Miso Noodle Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

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A quick and easy lunch for one. Continuing my recent theme of trying new things, miso was next on the list (this post has been in draft so long that I’ve already published something else with miso; I think it’s safe to say I like miso!). In the same spirit I decided to combine things I had available and that I also wanted to eat (hence two kinds of noodle!) into a soup for lunch one day. I have to admit I’m not a big soup eater at all, certainly not for a main meal. But actually, this was really enjoyable and worked well for lunch.

Amounts are clearly to taste, and are more of a record for me of what I did than a suggestion to you as to how to make a definitive miso noodle soup. But if you want to follow them that’s ok too!

Miso Noodle Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 sachet vegetarian miso noodle soup paste (what a cheat!!!) I used ‘Itsu’ – it was on offer in one of the big supermarkets a while back.
20g brown rice udon noodles, 10g buckwheat noodles
Few small florets broccoli, tbsp frozen peas (10g), small carrot, peeled and sliced finely on the diagonal, small amount of yellow pepper, finely sliced, very small amount of fresh chilli, finely sliced.
Good splash of soy sauce, squeeze of lemon juice and toasted pumpkin seeds (about 5g)

Bring water to the boil, add the noodles (follow packet instructions, mine said 5-6 minutes). Add veg (earlier for softer, later for more crunch). In the meantime, toast the pumpkin seeds and make up the miso sachet (I added 150ml water but might add a little less next time).

Drain noodles and veg, add to miso soup, add soy sauce, lemon juice and pumpkin seeds.

Enjoy the umami of the miso and the freshness of the vegetables with the slippery noodles and crunchy seeds. Delicious.

Miso Noodle Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pork and Pear

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I haven’t been a big meat eater historically. In fact there have been many periods of months at a time when the only non-vegetarian thing I’ve eaten has been parmesan cheese. But I’m not vegetarian and as I’m trying to broaden my eating habits and diet, more meat is inevitably going to be consumed.

It feels wrong when the majority of the population are cutting down on meat consumption to be increasing my own but there we have it, and it’s not like I’m eating meat at every meal, or even every day.

But this was dinner today. Soften a sliced onion and a sliced (small, hard) pear in a little oil. Get a pan of water boiling for the rice and veg (what can I say – I cook them together because I’m a lazy cook and have to do my own washing up!). When the onion and pear are starting to soften, add sliced pork (mine was simply sold as trimmed medallions) and seal both sides. Start the rice cooking, add the sour cream (I used 50g) to the pork and simmer, adding seasoning to taste. I added a little slaked cornflour to thicken but I’m not really sure it did! Add a little water if necessary. Add the veg about five minutes before the rice is done.
Serve and enjoy!

Pork and Pear

Smoky Bacon, Bean and Tomato Sauce

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This sauce made a nice, filling lunch one day, served with some very crunchy sourdough toast.

Smoky Bacon, Bean and Tomato Sauce
Soften 1/4 finely chopped red onion in a tsp oil. Add 1 rasher smoked back bacon, chopped into small pieces and leave to colour for a minute or so. Add 120g tomato passata, a good shake of smoked paprika and half a drained, rinsed 200g tin of butter beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for a few minutes while you toast the bread.

Serve! I like my sauce separate from the toast, that way the toast stays crunchy for longer.

Smoky Bacon, Bean and Tomato Sauce

Moroccan Couscous Salad

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It’s odd how we all find different things appealing. I was doing some meal planning (well, attempting it) recently and speaking to my brother he mentioned a couple of recipes from Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals. I’ve got the book sitting on my shelves (it was a gift I think for reasons which will become clear) so I thought I’d browse through and see what appealed. And sadly nothing really did. I’m sure if I looked hard enough there would be thinks I’d want to make, if only in adapted form but my overall feeling as I closed the book again was not one of inspiration. But I totally understand that Jamie appeals to many people with that book. I have other books of his that I find contain lots and lots of things I want to make, it’s just this particular book…

On the other hand, I seem to want to make every other recipe from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Veg Every Day book. This one was the result of scrabbling round for something interesting to eat one lunchtime. I had most of the ingredients available (which probably reflects the amount of food in my cupboards at the moment!) apart from parsley, which in the interests of trying new things and attempting to follow the recipe I went and bought.

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I certainly manage to get around the different supermarkets…

Moroccan Couscous Salad (inspired by Veg Every Day, HFW)
Place 40g couscous, 10g raisins, 1/8tsp each cinnamon, cumin and coriander (or to taste) and 45g drained weight chickpeas in a bowl. Pour over 60g boiling water and leave to stand for 5 minutes (or follow the instructions on your packet of couscous – this is what mine said). Add 1 chopped large tomato, a good squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley along with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine, then serve.

A quick and easy (vegan) lunch. I quite liked the combination of spices (I’m certain that I used to hate cumin, perhaps I’m becoming accustomed to it very gradually) and the tomato added a nice freshness. I don’t think I like parsley at all, which is such a pity because it makes the salad look so pretty! Chickpeas are fairly neutral but my favourite part was definitely the raisins. Which probably goes to show I have an irredeemably sweet tooth!

I can see this being really adaptable. Next time I’d drop the parsley or at least use less of it and leave it in bigger chunks so I could pick it out if I still didn’t like it (I’m such a child sometimes) but I think roasted peppers would go well and perhaps preserved lemon as well to stick with the Moroccan theme. Perhaps I could try adding mint rather than parsley and see if I preferred that!

lavenderandlovage_cooking2I think this salad is suitable for a couple of blog challenges this month…. Cooking with herbs at Lavender and Lovage. The theme is garlic/chives for May and June but any herbs are welcome so I hope this recipe will be accepted! Also No Croutons Required hosted alternately by Jac of Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen. Jac is hosting for June.

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Moroccan Couscous Salad

Red Lentil, Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhal

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As a child my tastes were fairly unadventurous. Our diet was varied but very much based on standard British classics; shepherd’s pie, roast dinner, mince. Along with things like soup and baked beans. Perhaps I’m doing my hardworking mum a disservice but with two fussy children I don’t blame her for giving us things we’d eat.

As a teenager I branched out a little more and then I was lucky enough to go away to university. Now it seems to me that for most people, leaving for university is an opportunity to try new things in all walks of life, break free of previous expectations and routines. And mostly people tend to become more adventurous in what they’ll eat when they leave home. Sadly this wasn’t the case for me and my already somewhat limited repertoire shrank considerably. There were a number of reasons for this, but I don’t think I’ll go into them right now.

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Anyway, this is building up to me confessing that this is the first time I’ve ever made anything with Indian spices in it for myself (and pretty much the only time I’ve eaten them – aside from a very small amount of curry about eight years ago!).

This recipe seemed like a good place to start – I’ve been having a love affair with spinach recently, having discovered that frozen spinach is fairly cheap, always to hand and defrosts quickly into whatever I add it to. It also doesn’t feel like I’m eating extra vegetables but I am. Bonus! And I know that I enjoy sweet potatoes – mostly roasted, but probably any way they come really.

I found the recipe whilst browsing through the archives of Herbivores’ Heaven, which is a lovely blog; well written and interesting to read. The recipe was originally a BBC Good Food one, but is no longer available on their website. And I adapted it from what was given anyway to take account of the fact that I wasn’t sure whether I would like the flavour of the spices. Be warned, if you know you like spice then you probably won’t even taste the amounts given here! Even I didn’t think it was warm in terms of chilli heat so next time I’ll increase all of the spices.

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Red Lentil, Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhal
Place 50g red lentils, 1 finely chopped onion, 1/4tsp turmeric, 1/4tsp garam masala, pinch chilli flakes, 1/2tsp stock powder, 2 chopped tomatoes and 250ml boiling water in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add a chopped sweet potato (mine weighed 140g after prep, 225g before prep) and simmer for a further 10 or so minutes (I’m rubbish at taking note of timings!) then add the frozen spinach (70g), mushing it in well until it’s defrosted and distributed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
I served mine with basmati rice.

This was delicious – I loved the gentle spicy flavours with the colourful vegetables. There is some left over and I am very much looking forward to eating it at some point in the future and I will make it again too, always the sign of a successful recipe.

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I’m going to link into a few blog challenges with this one. Firstly Meat Free Mondays hosted by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes. This recipe is vegan and rather unusually for me, I didn’t miss the cheese that I usually add to everything I eat! I’m looking forward to trying more recipes like this. I’m adding it to Credit Crunch Munch with Helen and Camilla hosted this month by Baking Queen 74. Red lentils and frozen spinach are definitely economical. As my sweet potato was apparently best before *ahem* the 4th April, I think I can count this as an entry to No Waste Food Challenge! Hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. And finally it will be an entry into the Spice Trail where the theme this month is Spice Mixes. I’ve not used garam masala before and really wasn’t sure of it when I opened the pot but added to all of the other ingredients it was really lovely. I’ll be using it again.

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Red Lentil, Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhal