other herbs and flowers to add to my salad plate. Choose young sorrel leaves to eat raw as they are soft in texture and have less of an astringent taste. Salad burnet is one of my favourite herbs. I have had a pot growing in the garden for several years. Although it looks very delicate with it’s soft, bright, serrated-edged leaves, it is a hardy herb and keeps going from year to year without much looking after. The leaves have a mild, fresh cucumber-like flavour.

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Sweet berry vinegar and thyme dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A simple combination of salad ingredients requires just the simplest of accompaniments. A while ago I posted on how to make your own flavoured vinegars. The link to the basic recipe can be found by clicking here . At the bottom of the recipe you will find ideas for other flavourings including berries. The vinegar above was made last year using some of the wild strawberries that grow around the garden and I also added a few sprigs of fresh thyme. A simple salad dressing, no oil nor added sugar required.

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Homegrown salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. I will probably be back in the garden next time, until then, take care and enjoy the fine weather.

No-egg omelette with asparagus (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Egg-free omelette with roast asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are keeping well. A simple recipe for you this week. Perfect for the time of year. It makes a lovely lunch or light supper, and more than anything else, it gives me the opportunity to show you how you really can make an omelette without breaking a single egg 🙂

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Egg-less omelette ingredients. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My chosen filling for the month of May would always be fresh asparagus. This magnificent vegetable has been available here, home-grown in the UK, for about 3 weeks now. And very delicious it is too. I roasted a few stems to eat with my omelette and then let the rest go cold to eat with a salad.

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British asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

To roast asparagus (I find thicker stems cook better this way), trim off the woody ends and lay out, spaced apart on a large lined baking tray. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes at 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6 until tender. Drain and serve hot or cold.

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Preparing and roasting asparagus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. I add chopped fresh herbs to the omelette mixture for colour and flavour. I have tried adding shredded leek and spring onion but found that they added water and changed the texture. A few tablespoons of chopped herbs is fine but anything more and the mixture may become more pancake-like. The aqua fava gives added lightness to the mixture which makes it less like a pancake batter. Leave this out if your prefer. By the way, if you’re not gluten-free, plain white flour can replace the tapioca flour.

Makes 4 small omelettes or 2 medium-sized

Ingredients

  • 75ml chickpea or bean water (aqua fava)
  • 50g tapioca flour
  • 50g gram (chickpea) flour
  • 3g gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150ml dairy-free milk (I use oat milk)
  • 2 tbsp each freshly chopped parsley and chives
  • Sunflower oil for cooking
  1. Pour the chickpea water into a bowl and whisk for 2-3 minutes until thick and foamy.
  2. Sieve the flours, baking powder and salt into another bowl. Make a well in the centre and gradually blend in the milk to make a smooth batter.
  3. Scrape the whisked foam on top and add the herbs. Gently fold everything together until well blended.
  4. Brush a small crepe or frying pan (approx. 15cm base) with a little oil and heat until hot. Reduce the heat to low and pour in ¼ of the batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over a medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes until bubbles form on top and the mixture is almost set. The omelette should be lightly golden underneath.
  5. Turn over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Turn onto baking parchment and cover with foil whilst preparing the other omelettes. Best served warm with your favourite filling.
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    How to make an egg-less omelette. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
    Egg-less_vegan_omelette_filled_with_roasted_British_asparagus
    A perfect May-time lunch. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    I hope you have a good few days ahead. Enjoy the fine weather if you have it and above all else, keep safe.

     

 

Springtime isolation and a spot of wild garlic foraging

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A peaceful place for wild garlic foraging, River Lednock, Perthshire. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. What a weird and surreal spring this is turning out to be. In many ways life goes on as usual: the spring flowers are blossoming; the birds are chirping and calling to each other; the days are drawing out, and the weather is brightening up. Yet, we humans are having to behave very differently.

I hope you are all getting along ok. It seems we’re affected by the spread of the virus throughout the world, and we’re all having to do our bit to keep it at bay. In the UK, we have been asked to keep our distance from each other, to stay at home as much as possible, and to only go out for exercise and essential shopping. At the weekend, I was able to find a quiet spot and combine a spot of foraging along with a walk along a nearby riverbank and woodland.

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River bank lush with wild garlic. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The air was warm and heavy with the scent of the garlic leaves. It was a joy to be out of doors and away from the troubles of the world, hearing only the water bubbling and the birds singing. I picked a few leaves here and there from the river bank. The garlic seems to be very abundant this year.

If you are able to go foraging, always forage responsibly by taking one or two leaves from a plant rather than stripping a whole one bare. And, wash the leaves thoroughly before cooking.

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Freshly picked and washed my harvest of wild garlic leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Back at home, I used some of the leaves to make a version of  my favourite mash recipe using seasoned 500g mashed potato, 50g chopped wild garlic leaves and 50ml olive oil. I spread this on top of a creamy vegetable sauce and drizzled with more olive oil before baking.

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Wild garlic and olive oil mash. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The next day, I cooked up more leaves with spring greens and leeks – deliciously tasty with pasta or over rice. A version of this recipe can be found here.

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Wild garlic, leeks and spring greens. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This time I used 100g shredded cabbage with 75g each wild garlic and leek. Season and stir fry in 20ml olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then lower the heat, put the lid on and cook gently for about 10 minutes until wilted down. Simple but delicious.

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Wild garlic and spring greens. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I wish you well over the next few days. Until next time, keep safe, and enjoy spring as best you can 🙂

Gujerati-style spiced vegetable cake

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Spiced vegetable cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. It feels like a while since I posted a recipe. To be honest, I have been busy with work projects and haven’t had so much time to set aside for my blog. But I about to  rectify that now with this week’s recipe, inspired by a Gujerati dish called “Handvo”. This is a savoury cake made with spices, grated vegetables and a flour made from rice and lentil or dahl. It reminds me of a savoury carrot cake.

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Lightly spiced and full of flavour. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The cake is best eaten hot with a salad and some fruity chutney. I have eaten it cold, at room temperature, and it was still very tasty but the texture was a little drier. Something different for a picnic or packed lunch perhaps? You need to start the recipe the day before baking because you need to soak the flour and yogurt mixture overnight. After that, it’s all pretty straightforward.

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Vegetables and flavourings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The vegetable ingredients can be changed to suit personal preference. Carrots and ordinary potato work instead of sweet potato; chard or spring greens would make a good alternative to spinach; use pea instead of sweetcorn and leek instead of spring onion. The spices I use give a mellow flavour, so you may want experiment with others if you prefer something more robust. For a shortcut, you could replace the lot with a general purpose curry powder.

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A slice of savoury cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 115g gram flour
  • 115g white rice flour
  • 150g plant-based yogurt (I used coconut)
  • 115g grated raw sweet potato
  • 75g cooked sweetcorn kernels
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 50g raw spinach, chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp each cumin and black onion seeds
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  1. Sieve the flours into a bowl and mix in the yogurt along with 100ml luke warm water until well blended and the consistency of thick batter. Cover and leave in a cool room temperature for about 12 hours.

    Soaking_rice_and_gram_flour_in_yogurt_and_water
    Soaking the flours in yogurt and water. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 240°C, 220°C fan oven, gas 9. Grease and line a 20cm spring-clip or loose-based cake tin.
  3. Add the vegetables, coriander, chilli, asafoetida, garlic, salt and sugar to the soaked cake batter and mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat the oil and fry the spice seeds gently until starting to pop then add to the cake mixture and mix well.
  5. Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6, and cook for a further 35-40 minutes until firm to the touch and golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve hot or cold with more coriander and salad.
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    Making and baking the cake batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    I hope you enjoy the recipe. Have a good few days. It’s beginning to feel a little more spring-like here, but I expect I’ve put a damper on things now I’ve said that! See you again soon 🙂

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    A savoury cake with a texture a bit like carrot cake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Indian-style rice and peas (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Indian-style rice and peas. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Welcome to my first recipe post of the year. I hope you’ve all had good Christmas and New Year celebrations. It has seemed like a good long holiday this year. Not only have I had plenty of time to recharge my batteries, but the longer holiday gave me the opportunity to spend time in the kitchen experimenting with different ingredients.

I have noticed that many of the blogs I follow have started the year with spicy offerings. Something about this time of the year usually gets me delving into the spice cupboard too, in search of different flavours to liven up my repertoire of recipes.

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Tray of spices and flavourings for basmati rice and chana dal. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe this week is based around 2 basic and ordinary ingredients: rice and dried peas. But cooking with some spices, onion and other flavours, they can be transformed into something quite sensational.

The combination of spices I have used in this dish are more fragrant and comforting than spicy. You may want to add something with heat to give it more of a kick if you prefer e.g cayenne pepper or dried red chilli. To mellow the flavour, toast the whole spices first in a dry frying pan, just for a couple of minutes, and then cool and grind them up before using. If you don’t have the time to make your own spice mix, use 2-3 tsp curry powder or garam masala.

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Preparing the spice mix. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The combination of spiced chana dal (yellow-split peas) and fragrant basmati rice makes this a very tasty accompaniment to serve with a vegetable curry sauce, or you can sprinkle it with roasted cashew nuts or almonds to make a deliciously comforting meal. It freezes well too, so is worth making up as a batch-bake and then portioning up for the freezer, ready to serve at a later date. The recipe takes a bit of time to organise but being able to make it for the freezer is a good incentive to have a go.

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Ready to serve, Indian-style rice and peas. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The dish is made up of 2 layers of basmati rice, top and bottom, with an onion, garlic and ginger chana dal layer in the middle, enriched with coconut yogurt. To finish the dish, the spice mix is sprinkled on top along with lemon juice, coconut milk, green chilli and butter (or coconut oil or dairy-free margarine).

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Rice and pea flavourings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Once the dish is baked, leave it to stand for a short while, then stir it up before serving so that all the wonderful flavours mingle together.

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All mixed up and ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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A spoonful of rice and peas. Image: Kathryn Hawkins.

Serves: 3 to 4 as a main dish, or 4 to 6 as an accompaniment

Ingredients

  • 100g chana dal (yellow split peas)
  • 350g basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves. peeled and finely chopped
  • 25g root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
  • 5 tbsp dairy-free coconut yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 40g butter or ghee if you eat it, or use coconut oil or dairy-free margarine instead
  • Juice 1 small lemon
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 or 2 large mild green chillies, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 tsp each cumin and coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • ¼ tsp crushed black peppercorns
  • Seeds of 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • Fresh coriander and cashew nuts to serve
  1. Rinse the chana dal in cold running water. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 45 minutes. Then drain, rinse and place in a saucepan. Cover with fresh water, bring to the boil and cook in simmering water for 25 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain well.
  2. Rinse the rice in cold running water. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Drain and rinse the rice and then add to the water. Bring back to the boil and cook for 5 minutes only. Drain, rinse and leave to one side.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger with the bay leaves for 5 minutes over a medium heat until lightly golden. Add the yogurt 1 tbsp at a time, stirring the mixture in between additions, until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the salt and cooked chana dal. Leave aside. Discard bay leaves if preferred.

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    Preparing the chana dal and onion layer. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Spoon half the rice into an ovenproof dish and spread to form an even layer. Top with the oniony chana dal mixture and then the remaining rice. Pat down gently.
  5. Dot the top with butter, ghee, coconut oil or margarine, and drizzle with lemon juice and coconut milk. Sprinkle with sliced chilli to taste. Mix the spices together and sprinkle over the top of the rice. Cover the dish tightly with aluminium foil.

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    Layering the rice and peas. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  6. Stand the dish on a baking tray and cook for 45-50 minutes until piping hot. Leave the covering in place and allow to stand for 10 minutes before removing the foil and gently mixing everything together. Serve with fresh coriander and cashew nuts.

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    Out of the oven and ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Sweet potato steaks with sweetcorn salsa (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Steaks, barbecue dressing and salsa. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Now that there’s a bit of a nip in the air and the daylight hours are limited, I feel the need for some comfort food. Very soon “bewitching” date in the calendar will be upon us, and the colours and flavours of my recipe this week make it a perfect dish to serve up on All Hallows Eve.

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Salsa-sprinkled sweet potato steaks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There is a little heat in my recipe coming from chilli oil to cook the steaks and sweetcorn; green chilli in the salsa, and some sweet chilli sauce in the dressing. I’m a chilli wimp so the flavours are relatively mild,  you can add more to bump up the intensity if you prefer. I make my own chilli oil by adding Mexican chipotle seasoning to sunflower oil, and brush it over the steaks and sweetcorn just before cooking. Use plain oil if preferred.

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Home-made chilli oil for brushing over sweet potato steaks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The salsa salad is consists of fresh sweetcorn flavoured with green chilli (use red for more heat), some spring onions for sharpness. and for nuttiness, toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil. To finish, I add white balsamic vinegar for a little sweetness. You can experiment with the balance of flavours to suit your taste-buds.


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Sweetcorn salsa basics. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the recipe. I hope you enjoy it, and have a Happy Hallowe’en 🙂

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 900g medium-sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • Chilli oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa:

  • 4 sweetcorn cobs, hole or quartered
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 mild green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp. Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Chilli flakes to sprinkle
  1. Leaving the sweet potatoes unpeeled, cut them into  ½cm thick slices. Bring a large shallow pan of water to a gentle boil and cook the slices for 3-4 minutes in simmering water to soften them but not cook them completely. Drain well, pat dry with kitchen paper and leave them to air dry on a wire rack.

    Sliced_sweet_potato_softening_in_simmering_water_and_drying_on_a_wire_rack
    Preparing sweet potato steaks. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. When ready to cook, heat a large griddle pan until hot. Brush the slices with chilli oil and season on both sides, then cook the slices a few at a time, for 3-4 minutes on each side, pressing them on to the griddle, until lightly charred. Drain, cover and keep warm until you have cooked all the slices.
  3. For the sweetcorn salsa, cook the cobs in boiling unsalted water (salt can toughen the kernels) for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain well.
  4. Preheat the grill to a hot setting. Arrange the sweetcorn on  the grill rack and brush with chilli oil. Cook under the grill for about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until golden and lightly blistered. Drain well and leave to cool.

    Boiling_and_grilling_sweetcorn_ready_for_salsa
    Sweetcorn preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Strip the sweetcorn kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife and mix with the remaining salsa ingredients. Cover and chill until required.
    Slicing_off_cooked_sweetcorn_kernels_from_the_cobs
    Stripping kernels from the cobs. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    To serve, mix all the dressing ingredients together and place in a dipping bowl. Arrange the sweet potato steaks on a warm platter and serve with the salsa salad and the dressing. Sprinkle with chilli flakes if liked.

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    Up close on sweet potato steaks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Cucumber and quinoa tabbouleh (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Gluten-free tabbouleh. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve had a great crop of home-grown cucumbers this year, and have been enjoying them since July. I’ve been growing 2 varieties in the greenhouse, a small green one called Mini Munch, and a pale yellow, more rounded variety, called Crystal Apple. The Mini Munch have almost finished now, but there are still a few more Crystal Apple come.

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Mini Munch and Crystal Apple cucumbers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

So to celebrate my cucumber-filled summer, this week’s recipe is my very simple, gluten-free version of the classic Middle Eastern salad, tabbouleh, and for good measure, to go with it, my favourite accompaniment, a super-speedy hummus recipe. You can add any combination of soft-leaved herbs to flavour your grains. The herb patch was looking a bit shabby at the weekend and I needed to pick off a few stalks of mint and chives to help rejuvenate the plants again. I also added some of the delicate zig-zag-edged herb salad burnet which has it’s own mild cucumber flavour, but parsley and coriander make good substitutes if you prefer.

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Salad Burnet close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are no set rules to this recipe. It is very simple. I cheat and use a ready-cooked pack of red and white quinoa grains. Very convenient and a perfect quantity for a couple of hearty portions. If you like, add tomato for extra colour and moisture to the salad, and spring onions will add a tasty, oniony bite. I hope you enjoy the fresh flavours.

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Home-grown cucumber, mint chives and salad burnet. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

Tabbouleh

  • 250g cucumber, washed
  • 250g cooked quinoa
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 20g chives, chopped
  • 7g mint leaves, chopped
  • A handful of salad burnet leaves (parsley or coriander)
  • Lemon wedges and extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Male cucumber flowers to garnish

Hummus (serves 3-4)

  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 40g tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Paprika to dust
  1. For the tabbouleh, cut the cucumber into small pieces. Put the quinoa in a bowl and mix in the cucumber, herbs and salt. Cover and chill for an hour to allow the flavours to mingle. Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

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    Making gluten-free tabbouleh. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. For the hummus, open the can of chickpeas and drain the canning liquid into a jug. Pop the chickpeas in a blender or food processor along with the other ingredients and 3 tbsp. of the reserved liquid. Blitz for a few seconds until smooth. I like my hummus to have the consistency of thick porridge, but if you prefer something softer, just add a bit more canning liquid. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Don’t forget to keep the rest of the canning liquid for using as an egg white substitute – it freezes very well.
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    Making hummus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    Serve the tabbouleh decorated with cucumber flowers; dress with a squeeze of fresh lemon and extra virgin olive oil to taste, and accompany with toasted seeds, home-made hummus (dusted with paprika if liked)  and warm, gluten-free, toasted pitta breads. Perfect 🙂

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    A fresh and healthy salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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    Ready to eat, quinoa tabbouleh with toasted seeds, home-made hummus and a squeeze of lemon. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spring vegetable pancake (Gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Spring vegetable pancake with new season asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

If you’ve read my previous posts at this time of the year, you’ll know that spring is my favourite season. Not just because I love the flowers and the feeling that everything is coming to life, but my favourite vegetable is available right now for a very short period of time, British asparagus.

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Fresh British asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I rarely do very much with asparagus. I like to savour the tender green stems just as they are. Either a quick flash in a hot frying pan or a blast in a hot oven, to give them a subtle smokiness, and that’s all the extra flavour I need.

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Fresh asparagus in a hot pan. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This week’s recipe is based on a Japanese dish called Okonomiyaki which caught my eye recently. Originally made with wheat flour and eggs, my version of the pancake is gluten-free and egg-free. There’s a bit of vegetable preparation, but once that’s out of the way, everything else is very straightforward. The pancake makes a lovely lunch or light supper, and is the perfect base for a topping of freshly cooked asparagus.

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Spring-vegetables for pancake making. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

If you don’t want the hassle of a cooked topping, try sliced avocado and baby spinach or a pile of fresh pea shoots and wild rocket for a salad topping instead. If you have the inclination and the extra ingredients, I recommend making the barbecue dressing that accompanies the pancake. Utterly delicious, simple to make, and far tastier than any barbecue sauce I’ve ever been able to buy. A great finishing touch to any grilled or barbecued food.

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Home-made barbecue dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. flax seeds
  • 45g white rice flour
  • 50g dry white free-from breadcrumbs
  • 75ml white miso or vegetable stock
  • 75g soft-leaved cabbage, such as Sweet-heart or Hispi, shredded
  • 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 150g thin fresh asparagus stems, trimmed
  • Vegan mayonnaise to serve

For the barbecue dressing:

  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp gluten-free light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  1. Put the flax seeds in a coffee grinder or small food processor and blend until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 6 tbsp. cold water. Leave to soak for 5 minutes by which time the mixture will thicken.
  2. Sift the rice flour on top and mix together with the stock to make a smooth batter.

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    Making the pancake batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Add the cabbage, spring onion and breadcrumbs and mix everything together to make a thick, stiff batter – add a little water if the mixture is very dry, but this is not a pourable batter, it is more like a firm cake mixture.
  4. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a frying pan with a lid and add half the batter. Press the mixture to form a thick round approx. 16cm diameter. Fry over a medium heat with the lid on for 5 minutes. Carefully flip over, and cook on the other side, covered with the lid, for another 5 minutes. Drain and keep warm, whilst you cook the remaining mixture in the same way.

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    Cooking spring vegetable pancake. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. Once the pancakes are cooked, heat the remaining oil in the frying pan until hot and quickly cook the asparagus, turning, for 3-4 minutes until just wilted. Drain and keep warm.
  6. To serve, mix all the dressing ingredients together. Slip the pancakes on to warm serving plates and drizzle with mayonnaise and the barbecue dressing. Top with asparagus and serve immediately.
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    Asparagus-topped spring vegetable pancake. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

    Until next week, I’ll leave you with another image of my favourite vegetable. Have a good week and I look forward to seeing you next time 🙂

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    Early May British asparagus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Tray-baked pasta sauce (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Tray-baked vegetable sauce spooned over spaghetti. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again everyone. I hope you’ve had a good few days. It felt like summer here at the weekend, very warm and sunny over the Easter holiday. The temperature has gone back to something more seasonal now..

I have a very versatile vegetable sauce recipe for you this week. The sauce is as tasty on it’s own over pasta as it is when used as a soup or casserole base, or spread over pizza dough or tart pastry. It is also a great recipe if you like batch-cooking for the freezer.  It’s so easy to make, with everything cooked together on a large baking tray in the oven.

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Freshly cooked pasta sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The sauce base consists of a selection of colourful vegetables which are baked with fresh herbs. I find the woody herbs work best in this recipe as they stand up well in the oven. I use bay, rosemary, sage and thyme, but if you prefer a less robust flavour, stir in freshly chopped finer, more delicate herbs for a final flourish once the sauce is cooked.

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Rainbow vegetables. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Fresh bay, rosemary, thyme and sage. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The rest of the sauce is made up of tinned tomatoes, stock and red wine. The first time I made the sauce I had a glut of fresh tomatoes, so if you prefer to use fresh, then they works fine too but you might want to add some tomato purée to the sauce to thicken it up and concentrate the flavour.

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Served with toasted seeds and fresh basil. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Here’s what to do….

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 250g carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large leek, trimmed and shredded
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. caster sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • A few sprigs each of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml fruity red wine
  • 250ml vegetable stock

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. Put all the vegetables in a large bowl and mix in the oil and sugar, then spread them out on a large, deep baking tray and season well. Pop the herbs on top and bake for about 40 minutes, turning occasionally until tender and lightly browned.

2. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, 160°C fan oven, gas 4. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. Put the tray in the oven and continue to cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and reduced. Cover and stand for 10 minutes. Discard the herbs before serving.

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The 4 stages of sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve the sauce over pasta and sprinkle with fresh basil and fried and salted seeds (recipe for the seed mix is on my post Moorish red orange and carrot salad (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan) For extra richness, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Perfect. See you next week 🙂

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Up close on pasta sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spring green risotto with wild garlic (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Spring green risotto. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Every year at this time my local river bank becomes swathed in lush greenery and develops a distinctive oniony aroma. A walk on a sunny afternoon can make you feel very hungry indeed.

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River-side wild garlic. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

On a bright afternoon at the end of last week, I went on a foraging expedition and picked a small bag of the fresh, lush wild garlic leaves, also known as Ramsons (Allium ursinum). As with any wild food, only ever pick if in abundance. Take leaves from several plants rather than stripping leaves from just one or two. Pick the vibrant green, broad leaves (shaped rather like those of the tulip) when young and before the delicate white star-shaped flowers bloom to enjoy them at their sweetest.

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Fresh Ramsons leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For safetys sake, take extra care to make that sure you are only picking the leaves of wild garlic. Wash very well before using. I usually put the leaves in a colander and dunk several times in a bowl of cold water before shaking dry.

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Washing wild garlic. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

As with most soft herbs, wild garlic is best used within 24 hours of picking, but once rinsed and shaken dry, I find it well for a few days sealed in a plastic bag in the fridge.

My recipe this week combines the wild garlic leaves with baby kale leaves (or kalettes) and leek in a stir fry. It is delicious served as a vegetable dish in its own right, but is also makes a delicious stirred to a mushroom risotto.

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Spring greens. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the stir fry:

  • 1 medium leek
  • 30g wild garlic, washed
  • 175g baby kale (or kalettes)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the risotto:

  • 1l vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, wiped and chopped
  • 400g Arborio rice
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 25g wild garlic, washed and finely shredded
  1. Trim the leek. Split lengthways and rinse well to remove any trapped earth. Shake well to remove excess water, then shred finely.
  2. Shred the wild garlic leaves. Strip the leaves of baby kale from the central stalks. Mix all the vegetables together.

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    Preparing spring greens. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Heat the oil in a  large frying pan or wok, add the greens and stir fry for 2 minutes. Season well, reduce the heat to low, and cover and cook gently for 4-5 minutes until tender. Serve immediately as a vegetable accompaniment, or put to one side whilst preparing the risotto.
  4. For the risotto, pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a very gentle simmer. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until everything is well mixed.
  5. Pour in half the wine and cook gently, stirring, until absorbed. Add the remaining wine along with a ladleful of stock. Cook gently until absorbed.
  6. Continue adding the stock in this way, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is thick, creamy and tender. This will take about 25 minutes and should not be hurried. Keep the heat moderate throughout the cooking.

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    Making risotto. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  7. Season the risotto to taste, stir in all but a few shreds of wild garlic, and cook for a further minute until the garlic has wilted. To serve, reheat the spring greens and gently mix into the risotto, then serve sprinkled with the remaining wild garlic.

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    Variegated wild garlic leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins