Lentil Ragù

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

In Italy, Sicilians make a pasta sauce that’s much like a bolognese, but instead of making it with minced meat they make it with lentils. This creates a deliciously thick and ‘meaty’ lentil ragù that’s incredible over pasta.

When Jen from Your Birth Scotland tasked me with developing some recipes for her pregnant and postpartum clients the first thing I thought of was a dish that would be primarily based on lentils because they’re one of the most incredibly nutritious and healthy pulses available. They’re also unbelievably cheap to buy and can be used in a myriad of dishes.

There are four main types of lentil which are used in cooking. Green and brown lentils hold their shape after cooking, so are suitable for using in stuffings, casseroles and warm salads. Yellow lentils break down into a pulp and tend to be used for making recipes like pease pudding or split pea soup. Puy lentils are beautiful greeny-slate coloured lentils that are grown in the Le Puy region in France and are prized for their high quality taste and their ability to retain their texture after cooking. These lentils tend to be used alongside fish and meat, such as in sausage casseroles. And lastly, we have the humble common red lentil, the most versatile lentil of all, which breaks down upon cooking to create a rich, thick puree that can be used to add texture to any dish while soaking up the flavours you wish to impart.

Aside from being highly fibrous and high in protein and carbohydrates, lentils are packed full of vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, calcium, phosphorous and essential B vitamins. All of these support good overall health for everyone, but are particularly useful for women who are either pregnant or postpartum because they help to maintain healthy iron levels and prevent anemia while also supporting good metabolism operation to ensure your energy levels remain stable. As you can see, lentils are a win-win really!

One of the benefits to this lentil ragù (aside from the fact that it’s delicious!) is that it’s made in the slow cooker, allowing you to focus on other things throughout your day. It simply is a case of throwing all of your ingredients into the slow cooker pot, setting it on low, and getting on with your day.

This lentil ragù is fat free, iron rich and is packed full of lots of vegetables, making it a very healthy dish indeed. If you have a partner who insists on having meat every day then you could throw some diced casserole beef in alongside the lentils and it would taste just as good. I think the lentils are quite substantial enough as they are without having to add meat to the recipe, but each to their own, I say. You could also add mushrooms to it if you fancy or if you’d like to give it a smokey kick a half teaspoon of smoked paprika would do the trick. Also, if you make this and enjoy it you could try making The Happy Pear’s Dahl recipe in your slow cooker, which is also packed full of healthy, nutritious little lentils and is lovely served with rice and naans or poppadums.

Serve your lentil ragù on a bed of tender tagliatelle and scatter with fresh basil leaves and grated parmesan (or a vegan alternative).

Ingredients:

1 large onion (diced)

3 garlic cloves (minced)

3 large carrots (cut into small pieces)

500g red lentils

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

2 tsps. of dried oregano

4 Oxo vegetable stock cubes

1 litre of boiling water (possibly more)

20 pitted black olives (halved)

10 sundried tomatoes (chopped)

500g tagliatelle

Fresh basil

Parmesan (or a vegan alternative)

Method:

Dissolve your Oxo cubes in a jug containing 1 litre of boiling water.

Prepare the ingredients as directed and put them all in your slow cooker.

Pour the stock over the ingredients, adding more hot water if necessary so that all of the ingredients are just covered by the liquid. (This depends on the size of your slow cooker, so if you’ve got a large slow cooker you might need to add more stock.)

Let it cook for the day (if you’re in the house you could give it a stir once an hour, but it’s fine to just leave it if you’re going out).

About half an hour before you’re ready to eat, check the seasoning. If it needs it, then add salt and pepper or another Oxo cube or two. It’s very much down to personal taste.

Cook your tagliatelle as directed on the pack, drain, portion onto plates and top with the lentil ragù, basil and parmesan. Enjoy!

The Simple Ingredients Required to Make The Fat Foodie's Lentil Ragù

The Simple Ingredients Required to Make The Fat Foodie’s Lentil Ragù

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie About to be Slow Cooked

Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie About to be Slow Cooked

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Lentil Ragù by The Fat Foodie

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Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

The other night I needed something quick to whip up for dinner, but I wanted to make something that was going to be more exciting than a freezer pizza. After a rummage around the fridge I saw that I had a packet of puff pastry along with some good ripe tomatoes that had to be used up, so I figured a roasted garlic and tomato tart would do nicely.

Apart from having to roast the garlic for half an hour this is a pretty speedy and easy to create dinner, but most importantly, it also tastes out of this world.

I’ve kept my tart fairly simple by going for the roasted garlic and tomato topping, but you could easily make the tart with a topping of thinly sliced courgettes with green olives, pesto and spinach, bacon and cheddar cheese, or roasted peppers with mozzarella. Your options are extensive to say the least.

I served my roasted garlic and tomato tart with a drizzle of sweet balsamic glaze which massively complemented the roasted garlic and tomatoes. It went beautifully with a fresh, green salad that was tossed in a light French salad dressing. This tart is a perfect example of how it’s the simplest things in the culinary world that often bring the most amount of pleasure.

Ingredients:

1 whole garlic bulb

1 tbsp of sunflower oil

500g block of puff pastry

6 ripe tomatoes (each cut into eight wedges)

20 pitted black olives (cut in half lengthways)

1 small onion (thinly sliced)

1 tbsp American mustard

50g Violife Pizza Mozzarella

Fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper

Balsamic glaze

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Cut the tip off the garlic bulb, drizzle with 1 tbsp of sunflower oil, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven for half an hour. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

In the meantime, line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Roll out the block of puff pastry so that it just fits your baking tray.

Using a knife, lightly cut a line around the outside of the pastry (about 1 cm away from the edge), but try not to cut all the way through the pastry. Prick the interior all over with a fork.

Rolled Out Puff Pastry in Preparation For the Filling

Rolled Out Puff Pastry in Preparation For the Filling

Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic pulp out of the cloves and put it in a bowl.

Add 1 tbsp of American mustard to the garlic puree and mix.

Roasted Garlic Puree

Roasted Garlic Puree

Spread the garlic and mustard puree all over the inside of the puff pastry (avoiding the outer edge) before placing the sliced onions, tomato wedges and black olives on top.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the grated vegan mozzarella.

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Raw Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart Ready to be Baked

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and your toppings are cooked through.

Freshly Baked Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart

Freshly Baked Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Serve either as it is or with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Bellissimo!

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

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Vegan Scotch Broth

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Vegan Scotch Broth by The Fat Foodie

Scotch broth is a Scottish soup that is traditionally made using a meaty stock made of mutton or lamb and is packed full of pearl barley, yellow split peas, green split peas and red lentils. I my opinion though, the dried pulses are hearty enough on their own that it’s not necessary to include meat in the soup.

When I make scotch broth I always make a big pot of it because it means that I can take portions of it as packed lunches to work for a few days and I can freeze whatever I’m not going to use that week in separate containers to defrost the night before I need them. This vegan scotch broth has to be one of the cheapest and easiest meals you can make (I estimate it cost under £3.00 to make) and you can feed loads of people with it (I’d say at least 10 adults), especially if you serve it with a big, fresh, crusty loaf.

One of the benefits of making a big pot of soup is that you can add any vegetables that need to be used up in your fridge. I’ve made this before with parsnips instead of carrots and onions instead of leeks and the result are always excellent. To be honest, when it comes to soup, its tastiness mainly comes down to how well it’s seasoned. It might seem extensive to add six Oxo cubes to your stockpot, but the pulses are pretty bland and they soak up the seasoning like little sponges.

I’d always recommend that you don’t add any salt until the vegetables and pulses have all been cooked until they’re soft and the soup is ready to eat. It’s at that point that you should have a taste of your soup and decide whether to add more seasoning or not. And remember, what’s under-seasoned to some may taste over-seasoned to others so err on the safe side and be conservative with the salt pot because people can always add more at the dining table if they so wish. I love to season my soup bowl with a lot of freshly ground black pepper, but my partner added a dollop of HP Sauce to theirs and said it was delicious. To each their own.

Serve your soup piping hot with thickly cut chunks of fresh crusty bread that’s spread with good butter (or vegan butter) and enjoy!

Ingredients:

500g bag of Scotch Broth Mix

1/2 a turnip

3 large carrots

2 leeks

6 vegetable Oxo cubes

3 litres of boiling water

Method:

Put a large stockpot containing around 3 litres of boiling water on a medium high heat.

Grate (or chop up) all of the vegetables (I peeled them all, then cut them into pieces and chucked them into my food processor) and add them to the boiling water along with the Oxo cubes and broth mix.

Boil steadily, stirring regularly, for at least an hour or until the broth mix is soft when you test it. (Add more water if you think it’s getting too thick.)

Taste and add more stock cubes or seasoning if required.

Serve with good crusty bread spread with lots of butter (or vegan butter).

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Vegan Scotch Broth by The Fat Foodie

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Potato and Cauliflower Curry (serves 4)

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Potato and Cauliflower Curry by The Fat Foodie

The other day I was looking for dinner inspiration in the fridge and I saw that we still had quite a lot of the cashew cream that I had made to go with refried bean quesadillas the other day. I figured I’d try to use it up in a recipe and was in the mood for a vegetable curry, so I decided to use the cashew cream as the base for a korma-esque potato and cauliflower curry.

This is a really tasty curry that’s rich and creamy due to the use of the cashew cream. The fact that it’s a vegetarian curry comprised of hearty chunks of potato, cauliflower florets and little sweet petit pois means that it’s not a heavy curry, as it would potentially be if it were made with meat in it. Really, you can make this curry with whatever vegetables you have on hand in your fridge, but I’d always tend towards using potatoes as your base vegetable because they are brilliant at absorbing the flavours of spices.

If you don’t fancy making the cashew cream to use in the potato and cauliflower curry, I’d advise using a tin of coconut milk instead. Equally, if you love cream and you’re not bothered about your cholesterol levels then you could be a devil and use single cream!

I often think that vegetable curries, particularly ones that are potato based, don’t really need rice to accompany them, but they are very nice to eat scooped up with some soft naan bread or crisp, crunchy poppadums. This makes quite a generous amount of curry so I took the leftovers in to work for lunch with some peshwari naan bread and all of my colleagues commented on how delicious it smelled. I’ll definitely be making this little gem of a curry again.

Ingredients:

4 large potatoes (cut into equal-sized pieces)

2 onions (diced)

1/2 a cauliflower (cut into small florets)

A large (thumb-sized) piece of fresh ginger (minced)

3 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

200g petit pois

200ml of non-dairy cream or cashew cream

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp garam masala

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh coriander

Method:

Put the pieces of potato into a large pan of salted boiling water and boil. When the potato is almost cooked add the cauliflower.

Once the potato and cauliflower are soft, drain and leave to one side.

In a frying pan melt the coconut oil and add the onion. Fry until soft.

Add the garlic, ginger and spices and fry for 3 mins.

Add the potato, cauliflower and petit pois and coat in the spice mixture before adding the chopped tomatoes and non-dairy cream/cashew cream. Stir well and simmer for 15 mins.

Taste and check for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Serve with naan breads or poppadums and fresh coriander.

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Potato and Cauliflower Curry by The Fat Foodie

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Refried Bean Quesadillas with Cashew Cream

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Refried Bean Quesadillas with Cashew Cream Made by The Fat Foodie

As much as I love tortilla wraps I really think they come into their own when they’re stuffed with a filling and then folded and fried to be turned into a quesadilla. I think that a crispy tortilla is particularly complemented when it’s filled with soft fillings, such as Deliciously Ella’s refried beans.

These refried bean quesadillas with cashew cream are very easy to make and require very little preparation, apart from pre-soaking the cashew nuts (assuming you want to make a non-dairy cashew nut cream instead of just using sour cream). Ella’s recipe calls for black beans, but I just used two tins of black-eyed beans that I had in the kitchen and they were lovely.

I was quite sceptical about the cashew cream and couldn’t really envision how blended cashews could possibly taste anything remotely like a cream, but I must admit I really enjoyed it. Soaking the cashews and then blending them produces a very smooth and yes, creamy, sauce which nicely complements the refried bean quesadillas. Ella adds chopped chives to her cashew cream, but I didn’t have any so I just left them out. To be honest, I don’t think it’d make a massive difference to the overall taste, but feel free to add them in if you like.

The refried beans have a lovely subtle Mexican spice flavouring from the ground coriander and smoked paprika and go wonderfully with sliced avocado or guacamole. Mexican foods, such as these refried bean quesadillas with cashew cream, have become a bit of a staple in my house because it’s a cuisine that tends to be naturally pretty dairy-free, but there are so many variants to Mexican food that I doubt I’ll be getting bored with it any time soon.

I know it seems like a bit of extra work to fry your tortilla to turn it into a quesadilla instead of just eating it like a fajita, but it really adds a lovely crunchy, toasted dimension to the flavour of the tortilla and enhances the smokiness of the refried beans. It’s well worth the couple of extra minutes it’ll take before eating your tortillas.

Ingredients for the refried beans:

Olive oil

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

salt and pepper

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tins of black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 green pepper (cut into bite-sized pieces)

The juice of 1 lime

For the cashew sour cream:

120g cashew nuts

The juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

3 spring onions

Method:

To make the sour cream: Cover the cashews in boiling water and soak them for at least half an hour.

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Soaked Cashews

Drain the cashews and then blend all of the sour cream ingredients together in a Nutribullet until smooth.

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Cashew Sour Cream Made by The Fat Foodie

To make the refried beans: Put the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the minced garlic. Fry for 5 mins.

Add the beans, spices, salt and pepper, and lime juice and cook for 10-15 mins until the beans are soft. Put the bean mixture into a bowl and wash your frying pan.

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Refried Beans by The Fat Foodie

To make the quesadillas place your tortilla on a flat surface and put 3-4 tbsps of refried beans in the middle. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla over the beans and then the top and bottom sections until it forms a square parcel.

Put the frying pan over a medium heat and place your quesadilla in the pan. Fry on both sides until golden brown. (I just fry mine in a dry frying pan, but feel free to add some sunflower oil if you like.)

Serve with the cashew sour cream, jalapeños and sliced avocado.

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Refried Bean Quesadillas with Cashew Cream Made by The Fat Foodie

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