Broad Bean Stew

Spring is definitely on its way. The days are getting longer and milder, blossom is out, daffodils fill the grass verges, I am about to become another year older and I have planted this year’s crop of broad beans. So it must be time I used up the remains of last year’s crop, carefully podded, bagged and stored safely in the freezer.

This broad bean stew hits the spot. Balanced sweet and sour tastes from the addition of pomegranate molasses and lime juice. Just put everything in the pot and forget about it for half an hour or so.

This made enough to feed four with the rice.

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion – finely chopped
1 stick celery – finely chopped
1 carrot – finely diced
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 teaspoon each of whole fenugreek seeds, paprika powder, ground turmeric
2 mugs of shelled broad beans – fresh or frozen
2-3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Juice of half a lime
Vegetable stock – enough to cover the vegetables
Fresh mint and parsley – roughly chopped
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan – one that has a lid.

When hot, add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and gently fry until tender. Add the spices, stir then add the beans. Stir gently to cover the beans with the other vegetables then cover with stock and add the tomato puree. Add the pomegranate molasses, stir, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for around 30 minutes, checking from time to time to ensure it hasn’t dried out. Add a little water if it starts to look dry.

Remove the lid and add the lime juice and chopped herbs. Stir and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Note: If you prefer a moorish flavour, leave out the pomegranate molasses and lime juice and add half a finely chopped preserved lemon at the same time as adding the stock. This will make it more like a tagine dish.


Quinoa and Red Bean Burgers

Veggie burgers are tricky things to get right. Too dry and they crumble apart when you try to turn them in the pan. Too wet and you end up with a sludgy mess on your plate. On a recent visit to New York i experienced the good and bad side of burgers. On the first night I thought it would be fun to try out a good old fashioned New York diner. The menu described my meal as a veggie burger. I have absolutely no idea what was in it but it tasted vile and looked like a giant shredded wheat. Possibly the worst meal I have ever eaten. Next day however we took refuge from the cold and rain in Whole Foods Market had the perfect beetburger.

The other thing that struck me is everywhere is selling dishes containing quinoa. If you haven’t tried it it’s a seed, high in protein and has a sort of nutty smell and taste to it. It comes in red, white or black though I used a bag of mised. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in taste, the colour just changes to look of your dish. Widely used in salads, quinoa also makes a great burger ingredient.

This is my adaptation of a random recipe I found on line but am unbale to find again. i served it with a simple broad bean and potato patty, a poached egg and a roasted tomato sauce. The burger would also work in well in your favourite type of bun with chili jam, mayo and lettuce.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1x400g tin red kidney beans
1 teaspoon each of paprika powder, oregano and basil
½ teaspoon each of chili powder and salt
1 clove garlic – crushed
100g breadcrumbs
1 egg
65g strong cheese (optional)

First cook the quinoa. Put the quinoa into a pan, add the water then bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Drain and rinse the beans to remove the odd taste beans get when they are tinned and that horrid red sludge that sits at the bottom of the tin. Put them in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher of fork. You want something with both smooth and lumpy bits to rather than a smooth paste. Now add the garlic, the herbs, spices and salt and the grated cheese if using. Stir in the cooked quinoa and the egg, then slowly add the breadcrumbs. Panko work best here but normal bread crumbs made from stale bread work well if you can’t get Panko.

Keep adding a few breadcrumbs at a time, mixing well with a fork. You are trying to get a fairly stiffish mixture that can be squidged into burger like shapes. Once you have added enough brescrumbs, do just that. Take a handful and squidge it into a ball, then flatten the sides into a burger shape. You can get 6-10 burgers out of the mixture depending on how big or small you like them.

Take a large frying pan, heat a little olive oil then gently fry the burgers until golden and crispy on the outside, turning once. I think about 10-12 minutes each side seems about right.



Sweet Potato and Three Bean Stew

This year I decided to break with the norm on our allotments and not grow runner beans. Instead I’ve been growing borlottis, and two types of french – one purple and one green. This recipe uses all three though you could substitute runners or any tinned varieties.

A cross between a soup and a stew this is one of those few dishes I make that doesn’t have garlic or cheese (or both) in them. I ate this two days running. Day one as a stew with saffron infused basmati rice and day two as a soup with olive focaccia. My advice is to make too much as it tastes better if left in the fridge for a day.

3-4 tablespoons good olive oil
1 onion – finely chopped
2 sticks celery – finely chopped
½ yellow pepper – diced
½ red pepper – diced
1 sweet potato – peeled and diced
1 chilli – finely chopped – de-seeded if you don’t want it too hot
beans – I used about 40 french beans and the beans from about 20 borlottis
4-5 tomatoes – chopped
a tablespoon each of thyme, oregano and basil
vegetable stock
teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish then fry the onion and celery until soft. Add the sweet potato, peppers, chili and herbs and continue to fry, stirring occasionally until the peppers soften. Add the tomatoes and beans, stir for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break up then add enough stock to just come up to the same height as the vegetables. Put the lid on and transfer to the oven at 180C. Leave in the oven for about an hour. Remove and add salt as required.

Taze Fasulye

I got back last week from a week away on holiday. A quick visit to the allotment on Friday evening and I came home with vast numbers of runner beans – a whole carrier bag full. Now don’t get me wrong, I love runner beans, but they are hardly the most versatile of beans. Slice them, boil them, then serve as they are or with a little garlic and butter. I tend not to grow many as the occasional and seemingly unavoidable stringy one that gets caught in the back of the throat or between my molars puts me off whatever I am eating. Then I thought back to my holiday in Turkey a few years ago and the long afternoons spent at a lovely family run restaurant in Gumusluk. This Turkish green bean dish is usually made from the long flat beans available from Turkish and Middle Eastern stores, but works just great with runners too. It sounds simple and boring but give it a go – it’ll make you say “Wow!”

DSC_0350 (2)

400g prepared runner beans or french beans
2 small onions – finely chopped – or you can finely slice them into half rings if you prefer
3 cloves garlic – finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 ripe tomatoes – quartered (if you don’t have fresh tomatoes use about half a tin of chopped

Bring a pan of water to the boil then add the beans and boil for about 5-10 minutes until tender. Drain.

Take a large frying pan and heat the oil. Add the garlic and onion and fry gently until soft. Then add the beans, tomatoes and some salt to taste. Cover and cook slowly for 30-40 minutes until everything is tender and the tomatoes have fallen apart.

Serve hot or at room temperature with breads.

Broad Bean, Pea and Edamame Risotto


There’s something about risotto. I think it is the smug feeling of eating something wonderfully creamy that doesn’t actually contain cream. Adding lots of green bits can make one feel even smugger as you feel you are eating a healthy, low fat, balanced meal – which you probably are. This one is alcohol free too but you could use a glass of white wine to replace the equivalent amount of stock.

I found a pack of frozen edamame at the back of the freezer. they work well in a risotto, either on their own or as I did here partnered by tender peas and young broad beans. As spring turns to summer so can you ditch the frozen packs of peas and beans for the real thing.

1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 stick celery – finely chopped
2 teacups full of risotto rice – Arborio is good
1 teacup each of peas, broad beans and edamame (shelled of course)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
large knob of butter
a generous handful of fresh oregano – chopped
as much grated Parmesan as your conscience will allow – you do need a lot to give it flavour
good quality vegetable stock – Marigold Bouillon works well here – about ½ a litre

Start by placing the beans and peas in boiling water and boiling rapidly for about 3-5 minutes until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them overcooking.

Now heat the oil in a large pan and at the same time put the stock in another pan and get it up to a simmer. Fry off the celery, garlic and herbs in the oil until soft then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice in the oil then add a ladle of stock. Keep stirring gently to massage the rice, releasing the starch. When absorbed, add another ladle full and continue this way as the rice absorbs the stock. When the rice is al dente (just soft, but with a little bite to it still) add one more ladle of hot stock, then add the beans and peas, stir, then turn off the heat. Throw in a knob of butter and a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir again then cover and leave to rest for about 5-7 minutes. This is the important part as this is what makes the risotto deliciously creamy.


Everywhere you look at the moment you can’t avoid the mention of Mexico so here is my contribution. A simple to make meal that tastes great cold the next day in your lunch box. The chili can be made in advance and freezes well. There must be thousands of vegetarian chili recipes available. Here is mine, or you can use your own favourite for the filling. I use bulghar wheat in mine to add some texture and also to absorb some of the liquid which stops the tortillas going soggy.

DSC_0245 (7)

This makes 10 enchiladas. 1-2 enchiladas per person depending on how greedy they are.

2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 onion – finely choppped
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
1 red pepper – finely chopped
a few mushrooms – chopped
1x400g tin green lentils – drained
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
1x400g tin red kidney beans or pinto beans (drained)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika powder
chili powder – the amount depends on how hot you like it
bulghar wheat
10 flour tortillas
1 pack mozzarella
some grated cheddar
olive oil

heat the sunflower oil in a large an then fry the onion, garlic and red pepper undtil soft. Add the mushrooms and stir gently until these are soft. Now add the lentils and beans, then the herbs and spices. Stir well then add the tomatoes and a little water (about half the tin full). Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about half an hour. Turn off the heat and if it all looks a little runny add some bulghar wheat – probably about 3-4 tablespoons. Stir, cover and leave to stand for about 10 minutes until the bulghar wheat absorbs some of the liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now take the tortillas. Place a good dollop f the chili onto the middle, then wrap the tortilla around the chili to create neat parcels. I usually tuck the top under, fold in the sides, then roll. Place each burrito seam side down in a lightly oiled oven proof dish, cover with torn pieces of mozarella, grated cheddar and a splash of olive oil. Place the dish in the oven at 190C for about 20 minutes until the cheese has browned.

Serve with rice, iceberg lettuce and thousand island dressing. I make a simple dressing using
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons ketchup
½ teaspoon paprika powder

Mix it all together in a bowl

Mezze (of sorts)

What with summer well and truly on its way, what better than a Middle Eastern style Mezze to really get in the mood. I had to add a few twists and compromises based on what I had in the house to cook with at the time. This worked really well together and took about half an hour to prepare it all.


Clockwise from the bottom left

Quinoa Tabbouleh
Toasted Pitta Bread
Ful Medames
Griddled Halloumi
Fried asparagus with chili

I’m not going to post a recipe for toasted pitta bread or griddled halloumi but the I’ll write the others up when I have some time. Admittedly the Ful Medames doesn’t look too appetising here but tastes delicious. Ideally this should be topped with a generous helping of chopped tomatoes and parsley but I used all I had making the taboulleh. Not bad for a Tuesday night after a day’s work and guitar lesson.