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Category Archives: Vegetable side dishes

Butternut Squash Hummus


There is no denying that I sometimes really miss hummus! It used to be my go-to snack with carrot sticks. I must admit that while I was in Israel recently, I had some falafel and hummus! Shhh, don’t tell the Paleo police! My gut, however, really doesn’t miss pulses and did not feel so clever after my indulgence. I decided I needed to come up with a Paleo-friendly hummus recipe. This is so simple to make and really delicious. The sweetness of the butternut squash contrasts nicely with the tahini.

Butternut Squash Hummus

1 butternut squash, deseeded, roasted, cooled and skinned
1 clove of garlic
Juice of half to one lemon (add to taste)
3 dessert spoons tahini
1 dessert spoon EVOO

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Whizz until fully mixed and smooth.
That’s all there is to it!

Indian Spiced Lamb Skewers with Vegetable Curry


Wouldn’t you just know it? I haven’t been sick at all so far this year and less than a week to go before my holiday, I am fighting a chesty thing. It’s desperately trying to get the upper hand, but so far I think I’m winning. Let’s hope my immune system can keep fighting the good fight and send the chesty thing running snivelling home to its mummy!

Recently I have been on a spicy food kick. I have been craving really strong spice combinations: Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, North African… Here is my lamb skewers and vegetable curry recipe. It’s a common ritual in the UK to get Indian takeout on a Friday night. This beat that greasy, unhealthy stuff from the local Tandoori takeaway hands down! I was quite conservative with the hot chilli powder, but feel free to add more if you like to blow your head off! (I think next time I’ll add more!)

Indian Spiced Lamb Skewers with Vegetable Curry (serves 2-3)

For the Lamb Skewers
1 shallot
3 large cloves garlic
1″ piece ginger root, peeled
165 ml coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder (add more of a bit of a kick)
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp black pepper
500g lamb leg steaks, cubed
1 tsp black onion/ nigella seeds

Whizz all ingredients except the lamb and nigella seeds in a blender or food processor.
Put lamb, nigella seeds and marinade in a ziplock bag.
Massage well to ensure lamb is completely coated.
Leave for several hours or overnight in the fridge.
Thread lamb cubes onto skewers.
Bake in the oven for 30 mins at 180C, or better still, fire up your barbecue and grill until cooked through.

For the Vegetable Curry
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 aubergine/ eggplant, diced
1 courgette/ zucchini, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan.
Add aubergine and onion and fry until softened.
Add garlic and spices. Toss over the heat for a few seconds.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
Allow to simmer for around 20-30 mins until veggies are tender.
Serve with the lamb skewers and some cauliflower ‘rice’.

Baba Ghanoush


Today was the most beautiful day! Hot and sunny. I lay outside for several hours topping up my much depleted vitamin D stores and listening to the birds chirping, with the cat snoozing next to me (I had the day off work in case you were wondering). I also had a chance to do a little cooking too.

I’m not quite sure how, but I found myself in possession of 3 aubergines this morning when a third turned up in my organic veg box delivery to join the other two already lurking in my crisper drawer. I had a moment of inspiration to make some Baba Ghanoush. I had probably the worst I have ever tasted in my life a couple of weeks ago in a Lebanese restaurant. It tasted like the stuff you can get in a can in Arabic shops (I’m guessing it probably was!). My only issue today was that the tahini in my cupboard was out of date, so I had to make my own. The end result was delicious, although if I breathe on anyone this evening, they will die from inhaling garlic fumes! Feel free to go easy on the garlic if you don’t want to melt your partner’s face!

Baba Ghanoush

2 aubergines/eggplants
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp cumin seeds

Preheat oven to 200C.
Place aubergines on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 mins.
Turn the oven down to 140C and bake for a further 40mins.
Remove aubergines from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Place sesame seeds in a food processor and blitz until they form a dry nut butter consistency.
Peel the skin from the aubergines and put into the food processor with the remaining ingredients.
Pulse, scraping down the sides, until it forms a smooth paste.
Serve with crudités, grain-free crackers, or as an accompaniment to Middle Eastern chicken or lamb dishes (watch this space for a Middle Eastern inspired chicken dish).
Make sure everyone around you tucks into it too, to avoid unpopularity due to face-melting garlic breath!

Roasted Root Veg Salad


I’m starting to get sick of party leftovers! My parents are coming over today so I can give them another doggy bag to take home with them and hopefully that will be the end of it! I am feeling the need to get back on the straight and narrow of eating less dairy and sweet treats. My stomach is feeling quite bloated by something I’ve been eating for the last few days (maybe excessive dairy, or maybe all the celeriac in the coleslaw and the roasted root veg salad). Maybe it’s just from general gluttony as I think I’ve eaten more in the last 3 days than in the last 3 weeks!

This salad was one of those dishes that I wasn’t quite sure would come together. I had an idea in my head which seemed good in theory, but I just wasn’t quite sure that the flavours would work. Luckily for me and my guests, it did! Non dairy eaters can easily omit the feta cheese and still enjoy a delicious salad. You may want to halve the quantities if you are making this as a vegetable accompaniment with a meal and not catering a party!

Roasted Root Veg Salad with Feta (makes a huge bowlful to feed a small army!)

1 kg parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks
1 kg carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 large celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into sticks
3 onions, cut into large dice
1/2 cup avocado oil
Himalayan salt
1 block feta cheese
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
For the dressing:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 180C
Toss the veg in the avocado oil and salt and roast in the oven for around 1 hour. You may have to do this in 2 or 3 roasting trays to prevent the veg going too soggy.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Once the veg are cold, cut the feta into very small dice and pull the thyme leaves off the woody stalks. Mix through the veg.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over. Toss to coat well before serving.

An Italian favourite


All this snow just makes me want to stay at home in the warm and eat comfort food! Unfortunately it means I have been indulging in more treats than I should. I was slightly alarmed when I stepped on the scales this morning! So I have decided to do Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox starting properly next Monday, but unofficially from tomorrow (I have an important birthday to go to on Saturday night, so not drinking then won’t be an option).

Last Saturday night I was really hankering after something warming and oozing cheese. Sorry any of you who are strict Paleo or lactose intolerant – this one’s not for you! Actually it was more a case of having 2 aubergines in the fridge and some buffalo mozzarella. Melanzana alla Parmigiana seemed like a great way to use up those ingredients. I lived in Italy years ago and while I was there, it became one of my favourite dishes (especially as I was vegetarian at the time). Now that I’ve gone back to my former carnivorous ways, it works for me as a fantastic accompaniment to some sort of simple meat dish. I served it with Rosemary Roast Chicken Legs (recipe to follow another day).

Melanzana alla Parmigiana (aka Eggplant Parmesan): serves 4 as a side dish

2 aubergines/eggplants, sliced lengthwise
1 onion, finely chopped
Several glugs of EVOO
2 cloves garlic
1 & half cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 ball buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
sea salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 180C.
Heat a glug of EVOO in a frying pan and cook the aubergine slices until tender. You will have to do this in batches, so keep adding oil when necessary. Set aside on a plate and season with a little salt.
Sauté the onion and garlic in a pan with another glug of EVOO and cook for a few minutes until tender.
Add the chopped tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper and allow to cook for around 10 minutes on a low heat.
Put a ladle-full of tomato sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish and spread so it covers the bottom of the dish. Layer the aubergine over the sauce and sprinkle a third of the Parmesan cheese over it. Repeat two to three times until you run out of ingredients, finishing up with Parmesan. Place the sliced mozzarella on top as the very last layer.
Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 45 mins at 180C or until the cheese has turned golden and the whole dish is bubbling nicely.
Serve as a main dish for vegetarians, or as a side dish with a nice piece of meat for carnivorous types!

Pork meatballs with ratatouille


Aaaaarrgh! I spent nearly the whole day doing tax return stuff. At least it’s out of the way now! I did also manage to fit in a good stress-busting plyometric workout, and taught an outdoor boxing class this evening. I’m totally covered in mud now though.

Sorry for another pork recipe, but this was too good not to share. I promise my next post will be something other than pork!

Ingredients: Serves 4

For the ratatouille
2 aubergines/ eggplants (or whatever you like to call them)
4 courgettes/ zucchini
3 peppers, mixed colours if possible
2 red onions
2 tins chopped tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 big bunch fresh basil, chopped
balsamic vinegar
sea salt and black pepper

Wash and chunkily chop the veggies (except garlic). Put into a large roasting pan and pour on a good glug of olive oil. Stir to make sure they are all coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 45 mins at 180C. While the veggies roast, make the meatballs.
When the veggies are done, crush the garlic and sauté in a little olive oil. Add the tinned tomatoes, a splash of balsamic vinegar, the basil and season with salt and pepper. Add in the roasted veggies and let them cook in the tomato for at least 15 mins.

For the meatballs
500g pork mince
1 onion
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
1 big bunch basil
1 inch chunk of Parmesan
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp pine nuts
sea salt and pepper

Blitz the onion, celery, garlic, Parmesan, basil and pine nuts in a food processor. Thoroughly mix the resulting goo into the pork mince and add the mustard powder, season with salt and pepper. Form into balls and bake in oven for 30 mins at 180C.
Serve on a bed of ratatouille and sprinkle a little extra Parmesan on the top if you like.