Vegan Mediterranean Vegetable Risotto

vegan-risotto1Now we are nearly three weeks into January, New Year’s resolutions are being abandoned left, right and centre. Bar and pub owners around the country breath a sigh of relief as people realise just how meaningless their lives are without alcohol, drop the “dry-january” facade and neck a double whiskey on the way home from work. Likewise those friends whose instagram feeds were overflowing with smug pictures of brightly coloured salads, meat substitutes and the veganuary hashtag have gone conspicuously quiet. After all it is hard to type with fried chicken grease all over your hands.

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But fear not my will-power deficient friends, here is a recipe for something veganish that is actually pretty tasty and may just restore your faith. Also, you may not believe me but, much like the proverbial puppy, veganism is not just for January. Yes that is right you don’t just have to be a vegan for a month then go back to gorging yourself on steak for breakfast. You could make this recipe all year round, and (and here’s the big one) you don’t even have to be a vegan to cook it. The only real difference from a normal risotto is that it doesn’t have any parmesan in it but the courgette pesto means it still tastes creamy and delicious. After all, most of us do very little for the environment except throwing the odd wine bottle in the recycling, so skipping the grated cheese on a couple of dinners is the least we can do.

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Green Thai Vegetable Curry

green-curry-1I am a big fan of East Asian cuisine whether that be convenience sushi, underwhelming looking Vietnamese restaurants or greasy, hate-yourself Chinese takeaway at 2 in the morning. Having said that, I always shy away from making Asian food at home. In my head to make a proper stir-fry or a Vietnamese/ Thai curry I would either have to invest a vast amount of time and money sourcing all types of specialist ingredients, most of which come in bottles large enough to live in and which I would never use again; or give up and get it out of a Blue Dragon sachet, in which case I might as well sack the whole thing in and get a takeaway.

green-curry-2However, this is not always the case. In my search for more varied and interesting vegan and vegetarian dinner ideas I stumbled across a recipe for thai green curry which seemed to mostly use ingredients I already had (here is the original). And, being skint and lazy I decided to make substitutes for anything I didn’t have (eg. palm sugar). The end result was surprisingly easy to make and delicious. This recipe is really versatile so is great for using up any leftover veg and even those slightly more exotic ingredients can be bought fresh from most supermarkets meaning there is very little waste or extra cost.

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Stuffed Peppers

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Yesterday was one of those days that revolved around food. in the office, it seemed like all anyone could think or talk about was food. We talked about what to have for lunch, what we were having for dinner, what we used to love as children, our weird and wonderful food creations (apparently cheese and banana toasties are about to sweep the nation), and somewhere between the best sandwich (pastrami with sauerkraut, pickle and mustard mayo on rye) and the worst spicy sauce shocker stories (a devilish burrito from wrap it up!) we talked at length about stuffed vegetables.

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Stuffed mushrooms we decided left a lot to be desired unless done perfectly, they are too often soggy and tasteless. Stuffed courgettes are good (I love courgettes) but theres not enough space for the filling. And so the price for the worlds best stuffed vegetable goes to the pepper. We passed on to chillies, chilli con carne, burritos but still the thought of stuffed peppers stayed with me. I had to have them.

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This is one of my favourite recipes for stuffed peppers as, although there are quite a lot of ingredients it is really quick and easy to make and super filling. I usually have these on their own but they are great as a side too, perhaps with a tomato and chicken bake or meatballs. They are also perfect at a BBQ as they go well with the meat but are nice and filling for vegetarians. Remember to use vegetable stock though if serving to vegetarians.

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Courgette and Pancetta Summer Pasta

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It is far too hot to cook at the moment. Even I have been finding it very hard to motivate myself. I have been seeking out really simple recipes that don’t require too long in the kitchen as weather like this should be enjoyed to its best extent, in a beer garden. Pasta is always the best simple dinner option, perfect for soaking up any inadvertent after-work drinks.

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This dish is a sort of twist on a carbonara. It is a great lighter alternative, perfect for anyone working on a bikini body as I have avoided the cream element. A much more interesting alternative to pasta and pesto but still really quick to make and requires very few ingredients. Hope you enjoy it, I am off back outside to frolic in the sunshine!

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Salmon Supper for Parents

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There has been an incident at my house. The equilibrium of our middle class lives has been shattered. My mum has sprained her ankle. It is the biggest news of the year. The ground troops have been called in for back up, i.e. me. My first good turn (a brownie guide must do three good turns everyday) as substitute woman of the house was to cook everyone dinner. Sound easy, not so. My dad had been instructed to buy Salmon, easy dinner she thought. My first thought was salmon tacos with guacamole, roasted peppers and rice. My dad doesn’t really like Mexican. So then maybe a nice warm salmon salad with grilled courgette. He doesn’t really like salad either. Basically give my dad an overcooked pork chop with overcooked veggies and boiled potatoes and  he will be happy, he’s old-fashioned that way. The recipe I came up with is traditional with a twist. It was completely made up but I think it works. It is not the cheapest dish in the world but for entertaining or pleasing fussy parents it is perfect.

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By far the easiest way to cook salmon, or any fish in fact, is in a tinfoil parcel, in the oven. You don’t get the crispy skin that frying would give but on the other hand the fish will not dry out, it stays lovely and flakey. If this recipe looks a little complex/ pricey for you you could equally make the risotto on it own but I would add a little grated parmesan and perhaps some int to give it more depth of flavour. You could also save money by using less salmon and at the last minute, just before adding the veggies, stirring it into the risotto. This is a bit less fancy but equally delicious!

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Something Summery- Asparagus, Courgette and Mint Risotto- Perfect for Busy Bees

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So I have finished with uni for the year,  but I have not been free to revel in domestic bliss for long. Today was the first day of my two month summer job working as an ‘administrator’ (i.e. general dog’s body) in a financial advice company. Not only is the work dull, which is to say incredibly DULL, now I have even less time for cooking than I did at uni.

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Luckily I am prepared for such eventualities with a host of recipes that take very little time to make and require minimal washing up, workers of the world not not despair you can still have delicious mid-week dinners. One of the best fail-safe speedy dinners is risotto. I chose to make it with asparagus, courgette and mint because its lovely and summery (and obviously it was the only thing I had in the fridge!) but if you just follow the first few steps then you can add any veggies you like at the end.IMG_0991

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