Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a classic one pot celebration of summer vegetables. Although it’s a simple recipe, with humble ingredients, it’s all about timings and getting the vegetables cooked just right. Spongey, undercooked aubergine is the reason many people don’t like it. Aubergine should be silky and soft, and almost melt in the mouth and then it’s absolutely stunning! Serve with some good bread and a glass of red. We often add a drained tin or two of white beans or lentils to this summer stew to boost the protein and make it an even heartier meal.

Why not make a double or triple batch and get some in the freezer for a busy day? You could even blend some for a quick summery soup or a flavoursome pasta sauce.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 aubergine
  • 2 courgette
  • 2 red pepper
  • 4-6 tomatoes (or 12 cherry tomatoes, or a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes)
  • 6 cloves of garlic – peeled and diced
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil to taste

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C.
  2. Chop the aubergine and peppers into bite sized pieces. Put them in a deep roasting dish and drizzle with the olive oil.
  3. Season well with salt and pepper, mix with your hands to evenly coat the vegetables in the seasoning. Then put the dish in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and add the courgettes and tomatoes, also cut into bite sized pieces.
  5. Add the garlic, red wine vinegar and a little more salt and pepper. Mix well and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until everything is well cooked.
  6. Stir through lots of freshly torn basil and serve in bowls with fresh bread. Or it’s lovely with pasta or potatoes. Bulk it out and add protein with a drained tin of white beans or green lentils.

Slow-Cooked Courgette Caviar

Courgette caviar is a Russian/Ukrainian spread made from slowly cooking summer vegetables down into a rustic and delicious purée. The long, slow sauté reduces and caramelises the vegetables together, elevating these humble ingredients into a stunning jar of flavour. This is so much more than a stew. Slow cooked courgettes have the most wonderful texture, you can also use aubergines or a combination of the two. It’s just a brilliant way of using up a glut of courgettes and other summer veggies. If we are having a barbecue, I sometimes chuck a few courgettes and aubergines (also peppers, whole bulbs of garlic, carrots…) on to get smokey and soft then make this purée with those. It’s amazing, the smokiness really comes through. Just peel off any very blackened bits of skin and sauté and crush the vegetables together in the pan until reduced.

Enjoy cold on good bread or with crackers. It’s delicious as part of a picnic spread with cheese, pickles, ferments etc. Or heat it up and loosen it with some pasta water for a quick pasta sauce. It’s an incredible pizza sauce base too! I have never tried making a huge batch and keeping the jars in a cellar, but if you have the know-how and the right equipment, that’s a great way to preserve the fruits of summer. But making the recipe as per the method below, the jar should last well in the fridge for two weeks.

Liz x

Ingredients* (makes a large jar approximately 1 litre)

*don’t worry too much about amounts and the ingredients can vary too! Leave out the pepper, add aubergine, use fresh tomatoes, add more or less garlic… it’s more about the technique of slowly cooking down and caramelising the vegetables together than getting the proportions and ingredients exact. I suppose starchy vegetables like potatoes wouldn’t work here, but most other vegetables will be fine. Use any combination that you like. Here’s what I did this time:

  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • a generous slick of olive oil to coat your pot/pan, plus extra to to top the jar
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • salt to taste
  • optional extras like black pepper, dill or fennel seeds, coriander seeds, chilli…

Method

  1. Start by dicing or grating all your ingredients.
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan or pot, heat up a generous slick of olive oil and add the diced onion. Keep the pot at medium high and stir fry the onions until they start to soften and colour.
  3. Add the garlic, courgettes, carrots, pepper and a big pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring regularly for at least 30 minutes. You will need to lower the heat as you go. It’s nice if the vegetables caramelise and slightly catch on the bottom of the pan. Just keep scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  4. Crush the vegetables together with the back of the wooden spoon, or use a masher to help you along.
  5. When the vegetables are reduced and drying out, add the tomatoes and keep cooking, stirring and reducing. You should end up with a rich, thick purée. You can keep it rustic or blend it smooth.
  6. Pack the mixture while it’s still hot into a large, sterilised jar. Add a layer of olive oil and put the lid on. This should make it last longer.
  7. Keep it in the fridge. It should last well for 2 weeks.

Aubergine Involtini

Involtini in Italian means ‘rolls’ and this aubergine version is one of my all time favourite dishes. I am obsessed with aubergine, perhaps it’s because I used to hate it as a child and now I’m making up for lost time? But whenever aubergine season hits, this recipe is at the top of my list. I also make this with courgettes in place of the aubergines sometimes, especially when there’s a lot of them to use up. Griddled courgette strips are so tasty so give that version a try too.

The filling can be whatever you want it to be. I usually go for something simple like a mixture of cheese (vegan feta or cashew cheese are my favs) and pesto. But roasted and crushed squash with toasted pine nuts or hazelnuts is also really good! Perfect for that summer-autumn crossover. Let us know in the comments what fillings worked well for you?

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 2 aubergines
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 jars of Napoli tomato sauce (or make your own tomato sauce by sautéing a diced onion and 4 cloves of garlic with a little olive oil until soft, then add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and some torn basil leaves and simmer for 15 minutes or so)
  • 130g jar of pesto
  • 200-300g cheese of your choice (feta works really well here – I use my tofu feta recipe found at the end of this blog post, otherwise we stock a variety of plant based cheeses and organic feta)
  • pasta or fresh bread to serve

Method

  1. Find a medium sized, deep roasting dish and turn your oven to 200C to warm up while you prepare the dish.
  2. If you’re not using our tasty, ready made tomato sauce, make a simple batch yourself using two 400g tins of chopped tomatoes. I sautéed a diced onion with a couple of tbsp of olive oil and 4 cloves of garlic until soft and just starting to colour. Then tipped in the two tins of tomatoes (swirled out the remaining tomatoey juices from the tins with a little water and added that to the pot too) and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then simmered the sauce with some torn basil leaves for around 10-15 minutes until it was rich and delicious.
  3. Keep the sauce warm while you prepare the aubergines and filling.
  4. Slice the tops off the aubergine as close to the stalk as possible, then peel or slice off any still-attached leafy bits. Carefully cut the aubergines into around 4mm thick, long strips.
  5. Pour the olive oil into a small bowl or glass and season it with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Then brush the aubergine slices with the seasoned olive oil and grill them in batches in a griddle pan, or under a hot grill in the oven. Turn halfway through. They should be soft and beautifully charred but still manageable. As they cook, lay them out on a large chopping board or clean worksurface ready for stuffing and rolling.
  6. Meanwhile make your filling. I mashed about 300g of feta with a jar of pesto.
  7. Pour the warm tomato sauce into your baking dish and start assembling the involtini.
  8. Place a tablespoon of filling at the end of a griddled aubergine slice. Then roll it up and tuck the roll, seam side down, into the tomato sauce.
  9. Repeat until all the rolls are stuffed. Then place the dish in the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
  10. Serve with freshly boiled pasta or some crusty bread and enjoy!

Miso Aubergine with Rice, Beans & Greens

We have a new product in our grocery section that is absolutely delicious. These sachets of umami pastes which are basically organic miso with added ingredients like ginger, garlic and chilli. They are flavour bombs and we love them as a marinade for aubergine in this simple, hearty supper. The paste can be used to marinade skewers of tofu and mushrooms for the barbecue too, or even as a stunning broth base for a light miso soup. How would you use them?

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • rice for two (I bring 1/2 a mug of brown rice with 1 mug of water to a boil in a pan with the lid on, then turn down to the lowest setting and simmer until the rice has absorbed all water)
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 tbsp umami paste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves – sliced
  • 1 bunch of rainbow chard – stalks separated and sliced
  • 1 tin of black beans – drained
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C and get some brown rice on to cook – see ingredients list for my super-simple method.
  2. Cut the aubergine in half lengthways and score the cut side deeply with a small, sharp knife. Spread a tbsp of umami paste onto each half and make sure you get it into all the cuts. Place the aubergines in a small roasting dish in the oven to cook while you prepare the greens and beans.
  3. Separate the stalks from the rainbow chard and slice them. They take longer to cook than the delicate green leaves. Put them in a pan with the vegetable oil and sliced garlic. Sauté until just starting to soften.
  4. Then add the drained tin of black beans to the pan and turn the heat off until the rice and aubergine are cooked through.
  5. When the aubergine is soft (this usually takes around 20 minutes), remove it from the oven and sprinkle it with sesame seeds. Return the dish to the oven for 5 minutes to toast the seeds.
  6. Meanwhile turn the heat back on under the beans and add the greens and a splash of soy sauce (around 2 tbsp). Stir and wilt the greens. Then serve.
  7. Divide the rice between two bowls. Add the garlicky beans and greens and a half of the aubergine to each bowl. Enjoy as it is or with a side of kimchi.

One Pot Baked Orzo Pasta

One pot suppers are my favourite types of suppers. Not just for the lack of pots and pans to scrub, although let’s be honest, that is the main reason, but also because it’s just so satisfying, pulling a dish out of the oven and onto the centre of the table and watching everyone tuck in. This baked orzo recipe, like pretty much all of my recipes, is super-flexible. Use it as inspiration rather than instruction and tweak it with any vegetables you have in your box this week. Orzo is simply rice shaped pasta. I often pop a drained tin of beans or lentils into the mix too for some added fibre and protein. Let us know how your version went in the comments.

Liz x

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions – diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic – diced
  • roughly chopped vegetables of your choice (I went ‘Med-veg’ style and used – 1 aubergine, 1/2 a fennel bulb, 2 courgettes, 1 yellow pepper)
  • 500g orzo pasta
  • the juice of a lemon (or a tbsp of preserved lemon paste)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml water
  • salt, pepper and herbs to taste
  • added extras to taste – olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, a drained tin of beans/lentils/chickpeas…
  • grated cheese (or vegan cheese – we sell a range or make my tofu-feta recipe) to finish

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C and find a large oven and hob safe pan with a lid. If you don’t have one, you could use a roasting dish and some tin foil – roast rather than sauté the vegetables.
  2. Sauté the diced onion and garlic with the olive oil for 5-10 minutes or until starting to soften and colour.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables, season with salt and pepper and sauté for a further 10 minutes until not fully cooked through, but just starting to caramelise on the outsides.
  4. Pour the orzo into the pan along with the lemon and tin of chopped tomatoes. Swirl the juices out of the tin into a measuring jug until you have 500ml of water and add that to the pan too.
  5. At this point you may wish to add some extra ingredients like herbs, olives, capers, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, a drained tin of butterbeans etc…
  6. Stir well to combine the ingredients then place the lid on the dish and put it in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes or until the pasta has absorbed all the liquid.
  7. Remove the lid and add a generous sprinkle of grated cheese. Return the dish to the oven with the lid off for 5 minutes or until bubbling and starting to take on some colour.
  8. Enjoy with a simple green salad.

Babaganoush

Babaganoush is similar to hummus, but made with aubergine rather than chickpeas. It’s softer, silkier and deliciously smokey! I always pop a few aubergines on the barbecue to make this dip. You can grill them in a hot griddle pan or roast them in the oven instead, but they won’t be as smokey. You’re looking to really blacken them on the outside and let them collapse and get silky soft in the middle. The blackened skin is then peeled off, then the flesh is blended (or mashed if you like more texture) with garlic, tahini, lemon and olive oil. Here’s my recipe for one aubergine. Serve with grilled or raw veg, salads, on toast or with pitta bread strips to scoop it all up.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon (or a tsp of preserved lemon purée)
  • OPTIONAL EXTRAS? A pinch each of cumin and smoked paprika and some pomegranate seeds and sesame seeds for garnishing.

Method

  1. Grill or barbecue the aubergine until it’s completely soft inside and the skin is burnt and blackened.
  2. Allow it to cool enough to handle, then slice it in half lengthways and scoop all the flesh out into a bowl to mash or blender to blend smooth. Scrape the skin carefully to get every bit of aubergine into the mix. Those bits nearer the skin have the best, smokey flavour.
  3. Add the garlic (crush or finely grate first if mashing rather than blending), olive oil, tahini and lemon.
  4. Blend or mash into a spoonable mixture, then taste and add salt and more lemon to taste.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a small serving bowl and top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and optional extras like pomegranate seeds, sesame seeds, smoked paprika, cumin…
  6. Enjoy scooped up with flatbreads or toasted pitta bread and salads.

Festive Falafel

An image from my cookbook, Cook Draw Feed (available to add to your cart here)

A classic vegan stalwart, the falafel, but this time with a festive twist. It’s perfect for Christmas sandwiches with some hummus, ruby red sauerkraut and peppery green leaves, or as part of a festive buffet. Middle Eastern food lends itself very well to festive flavours with its liberal use of sweet and warming spices. Or maybe it’s because baby Jesus hailed from that part of the world? Well, whatever the reason, I find myself craving lots of tangines, tabbouleh, hummus, harissa, falafels, baklava, pomegranates etc this time of year.

My festive falafel would make a nice little Christmas starter served on some leaves with a dip (a smokey baba ganoush or a spicy harissa perhaps), a sprinkle (some crunchy hazelnut dukka or a zingy z’atar) and some juicy red pomegranate seeds.

My kids also love a falafel as a burger. Just make them into burger sized patties and serve them in a bun with whatever toppings you like and with a side of potato wedges. Here I’ve served it as a lovely lunch with toasted pitta breads, salad, babaganoush, z’atar and sauerkraut.

Enjoy! Liz x

Ingredients (makes around 15 – 20 falafels)

Method

Pulse all the ingredients except the gram flour and sunflower oil together in a food processor until combined into a rough paste then taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper or spices if needed.

Stir through enough gram flour to make a manageable dough. Be careful not to make the dough too dry though.

Then heat up a heavy bottomed frying pan with a generous slick of sunflower oil.

Form the dough into little balls – I find the easiest way to do this is to use two dessert spoons – and drop them into the pan of hot oil.

Turn the heat down to medium-high and once the falafels are cooked on the bottom, flip them over with a spatular and squish them down into little discs. Cook them on the other side until golden brown. You may wish to flip them once more to cook the first side a little longer.

Repeat until all the dough is used up and keep the falafels warm. Then serve with salad, dips and breads to your liking.

Baba Ganoush

I often have an aubergine in my weekly large veg box from the farm so I made a baba ganoush this time. It’s very easy. Simply roast the aubergine in a very hot oven until it’s beautifully charred, smokey and silky soft all the way through. Then once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the skin and pop the flesh in a food processor with a small clove of garlic, a tbsp of tahini, a tbsp or two of lemon juice, a big pinch of salt, a small pinch each of smoked paprika and ground cumin and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Then blend until smooth, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Z’atar

Z’atar is a stunning Middle Eastern sprinkle, so perfect with falafel and dips. I make my own very simply with an even blend of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac. The combination of toasty sesame seeds, herby thyme and zingy sumac is so delicious. It’s well worth hunting down some sumac and making some yourself.

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