Vegetable and Lentil Soup with Spiced Eggplant

One of my favourite meals to make in the cooler months is soup. For it is both easy, and versatile, and almost certainly guarantees that those last few veggies in your crisper drawer are used up at the end of the week.

I find that soup is also a particularly good option on the days when I know that the husband will be home late from work. I make a batch during the day and eat early with the kids. Then his serve can easily be re-heated when he arrives home – without the worry of it being mis-timed or overcooked.

On this occasion, I found inspiration in Taste Magazine – in the form of a tomato based vegetable and lentil soup – that was topped with spicy eggplant. And we all know how much I like my eggplant! 

The addition of lentils resulted in a hearty soup, that warmed us up from the inside out. The eggplant was quite the star too – and definitely not short on spice!

From memory we served the soup with some toasted sourdough with lashings of butter (of course).  The perfect soup ‘dipper’.

What about you? Do you have a favourite soup?

(ps. I hope you are enjoying the new ‘printer’ friendly versions of my recipes, which I think you can also adjust to suit what serving size you are after. Let me know what you think!)

Print Recipe
Vegetable and Lentil Soup with Spiced Eggplant
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the leek, carrots and zucchini, and cook for a few minutes (or starting to soften). Add the garlic and spices, and stir until fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Season the soup, and divide among serving bowls. Top with fresh parsley and the spiced eggplant.
For the Spiced Eggplant:
  1. Preheat oven to 200C, and line a tray with baking paper. Dice an eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Combine 1tsp garam masala, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes and 1/4 tsp turmeric in a bowl. Add the eggplant and toss to coat. Spread onto the lined tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown.
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Spicy peanut sauce

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I’m not sure how I was introduced to spicy food. Growing up I didn’t eat a lot of spicy food, nor was my family that adventurous when it came time to eat out.  Sure we visited the local Chinese restaurant from time to time, but I recall only ordering mild dishes – such as omelettes or sweet and sour chicken.

But over the years I’ve really come to love spicy food. Perhaps it was the time we spent in Thailand, or having a partner who is definitely adventurous when eating out? Needless to say, aside from a rather random aversion during my pregnancy with Charlotte, I now tend to lean in favour of ‘hotter’ rather than milder, so much so that I will sprinkle chilli flakes on just about anything.

So when I had a hankering for peanut sauce the other day, I couldn’t resist adding a good amount of chilli to the mixture.  Resulting in a rather spicy peanut sauce, that was hot and flavoursome but still a little sweet.  And not to mention being super easy to make and void of lots of the nasties that you tend to find in jarred sauces.

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On this particular occasion we used the sauce to jazz up a tofu / vegetable stir-fry – but you could use it in so many other ways. A dipping sauce for chicken skewers comes to mind…

And you could easily tweak the recipe to make it milder, if that’s your preference, or add more chilli If you wanted it even hotter! IMG_8743

Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • 3/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tbs kejap manis
  • 2 tbs hot chilli sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • zest and juice of half a lime
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Water
  1. Process all ingredients (except for the water) until almost smooth.
  2. Add water, a little at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

 

 

 

Spicy tofu bean burgers

IMG_4549I do feel a little sorry for tofu.

For all too often it is thrown into the “boring basket”.

The “bland bucket”.

Or simply overlooked by those seeking a flavoursome and hearty meal.

But it really doesn’t have to be that way. No, I think this versatile ingredient – whilst a tad ‘neutral’ on the flavour side when served plain, can be rather wonderful when combined with other ingredients. And it is certainly a wonderful base when looking to create a vegetarian meal.

In this instance a simple block of tofu was turned into a batch of tasty burgers, when combined with beans,  herbs, garlic and hot sauce.

My food processor did all the hard work to mix the ingredients, and all I had to do was shape them into patties and pan-fry (although I suspect you could save some washing up and quite easily bake them too!)

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The tofu added a great texture, and soaked up the garlic / spicy flavours just beautifully.  Not to mention keeping a crunch on the outside too.

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On this particular occasion I served the patties with a little cucumber salad on the side. However I think they would also work well  as burgers on the BBQ, or perhaps served atop a big garden salad with a dollop of natural yoghurt.

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The choice is yours really.

Just perhaps don’t forget that you added a fair bit of chilli sauce if you freeze some for later and then try to feed them to your kids*

Spicy tofu bean burgers (makes 8)

  • 400 g can cannellini beans drained, rinsed
  • 200 g firm tofu drained
  • 2 slices wholegrain bread, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  •  1/4 cup parsley
  •  2 tbs hot sauce (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 2 tbsp self-raising flour
  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until well combined and smooth.
  2. Either shape into 8 patties, or divide into 8 portions and use egg-rings to shape the mixture in the frypan.
  3. Cook the patties in two batches in a little olive oil in a frypan over a medium heat Allow 2 to 3 each side, or cook until golden brown. Drain on paper towel before serving.

What about you? Are you a fan of tofu?

*This may, or may not have happened. Sorry Charlotte. #Parentingfail

Chipotle pulled pork and pineapple tacos

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While I’ve not yet travelled to Mexico (and any long-distance overseas travel is probably not on the cards anytime soon) I really do enjoy Mexican food. Perhaps it is because it is relatively simple to create, with a focus on lots of fresh and interesting flavours? Or perhaps it is the spice-factor, that keeps my palate happy?

And these chipotle pulled pork tacos did not disappoint – in  both flavour and spice factor.

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Created with the help of my trusty slow cooker  and time. Lots of time.

With 8 hours taking a large piece of pork shoulder from this…

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To this!

IMG_5565We loaded up the soft tortillas with the pork (of course) and a variety of other toppings – including red cabbage, a spicy green coriander sauce, lime mayonnaise, and grilled pineapple. IMG_5568 And our craving for Mexican food was thereby sated!
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Chipotle pulled pork and pineapple tacos

  • 5 chipotle chillies in adobo
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 150g pineapple, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin + 1 tsp
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 1.5kg boneless pork shoulder
  • a bunch coriander
  • 1 green chilli
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • To serve: soft corn tortillas, mayonnaise (mixed with a splash of lime juice and sprinkled with lime zest), shredded red cabbage, grilled pineapple slices and lime wedges.
  1. Place pork into the bowl of a slow cooker.
  2. Process the chillies, orange juice, pineapple, tomato, garlic, 2 tsp cumin, oregano, salt and vinegar until combined. Pour over the pork, turning to coat.
  3. Cover and look on low for 8 hours. Remove pork and shred, then return pork to the sauce to keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, make a spicy green sauce by processing the coriander, chilli, spring onions, ground coriander, juice/zest and oil – until well combined. Season to taste.
  5. Serve the pulled pork in tortillas, and top with cabbage, mayonnaise, spicy green sauce and grilled pineapple – and finish with a squeeze of lime juice.

What about you? Do you have a favourite Mexican dish?

Spicy chicken salad

IMG_7285 Chicken salad is always a winner in this household – quick, easy and healthy. But I’m always looking for ways to change it up – to keep things interesting… So on this occasion, I went down the the spicy route. I sprinkled some chicken thighs with chilli powder, then put together a salad that was jam packed with flavours. IMG_7274 Spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, pineapple and coriander…then finished with one of my favourites…. IMG_7275 Corn!!! Piled high on the plate, topped with the grilled chicken and finished with a squeeze of lime juice…. IMG_7278 And this salad was far from boring. IMG_7282 A tasty dish that came together in no time at all … IMG_7284 And not to mention healthy! A winner all round! What about you? Tried any new chicken salad combinations lately?

Tomato prawn and chickpea curry

This tasty little dinner was hiding deep within my photo archives. But it really was tasty, so it would be a shame not to share it with you (even if we made it months ago!). To start, I made a curry paste using the following ingredients: IMG_0216 Processed with some fresh coriander… IMG_0218IMG_0219 Then fried until fragrant. IMG_0236 Next, in went some canned tomatoes, and finally, a tin of carnation coconut milk. IMG_0241IMG_0243IMG_0244 At this stage I put the sauce aside. Later, after the little Miss went to bed for the evening, I reheated it and added the other curry ‘lovelies’ – prawns, snowpeas and chickpeas. IMG_0261 Served on a bed of brown rice, and we had ourselves quite the tasty dinner. IMG_0265 Rich in flavour and fragrance – just how all good curries should be really. IMG_0266 With the added bonus that there was a little leftover for my lunch the next day! IMG_0270 What about you? Are you a fan of coriander? I personally LOVE it, but I know so many people who loathe it!?

Groundhog day chilli

Its starting to turn a little into Groundhog Day over here, with my days going something like this: breakfast, blogging, walk, chores, Dexter, lunch, Dexter, nap, walk, dinner…. Oh and did I mention chilli? For it seems that my spice tolerance is back, just in time, and most of our dinners of late have contained a certain spice factor as a result. Like tonight. IMG_5089 A big pot of chilli, simmered on the stove throughout the afternoon. Made with mince, beans, celery, carrot, tomatoes, corn and, of course, lots of chilli, cayenne and oregano. IMG_5091 But we all know that chilli is all about the toppings. IMG_5090 Avocado and natural yoghurt… IMG_5092 A handful of corn chips for dipping… IMG_5093 (Or corn ‘ships’ as I just typed?!) IMG_5094 And a sprinkle of grated cheese (un-photographed but most certainly there). I also had good giggle when I sat down at the table and saw this “bowl of awesomeness” created by Mr BBB…. IMG_5096 Hers and His: IMG_5093 IMG_5096 Love it! What about you? What is your ‘must have’ topping when it comes to chilli? I love avocado and coriander (sadly missing from tonight’s version)!

Loving the laksa

I don’t know whether it is the cooler wet weather, or the dark clouds that continue to linger outside, but I have been craving rich, spicy food for most of the week. Comfort food if you will. And given that my “not so spicy” green curry was milder than I had hoped, I turned to another old favourite for dinner last night in an attempt to satisfy my craving for spicy, comforting food. IMG_5029 Laksa. I opted to use a pre-made laksa paste this time, one that I found at the local Asian grocer. IMG_4999 It was packed with flavour, and spice… just what I was hoping for. IMG_5000 All I had to do was prepare some extra ingredients (which I did during the afternoon) and throw them all together when Mr BBB arrived home after work. IMG_5001 And, as usual, I was working under the ever watchful eye of my cooking companion… IMG_5006 I like to think that she is interested in watching me cook, but in reality, I suspect she is just plotting a chicken-steal when my back is turned. But back to the laksa… The ingredients were fairly simple – laksa paste, coconut milk, leftover char siew pork, chicken thigh fillets and an extra red chilli. IMG_5007 And let’s not forget my absolute favourite laksa ingredient… IMG_5013 Fried tofu puffs! Then later all I had to do was bring the paste and coconut milk to a simmer, throw in all the other ingredients, and allow the meats to cook through. IMG_5017 Spooned atop some bean thread vermicelli (that I had soaked in hot water until soft) IMG_5003 and finished with fresh coriander, mint and more red chilli. IMG_5016 And our belly warming laksas were complete. IMG_5029 This dish certainly made up for the ‘not so spicy’ green curry of the other evening. IMG_5032 The laksa broth was rich in spice with a kick of chilli (without being too overwhelming). IMG_5026 Spice mission accomplished! What about you? Are you a laksa fan?

Not so spicy green curry

I have no idea what went wrong with the green curry paste I made yesterday. IMG_5044 An old wives tale suggests that spicy foods can assist in moving things along in the later stages of pregnancy. So I figured,  why not give it a try? IMG_5038 And seeing that green curry chicken is one of my all time favourite dishes – so fragrant and spicy – I figured that it would be the perfect spicy dinner choice. In theory. Rather that relying on a store bought curry paste, I decided to make my own. Sounds simple right? IMG_5041 And it was. Just a bunch of ingredients, processed into a paste. IMG_5042 And voila. IMG_5048 Homemade green curry paste. IMG_5049 The only problem being that despite an abundance of green chillies in the paste (seeds and all).. IMG_5045 My curry did not end up spicy. At all. Not one bit. Actually, I doubt I could have made it any milder if I tried lol. Perhaps the chilli peppers were defective?  For I have no idea what else could have gone wrong… IMG_5039 Oh well, it may not have been spicy, but when combined with coconut milk, chicken, lime juice, more green chillies and some green beans… IMG_5053 it ended up being quite a tasty dinner last night nonetheless. IMG_5054 I’ll just have to try and amp up the spice factor another day… What about you? Any tips for spicing up a homemade curry paste?

Piri Piri Chicken

Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of one of my favourite chefs… IMG_9623 Jamie Oliver! After my successful attempt of his Rogan Josh dish last week, I was keen to try another recipe from his "30 Minute Meals" cookbook.  And it didn’t take me long to decide which one….. IMG_9627 Piri Piri Chicken! You can find the basic recipe here. The star of this dish was definitely the piri piri sauce, which was actually super easy to make. Just measure… IMG_9629 Blend… IMG_9635 And voila. IMG_9639 Perfect homemade piri piri sauce. IMG_9644 Spicy, with a hint of sweetness…. IMG_9645 With the sauce made, the rest of the dish came together quickly, and easily. Starting with a layer of the piri sauce, topped with strips of capsicums that I had grilled on my trusty George Foreman. IMG_9652 Followed by chicken thigh fillets, that I had pan-fried until golden brown. IMG_9653 Then finished with more…… IMG_9654 you guessed it! Piri piri sauce! While the chicken was baking away in the oven, I got working on the other parts of dinner. I didn’t attempt the Portuguese Tarts included in the original recipe, but I couldn’t resist making a big bowl of mashed potatoes to serve on the side. IMG_9657 A mixture of potatoes and sweet potatoes, microwaved with a lemon until soft. IMG_9658 Then made fancy with a good amount of fresh coriander and feta stirred through. IMG_9665 Resulting in a rather tasty side dish. Or as I like to call them… IMG_9661 “holy-freakin-delicious-mashed-potatoes’! True to the book’s claim, in just under 30 minutes  it was time to bring everything together… IMG_9672 Sweet spicy chicken… IMG_9668 With almost caramelised strips of capsicum… IMG_9666 Topped with fresh coriander. IMG_9676 Piled high… IMG_9679 And every mouthful loved! I will most certainly be using this piri piri sauce again. I have to say that one of the main reasons I love Jamie Oliver’s approach to cooking so much, is that it is honest. Delicious yes, but also honest. No fussing about, just real food served communally. IMG_9669 Two thumbs up indeed! What about you? Do you have a favourite ‘celebrity’ chef?