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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Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus

Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus by The Fat Foodie

Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus by The Fat Foodie

I’ve been enjoying reading and cooking from Ella Mills’ new cookbook Deliciously Ella With Friends and I quite fancied making her roast carrot hummus. I’ve made The Happy Pear’s roast carrot hummus before and really enjoyed it, but I thought it’d be good to try a different recipe for a change.

I followed Ella’s recipe up to the point of blending all of the ingredients together in the food processor, but I baulked when I reached the point at which she asked for the addition of 10 tbsps of olive oil. That’s a lot of oil! And a lot of people can find that too much olive oil can have an, ahem, ‘loosening’ effect on the body, if you know what I mean…

The lads from The Happy Pear don’t use any oil in their hummus recipes so I thought I’d follow suit and adapt Ella’s recipe so that it had a lot less fat in it, using sundried tomatoes and a bit of their oil from the jar instead of copious amounts of olive oil.

The roast carrot and sundried tomato hummus turned out really nice with a good mellow kick from the roasted garlic cloves and a lovely tang from the sundried tomatoes. I had it in a Mediterranean herb wrap with some grated dairy-free cheese and salad and it was delicious.

This makes quite a lot of hummus (I’ve found that Ella’s portions in her new cookbook Deliciously Ella With Friends are extremely generous), but it freezes very well so I’ve portioned it up into small tupperware containers so I can take it out of the freezer as and when I need it. I think it’ll do very nicely for some iron and nutrient-rich packed lunches to take to work over the next month.

Ingredients:

3 large carrots (400g worth)

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 1/2 tsps. of paprika

A pinch of salt

3 garlic cloves

8 sundried tomatoes (and a bit of the oil from the jar)

Two 400g tins of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

3 tbsps. tahini

The juice of 2 or 3 lemons

1 tsp ground cumin

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Cut your carrots into coins about an inch thick and place on a baking tray. Coat the carrot pieces in 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast for about 20 mins.

Put your unpeeled garlic cloves on the baking tray and roast alongside the carrots for 5 to 10 mins or until the carrots are soft.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Peel the garlic cloves and then place all of your ingredients in a food processor and blitz. I quite like my hummus to have a bit of texture, but if you prefer yours smooth just keep the food processor running until it’s very smooth.

I added a bit of fresh coriander to my hummus, but you can leave it out if you prefer.

Serve in sandwiches, with fajitas, chilli or with crisp baked tortillas.

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Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus by The Fat Foodie

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Cauliflower Fritters

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Cauliflower Fritters by The Fat Foodie

I found the recipe for these cauliflower fritters on a blog called Veggie Inspired. From the first time I read the recipe I was intrigued to see what the cauliflower fritters would taste like and I was particularly curious as to what their texture would be like. I bought a cauliflower last time I was shopping so yesterday I decided to make cauliflower fritter tacos for lunch.

I really enjoyed these and would make them again in a heartbeat. The recipe called for thick slices of cauliflower, but because of the crumbly nature of the cauliflower I only managed to cut two slices and was left with little chunks and individual florets. This worked out well however, because it allowed me to see how the mixture baked according to the size of the pieces.

I think the thick slices of the cauliflower fritters would work really well as an alternative burger within a nice burger bun, fresh salad, cheese and fried onions, whereas the smaller, craggier pieces of cauliflower would be best served in soft, floury tacos with hot salsa and cool coleslaw.

Although the ingredients list for these cauliflower fritters is long please believe me when I say that they’re unbelievably easy to make and take very little time overall. They’re so substantial and satisfying that I think even the most devout meat-eater would be willing to give them a go.

You can find the full ingredient list and method on Jenn’s website here at Veggie Inspired.

To make the coleslaw:

3 carrots

1 small red onion

1 tsp of mustard (or more if you like a spicier coleslaw)

Vegan mayonnaise

 

To make the coleslaw: Simply grate the carrots and red onion into a bowl and then mix in the mustard and as much mayonnaise as suits your own taste.

Serve your cauliflower fritters in tortilla wraps with homemade coleslaw, salad, salsa, grated cheese (if you fancy), sliced avocado or guacamole and jalepenos.

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Baked Cauliflower Fritters by The Fat Foodie

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Cauliflower Fritters by The Fat Foodie

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A Hearty Corned Beef Soup

 Corned Beef Soup

Corned Beef Soup by The Fat Foodie’s Mum

The weather’s been overcast and freezing for days now, requiring us to put the heating on to combat the thick layer of thorn-like crisp frost that’s coating the world outside. It seems weird to feel so chilly when it’s only late November, but the other day I decided something warming would have to be on the cards for lunch after nipping out to bring in my frozen washing (which I had to break as if it was made of strong cardboard in order to fit it back in the washing basket).

I had a rummage around in the fridge and cupboards, but no inspiration struck. However, a glance in the freezer unearthed a carton of Mum’s family-famous corned beef soup, a hearty meal-in-a-bowl that’s guaranteed to warm a person up from the inside out. As Mum would say, her corned beef soup is a soup that really ‘sticks to your ribs’.

I remember having this soup one evening in late autumn when I was a young teenager. We lived in Dumfries and Galloway (the part of Scotland with the highest rainfall level on a yearly basis) and on this particular day my Dad had swung by in the car after he’d finished work to pick me and my brother up from school on his way home because the rain was so heavy that it was falling to the pavement and then bouncing back up to knee level. After relishing the warmth of the car we arrived home and, after changing out of our sodden school uniform and getting into our nightwear and dressing gowns, we joined Mum and Dad in the kitchen for dinner. The relief and excitement I felt when I realised that we were having Mum’s amazing hot corned beef soup for dinner was overwhelming and I remember feeling sorry for some of my friends whose fathers demanded a full, roasted meat-centric dinner every evening and being wholeheartedly grateful that I was blessed with a family that could come together over a simple cooking pot full of soup.

Corned beef soup is really easy to make and it’s packed full of flavour. You can adapt the vegetables to suit whatever you have on-hand to use up in the fridge. For instance, if you have them to use up, turnip, leeks and parsnips work well in this recipe. It’s perfect served with a generous slice (or two) of nice, fresh, yeasty bread slathered in plenty of good salted butter.

As a rule, I don’t really like brown sauce, but in this case I can highly recommend adding a little dollop of HP Sauce to your bowl, as evidenced in the photo, because it adds a lovely deep, fruity, vinegary note to the soup. Regardless of whether you add the HP sauce to your bowl or not, as my Mum would say, after a bowl of this soup ‘your cockles will soon be warmed up’.

Ingredients:

2 tins of good quality corned beef

3 large carrots

3 potatoes

2 or 3 Oxo cubes (to taste)

1.5 litres of hot water

Method:

Chop up your vegetables into bite-sized pieces (or grate them) and put them in a large soup pot.

Add enough hot water so it just covers the vegetables and bring to the boil.

Chop up your corned beef and add it to the pot.

Simmer gently until your veg is cooked and then add the stock cubes one at a time, tasting after stirring each one in to make sure you don’t over-season the soup. (You might not need all 3 stock cubes, depending on your personal taste.)

After simmering it for a wee while longer serve it with good bread and butter.





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