Tag Archives: spinach

Cumin-roasted Squash and Lentil Soup with “Tabbouleh” Dumplings

Soup is one of our easy meals, it usually takes less than half an hour – an hour at the most – and is a case of chuck it all in a pan (occasionally roasting it first)! This one is a little different though. It’s from the February edition of Olive and it is a bit faffy. Not one to attempt as a first soup recipe or if you’re tight for time! It is delicious though and we will definitely make it again. It probably seemed like more work than it was because we also baked two loaves of bread and made stock from a guinea fowl carcass at the same time – our little kitchen was working hard last night!

The soup itself is a lentil based soup with chunks of roasted butternut squash, chopped, fresh spinach and pine nuts and is flavoured with lemon and cumin. The real star of the show is the dumplings, Bird especially could probably just eat a whole bowl of these! They taste like tabbouleh in dumpling form which can only be a good thing. They are made from finely chopped onion, fresh herbs, cracked bulgar wheat, flour and a tiny bit of suet. Absolutely gorgeous! Fluffy, light and full of flavour, we’ll be making these again to go on lots of different soups.

Brown lentils are surprisingly photogenic! Photobombed by rosemary from another recipe...
Brown lentils are surprisingly photogenic! Photobombed by rosemary from another recipe…

Firstly cube the butternut squash into small cubes, coat in oil, seasoning and ground cumin and roast in the oven for around half an hour, turning once, until soft and lightly golden around the edges. Put half of this into a clean saucepan along with the lentils, the recipe suggested Puy but we had brown in so we used them. Cover with chicken stock, bring to the boil and then turn down to simmer for around 40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.

Squash for Soup

Meanwhile start making the dumplings. Bring a pan of weak chicken stock to a gentle simmer. Mix together equal weights of plain flour and cracked bulgar wheat, half the weight of suet and finely chopped onion along with coarsely chopped fresh parsley, coriander and mint. Season this mixture well and then bring together with cold water to form a dough. Like all dumpling mixtures it will be sticky so keep your hands well floured throughout! Roll the dough into small balls – slightly smaller than a golf ball – and then drop into the simmering stock to poach. You may need to cook these in batches as they need some room to move. They will take around 20 minutes to be perfectly fluffy.

Tabbouleh flavours in dumplings? Yes please!
Tabbouleh flavours in dumplings? Yes please!

Dumpling mix 2

After this time your dumplings should be just about ready and your soup should be too, using a stick blender give the soup a quick whizz up – you don’t want to puree it, you just want to thicken the liquid by breaking down some of the lentils and squash while still leaving most chunky. Then add in the rest of the squash you reserved and a couple of big handfuls of roughly chopped fresh spinach. Let this wilt in then stir in lemon zest and juice and toasted pinenuts. Serve up the soup and top with some pine nuts and the delicious dumplings!

Cumin Squash Lentil Soup Done

Would we make this again? Probably! It was delicious, but we would save it for a day when we didn’t have quite so much to do at the same time. We’ll also definitely be taking inspiration from it, those dumplings would be delicious in a delicately spiced chicken broth while the addition of toasted pine nuts to soup was a lovely one which we haven’t tried before. If you’ve never checked out Olive then you definitely should, we get tons of inspiration from it and their recipes nearly always work perfectly!

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Indian Spiced Baked Salmon

We use jarred curry pastes all the time, they’re really convenient! They’re choc full of spices that you’d have a hard time keeping your kitchen stocked with. The only problem is that when you’re cooking for 2 there’s often quite a lot left over, so unless you want to keep eating the same thing over and over you have to get inventive! This recipe for salmon with Balti paste definitely falls into that category – what’s more, it’s easy and totally delicious. You can really use any kind of fish fillets and any kind of curry paste, the recipe is very flexible.

For 2 people, you’ll need:

  • 200 g new potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp curry paste (we used Patak’s Balti paste, which is medium-hot – you can use whatever you have!)
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 200 g baby leaf spinach

Start by halving your potatoes length-ways (so that they’re quite thin) and parboiling them placing in a pan of cold water and bringing to the boil, then simmering for 2-3 minutes. Bring the oven to temperature while you’re doing this – about 180 ºC should do it. Put your roasting dish into the oven to heat up. Once the potatoes have been parboiled, drain them and add the oil, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and the salt to the pan. Make sure the potatoes get a good coating, and one the roasting dish is nice and hot take it out of the oven and add the potatoes into it, savouring the satisfying sizzle! Put the dish back in the oven – the potatoes should take about 40-45 minutes to cook.

Not only are nigella seeds delicious, they make the humble potato look awesome
Not only are nigella seeds delicious, they make the humble potato look awesome

To prepare the salmon, mix together the curry paste and the yoghurt so that it forms a consistent light-coloured paste. Cover the salmon fillets in the paste in a bowl. About 15-20 minutes before the potatoes are ready to come out, move them aside in the roasting dish (or use a separate dish if you don’t have space) and put the salmon in. We had some particularly meaty fillets, but if yours are thinner they will probably take less time to cook.

Curry Salmon in Roasting Dish

Wilt the spinach in a pan on a low heat with some salt and pepper – it should only need about 5 minutes.

Curry Salmon Served

That’s all there is to it – this is a really simple meal and a great alternative to a standard curry. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Smoked Haddock and Leek Fishcakes

Prepare yourselves… this recipe gets a little bit cheffy. We know our usual style is bang it all in a roasting dish and then, 1 hour later, dish yourself up a plate of goodness but sometimes you want to fancy things up a bit. This makes a lovely smaller dinner for two, or would make a beautiful starter if you only served 1 fishcake per person. The fishcakes themselves are a straight steal from Nigel Slater but we’ve gone and done one better (sorry Nige!) and created a beautiful smoky white sauce to serve with them. So next time you have a certain someone to impress, or just fancy gettin’ cheffy with it give these a go!

Ingredients

  • 400g floury white potatoes (about 1 large potato)
  • 400g leeks, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 300g undyed smoked haddock fillet
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Wilted spinach to serve

Cut the potato into chunks and cook in boiling water for around 10-15 minutes or until soft. Heat 1 tsp of the butter in a frying pan and add the leeks, slowly sweat down and cook until really soft and sweet. Once the potato is cooked drain it and then place in a bowl to cool for a few minutes. Bring the milk to the point of steaming in a small pan with the bay leaves and the peppercorns and then add the smoked haddock, cut it into several pieces to make sure it fits in and is covered by the milk. Place a lid on this, let the milk come to the boil and then turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes, the haddock will be perfectly cooked and flaky at this point.Take the haddock out and leave until cool enough to handle on a board. Do not throw away the milk. This is where we and Nigel part ways, he makes no mention of the milk but we thought we couldn’t throw away this little goldmine of flavour so hang on to it, you’ll need it later. Strain it into a jug to remove the bay leaves, peppercorn and any little flakes of fish that have escaped.

Fishcake mixture

Crush the slightly cooled potatoes with a fork until there are no large lumps remaining but don’t worry about getting them perfectly smooth, these fishcakes are rustic and rough textured. Mix in half of the leeks and flake the fish in, discarding the skin. Shape into patties (we did 4 but you could make them smaller or bigger as you like) and set aside.

Heat most of the remaining butter (about 2 tbsp) in the pan you cooked the fish in (give it a quick wipe with a bit of kitchen roll) and once bubbling add an equal amount of plain flour to create a roux. Cook this for a couple of minutes to get rid of the floury taste and then start to add the milk that you saved earlier. Add this bit by bit, whisking well in between until all of it has been added. Keep this over a low heat stirring regularly to thicken.

Fishcakes cooking

Now just fry your fishcakes – everything in them is already cooked so they just need a bit of colour on the outside. Heat the remaining butter with a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan (we used the one we used to cook the leeks earlier to save on washing up!) and when hot add the fishcakes. They will take a couple of minutes on each side over a medium heat. Try not to mess around with them and turn them too much, they are fairly fragile so avoid flipping them as much as possible.

Once they are golden pop a bit of wilted spinach on a plate and top with the remaining leeks and a dollop of the thickened white sauce. Place your fishcakes on and drizzle over the rest of the sauce. Serve with a glass of white wine and Instagram your cheffy creation!

Fishcakes with spinach and white sauce

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

We’re back with one of our favourite autumn ingredients again – butternut squash. Bird stopped by the market again after ballet and couldn’t resist a huge squash (and this absolutely giant cabbage which we used in about 6 meals!).

What a beast!
What a beast!

We decided to stuff the squash with quinoa as we enjoyed the quinoa stuffed vegetables we made a month or two ago so much. We chose to spice up the stuffing with some chorizo and dried chilli flakes, adding courgette and spinach for some fresh greenery. We then topped them with a little smoked Applewood cheese which matched the smoky paprika flavour of the chorizo perfectly. This is one of those meals that can tick away nicely on a weekend afternoon and will make 4 portions – we had it for dinner and then lunch later in the week, but if you’re just cooking for yourself you would have a couple of dinners and lunches for about an hours work!

Ingredients (for 1 very large butternut squash):

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 50-100g chorizo, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 small courgette, finely diced
  • 5-10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 50g quinoa
  • 200ml chicken stock or boiling water
  • Spinach (fresh or frozen, we used 3 blocks of frozen)
  • Cheese (any good melter will do)

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Preheat the oven to 180°C. Using a large, sharp knife slice the butternut squash lengthways and then scoop out the seeds. Stab the squash a few times in the middle with the knife, not going all the way through, to help it cook quicker and then brush with a little olive oil. Pop them in a large roasting dish and whack them in the oven to cook. They should take about 30-45 minutes to cook depending on size, they’ll be ready when the flesh is soft all the way through. Meanwhile heat 1tsp of olive oil in a small saucepan and add the chorizo.

Chorizo sizzle

Let it sizzle away until slightly crisp, then add the chilli flakes, the sun-dried tomatoes and the courgette. Stir these to coat in the oil, add the quinoa and do the same until it starts to pop. Pour in the chicken stock and add the spinach if you’re using frozen – if you’re using fresh then wait until just before it’s cooked so you don’t lose all of the goodness. This will need to cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to start with and more frequently towards the end as the liquid is absorbed so that it doesn’t stick. Have a little taste at this stage and season it with salt and pepper to your taste.

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Once the squash is cooked and the quinoa mixture is ready take the squash out of the oven and (carefully because it’s hot!) scoop out most of the flesh, just leaving around 1 cm around the edge to keep the shape. Mix this flesh with the quinoa mixture and stuff back into the squash. Top with a small amount of grated cheese and then put it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes to let it all cook together and for the cheese to melt.

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Serve with salad and enjoy! This makes a brilliant lunch when cold, if anything you can taste all of the flavours even more.

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