Grilled polenta with spinach and tomato
You can vary the toppings for this polenta, like a pizza.
Extra virgin olive oil for greasing
1 cob of corn or 150g frozen corn
375g quick cook polenta*
½ tsp salt
250g tomato passata
100g fresh spinach
100g Edam cheese or any other hard cheese, grated
- Preheat a grill 200˚C and lightly grease a large baking dish approx. 25cm x 36cm x5cm (depth) with olive oil.
- Remove the corn kernels from corn cob or defrost the frozen corn. Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the salt, polenta and corn while stirring with a wooden spoon. Immediately reduce the heat so that it is just barely simmering. Continue to stir as it thickens for around 8 minutes, taking care that it does not splatter (as it can cause a nasty burn!) By this time the polenta should be very thick and cooked. Remove the polenta from the heat.
- Pour the polenta into the bottom of the baking dish and spread it out evenly. Next, pour the passata over the top and spread to cover. Place the spinach on top of the passata in another layer and sprinkle the top with the cheese.
- Grill in the oven until the cheese is starting to become golden and the polenta is bubbling, around 10-15 minutes. Leave to stand to cool slightly before serving.
*If unavailable, you can substitute coarse cornmeal but you will need to increase the water to 2 litres and cook the polenta for approximately 15-20 minutes.
Spaghetti squash with Autumn pesto
500g dried wholewheat spaghetti
1 large spaghetti squash
3 large garlic cloves (unpeeled)
100g cobnuts or hazelnuts
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Large handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- Set the oven to 220˚C and line a large baking dish with foil. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, remove seeds and place on the baking sheet with the garlic. Roast in the oven for around 35-40 min until soft. Add the nuts for the last 10 minutes to roast.
- Begin to prepare the pasta as per packet directions. Use a spiralizer or peeler to slice the courgettes into long noodles and set aside. Add the courgette to the bubbling pasta when there is 2 min left to cook.
- While the pasta is cooking, remove the baking dish from the oven and let cool slightly. Chop the nuts roughly and placing in a large serving dish. Add the olive oil and basil and set aside.
- Use a fork to score the squash lengthwise until long noodles begin to form. Continue until you have used up the entire squash and add to the serving dish. Squish the cooked garlic from its peel and add. Gently mix everything together.
- Once the pasta and courgette noodles are cooked, drain and add to the serving dish. Toss everything together, carefully, and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve at once.
Roast tomato and avocado fusilli with halloumi and fennel
I have always loved the combination of tomato and avocado and I think that fennel and salty halloumi make very yummy companions. The roasted cherry tomatoes definitely take centre stage in this very moreish dish.
700g cherry tomatoes
1 fennel bulb, very finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
250g Halloumi cheese, cubed
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
500g wholewheat fusilli
2 large ripe avocados
½ large lemon
Cracked black pepper to serve
- Preheat an oven or grill to 220˚C. Line a baking tray with foil and place the cherry tomatoes, fennel, garlic and halloumi cheese on top. Pour on the olive oil and coat the vegetables. Grill or bake for 20-25 minutes until they are roasted and starting to brown.
- While everything is roasting, begin to prepare the pasta as per packet directions.
- Next, mash the avocados with a fork in a large serving dish (don’t worry if there are still tiny lumps remaining). Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix.
- Add the roasted veg and cheese to the serving dish, squeezing out the cooked garlic from their skins. Stir everything together until it is just combined (it does not matter if the tomatoes get slightly mushed). Add the cooked, drained pasta and fold it into the sauce. Serve with a little cracked black pepper.
Orzo with tuna, orange and sundried tomatoes
This also tastes great as a pasta salad if you have any leftovers.
1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g sundried tomatoes (around 4), chopped
75g black olives, pitted
200g tin of tuna, drained
3 satsumas or 1 small orange
Cracked black pepper.
- Cook the pasta as per packet directions.
- Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan on medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and stir until softened. Add the sundried tomatoes, olives and tuna and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes. Peel the orange(s) and remove any seeds and pith. Cut into bit-sized pieces and add to the pan. Stir together and cook for another minute.
- Add the drained pasta to the pan and stir everything together. Remove from the heat and fold in the rocket. Serve with some cracked black pepper.
Japanese noodles with tofu and vegetables
You can use any noodles for this dish such as soba, udon, buckwheat or ramen. For some extra crunch, add some sliced water chestnuts to the veg and serve with some sprinkled chopped peanuts.
350g noodles, dried or fresh
2 peppers, any colour, finely sliced
2 large leeks, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
250g sugar snap peas, halved
½ savoy cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp malt vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp sugar
2 ½ tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp tamarind paste
3 tbsp sesame oil
400g firm tofu cut in cubes
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp pickled ginger, sliced
- Cook the noodles as per packet directions and put aside. Prepare all of the vegetables and place in a large bowl.
- Mix the eggs, ketchup, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce and tamarind paste in a small bowl. Add to the bowl of vegetables and mix everything together.
- Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a large wok or frying pan on med-high heat. Add the tofu and stir-fry 4-5 minutes until golden. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining sesame oil to the pan and add the vegetables and noodles. Stir-fry for 5-6 minutes until the egg is cooked and the vegetables are tender. You may have to do this in batches. Remove the cooked veg to a large serving dish and top with the tofu, sesame seeds and pickled ginger. Serve at once.
Warm autumn salad with cauliflower and tahini
This salad is a last-minute creation borne out of what was left in my fridge, but it is one I will be repeating many times in the future. I used spelt, but it would work equally well with some nutty rice or barley.
1 medium cauliflower
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1-1½tsp olive oil
3 tbsp tahini
Juice of ½ lemon, 1 lime and 1 mandarin or a small orange
Handful of mint, roughly chopped
Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Preheat an oven to 200˚C and line a baking tray with foil. Cut the cauliflower into 1cm thick slices and place upon the tray. Add the unpeeled garlic and drizzle with the olive oil. Cook for 25-30 min or until roasted.
- Meanwhile, cook the spelt per packet instructions and begin to make the dressing. Place the tahini and juices in a small bowl and mix together until it is the consistency of a dressing.
- Place the cooked spelt into a large serving dish and stir through the dressing. Add the cauliflower and squeeze in the cooked garlic from its skin. Add the pomegranate seeds and mint and stir through. Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds and serve.
Green garden burgers
This version of a beanie burger is as moreish as it is green. You can substitute any other fresh herbs or use dried herbs if unavailable.
Makes 6-8 burgers
1 tbsp olive oil
400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
500g frozen broad beans, defrosted
400g canned flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 salad onion, finely sliced
10g fresh mint, roughly chopped
20g fresh oregano, roughly chopped
20g fresh basil, roughly chopped
5 tbsp polenta flour or cornmeal
- Preheat an oven or grill to 230˚C and line a baking tray with foil. Grease the foil with half of the olive oil and put aside.
- Blend together the chickpeas, broad beans, flageolet beans and garlic using a food processor or hand blender until about three quarters of it is smooth but there are still some smaller chopped pieces remaining.
- Add the breadcrumbs, salad onions and herbs and mix together by hand. Shape the mixture into patties.
- Place the polenta flour in a small shallow dish and gently press each patty into it, coating both sides. Place each patty on the baking tray and drizzle them with the rest of the olive oil. Bake or grill for 15-20 minutes until golden on each side. Serve in buns or pitta breads. These are especially good sandwiched with some spinach, tomato and a little cream fraiche.
Sweet potato veggie burgers with tahini sauce
This is great recipe to use up any leftover baked, boiled or roasted sweet potatoes. If you are starting with fresh sweet potatoes, simply boil or steam them while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
700g sweet potatoes, cooked
400g tin of chickpeas drained and rinsed
200g cooked broad beans
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp harissa paste
1 tsp dried oregano
100g sesame seeds
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
- Heat an oven to 200˚C and line a baking tray with foil. Grease it with some of the olive oil.
- Place the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, broad beans, bread crumbs, garlic, harissa paste and oregano in a large bowl or food processor. Mash with a hand blender or pulse with a food processor until it is roughly mashed.
- Pour the sesame seeds into a shallow bowl. Use a spoon to scoop the burger mixture into a patty and carefully roll it into the sesame seeds until covered. Shape into a burger and place on the baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top of the burgers and bake in the oven for 20-25min until just starting to become golden.
- While the burgers are cooking, make the sauce by combing all of the ingredients into a small bowl and mixing. Add a little water and mix slowly to combine. Add enough water until the mixture is the consistency of a sauce.
- Remove the veggie burger once cooked and serve in a flatbread, pitta or burger bun with the tahini sauce and some spinach and grilled vegetables.
Mini Autumn rosti
These mini rosti are a perfect feel-good food after a workout in the cold. You can make several batches of mini rosti or just pack it in a non-stick frying pan to make a larger one if you are pushed for time. Makes 25-30 mini rosti or make 2 x 20cm rounds.
400g sweet potatoes
1 large red onion
150g Emmental cheese
6 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
Cracked black pepper
4 tsp olive oil
- Grate the sweet potatoes, courgettes and carrots and place into a sieve. Use a tea towel to squeeze out any excess moisture and then place into a large bowl.
- Slice the onion finely, grate the cheese and add to the vegetables. Mix everything together then stir in the flour.
- Beat the eggs, herbs and black pepper (to taste) in a small bowl. Add to the vegetables and stir until mixed well.
- Heat an oven to 200˚C and line two baking sheets. Heat a large non-stick frying pan with half of the olive oil to medium heat. Use two large spoons to shape the vegetable mix into small mounds and place carefully in the frying pan to cook. It will look like they are falling apart but they will stick together as they cook. Fry in batches for around 4 minutes on each side until crisp.
- Place the cooked rosti on the baking trays and bake for a further 7-10 minutes to finish them off (alternatively, you could place them in a microwave to cook for 2-3 minutes but they will not remain crisp). Serve at once with a big salad.
Carrot, coriander and almond soup
This speedy soup will help an even speedier recovery.
1tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
200g ground almonds
900g carrots, chopped
2.4L vegetable or chicken stock
2 handfuls of blanched almonds, toasted and chopped
Cracked black pepper to serve
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and add the onion. Stir fry for 5 mins until it has softened. Stir in the ground coriander and ground almonds and cook for a further min.
- Add the carrots and stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and let simmer for 25min or until the carrots are tender.
- Remove from heat and blend until smooth using a hand blender or food processor. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the chopped nuts and a little cracked black pepper. Serve with some crusty bread to dip.
Speedy pea and pesto soup
Or what to do with all those defrosting peas when your freezer quits…
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp pine nuts + extra to sprinkle (optional)
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
1kg frozen garden peas
Large bunch of fresh basil, chopped
Fresh Parmesan cheese to serve
1. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large soup pot on medium heat and stir until it starts to soften. Add the pine nuts and stir briefly to mix.
2. Put aside around a cupful of the frozen peas. Add the rest of the peas to the pot with the stock and heat until it simmers. Let cook for around 7 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and blend the soup together using a hand blender or food processor. Put back on the heat and stir in the remaining peas and basil. Heat until just simmering and serve in bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and a generous serving of Parmesan cheese. Serve with some chunky bread.