Here is my latest article on buying food mindfully published today in Elephant Journal.
As a mindful shopper, I’ve been paying more attention at the provenance of my food. It is tricky when food is processed, even a little. There are so many ingredients in muesli that it is impossible to know where they come from.
I’ve finally resolved myself to making my own muesli, buying each ingredients separately. The great thing about making your own is that you can personalise your breakfast.
Here are the ingredients I used for my first batch, which is delicious with almond milk!
- Flaked almonds
- Scottish porridge oats
- Poppy seeds
- Ground linseeds
- Desiccated coconut
- Chopped roasted hazelnut
- Tons of cinnamon
A vegan summer fava beans stew in a moorish style.
Dried fava beans are definitely growing on me. Their texture is both incredibly meaty and intriguing; fleshy in the inside with a thick hearty skin. I’m starting to imagine how they will be the centre of all sorts of dishes at home this winter.
In the summer however, there are a lot of good things to do with them. I’ve decided to use up my last jar of preserved lemons, some figs and to smother my stew with ras-al-hanout, because it works so well with sweet ingredients. The result a hearty vegan stew rich in flavours and textures.
preparation: 40 minutes + 12 hours to soak beans
cooking time: 1h (pressure cooker), 2h to 3h (traditional)
serves 4 people
- 250 gr. dried fava beans
- 6 dried figs
- 2 preserved lemons (8 quarters)
- 5 tomatoes
- 4 carrots
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 3 small red onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp. tomato concentrate
- 2 tbsp. ras-al-hanout
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- salt, pepper, olive oil
Soak the beans overnight.
Sweat the chopped garlic and sliced onions in olive oil for 10 minutes until soft, almost caramelising. Cut the tomatoes in quarters, slice the peppers, and slice carrots in half moons.
Sweat the peppers with the onions and garlic for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes. Sweat for another couple of minutes and add the carrots. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
Add the spices, 1 tablespoon of ras-al-hanout, the tomato concentrate, salt, pepper and the beans. Cover with warm water.
Cook in two rounds with your pressure, and then simmer with the lid ajar, for 30 minutes. Or, in traditional tajine dish bring to boil then simmer for approximately 3 hours.
A summery veggie bake with some very cool beans indeed.
A few weeks ago, as I was doing research for an article I’m writing about beans, I made a thrilling discovery: Great British Beans.
I was making a few phone calls to try to find black beans produced in the UK and, as it turns out, I stumbled upon some even cooler beans. I talked to a very friendly person at Hodmedods who definitely sounded passionate about pulses. He talked about this potentially dry subject in a really interesting way and definitely knew his onions! I personally find pulses pretty exciting. This love affair started when I lived in Spain, and it kept on growing with my increasingly vegetarian diet.
I ordered my first sampler pack of Hodmedods beans last week. My heart raced a bit as I open the beautifully design package (it even comes with a mini recipe book). It was almost the Christmas kind of excitement; new beans are a motive for much rejoicing in my kitchen. Finding delicious beans grown in the UK is a revelation for locavores and anyone interested in reducing their carbon footprint.
I’ve been plotting various recipes, and here’s the first one I’ve made. The beans are all they promised to be and more: hearty, nutty and fleshy.
Baking time: 1h
- 3 medium courgettes
- 250 gr. fava beans
- 700 ml. organic passata
- 2 tbsp. organic tomato concentrate
- 2/3 cup polenta
- 1 big garlic clove
- 1 big red onion (or 2 medium)
- 1 branch fresh tarragon
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 200 ml water
- butter (for dish)
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1 & 1/2 cup Scottish oats
- 1/3 cup wholemeal or spelt flour
- 200 gr. fresh goats cheese
- 1 big garlic clove, chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp. poppy seeds
- salt and pepper
Cook the fava beans (either soak overnight and cook, or do a couple of rounds in your pressure cooker).
Prepare a tomato sauce for the fava beans:
Sweat the sliced onions and chopped garlic in a bit of olive oil until soft. Add the passata, tomato concentrate, fava beans, sugar, chopped tarragon, salt and pepper (you can also add a bit of red wine or Port there for greater taste). Either cook the sauce in your pressure cooker, or just let it simmer on the hob for 30-45 minutes. Add a few drops of olive oil once cooked.
Pre-heat oven on 225C.
Prepare your crumble:
In a blender or a bowl, add all the ingredients and mix until it crumbles.
Sweat the finely sliced courgettes in a bit of olive oil until they start getting soft (a third chopped garlic clove can be added here if you wish).
Butter your dish (I use goats butter these days, the taste is great for savoury bakes).
Spread the polenta at the bottom of your dish. Add a layer of courgettes, then a layer of fava beans mix, then more courgettes, more beans and finish with a layer of courgettes. Pour 200 ml. of water.
Spread the crumble at the top.
Place your dish at the bottom of your oven and bake for 50 minutes, and place it in the middle for the crumble to brown for 10 more minutes.
Serve hot with lettuce and vinaigrette.
I still have one jar of the batch of preserved lemons that I made at Christmas. We went to the Woodstock farmer’s market this morning and bought some gorgeous beetroots, so I thought I would try something new. Ottolenghi makes a similar salad with yogurt and tahini. I chose to use some hard goats cheese I buy at Sainsbury’s and to make a garlicky dressing.
It’s really divine and if you are a vegetarian and don’t use preserved lemons for meat tagines, then salads are your best bet to enjoy this Middle-Eastern treat.
preparation 30 minutes
- 1 preserved lemon
- 4 beetroots
- 50 gr. of hard goats cheese
- chopped fresh coriander
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. lemon oil (from the preserved lemons jar)
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 orange juice
You can either roast the beetroot in the oven (220C) for 45-60 minutes with a bit of oil and some entire cloves of garlic or simply cook them in the pressure cooker, which takes less than 30 minutes.
Prepare the dressing. Grate the garlic, add the ground coriander, fresh orange juice, vinegar, olive oil and lemon oil. No need for salt, there’s plenty in the preserved lemons.
Shave the goats cheese, chop the lemons roughly.
Once the beetroots are cooked, leave them to cool down (plunge them in water and ice if you want to serve straight away). Peel them, chop them in half moons.
Garnish the salad with fresh coriander and serve with the dressing.
(this recipe would work really well with grilled haloumi bits…)
A spicy muffin for the summer days.
20-25 minutes on 200C.
- 150 gr. wholemeal flour
- 70 gr. wheatgerm
- 150 ml yogurt
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 3 eggs
- 50 ml. olive oil
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 15 pods cardamom
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 3 tbsp. sesame seeds
- 4 tbsp. strong coffee
- 2.tbsp. poppy seeds
- 4 tbsp. ground linseeds
- 2 tbsp. sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Grind the cardamon seeds with a pestle and mortar.
In a big bowl, mix the flour, wheatgerm, spices, seeds, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a different bowl, pour the yogurt, honey, oil, and the eggs one by one.
Pour the egg/yogurt mix into the flour mix. Add the coffee. Prepare your baking cups, ideally using a muffin baking tray.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 200C.
I’m aware that tagine and quickie are an oxymoron: tagine is a slow-cooking Moroccan stew.
This is a cheat veggie tagine/tchoutchouka type quickie. Simple to cook, five main ingredients, ready in 20 minutes tops: you can’t lose, and you’re in for an unexpected treat.
- 1 aubergine (or 2 organic red peppers)
- 1 big red onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 eggs
- 350 ml. organic passata (from Sainsbury’s, my favourite)
- 1 heap teaspoon ras-al-hanout (or 1/2 cumin, 1/2 ginger, 1/2 coriander)
- 1 generous squirt of harissa (or any other red chilli spice device)
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
Dice the aubergine. Cut the onion in half and then slice it. Chop the garlic finely. Sweat the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the aubergine. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the passata and let it cook on medium heat for another 5 minutes. Mix in the spices and harissa.
Break the eggs on top of your sauce and cover. Leave to cook on low heat for 5 minutes or until whites are cooked but yolks are still soft.
Salt, pepper, a bit of olive and maybe some chopped flat parsley if available.
Serve with instant wholemeal couscous (prepared in 5 minutes).