12 Meals of Christmas – Day 9 – Pasta with Fresh Broccoli Pesto

To celebrate Christmas, I’ve launched a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

Broccoli is super. Packed full of nutrients, I try to feature this deliciously crunchy vegetable into my diet daily. Now, simply steaming broccoli every time I eat it can get a little bland. And this has led me to find new ways of bringing it into my diet. One such way is through grating the florets and turning them into a beautiful fresh pesto – and after refining the recipe, I figured that this healthy meal would fit perfectly into the 12 Meals of Christmas series.

So here it is. Gorgeously garlicy, with the crunch of the broccoli and the fragrance of the basil – this easy to make pesto tops a variety of pasta dishes perfectly. And in this particular pasta dish, fried courgette and red onion really help to bring out those vibrant colours.

Pasta with Fresh Broccoli Pesto (Serves 2) VG (with vegan cheese)

Two handfuls of spaghetti

One onion sliced into large chunks

One courgette, chopped into chip-sized chunks

A teaspoon of rosemary

Four florets of broccoli, grated

A handful of crushed walnuts

A pinch of sea salt

A bunch of basil leaves

A lug of olive oil

Two cloves of garlic, crushed

A handful of thinly grated cheddar or vegan parmesan

First, heat a lug of olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Now, slide in your red onion and courgette, frying until they colour up nicely. As your vegetables fry, pop in a little rosemary and then add your spaghetti into a separate pan filled with boiling water and turn the hob onto a high heat.

Once the vegetables start to brown, remove them from the heat and set to one side. Leave your pasta until it begins to soften, and as you wait for this, begin preparing your pesto.

Into a mixing bowl, add your grated broccoli. Follow this with a couple of lugs of the olive oil and the sea salt. Then, add your torn basil, the crushed walnuts, the crushed garlic and either the thinly grated cheddar or vegan parmesan to the mixing bowl and combine everything together thoroughly.

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With your pesto now made, remove the pasta from the hob once soft and drain. Serve up the pasta and vegetables first, before layering up your fresh, zesty raw broccoli pesto. Sit back, relax and indulge on this healthy winter meal.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the 12 Meals of Christmas. If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all of the meals featured.

12 Meals of Christmas – Day 7 – Spicy Root Vegetable Pasties

To celebrate Christmas, I’ve launched a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

There is a good reason for pasties and pies being so popular. With hearty pastry encasing hot, flavoursome fillings, each one is a surprise. I’ve made lots of pasties over the years, with one recipe featuring on this blog earlier on in the year. So, it made sense to have a pasty recipe in this Christmas blog series. What’s more, the Jus-Rol pastry in this recipe is vegan and if you use sweetened soya milk instead of egg you have an entirely vegan dish.

Root vegetables are the perfect winter food. And by combining them with spices such as paprika, cumin and turmeric, you can transform them into something even better. As a pasty filling, these root vegetables will have you feeling Christmassy in no time at all!

As you can see from the picture, they don’t even last long enough to take a photo…

Store these goodies in the fridge and you can enjoy them in your work lunches for the days ahead. It certainly beats the office canteen or a lunchtime meal deal. Best part is, they have actual vegetables in, and because they’re relatively fresh, they’re healthier for you too.

Spicy Root Vegetable Pasties (Serves 3 or 4) VG

One roll of readymade shortcrust pastry

Two carrots, chopped and peeled

Two potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly

Half a leek, sliced thinly

A clove of garlic, chopped

A teaspoon of turmeric

A teaspoon of cumin seeds

A teaspoon of paprika

Sweetened soya milk for glazing or a beaten egg yolk for non-vegans

A splash of olive oil

Seasoning

A knob of margarine (vegan or dairy)

To begin making these delicious pasties, heat a dash of olive oil over a medium heat and slide in all your root vegetables. Fry the carrots and potatoes with the cumin seeds, paprika, turmeric and seasoning until the potatoes can be squashed with a fork or knife. As they begin to soften, add in your leek and chopped garlic, frying for around five minutes more. Remove from the heat and set to one side.

Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 5/180C. Grab yourself a baking tray and grease lightly with a little margarine. Roll out your pre-made pastry and, using a large bowl, begin to cut out as many circles as you can manage (I got about three out of my sheet), you can grab another sheet of pastry if this isn’t enough for you. Place each of the circles onto the baking tray.

Taking a ladel, dish out your vegetables onto half of each of the circles. With your hands, gently fold the pastry over the vegetables and press it down at the edges to make the traditional pasty shape. With a pastry brush, glaze the pasties with the egg yolk before sliding them into the oven to bake for around 20 minutes, or until the tops of the pastries are golden.

Once the pastries have a nice colour to them, remove from the oven and serve immediately with a hearty winter salad ( I recommend shredded beetroot, walnuts and rocket) or store in the fridge for up to five days ready for work lunches).

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the 12 Meals of Christmas. If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all of the meals featured.

Goats Cheese, Butternut Squash and Leek Pasties

Whenever I head home, the sight of a takeaway is rare. And this is where my love for homemade food comes from. With my stepmum also being a vegetarian as well as an advocate for Riverford veg boxes, the food is rich with variety and flavour. On a recent visit back to my hometown, I came away with some gorgeous roasted vegetable pasties, and this is what has spurred me on to try my own.

Boy, were the results worth it!

First of all, there’s something about combining squash and goats cheese that takes you to another level of happy. But then, by putting this into wholesome shortcrust pastry along with onions and leeks makes it even better.

Perfect for having anytime of the day (yes, even breakfast if that’s how you roll), these pasties will keep in an airtight container for three days, meaning easy work lunches too.

Goats Cheese, Butternut Squash and Leek Pasties (Serves 2)

Ingredients

Half a butternut squash, de-seeded and with the outer skin removed

Readymade shortcrust pastry

An onion, diced

One small tub of goats cheese

A leek, chopped

Pinch of cumin seeds

Olive oil

Pinch of rosemary

Seasoning

An egg yolk

Set your oven to gas mark 6/200C. Lay the squash onto a baking tray and drizzle over the olive oil. Scatter your salt and pepper over the chunks and top this by adding some fragrant cumin seeds. Slide the baking tray into the oven for around 30 minutes. In this time, lay out your shortcrust pastry and, using a bowl, cut out three or four circles. Lay these onto another baking tray.

Once the squash has roasted up nicely, remove the tray from the oven and start placing your slices onto one half of each circle. Layer your diced onion and leek on top of this and finish with a hint of rosemary and a good dose of goats cheese. After the filling has been prepared, take the other side of your pastry and roll it over the filling, pressing down the close with a small roll of extra pastry.

Taking a brush, cover each pasty in a thin layer of egg yolk. When all of your pasties are covered, place the baking tray back into the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the pasties are golden.

Serve these wintry delights up with a green leafy salad and some wholesome boiled baby potatoes for the full effect.

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Did you enjoy this recipe? I’d love to know what you thought – hit me up in the comments below.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale and Red Onion Soup

When the days get colder and shorter, there is nothing for it. It’s time to bring out hot soup. And no, that doesn’t mean picking up a ready-made tin from the supermarket. This is the proper stuff.

This butternut squash soup only takes an hour to make, and most of that is spent roasting. Grab yourself some tasty bread and get dunking.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale and Red Onion Soup (VG)

2 servings


Ingredients

Half of a butternut squash, de-skinned, with the seedy flesh in the centres removed

Two red onions, chopped

Chilli pepper, chopped

Two big handfuls of kale

Seasoning

Dash of paprika

Vegan margarine

A vegetable stock cube


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C. Take your squash halves and slice into smaller chunks. Lay these onto a baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil. Next, scatter over salt and pepper, as well as the dash of paprika. Place the squash in the oven for 40 minutes or until the skins begin to brown.

Take your squash out of the oven and set to one side. Into a saucepan, drop in your vegan margarine and gently heat until it melts. Pick up your onion and add to the pan. Stir the onions for around 5 minutes, or until they’ve absorbed the margarine and are looking softer.

Grab your baking tray and pop the butternut squash pieces in with the onion. Stir in your chopped chilli and stir the vegetables for a further 5 minutes. Boil a kettle full of water and top the saucepan up with this, so that the water just covers the vegetables. Before covering everything with a lid, add a vegetable stock cube. Leave the vegetables to simmer for around 10 minutes. Just before you remove from the heat, add the kale and push the leaves into the vegetables for 2 minutes or until the edges begin to soften.

Remove the pan from the heat and, taking a hand blender, blitz the vegetables until almost smooth, with some texture still remaining. Serve up into bowls and enjoy with some fresh bread for that perfect curl-up-sofa-TV-feeling.

 

youngground reviews: The Royal Navy Volunteer

You don’t need a lot of money to have a great foody time. By putting down the lunchtime meal deal and making your own food throughout the week, the weekend can be the time that you truly indulge yourself on some fine food.

Being a vegetarian, it’s a given that I only review the alternative options on menus. However, I should say that I do sit down to eat with many meat-lovers and pay close attention to their satisfaction of the meal too. Even so, I often find that a restaurant can be measured well on the innovation and the inspiration behind its alternative dishes.

Continuing my exciting (but affordable) culinary journey through Bristol and beyond, this week I’m reviewing the brilliant Sunday lunch menu at the Royal Navy Volunteer, located along the timeless King Street in Bristol.

If you’re an experienced Bristolian, or you visit regularly, you’ll know that the city is full of innovative, inspiring and beautiful food. Every corner holds a new foody treasure and King Street is no exception.

As soon as you arrive into the Royal Navy Volunteer you get a sense of true pub authenticity. The Volley’s interior is deceptively large: each little corner is full of life – and this is particularly true on a Sunday. Across Bristol, people arrive at the quaint pub to sample its roasts. They know as I, too, found out that the pub’s roast has garnered quite a reputation.

As a vegetarian, I often judge the quality of a menu on its options. Although I’m quite satisfied with a spread of vegetables, I do enjoy something a little more filling to compliment them. The Volley menu did not disappoint on this occasion, and I chose the intriguing option of a lentil roast served with the classic trimmings.  My Sunday lunch buddy, who is 100% carnivore, chose the lamb roast.

I felt a very strange sensation when the food arrived, one that I haven’t felt for quite some time. More often than not, when I go for a roast I find that the plate can often lack the colours and the flavours of its meat counterpart. Yet, here I was presented with food that filled, and almost spilled, off of the plate. More importantly, the entire thing was soaked in a rich gravy; something that many other vegetarian roasts miss.

Then, with knife and fork in hand, another strange-but-brilliant sensation overcame me: I was lost in this bounty of delicious food and had no clue where to start. However, once I’d worked out that the crispy potatoes would be my first destination, I devoured them quickly. Roast potatoes are easy to make but difficult to make well. As I crunched my way through the crisp, beautifully textured skins and into the glorious fluffy middles, I felt complete.

Looking over at my Sunday lunch buddy’s choice, the lamb roast itself was so large that it could’ve been put on its own plate. Again, the bed of vegetables was cooked to perfection and the whole thing looked straight out of an advert.

Onto the vegetarian lentil roast, and the passion that had gone into creating this soft, meaty, wonderfully flavoured meal won me over immediately. In fact, every element from the spongy Yorkshire pudding to the freshly steamed kale and the depth of flavours noted in the gravy created a meal that truly celebrated the end of the week.

The Royal Navy Volunteer isn’t just an innovative restaurant, of course. As a rustic and authentic pub, the Volunteer celebrates the Bristol craft ale scene, offering a wide selection of different beers which round off any roast or other meal perfectly. I enjoyed a dark porter with my food. With this palette of hops combined with the smoky flavours of the lentils and the rich gravy, I had a few moments in food heaven.

If you really want to round off your week with a Sunday roast, I urge you to pay The Royal Navy Volunteer a visit. Sit yourself down in the warm, immerse yourself in the food and forget about the working week ahead.