Vegetarian Lasagne

Vegetarian Lasagne – Recipe 7 of 12 from Enjoy!

Melt in the mouth.  That’s the description my daughter Éimear gave as she tucked in heartily to a mammoth portion of this vegetarian lasagne yesterday.  When I cook I often ask myself what can I do to make something  easier and for this recipe it was the white sauce.  For a classic white sauce there would be infusing of flavours into milk, the making of a roux and at least 15 to 20 minutes cooking  to the end result.  Mine takes probably 3 minutes at most.
Stash this recipe for one of those “i need something other than turkey” days of the holidays because it’s now only 5 more weeks (recipes) until Christmas!! The lights went on in Cork City this evening so let the shopping begin.
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne:
You will need:
250g green speckled or puy lentils (see the note below)
4 garlic cloves
2 medium onions
3 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus a little extra
300g mushrooms
2 tsp oregano
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
3 tbsp water
250g ricotta cheese
75g grated Parmesan, plus a little extra
150ml crème fraîche (approx. 6 tbsps
2 tbsp basil pesto
Fresh lasagne pasta sheets
Method:
Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a peeled clove of garlic and bring to the boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15–20 minutes, then drain, removing and discarding the garlic clove.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons of the rapeseed oil in a large pan over a low heat, then add the onions and let them soften for 5 minutes. Peel and crush the three remaining garlic cloves. Add to the softened onion, stir through and cook for 1 minute.
Chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Turn the heat up add them to the pan of onions along with the oregano and another tablespoon of oil. Stir through and cook for a couple of minutes, until the mushrooms start to colour.
Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and the cooked, drained lentils. Stir well, then add the tomato purée and water. Reduce to a simmer for a couple of minutes while you prepare the cheesy sauce.
Preheat a fan oven to 180°C.
Mix the ricotta, grated Parmesan, crème fraîche and basil pesto together in a bowl to a thick sauce consistency. If you need to loosen it up a little, add some oil.
Layer up the lasagne in a large ovenproof baking dish – spread half of the lentil mix on the base of the dish and top with a layer of lasagne sheets, then the remaining lentil mix, half of the cheese sauce, a layer of lasagne sheets, then the remaining cheese sauce. Top with a little grated Parmesan and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is turning golden brown.
Note: Follow the directions on your packet of lentils for cooking – the ones I buy don’t require pre-soaking, but some do. Feel free to substitute a drained tin of pre-cooked lentils if you prefer.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Spiced Vegetarian Burgers – Recipe 1 of 12 from Enjoy

In 12 weeks time we shall all be gearing down for Christmas with some of us coming to a stuttering halt as we just about get there intact.  Yes it’s the first of October today so I am allowed to mention the festivities.  Looking forward to and enjoying the build-up to Christmas will get us through the darkening days and over the hump of what can be a depressing time as nights close in on top of us.  In my countdown I will be marking the 12 remaining weeks with a recipe from my cookbook Enjoy!
The first that I am sharing is my Spiced Vegetarian Burger.  I love a little bit of heat in my cooking and chilli often features as it does here in the form of chilli powder.  In this recipe I use a lot of store-cupboard ingredients so if you stock up you can be sure of something tasty during the hibernation period.

Image from cookbook Enjoy! – Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food styling Jette Virdi

Spiced Vegetarian Burger
Too often, vegetarian burgers are lightweight and unsatisfying.  What I like about these is that they look meaty and are robust and filling.  The patties can be prepared ahead of time and left in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Serves 6
You will need:
3 slices of multigrain whole-wheat bread (approx. 170g)
1 medium onion
2 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
100g mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp regular paprika
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 x 400g tin of lentils
1 x 400g tin of kidney beans
1 egg, beaten
Cornflour, for dusting
Baps, buns or bread rolls, to serve
Method:
Blitz the bread in a food processor or mini-chopper to create breadcrumbs and set aside.
Finely chop the onion and soften in 1 tablespoon of oil heated in a large frying pan over a low heat for 5 minutes. Finely chop the mushrooms and crush the garlic, then add them to the softened onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the paprika and chilli powder and mix well.
Drain the lentils in a sieve and press to squeeze away any excess moisture, then stir them into the onion and mushrooms. Take the pan off the heat.
Roughly pulse the well-drained kidney beans in a food processor – you want them bitey, not pulpy. Put these in a large bowl, then mix in the breadcrumbs, the lentil mixture and the beaten egg to combine. Use your hands to shape into six even-sized patties. Lightly dust the tops of the burgers with cornflour.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in large frying pan over a medium to high heat. Cook as many burgers as will fit in the pan for 5 minutes, floured side down. Lightly dust the other side with cornflour before turning the burgers over and cooking for a further 5 minutes.
Serve in lightly toasted buns or baps. I suggest serving them with coleslaw, lettuce and ketchup too.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

minty feta lamb pittas

Minty Feta Lamb Pittas

Delicious. Quick. Easy.  As the weather brightens and warmth returns we’ll begin to welcome salad and lighter foods back to our plates.   Here a Greek salad sits on top of toasted wholemeal pittas then laden with spiced lamb and a garnish of minty feta dressing.

greek salad
toasted pittaspittas with greek salad and mint feta dressing
minty feta lamb pittas
As I said delicious, quick and easy and right now for me the most important is QUICK.  Time flies when you’re having fun they say but where I’m at right now time is going way too fast and I’m sure that’s true for many of you too.  We all have to eat yet garnering the supplies and diversifying the menu options usually rests on one person’s shoulders – probably yours!  A thankless job for the most part but one that has to be done and fitted in to the busy schedules of the lives of all of those around you. So lets get on with it and Enjoy!

Minty Feta Lamb Pittas
You will need:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil for mince plus 1 tbsp for feta dressing plus extra for brushing pittas
450g lamb mince
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
400g tin lentils – I used ‘Bijoux Verts Lentils’
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp water
Wholemeal pittas
1 or 2 cos lettuce
half cucumber
half red onion
1 block feta – 200g
small handful mint leaves
small handful coriander leaves
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180
Heat 1 tbsp oil in large frying pan over medium to high heat, add the mince, mixing it and breaking it down with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
Once the mince has gone from pink to light brown lean or tip the pan to one side and spoon off all the fat and juices and discard.
Add the tbsp of cumin and coriander and mix well, leave to heat for a minute of too.
Meanwhile open and rinse the can of lentils in a sieve and add to the pan along with 1 tbsp tomato puree and 3 tbsp water.
Mix everything well and once the lentils have been heated through turn off the heat while you prepare everything else.
Split open the pittas and use a pastry brush to oil the tops of them and heat in the hot oven for around 5 minutes, take care not to overheat or burn them!
Chop up the cos, half cucumber and red onion and mix together.
Use a food processor to whiz the feta, mint leaves and coriander leaves with 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and enough water to create a dropping consistency.
Serve the toasted pittas, topped with the salad, lamb and minty feta dressing.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Stroganoff

Stroganoff

If you want to make a creamy dish use cream! This Mushroom Stroganoff recipe was one sent to me by Irish Dairy food brand Avonmore to promote their Cooking Cream product.  I’ve used their cooking cream numerous times before and in the promo they mention that the cooking cream has less than half the fat of standard cream so that makes it a good choice in the dairy aisle.

Stroganoff

I love vegetables but I’m not vegetarian.  I sometimes think I could be, however from time to time I crave a big juicy steak or a dirty burger, the kind that has you licking your lips and savouring delicious Irish beef.  If you’re a meat fan too you might be interested in checking out ‘Steak Revolution’ on Netflix, a very interesting journey around the world in search of the perfect steak – disappointingly they didn’t make it to Ireland but it’s a good watch all the same.
Stroganoff with chicken
I have digressed.  As I said I’m not a vegetarian and the recipe sent to me was so along with making this dish I roasted  up a tray of min-chicken fillets drizzled with a little oil and dusted with chilli powder and paprika (as shown above).  As well as being quicker cooking than breasts of chicken, the mini fillets are usually a little cheaper too, which make them a winner for me.  I put on more mini-fillets than I need  and then chop up any left-over for next day’s school lunch sandwiches.
Vegetarian Stroganoff

The recipe didn’t mention greens but as I mentioned I love my vegetables so added quick cooking tender stem broccoli and asparagus.

Avonmore’s ‘Creamy Mushroom, Fennel & Pea Stragnoff’ Recipe by Marion Hearne (unaltered):
You will need:

  • 2 tsp olive oll
  • 3 finely sliced shallots
  • 1 finely sliced fennel
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 350g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tub Avonmore Cooking Cream
  • 70g frozen peas
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Small handful of broccoli shoots
  • Quinoa or basmati rice to serve
    Method
    Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and soften the shallots, fennel and garlic for 5 minutes, and remember to keep stirring.
    Add the mushrooms and cook on a high heat for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Sprinkle over the paprika and mix well. Pour in the vegetable stock and tamari.
    Bring to the boil and bubble for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce reduced to a thick sauce.
    Remove from the heat and stir through the Avonmore Cooking Cream, lemon juice and peas.
    Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
    Garnish with the broccoli shoots and serve with quinoa or wholegrain basmati rice.

As mentioned above I like to serve this with roasted chicken mini-fillets cooked in a little olive oil, chilli powder & paprika and serve with some steamed greens.
Enjoy!
Disclosure: Avonmore PR contacted me and asked me if I would like to share some of their cooking cream recipes.  I like trying out new recipes, promoting Irish food products and I use their cooking cream anyway so I said I would.!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Dinner in 30 minutes – Stuffed Chicken Breast, Red Cabbage & Paprika roast baby potatoes

Hands up if you’re exhausted! I wrote this blog post while at the side of a GAA pitch earlier this evening as my lads were at hurling training.  Last night the three girls had a match while the twin boys had rugby training and the night before it was training for GAA and soccer.  A mother I spoke to yesterday was trying to squeeze in a medical appointment between a dance class for one child and a rugby session for another.  Juggling – it’s what we do.  And then there’s the dinner! Who’s going to make that, when and what are we going to eat?!

Luckily my eldest likes to try cooking different things from time to time and today it was blissful to be called down from my office to a delicious dinner and then head out the door for the lads training knowing that everyone was well fed.

It would probably make a lot of sense to cook the same meals Monday to Friday every week but then you’d have to be ultra-organised for that and dare I suggest a little bit boring too.  Variety as they say is the spice of life so lets keep it varied and somewhat spicy.

Food photography Marta Miklinska

Food photography Marta Miklinska

This beautiful dish was photographed for my cookbook ‘Enjoy!’ in the summer of 2015.  Where has that year gone?!  It looks vibrant and interesting with the bed of red cabbage but has simplicity at its heart.  It will all cook in under 30 minutes with about 10 minutes prep.
Get ahead start:
The prep. time can be drastically reduced if you were to take 10 minutes the night before to make the stuffing, grate the red cabbage and store both in airtight containers in the fridge overnight.
Instructions for getting ahead are highlighted in blue text in the method below

Parsley & Thyme Stuffed Chicken with Red Cabbage

Serves 4
You will need:
1 large or 2 small onions
50g butter
3 slices of whole-wheat bread (or any bread/bagels etc for making breadcrumbs – or buy them!)
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried thyme
half tsp salt
4 skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
4 cocktail sticks, for assembly
For the red cabbage:
half head of red cabbage
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Fresh nutmeg, for grating
1 tbsp runny honey
Method:
Preheat a fan oven to 180°C.
Get a small baking tray ready for the chicken – you want to cook them close together to retain their juices, so a tray that’s only just big enough is best.
Peel and finely chop the onion (a mini-chopper works best for this). Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the chopped onion, cover the pan and leave to sweat for 10 minutes.
Blitz the bread in a food processor or mini-chopper to create breadcrumbs. Once the onions are cooked, take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, herbs and salt, stirring well to combine.
Slit the side of each chicken breast to create a pocket. Take a fistful of stuffing and squeeze it to compact it, then stuff the breast with it, securing the side with a cocktail stick. Shape any leftover stuffing into compact round stuffing dumplings to cook alongside the chicken.
Mix the cranberry sauce and rapeseed oil together really well in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to thickly paint the chicken breasts with the sauce – use it all up.
Cook the chicken in the heated oven for 20 minutes, then turn up the heat to 200°C for another 5 minutes.
Check that the chicken is fully cooked through – there should be no traces of pink.
While the chicken cooks, prepare the cabbage.
Use a food processor to grate the cabbage.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the grated cabbage, cover the pan and sweat for 10 minutes. Raise the heat and pour in the red wine vinegar and a good grating of fresh nutmeg. Stir well for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook on a low heat, covered, for a further 10 minutes, then stir through the honey to heat it.
Divide the red cabbage between four shallow bowls or plates and serve with the chicken on top. Serve with a side of Paprika Roast Baby Potatoes (cook this at same time as chicken) and some extra cranberry sauce.

Paprika Roast Baby Potatoes
You will need:
Baby potatoes
Rapeseed oil
Regular paprika
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method:
Preheat a fan oven to 180°C.
Place the baby potatoes on a baking tray and drizzle generously with oil. Use your hands to roll the potatoes around to coat them thoroughly with the oil. Sprinkle over some paprika and season with some crushed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 15–20 minutes, until a knife slips through easily.

Top Tip: Use leftovers of chicken and stuffing for next day’s lunch in a salad or sandwiches.

Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.