Recipe: Baked Onions with Hazelnut, Sultana & Feta Stuffing

Big thanks to The Guardian for featuring me in their article about the top 10 vegetarian food blogs – I had over 13,500 hits in a week as a result. Wowzers!

Now for the recipe…. these little beauties would be an ideal veggie option for an omnivorous Sunday lunch.  The meat-eaters could have one as their equivalent of ‘stuffing’ to go with a roast, whilst for the vegetarians they could be the main event surrounded by veg and roast potatoes.

They look fiddly but in fact are a doddle to put together, and fill your kitchen with the delicious smell of cooking onions for a few hours.  Yum!


Baked Onions with Hazelnut, Sultana & Feta Stuffing

Baked Onions


4 large onions (red or white)
100g hazelnuts
100g bulgur wheat or cous-cous
Handful sultanas
6 sun-dried tomatoes from a jar
100g feta (check its vegetarian)
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (adjust according to your taste)
Handful chopped fresh mint, parsley or thyme, or a combination of all three!
Handful finely grated parmesan-style or cheddar cheese


With skins on, chop the top centimetre or so from each onion and wrap each one in foil.  Bake at 180°C for an hour or until soft throughout.  Leave to cool.  For the last 5 minutes of cooking, pop the hazelnuts on a baking tray onto the bottom shelf and roast until starting to brown and skins become loose.

Place bulgur wheat or cous cous along with the sultanas in a bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside for 10 minutes.

Finely chop the roasted hazelnuts and sun-dried tomatoes, (either by hand or in a small blender if you have one).  Drain any excess liquid from the bulgur wheat/cous cous, then return to the bowl and mix in the hazelnuts and sun-dried tomatoes.  Crumble in the feta, and sprinkle over the chilli flakes and fresh herbs, and mix gently to combine but without breaking up the feta too much.

Unwrap the onions, and remove the skins.  Gently pull/scoop out the centre of each onion, leaving just two layers in tact to stuff. Place these back on the baking tray. Take one third of the discarded insides, chop finely and add to the stuffing mixture.  (Chop the remainder and keep in the fridge to add to pasta sauces, curries, chillis etc!).

Carefully fill each onion with stuffing mixture, pressing down to ensure they are packed full.  Scatter over the grated cheese and bake for 15 minutes until bubbling and browning on top.

Baked Onions with Hazelnut, Sultana and Feta Stuffing

Baked Onions with Hazelnut, Sultana and Feta Stuffing

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Recipe Roundup: Favourite Italian Recipes on the web

England’s defeat at the hands of Italy in the World Cup got me thinking about a football-themed recipe roundup, but given that the next two fixtures are against Costa Rica and Uruguay, (who aren’t, as far as I know, famed for their vegetarian cuisine), I think this will be a bit of a one-off!

Italy is a brilliant place to eat veggie as so many of their traditional dishes are or can easily become vegetarian.

Here are five of my favourites from the web:

1. Pappardelle with Spiced Butter from 101 Cookbooks

Just about the most delicious pasta recipe I have come across, and simple to throw together

2.  Felicity Cloake’s ‘Perfect Aubergine Parmiagiana’ from the Guardian

Even if you think you don’t like aubergine, give this a try – very traditional Italian food at its best.

3. Gnocchi in Gorgonzola Sauce with Spinach & Toasted Walnuts from Delicious Magazine

I’m a big fan of gnocchi, and this is a brilliant way of serving it.  Just check your Gorgonzola is vegetarian, and if not, any other blue cheese will do.

4. Fontina, Fennel & Onion Pizza from Martha Stewart Recipes

This pizza couldn’t be further from the greasy, doughy takeaway variety.  Fontina can be very rich, but the fennel and slow-cooked onions balance it perfectly.  Not one for dieters, but even a few slices of this are heaven on a plate!


5. Roast Butternut Squash, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne from Waitrose Recipes

I’ve made this a few times as a veggie option when there has been a traditional beef lasagne on offer too, and this is usually more popular!  A great crowd-pleaser, this will satisfy all the family.

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Field to Fork: Veggie Inspiration at Vale House Kitchen

Picking organic veg at The Community Farm in the morning, then cooking it up into veggie delights with chef Tim Maddams of River Cottage fame in the afternoon?  Yes please!  What an inspiring day I spent at the lovely new(ish) Vale House Kitchen “Country Skills & Cookery School” on the outskirts of Bath.
Owners Bod & Annie offer the warmest of welcomes to their stunning home, where they have transformed an outbuilding into a state-of-the-art kitchen which hosts all sorts of ‘country skills’ courses including breadmaking, foraging, chutneys, jams, jellies and preserves, and even a ‘make your own wedding cake’ weekend.

Community FarmTheir ‘Field to Fork Vegetarian Cookery Day’ started quite literally in a field, at The Community Farm  where under the expert guidance of Darren, (by far the trendiest farmer I’ve ever met), we picked fresh asparagus, cucumbers, chard, new potatoes, strawberries, spring onions and lettuce.


DSC_0003_066Back in the kitchen, Tim had prepared some of these little beauties – slow-cooked courgette with LOTS of garlic, on sourdough toast, topped with a local cheese I’ve forgotten the name of.  Served with some elderflower, mint and flowering thyme iced tea..

DSC_0005_065On with the cooking – first, we wood-roasted some asparagus (it took about 3 minutes, amazing!), and made a fiery ‘dakka’ to serve with it.  Having never heard of dakka this was quite a revelation, I’ll be making more – such a simple but different way to serve asparagus, (or breads, or anything you can ‘dip’ for that matter!).

DSC_0019_060Next, a fresh and fiery new potato and chard curry.  Sounds pretty average, but with almost all the ingredients being picked/dug less than 2 hours previously I promise this was really delicious, and a surprisingly good dish to serve on a very hot day.


DSC_0014_062Then came the real highlight of the day – these little bhajis are just the most incredible thing I’ve eaten all year.  No, really.  So simple – they were made of a total jumble of fresh veg, (I think these were pepper, chard, mushroom, lettuce(!) and spring onion), a kick of spices and plenty of lemon juice in a beer and gram flour batter.  Really, really good.

Next we made flatbreads.  From scratch, with spelt flour, in about 4 minutes flat, (pardon the pun).  I’m never buying those plastic-sealed six-month-shelf-life floppy things ever again!

After pausing for lunch, (with a glass of wine, sitting out by the pool in the blazing sunshine – we could have stayed here all afternoon), we headed back to the kitchen to make some dessert.

DSC_0022_059These tiny elderflower fritters were again a very simple treatment of a super-fresh and seasonal ingredient.  Served up with macerated strawberries which we had picked hours earlier, a delicious end to an inspiring day.


The Field to Fork: Seasonal Vegetarian Cookery course will be running again later in the year – keep an eye on the website for dates.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Recipe: Hot ‘n’ Sour Mushroom & Noodle Soup

This recipe from a few years ago was recently featured in a Vegetarian Living magazine article, so I thought it was worth digging out again after a few requests.  The soup really packs a punch – you would never guess that the light, clear broth could be so full of flavour, and the addition of fine egg noodles makes this a meal in itself.

I love Thai food, but don’t often get around to making authentic recipes, being put off by the long lists of ingredients.  So this is officially and unashamedly a quick, cheat’s hot & sour soup using shop-bought Tom Yum paste.  The whole recipe should take you less than 20 minutes.


Hot ‘n’ Sour Mushroom & Noodle Soup


25g packet dried mushrooms (mixed, porcini or any other varieties you have to hand)
2 tbsp Tom Yum Paste (available in most supermarkets.  Check that it’s vegetarian as some contain fish sauce)
150g button mushrooms, halved 
3 spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 litre vegetable stock (low salt if possible – the soy sauce is quite salty enough)
2 tbsp soy sauce (or less if you’ve used full-salt stock)
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
1 nest of fine egg noodles
Juice of 1 lime
Handful fresh coriander, stalk very finely chopped, and leaves roughly chopped

1.  Soak the dried mushrooms in 200ml boiling water.

2. In a large saucepan gently fry the button mushrooms and 2 of the spring onions in the Tom Yum paste.  After 1-2 minutes add the stock and soy sauce and bring to the boil.

3. After 5 minutes, drain the dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquor, roughly chop and add to the pan.  Strain the soaking liquor through a sieve or tea strainer into the pan.  Add the finely chopped coriander stalks and red chilli.

4. After 5 minutes, add the nest of noodles, cover and cook for a further minute.

5. Turn off the heat, and add the lime juice and most of the coriander, reserving a few leaves for garnish.

6. Serve into bowls – I like to form a nest of noodles in the bottom of each bowl with a spoon and fork, then ladle over the broth.  Garnish with the remaining spring onion and coriander and serve immediately.

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Recipe: Walnut & Mustard Cheesy Biscuits

These little biscuits are a brilliant freezer standby… make up the dough and freeze, then when someone pops round for a glass of wine you can just slice off a few rounds, get them in the oven, sit back and enjoy.

Best enjoyed straight from the oven with a cold glass of pinot grigio!


Walnut & Mustard Cheesy Biscuits

Walnut & Mustard Cheesy Biscuits


(Makes about 25)
100g butter
100g grated cheddar cheese
100g wholemeal flour
1 tbsp Maille wholegrain mustard with white wine & black olives
½tsp salt
1tbsp milk
100g walnut pieces


Beat together the butter, cheese, mustard and salt, then stir through the flour and milk to create a smooth paste.  Stir through the walnuts.  
Roll into a long sausage shape about 2-3 inches in diameter, wrap in cling film and chill.  (You can also freeze the dough at this stage).
Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Using a sharp knife, slice off rounds from the dough (less than a centimetre thick if possible), place on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  
Eat immediately!
Walnut & Mustard Cheesy Biscuits

Walnut & Mustard Cheesy Biscuits


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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.


Nettle Ravioli with Wholegrain Mustard & Caper Sauce



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)
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)


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!


Rustic Pies of Jersey Royals & Tenderstem Broccoli



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


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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