Lemon & Mint Eggplant Tagine with Almond Couscous (or Cauliflower Rice)

Serves: 4

This year, all of us in the RobbyDog family are observing Meat Free Monday.

Better for the environment and surely better for us. (We’re on a major diet post a major Christmas diet!)

Prior to this dish, I had never had a vegetarian tagine though Lordy, I wish I had!

It is simple.

It tastes wonderful.

It is super-low calorie at 361 calories.

And it is so filling. Like, you’re stuffed so much so that I had to double-check the servings to make sure I wasn’t eating for two.

(I wasn’t!)

We also switched out the couscous and almonds for cauliflower rice, saving a pile of calories in the process: definitely sub 300-calories which is our twice-daily meal target.

Finally, we added a chilli to the yoghurt which is a necessary addition of spice.

Every time we jump into a diet, we can’t stop fawning over how wonderful vegetables are on all the levels described above. We look a bit silly.

Hopefully, by adding many great vegetarian dishes to our repertoire over the next few months of shredding, we won’t forget.

Meat Free Monday is a pretty good way to start.

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped + 1 crushed
1 tbsp harissa
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
200ml vegetable stock
400gm can chopped tomato
1 large eggplant, trimmed and diced
Zest of 1 small lemon
400gm can of butter beans, drained
175gm whole meal couscous
40gm toasted flaked almond
150gm low fat Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped mind
1 red chilli, chopped with seeds

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and softly fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir ion the harissa, cumin and cinnamon, cook briefly and add the stock and tomatoes.
  2. Add the eggplant and lemon and then cover the pan and cook gently for 15 – 20 minutes until the eggplant are tender. Add the butter beans and warm through.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the yoghurt, additional garlic, mint and chill=i.
  4. Cook the couscous and then stir in the almonds. Alternatively, prepare cauliflower rice.
  5. Serve the tagine on the couscous (or cauliflower rice) with the yoghurt drizzled over.

Crispy Roast Potatoes

Serves: 4

Truth is, I am not that enamoured by roast potatoes.

Which puts me in the minority because so often I hear from people just how much they love roast potatoes: also, that they are a treat?

It could be because I had them so often at boarding school, though what is amazing about a dry piece of roasted potato?

Mash with cream and Parmesan. Of course.

Colcannon. Most definitely.

Hasselbacks. Any day.

So there we are a few months back and Nat proposes a Sunday night roast. With roast potatoes.

“Sounds great” I gulp. “Can’t wait.”

Though Nat being Nat, she does her research. Plain old boarding school roast potatoes these will not be.

If you’re into your cooking, you have possibly come across the website Serious Eats. It’s a great site and a great service, where they take different recipes, pull them apart and rebuild them – using science – to create the very best version of that recipe.

It’s very cool.

And so here is… as they put it… “The Best Crispy Roast Potatoes Ever Recipe”.

And to their credit and Nat’s, these are the best I have ever eaten.

Cook them and tell me they’re not.

(The recipe specifically asks for two types of American potatoes that we cannot get in Australia. Through reading etc, the potatoes to use here in Australia are Dutch Cream, Desiree, Coliban or Sebago.)

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2kg potato (see note above), peeled and cut into large, 5cm chunks
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or duck fat
Small handful picked rosemary leaves, finely chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Small handful fresh Italian parsley leaves, minced

Method

  1. Adjust the oven rack to be centred and heat oven to 230c.
  2. Heat 2 litres of water in a large pot over a high heat until boiling. Add 2 tbsp salt, baking soda and potatoes and stir. Return to a boil and then simmer until knife meets little resistance when inserted into a potato chunk: about 10 minutes after returning to a boil.
  3. Combine the olive oil (or duck fat) with rosemary, garlic and a few grinds of pepper in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Cook, stirring and shaking pan constantly, until garlic just begins to turn golden: about 3 minutes.
  4. Immediately strain oil through a fine-mesh strainer set in a large bowl. Set garlic/rosemary mixture aside and reserve separately.
  5. When potatoes are cooked, drain carefully and let them rest in the pot for 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer to bowl with infused oil, season to taste with a little more salt and pepper and toss to coat, shaking bowl roughly, until a thick layer of mashed “potato-like” paste has built up on the chunks.
  6. Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and separate them, spreading them out evenly. Transfer to oven and roast, without moving, for 20 minutes. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula to release and stuck potatoes, shake pan and turn potatoes.
  7. Continue roasting until potatoes are deep brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking: around 30 – 40 minutes.
  8. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add the garlic/rosemary mixture and minced parsley. Toss to coast and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Rick Stein’s Pickled Onion and Pineapple Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really simple, colourful, Rick Stein Indian salad that perfectly cuts through fatty Indian dishes such as pork curries.

Ingredients

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sugar
300gm pineapple, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
A few fresh coriander leaves

Method

  1. Toss the onions together with the vinegar, sugar and salt and leave to marinate for an hour.
  2. Strain off any excess liquid, then toss the onions with the pineapple chunks, scatter with coriander and serve.

Delia Smith’s Asparagus with Quick Hollandaise

Serves: 4

Nat’s parents come over every few weeks for a meal (and several bottles of wine) and it is something I always look forward to.

I am always told by Nat’s mother – Deb – to keep it simple.

Which this easy little starter I served at our most recent meal, certainly is.

It is really elegant, super classic and foolproof if you pressed for time.

Which means more time for drinking champagne and catching up.

Ingredients

2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 bunch rocket

Hollandaise Sauce

1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tsp cornflour
2 egg yolks
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
40gm unsalted butter, softened

Method

  1. For the Hollandaise Sauce, place the creme fraiche, cornflour, egg yolks, white wine vinegar and lemon juice in a saucepan over a low heat. Cook, whisking gently for 1 – 2 minutes until thickened and combined.
  2. Remove from the heat and set aside. Whisk in the butter until combined, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Steam the asparagus for 2 – 3 minutes until tender.
  4. Divide the asparagus and rocket among serving plates, then drizzle with Hollandaise Sauce and serve.

Bill Granger’s Pea, Mint and Feta Salad

Serves: 4

This is one of Bill Granger’s signature dishes and he deserves it to be.

Amazing.

We have had mixed success with some of his dishes, though a good Bill Granger dish is a great one and this is definitely a salad that is great.

It looks simple – because it is – though the whole thing comes together wonderfully.

If you need a side to pair with that piece of lamb you’re doing on the BBQ, this is definitely a salad you should try.

Amazing.

Ingredients

200gm frozen peas
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
40gm shelled pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
1 large handful fresh mint leaves
60gm baby English spinach
90gm Feta cheese, crumbled

Method

  1. Blanch the peas until cooked – boiled water or microwaved – until they are tender and bright green. Refresh immediately in cold water, drain and set aside.
  2. In a small pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over a medium heat: add the onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar and honey and season with the salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the peas, onions and pistachios and pour over the dressing. Add the mint, spinach and gently toss to coat with dressing.
  5. Top the salad with the feta cheese and serve.

Tobie Puttock’s Roast Cauliflower with Chickpea Salad

Serves: 4 as a side

This is an excellent salad.

A bistro-quality, this-is-excellent, Tuesday-night-just-got-better salad.

It is another Tobie Puttock recipe and it is super simple: like all things cauliflower, not only does it taste wonderful roasted, with a crispy, charred, nutty flavour, though it is satisfying.

Potatoes play no role here.

We love to cook new recipes every time we cook, though having a repertoire of interesting, wonderful salads to whip-up every time we just want a grilled piece of steak, is definitely a thing for us.

This salad makes the cut.

Honestly, get onto it.

Ingredients

1/2 large cauliflower
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp, hulled tahini
2 tbsp low-fat plain Greek-style yoghurt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp warm water
Good handful of mint leaves, torn
Good handful of continental parsley, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Use a small, sharp knife to remove the florets from the cauliflower and discard the core. Place the florets in a large bowl and season with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, a good pinch of both salt and pepper and the chilli flakes. Spread over one of the prepared baking trays and roast for 30 – 40 minutes until the cauliflower is becoming dark around the edges and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, scatter the chickpeas and garlic cloves over the other lined tray. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tbsp of olive and shake the tray to combine. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden, remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  4. Squeeze the roasted garlic flesh into a bowl, discarding the skins. Mash the garlic with a fork and then add the cayenne pepper, tahini, yoghurt, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and water and stir to combine. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  5. Divider the cauliflower and chickpeas among serving plates, drizzle with the dressing and scatter the mint and parsley on top. Serve.

Martha Stewart’s Pea Salad

Serves: 4

We had an amazing Bill Granger Pea Salad last week and inspired, I was looking up pea salads we could serve this week along with some spicy lamb meatballs we we’re having for dinner.

This recipe came up a lot.

I used Parmesan rather than Cheddar and I cooked and then refreshed the peas rather then letting them de-thaw in the salad in the fridge for 4 hours… something you are most welcome to do if you wish.

The reason I’ve typed it up of course is that is a fantastic salad.

So much so that the next day, I did a double batch for a BBQ pool party and everyone loved it. Even kids.

Get onto this!

(Note: we cook our greens in the microwave; a dash of water in a microwave dish and you have crunchy, crisp greens without the need to boil or broil… In typing up this recipe, I haven’t prescribed how to cook the peas and however you do it, enjoy.)

Ingredients

1/4 cup (low fat) egg mayonnaise
1/4 cup (low fat) sour cream
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
500gm frozen baby peas
1/4 cup, packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
60gm, Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
120gm smoked bacon

Method

  1. Cook the bacon in a large frypan over a medium heat until browned and becoming crispy: around 10 minutes. Drain well on paper towel and then julienne.
  2. Cook the peas until warmed through; refresh in cold water.
  3. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream and vinegar in a large bowl; season generously with salt and pepper. Fold in the peas, onion and parsley.
  4. Refrigerate until needed and gently fold in the Parmesan and bacon just before serving.