Chickpea and Spinach Curry (Serves 3-4)

This mildly spiced vegetarian curry makes a super easy supper, perfect midweek when time is of essence. Serve with steamed rice.

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 pinch chilli flakes

1 thumb sized piece ginger, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

400g tin tomatoes

400g tinned chickpeas, including the chickpea water

A large bunch spinach

3 tablespoons coriander, chopped

  1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium/high heat until fragrant – a couple of minutes. Put them in a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder before mixing in the other spices. Then mash in the chopped ginger to create a dry paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic, gently sweat until softened.
  3. Add the spice mixture and cook for a minute or so, before adding the tomatoes, chickpeas and their chickpea water. Cook over a low heat until the sauce is thickened and the tomatoes have broken up  – around 25 minutes.
  4. Finally stir through the spinach until wilted, check the seasoning (perhaps add an extra sprinkling of chilli flakes). Serve topped with the chopped coriander and with rice.

Vegetarian Chilli with Homemade Guacamole (Serves 4-6)

This Vegetarian Chilli recipe is from Rachel Allen’s cookbook, ‘Entertaining at Home’. The dish is bursting with flavours, I serve it with rice, homemade guacamole (recipe below), sour cream and tortilla chips – it’s a real crowd pleaser. It’s a good idea to serve a little Tabasco or Encona sauce on the side, for extra heat, to suit individual tastes. This recipe calls for soya mince, I used and would recommend ‘Vivera plant mince’, which you can buy in supermarkets, it is fresh and ready to use. Any meat lover will be incredibly impressed with this chilli – see if they can guess it’s vegetarian!!…

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

100g soya mince, ready to use weight (soaked, according to packet instructions if dried – see note above)

400g tin red kidney beans

400g tin chopped tomatoes

125ml vegetable stock (I use Marigold Swiss Bouillon)

75ml red wine

Sea salt and black pepper

Bunch of coriander, chopped to serve

To serve: rice, guacamole, sour cream and tortilla chips

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole, add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and golden.
  2. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds in a mortar and pestle, then add to the pan along with the chopped chilli, cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients except the coriander. Cook over a medium heat, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until thickened.
  4. Scatter with the chopped coriander and serve with rice, homemade guacamole (recipe below), sour cream and tortilla chips.

Easy Guacamole

I’ve tried a few recipes for guacamole over the years, some have the addition of garlic and tomatoes, but I always return to this easy recipe from Sally Clarke – the flavours are simple so don’t overpower the avocado.

3 ripe avocados, peeled
Juice of 3 large limes
1-2 small chillies, very finely chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves

  1. With a fork, mash the avocados in a bowl until almost smooth – a few lumps are fine.
  2. Stir in the lime juice and add the chillies and salt. Stir in the coriander and adjust to taste by adding more chillies, lime juice or salt.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup (Serves 4)

This is a very warming soup, and quite spicy, I would add less chilli the first time you make it, as you can always add more chilli flakes at the end of cooking, it’s one of those recipes which you have to let your taste buds lead you!.. (Toasted Naan breads are good with this soup!)

200g split red lentils

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

A little groundnut oil

A small thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated

3 cloves garlic, peeled

4 tomatoes, quartered

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1-2 small red chillies (less to taste – see note above)

1-2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes (less to taste – see note above)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 litre vegetable stock (I use ‘Marigold Swiss Vegetable Boullion’)

A small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped

Sea salt

  1. In a heavy based saucepan, gently fry the onion in the groundnut oil, until softened but not coloured.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and cook until the seeds start to pop a little.
  3. Add the lentils, ginger, garlic cloves, tomatoes, chopped and dried chillies and the ground turmeric, stir well before adding the stock and a pinch of salt.
  4. Bring to the boil, skim off any froth that appears on the surface. Lower the temperature, half cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the lentils have softened and have started to fall apart.
  5. Add most of the chopped coriander (keep some back to serve). Place in a food processor and process until smooth, check the seasoning.
  6. Serve sprinkled with the remaining chopped coriander.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Goats’ Cheese Mash (Serves 4)

As you may be aware, I am a complete meat lover, so when I say that this recipe could convert me to vegetarianism, you’ll know it’s extremely good!…I found this recipe many years ago in Delia Smith’s ‘How to Cook: Book Three’, I have made it on numerous occasions since then. It is quite a straightforward recipe but you must remember to pre-soak the black eyed beans the night before cooking it. The vegetables need to be chopped small so it is a good idea to use a food processor – and it saves a lot of time! I like to serve this with a green salad with a classic vinaigrette dressing (recipe here).

110g dried black-eyed beans, pre-soaked and drained

75g green split peas (no need to soak), rinsed

75g green lentils (no need to soak), rinsed

725ml boiling water

50g peeled carrots

50g peeled swede

50g peeled celeriac

1 large onion, peeled

1 small green pepper, deseeded

50g butter, plus a little extra for greasing

1 heaped tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley)

¼ teaspoon ground mace

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper

For the topping:

110g soft goats’ cheese

700g potatoes (such as Maris Piper), peeled

225g tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

50g butter

2 tablespoons milk

25g Pecorino cheese, grated

Sea salt and black pepper

(A round baking dish, roughly 23cm diameter and 5cm deep, buttered)

  1. First put the drained beans in a saucepan with the split peas and lentils. Add the boiling water and some salt. Cover and simmer gently for 50-60 minutes until they have absorbed the water and are soft. Remove from the heat and mash them just a little with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile cook the potatoes.
  3. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, roughly chop the vegetables before placing in a food processor and chopping small.
  4. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the vegetables and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until they are softened and tinged gold at the edges.
  5. Add the vegetable mixture to the lightly mashed pulses, along with the herbs, spices and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon this mixture into the buttered baking dish.
  6. Arrange the slices of tomato over this mixture.
  7. Mash the cooked potato with the butter, milk and goats cheese and season with salt and pepper (you can use an electric hand held whisk to do this). Spread the potato over the top of the ingredients in the dish.
  8. Finally sprinkle over the Pecorino and bake the pie in a preheated oven, 190’c fan, for 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.

Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts and Crispy Sage (Serves 4)

This is a relatively quick pasta dish, comforting and tasty. The crispy sage leaves really lift the dish. This recipe is from Marcus Wareing’s Cookbook, ‘New Classics’.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 600g)

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

½ nutmeg, grated

75g butter

80g blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped

20 sage leaves

350g tagliatelle pasta

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Put the diced butternut squash in a saucepan and cover with cold water, add a generous pinch of salt, the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender. Strain off the water and remove the herbs.
  2. Add the nutmeg and 25g of the butter and lightly mash the squash, seasoning to taste.
  3. Heat the remaining 50g of butter in a large frying pan. When foaming add the hazelnuts and sage. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5-8 minutes until golden and crispy, and the butter has browned.
  4. Cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and mix with most of the hazelnut and sage butter.
  5. Gently stir through the mashed squash and serve, topped with the remaining hazelnut and sage butter.

Tagliatelle with Mushrooms & Chestnuts (Serves 4)

This is a beautiful pasta recipe with lovely earthy flavours. It is particularly comforting during the winter months, however I cook it all year round as we like it so much. Unusually this pasta dish calls for Comté cheese to be grated over it, it really is a delicious addition, complementing the sweetness of the chestnuts. I use the vacuum packed bags of cooked and peeled chestnuts – ‘Merchant Gourmet’ is a good brand. It is worth investing in a quality bottle of truffle oil for this recipe, as it really does enhance the flavour.

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks ‘Nina St Tropez’ by Nina Parker.

4 tablespoons olive oil

500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

400g tagliatelle (gluten free if required)

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

150g cooked chestnuts chopped (see note above)

4 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

4 tablespoons truffle oil

Comté cheese, grated to serve

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms and cook until they have shrunk in size by about a half.
  2. Add the garlic to the mushrooms and let it cook for a few minutes before adding the chestnuts and seasoning generously.
  3. Meanwhile cook the tagliatelle according to the instructions on the packet until al dente.
  4. Before draining the pasta, add about three or four spoonfuls of pasta cooking water to the mushroom mixture to loosen it.
  5. Finally add the drained tagliatelle to the mushrooms along with the chives, crème fraiche and truffle oil, taste to check the seasoning.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and serve!

Simple Butternut Squash Soup (Serves 4)

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

This really is a straightforward recipe, no ‘bells or whistles’, it simply focuses on the lovely flavour of the butternut squash. You can use either vegetable stock (I use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Boullion Powder) or water. To serve, stir through a spoonful of créme fraiche and sprinkle with some chilli flakes and, if you fancy, as I often do, some freshly chopped sage. This is great served with either fresh crusty bread or gluten free ‘Oat Bread’ (recipe here).

1 butternut squash, about 700g when peeled and cubed

2 banana shallots, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

25g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

About 600ml vegetable stock or water (see note above)

Salt and pepper

To Serve:

Créme Frâiche

Chilli flakes

4 -6 sage leaves, finely chopped

  1. Peel, halve and deseed the butternut squash, cut into 3cm cubes.
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic. Cook gently until softened but not coloured.
  3. Add the butternut squash, stir and pour over enough stock or water to just cover the squash. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes until completely cooked  and very tender – a knife should pass through easily.
  4. To blend place in a food processor or use a hand blender (if you want a ‘looser’ soup add a little milk). Check the seasoning.
  5. Serve in bowls with a dollop of crème frâiche swirled through and a sprinkling of chilli flakes and freshly chopped sage.

Thai Vegetable Curry (Serves 4)

You have probably noticed from the recipes that I share that I am a big meat eater, so pure vegetarian dishes are not a regular feature on Menu Mistress – however I am trying to change this! Having said that, this Thai Vegetable Curry is something that I have cooked on a number of occasions (I always feel very virtuous when I do!), it is a very comforting curry, with clean tastes; the water chestnuts really give it a lovely crisp texture. I use only one green chilli as I don’t like really spicy food, however you could use two to increase the heat factor.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 tablespoons fish sauce

15g palm sugar (you could substitute this for brown sugar or maple syrup)

400ml coconut milk

400ml vegetable stock

2 sweet potatoes (around 600g), peeled and diced into 1.5cm cubes

12 button mushrooms, quartered

8 stalks Tenderstem broccoli

100g peas

1 x 220g tin sliced water chestnuts, drained

For the Green Curry Paste:

1-2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped (see note above)

3 shallots, peeled

2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped

4cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 bunch of coriander (stalks, leaves and roots – if possible)

2 garlic cloves, peeled

½ teaspoon sea salt

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

  1. First make the curry paste by placing all the paste ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over a medium heat. When hot add the curry paste, fry for 4-5 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a clean saucepan, discarding the rememants in the sieve.
  5. Bring the curry sauce to a simmer, season with salt (if needed). Add the sweet potato and cook for a further 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms.
  6. Cook the broccoli in a separate pan, for 4 – 6 minutes until just cooked .
  7. Add the broccoli, peas and water chestnuts to the curry and heat through.
  8. Serve with rice.

Oven Baked Mushroom Risotto (Serves 3-4)

Oven baked risotto is more common these days, but when I found this recipe about 18 years ago in a Delia Smith cookbook, it was a revelation – it is such an easy and hands free dish. There is of course, still a time and a place for conventional risotto; I must admit that I find stove top risotto a rather relaxing, therapeutic exercise, but when you are in a hurry or simply want to enjoy the company of your family and friends instead of concentrating on the stove, this recipe is a blessing. It is also very tasty! Just two rules when cooking this dish – follow the cook times precisely and serve immediately. The portions of this recipe are quite small, so if you are very hungry I would double the recipe to make two dishes. I like to serve the risotto with a salad dressed with a sherry vinegar vinaigrette as it compliments the flavour perfectly – the recipe is on my Recipe Pages. The Maderia wine is an important element to the this recipe, although you won’t use the whole bottle, once opened it can be stored in the fridge for many months without deterioratingI always have a bottle in my fridge as a small glug can lift the flavour of many sauces!

10g dried porcini

225g  flat, dark gilled mushrooms(or Portobello mushrooms)

60 g butter

1 onion, chopped

175g Carnaroli risotto rice

150ml Dry Maderia

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated; plus about 50g shaved into flakes with a potato peeler

Sea salt and black pepper

(You will need an oven proof dish with 1.5litre capacity – approx. 23cm with a 5cm depth)

  1. Begin by soaking the porcini in a bowl with 570ml boiling water, leave to soften for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile chop the fresh mushrooms into about 1cm cubes, no smaller as they will shrink with cooking.
  3. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion, gently cook to soften for about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, stir well. Leave the pan to one side whilst you deal with the soaked porcini.
  4. After the porcini have soaked for 30 minutes, place a sieve, lined with a double layer of kitchen roll, over a bowl, and strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid – squeeze the mushrooms out in the kitchen roll.
  5. Chop the porcini finely and add to the pan with the mushrooms and onions. Gently sweat for about 20 minutes, so that the juices are released.
  6. Meanwhile place a baking dish in a preheated oven, 150’c fan, to warm.
  7. Add the rice and stir it around to get a good coating of butter, then add the Maderia and the strained soaking liquid. Add a teaspoon of salt, some black pepper, and bring to simmering point.
  8. Transfer the risotto mix from the pan to the warmed dish, stir and place in the oven. Set the timer and give it exactly 20 minutes
  9. After 20 minutes, gently stir in the parmesan. Return to the oven for exactly 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Serve immediately with the shavings of parmesan sprinkled over and a green salad.

Spaghetti with Sauce Vierge (Serves 4)

This is a perfect summer pasta dish, a delicious ‘no cook’ sauce for spaghetti with the added bonus of being vegetarian!

400g Spaghetti

For the Sauce Vierge:

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 shallots, finely chopped

Bunch of fresh chives, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

300g tomatoes, about 4 medium

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons caster sugar

Juice ½ lemon

60ml olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, deseed, discarding any liquid – pat them dry on kitchen roll, slice into strips, then finely dice, add to a bowl along with the other sauce ingredients, mix well and season to taste.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions until al dente.
  3. Drain the spaghetti and mix with the sauce vierge.

Melon, Artichoke & Walnut Salad (Serves 4)

This is a great salad a meal in itself! The vinaigrette is really tasty and worth remembering for other salads. I discovered this recipe in Gino D’Acampo’s cookbook ‘Gino’s Islands in the Sun’, which concentrates on recipes from Sardinia and Sicily, offering Italian cooking with a twist from these islands. It is a good choice for a picnic, if you are, thinking of taking this salad out and about, carry the prepared ingredients separately (the vinaigrette in a small jar, the melon, artichokes, rocket and walnuts in separate containers) and combine when ready to serve.

1 cantaloupe melon

175g chargrilled artichoke hearts in oil, drained and roughly chopped

50g walnuts, roughly chopped

70g rocket leaves

For the vinaigrette:

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

4 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Whisk together the ingredients of the vinaigrette.
  2. Cut the melon into wedges and remove the seeds, cut each wedge into 2cm chunks.
  3. Place the melon in a large bowl, add the rocket leaves, artichoke pieces and walnuts.
  4. Pour over the vinaigrette and toss together to mix.

Penne with Pea and Mascarpone Sauce (Serves 4)

Another recipe from my beloved cookbook ‘A Passion for Pasta’ by the late Antonio Carluccio. You could cook this dish with your eyes closed, it really is that simple, and will be ready to eat in 15 minutes! The original recipe uses smoked bacon, so I have substituted it for chopped onion and a generous pinch of paprika for a tasty vegetarian supper.

50g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

a generous pinch of smoked paprika

450g tomato passata

200g frozen peas

8 basil leaves

150g mascarpone cheese

375g penne pasta

75g freshly grated parmesan cheese

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and a pinch of paprika, fry to soften.
  2. Add the tomato passata and the peas, cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile cook the penne according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente.
  4. Add the mascarpone cheese and the basil leaves to the sauce, stir until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Drain the penne, add to the sauce, finally mix in the parmesan cheese.

Cashew Nut Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli and Lime (Serves 4)

Originally I published this recipe as a prawn stir fry, however for a vegetarian option I have substituted the prawns for cashew nuts, baby corn and /or cauliflower florets. This recipe is super easy to cook, just prepare all the ingredients so they can be quickly thrown in the pan, ready to cook in minutes. The cucumber salad is an important accompaniment as its subtle spice gives the whole dish more depth. Start by preparing the rice, I like long grain white rice with this stir fry. Whilst the rice is cooking prepare the cucumber salad and all of the ingredients for the stir fry, then start cooking it just as the rice is cooked. If you are gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce for the cucumber salad. 

*You can see the video of this dish being made by clicking on this link to my instagram page

Cashew Nut Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime

A couple of handfuls of cashew nuts

250g baby corn or cauliflower florets (or a mixture)

200g sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon groundnut oil

2 red chillies and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (use less according to taste)

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Juice of lime

20g basil leaves, picked

  1. Halve the sugar snap peas along their lengths, so that the peas peep out.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, when hot, add the sugar snaps, fry for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the cashew nuts, baby corn/cauliflower florets, chillies and garlic, reduce the heat a little and cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the fish sauce, sugar and lime, stir it all around until the sugar has dissolved, finally throw in the basil leaves.
  5. Serve straight away with rice and the spiced cucumber salad.

Spiced Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon of caster sugar

1-2 teaspoons mild chilli powder (according to your taste)

4 spring onions, finely sliced

2 teaspoons of sesame oil (optional)

Black sesame seeds (optional)

  1. Cut the cucumber into wafer thin slices
  2. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and chilli powder in a bowl (depending on how spicy you would like it, you can add more or less chilli)
  3. Toss the cucumber into the bowl along with the spring onions, and if using, also add the sesame oil and seeds.