Buckwheat Flatbread with Avocado, Peas, Courgette and Goat’s Cheese

This is the ultimate in mid week, super tired, just need something quick, easy and most importantly filling suppers. You know the feeling. Get home after a long, let’s say,  Thursday, at work, you’re tired, a little bit grumpy, it’s nearly the weekend but not quite. The bus was really busy, you’ve got a bit of a headache. You don’t want to have to use your oven. Or put in any real effort.

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Perfect! This is just the meal for you. And better yet, it’s light and nutrient rich, so it won’t leave you feeling yucky on top of everything else. Despite its slightly misleading name, buckwheat is a gluten free flour alternative that has a really unique nutty flavour. The texture of these flatbreads is slightly denser than with a conventional flour, however it works perfectly with the lightness of the toppings.

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(ps. it doesn’t only have to be eaten on Thursday evenings- it would make a great weekend lunch (or even brunch) too!)

Buckwheat Flatbread with Avocado, Peas, Courgette and Goat’s Cheese

makes one large flatbread (enough for two people)

For the flatbread:

7og buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt and pepper
6oml water

For the toppings:

1 large and ripe avocado
1 small courgette
olive oil
handful of cherry tomatoes
handful of peas
about 5og soft goats’ cheese (I prefer the logs without a rind for this, but it’s up to you!)
salt and pepper
chilli flakes (optional)

In a bowl mix the flour, oil, baking powder, salt & pepper and then add the water. Mix to form a dough and knead a little so that it comes together as a dough. Roll it out into a large, flat, pizza base sort of thing. Put it into the griddle pan, and cook for about 3-4 minutes on one side before flipping it.

After a few minutes on each side, the flatbread should be starting to colour and char, and have risen a little bit. Remove it from the heat and put it to the side. m

Now make the toppings. In a bowl, mash the avocado with a pinch of salt and pepper. Preheat a griddle pan, or large frying pan, over a medium heat. Cut the courgette into thin strips. Drizzle some olive oil into the frying pan, and fry the courgette for a few minutes on each side until they have softened and started to char. Remove them from the heat and put them to the side. Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters. Meanwhile, cook the peas as per the cooking instructions.

Spread the avocado onto the flatbread, then pile on the courgette, peas and tomatoes. Break chunks of the goats and place on top, followed by a good pinch of salt and pepper, and the chilli flakes if you’re using them.

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Perfect!

xxR

 

Low Carb Thai Noodle Salad

When I was in Thailand, I developed a mild pad thai obsession. I must have eaten it on nearly every day I was there, for either lunch or supper, slurping up long sticky noodles with chopsticks on a Bangkok street corner or sitting on a sun-drenched beach. I’ve been trying to both find the perfect pad thai back in England, and figure out a way to make my own comparable plate. This is the closest I’ve been able to come. I know I know, it’s not the most of traditional pad thais, but this recipe is so delicious, so easy to whip up and doesn’t require you to make a specific trip to source any special ingredients that you wouldn’t already have.

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Better yet, this is a totally low carb version- instead of noodles, I used spiralised courgettes and carrots- which aren’t wholly alien to a normal pad thai anyway. Beansprouts and peanuts add extra crunch, and a sauce that is the perfect combination of sweet and salty is pad thai perfection. (ps. look how beautiful these spiralised veg are- how can you resist?! I use a spiraliser that is basically like a giant pencil sharpener- super easy to use and gives you the perfect veggies.)

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You can add any protein you like to this recipe- tofu, chicken, prawns- depending on your preferences, or just make a big ol’ batch and enjoy devouring a whole plate of veggies!

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Low Carb Thai Noodle Salad

Serves 2

2 tablespoons sesame oil (or vegetable oil if you don’t have any)

2 ½ tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

juice of half a lime (use the other half as a garnish when to squeeze over when you serve)

½ a red chili

3 cloves of garlic

small piece of ginger, about an inch long

1 teaspoon coconut oil

6-8 spring onions

2 large courgettes

2 large carrots

1 handful beansprouts

1 handful coriander

1 handful peanuts

Begin by making the sauce. In a jam jar, mix together the sesame oil, tamari, honey and lime juice. Chop up the chilli and 1 clove of garlic, and finely grate the ginger. Add those to the sauce. Taste it and see if it needs a bit more of anything.

Then, spiralise your veggies.

In a large frying pan, heat your coconut oil over a medium heat. Chop your spring onions into small rounds, and chop your remaining two garlic cloves. Add the garlic and spring onion to the pan, and fry for about a minute, or until they have started to soften. Add the beansprouts and fry for a further minute. Add a splash of the sauce and toss around.

In one side of the pan, crack in the egg. Keep moving it around with a spatula as it cooks, so you have a firm scrambled egg. Add in your courgettes and carrots, and the rest of the sauce. Toss it all around, so the ‘noodles’ are coated in the sauce, and the beansprouts and egg are mixed in. Cook for about a minute, or until the courgette and carrot have softened slightly, but still retain some of their bite.

Meanwhile, chop your coriander and peanuts. Dish the noodles onto a plate, and top with the coriander and peanuts. Finish with a final squeeze of lime juice and devour, picturing a busy Thai food market with every bite.

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xxR

Shakshuka

My sister has recently moved in with me. My flat is tiny- it’s just one bedroom, and there’s barely enough room for one person in the kitchen- but she’s working in London for the next six months and so we’ve turned half the living room into a bedroom, and after nearly two years of living alone, I now have a roommate again!

Of course, there are definite pros and cons to our new living situation, but one of the greatest pros has got to be the fact that we now cook and eat together almost every night. We take it in turn to come home laden with ingredients, and invent new and interesting things to eat. This is one of our favourites.

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Okay okay, so I know I’m not the first person to come up with shakshuka, and in fact, maybe I’m a little late to the shakshuka party. But it’s too good not to mention. In case you don’t know, shakshuka is basically eggs baked on top of a (normally tomato) base. It’s the perfect combination of protein, vegetables and, most importantly, flavour.

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We always have shakshuka for supper- it’s become a complete staple in the flat, we probably have a variation on it at least once a week- but you could also have it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even an afternoon snack, if you were that way inclined. It’s also super easy to make, and really adaptable. We put in whatever vegetables we have in the fridge- aubergine is a firm favourite- or chickpeas or beans. This is the classic recipe, but feel free to put your own little twist on it and add your own favourite veggies.

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Shakshuka 

(serves 4, or 2 if you’re really hungry!)

olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1/2 a red onion

1/2 a red chilli

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin kidney beans

about 6 sundried tomatoes

4 eggs

about 100g of feta cheese

cherry tomatoes, to serve

avocado, to serve

handful of coriander, to serve

Begin by heating a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan. Finely dice your garlic cloves, onion and chilli. Toss these into the frying pan and cook until the onion is just starting to soften. Add in your chopped tomatoes, and mix well, then add the kidney beans. You may also need to add a splash of water at this stage. I normally fill up the tin about halfway with water and add that. Don’t worry if it seems too wet- the water will evaporate!

Cut your sundried tomatoes into thin slices and add these to the pan. (If you’re feeling extra extravagant, add in a tiny splash of the sundried tomato oil, just to boost the flavour!) Let everything simmer for about 7 minutes, until it has started to thicken up. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Crack your eggs onto the tomato mixture. They will partially submerge but also sort of stay on the top- that’s exactly what you want! Don’t panic if one disappears completely, it will just be poaching in the tomato sauce ready to be uncovered (and most importantly, eaten!) later! Crumble over the feta.

Put the whole thing in the oven and leave to bake for about 15 minutes. You want the feta to melt and the eggs to bake and get solid. Then, for the last few minutes, put it under the grill, to allow the feta to crisp up and get brown.

When it’s ready, top it with some cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado and chopped coriander leaves, and dig in! Build a bite with a bit of everything- tomato, egg, feta and avocado- bliss!

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xxR

Cauliflower, Chickpea and Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

One of my favourite things about travelling anywhere is the opportunity to eat something new. I love testing out my tastebuds in foreign lands, and discovering my new favourites (or maybe least favourites!) I have recently come back from travelling around Asia – please excuse my silence for the past few months – where I have been putting my tastebuds to the ultimate test, eating pad thai on the streets of Bangkok, vegetable kottu off a metal plate in a sri Lankan café and drowning in dahl in India.

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The whole experience was absolutely amazing, of course, and so rich that it seems impossible to know where to start with any concise description. And it almost doesn’t feel like it really happened. I touched down in heathrow feeling slightly feverish, unused to and unprepared for the cold in the one jumper I had taken and a huge wool shawl I bought for the equivalent for £2.50, with my backpack absolutely stuffed full of dirty clothes, bags of tea and spices I’d bought and the presents I’d dutifully carried home for my family. And immediately it felt like a dream that I was groggily waking up from and could only half remember. (The grogginess was probably due to the fact I’d been travelling overnight for about fifteen hours!)

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Having now gotten over the initial shellshock, and reacclimatised myself to the cold, I can look back on the amazing experiences I had, and the incredible food I tasted, with nothing but fondness, nostalgia, and a serious desire to hop back on a plane tomorrow and jet off in search of more adventure.

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Last weekend I decided to put what I’d seen and tasted in Kerala, in southern India, to work with my take on a coconut curry. Despite attending a cooking class in Udaipur, Rajasthan, where I learnt how to char a chapatti directly on the flames of a gas grill, and how to fold a perfectly triangular samosa, this recipe is based on nothing more than things I ate- and my attempt to recreate the flavours in my own kitchen.

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Coconut is a huge ingredient in southern Indian cooking, particularly in curries, where it’s used to add both sweetness and creaminess to any veg or fish curry. It’s not only used in cooking however- the fibres are spun into rope and then used to make the silent long boats that patrol the backwaters of kerala. Turmeric is also used in Indian cooking for everything- and it’s also prescribed as a medicine. Seriously, a spoonful of honey mixed with turmeric swallowed right before bed will cure any sore throat or runny nose! This recipe combines these two ingredients that are so central to Indian cooking- as well as a few of my own favourite veg! Coconut curries are served on banana leaves in kerala, which, sadly, are difficult to source in London- so you’ll have to use your imagination for that!

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Cauliflower, Chickpea and Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

serves 4

tablespoon coconut oil
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam marsala
2 tins of coconut milk
2 large sweet potatoes
1 cauliflower
2 tins of chickpeas
coriander (to serve)
fresh chillies (to serve)

Finely chop the garlic. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into cubes.
In a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil until it has melted. Add the garlic, and cook for about a minute. Add in the turmeric, cumin and garam marsala and cook for about thirty seconds until they have formed a paste. Add the coconut milk and the sweet potatoes. bring the coconut milk to a gentle simmer.
Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes have started to soften.
Chop the cauliflower into small florets, and add those to the curry. After two minutes, add the chickpeas.
Allow to cook until the sweet potato is soft enough that it can be easily pierced with a fork.
Dish the curry into bowls, and top with some chopped coriander and finely diced chillies.

xxR

Thanksgiving Leftovers

After Thanksgiving, I was left with so much cheese. I had asked everyone to bring a bottle of wine and a piece of their favourite cheese, and, while the wine had been well and truly demolished on the night itself, I have to admit I overestimated just how much cheese there would be.

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I love cheese, but there was absolutely no way I could ever get through all that, so I roped in my dad to help. Admittedly, even with two people, we struggled to finish it all!

The best thing to do with leftover cheese, I’ve discovered, is simply to throw it all into a ramekin or small oven dish (depending on how many cheese eaters you have!) and bake it. Everyone loves a bit of baked camembert, but this is next level. I filled my ramekin with bits of camembert, as well as few pieces of various blue cheeses. Throw a few peeled garlic cloves on the top and bake for 10-15 minutes, and you’ll be left with the most incredible  dip. Definitely not the healthiest snack ever, but hey, it is Christmas!

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I also had about half a butternut squash left over, which I cubed and roasted at 180 degrees with a drizzle of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and a few cloves of garlic for about 45 minutes. 1o minutes from the end, when the butternut squash is just starting to feel really soft, throw in a few handfuls of kale, which will go crunchy in the heat of the oven. Crumble some blue cheese over the top, as well as the toasted butternut squash seeds, and you have the perfect winter salad that takes literally no effort to whip up!

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xxR

Butternut Squash, Halloumi and Amaranth Salad with Kale and Almonds

I graduated from uni in July and since then (give or take a few holidays) I have been spending my unemployed days frantically searching for a job. I started out with high aspirations (and hopes), applying for jobs in prestigious art museums and magazines but, after a string of (rather painful) rejections, I have lowered my sights to babysitting and waitressing jobs. Welcome to the real world Rosie!

However, there is a positive side to this apparently chronic unemployment. It gives me the chance to do all the Londony things that I never got around to during my degree. I had a huge list of exhibitions I was desperate to see, which I am working my through.

I’ve also had the chance to do a lot of experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve bought a whole range of gluten-free flours and I’m working my way through my baking repertoire, attempting to remove gluten from all my favourite recipes.

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Okay, so this recipe never had gluten in it to begin with- but it was still a bit of an experiment. I was experimenting with a new grain- amaranth. Similarly to quinoa, to which it is closely related, amaranth is a naturally gluten-free whole grain. But, believe it or not, it might actually be better than quinoa. It has more protein than most other grains, and has also shown potential to lower cholesterol. Like quinoa, it has been a staple ingredient in Mexican and Central American food for thousands of years.

It’s smaller than quinoa, but cooks in the exact same way- simply boil it for about 15 minutes, and then serve with your favourite salad ingredients. If you need some salad inspiration, read on…

This salad is the perfect combination of everything you could want in a salad. The butternut squash is roasted in garam marsala (an Indian spice blend), so it is sweet and rich in flavours. The halloumi is salty, the kale is garlicky and the chopped almonds add just the right amount of bite. Just trust me, you want to try this!

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Butternut Squash, Halloumi and Amaranth Salad with Kale and Almonds

to serve 4

1 butternut squash

splash of olive oil

6 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 tablespoon garam marsala

1 cup amaranth (just use a regular sized mug if you don’t have a measuring jug that does cups)

1 block of halloumi

1oog kale

large handful almonds

salt and pepper, to serve

Preheat your oven to 18o degrees. Begin by peeling your butternut squash. Cut it in half and remove the seeds, then cut it into wedges. Place the wedges in an oven dish, and drizzle over the olive oil. Toss in the garam marsala and half the garlic cloves, then roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. The butternut squash should be soft all the way through.

Meanwhile, cook your amaranth. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to the boil (again, just use a mug if you don’t have a measuring jug- but just make sure it’s the same size as the one you measured the amaranth in!), then add the amaranth. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.

To cook your kale, finely chop it and remove any of the really tough stalks that aren’t nice to eat. In a large griddle pan, heat up a splash of olive oil and the remaining garlic cloves, then add the kale. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is tender.

On a large serving dish, arrange your amaranth, then place the sautéed kale on top.

To cook the halloumi, cut it into thin slices. Using the same griddle pan that you cooked the kale in, fry the halloumi for 5-7 minutes on each side, until it is golden brown and soft.

Arrange the halloumi slices and butternut squash wedges on top of the kale.

Finally, roughly chop your almonds and sprinkle over the salad. Season the whole thing with a good pinch of salt and pepper and devour!

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xxR

Not (Yo’) Nachos

Today is Mexican Independence day!

I feel very attached to Mexico- as you might know, I have recently graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art with an MA in History of Dress, and my dissertation was all about nationalism in representations of Mexican dress immediately after the 1910-1920 revolution. I know I know, it sounds kinda boring, but I loved every minute I spent cooped up in the British library, pouring over photographs of Frida Kahlo and Mexican newspapers from the 1930s. I spent months reading everything I could on Mexican politics and culture, and then just as long writing 10,000 words exploring the subject further.

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It was hard work, and very stressful at times but I found the subject so engrossing that I was actually quite sad to have to hand in my essay when I finally reached the deadline (but I was also, of course, immensely relieved!)

On a selfish, personal level, I love Mexican Independence day, because, if it wasn’t for Mexican independence, I really wouldn’t have had anything to write my dissertation about! I’m definitely going to be having my own one-person party to celebrate today, and gorge myself on Mexican food (which has always been my favourite!)

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This is a new way, healthier way to make nachos, with much less saturated fat and salt than the traditional kind (even though those are, of course, delicious!)

Sweet potatoes! The solution to everything. To make your very own sweet potato nachos to celebrate all things Mexican (independence, food, tequila…) peel your sweet potatoes (allow about 1 potato per person).

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Slice your sweet potatoes as thinly as you can (think nacho chip!) and spread them out in an oven dish. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil and sprinkle over a pinch of salt. Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until they are soft in the middle but crisp on the outside.

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Then, use them as you would normal nachos. Cover them with your favourite Mexican toppings (I went for black beans, with plenty of salsa, guacamole, coriander and lime- of course!) For my bean recipe, click here. Or be creative!

Happy Mexican Independence!

xxR

Quinoa Primavera

This (slightly pretentiously titled, I’ll admit) quinoa salad is the ultimate in Spring dinners. Firstly, it is a beautiful, Spring-green. And it is stuffed full of green, spring-like vegetables.

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This is also my celebration of Meat-free Week! For me (as a lifelong vegetarian) every week is meat free. I’m not one of those vegetarians who is out to convert people, each to their own is very much my motto.

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However, eating less meat is a good idea. I’m not saying eat none necessarily (although that is great too- trust me!) It’s good for you, good for the planet and good for the animals! Even if you cant bear to give up meat, it is always wise to eat more quinoa, avocado and broccoli. So I thoroughly recommend this salad, even if you have to have it with a steak!

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Quinoa with broccoli and asparagus and avocado and mint pesto

Quinoa- enough for two people, about 1 cupful

Half a head of broccoli

1 bunch of asparagus

half a lemon

sprig of mint leaves

handful of pumpkin seeds

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For the pesto:

Half a very ripe avocado

Good handful of mint

2 cloves of garlic

Big pinch of salt and pepper

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Begin by making the pesto. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until it forms a loose paste. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mash the avocado by hand, finely chop the mint and garlic and mix together, then season.

Cook your quinoa as you normally would. I put it in a saucepan with double the quantity of boiling water, and half a veggie stockcube. Simmer until the water has all been absorbed and the quinoa softened. You don’t want it to become porridgey, so I always go easy on the water at first and then add more later, if it needs it.

While your quinoa is cooking, cut your broccoli into very small florets. You want them sort of bitesize. Boil the broccoli for about 5 minutes and the asparagus for about 2. Drain, and then cut the asparagus into small chunks.

Toast your pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan for about 5 minutes or until they start to darken in colour slightly. Don’t leave them there for too long because they burn really easily!

When the quinoa and vegetables are cool, mix together in a serving bowl. Add the pesto and mix well. Squeeze the lemon over the quinoa, then finely chop the mint and sprinkle on top with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

Delicious as a side dish or a main course!

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xxR

Vegan Feast: Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes and Aubergine

This is the final instalment in my vegan feast.

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This was adapted from a couscous salad I had a few times over the summer, but quinoa is much better for you, especially if you are tying to cut back on gluten!

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It’s (again) very simple and very delicious!

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Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes and Aubergine

1/2 an aubergine

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes

2 teaspoons of soft brown sugar

about 1 cup of quinoa

1/2 a veggie stock cube

handful of mint leaves

olive oil

salt and pepper

Cut the aubergine into small chunks, coat with olive oil and roast for about half an hour in a 180 degree oven. It should be soft and slightly brown around the edges.

Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange, cut side up, in a roasting dish. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle the sugar on top. (The sugar is optional, so if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, you don’t need to use it, but it makes the tomatoes slightly caramelised and crispy on the top which is really delicious!) Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bubbling and the skin is blistering.

Put the quinoa in a saucepan with about double the amount of boiling water and the stock cube. I never really follow the instructions on the packet for cooking quinoa because I think it always asks for too much water and becomes a bit porridgy. Instead, just keep an eye on it. If the water runs out and it’s still hard, add more. Of course this is up to you, but I like my quinoa with a tiny bit of bite still, so am always keen to avoid over cooking. I always add half a stock cube to give my quinoa a bit of flavour, but again, if you have another method that you prefer, do that!

When the quinoa is cooked, put it into a bowl and fluff it up with a fork. Add the aubergine and tomatoes. Finely chop the mint and add that too. Drizzle it with olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper and enjoy!

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xxR

Vegan Feast: Pesto and Butterbean Salad

Pulses are one of my favourite foods- I eat beans or lentils nearly every day!

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This is a really simple way of jazzing up butter beans. It’s great on its own, or as a side, or part of a selection. This salad serves two (or one as the main course), but it’s very easy to scale it up or down if you want to feed more- just add another tin of butter beans and increase the quantities of everything else!

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Pesto and Butterbean Salad

For the pesto:

1 big bunch of basil leaves

2 cloves of garlic

about 2 tablespoons of olive oil

handful of pine nuts

salt and pepper

This is very simple- it’s just a case of throwing all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing them up until it resembles a fine paste. Keep tasting it- if you think it needs more garlic/ salt/ pepper add it!

For the salad:

1 tin or carton of butter beans

about half a bag of rocket

handful of sunflower seeds

Once the pesto is done and tastes right, fry the butter beans in the pesto until all the beans are coated and warmed through. They should also start to go slightly crispy on the outside.

Put them in a bowl with the rocket.

Gently toast the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes until they start to darken slightly. Be careful not to burn them, they should just be slightly darker than normal.

Toss them into the salad and give it all a good mix.

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xxR