Slow-cooker bean and vegetable hash (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Rise and shine, bean and vegetable hash with fresh toast. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Welcome to my first post of the new year. On the menu this week is a hearty (and healthy)¬†breakfast/supper dish cooked in the slow-cooker, perfect for the time of year and for Veganuary, as this month has become known ūüôā

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A hearty, healthy start to the day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The recipe takes next to no time to prepare, and once it’s all mixed up and in the cooker, you’ve got 9 hours to get on with your life.¬†The hash is¬†a simple combination of vegetables that slow-cook well, some cooked beans and a mix of spices to pep things up.

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Hash vegetables. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Cooked borlotti beans. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Hash seasoning. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

So with no more blurb from me, here’s what to do……

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 225g sweet potato
  • 225g general purpose potatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 each yellow and red pepper
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 350g ripe tomatoes
  • 240g cooked pinto, kidney¬†or borlotti beans
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin and smoked paprika
  • ¬Ĺ¬†tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ¬Ĺ tsp smoked or regular salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly chopped parsley
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into approx. 0.75cm thick pieces. Peel and slice the onion. Deseed and slice the peppers.

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    Prepared hash vegetables. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and stir fry the prepared vegetables for 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker dish.
  3. Quarter the tomatoes and mix into the vegetables along with the beans, spices and seasonings.

    Preparing_and_cooking_vegetables and beans_for_hash
    Hash preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Cover with the lid. switch the slow-cooker on to the Low setting and leave to cook undisturbed overnight or up to 9 hours, until the vegetables are meltingly tender.

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    My slow cooker. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  5. To serve, stir the mixture well. Pile on to warm serving plates and sprinkle with parsley. For breakfast, some freshly grilled toast is all the extras you need; for supper, the hash is great spooned over rice or pasta.

    Up_close_on_serving_of_vegan_bean_and_vegetable_hash
    Ready to eat. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Broad bean byessar & fresh thyme za’atar (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Broad bean byessar¬†served with¬†fresh thyme za’atar¬†on flat breads, with carrots and black olives. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This is a great time of year for fresh fruit and vegetables. The first of the home-grown beans, broad beans,¬†have arrived in the shops these past couple of weeks, and I have made one of my favourite dips with¬†my first batch. If you like hummus (houmous), you’ll love byessar. Usually made with dried broad beans (fava beans), I prefer to make my version with fresh when the beans are in season, or frozen, at other times of the year.

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Fresh broad beans. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To accompany the dip, I have made up a batch of za’atar (zaatar or zahtar), a blend of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac powder. This is a traditional¬†blend from the Middle East and it is used as a seasoning for lots of meat dishes; it is¬†sprinkled over salads and vegetable dishes,¬†and used as a¬†topping for¬†breads.¬†Simply make it into a paste with olive¬†oil, spread it on flat breads or pittas and pop under the grill to toast. As I have lots of fresh thyme in the garden, I’m using fresh leaves, but dried thyme is more traditional. Using dried¬†also means that¬†you can keep¬†it for longer as a dry mix, ¬†in a sealed container as you would any other spice blend.

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Za’atar ingredients. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

If you can’t find sumac powder, something tangy and zesty like lemon rind would¬†bring a bit of zing to the mix.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Byessar:

  • Salt
  • 500g fresh broad beans, shelled (or 175g shelled beans)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin or hot curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Fresh thyme flowers to garnish

Za’atar

  • 1 tbsp. lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • ¬Ĺ¬†tsp sumac powder
  • ¬Ĺ fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil

Free-from flat breads, carrot sticks and olives to serve

1. To make byessar, bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, and cook the beans with the thyme, garlic and cumin or curry powder for 4-5 minutes, until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and cool for 10 minutes. Discard the thyme.

2. Put the beans and garlic in a food processor or blender. Add 75ml of the cooking liquid and the oil. Blitz until smooth. Taste and season with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and leave to cool, then chill until ready to serve. Accompany with bread and carrots to dip; garnish with fresh thyme flowers or leaves, if liked

 

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Making byessar. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To make za’atar, mix the dry ingredients together. When ready to serve, mix with sufficient olive oil to make a paste. Lightly toast¬†flat breads, cut into strips, then spread¬†lightly with¬†the za’atar paste. Toast under a hot grill for a few seconds to warm through. Serve as an accompaniment to dips and salads.

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Delicious summery lunch. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

Courgette and white bean salad (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Courgette and white bean salad with fried pine nuts, basil, gluten-free flat bread and extra virgin olive oil. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Amazingly, the heat is still on full blast here in the UK. The sky has been gloriously blue, day after day, and the sun is shining down strongly. No rain in the forecast; the water butt has been dry for days!

Plenty of time to enjoy the garden at a more leisurely pace. The thought of preparing and eating hot food is not so appealing at the moment, so salads are featuring heavily on my menu. I picked my first courgettes this week Рall the extra watering by hand has been worth it Рand made an exception by doing a little bit of cooking. I made them into a tasty cold dish with some canned beans and a rich tomato sauce.

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The first of this year’s home-grown courgettes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can adapt the recipe to use other vegetables and pulses Рaubergine and chickpeas make a good combination too, especially seasoned with some cumin and fresh coriander. The salad makes a good sauce for pasta when served freshly made, and I have also served it as a filling for a warmed pastry case.

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Platter of salad and accompaniments. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. tomato pur√©e
  • 2 teasp caster sugar
  • 1 teasp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 250g cooked cannellini beans
  • 500g courgettes, trimmed and chopped into 2cm dice
  • Fresh basil, fried pine nuts, gluten-free flat bread and extra virgin olive oil to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a large covered frying pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and herbs, with the lid on, over a low heat, for 15 minutes, to soften without browning.

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    Prepared onion and garlic with fresh bay and rosemary, ready for the pot. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  2. Pour in the wine and stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves.

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    Courgette cut into 2cm dice. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Stir in the beans and courgette, making sure they are well covered in the sauce. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for 7-8 minutes until the courgette is just tender. Leave to cool completely.

    3_steps_to_making_courgette_and_white_bean_salad
    Making the sauce and cooking the salad. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to serve. Best served at room temperature for more flavour. Delicious spooned over warm flat breads, sprinkled with fresh basil, fried pine nuts and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Bon App√©tit ūüôā

    Small_plate_with_a_portion_of_flat_bread_and_courgette_and_white_bean_salad
    The perfect lunch for a sunny day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Spiced roast chana & dal (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Spiced roast chana and dal. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A mix of roast pulses, nuts and seeds flavoured with warming spice is a tempting snack, a delicious sprinkle for soups and salads, and a great diversion if, like me, you are forever fighting a battle against a sweet-tooth.

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Ingredients ready for mixing and roasting. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Easy to make, tasty and less fatty than the shop-bought mixes, this is my interpretation of¬†the Asian snack, Bombay Mix. The bulk of the mix is made up of cooked chickpeas (chana) and green split lentils (dal). You can add any nut or seed, but¬†choose the unsalted, natural varieties so that you can adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. I use Madras curry powder but garam masala is also a good blend to use. Here’s what to do:

Makes: 300g

Ingredients

  • 250g cooked chickpeas
  • 250g cooked green lentils
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 teasp Madras curry powder
  • 1 teasp salt
  • 65g pumpkin seeds
  • 65g sunflower seeds
  • 100g unsalted cashew nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 150¬įC (130¬įC fan oven, gas 2) . Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Dry the chickpeas and lentils thoroughly on kitchen paper.
  2. Transfer them to a large bowl and toss in the oil and curry powder. Spread evenly over the baking tray and bake for 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  3. Mix in the seeds and cashews, turning them well on the tray so that they become flavoured with the spices and oil. Spread out evenly again and put back in the oven to roast for a further 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until everything is golden and the pulses have dried out. Leave to cool on the tray.

    Drying_pulses;_roasting_pulses_and_roasting with nuts and seeds
    Drying, flavouring and roasting. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. When the mix is completely cold,  pack into an airtight container or storage jar, and keep in a cool, dry place. The mix should stay fresh for about 2 weeks, after this time, the pulses may begin to soften.

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    Storage jar of home-made “Bombay Mix”. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

Vanilla bean torte (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

 

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Vanilla bean torte. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’m always on the look-out for interesting bakes. I have a large folder of recipe articles¬†saved from¬†magazines and newspapers going back many years, along with various¬†scraps of note paper, tucked in between,¬†containing my¬†culinary jottings¬†from articles that¬†have taken my fancy. Every now and then I go through the folder and decide which¬†idea to experiment with next.

And so to this week’s post. A cake that came to my attention a few months ago when I was experimenting¬†in the kitchen and¬†making vegan meringue from the canning water¬†in a tin of beans. This¬†recipe¬†uses the beans as well as the canning liquid. Sounds weird, but eating is believing, and I¬†was pleasantly surprised by the texture and¬†how good it tasted.

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Vanilla bean torte, sliced and ready for eating. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Canned cannellini beans for cake-making. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Apart from the beans, the¬†other ingredients are¬†mainstream. The flavour can be varied depending on your preference. I used a generous amount of vanilla paste, but fresh orange and lemon rind¬†would work well, as would almond extract if you like a marzipan flavour. I think the mixture could take about¬†15g cocoa powder added to it for a chocolate version.¬†My cake is soaked in a vanilla flavoured syrup¬†but the syrup¬†can be adapted to suit¬†your chosen¬†cake¬†flavour. There is no added fat or oil¬†in the¬†recipe which makes¬†the syrup an important addition as it not only adds¬†extra sweetness and flavour, but it helps¬†keep the cake moist too. I hope you enjoy it ūüôā

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 400g can cannellini beans in water
  • 50g polenta
  • 75g silken tofu
  • 215g caster sugar
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp¬†vanilla bean paste
  • Pomegranate seeds to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 180¬įC (160¬įC fan oven, gas mark 4). Grease and line an 18cm diameter cake tin. Open the can of beans and drain well, reserving the canning liquid. Put the beans in a blender or food processor. Add the polenta and blitz for several seconds until well ground. Leave to one side.
  2. Whisk the tofu with 115g sugar until well blended and creamy. Add the ground almonds, half the vanilla paste and the ground bean mixture and stir to form a thick cake batter.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the bean canning liquid until stiff and foamy, then gently fold this into the cake batter. Transfer to the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for about 1 to 1 ¬ľ¬†hours, until golden and firm to the touch.

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    Making bean torte. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup. Put the remaining sugar in a small saucepan and add 150ml water. Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves then bring to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until reduced and syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining vanilla paste. Keep warm.
  5. Once the cake is cooked, skewer the top all over and slowly pour over the vanilla syrup so that it soaks into the cake evenly. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

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    Making and adding vanilla syrup. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  6. To serve, carefully remove the cake from the tin and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds just before slicing. The cake will keep, covered, in a cool place or the fridge, for 3 to 4 days.
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    Decorating the torte with pomegranate seeds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

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    Vanilla bean torte, deliciously moist and full of flavour. Image: Kathryn Hawkins