Tag Archive for Vegetarian

Roasted pumpkin, feta and hazelnut salad

Pumpkin is a real autumn vegetable. It is harvested in autumn, and it lends itself perfectly for all kinds of dishes that suit the weather. In the Netherlands there are two species commonly available: butternut squash and ‘pumpkin’ (smallish bright orange, I suspect it is Hokkaido pumpkin). I prefer to use butternut squash, because I find the hokkaido usually a bit to sweet and quite mealy, but in this recipe I did use a hokkaido because I got one as a present. You can make this recipe with any winter squash.
In the Netherlands the naming conventions for pumpkins and squashes are a bit different than in English, which can lead to confusion. In English you have summer squash (harvested immature, no seeds developed yet, tender skin; examples are courgette/zucchini and pattypan) and winter squash (harvested mature, contains seeds, tough skin; examples are butternut, acorn, spaghetti and the different kinds of pumpkins). In the Netherlands summer squash is not known as summer squash, but just as the species it is, for example courgette. All the winter squashes are generally named pumpkin, except for ‘sierkalebassen'(ornamental gourds), which are not suitable to eat.

This salad is perfect for autumn. It is a salad, which always gives me a bit of a summery feeling, but it has enough bulk and bold flavours to satisfy me even when the weather is getting colder. Roasting is my method of choice for preparing pumpkin, because it is easy and it gives you the nice, caramelized crust, while cooking/steaming tends to make pumpkin watery and mushy. Roasting also gives you a great chance to add extra flavour to the pumpkin, in this case garlic and rosemary oil. Pumpkin always needs some bold or pungent flavours to prevent it from tasting icky sweetish. The feta adds a salty touch, and a bit of sharpness (for some extra sharpness, add a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar). The hazelnuts complement the nutty flavour of roasted pumpkin, and give some crunch to a dish that would otherwise be quite mushy. Delicious! To make it from a side-dish into a main, add a cooked grain (bulghur would be very nice).

Roasted Pumpkin, Feta and Hazelnut Salad

Roasted pumpkin, feta and hazelnut salad (serves 2)

1 small pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary
75 g hazelnuts
100 g feta

Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds (you can wash and roast them if you like). Divide into wedges and place in a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 200C.
Finely crush the garlic, rosemary and salt in a pestle and mortar. Add the olive oil and mix well. Use a brush to spread half of the oil over the pumpkin wedges. Place the baking tin in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until nicely roasted. Brush with the remaining oil, then place back in the oven for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, roast the hazelnuts until golden, then crush them or chop them up. They have the best flavour when they are really roasted until golden, but they do tend to burn quite quickly as well, so keep an eye on them. Crumble the feta.
Place the pumpkin wedges on two plates, sprinkle over the hazelnuts and feta. Serve.

Broad bean purée

This purée is very versatile. It is delicious as a side-dish with all kinds of meats, it is delicious as a dip for bread sticks, it is delicious as a spread on bruscetta and it works also great as a pasta sauce (thin it with some water in that case). Double-podding all the broad beans is a bit of a job, but the end-result makes it certainly worth it. And I kind of like the repetition of podding beans, it is quite a meditative activity. So why not make a big batch even when you will not eat it at once? It keeps for 4 days in the fridge, so it is a great stand-by for an easy dinner, or a delicious snack.
On the photo you can see I served the purée with a beefburger and fried polenta squares. You make this squares by cooking your polenta according to the instructions on the package. Season with salt, pepper, a knob of butter, some cream or mascarpone and parmesan. Pour into a greased baking dish (so that it forms a thin and even layer) and leave to cool. It should be completely cool, so I like to place the baking dish in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Cut into squares and fry in a hot pan in some olive oil until golden and crisp on the outside, and warm in the middle.

Broad Bean Puree

Broad bean purée (serves 4-6)
Adapted from “Annabel Langbein – The Free Range Cook”

1 kg podded fresh or frozen broad beans (or 5 kg fresh broad beans in their pods, podded)
3 cloves garlic, chopped very finely
4 tbsp extra vergine olive oil
50 g grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp water
Optional: squeeze of lemon

If broad beans are fresh, boil them for 2 minutes then drain. If using frozen broad beans, pour over boiling water and leave until cool enough to handle. Slip off greyish outer skins by grasping each bean by its grooved end and squeezing gently. Discard skins.
Put the beans, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and purée. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if necessary. The purée can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.
To serve, add the water and warm on low heat while stirring regularly. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like. Serve.

Note: to make this dish truly vegetarian, use a vegetarian alternative for Parmesan cheese.

Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta

This spicy, hearty salad is perfect as warming meal on a cold autumn day, so it is perfect for the weather in the Netherlands at the moment. It is winter, but with all the rain, moderate temperatures and storm it seems autumn. It is a delicious, vegetarian main, but also delicious with a bit of fish, chicken or meat on the side (I served it with a little bit of fried salmon). You can eat it warm or cold, and it is sturdy enough to take the leftovers with you for lunch the next day.

Lentil Squash Salad

Lentil salad with butternut squash and feta (serves 3 persons as a main)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup black lentils
6 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (from about a 2-pound squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera dulce
1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera picante
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste
salt and pepper
Optional: roasted seeds from your butternut squash

Preheat oven to 200C. Toss squash cubes with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or oven dish and roast 20 minutes. Flip pieces and roast for another, until tender and browned.
Meanwhile, cook lentils in boiling water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes (taste them earlier, because the cooking time of lentils varies greatly).
Combine lentils, squash, any oil you can scrape from the baking sheet, half of the feta, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper and extra vinegar, if desired. Divide among plates and sprinkle with the remaining feta.

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, make sure you use a feta (or similar white cheese) that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain animal derived rennet).

Lentil-potato salad

I often have a texture issue with pulses. They often are very mealy and mushy and icky. Part of that can be remedied by using the right pulses. The only lentil that works for me in non-soup/dhal dishes (for which I prefer orange lentils) is the black beluga lentil, because it stays whole during cooking and doesn’t get all mushy and starchy. Some people claim the same of puy lentils, but I really didn’t like those, so I stick with these. The other part of the remedy is making the correct dish. A bowl of plain lentils is boring, it needs something extra. This salad succeeds in that brilliantly, the creamy potato and sharp and tangy dressing complement the lentils perfectly, making this a delicious dish.

The temperature of this salad is kind of in between. The original recipe calls it “warm” and makes sure to keep the potato and lentils warm, but I don’t think that is necessary. Just make sure that your lentils and potatoes and dressing are ready at about the same time, mix them together and serve immediately. Also at room temperature I think this salad is lovely. The only things that don’t work are hot, and fridge-cold.

This salad is a delicious side with about anything. We ate it with a piece of salmon fillet, but it would also be delicious with roast chicken, pork chops or sausage. As with most things, a fried or poached egg on top is delicious; or chop some hard boiled eggs and stir them through, making it a stand-alone dish. It is also delicious as lunch, in that case store the dressing separate from the rest to prevent sogginess and making it possible to reheat the lentils and potato. It should keep for about 5 days in the fridge.

Lentil-Potato Salad (serves 4-6)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 large shallot, halved
1 clove garlic, crushed then halved
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry black lentils
salt and pepper

500 g baby potatoes, halved

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons sour gherkins, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper

Cook lentils. Pick over and rinse lentils. Place them in a small/medium pan with the halved shallot, crushed garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, some salt, some pepper and 4 cups of water. Simmer the lentils over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm-tender. Check earlier than that, because some lentils cook faster than others. Drain and discard shallot, garlic, thyme and bay leaf.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes. In a separate pan, cover potatoes with 3 cm cold water. Set timer for 15 minutes, then bring potatoes to a simmer. When the timer rings, they should be easily pierced with a toothpick or knife. Again, check earlier than the 15 minutes, because different kinds of potatoes cook faster than others. Drain.
Make the dressing. Place the chopped shallot and red wine vinegar in the bottom of a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in minced garlic, mustard, salt, pepper and olive oil. Stir in chopped gherkin and parsley.
Assemble salad. Place potatoes in serving bowl. Add lentils, dressing and combine. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Egg Curry

It may seem a little weird to put boiled eggs in a curry sauce, but it works very well. The spiced, slightly acidic sauce contrasts beautifully with the rich, creamy and mild taste of the eggs. Serve with rice, naan or chapatis, and a raita or kachumbar.

Egg Curry

Egg curry (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from Rick Stein’s India

6 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil
small handfull of fresh curry leaves (omit if you can’t find them)
1 tsp fennel seeds
250 g onion, sliced
2 dried Kashmiri chillies (see note)
20 g ginger, finely chopped
20 g garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
400 g tomato passata
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: some chopped fresh coriander, to serve

Boil the eggs using your preferred cooking method. Officially, they should be hard-boiled, but I like to keep them quite soft, because they will cook some more when simmered in the sauce later on. Peel them and set aside.
Heat the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the curry leaves and fennel seeds and fry for 30 seconds, then add the onion and fry until soft and golden (about 10 minutes). Add the dried chillies, ginger and garlic, fry for 3 minutes, then stir in the ground coriander, cumin, black pepper and turmeric, and fry for 30 seconds (keep an eye on it, because it is quite sensitive to catching and burning). Then add the passata and the salt, simmer for about 10 minutes until rich and reduced. Add the eggs (whole), put a lid on the pan and simmer for 4-5 minutes to heat the eggs through.
Sprinkle with the fresh coriander (if using) and serve immediately

Note: Dried chillies are kind of a Russian roulette: you never know when they make a dish turn out inedible hot. Furthermore there are many different kinds of (dried) chillies, that all have different levels of spiciness. That is why I don’t use them myself, I use a teaspoon of sambal instead, because it is a lot milder and I know exactly how spicy it will be. Go ahead and use something you have available and to your taste.

Courgette ribbons with goats cheese, lemon and pine nuts

A very fresh and light dish. To add some earthiness, I served it with quinoa and smoked chicken. Also great for when you are in a hurry, but still want a nice and healthy meal: this dish can be prepared in 15 minutes.

I like the taste and texture of raw courgette, but it is also possible to cook the courgette for a minute, or to grill it.

Courgette ribbons with goats cheese, lemon and pine nuts

Courgette ribbons with goats cheese, lemon and pine nuts (2 servings)

1 courgette, in ribbons or thin slices
100 gram fresh soft goats cheese, crumbled
juice of 1 lemon
40 gram pine nuts, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: a drizzle of olive oil

Mix everything together. Serve at room temperature.
Serve with quinoa cooked in stock, and smoked chicken.

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, make sure you use a goats cheese that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain animal derived rennet).

Two summer salads: caprese and couscous

On one of the last summery days (at least, that is the expectation) of the year, we ate two lovely salads as our diner.

You all know the standard insalata caprese you get at (Italian) restaurants. Stone cold and under-ripe tomatoes, inferior mozzarella and some basil, drizzled with cheap olive oil, salt and pepper. Not a very nice dish… But if you make it correct, you have a delicious antipasto (appetizer). Start by looking for good, ripe and tasty tomatoes and make sure that they are on room temperature. Then the mozzarella. Don’t bother to make this salad with the mozzarella you get in the supermarket. Mozzarella is a fresh cheese and should be eaten within a few days after making it. As you can understand, this is certainly not the case with supermarket mozzarella, causing it to be dry and tasteless. Fortunately there are some buffalo farmers in the Netherlands, which also produce mozzarella. This time we had Mozzarella from the BuffelFarm (availability on website), but I want to try the one from Orobianco (available at cheese shop van der Ley in Groningen). Because they are in such a close proximity from where we live, the cheese is very fresh. I usually find mozzarella quite bland, but this mozzarella has lots of flavour and is very moist and unctuous. Certainly worth it! And then finish your salad with good extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and basil if you like it on your salad (I don’t). Lovely!

The couscous salad was an accidental creation. We had planned quite an elaborate dish to cook, but I really did not have the energy to prepare it. So I checked out the fridge and found halve a block of feta, some cucumber and a yellow paprika, which I thought would perfectly combine with couscous, and would be fast as well. So I prepared my couscous as stated on the package (this really varies a lot between brands!) with some vegetable stock to give it lots of flavour. After cooking/soaking I stirred it well to make the couscous nice and fluffy instead of sticky and dense, and I added a little knob of butter. Then I added the cucumber and paprika (diced in small cubes) and the feta (in standard size salad cubes). Season with just a bit of pepper, and voila, a fast and healthy meal!

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, make sure you use a feta (or similar white cheese)/mozzarella that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain animal derived rennet).

Lamb cutlets and couscous with grilled vegetables

The sunny weather of the past weeks makes me feel like it is already summer, and makes me want to cook all sorts of summery things. Unfortunately, the weather turned back to its normal self for early spring, all grey and cold. But I still have summer in my head, so I just gave in to cooking something summery. This may seem like a difficult dish, because of the long ingredient dish, but actually it is very simple, tasty and healthy. You could also make the salad and sauce in advance and take it for a picnic, barbecue or pot-luck. Instead of lamb cutlets this marinade would also be nice for other types of meat, for example pork chops or steak. You could also serve fish with it, or make it a vegetarian dish.

Couscous and Lamb

Lamb cutlets and couscous with grilled vegetables (2 servings)

marinated lamb cutlets
2 lamb cutlets
juice and zest of half a lemon
5 sprigs of thyme, only the leaves
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or chopped finely
1 tbsp olive oil

pickled onions
1 red onion, sliced in moons lengthways
splash of lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

crème fraîche – cucumber sauce
150 ml crème fraîche
1/4 cucumber, in cubes
juice of half a lemon
salt, pepper

couscous with grilled vegetables and parsley
1 yellow bell pepper, big cubes
1/2 courgette, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
lots of parsley (5 big sprigs), chopped

150 g couscous
150 ml water
1 vegetable stock cube

Mix lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme leaves, pressed garlic and olive oil. Spread this over the lamb cutlets and marinate for at least one hour, but preferably longer (overnight).
Bring a pot of water to the boil, cook onions for 2 minutes. Drain, mix the onions with the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Leave to marinate for at least one hour, but preferably longer.
Mix crème fraîche, cucumber and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Put the garlic in a ramekin, or other small oven proof dish. Pour over the oil, the cloves should be covered by it. Stew it in a low oven (150C) for 45 minutes. (You will not use the garlic infused oil in this dish, but it can be used very well in dressings or to bake potatoes in).
Bring the water to the boil, add the stock cube. When it boils, add in the couscous, cover and set aside.
Grill the yellow bell pepper and the courgette, finish cooking until tender in the oven.
Grill the marinated lamb chops and finish cooking in the oven. Rest for 10 minutes.
Add to the couscous: the pickled onions (without the liquid), the garlic, the bell pepper, the courgette and the parsley, and mix well.
Serve the couscous with the lamb chops and the crème fraîche-cucumber sauce.


Shaksuka (different spellings occur) is an Arabic dish consisting of eggs cooked in tomato sauce, with cubes of cheese added on top. The spices use vary greatly between different countries and regions, which makes it a very versatile dish to adapt to your flavours. It doesn’t have to be arabic, you could even make an Italian version with oregano and parmesan, or French with herbes de Provence and brie. It is also very easy and fast to cook and is fantastic comfort food. It warms you up during the winter and cools you down in summer.
I like to serve it with bread, usually some kind of arabic flatbread or pitabread, but as on the picture it can be everything you have available. You could leave the dish vegetarian, but sometimes I add some minced meat to make it a more substantial dish.


Shaksuka (2 servings)
Inspired on Smitten Kitchen

vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 tsp garam masala curry paste (or replace by garam masala powder)
1/2 tsp sambal (badjak or oelek)
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
1 stock cube
1 can of tomatoes
4 eggs
100 g feta, cubed

Heat the oil in a pan. Fry the curry pasta and sambal, add the onion, garlic and cumin, fry until translucent and soft. Add the tomatoes and stock cube, let bubble away for a while to remove sourness from the tomatoes. Taste and season if necessary. Break the eggs into the pan, keep them whole. Place a lid on top, cook for a few minutes, add the feta, and cook for a few minutes more. The egg white should be firm, the yolks still runny.
Serve hot, with bread and a salad.

Note: to make this recipe truly vegetarian, make sure you use a feta (or similar white cheese) that is suitable for vegetarians (i.e. does not contain animal derived rennet).

Simple detox food (Tomato soup, salad and fruit)

Christmas and new year are a time of food. Lots of food. Food that is fat, unhealthy and sugary. Some people have healthy eating and loosing weight as their new years resolution, but even if you don’t, it is good for you to take some time to eat healthy as a counterbalance to all the unhealthy stuff. And probably you are hungering for something healthy at the moment anyway, so make use of it and loose the extra Christmas pounds fast and detox your body. Bonus: these dishes are very simple to prepare.

Tomato soup (2 bowls)
500 ml passata (pureed and sieved tomato, from a can/carton)
stock cube
curry powder

Pour the passata in a pan. Add some water to thin it to the preferred consistency. Crumble in the stock cube and let the soup bubble away for a while. This will remove some of the sourness that tomatoes from a can often have. Mix the curry powder with some of the soup (to prevent lumps), add to the soup, taste and season if necessary.

Simple lettuce, cucumber, chicory, walnut and cheese salad (2 servings)
100 gram mixed lettuce leaves
1 head of chicory
1/2 cucumber
50 gram walnuts
100 gram fresh goats cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the lettuce leaves if necessary. Throw in a big bowl. Slice the bottom of the chicory, discard the ugly leaves, pluck the leaves of, add to the bowl, discard the chicory heart (it is bitter). Slice the cucumber thinly, throw in the bowl as well. Crumble the goats cheese and the walnuts over, dress with the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands and serve.

Fruit salad
Mixed fruit (I used pear, frozen summer berries and frozen mango)
Lemon or lime juice
Cane sugar

Mix the fruits, dress with a little lime juice and sprinkle a small amount of cane sugar over. Serve immediately, or leave to marinate for a while. The juices of the fruit, combined with the lime juice and the sugar will form a nice dressing for the fruit.