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Roasted Pumpkin Dhal

I am trying to eat more protein and I think it’s good to eat more protein from sources other than meat. So I got inspired on the weekend to go down the lentil path. I’m not that keen on lentils, but lentils in the form of dhal takes them from bland to spicy and very tasty!

The idea for this dish came from watching the hilarious series from Jamie Oliver “Keep Cooking and Carry On”. Jamie made the series in lockdown last year and it’s hilarious as most of the episodes are Jamie cooking at home, filmed on an iPhone with his kids helping (or hindering) the process!

One dish from the show was an eggplant (aubergine) dhal. So I got motivated to make my own version of a tasty dhal dish.

The recipe is pretty easy as I’m using bought curry simmer sauce, so no need for extensive ingredients. It’s a one pot dish too, as you roast the vegetables and then cook the lentils in the one pot or dish. Roasting the veggies has the advantage of giving the dhal a nutty, caramelised flavour.

And my genius if slightly unconventional accompaniments of hard boiled eggs, yoghurt and chutney really make the dish!

Ingredients

Approximately 2 cups cut pumpkin – about half of a small pumpkin or butternut squash

2 onions

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup of any good curry simmer sauce or 3 tablespoons of curry paste*

250g any lentils (I used 200g red lentils with 50g split peas as that’s all I had)

1 litre boiling water

400g tin whole tomatoes – cherry tomatoes if you can get them

A handful of fresh cherry tomatoes

2 hard boiled eggs

Chilli flakes

2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon mango chutney

Basil leaves or any other herb

*Any sauce or paste is ok – Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken, Korma, Tikka Masala or Tandoori.

Method

Peel the pumpkin and chop into small chunks. Peel the onions and roughly chop. Put the pumpkin and onions into a heavy based pan. Make sure this pan can be used on the stove top and that it has a lid.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Pour over the oil and the simmer sauce (or curry paste). Roughly mix everything together.

Put the pan into the oven lid off and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft and the onions are caramelised.

Remove from the oven. Take about half of the roast pumpkin and onions and put into another dish and cover with foil.

Stir the lentils and roast veggies into the boiling water. Add the tinned tomatoes.

Put the pan onto the stovetop on a medium heat. Add the lentils to the pan and the litre of boiling water. Note: if you used curry paste rather than simmer sauce you will need to add another 250 mls or so of water.

Turn the heat to low and simmer the mixture with the lid on, until the lentils are soft and the dhal has thickened, about an hour. It’s hard to say exact how long – you will know when the lentils are cooked and really soft. Add a bit more water if the dhal is too thick or it’s sticking to the pan.

Once the dhal is cooked, remove from the heat. Check the seasoning. If you want it hotter, you could add some chilli flakes or even a spoonful of curry taste.

Stir in the rest of the roasted pumpkin and onion that you put aside. Or you can just place them on top of the dhal without stirring them in.

Serve as is or you could add the extras I used – fresh cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs scattered with chilli flakes, some Greek yoghurt and mango chutney. Scatter the dhal with basil leaves or any other fresh herb you have on hand.

Minestrone – Jamie Oliver Keep Cooking and Carry On


Everyone is cooking up a storm as we spend a lot of time at home in isolation. Jamie Oliver is doing his bit with his fabulous series Keep Cooking and Carry On. 

I recently saw Jamie cook Minestrone from the series on an Instagram video, and “instantly” had to cook some too. The great thing about this recipe is that Jamie says use whatever is in your cupboard or fridge – don’t be afraid to chop and change ingredients!

So here’s Jamie’s recipe with my changes in italics. The link to Jamie’s original recipe is here.

Ingredients

4 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon, optional

olive oil

1 clove of garlic

2 small onions

2 fresh bay leaves

2 carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 large handfuls of seasonal greens, such as savoy cabbage, curly kale, chard I used white cabbage and Swiss chard

1 vegetable stock cube1

1 x 400g tin of quality plum tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of beans, such as cannellini, butter, or mixed 
I used cannellini  and black eyed beans

100g dried pasta I used pappardelle and tricolour pasta

Parmesan cheese , to serve

extra virgin olive oil

Method

Put a large shallow casserole pan on a medium-high heat.

Finely slice the bacon, if using, and sprinkle into the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring occasionally while you prep your veg.

Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion, adding the garlic to the pan with the bay leaves as soon as the bacon turns golden, followed by the onions.

Trim and chop the carrots and celery into rough 1cm dice, adding to the pan as you go. Remove and finely chop any tough stalks from your greens and add to the pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, or until softened and caramelised.

Crumble in the stock cube, pour in the tinned tomatoes, breaking them up with your spoon, then add 1 tin’s worth of water.

Pour in the beans, juice and all, then add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.

Shred your greens and sprinkle into the pan, top up with 600ml of boiling kettle water, then add the pasta. Cover and leave to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pasta is just cooked and the soup has thickened to your liking.

Season the soup to your liking. Jamie serves with a granting of Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves and sometimes a dollop of pesto.  I just went for the basil – that was all it needed for me.

A note: I love this soup because it’s so thick! You can vary the consistency by cooking a little less to retain more liquids, or, once cooked, thinning with a little water.

The soup, if it’s really thick could be served on toast or bread. I would definitely recommend sprinkling with Parmesan or a cheddar and putting under the griller for a substantial snack!


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