mini recipe | roasted broccoli…

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So if there is one thing you should know about August it is that it is going to bankrupt me. Two weekends away on the trot, a big old payment on the old credit card bill, and things like driving lessons and trips to Venice in the autumn all make my purse want to squinch up tight and refuse to let go of any cash unless it absolutely has to. Months like this happen, when everything (and every bill) seems to come all at once. It’s month like this that I thank god I’m a vegan (admittedly not always a very good one) with incredibly simple tastes. Sure you can get all fancy with your health food shops and every pulse under the sun, but like I’ve said many times before, the best way to keep on track and to keep your bank balance happy, is to eat simply. And what can be more simple than Broccoli?

I must admit, in the past I’ve over looked broccoli as an over cooked thing. Is there anything worse than soggy greens? But since going vegan, I’ve started to see that basically all veg has infinite amount of potential (except sprouts). So here’s the story, the other night I came home to look in my fridge and see food in there, but not necessarily food that came together to make a meal. Broccoli, spring onions, sweetcorn, a chilli, potato, hummus, garlic. Sure these things all have their part to play, but where’s the leading role, the one with that extra something special? This is when not so skint me would normally head to the shop, to find something that acted as the main star of the event to compliment the small parts. But not so skint me said ‘there’s no such thing as a small part, just a veg that needs seasoning’ or something like that. ANYWAY the point is, I decided to take shy old broccoli out of the wings, and put it centre stage and this is what happened…

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The cast…

1 medium broccoli
2 spring onions
1 mild chilli
1 large clove of garlic
The zest of a quarter of a lemon
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to season

The production process…

1. Dice the spring onion and the chilli up and throw into a mixing bowl with the minced garlic clove and lemon zest.

2. Add your teaspoon of soy sauce, and cover the ingredients in olive oil.

3. Cut off the florets of the broccoli (you can use the stem too, but this does take longer to roast so just be aware of that when cooking) and throw into the bowl.

4. Make sure all the broccoli is rubbed into the olive oil, chillies, lemon and onion, you can add a little more olive oil if you need to.

5. If you have time, stick the bowl in the fridge to marinate for half an hour (or longer if you’re preparing in advance. I didn’t bother with marinating because I was hungry and it was still delicious, but marinating literally makes everything even better.

6. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and pop your florets on to it in a single layer. If there are still chillies, garlic and onion at the bottom of the bowl make sure you get this onto the tray too, but try not to have any excess oil slithering around, as this leads to soggy broccoli and I’ve already made my feelings on that perfectly clear.

7. Pop into a preheated oven for about 15 minutes and voila, Broccoli’s Hollywood makeover is complete.

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I ate my broccoli with a baked sweet potato, a corn on the cob and some hummus, and while it might not sound like much, it was SO satisfying, in fact I’m thinking of printing out the above picture and sticking it on my fridge to remind me just how much I enjoy eating food without any fuss, or drama queen antics!

This was also delicious,cold the day after for lunch, and I’m also thinking that for a picnic, it would be perfect served up with some new potatoes also roasted the same way. Maybe some sour dough bread. Ooo and pearl cous cous.

Now I’m hungry, and I also completely lost track of my stage conceit, but you can’t say I’m not at least trying to bring my two loves of theatre and food together!

Let me know if you try this, or roasting any other veg in the same way. I’m thinking maybe some cauliflower would compliment it perfectly?

Live life & never underestimate the humble broccoli x

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courgetti yumamaze…

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Happy Wednesday everyone! Sorry for the radio silence on Monday, but I was feeling unusually uninspired for the beginning of the week. But how can I fail to be inspired when I look at ^that plate^ of deliciousness above?

As I have probably mentioned before, only about a gazillion times, I was never that big a meat eater. When I went veggie I will admit I missed fish, and as a vegan I still ocassionally do, but never really meat. Or not meat on it’s own should I say. What I do find myself craving every now and then is a big plate of something, warm and comforting. Something that fills your kitchen with that smell and makes your mouth water. And weirdly, even though I wouldn’t have even listed it as one of my top ten pre-vegan meals, I found myself craving a spaghetti bolognase. So I had to find something to fill that gap, something that would hopefully be a million times healthier, but still have that warm filling goodness to it, and so I came up with this, Courgetti Yumamze, so much more than just an incredible pun, and as always incredibly simple.

The best thing about this dish is that you can pretty much throw any veg into the mix on top of the basics I give you below, so if you do try this, and find any winning combination that I must try, please do let me know. Anyway enough rambling…

Ingreedients – makes roughly enough for 3 – 4 people…

1 x courgette per person
1 x tin of red kidney beans
1 x tin of butter beans
1 x onion
2 x cloves of garlic
Handful of fresh parsley and same of basil
1-2 x tins of tomatoes (use your judgement when cooking)
Lemon juice
1 x veggie stock cube
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

How I throw it all together…

1. In a frying pan, slowly heat up some olive oil, dice up your onion, and chop your mushrooms, throw in and cook for about 5 minutes (until the onion is soft and the mushrooms are slightly brown).

2.  Drain off your red kidney and butter beans and stir them into the pan, along with the garlic cloves crushed, and any other veg you want to add in, keep mixing it all around for about 2 minutes. Stir, and add in your basil and half the parsley (chopped up nice and small).

3. Turn the heat down, and add in the first tin of tomatoes and crush in your stock cube. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, if it starts to look a bit dry you can always add in the second tin of tomatoes.

4. For the courgetti… Take your corugettes and put them through a fancy spiraliser if you have one, or just peel with a julienne peeler, or thinly slice them up if all you have is a knife, so that you are left with spaghetti like strips. You can leave this raw, or I like to dunk them into a bowl of hot water for a minute or two just to soften them up, drain them off and dress with lemon juice and a touch of olive oil. If you want your courgetti warm wait until the bolognase has been on for about 20 minutes!

5. Once your bolognase has simmered away for 30 minutes you’re good to go! And just serve it up like a normal bolognase, with a touch of salt and pepper, and the other half of the parsley for seasoning, and of course a generous helping of garlic bread, which I make by crushing some garlic into some olive oil, and then spreading onto sliced fresh bread. Whack it under the grill for a couple of minutes and voilla!

As you can see I’m not the type of cook that measures everything out, I tend to rely on tasting as I go for adding in extra flavours!  I use this as a base and tend to add in red peppers, grated carrots, broccoli, olives, or instead of basil and parsley, add in chilli and paprika.

Let me know if you try this, writing up recipes is still pretty new to me, so I love hearing from you about them and if you have any questions about being new to cooking vegan please ask!

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