Recipe: Nettle Ravioli with Wholegrain Mustard & Caper Sauce

The only thing growing at our allotment at the moment is stinging nettles, which I have never tried cooking with before so thought I would give them a go.

Three tips if using nettles in cooking:

DSC_0002_0471. Use thick gloves to pick and prepare them – I thought thin plastic gloves would do, and got stung through them. Ouch!  Heavy-duty rubber or gardening gloves are a must until the nettles have been boiled.

2. This time of year is ideal to get the smaller, tender leaves – later in the year they will be a bit too thick and woody.  Try to pick leaves from the top of the plant and leave the lower ones for the same reason.  Choose nettle plants that are well away from roads – they absorb exhaust fumes.

3. Once you have picked them, rinse well in cold water and remove the stems.  Plop into a pan of boiling water and when you remove them a few minutes later they will have lost their sting.

 

This is another recipe using new Maille mustard flavours – this time its a wholegrain mustard with white wine and black olives, perfect with capers and créme fraiche for a quick sauce.  If you don’t have time to make the ravioli, this would make a lovely sauce with supermarket stuffed pasta too.

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Nettle Ravioli with Wholegrain Mustard & Caper Sauce

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Ingredients

For the pasta
350g pasta flour
1tsp salt
1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon
 
For the filling
Large freezer bag of freshly picked nettles
200g ricotta cheese
50g parmesan-style hard cheese, grated (see here)
Nutmeg
 
For the sauce
100g créme fraiche
1 tbsp Maille Wholegrain Mustard with White Wine & Black Olives
1 tbsp capers
Juice of 1 lemon
25g butter
Shavings of parmesan-style hard cheese (as above)
 

Method

Make the pasta dough – blitz all the ingredients in a food processor, and if necessary add a little water to bring together into a dough.  Knead the dough until glossy and smooth.  Wrap in cling film and chill.

Prepare the filling.  Wearing very durable gloves, put the nettles into a saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes.  Drain and set aside a few leaves for garnish, then chop the rest very finely.  Combine in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Take the pasta dough and divide into 8.  Roll out each section as thinly as possible using a pasta machine or by hand.  Taking one long section of dough, place a teaspoon of filling at 2-inch intervals.  Brush around the filling with water then place a second section of dough on top of the first and press down firmly around the blobs of filling.  Cut either into squares or use a round pastry cutter to make individual ravioli.  Repeat with all the remaining filling and dough – I made 18 ravioli out of these quantities which is enough for 6 as a starter.  (You can also freeze the ravioli at this stage).

To make the sauce, combine the créme fraiche, mustard, lemon juice, butter and capers in a small saucepan and heat gently until just bubbling.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the ravioli.  Boil for 5-7 minutes until the pasta is tender.  Drain and drizzle with the sauce, then scatter over the remaining nettle leaves and parmesan-style cheese shavings and serve immediately.

Giant Nettle Ravioli with Wholegrain Mustard & Caper Sauce

Nettle Ravioli with Wholegrain Mustard & Caper Sauce

 

 

 

 

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Recipe: Rustic Pies with Jersey Royals & Tenderstem Broccoli

The lovely people at Maille sent me some of their lovely new flavours of mustard to have a tinker with as part of the #MailleFlavours challenge.  So over the next few days there will be three mustardy new recipes popping up.

The first of these is below – it was originally going to be a Jersey Royal potato salad with tenderstem broccoli in a creamy mustard dressing to make the most of the Maille Balsamic and Honey flavour, but morphed into a rustic pie with a mustardy custardy filling – sort of a warm potato salad in a pie.  What’s not to like?!

Jersey Royals are just coming into season and don’t hang around for long, so give this a go whilst you can!

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Rustic Pies of Jersey Royals & Tenderstem Broccoli

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Ingredients

For the pastry
300g plain flour
75g unsalted butter
75g block margarine (such as Stork ‘perfect for pastry’)
½tsp salt
¼tsp baking powder
75ml water
 
For the filling
250g Jersey Royal new potatoes
200g Tenderstem or Purple Sprouting broccoli 
300ml créme fraiche
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks
50g grated cheddar cheese
3tsp Maille Mustard with Honey and Aceto Balsamico Di Modena (Igp) Balsamic Vinegar
 

Method

Blitz all the pastry ingredients except the water in a food processer until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.  Add the water and bring together into a dough.  Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Boil the Jersey Royals in their skins for 10 minutes or until just cooked through, drain and set aside.  Boil the broccoli for 5 minutes or until just tender, drain and set aside.

Beat the remaining filling ingredients together in a jug.  Preheat the oven to 200ºC/Gas mark 6.

Divide your pastry into 6 and roll into balls.  Roll out each ball into a roughly circular shape, making sure it is a few centimetres larger in diameter than your tins.  Grease each tin, and place one of the pastry circles into it, pressing it gently right into the edges.  With the overhanging pastry, make 6 cuts to create ‘flaps’ which you will later fold in over the filling.

Slice your Jersey Royals in half or into three depending on size.  Slice the stems of the broccoli into 3.  Divide the veg between your pies, piling up high above the rim of the tin to create height.  Pour the custard filling carefully over the veg, making sure it comes no higher than the rim of the tin, so that it doesn’t overflow in the oven.  Finally, fold each of the flaps of pastry over the top of the filling then brush with a little beaten egg or milk to glaze.

Bake the pies in the oven for 40 minutes or until the filling has set and the pastry is golden brown.

Rustic Pies with Jersey Royals & Tenderstem Broccoli

Rustic Pies with Jersey Royals & Tenderstem Broccoli

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Recipe: Simple but Sensational Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

This week was my son’s first birthday party.  You can’t have a birthday party without ‘sausage’ rolls, but the range of vegetarian sausages on offer in supermarkets is pretty uninspiring, and they are all very dry.

Q. What’s vegetarian, sausagey, but moist, mould-able, and very tasty?

A. Stuffing mix!

Stuffing 2I used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference stuffing mixes – both Pink Lady, Apple & Herb and Wild Sage, Roasted Onion and Shallot Stuffing Mix with Lemon (this one is vegan). They also do onion, leek & chive, and cranberry, orange & roasted chestnut which would be lovely at Christmas.  See here  I’m sure other supermarkets do something similar, I just happened to be in Sainsbury’s when I had the idea!

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Simple but Sensational Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls Recipe

Ingredients: 1 packet stuffing mix, 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry (plus milk or beaten egg to glaze, unless you are making these vegan)

Method:

- Make up stuffing mix according to packet instructions.

- Unroll your sheet of pastry and slice in half lengthways to create two long thin rectangles.  Brush both long edges of each rectangle with water.

- Roughly shape half the stuffing mix into a long sausage shape and place in the middle of one of the long rectangles.  Roll the pastry around the sausage and seal firmly by pinching between your fingers. Repeat with the rest of the stuffing and pastry.

- Wrap each long sausage roll in cling film and chill for 30 minutes or more.  Preheat your oven to 200ºC

- When ready to cook, remove the cling film and place the roll with the join in the pastry downwards on a chopping board.  Brush all over with a little milk or beaten egg.  Cut off the ends then slice into individual sausage rolls – mine were about 2 inches long.

- Place on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately!

Want to try something even better? How about crumbling some stilton through the centre of the stuffing mix before rolling up? Or spooning in some chutney?  Or to make them extra moist, stir some grated apple, carrot or grated cheese through the stuffing mix.  Yum!

Simple but Sensational Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

Simple but Sensational Vegetarian Sausage Rolls

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Recipe: Sri Lankan Cashew Nut stuffed Capsicum in a Coconut and Curry Leaf Sauce

Stuffed peppers….. ugh – the epitomy of unimaginative vegetarian cuisine.  Still semi-raw but with flaky burnt skin, and stuffed with bland cous-cous or an cloyingly enormous pile of ricotta and spinach.  No thanks.

However this fabulous recipe from the brilliant World Food Café Vegetarian Bible by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott couldn’t be more different.  A Sri Lankan recipe, this is a bright and colourful centrepiece which looks and tastes like it took an awful lot of work, but really didn’t.

WFC Veg BibleThe World Food Café Bible, (like their Quick and Easy book I reviewed here), is packed full of breathtaking photographs from the Caldicotts’ adventures around the world.  Featuring over 200 vegetarian and vegan recipes from North Africa & Arabia, West & East Africa, the Indian Ocean, India, Pakistan & Nepal, Southeast Asia, French Polynesia, Central & Southern America and the Caribbean, this really is a must-have reference ‘bible’ for vegetarians who enjoy experimenting with world cuisine.

Many thanks to the authors, and publishers Frances Lincoln for their permission to reproduce the recipe here.

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Sri Lankan Cashew Nut stuffed Capsicum in a Coconut and Curry Leaf Sauce

Cashew Stuffed Capsicums low resSweet capsicums look like chillis but they are not spicy.  They are available in both green and red varieties.  We prefer red, but if you can only find green that’s fine.  They vary in size, so when choosing take into account how many you can eat.

Ingredients

 10-12 sweet capsicums
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut
4oz/115g cashew nuts
2 teaspoons roasted curry powder
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon water
3 tablepoons sunflower oil
2 green chillis, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
20 curry leaves
14floz / 400ml coconut milk
salt to taste

Method

Wash the capsicums and then slit each one down one side and carefully remove the seeds, without breaking the capsicum.

Make the filling by blending together the chopped red onion, soy sauce, lime juice, dessicated coconut, cashew nuts, 1 teaspoon of the roasted curry powder, the chilli powder and the water until a paste forms.  Stuff the capsicums with the filling then heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and fry on each side for a few minutes until brown.  Remove from the pan and set to one side.

Add the chopped green chillis, turmeric and curry leaves to the pan, fry for a couple of minutes, and then reduce the heat and add the coconut milk, salt to taste and stuffed capsicums.  Bring to the boil and gently simmer until the capsicums are soft and the sauce has reduced.  Finally sprinkle the rest of the roasted curry powder over the top, cover the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes before serving with rice.

Sri Lankan Cashew Nut stuffed Capsicums

Sri Lankan Cashew Nut stuffed Capsicums

Special Offer for readers of The Veg Space: To order World Food Café Vegetarian Bible at the discounted price of £16 including p&p (RRP £20) telephone 01903 82850301903 828503 or e-mail mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG58. 

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10 things we discovered during ‘Veganuary’

Oops… somehow its nearly the end of February and I’ve only just got round to posting a roundup of how we got on.

Better late than never, here’s 10 things we discovered during Veganuary:

1. The transition from vegetarian to vegan isn’t nearly as difficult as I expected.  Sitting down to plan our first week’s meals felt like a bit of a chore, but once we had got the hang of what we couldn’t and couldn’t eat, and worked out some substitutions and shortcuts, it was pretty straightforward.

2. We didn’t miss cheese nearly as much as we thought.  And I discovered that its usually the saltiness of the cheese that I crave, so just seasoning well and adding salty things like capers and olives to pasta sauces, for instance, is a great substitute and also far lower calorie/fat/cholesterol.  I’m a bit of a chilli fiend, and found that turning up the heat also distracts you from a lack of cheese!

3. Tomor is a brilliant butter substitute for cooking and baking.  Try it – you won’t believe its not butter.

4. You get used to soya milk in tea after 10 days.  After a dubious start, we’re still using soya milk in our house, so it can’t be at all bad.  We tried lots of other milk alternatives which were great for other things, but none beat soya in tea.

5. Most ready-made pastry is vegan. Who knew?  Obviously not the all-butter stuff, but this is a great thing to know about if you are cooking for vegan guests.  I’ve said it before…. everyone loves a pie.

6. Bird’s custard powder is vegan. Who knew? Made up with hazlenut or almond milk it is absolutely lovely.  I cooked Sunday lunch for some very vegan-sceptic omnivore friends and they were absolutely not expecting apple pie & custard for pudding.

7. Baking isn’t out of the question.  Start with this amazing chocolate cake, then try these dairy-free recipes – all by Dan Lepard for the Guardian.

8. The prefix ‘vegan’ makes things sound a bit less appetizing to non-vegans.  Sorry vegans, but I’m afraid its true. “Vegan custard”, “vegan gravy”, “vegan chocolate cake” – you’re just not really expecting them to taste very nice.  Instead, just call them custard, gravy and chocolate cake, and let the vegans know they are dairy-free.

9. The hardest thing about being vegan was social situations. Having to refuse a slice of a friend’s homemade birthday cake felt rude.  Whipping out a little tub of soya milk at a new mother and toddler group meant having the whole vegan conversation with a group of people I hadn’t met before.  I had to insist on bringing our own food to a few parties and meals at friends houses, which was a bit awkward.  I’m sure you get used to these things if you are vegan long-term, but I struggled on this front.

10. Tweeting pictures of your dinner every day really makes you think carefully about portion size, meal balance (ie. where is the protein coming from), presentation, menu planning etc.

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So, overall a very interesting experiment and we are now eating far less dairy at home – still using soya milk and being far more careful with cheese.  We felt really good at the end of the month, and being forced to think more carefully about what we ate actually led to varied and interesting meals than we would have had otherwise.

I know there were a lot of veggie bloggers giving Veganuary a try – let us know how you got on and what you would add to the list above!

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The Veg Space in Vegetarian Living Magazine!

VL Article Image

I’m very excited to be featured in this month’s Vegetarian Living Magazine as one of their top 10 ‘Best Veggie Blogs’…. what an honour! (And they’ve given me the lovely medal in the top right corner to show off with!).

Its a great issue this month, (as always of course) – grab your copy before they run out!

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Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash filled with Spicy Lentil Dahl

Roasted Squash filled with Dahl

Here’s another of our Veganuary dinners which got a lot of you talking on Twitter and Facebook - and it couldn’t be easier, so here goes:

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Roasted Butternut Squash filled with Spicy Lentil Dahl

Ingredients (Serves 2)

 ½ a butternut squash (the round end with the seeds in)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp medium curry powder (or garam masala or curry paste – whatever you have to hand)
200g dried red lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
200ml passata or chopped tomatoes
1 green chilli, finely sliced with seeds removed
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.  Halve the squash, scoop the seeds out of the centre and brush the flesh with a little sunflower oil.  Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until soft and beginning to brown around the edges.

2. Meanwhile, gently fry the onion and curry powder in the sunflower oil over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes until softened.

3. Add the lentils, then the tomatoes/passata and 200ml water.  Add the stock cube and chilli and bring to the boil.

4. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are soft.  Keep an eye on it during this time – you may need to add more water during cooking to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan.  Taste, and season generously with salt if needed.

5. Fill each squash half with dahl, return to the oven for 5 minutes to ensure it is piping hot throughout, then serve sprinkled with the chopped coriander and rice.  (I served it with Tilda’s delicious new British Curry Rice – well worth a try!).

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