RECIPE: Saag Aloo

saag aloo

I am a big fan of spice and Indian dishes are my favorite type of cuisine. Occasionally, I also enjoy eating vegetarian food. Therefore, it makes sense that saag aloo is one of my top Indian vegetarian dishes to make. This spinach and potato based dish is meat-free, budget-friendly, packed full of flavour and easy to make. My family either enjoy it as a main dish served with rice or as an accompaniment to a curry. Here is a quick and simple recipe for how to make saag aloo.

Ingredients for Saag Aloo

  • 3tbsps ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed.
  • 1 red and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 level teaspoon turmeric
  • 500g potatoes cut into chunks
  • 250g bag washed spinach leaves
  • Salt
  • black pepper

How to Make Saag Aloo

  1. Put the chopped potatoes into a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onions, chillies, ginger, and garlic.
  3. Drain the potatoes as soon as the water begins to boil.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-high heat.
  5. Add the onions, chillies, garlic, and ginger to the frying pan. 
  6. When the onions have turned golden and softened, add the turmeric and cumin.
  7. Next, add the par-boiled potatoes.
  8. Roughly chop the spinach leaves and add to the pan.
  9. As the spinach begins to wilt, stir in the mixture.
  10. Cook for a further five minutes on a medium heat to allow the flavor of the spices to infuse the potatoes and the spinach. 
  11. Serve with rice or naan bread.

Tips

  • Meat lovers– you can easily adapt this to a meat dish by adding chicken, beef or lamb.
  • Different textures– you can leave the spinach leaves, whole, roughly chop them or finely chop them.
  • Spice levels– you can experiment with different levels of spice to suit your taste by adding more or less of ingredients including garlic, chillies, ginger, turmeric, and cumin. 
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RECIPE: Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

cauliflower and broccoli

This vegetarian dish is delicious as a meal on its own or as a vegetable accompaniment to meat. It is quick and simple to make as it just involves cooking broccoli and cauliflower and then adding a cheese sauce. I use double the amount of the basic cheese sauce recipe when I am making this and add some mustard for extra flavour. I also switch the white pepper to black. Here is how to make a delicious broccoli and cauliflower gratin.

Ingredients for Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

 

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 oz/ 50 g butter
  • 2 oz/ 50 g plain flour
  • 6 oz/ 160 g cheese for the sauce
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for topping
  • 2 slices of stale bread, crumbed
  • 2 tbsp English mustard
  • 1200 ml/ 2-pint milk
  • Black pepper and salt

How to Make Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Remove the leaves and main stem from the cauliflower and broccoli, then break into florets.
  3. Add cauliflower and broccoli to a pan of salted boiling water.
  4. While the broccoli and cauliflower are cooking, start the cheese sauce.
  5. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  6. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  7. Cook for two minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  9. Season with the salt and black pepper  and add the mustard.
  10. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  11. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  12. Drain the broccoli and cauliflower before adding to a large, oven-proof dish. Any excess water will cause the sauce to split, so dabbing with kitchen paper can help to make sure the broccoli and cauliflower are thoroughly dry.
  13. Pour over the cheese sauce so it is evenly distributed.
  14. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the dish and then add breadcrumbs.
  15. Cook on a high heat in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top of the dish is golden brown. 

TIPS

Meat lovers– If you do not enjoy vegetarian meals, this is delicious if you add your leftover ham

 

RECIPE: Easy Cheese Sauce

cheese sauce

A cheese sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make. You will need to learn how to make this if you want to make cauliflower cheese, fish pie, and many pasta dishes. There is just one more ingredient in this than in a simple white sauce, so it is not complicated to follow. Here is how to make an easy cheese sauce.

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce

  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make a Cheese Sauce

  1. Measure your ingredients first.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  3. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  4. Cook for two minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  6. Season with the salt and white pepper.
  7. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.

TIPS

  • Cheese- I use mature cheddar cheese as it has a good consistency and the perfect flavour for a sauce. Good alternatives are gruyere or Gouda. 

10 Things to Make with Spinach

spinach

Spinach is a delicious ingredient that is packed with nutrients, meaning that including spinach in your diet will give you a variety of the vitamins and minerals you need to maintain good health. However, it is one of those ingredients with which people are often unsure of what they can do. There is a surprising number of ways to use this ingredient. Here are ten ways you can use spinach in your cooking.

  1. Spinach and potato soup– Spinach adds a delicious flavour to any soup but works particularly well with potatoes as it adds a rich flavour. Sautee the potatoes in butter before just covering with water until potatoes are cooked. Add the spinach and season with salt and black pepper. Blend to the consistency you prefer.
  2. Spinach and ricotta cannelloni– Add a mixture of ricotta and spinach to partially-cooked cannelloni tubes. Cover with grated cheese and bake in the oven.
  3. Spinach pasta– If you make your own pasta dough, you can add spinach to the mix. Not only will this turn your pasta green, thus making it more colourful, it will also add a little more taste.
  4. Spinach and mushroom ravioli– Fill ravioli parcels with a mixture of butter, chopped mushrooms, and butter. Serve with a sauce of your choice. I like a cream and mushroom sauce.
  5. Spinach and cream cheese stuffed chicken– Add a mixture of cream cheese and spinach to the centre of a chicken breast.
  6. Saag aloo– This is an Indian dish that combines spinach, potatoes, and spices. It can be eating as a vegetarian main or as a side dish.
  7. Eggs Florentine– Eggs Florentine is a simple dish for breakfast, brunch or lunch. It is a toasted muffin topped with sautéed spinach and a poached egg. Delicious and really easy to make.
  8. Super spinach salad– Spinach is just as tasty raw as it is cooked. Add spinach leaves to other salad leaves, sliced red onions, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber and a dressing of your choice.
  9. Sweet potato and spinach curry– Sweet potatoes are a great ingredient to use in vegetarian dishes as they have an amazing flavour and are filling. Create a curry with sweet potatoes, spinach and the herbs and spices of your choice.
  10. Lamb and spinach curry– spinach and lamb work well together, so adding some spinach to a lamb curry is the perfect combination.

 

RECIPE: Funky Red Cabbage Slaw

red cabbage slaw

Although I make the regular slaw, my kids really love my funky red cabbage slaw as there is something fun about having such a colorful side dish on the plate. It is quick and simple to make and is a great way of getting the kids to eat a variety of vegetables. Here is a quick guide on how to make funky red cabbage slaw. It makes enough for approximately eight good-sized side dishes to accompany a meal.

Ingredients for Funky Red Cabbage Slaw

  • 1/2 red cabbage grated or finely sliced
  • 4 large carrots grated
  • 1 red onion finely sliced
  • 8 heaped tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons of salad cream
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Funky Red Cabbage Slaw

  1. Grate the carrots and red cabbage and finely slice the red onion.
  2. Add the grated and sliced vegetables to a large mixing bowl
  3. Add the mayonnaise, salad cream, and double cream to the bowl.
  4. Stir well until all the vegetables are coated.
  5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Tips

  • Extra ingredients– you can add extra ingredients if you want a little variety. Try adding chopped apples, sultanas, or walnuts for a twist. 
  • Spice it up– this is delicious as it is, but you can also spice up this dish. Adding a teaspoon of curry powder or smoked paprika are just two ways you can change the flavor of this accompaniment.
  • Reduce the fat– it is easy to reduce the fat content of this side dish. Simply use low-fat mayonnaise and salad cream and omit the double cream from the recipe. 

 

 

RECIPE: Courgette and Tomato Bake

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Although I love meat, I also enjoy the occasional vegetarian dish too. This courgette and tomato bake is really quick and easy to make. It is something I sometimes make myself for lunch as there is enough for two days. I also make it as an accompaniment to meat as a family meal. There is an ingredient that some people think is rather unusual (yes, it does say ready salted crisps on the ingredients list), but this is a delicious topping. This dish will serve two people as a main meal or four to six as a side dish. Here are the recipe and some tips for adapting this recipe to your own tastes.

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Ingredients

  • 3 courgettes (zucchini)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 6oz/ 170g crumbly cheese
  • 2oz/ 60g butter
  • 2 packets ready salted crisps (potato chips)
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to the highest setting.
  2. Thinly slice the courgettes and halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. 
  3. Cover the bottom of an oven-proof dish with a layer of the courgettes.
  4. Add all the tomatoes to the next layer.
  5. Continue adding layers with the remaining courgettes. 
  6. Season the dish with salt and black pepper.
  7. Chop the butter into small cubes and place them across the top of the courgettes.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the courgettes have softened.
  9. Remove from the oven and crumble the cheese evenly over the dish.
  10. Open your bags of crisps and crush the crisps by squeezing the packet until they become crumbs. Sprinkle the crisps crumbs over the top of the cheese.
  11. Return the dish to the oven and bake until the topping has turned a golden brown. This should take around ten minutes.

Tips

Meat lovers– if you are not a fan of vegetarian food, then simply add some ham or crispy bacon to the dish. Alternatively, serve it as an accompaniment to grilled or roast meats.

Fish lovers– courgettes and tomatoes work well with most fish, so this recipe is a great side dish to serve with your favourite fish. 

Switch the cheese- I use Lancashire crumbly cheese and this is produced locally in the area in which I live. However, any crumbly cheese will achieve the same results. If you prefer a cheese with a different consistency, switch to using cheddar, Mozzarella, or any other cheese of your choice.

Adding flavours- I like this dish just as it is. However, there are plenty of other flavours you can add. Try adding garlic or herbs to give this a different twist. 

On a diet- You can reduce the fat content of this dish by sprinkling the vegetables with water rather than adding butter before cooking. Using a low-fat cheese is another way to reduce the fat content. Rather than using ready salted crisps for the crunchy topping, opt for wholegrain breadcrumbs, instead.