Mushroom kebabs – homemade vegetarian shiitake mushroom kebabs

So it turns out I’ve become a bit of a cliché.

For the last few months I’ve been on a drive to save money and eat more healthily. The good news is these two aims have complimented each other nicely, as a lot of my healthier meals have been meatless. I’ve exchanged meat for a lot of beans, chickpeas and lentils, which are a lot cheaper! Apparently, this makes me a flexitarian, which is a very trendy thing to be right now. (Also known as “a vegetarian who cheats” according to The Guardian…)

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One of my favourite recent recipes on the blog was my delicious lamb kebabs. I wanted to make them again, but a “flexitarian” version. I choose shiitake mushrooms as my meat substitute because of their texture and taste. They are topped with an awesome garlic mayo and homemade pickles. Try them out – you definitely won’t miss the meat!

Ingredients (serves 2)
– 200g shiitake mushrooms
– one red onion, peeled and cut into half moons
– 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
– 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
– 1 teasoon dried oregano
– 1 teaspoon dried thyme
– half a teaspoon celery seeds
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

To serve:
– flatbreads (I made mine using this BBC Good Food recipe)
– roasted garlic mayonnaise (a few teaspoons of mayo mixed with a few cloves of roasted garlic
– pickled cucumbers (check out Feasting At Home for great tips on how to do this)
– a handful of parsley

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Method
1. Mix the flatbread dough.
2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Cook the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until softened and turning translucent.
3. Clean and slice the shiitake mushrooms. Add them to the pan along with the spices and Worchestershire sauce.
4. Cook for at least 5 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and have absorbed all of the amazing flavours.
5. In the meantime, mash the roasted garlic with the mayonnaise and cook the flatbreads.
6. Serve and enjoy!

Mushroom kebab 01-06-2017, 19 48 47

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Chickpea goulash (paprika-spiced vegan chickpea stew)

Chickpea goulash (paprika-spiced vegan chickpea stew)

Chickpea goulash 2

I was recently lucky enough to visit Australia. I spent a week in Sydney and the second week in Melbourne, eating a lot of amazing food. One happy day in Melbourne, I discovered a gorgeous shop selling spices.  I spent quite a long time smelling the amazing aromas, and picked up a few treats, like an applewood smoked salt that makes everything taste unbelievable!

Their goulash seasoning smelt so amazing that I was inspired to create this recipe. It is SO tasty. It’s a vegetarian spin on a traditional goulash. Hungarian goulash is usually made with pork, so this version with chickpeas is a lot lighter, healthier and cheaper to make. I batch cook this as it freezes really well. You don’t really need anything else with it, as the chickpeas are so filling. You can serve it with soured cream or even grated cheese… but obviously if you’re vegan then use vegan substitutes.

You can sprinkle parsley on the top of this when you serve, but I love using the chopped leaves from the top of the celery instead. (No waste!)

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Ingredients (makes 4 portions)
– two onions, peeled and finely chopped
–  4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
– 2 celery sticks, sliced
– 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
– 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
– 2 bay leaves
– 2x cans of chickpeas, drained
– tin of chopped tomatoes

Optional – soured cream / vegan soured cream to serve

Method
1. Heat a little oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrots for a few minutes until softened and the onion is starting to turn translucent.
2. Add the bay leaves and paprika, plus salt and pepper. Stir together – this should begin to release a gorgeous smoky smell.
3. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and drained chickpeas. Stir everything together and leave to simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
4. Taste and season.
5. Serve with your favourite toppings

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Sweet potato mac and cheese (gluten free)

Sweet potato mac and cheese (gluten free)

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Last Christmas I got Anna Mae’s Mac n Cheese recipe book, which has rapidly become one of my most used books. It’s full of amazing recipes for macaroni cheese and is so beautiful to boot. If you have any cheese-loving friends, I would highly recommend this as a gift.

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It’s made me play around with Mac and Cheese recipes, which has been fun! This one is definitely my favourite, not least because it is gluten free. Substituting the pasta for sweet potato noodles adds a delicious flavour and makes it slightly healthier…. although there’s still a LOT of cheese in this! I use a Lurch spiralizer, which I’ve always found to be a really reliable model.

If you don’t have a spiralizer, then you will just have to cut the sweet potatoes into small cubes and cook them for an extra 5-10 minutes before adding the cheese mix.
Or just buy a spiralizer!

Ingredients (serves 2)
– 3 medium sized sweet potatoes
– 1 tablespoon oil
– 1 teaspoon each paprika and thyme
– 300 ml milk
– 25g unsalted butter
– 25g rice flour (or other gluten free flour)
– 125g cheddar
– 75g Parmesan
– 100 g mozzarella
– 1 teaspoon English mustard
– salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper

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Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and spiralize them to make thin noodles. Trim any really long noodles and toss with the oil, paprika, thyme plus salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes in an oven proof dish, moving regularly to make sure the edges don’t burn.
3. While the noodles cook, make your cheese sauce. Melt the butter over a medium heat and slowly stir in the flour. Cook out the flour for up to 4 minutes.
4. Warm the milk (don’t let it boil) and add this gradually to the butter and flour, whisking constantly. When it is all combined, cook for about 8 minutes, or until the the sauce has thickened.
5. Grate your cheese. You can do this by hand, but to be honest, I cut mine into large cubes and then chuck it in the food processor. So. Much. Quicker.
6. Add the mustard, cheddar and Parmesan to the white sauce and stir until all of the cheese is melted in.
7. Pour the cheeeeesy sauce all over the noodles, which should now be cooked through but a little al dente. Stir together, then spread the mozzarella over the top. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Turn the oven to high grill and cook for 6-8 minutes until the cheese is molten and bubbly.

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Crispy chicken nachos with peri peri garlic sauce

peri-crispy-chicken-tacos-2There are so many things that I love about this recipe. It has very quickly become one of my favourite, and I’ve made it at least once a week for the past month. I don’t regularly repeat recipes, so this one is definitely special!

I love that the chicken is baked, not fried. I love the tangy, creamy dressing that totally lifts all of the other ingredients. I love the crisp lettuce. I love the soft taco cups that have a bit of a crunch but don’t cut your mouth to pieces. I could go on…!

I usually try to be quite generic with my ingredients and not recommend specific brands, but I’m naming one in this recipe. I use a Nando’s peri peri garlic sauce to make the dressing and I’d definitely recommend you do the same. Their sauce is awesome!

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Ingredients (makes 4 taco bowls)
– 200 grams chicken breast strips
– 60 grams breadcrumbs (you can use Panko for extra crunch, but normal breadcrumbs are perfectly fine)
– 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1 tablespoon plain flour
– 4 flour tortillas
– half a head of lettuce, shredded (something with a crunch, like iceberg or romaine)

For the sauce:
– 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
– 3 tablespoons Nando’s Peri Peri Garlic sauce
– 2 teaspoons lime juice
– 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
2. Mix the breadcrumbs and paprika together, then season with salt and pepper. Whisk the egg and flour together well in a separate bowl.
3. Dip the chicken first in the egg, then coat in the breadcrumbs. Place on a lined baking tray.
4. Repeat with the other pieces of chicken, then bake for 15-20 minutes until the coating is crisp and the chicken is cooked through.
5. While the chicken is in, push each of the tortillas into an individual bowl and bake at the same temperature until the tortillas hold the “bowl” shape. This usually takes about 12 minutes.
6. Mix together the sauce ingredients. Shred the lettuce.
7. Remove the chicken from the oven and slice each piece. Build the tacos by lining a bowl with shredded lettuce. Top with chicken pieces and then drizzle the sauce over the top. Yum!

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Homemade lamb kebabs

Homemade lamb kebabs

Homemade lamb kebabs 2

It’s not often I eat the same meal two nights in a row. In fact, I enjoy experimenting and trying out recipes so much that I end up making new meals rather that repeating ones I enjoyed. Every so often I remember something I loved and wonder why I haven’t made it again recently… then I’m right back to experimenting.

This was an exception though – I was thrilled to make this again. Eating it two nights in a row was an absolute treat. These homemade kebabs are so delicious and quite quick to make, even with making your own flatbreads. It’s an assembly job, so I’m going to deal with each bit separately.

These instructions will make 4 kebabs – serves 2.

Flatbreads
This isn’t my recipe, it’s from BBC Good Food. They’re called quick flatbreads, and they are definitely speedy.
Take 200g plain flour and 1 quarter teaspoon of salt, and mix in 100ml of water. Add in 2 tablespoons of light oil and knead together for 5 minutes into a dough. You may need to add more flour or water to make a soft dough, but these proportions have worked well for me.
You can cook straight away or leave to rest for 30 minutes. Separate into four equal sized balls. Roll out each ball with a rolling pin on a floured surface. I’m not good at making them circular, but I’m going to pretend I was deliberately going for the rustic look.
To cook, heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the flatbreads on both sides for 1-2 minutes each. Place on kitchen roll to absorb excess oil until ready to use.

Lamb kebabs (1)

Lamb
-250g very thinly sliced lamb (I use a cut called sukiyaki, which is basically shaved lamb)
– half a red onion, peeled and cut into half moons
– 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
– 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
– 1 teasoon dried oregano
– 1 teaspoon dried thyme
– half a teaspoon celery seeds
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

1. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until softened and turning translucent.
2. Add the lamb and spices to the pan, along with the Worchestershire sauce. Stir well and cook until the lamb is done to your liking. Season with salt and pepper.

Lamb kebabs (4)

Toppings
This is up to you, you can top your kebab with whatever you like. To me, pickles and garlic sauce were non-negotiable, but go with what your tastebuds tell you.

I always have roasted garlic in my freezer, so I could make a roasted garlic mayonnaise in seconds. I took four cloves out of the freezer bag and when they had softened slightly, I mashed them with four tablespoons of mayonnaise and a little salt. That’s it!

I had pickled some cucumbers recently, using this advice from Feasting At Home. They are awesome and so they went on top, along with a sprinkling of parsley.

Lamb kebabs (5)

To assemble, take a warm flatbread, spoon on some of the lamb, then top with pickles and the garlic mayo. Sprinkle over some chopped parsley, wrap up and enjoy.

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Gluten free lasagne (chicken lasagna with zucchini “pasta”)

Gluten free lasagne – chicken lasagna with courgette

Gluten free lasagne

This lasagne recipe is perfect for people avoiding gluten, as the pasta is replaced by layers of courgette. It’s also lower in calories than normal lasagne (although don’t worry, there’s still a very generous helping of cheese!)

The recipe is similar to my skinny chicken bolognese. If you want to try out that recipe, you can find it here.

Ingredients (serves 2)
– 200 g chicken mince
– 1 carrot
– 1 white onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 tablespoons tomato puree
– 200 ml passata
– 1 zucchinis
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
– 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and rosemary
– 125 g mozzarella, sliced
– 75 g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Finely chop the onion, garlic and carrot (you can also do this in a food processor to make life easier).
2. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onions for about two minutes, then add the garlic and stir together until they begin to soften.
3. Add the carrot with the Worchestershire sauce. Stir together then cover and leave to sweat for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the chicken mince and cook until the meat is white and firm. Pour over the tomato puree, passata and herbs and combine well. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Season to taste.
5. Use a vegetable peeler to peel long strands of the courgette. Stop when you get down to the seeds (you can also chuck this bit in the food processor and add it to your sauce).


6. Take a heatproof dish and spoon in a layer of the filling. Top with slices of courgette until you have covered the sauce, then place over half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan. Repeat with the sauce, courgette and cheese.
7. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

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Skinny chicken Bolognese with zoodles

Skinny chicken Bolognese with zoodles

A few years ago, I travelled to Bologna and had the very best Bolognese I’ve ever tasted. It was in a tiny little backstreet restaurant – thick, rich ragu with tagliatelle (not spaghetti – the traditional way is with wider pasta noodles because they take on more of the sauce). It was just amazing and one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I went back the next night and ordered the exact same thing!

It’s a pretty perfect food memory and I’m not sure that I could recreate the recipe. To be honest, I probably don’t want to think about the amount of butter, salt, red meat etc that went into making that dish! So I decided I’d go in a different direction. I’d make a Bolognese that would still be delicious but would be healthier.

This recipe uses chicken mince instead of beef and I’ve replaced the pasta with spiralized zucchini. That makes it lighter, much lower in calories and gluten free. Spiralizing is a super easy way to reduce the gluten and calories in your meal, but still feel full. You can buy the spiralizer I use by following this link – I really recommend it.

In addition to the “zoodles” I’ve included lots of vegetables in the ragu sauce, so this can provide up to 4 portions of fruit and veg per serving! If you were wanting to be extra healthy, you could skip the Parmesan cheese but really, is life worth living without cheese?

I think this recipe is a great way to let you enjoy a family favourite but in a lighter way. I hope you like it!Skinny chicken bolognese (2)

Ingredients (serves 4)
– 400 g chicken mince
– 2 carrots
– 1 white onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 100 g cherry tomatoes
– 2 medium zucchinis
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
– 500 ml passata
– 100 ml chicken stock
– 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and rosemary

Black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Skinny chicken bolognese (1)Method
1. Prepare the vegetables. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Peel and dice the carrots and halve the cherry tomatoes. Dice a quarter of one of the zucchinis, then spiralize the remaining zucchini on the fine noodle setting.
2. Heat a little oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onions for about two minutes, then add the garlic and stir together until they begin to soften.
3. Add the diced carrot, tomatoes and zucchini with the Worchestershire sauce. Stir together then cover and leave to sweat for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the chicken mince and cook until the meat is white and firm. Pour over the passata, stock and herbs and combine well.
5. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes with the lid on. Stir well, then cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the sauce is thickened and reduced. Season to taste.
6. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, heat a little oil in a large frying pan (or I used roasted garlic butter for extra flavour). Cook the zucchini noodles in the frying pan until slightly softened -I like mine still with a bit of bite to them. Drain and pat dry with a little kitchen paper, or your sauce will turn watery.
7. Serve the Bolognese sauce with the cooked zoodles and top with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.

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