Avocado and Potato Salad

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The sun has been shining a  lot this February in Berlin and it makes me think more about summer food. There are some decent organic avocados in the shops, although they have travelled a long way. Potatoes are always delicious in Germany and there are some lovely salad version available. This is a hearty, rich salad which should only be lightly dressed otherwise it becomes too cloying. It is best with the potatoes still warm.

Ingredients

Serves 1 as a main course

A whole ripe avocado

A Little Gem lettuce or a Romaine heart

6-8 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters

A large spring onion very finely chopped

6 tiny salad potatoes

A tablespoon of shop bought or homemade salad dressing of choice

Boil the potatoes whole for 20 minutes and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Finely chop the lettuce and place in the bottom of a bowl. Add tomatoes and the avocado chopped. Add the potatoes to the top of the salad and then sprinkle over the onion. Dress lightly and season to taste.

Herby Lentil Koftas

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These lentil balls are made fresh tasting with the addition of loads of fresh mint and coriander. They go really well inside a wrap with hummus or romanescu sauce or served with the Immunity Booster Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate and Cranberries. As I have said before, the secret to making burgers or koftas that hold together without egg is to make a paste with a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and water and add this to the mixture before forming the balls.

Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes if using cooked lentils

Ingredients
Makes 12 koftas

200g of dried red lentils cooked until just soft
A large onion cut into large pieces
A handful each of fresh mint and fresh coriander
2 teaspoons of paprika
Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
A clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
A tablespoon of ground flaxseeds made into a paste with water
A tablespoon of gram flour
Olive oil to cook

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until it has formed a dough-like consistency. Shape into balls. Place on a baking sheet and lightly coat each ball with olive oil. Cook at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.

Spicy Carrot and Peanut Soup with Coconut Milk

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It started to feel a little autumnal this morning and it was slightly chilly indoors, making me want to eat something warming. This soup has Asian influences but also reminds me of Africa where lots of peanuts are grown. This could be made with pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato, all of which would be delicious. As this is a blended soup, you do not have the chop the ingredients small and this saves on preparation time. I used pearl barley to thicken this but you could add red split lentils instead.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients
3 medium carrot coarsely chopped
Two large shallots coarsely chopped
A clove of garlic chopped
750ml of boiling water
Two vegetable stock cubes
A large handful of pearl barley
100ml coconut milk
A handful of toasted peanuts finely ground
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the carrots, shallots, garlic, cumin, chilli, water, barley and stock cubes into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the carrots are soft and the barley is cooked. Add the coconut milk, half of the coriander and a dessertspoonful of the ground nuts and cook for a further minute. Blend the soup. Serve in a bowl garnished with more coriander, ground nuts and chilli flakes.

Homemade Baked Beans on Toast with Juicy Mushrooms

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Us Brits love our baked beans. I have not made these for about 8 years and I was surprised how delicious they were. I was lucky to have a jar of molasses in the cupboard from my vegan Christmas pudding. It gives a great flavour but toucan use honey, of you eat it, or syrup or brown sugar. I made the beans the night before and when I got home from work I only had to heat and eat. It helps if you use a good fresh, crusty loaf for the toast. Leave the mushrooms whole if you want them really juicy and buy the biggest ones you can find.

I used dried, haricot beans but you can use any tinned, white beans too.
Serves 2
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour if you use precooked beans

Ingredients
A 250g tin of white beans or 150g of dried beans precooked and cooked till soft
2 medium tomatoes
A tablespoon of tomato purée
A tablespoon of molasses
A clove of garlic
Two teaspoons of oregano
A medium onion finely chopped
A teaspoon of grain mustard
Half a teaspoon of nutmeg
Olive oil for frying
4 thick slices of seeded bread
Vegan spread
10 medium mushrooms left whole
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil and add the onions. Fry until soft. Blitz the garlic and tomatoes in a blender until liquid. Add the tomato mixture, beans and all of the other ingredients to the onions. Bring to the boil and simmer for about and hour until rich and thick. Season to taste.

In the meantime, heat more oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. Turn the best down and put a lid on the pan. Cook for about five minutes until the mushrooms are soft and juicy. Season to taste.

Toast the bread and spread with vegan spread. Spoon the beans on the toast and serve with the mushrooms.

Luca’s Green Pea and Avocado Guacamole

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This recipe is for baby Luca. I hope he likes it. I spent a bit of time looking into what babies eat and I think this is safe. It is very fashionable now to make baby food from fresh ingredients and I think that is a great thing, giving babies a wonderful start in life and hopefully helping to minimise the chance of developing a taste for sugary and salty food.

I started making pea guacamole as my husband, Dave, cannot eat avocado. As Dave is away at the moment I am able to make it with avocado but adding sweet, baby peas makes it even fresher tasting. As this is for a baby, I have left out the chilli but you could add fresh or dried chilli to your taste.

I ate this on toast for breakfast and as a side dish to the pea and leek risotto I made earlier in the week.

Serves 2-3 people
Total time 10 minutes

Ingredients
Half a large, ripe avocado
150g of frozen baby peas defrosted
A tablespoon of olive oil
Quarter of a clove of garlic
A medium spring onion roughly chopped
A few leaves of chopped, fresh herbs – coriander, parsley or basil would work
Half a medium tomato roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth paste. You will need to shake the blender quite a bit and you can add a tiny bit of water if needed.

Creamy Curried Mushroom and Leek Toasts

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I did not want to cook an elaborate meal just for one. I had some lovely, firm chestnut mushrooms which I bought in the bio-supermarket and a leek left over from the risotto recipe. Both really lend themselves to a creamy sauce. You can buy soya cream in many supermarkets in the UK and in bio-supermarkets in Germany. It is worth keeping a small carton in the cupboard as it can be used in many dishes and served with fruit as a dessert.

Serves 1
Total time 15 minutes
Half a large leek thinly sliced
Two handfuls of chestnut mushroom thickly sliced
A tablespoon of soya cream
Olive oil for sautéing
A large pinch of curry powder
Half a clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
A large sliced of multigrain bread toasted
Chopped fresh parsley to finish

Gently heat the oil in a shallow pan and sweat the leeks until they are becoming soft. Add the mushrooms, garlic and curry powder and cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are cooked, pour in the cream and stir through so that all of the veg are covered. In the meantime prepare the toast. Serve the mushrooms and leeks on top of the toast and garnish with parsley.

Simple is Best Lentil Soup

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Lentil soup is my favourite dish when I need something comforting but quite ascetic. There has been a lot of socialising over the weekend and I am feeling a little sluggish. When Dave and I crossed Turkey on our motorcycle in 1997, lentil soup was essential to our survival as the weather was so cold. They serve it for breakfast in huge bowls with a whole loaf of crusty, white bread on the table. It is unbeatable as a breakfast dish on a cold day.

I never vary the way I cook this. I am so attached to the way it tastes that I would not want to spoil my simple recipe. However, you can use either split red lentils or chana dahl. Both are equally as good. Chana dahl needs to cook for longer and you get a firmer consistency with the lentils. This works well in the pressure cooker if you are in a hurry.

Serves 4
Preparation time 10 minutes. Cooking time 1 hour for chana dahl or 35 minutes for red split lentils

Ingredients
250g of red split lentils or chana dahl
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 large tomato finely chopped
A vegetable stock cube
A teaspoon of oregano or marjoram
A handful of fresh coriander
A crushed clove of garlic
800ml of boiling water

Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes for red lentils or an hour for chana dahl. Season to taste. If using chana dahl, take two cups of the soup and blend before returning to the soup. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with more fresh coriander.