Friday, 19 June 2015

Summer Pasta Salad with Sun-dried Tomato Dressing

Fancy something different for lunch? As I mentioned a few posts ago summer to me means salads and whilst I love fresh garden salads any day of the week sometimes I crave a more hearty salad. In this salad recipe I use little past shapes to increase the carbohydrates but its still light enough to enjoy on its own.

The soft pasta, pairs well with the crunch of the red pepper and the tangy dressing. To make it a little different I've used chives, both stalks and flowers, the flowers are so pretty and taste amazing too.

Ingredients - Serves 3-4
200g pasta, small shapes work well* 
½ Red pepper, finely diced
16 Basil leaves, shredded
16 Chive stems, finely cut
3 Chive flower heads, optional
2 Tsp Sun-dried tomato paste
2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Clove of garlic, chopped
Salt & Pepper

*If you can't find the little pasta shapes, orzo (like a large grain of rice) works well too.

Cook the pasta as per cooking instructions, drain and rinse in cold water. While the pasta is cooking, prepare your other ingredients.

To make the dressing add all ingredients to a food processor and process until you have a smooth dressing.

Add the herbs and red pepper to a bowl and add the cooked and cooled pasta, toss everything together.

Pour over the dressing and stir to combine. Serve straight away.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Home-made Houmous

The other day I posted a recipe for super easy oven baked falafels, and what goes hand in hand with falafels? Houmous of course! Now if you've made your own falafels you really should pair it with home made houmous, don't you agree?

Since transferring to a vegan lifestyle houmous has become my new 'cheese', not a week goes by without me devouring some houmous. This recipe makes your basic, standard houmous, but its far from boring! But if you want to jazz it up just add extra ingredients. If you want a little spice in your houmous just add some pri piri sauce, or you could add roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes or caramelised onions. Whatever takes your fancy.

Ingredients - Serves 3-4

1 Small tin of chickpeas, drained weight 230g 
1 Clove of garlic, diced
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
½ Tbsp Olive oil
½ Tsp Ground cumin
Salt & Pepper
3 Tbsp water

Wash the chick peas well and pat dry. I always remove their skins to make a smoother houmous but if you don't mind a little bit of texture or if you have a super duper food processor you can skip this part.

Add the chickpeas to the food processor followed by the remaining ingredients bar the water.

Process adding a little water at a time until you have reached your desired consistency.

Enjoy dolloped on crusty bread, or with carrot sticks or paired with your home made falafels in a pitta bread with salad.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Oven Baked Falafel

The months of summer are what we've all been waiting for after a dark and bitterly cold winter, spring has given us hope of warmer weather and finally the sun has come out! We need to celebrate, after all, the sun may not stay out for too long, it seems rather shy at the moment.

To me summer means salads, picnics, long walks over the fields and through the woods, strawberries and other fresh fruits and the lighter nights allow us to go wild and enjoy the fresh air for just that little longer. I mean who likes going to bed when its still light outside - not me! Summer is inviting family and friends around and enjoying each others company, eating great food and drinking sparkling drinks. Get out the bunting and start enjoying those summer garden parties.

I don't know about you but a picnic or garden party is just not the same without falafels. I know shop bought falafels are easy to purchase and some of them are pretty darn tasty but you really cant beat making your own can you? If you've got a food processor then you have no excuse, these can be made in a matter of minutes. The recipe is super easy, just throw your ingredients into a food processor, roll the mixture into balls and pop in the oven.

Ingredients - makes 10 falafels

1 Tin of chickpeas, drained, washed
and picked over and patted dry 

½ Onion, chopped
3 Cloves of garlic
2 Tsp Ground cumin
1 Tsp Ground corriander
¼ Tsp Chilli powder
Salt & Pepper
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp Olive oil


Place the first seven ingredients into a food processor and process until the mixture is coarse and it starts to stick together.

Turn the mixture into a bowl and add the chopped parsley. Stir to combine fully.

Add the tablespoon of olive oil and mix again.

Take a small amount of the mixture about a tablespoon and roll into balls in your hands. The mixture should easily come together.

Place each ball onto an oven proof tray and cook in a moderate oven for ten minutes. Turn each ball over and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy on their own, with a salad or pop into a pitta.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Quick & Easy Sausage Casserole

I really don't know what's happening with this weather! We finally managed to get a week of the sun coming out albeit still a little cold. So, I started wearing my summer wardrobe and went bare legged for the first time this year, and yes on some days I wish I hadn't I was freezing. But I figured we're in June and soon the longest day will be upon us and I thought the dresses need to come out of the closet sometime! But wait Saturday was so darn miserable, it rained constantly all day and the temperature dropped I don't think I've ever been this cold in June. 

I needed some comfort food, and I needed it to be quick and easy as I had a lot on. So I gave myself 40 minutes to come up with something comforting and healthy. This recipe worked a treat, packed full of veggies and it really can be on the table in under 40 minutes and that's including all the prep. Yay!

Ingredients - Serves 4 people

6 Vegan sausages ( I used Linda McCartney sausages) 
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Onion, diced
2 Sticks celery, diced
100g Broccoli, cut into small florets
½ Red pepper, cut into strips
½ Yellow pepper, cut into strips
3 Cloves of garlic, minced
2 Sprigs rosemary, finely cut
4 Sprigs thyme, stalks removed
1 Tsp Balsamic vinegar
150g Mushrooms, diced2 Tsp Smoked paprika
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Tin chopped tomatoes
500ml Vegetable stock


Turn on your oven to a medium temperature.

Prepare all your vegetables.

Place the vegan sausages in an oven proof dish and place in the oven, while you cook your vegetables, around 20 minutes.

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and heat before adding the onion and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

Add the broccoli and sauté for another two minute, stirring all the time. Add the peppers and sauté for another 3 minutes.

Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and stir to combine, then add the balsamic vinegar. Continue  to sauté the vegetables and herbs for another minute stirring all the time.

Add the chopped mushrooms and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have released their liquid into the vegetable mix.

Add the smoked paprika and stir to combine. Add the flour and stir to combine, the mixture will become quite stiff as the flour soaks up whatever vegetable juices are in the pan. Sauté for 1 more minute to cook out the flour.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir through, the mixture will still be very thick. Add the vegetable stock a little at a time, stirring all the time and bring the mixture up to a boil. The mixture will now be a lot thinner.

Remove the sausages from the oven and cut each sausage in half. Add the halved sausages to the pan and reduce the heat so the mixture is simmering.

Cook for a further 10 minutes to thicken the sauce before serving.

Serve in bowls with a garnish of chopped chives for a warm and comforting klunch or serve with mash potato and more vegetables for a hearty dinner.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Notice Board - Geo Bars Review

It's another review! Sometimes in life you are rewarded and it feels great! The reviews that I am undertaking at the moment are just that, rewards and tasty rewards at that! 

These bars are very tasty and completely different to anything else I have tried before. The two new fruity bars; Cocoa & Beetroot and Carrot & Stem Ginger and the 2 new trail bars; Cocoa Crunch and Banana & Walnut were launched in January 2015. You may have already tried their original cereal bars but the 2 new fruity bars are different, they are raw fruit wholefood bars. Each bar is packed with fair trade fruit and nuts and tastes unique. The carrot and stem ginger are zingy and leave your tastebuds dancing and the cocoa and beetroot are comforting and extremely moreish! You've been warned. Both Fruity bars count as 1 of your 5 a day or if you're like me 1 of my 7-10 a day!

The Geobar Trail Cocoa crunch is also extremely moreish, it is also a raw bar and contains 67% fruit (fairtrade dates and raisins), cocoa and soya crispies providing 7g of protein per bar. The Geobar Trail Banana & Walnut is a raw bar and contains 70% fruit (fairtrade dates, raisins and bananas), walnuts and soya crispies. These bars provide 5g protein per bar. Either trail bar would be a great addition to a lunch box as to would the fruity bars. As the bars are raw they have got a fairly short shelf life, but I don't think they would last that long once you've tasted them!

I've seen the cereal bars in some of the supermarket but I'm yet to see the new raw and fruity bars and the trail bars in supermarkets near me. However you can purchase them online from the Traidcraft website.