Tuesday dinner: Beans, mushrooms, courgettes, rice
Red, white, and black bean stew. Slice onions thinly and garlic thickly; sauté in olive oil until golden. Add quartered chestnut mushrooms; cook until liquid starts coming out. Add a splosh of white wine; deglaze.
Add previously-cooked soya beans, aduki beans, and black beans, along with cooking liquid from the aduki and black beans (I discard the cooking liquid from the soya beans as I’m not keen on the taste) and a can of chopped tomatoes. Season with paprika, Chinese black vinegar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and vegetable stock concentrate (or a stock cube).
Cook until liquid has reduced enough, adding chopped courgettes about 10–15 minutes before you expect it to be ready. Serve with rice. Optional garnish for meat-eaters: lardons and chopped chorizo, fried in their own fat.
Monday dinner: Artichoke hearts, broccoli, peppers, gnocchi, cheese
Gnocchi with broccoli pesto. Cook broccoli florets in boiling water until soft; chop very finely and reserve. Blanch chopped red pepper in the same water for a minute or two; remove and reserve. Cook gnocchi in the same water until done; drain. Mix chopped broccoli, blanched pepper, drained gnocchi, quartered canned artichoke hearts, a couple of spoonfuls of ready-made pesto, a glug of olive oil, a little finely-grated hard cheese, and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.
I used parmesan, which is not vegetarian, but you could use any hard cheese. You could also use dairy-free pesto (which I in fact did) and omit the cheese to make it vegan.
Sunday dinner: Artichoke hearts, broccoli, pasta
Broccoli and artichoke pasta. Mix together: artichoke hearts from a can, drained, rinsed, and halved; broccoli florets, boiled until done to liking; pasta quills, boiled until done to liking; a good slosh of olive oil; a couple of spoonfuls of tomato pasta sauce from a jar; plenty of black pepper. Reheat if necessary.
I used gluten-free pasta, and it worked fine. I also put some grated parmesan on mine. The pasta sauce was non-vegetarian (it had anchovies in) but a vegetarian or vegan sauce would have worked fine. The idea with the tomato sauce is just to add a little extra flavour, not to make it very tomatoey.
This is very quick and easy if you have the ingredients on hand.
Sunday dinner: Aubergines, tofu, pork mince, rice
Tuesday dinner: Black beans, chorizo, peppers, bread
Black bean and chorizo stew. Made as per the link, except with leeks instead of carrots, tomato purée and veg stock concentrate instead of paprika and cumin, and no courgettes.
Again, I’d have left the chorizo out if I’d been cooking for a non-meat-eater.
A buffet lunch for some friends, to serve as both lunch and dinner. Some was home-made, the rest was bought from TFC.
- Aubergine with preserved lemons. Sauté chopped onion and garlic in olive oil; add a bit of tomato purée and some finely-chopped aubergine; cook for about 10 minutes; add chopped preserved lemons and a splash of vegetable stock; reduce heat, cover, and cook until aubergine is soft.
- Okra stew with pomegranate molasses. Sauté chopped onion in olive oil; add a can of chopped tomatoes, a squeeze of squeezy garlic, and a splash of vegetable stock concentrate (I use Touch of Taste); simmer for a bit; add sliced okra and a splash of pomegranate molasses; cover and simmer until okra is very soft and the sauce had reduced.
- Black bean and chickpea salad. Black beans cooked from dried, chickpeas from a can. Mixed with vinaigrette, chopped red peppers, and finely-chopped parsley.
- Vermicelli rice. Done in the rice cooker, with the vermicelli cooked separately in olive oil in a frying pan and added to the rice cooker along with the normal amount of rice and water. Stirred well before serving.
- Borek (spinach/cheese pastries) and vegetable samosas. Bought frozen, cooked in the oven.
- Muhamarra. A spicy dip made from chopped nuts, bought ready-made.
- Hummous. Again bought ready-made.
- Mixed olives.
- Turkish bread. We bought flatbreads and the puffier style of bread; the flatbreads got entirely ignored.
Monday dinner: Aubergines, tofu, pork mince, rice
Mapo tofu. Made with pork mince and no thickener in the sauce. Lots of Sichuan pepper ground over the top at the end.
Served with jasmine rice done in the rice cooker.
Saturday dinner: Black beans, okra, bacon, polenta
Black bean and okra stew. Cook black beans in boiling water until tender (or open a can of them, rinse and drain). Fry chopped bacon in its own fat until crispy, remove from pan and reserve. Sauté chopped onion, carrot, and garlic in the bacon fat (add a bit of olive oil if you need to) until browned and fragrant. Add bacon to black beans along with onion mixture, some canned chopped tomatoes, and sliced okra; add vegetable stock to cover. Season with Worcestershire sauce, then simmer until okra is soft and stew is thick.
I served this with soft polenta. If I’d been cooking for vegetarians/vegans I’d have left out the bacon, used vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, and probably added some extra spices and/or herbs. Cumin would have been good.
Sunday lunch: mushrooms, aubergines, mackerel, rice, potatoes, oranges, almonds
Gluten-free, dairy-free lunch for several friends. All vegetarian aside from the mackerel, all vegan aside from the mackerel and the cake.
Monday dinner: Sausages, courgettes, lentils, bread
A quick, low-effort dinner tonight, based on a Stone Soup recipe.
Fry sausages in a bit of olive oil in a frying pan until brown on all sides. Pour off most of the fat. Pile the sausages up at the side of the pan, and add chopped courgette in the space cleared; sauté these until they take on a brown colour from the sausage fat. Add some pre-made tomato sauce (I used Loyd Grossman’s puttanesca) and some water, mix it all up, and let it simmer until the courgettes are almost cooked. Add pre-cooked lentils (I used Merchant Gourmet puy lentils cooked with mushrooms and thyme), mix gently, and cook for another couple of minutes to let the flavours blend. Serve with bread and/or a side salad.
I used pork sausages, but this would work with veggie sausages too; you’d just need to make sure to add more olive oil to make up for the fat that would normally come out of the sausages.