Tag Archives: lentils

Lentil stew with mash

31 May

I have posted recipes quite similar to this before – mainly in ‘pie’ style.  This one is a big thicker, and still has the typical shepherd’s/gardener’s pie mash and pie crust.  Think of it as a kind of an unbaked gardener’s pie in a bowl.

What you’ll need:

  • 1-1 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 big carrot, diced up how you like
  • 1 regular size onion
  • 2/3 cup peas
  • some form of vegetable gravy – either home made or gravy powder
  • some puff pastry (you could alternatively use filo or a regular shortcrust)
  • potatoes, about 4 medium sized

What to do:

In a pretty large pot, cover your lentils in water plus two or three ‘finger-widths’ extra.  Less is more here, as you can always add in more water if they’re getting a bit dry.  Put on the boil, and once you’ve had a rolling boil for a few minutes, crumble the stock cube over the top (alternatively, if you make your own stock you can just cook the lentils from the word go in half-and-half water and stock). While the lentils are coming up to the boil, get your potatoes in the steamer (or in a pot to boil).

While you’re waiting for the lentils to cook, time to do the pastry biscuit.  The easiest way (particularly with filo or puff) is to use frozen pastry.  If you wanted to make your own, my recipe is over here.  I like to cut out shapes, but you can easily just use a hand cut circle.  Pop them onto a well-oiled baking tray and throw them in the oven.  If you want to get your pastry into a nice little ‘hat’ shape, pop them into a shallow pie dish:

Remember to keep an eye on your pastry, and pull it out of the oven when it’s golden on top.

Once the lentils are starting to look as though they aren’t too far away from being done, throw in the carrots (and, if you’re so inclined maybe some parsnip and swede, diced to roughly the same size).  A few minutes later, stir though the peas and the gravy – either a few heaped tablespoons of pre-made gravy, or a tea spoon or so of gravy mix.  Let that cook down.

Now, your potatoes should be pretty much done so get them organised with mashing.  The thing I find about steaming your potatoes is that you don’t really need to add too much else to them to create a nice, creamy mash.  I usually just put a little bit of pepper in and that’s it.

So – everything is done.  Time to put it all together.  Fill the bottom of your bowl with the lentil mix, make a nice round ball of potato to plonk in the middle, and top with your pastry hat.  Viola!

And what to do with the left over lentil and mash?

Yep, not a very pretty photo but a damn fine sandwich.  And, some gratuitous shots of the new kitchen:

Also – let me tell you that as I write this, I’ve got some red wine braised tofu on the stove.  I’m going to serve it with some parsnip mash and carrots.  Fingers crossed, but so far it looks, tastes and smells pretty good.

Dahl Delicious

23 Aug

Oh how I love dahl (or dal or daal or dhal – however you feel like spelling it.)  It’s just such a wonderful food.  I spent days hiking though the Nepalese Himalaya dreaming about the dahl I would find at the tea house at the end of the day.

This particular dahl is one that I have been working on for a while, I think it’s pretty close to the ‘standard’ dahl that we had in Nepal.  (I say ‘standard’ because each tea house obviously has different ingredients and a different way of making their dahl – however, there is a pretty standard ‘base’ flavour which I think stems from the spices and ingredients found within particular regions.)  I suspect that my dahl has some different ingredients but then again that also comes down to the ability to source ingredients.

For this dahl you’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 onions very finely diced
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons crushed tomato
  • squeeze of lemon (or lime) juice
  • ground chili (or fresh chili) to taste

In a big pot, put your dry lentils in about 4 cups of slightly salted water.  When cooking my lentils I never bring it to a rolling boil, just let it simmer away for 45ish minutes.  Keep checking the water, and if it’s getting low add as much as you think is necessary.  When the lentils are almost done start the onion and spices mix.  In a small frying pan start with the mustard seeds, toasting until they start to ‘pop’ (if you’ve never done this before, don’t worry: you can’t miss it!).  Add in the onions, garlic and ginger and cook down until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add all the spices, except the chili and stir around until it start to smell fragrant.  Then, stir this mix though the lentils, along with a pinch more salt, a small squeeze of lemon juice and the tomatoes (if you don’t have crushed tomatoes, you can use tomato paste – but put in a little bit less!)  After everything is well incorporated, add chili to taste.  At this stage you’ll probably need to add another 1/2 cup – one cup of water – more if you like soupy dahl, less if you like it less soupy.

If desired, serve with rice and/or chapati.  As you can see from the photo, I did make chapati but it wasn’t amazing.  I’m going to play around with the recipe a bit before you get to see it.  You can buy naan, chapati or roti from the supermarket if you like.

Oh, dahl…  how I love you…

Tuesday Burritos, Gardener’s Pie and an eReader!

17 Aug

Well – I realised I haven’t done any recipes for a while, so tonight you get two (though, they’re both pretty simple) and some added extras.

Tuesday Burritos

I’m not going to give you a recipe for burritos, because you don’t really need one.  I’m just going to say that this is a Tuesday-night tradition that you should be getting on the bandwagon of.  You can do so, so much with burritos but really, less is more!  We use, as weekly staples, refried beans, tomato, lettuce, hot taco sauce.  S has cheese, and sometimes has Fry’s chicken strips.  I sometimes make a more extravagant spicy-bean-mix.  Sometimes we have avocado.  They are delicious and you should be eating them right away.

Gardener’s Pie

This is a slightly-more complex recipe than the one I gave in the very first entry of The Thoughtful Kitchen.  You’ll need:

  • 500grams cooked brown lentils (or about 2 tins)
  • I can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 3/4 cup of peas
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 4-6 potatoes (depending on how much you like)
  • any and all left over cooked veges you have laying in the fridge (optional)
  • nutritional yeast (optional)

Steam or boil your potatoes and mash how you like.  Drain your lentils.  Put your oven on to about 180 degrees.  Dice up the carrots and celery so they’re about the same size as the peas.  Combine, in a mixing bowl, the lentils, tomato, peas, carrots and celery.  Mix well, and then scoop into a baking dish (or, into 6 individual ramekins).  Slice up the left over cooked veges and place them, either neatly or haphazardly, over the top of the lentil mix.  Sprinkle with nutritional yeast (this can be done between the lentil and vege layer if you like, or omitted all together).  Spoon mash potato (or pumpkin or sweet potato) over the top of the dish and bake until hot though and the top if crusty.

left over roast veges, over the lentil base

For something different – add some finely chopped spinach to your potato mash!

Added Extras: Recipes I have been throwing around the ‘net.

Home Made Pesto (Super Easy)

You’ll need:

  • About 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • About 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (you can easily toast your own in the oven – spread them over a baking tray and pop them in a 180 degree oven for about five minutes.  Let them cool before you use them)
  • Olive oil (depending how you like it – about 1/3 cup should be fine.  You could also replace all or some with another type of oil, or with an infused oil to give an extra flavour)
  • 2 small cloves of garlic

Throw it all into a food processor and blend until it looks right.

Apple Crumble (can be made, really, with any fruit: blueberry and rhubarb for example)

Get a tin of pie-apples (or stew your own on a weekend and pop them in the freezer for apple-crumble emergencies!) and heat them up.  Crumble is super easy – mix some wholemeal flour, some cinnamon, some psyllium husks (optional) and some brown sugar and then dump a lump of non-diary marg into the dry mix and smush it around with your fingers until the whole thing is lumpy – spread it over a baking dish and pop it in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until it’s crunchy and lovely.  Put hot crumble over hot apples and devour!

Awesome New Toy!

After spending the last two and a half years telling S how much I really, really want an eReader I finally got one!  Initially, I wanted the Kindle, but I ended up getting a Kobo.  First of all – it’s just an eBook reader.  You download books onto your computer, plug it in and hey presto, you have a (possible) thousand books in your hand.  I didn’t want any extra faff (and I don’t really need to spend any more time on the Internet), just something I could read books on.  The Kobo is really light, I could play around with one in the store and I like the eInk display.  It looks like paper.

There is debate about pretty much everything new than lands in our laps – and for eReader devices one of those contentious issues is about pollution.  Is it more environmentally friendly to read a (real) book or to read eBooks on an eReader?  There are a number of issues here including the energy/pollution/raw materials it takes to actually make the device and it’s battery.  Undoubtedly, when you look at any eReader v. a single book, the eReader would hands down be detrimental to the planet.  Then there is the obvious on-going carbon issue, as somehow you have to charge up your handy little reader and that consumes energy (and we all know that story).  On the other side is, of course, the trees that are not produced into books, and the energy and raw material saved from not publishing, and – this is the kicker for me – the miles that books are not flown all around the globe, driven from ports to bookshops to be picked up by people in their cars.

I read a number of things – like this article at Environmental Graffiti and this one at Care2.  I made the decision decision to buy one based on the number of books that I buy (obviously not including books that I borrow) and the fact that I often like to keep and re-read books; and due to my impending-lack-of-space for booky-deliciousness; and due to the number of articles I read (and often have to print – as I can’t stand the flipping back and forward from Preview to Word); and due to the fact that the eReader I chose satisfied me that it was, in fact, not all-consumpingly damaging to the environment (in fact, the eInk display on the Kobo, the Nook and other eReaders uses significantly less energy than other display types – I have lost the link for that fact, but I will try and find it again).  All of these factors lead to the decision to purchase the eReader – but the final deciding factor was the environmental impact that I think owning an eReader over buying (and having shipped from all over the world) books.  From now on I will only buy eBooks for fiction, cooking, general, miscellaneous, non-fiction and (where possible) academic books (which seem to be lagging behind somewhat – but I will also actively put off purchasing books which are unavailable in eBook format unless absolutely necessary for my research and unavailable in every other way – including suggesting purchases to the library, because I think it’s better for a book to be available to lots of people than just me.)

Of course – the best way to consume books is to walk or cycle down to your local library but for a person (like me) with a veracious appetite for books of all kinds it’s just not that much of an option.  But – the more people shift to using devices like these, the better the impact on the environment will be.  Here’s a thought-provoking graph:


I hope that by the time I have children, who will inevitably attend school and – should they choose –  university, things like this are pretty standard, and being used across ever faucet of life.  I hated carrying mountains of very heavy textbooks back and forward from classes that I hated in a badly designed brown schoolbag – and I would never wish that dismal fate upon anyone else.

This is what a vegan weekend looks like.

9 Aug

Go Pies!  (and, for S… Go Dees!)

Lentil Vol-au-Vents with roast vegetables

Angus reading the Eumenidies

Red Kidney Bean and tomato sauce

S hangs out in the backyard

Sunday Morning Scrambled Tofu with Onion

The S Special: Triple-decker sandwitches

Angie-Pants hanging out under the ferms

Oliver in the Sun

My back-pyramid…  after a painful trip to the osteopath

And – that’s what our weekends look like (when not studying or knitting!)

Rustic French Lentil Pie

1 Jul

A very short (I promise) rant to begin today:  why do non-vegans always exclaim that obviously non-animal derived products ‘are vegan!’  Someone once even asked me if I can eat potatoes.  Seriously people, use your brains for 30 seconds.  (This annoys me almost as much as people asking me if my chest-plate tattoo hurt.  Come on.)

But, onto the pie!

For the pastry you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour (plus a bit more for kneading)
  • 3/4 cup super-cold Nuttelex
  • water

For the pie you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown French lentils, cooked in slightly salted water
  • 1 leek (or 1/2 a leek, for those who are not as huge about the magical powers of leek as I am)
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • 2 small-medium carrots
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 small broccoli
  • 3/4 cup of peas (either minted or not minted)
  • vegetable stock powder (or a crushed cube)
  • gravy mix (if desired, not essential!)

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C, and ‘butter’ (or oil) a pie dish.

For the pastry:

Combine the flour and Nuttelex in the food processor, using a plastic S blade.  You can do this in a bowl with your hands, if you like, by working the flour and Nuttelex through your fingers until it forms ‘crumbs’ of pastry dough.  Add the water a small splash at a time, either with short bursts in the food processor or kneading it in with your hands.  It’s ready to roll out when it has combined together and comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl.  Place it onto a floured bench and work it with your hand – but not too much – before you start to roll it out.  Remember to twist and flip your pastry when rolling:  when you flip it over to work the bench-down side, rotate the pastry 90 degrees (but, always in the same direction!)

When it’s rolled out, carefully place it into a well-‘buttered’ pie dish.  Make sure that you really push the corners in well, and make the sides even, gently push a few fork-holes into the bottom of the pie.  Push or cut off the excess and leave to the side (this will become the lid of the pie).  Line the inside of the pie with baking paper and beans or rice (you can keep this rice for future blind-baking, but it’s probably best not to eat it…) and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pie base is looking almost cooked.

For the filling:

Finely chop up the leek and onion, and dice the carrots and potatoes, and chop up the broccoli florets (and stems, if you like them) into bite sized chunks.  Saute the leek and onion, and boil the carrot, potato and broccoli in a separate pot, until they are almost cooked then set aside.  If you have not just cooked your lentils, or if you’re using canned lentils, place them in a big pot to warm up, with a pinch of salt.  Once they are warm, add a pinch of vegetable stock powder, gravy mix (if desired) and stir around until the lentil mix is totally warmed though.  If it starts to look too dry, add a small amount of water – but be careful not to make it too soupy (otherwise the filling will just pour out when you cut into the pie).  Add all the vegetables and combine together.  Add salt, pepper, or more vegetable stock to taste.

Fill the pie case with the mix, and let it rest down while you roll out the lid of the pie.  Work the remaining pastry only until it is one uniform lump again, and roll out as above.  Cover the pie with the lid, and press the sides around the rim of the pie case.  Punch a few fork holes in the top, wipe over with some rice milk and bake until golden brown on top.

I like to pull the pie out of the tin for the last two or three minutes of baking – but it is certainly not a requirement.

And, hey presto – a wonderful, warm, winter pie!

(And, with the small off cuts of pastry from the lid: cut them into small bits, brush with a bit of Nuttelex, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake until golden…  delicious with vanilla bean ice-cream!)

Stew, stew, and fly away…

1 Jun

Yesterday, S and I booked our flights to London, via Doha where we will spend a few days, including his birthday.  It means that there is a lot of work ahead of me over the next few weeks and months.

I haven’t had the time to do much of anything – beyond working on my thesis – for the last few days (and I fully expect that to continue) so when S said this afternoon that he wanted a stew I breathed in relief that it was really something I could just throw on the stove and leave to simmer away.  As S has Scottish heritage, and as were exactly one hundred days until we leave, I thought I’d do something a bit Scottish-inspired.  While I’m not really sure how well I did with that, it was one big pot of tasty, tasty stew that S absolutely devoured (and that’s always a good thing!)

I started by soaking

  • 1/2 a cup of pearl barley,
  • 1/2 a cup of split green peas and
  • 1/2 a cup of red lentils.

Cover them with just enough water and soak for about an hour.  I had to refill the water twice.

While they were soaking I cut up (honestly, very very roughly):

  • 9 potatoes (for some reason my mum gave me a huge pile of absolutely tiny potatoes – this really would have been 4 alright sized potatoes)
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 huge onion
  • 1 huge leek (but, I love leek and I have instilled S with a love of leek – so if you’re not as bit a leek fan, maybe just a small one)
  • 2 medium sized parsnips
  • 3 decent sized potatoes

Once the peas/lentils/barley were ready, and S was on the way home, I heated a big stew-pot with a tiny bit of oil in the bottom, threw the onion and leek in first for a few minutes, before putting in the rest of the veges in for a few minutes, before about a liter of vegetable stock, and the now-soaked-and-rinsed peas/lentils/barley mix.  I like thick stew, so if you wanted something a bit more soupy – you could add up to 1 3/4 liters if you wanted to.  At this stage add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the whole thing up to the boil, then down to a simmer and throw the lid on – with the occasional stir – until the veges are ready and the whole thing is delicious!  Spoon into a bowls, sprinkle a bit of fresh parsley over the top.

Now, look – this is not the most awesome looking dish you’ll ever see, but seriously, what stew is?  (That’s why you got a photo of S enjoying the stew, rather than the stew itself.)  This has made a HUGE pot – enough for us both to stuff ourselves silly and we’re looking at lunches tomorrow and another four serves (probably) in the freezer.  That’s the great thing about stew, though!

This weekend S and I are hosting a dinner party – Tapas style.  While I doubt the entire affair will be vegan (as its us and three other couples, and everyone is bringing food, and we’re the only veg*ns) obviously everything that I make will be – so, now I need some amazing Spanish inspiration!  (My first, and currently only, idea is bean-balls).  So – any ideas, please, please let me know!

French Lentil Stew

17 May

Well, it’s finally starting to get colder in Melbourne.  On top of this, S and I are starting to prepare for our move to London in earnest, now – and that includes a stockpiling  of delicious, easy and cheap vegan one pot recipes (because, lets face it, we’re not sure if we’ll even have our own kitchen, or multiple pots!)

So this stew was inspired by a wonderful lentil soup I had last weekend and the bag of beautiful brown French lentils I had in the pantry.  I made a HUGE pot of stew, so this is a keep-and-freeze recipe, or cut down the ingredients for a one-off dinner.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 leek
  • 2-3 onions
  • 2 decent sized carrots
  • 2-3 potatoes
  • peas
  • about half of a cauliflower
  • corn kernals
  • 2 cups dry uncooked brown French lentils (any brown lentils would probably do the trick!)
  • vegetable stock, about three cups made up
  • a dash of red wine (if you like)
  • gravy mix
  • a pinch of flour, salt, pepper

First: dice the onion and leek really super fine (this is where I become so glad of my Tupperware Happy Chopper, seriously, it’s amazing!) and sautee them off in some oil, in a really big soup or stew pot.  When they’re looking translucent, put in about 2 cups of vegetable stock, and all the lentils.  Bring the pot to a rolling boil for about thirty seconds, and then down to a simmer and put the lid on.

Next: while that’s simmering away, peel and dice the potatoes and carrots into cubes about pea size, and cut the cauliflower into similar sized bits.  Before you put these into the pot, wait until the lentils are about 2/3rds cooked.  This should take between ten and twenty minutes – depending on the heat of your stove, the amount of lentils etc.  At any stage, if the lentils look like they need more water, add a bit more (or more vege stock).  When they’re about there, put the potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, and cauliflower into the pot, along with a tablespoon of gravy powder (or pre made gravy).  Put the lid back on and simmer until the potatoes and lentils are cooked.

Finally: add a dash of wine, salt and pepper to taste, and if you like your stew thick (like me!) add some flour until desired thickness is reached.

Serve up and enjoy a tasty home-made French lentil stew, wrapped in a blanket, with a huge glass of red wine.