Peppy Living

Peppy Living for the Eco-Anxious

Month: October 2012

stuffed squash

Stuffed Squash

I found these cute little squashes from our local green grocers and just had to do something with them. Stuffing is always a good idea and this recipe is perfect for the Halloween season. This is a veggie version to suit my vegetarian man, but feel free to add bacon or substitute the lentils with minced meat.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 small squashes
  • Avocado oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • 1 tin of lentils
  • 2-3 fresh tomatoes
  • Seasoning, herbs
  • 100g grated cheese

stuffed squash

Aren’t they pretty?

stuffed squash

First a little top tip: shaving a little bit off the bottom of the squash will make them sit better on the tray, and will save you a lot of frustration along the way.

The squashes are really tough and hard to carve, so I just scooped the seeds out, brushed them with avocado oil and roasted in the oven until the flesh was soft and easy to scoop out. The skin is quite tough, so they won’t slump like courgettes if cooked ripe at this point. The time needed for roasting depends on the size of the squashes, these ones took about 45 minutes.

stuffed squash

While the squashes are roasting, prepare the stuffing. Fry garlic and onion in a dash of oil and add other vegetables, chopped to nice small bites. Add stock or seasoning and lentils and simmer until vegetables are just softening. This not the sexiest looking filling, as the lentils turn everything brownish green, but it doesn’t matter, as all will be nicely hidden under a cheese crust.

Once the squashes are soft, scoop the insides of them out, chop and add to the stuffing. Then fill the squashes with the stuffing and cover with grated cheese. Roast in the oven until the cheese has melted and turned nice and brown.

 

stuffed squash

These bad boys are super-filling, so I served them only with a bit of braised savoy cabbage. One is enough, actually, so this portion served me twice. Don’t hesitate to eat the skin, too. It’s the best bit!

 

almond milk and berry shake

Almond Milk Berry Shake

Drinking lots of milk in the morning gives me tummy ache, so I’ve been trying alternatives like soy milk, which I quite like although it takes a little getting used to. However, soy milk is often sweetened and there seems to be a bit of controversy over its health benefits as it apparently raises estrogen levels. Recently I’ve seen a lot positive comments about almond milk, so decided to give it a go.

You can make almond milk by blending almonds and water and filtering the leftover almonds out, but it’s also easily available in supermarkets so I didn’t bother. Verdict? Yummy! On its own it definitely has the distinctive flavour of almonds, so not sure how well it would work with cereals and such. The texture is much thicker and creamier than in skimmed milk or soy milk, which I liked. I  just love the subtle nutty flavour it adds to this berry shake. This immediately became my favourite breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 250 ml/1 cup of almond milk
  • 250 ml/1 cup of frozen berries
  • 1 banana
  • 50 ml/ quarter cup of walnuts
  • 50 ml/ quarter cup of pumpkin seeds

almond milk berry shake

The raw ingredients. The walnuts and pumpkin seeds add crunchiness and keep the hunger at bay till lunch time. You can try using cashew nuts and sunflower seeds, if preferred.

almond milk berry shake

Ready for a spin in the blender. The frozen berries cool the shake nicely.

almond milk and berry shake

Elegantly served in a Guinness pint glass.

Nutty Green Curry

I believe you can never go wrong with Thai food. It’s just beautiful, fragrant, tasty, light and filling all at the same time. This is a veggie version of the good old chicken green curry, where I substituted chicken with nuts. The secret to a good home made green curry is in finding really good curry paste, which can be a tough job. I suggest shopping at ethnic food shops and trying out different pastes until you find the one that does the trick. The rest is easy.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large courgette
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 litre or 2 cups of water
  • 1 stock pot or cube or salt
  • 1 sachet of green curry paste
  • A handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 tin of coconut milk

nutty green curry

Ahh… look at the rainbow colours of these veggies. Carrots are probably not the most orthodox choice for a thai curry, but I like the bit of crunch they add to the mix.

nutty green curry

Fry the veg lightly and add the curry paste. Add water and stock or seasoning. I find you still need a bit of salt despite the curry paste. Let the vegetables cook until they are al dente, 15-20 minutes will probably do. Careful, they are very easy to overcook!

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If you’re in the UK I can recommend Sharwood’s thai paste. It’s really good, available in all supermarkets and costs 99p.

nutty green curry recipe

Add the cashew nuts and the coconut milk. Then quickly bring the sauce to boil. If you boil the coconut for long it will lose its lovely coconuttiness, which I like. I also like to add the cashew nuts towards the end as they can become soggy and chewy if added with the veg in the beginning.

nutty green curry recipe

Serve with jasmine rice and garnish with fresh coriander. If you have any left over, you can also add a bit more stock and eat it as a soup the next day.

 

Toms & Tortellini

Tomatoes were the most successful thing that my Gardening Experiment produced. Over the weekend I got rid of the plants for the winter and harvested the remaining fruit. That means I have plenty of tomatoes, so it was time to do something with them and quickly.

I usually make this sauce with tinned tomatoes, but this time I used fresh ones. What a world of difference it makes! I didn’t bother with poaching and peeling the tomatoes like you’re supposed to. The peels don’t really matter in my opinion.

This is super quick, cheap and tasty. Choose tortellinis that you like, there’s tons of varieties around. I used Spinach & Ricotta. This doesn’t look like very much, but the sauce is so rich that you don’t need a lot of it. Obviously keep adding more tomatoes, if you want more.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 tomatoes, depending on size.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • Fond, stock or salt for seasoning
  • A pinch of chilli

 

Tomatoes from the garden

Here are my beautiful tomatoes. Remains to be seen whether the green ones will mature off the vine before going off.

 

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Chop the garlic, onions tomatoes and peppers and fry them in a pan. Season and simmer until all have softened. If you need a bit of extra liquid, add some water. The sauce is ready when tomatoes are all mushy. This will take about 15 minutes.

 

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Tortellinis take about 3 minutes to cook, so I do them once the sauce is ready. Garnish with fresh basil.

Aubergine Bolognese

Aubergine bolognese is another one of my favourite recipes for the cold autumn and winter nights. I picked up the recipe idea from an Italian restaurant. Their “Pasta Norma” had a few aubergines and tomatoes tossed in spaghetti. I made it a bit heartier, and turned it into a bolognese-style sauce. This is super simple to make, but takes quite a long time to simmer, so don’t start cooking if you’re already starving. But it’s totally worth the wait!

Ingredients:

  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp of tomato puree
  • 2 stock pots (or cubes)
  • Herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)
  • A generous pinch of chilli flakes

 

aubergine bolognese

Chop the vegetables. Cut aubergines into fairly small cubes so they cook a bit quicker. You don’t need to “sweat” them with salt, as they’ll be thoroughly soaked in stock anyway.

 

aubergine bolognese

Fry the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Add aubergines and fry for a few minutes. Add a tin of tomatoes, then fill the tin with water and add it to the pan. Follow with tomato paste and stock pots or cubes. At first this looks like a lot of food, but it will condense. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat so that it just about simmers and get on with your life.

 

aubergine bolognese

After about 30 minutes the aubergines are starting to soften, and the sauce looks a bit runny. Give it a good stir, and go back to doing something else.

 

aubergine bolognese

After another 20 minutes or so the aubergines are starting to break up and create that lovely bolognese texture. They might start sticking to the bottom of the pan, which is fine. Just give them a good stir to help the texture break up even more. This is a good time to add the herbs and chilli.

 

aubergine bolognese

This is another 15-20minutes later. The sauce is done when all the liquid has soaked in and the aubergines have broken down into a thick sauce.

 

aubergine bolognese

Serve with pasta, grated cheese and full bodied red wine. Did I already mention that the rich, savoury flavours are just fantastic?

 

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