Today I bring you a simple, nutritious, economical and comforting recipe that can be made predominantly with long-life pantry supplies. I hope that it is of help in these strange times when people may be finding themselves in need of such a recipe.
Perhaps you are trying to use up the contents of your pantry to avoid going to the shops, maybe you are an essential worker who is busier than ever (you can batch cook this meal and it freezes really well), perhaps you are living on a reduced income and are looking for quick and frugal meal ideas or perhaps you find yourself with a little more time on your hands and are enjoying the comfort of pottering in the kitchen.
Whatever brings you here, welcome.. let's cook together.
I often hold back from sharing recipes here on the blog as I am not one of 'those' cooks. I love cook books but use them as inspiration rather than following their recipes verbatim, I like to wing it and get a weird satisfaction out of coming up with recipes on the fly using whatever I have on hand. Then I usually forget how I did it! My recipes generally aren't very fancy or pretty. But when I did a live chat on Instagram the other week, quite a few people asked if I had any go-to recipes that I'd recommend, so.. here we are! My recipes are more of a guide, use what you have, substitute where you can and I'm sure it'll all work out!
Simple Lentil Dahl
3/4 cup dried red lentils
400g can crushed tomatoes, or passata or the equivalent of chopped sautéed tomatoes
Chicken or vegetable stock (or just water if you don't have stock)
1/2 a finely chopped brown onion (you can substitute onion powder, shallots, leek, spring onion etc)
1 clove grated garlic (you can substitute garlic powder)
2-3cm grated fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons ground ginger (the ginger is my favourite part of this recipe but it still totally works without it)
3 teaspoons ground spices (a mix of whatever you have out of the following - garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, curry powder)
Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in a generous tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil or ghee over a low heat.
Add your spices and stir for a minute.
Add you tomatoes and then fill your (now) empty tomato can with stock or water and add that too. Bring to the boil.
Add the lentils and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir it pretty regularly. Add more stock or water if it is starting to dry out and your lentils aren't cooked yet.
Once the lentils are soft, they're cooked! You want it thicker than soup but not quite as thick as a risotto.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Sometimes I throw frozen peas in right at the end. Sometimes I throw a big handful of baby or English spinach leaves in for the last couple of minutes of cooking. Sometimes I add grated zucchini. The world is your oyster, go wild.
You can serve it with basmati rice or naan bread or roti (both aren't super tricky to make, just google it). I like mine with a dollop of natural yoghurt, some coriander and finely chopped chillies sprinkled over the top.
Enjoy! If you make it, please share on socials.. I'd love to see you getting your lentil on.
Take care everyone,
Fragrant, warming and nurturing, soup is comfort in a bowl. For this reason it seems to be commonplace to relegate soup to the dinner time rotations of the cooler seasons and bid it farewell as the days grow longer.
My love for soup doesn't allow me to do that. I prefer for soup to stay on the menu year-round, however the style of soups I enjoy definitely changes with the season.
In Spring and Summer, I move away from minestrones, root vegetable soups and anything thick and start making lighter soups - such as miso-based vegetable or spicy noodle soups.
If you don't normally eat soup in the warmer months (or even if you do).. I have a recipe for you!
It is not the prettiest meal you have ever seen but it is delicious, nourishing, perfect for warmer weather and easy to make. In other words, it ticks all the boxes in my books.
It is a combination of salmon, edamame, cauliflower and lime and can be spiced up with dried chillies if you like it hot.
Nourishing Spring Soup
Ingredients (for 2):
1 salmon fillet, at least 200g, skin off and cut into roughly 2cm chunks
1 spring onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 2cm piece of ginger, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup cauliflower, chopped/processed super-fine (pre-made cauliflower 'rice' works too)
200g frozen edamame beans in shells, steamed and shelled or 100g defrosted shelled edamame beans
1 cup English spinach or silverbeet, finely shredded
1 sheet roasted nori, shredded
500ml broth (I use homemade chicken broth but veg stock would work just as well and there's nothing wrong with shop-bought either!)
1 tsp coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 a lime
1. Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat.
2. Add spring onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric and stir.
3. Once the spring onion is soft, add the cauliflower and stir until everything is well-combined.
4. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
5. Add edamame, spinach and salmon and reduce heat to a simmer.
6. Simmer for a couple of minutes until salmon is cooked.
7. Serve into bowls, season to taste, add a squeeze of lime and garnish with shredded roasted seaweed.
When it comes to gathering with friends, whether it be as simple as stretching an evening meal to feed a couple of unexpected guests or as lavish as an elaborate weekend party, we often think of Summer as the rightful time of year for entertaining.
But allow me to argue the case for Winter gatherings. I think it is when evenings turn dark early and nights leave us desiring warmth that we need the solace of good company and good food more than ever. Where the warmer months bring with them a carefree whimsy and a quest for fun, Winter can allow opportunity for thoughtful conversations over bowls of soup, for sitting fireside and appreciating the warmth of good people, for being able to fulfil grateful friends' basic needs with a bowl of something nourishing and delicious.
And if you do want to gather people at this time of year, may I suggest a few sure-to-please meals?
Gnudi with wilted bitter greens (this was my favourite go-to recipe when I discovered it last winter)
Pumpkin, Spinach & Fetta Pie via Rethink Nutrition
Nigella's Gingery Hot Duck Salad
Hello Sweet Pea's Roast Pumpkin & Fennel Soup
Pioneer Woman's Rice Pudding (this indulgent and warming and involves a kick of whiskey. Enough said)
'Nourish and Nest Kitchen'
At the start of each month, we will welcome a guest food contributor who will inspire you with a delicious recipe. Something you can create to nourish your body and to bring to the table when you gather with those who nourish your soul.
Our first guest is my friend Jacqui Tyler of Rethink Nutrition. Jacqui is an accredited practising dietitian and an accredited nutritionist. She asks the (very good) question, "what if food and eating could be this simple, this joyful, all the time?" and her peach and nut granola is the stuff of legend. Enjoy!
Balsamic mushroom, fig & walnut salad
As we slowly creep into the cooler months of Autumn, seasonal eating becomes a little earthier and we reach for foods that bring a little more comfort. While Summer is king for light and refreshing salads, Autumn produce can hold it’s own in the salad arena.
This warm salad of balsamic glazed mushrooms, subtly sweet figs and buttery walnuts, balanced with peppery watercress, makes a nourishing small meal, or a delicious side dish. Not only delicious, this salad brings the goods in terms of nutrition too.
Walnuts are a great source of plant protein (great for vegetarians!), rich in antioxidants, and are also one of the few plant sources of omega-3 fats. Mushrooms are packed full of nutrients while having a low energy density, meaning they can help you to feel full while still being a low calorie food. Watercress has twice the vitamin C of an orange, and similar iron content as spinach. You should be able to find watercress at a good green grocer or farmer’s market, but if you can’t get your hands on a bunch, substitute rocket leaves instead.
Serves 2 as a light meal
200g button mushrooms
2 cups watercress
3 ripe figs
3Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup of walnuts
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Wipe away any dirt from the mushrooms. Chop the thicker part of the stems off the watercress, pick out any yellow or brown leaves and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat the watercress dry with some paper towel. Cut the figs into quarters. Mix together the vinegar, honey and salt and pour into a small frypan over medium heat. When the vinegar mixture begins to bubble, lower the heat and leave to reduce for 5 minutes. Add the whole mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Arrange the watercress on a plate and scatter the mushrooms over the top. Top with the figs and walnuts. Drizzle any remaining balsamic reduction over the salad and drizzle with the olive oil. Serve with crusty toasted sourdough or some dense grainy bread.