Thursday, 25 June 2015

Rice pasta with beetroot greens, raisins and lemon

One of the things I love most about getting an organic veg box delivered to our door, is that lots of the veggies come with their greens still attached. This morning as I unpacked the box (while fending off the children who were grabbing cucumbers and tomatoes before I could even drag the box to the kitchen), I was super excited to see that my beetroot had an impressive bouquet of greenery on it.

I adore beetroot greens and always wonder why you can't find them in supermarkets over here. Travel to the continent and you find these greens in abundance at local farmer's markets- clearly they know something that we don't! They are super mild in taste, a cross between chard and spinach and are packed with nutrients too, including vitamins A & C as well as calcium and iron.

As I was pushed for time today (as always!), I decided to make these greens the star of a quick and simple pasta dish, along with some raisins that I had left in the cupboard. As I love to add garlic and fresh lemon zest to as many things as possible, I decided to add these as well. The combination of the earthy greens, sweet raisins, punchy garlic and zesty lemon was a match made in heaven. Simple, filling, nutritious and inexpensive, I am sure this will be a summer family favourite!



Rice pasta with beetroot greens, raisins, garlic and lemon
Serves 4

Ingredients
400g brown rice pasta (or pasta of choice)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
6 cups beetrot greens, washed and finely shredded
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tsp salt to taste
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Method
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and when boiling add the pasta and cook according to the packet directions.
In a deep frying pan (I like to use a deep cast iron pan), sautee the garlic in the olive oil over a medium heat until it starts to turn golden. Add the beetroot greens, stiring until they just begin to wilt and release their juices. Add the rasins and cook for a further 8 minutes until softened, Season with sea salt.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the greens, mixing well. Grate the lemon zest over the top and serve immediately.



Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Review- Indigo Herbs Super Cleanse Tea

As you guys may have noticed by now, I am a huge fan of the Indigo Herbs of Glastonbury company. I genuinely find that their products are of amazing quality and value and love discovering new products of theirs, and this one has indeed been a brilliant discovery.

They sent me the Super Cleanse tea to review over the Spring, but with the colder weather we've been having, I've been stuck in hibernation mode and reluctant to give up on comfort foods and chocolate elixirs. Now that the warmer weather is here, it really felt like a good time to cleanse and try out this tea for you guys!


This particular blend contains a mixture of fennel, liquorice, ginger, dandelion, nettle and red clover, which makes it the perfect tea for cleansing and for putting a spring back into your step! Here's what they have to say about the tea:

"A cleansing, purifying tea that supports the body, and revives the hard working systems of elimination. This tea helps the body recover from over use of caffeine and other toxins. The delicious tastes of fennel, liquorice and ginger uplift the healing herby tastes of Dandelion, Nettle and Red Clover. Our Super Cleanse Tea Blend can be infused in boiling water and made into a delicious herbal tea drink."

I tried this over four mornings in place of my regular green tea and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the result. As well as being refreshing to drink first thing in the morning, I definitely noticed that I had less of an energy slump mid afternoon which was a huge bonus.

You might expect the tea to be very herby with so many strong flavours packed in, especially with the bitter tones of dandelion and nettle, but it was far from herby or bitter. The liquorice comes through as a sweet aftertaste that was pleasant to drink and needed no extra sweetener added.


I love that this tea contains whole clover and chunky herbs rather than being in powdered form, and as it comes in a handy re-sealable bag, I didn't notice any deterioration in the flavour over the days which was great.

If a cleanse tea isn't what you fancy right now,  Indigo herbs do a good range of herbs and tea blends so there is sure to be one that suits you, give them a try!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Epic Adzuki Bean Burgers

So you guys, what a week! We've been sorting out the house and attending to all the neglected jobs over the years, trying to fit in all these home-school books and files we have acquired, moving my youngest into her 'grown up bed' (eeek my baby isn't a baby anymore!) and generally de-cluttering the place, and it's reached that point that even though we've sorted and sorted till we can't sort no more, the place still looks like a bomb has hit it. Anybody else been through this? My house is literally driving me crazy, but, I know the end is near and this is keeping me going... just.

Amongst this craziness I also got a new camera. Finally I can stop having to rely on my wonderful friends to take pictures, or resorting to snapping them on my phone. I am so excited about this, though it really has been an eye opener for me. Until I got this camera, I had no clue how bamboozling the world of photography can be. I have a new lens and tripod on order and am very s-l-o-w-l-y getting to grips with the basics, so please bear with me while I learn. I can't promise you mind blowing pictures just yet, but surely they will improve with time.

The recipe that is lucky enough to be my first photographed recipe (on a proper camera that is), is this tasty little vegan adzuki bean burger, because everybody loves a burger!

But as much as we love them, they seem to cause some major challenges for the vegan kitchen. Getting the taste and texture just right, and producing a patty that doesn't fall to pieces when you cook it can definitely be a challenge and I have had my fair share of disasters.

While I love this recipe for tasty tofu burgers, I know many people are uncomfortable with eating too much soy and I wanted to provide a tasty alternative. I was firmly in that camp for years too and avoided unfermented soy, but after more study into the subject, I am happy to include whole soy products now, including milk and yoghurt. I do always make sure it is organic and GM free of course, and I do stay away from soy protein isolate as that still makes me me uncomfortable, but whole soy products have been a welcome addition to my family's diet.

But I am rambling. If you do prefer to avoid soy, this is the perfect recipe for you!

Made with the tiny titan of the bean world that is adzuki beans, these are bursting with flavour as well as being super healthy. The burgers can be made completely oil free too, depending on your preferred cooking method. With a crunchy exterior thanks to the polenta and a soft interior, these burgers really work well in a toasted rye or gluten free roll, with all the trimmings of course.

Just a quick word about the seasoning. I use 'Green Cuisine Chicken Seasoning' which is all natural and contains no sugar. This herb blend is a mixture of paprika, sage, parsley, thyme, cumin, pepper, garlic and onion. You could also use jerk seasoning for a spicy twist, or a tablespoon of harissa paste for a Moroccan influence. Basically spice these up any way you like them, there is no wrong choice here.



Adzuki Bean Burgers
Makes 4-6 burgers

Ingredients for the burger
3 cups of cooked adzuki beans,* drained well
4 spring onion
1 very finely grated carrot
1/2 sweet potato,finely grated
3 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp chicken seasoning
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

For the coating
1/4 cup polenta
1/4 cup sorghum flour or rice flour


Method
Add your cooked beans along with the rest of the burger ingredients to a large bowl and mix with your hands. Really squish that mixure up, it's very theraputic!

Next shape them into patties. This mix makes between 4-6, depending on how large you like them to be, I have actually found that 5 seems to be the ideal amount, which leaves one extra left over for lunch the next day.

Tip the two flours for the coating on to a  plate and mix together. With slightly wet hands, shape the burger mixture into nice rounds and coat each one well in the flour.

You can now either shallow fry these in extra virgin coconut oil for around 5-6 minutes each side, or bake in a hot oven until crisp and golden.

Serve these in a toasted bun of your choice, with lettuce, pickles and some home made tomato ketchup.


*I cook my beans from dried with a piece of kombu in the water for added minerals and easier digestibility!


Super excited to link this recipe up to 'Honest Mum's' Tasty Tuesday! I was lucky enough to see this inspirational blogger speak recently and she is awesome. Loving reading about her vegan cleanse too, go Honest Mum!

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Monday, 8 June 2015

Summer Strawberry, Beetroot and Fig Salad

So June is finally here and along with it the start of the warmer weather. That definitely means strawberry season is upon us and I couldn't be more excited!

I must admit though that I had delayed this post a little. When I began to write this at the start of last week, it felt as if we were in the depths of Winter again. Sharing a Summery recipe like this in a middle of a cold spell made me feel like a bit of a tease so I put it on hold. And while us Brits have never been held back by a little wind and rain (we'd never get anything done if we did!), I decided to put my faith in the fact that Summer was just around the corner, and wait out the wind and the rain.

Anyway, I am delighted that Summer finally decided to join the party, and even more excited to share this delicious recipe with you all as it really is delicious. The strawberries are an exciting addition to a green salad base and served alongside the sweet figs, fresh basil, earthy beetroot and crunchy macadamia nuts it makes for a hearty and satisfying combination. Strawberries and basil really are a match made in heaven!

This strawberry salad is the perfect dish to serve up at barbeques and festivities as an impressive side, but enjoyed alongside some rustic rye sourdough, this also forms a substantial main in its own right.


Strawberry, Beetroot and Fig Salad
Serves 2-4

Salad ingredients

100g macadamia nuts
8 baby figs
4 heaped cups of baby spinach
200g strawberries
2-3 small, cooked beetroot
50g radish and alfalfa sprouts
Handful of fresh basil

Dressing ingredients

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper


Method

Heat a cast iron pan or heavy bottomed frying pan over a medium heat. Add the macadamia nuts and stir constantly until they are lightly toasted and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat up a griddle pan to a high heat and lightly brush with olive oil. While it is heating, cut the figs into halves. Griddle each of the baby fig halves (cut side down) for a couple of minutes, until they just start to caramelise. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Now we're ready to assemble the salad.

Wash the baby spinach, giving it a shake to remove any excess water. Add the spinach to a large salad bowl along with the fresh basil leaves.

To prepare the rest of the salad, firstly cut the strawberries into halves. Peel the cooked beetroot (you can also use the cooked vacuum packed beetroot that is already peeled) and slice them into thin rounds. Add these to the salad bowl, along with the strawberries, macadamia nuts, griddle figs, and alfalfa and radish sprouts.

Lastly make the dressing. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to a small bowl and lightly whisk to mix, or shake everything together in a jar. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and mix well with a pair of salad tongs.


All Photographs Copyright of Emma Lou Cowell 2015