This is one of my standards – you can use it for lasagne, moussaka, shepherds pie … anything you do with mince, really.
There are just two of us in the household, but I always cook for at least six so I can freeze some. Also, this recipe is a bitsa, using up what I have in the fridge.
Into the slow cooker: one chopped onion, three diced carrots, one diced courgette, half a red pepper, 4 cloves garlic, small slug of olive oil, and any spice you fancy. I usually use Ras el Hanout, but anything middle eastern is good. Left on low for about an hour. Add 1 pint of red lentils and 2 pints of water, switch to high, leave for about four hours. If you didn’t fancy the spices, substitute a splash of red wine for some of the water, and bung in some herbs.
I made a lentil bake with this yesterday, which I shall write up in a bit.
We were in Norfolk last weekend, to celebrate the 7th birthday of our grandson. A very nice time was had by all, and on our way home on Sunday afternoon, we kept an eye out for roadside stalls, looking for asparagus and strawberries. Nothing on the roadside, but we stopped at a huge farm shop somewhere … in the South Holland district in Lincolnshire, according to Foursquare.
Two bunches of asparagus at £1.50 each, and two caulis for a quid. So all that lot for £4.00!
One bunch of asparagus went into a quiche, with three eggs, some milk and some rather elderly brie, chopped up. Also a shallot fried off in a little butter, and some chopped chives. That did supper with some Jersey Royals, and lunch the following day.
The second bunch was stir fried with chilli and ginger, one of our absolutely favourite dishes.
One cauli was last night made into a veg curry, which will do at least two more days (if I can find some freezer space!), and the other will be enrobed in cheese sauce for tonight’s supper.
No strawberries (just a little bit too early, I guess), but all the same – that’s really cheap living (although I suppose it’s rather far to go if we weren’t passing …)
We held a small gathering here the other night, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We cooked up a slow cooker’s worth of lemony chicken and coriander, and a big pot of dhal to accompany it, and also for the vegans/veggies in the throng. We also served (bought) chapatis.
That recipe, incidentally, is a base – we use a lot more garlic, chillis and spices than that, and I’ve discovered that if you just sling the chicken in the slow cooker without browning it, it still works beautifully, and you save a lot of time and effort, and a lot of oil too! Makes it a very low calorie dish. Anyway, I digress.
I also made a chocolate, ginger and guinness bundt cake, which left most of a bottle of stout left over.
So this morning, I tipped the remainder of the coriander chicken sauce into the stock pot, added a few carrots, a courgette and an onion which had been minced in the Magimix, and two mugfuls of red lentils, and a nice pot of spicy soup is now bubbling away for lunch. To go with it, I used (most of) the rest of the stout to make a Guinness soda bread loaf, which is now baking in the Remoska.
Sadly, Pete declined to drink the rest of the stout – it was two days old, I know, but still. I poured it down the sink.
I was all set to make a Thai veg curry the other night. There were aubergines, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and peppers in the fridge, Pete was despatched up the road (in the cold, in the dark, with an owl) for coconut milk, and I was good to go. Except I didn’t want veg curry. I wanted soothing lentils, a comfort food in this household. So lentils I had.
I chopped two small onions, some garlic and fresh ginger, and fried them down in some olive oil. While this was going on, I chopped an aubergine and a couple of peeled sweet potatoes. Added them to the mix with cumin seeds and chilli flakes, turned it all round in the oil. Bunged in a mugful of red lentils (an old WordPerfect mug, in fact, an integral part of our batterie de cuisine here), and a can of coconut milk. Despite my precautions, the wretched stuff still managed to squirt a stream of clear coconut up my arm under the sleeve of my fleece.
Stirred that all round, went “um”, and added two cans full of water, and about 2 teaspoons of Marigold bouillon powder, a very useful thing indeed. Seasoned with salt and black pepper, brought it to the boil, and then put it on a diffuser for about 45 minutes.
It was absolutely gorgeous – that made six portions, and we liked it so much that we ate it again for lunch the next day. I did managed to put one tub in the freezer before we pigged it all, but I shall be making that again. And again.
Well, not quite … But this week’s soup includes broccoli stalks, leek tops and cabbage stalks!
Into small dice were cut one courgette, two carrots, and the aforementioned veg leftovers, and they went in the slow cooker on low for about six hours with a little bit of olive oil to soften them up.
Then this morning, I added a mug of red lentils, a good pinch of chili flakes, about 2l of boiling water, the very last of last week’s lamb and barley soup, and some seasoning, put the slow cooker on high, and with a bit of luck and a following wind, it’ll be ready for lunch.
I picked up a half shoulder of lamb in Morrisons yesterday for £4.40, and we decided to slow cook it. As it happens, it was a horrible cold, rainy, Sunday and it was exactly the right way to approach it.
I browned the lamb and put it in the slow cooker with two peeled and cubed sweet potatoes, and half a squash that was lurking in the veg rack. Then I heated more oil, added some black mustard seeds and cooked them till they popped, then added a thinly sliced onion.
Then into the frying pan went a paste of garlic and ginger, some cumin, coriander and chilli flakes, and I fried all that off for a bit, then added a carton of chopped tomatoes, a handful of dessicated coconut (we have somewhat of a glut of that right now), and some water. Added salt and black pepper, and brought that to a simmer and turfed it all into the slow cooker. Then I hurled in some (loosely speaking) lentils, put the lid on and hoped for the best.
It cooked on high for about 6.5 hours; the meat fell off the bone, the sauce was beautiful, there’s enough for at least one more meal, and some the sauce will go as a soup base. We have declared it to be A Success!
We eat a lot of this sort of thing – cheap and tasty. This one started with a tub of lentils from the freezer – no point in cooking just one meals’ worth. I finely diced carrot, red pepper and onion, and some garlic, fried them off, then added some ras el hanouh, and cooked it all through for a couple more minutes.
Then about a mugful of red lentils, and probably three mugs of water (although start with two and check as it goes). Sometimes I put a splash of red wine in; it’s a remarkably versatile base recipe. Bring to a slow boil, and cook for about 40 minutes. That will do us at least four servings, and probably six, depending on how much veg went in it. So that was the lentils.
I sliced an aubergine, put it on a tray covered in tin foil (saves washing up), drizzled with olive oil, and bunged in a gas 8 oven for about half an hour. Made a white sauce (with wholemeal flour – always use that for pretty much everything) while that was going on.
Then into an ovenproof dish: half the lentils, half the aubergines, a layer of spinach, half the white sauce, then the rest of lentils, aubergines, white sauce, and topped with grated parmesan. At least it should have been topped, but I got a bit confused 🙂 and put the parmesan on before the last bit of white sauce. No matter. Baked in a hot oven for about 25 minutes.
This was using up a wrinkly aubergine, some spinach that doesn’t look as though it’s going to last long, and some grated parmesan I bought for our camping trip – I’d normally put feta on top of this.
It worked really well, the sweet potato soup. But we were out and about all weekend, so I put the remainder (a litre or so) in the fridge, and of course it went very gloopy.
So this morning, I fished it out, added a mugful of lentils and about the soup’s volume in water, together with a good teaspoon of harissa paste to warm it up a bit.
It’s been on a low heat for a couple of hours, and we’re going to consume it with toast for lunch.
We’re struggling a bit to keep up with the veg at the moment – really, we need a box two weeks out of three, but Abel and Cole had a special offer when we joined, and there’s a £50 voucher at the end of our first four weeks, so we must keep going; this week is the fourth, so we can take a breather!
Things are so dire that I took a leek, two courgettes and a load of carrots yesterday, and hurled them in the slow cooker with some veg stock and barley, to make soup, so a heatwave will be approaching as I type.
We had a real courgette glut, so I decided to do a take on moussaka. We had some lentils cooked with Moroccan spices in the freezer, so I removed that. Sliced up two courgettes quite thinly, put them on a tray and doused them liberally with olive oil, then baked at gas mark 7 for about 25 minutes, turning them half way through.
Made some bechamel sauce, then layered lentils / courgettes / white sauce twice. We have a hugely prolific basil plant on the kitchen windowsill at the moment, so I picked a whole load of leaves from that and scattered them over the top, then added cubes of feta.
25 minutes at Gas 6. Lovely.
Followed it with a bramble crumble with fruit from the garden – nothing like your own produce, even if it is growing wild! We have 3 lbs in the freezer too, this year, which will give us bramble Stuff through the winter.
The weather was unseasonal and rainy, and forecast to be like that for the week. Neither P nor I are feeling particularly well, either, and so we decreed Soup.
There wasn’t much in – we’ve cancelled the box from Box Bush Farm, as we weren’t happy with the service. The last box we had contained spinach, lettuce, a limp cabbage and some chard, and two bunches of carrots – not very varied, we thought. There were a few apples and bananas too, but we have been disappointed. So we are currently veg boxless until I decide whether to give Abel and Cole a try. Anyway, I digress.
We had lots of carrots. Lots. But not much else. So I sliced them very thin with the fancy addon for the Kitchenaid mixer, and hurled an onion in there too, and sweated them down in some oil. Rummaging in the fridge brought forth a jug of stock from the Moroccan rack of lamb I did last week, so that went in. And a carton of creamed tomatoes, and a mugful or so of lentils. Left it to cook for about 90 minutes.
Lovely – the stock gave it a lovely spicy flavour. And it will do us for the week.