The easy way to make waste free, wholemeal dried pasta

Who knew that pasta was so simple to make?

I have never been a great fan of pasta, but my son absolutely loves it – he would eat pasta and pesto every single day if I’d let him.  But in the UK it is difficult to find pasta without plastic packaging, particularly if you want to buy in large quantities  (there are some options mainly in card but with a small plastic window).  Having heard it was easy I thought I should give it a go – and it really is easy – and it got the taste approval from my fussy child. You can easily buy flour in a paper bag which you can either recycle or put in your home compost.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 cup hot water

Method:

Making the dough:

  • If you are using a food processor fit the dough attachment.
  • Add the flour, pour in the hot water and switch it on.  It will turn to breadcrumbs to start with but stick with it and it will soon come together into a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • If you are making the dough by hand place it in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the flour and pour in the hot water a little at a time and mix together  either with your hands or a wooden spoon.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together in a dough.
  • Press the dough down into a flat round.  Divide into 4 quarters  (this will make it more manageable to roll out later).
  • Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 10-15 minutes.
  • You could freeze all or some of the dough at this point for later use if you wish.

Now you can begin to turn it in into your desired shapes:

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time roll it very thinly.
  • Then you can get creative and cut and shape to your heart’s desire – but be warned, this bit can take a long time.   I like to look on it as something therapeutically undemanding on the brain to do while listening to some muscic but you could get the kids to help or invite a friend round for a natter while you work. Slicing into lasagne sheets or into strips for tagliatelle is probably the quickest.  I tried to make spirals on my first attempt but decided this time that bows might be easier.    For bows I rolled the dough then cut into strips which I then cut across into small rectangles as shown below.  To turn into bows you simply squeeze them together in the middle.

Drying your pasta:

  • If you don’t want to use your pasta straight away you can dry it for storage.  As I have an electric dehydrator I used that but if you don’t you can just spread them out and leave somewhere airy until dry.
  •  The time it takes to dry depends on the size and thickness of the shapes you have made – I dried the small bows for 3-4 hours at 50 degrees C.  The first batch of spirals were larger and took 4-5 hours.  The best thing is to keep an eye on them and remember to swap around the trays from time to time since the different levels may dry at different speeds.
  • Once fully dry you can transfer to a storage jar until needed and cook as you would shop bought dried pasta – around 8-10 mins.    If you skipped the drying part you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.

Now I know how to make basic pasta dough I’m next going to try to sneak some vegetables into the ingredients –  as he’ll happily eat shop bought green pea pasta, and red lentil pasta without realising.  I have seen people making pasta from pumpkin puree and flour as an example – but any recommendations on things to try are welcome – please comment below.

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How to impress with minimal effort – Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

chocolate-caramel-tart
Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

When it comes to Christmas and New Year entertaining, easy is good.  Well, let’s be realistic, easy is good anytime.

Last week I made Banoffee Pie, to take to family for a Boxing Day tea. Since they started selling ready tinned caramel so you don’t have to boil a tin of condensed milk for hours Banoffee Pie has been my go to easy dessert.  But this dessert, inspired by Millionaire’s Shortbread, is even easier.  Yes really.

Ingredients:

  • 250g biscuits ( I used digestives as I had half a pack left from the banoffee pie but I bet something oaty like Hob Nobs would work really well)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 tin caramel (I used Carnation)
  • 200g block of milk chocolate ( I used Choceur from Aldi which comes in easily recyclable card packaging and is free from palm oil)
  • Optional decoration ( I used Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray but  as I subsequently noticed this contains palm oil  I would omit or seek an alternative in future)

( I have mentioned which products I used for convenience only – this post contains no affiliate links)

Method:

  • Grease a flan dish or baking tray well.
  • Crush the biscuits either using a food processor or by wrapping them carefully in a clean tea towel or (ideally cloth) bag and bashing with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter – I did this in the microwave, setting the timer to 30 secs and checking and stirring every 10 secs or so until completely melted, but melt in a pan if you prefer.
  • Stir the butter into the crushed biscuits until well combined.
  • Tip the mixture carefully into your flan dish and press down with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Chill for approx 1 hour until firm.
  • Spread the caramel carefully over the biscuit base and chill again until you are ready to top with the chocolate.
  • Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a bain marie or in a jug in the microwave.  I prefer the microwave as it is quicker but as with the butter check and stir it frequently until just melted.
  • Pour the melted chocolate onto the caramel carefully, gently spreading with a spatula until the top is covered.
  • Decorate as required and chill again until the chocolate has set.

To serve cut carefully with a sharp knife and have your plate or bowl at the ready – it will crumble!  And enjoy. Remember, easy is good.

Seasonal Eating – Beetroot Recipe round-up

Not much is growing in our back garden at this time of year, but my dad is still harvesting and sharing beetroot from his allotment. He gave us such a lot that I ate beetroot every single day for more than a week, and twice on some days so was in need of a selection of different recipes for a bit of variety!  Some of my favourite recipes are shared below, and  thanks go to Rosie at A Green and Rosie Life and Erin at The Rogue Ginger for allowing me to include links to their beetroot recipes. The post is also being shared on Rosie’s Going Green Linky.

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Beetroot and Halloumi

Our favourite way of eating beetroot is a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella’s Kitchen for beetroot pureed with lime juice and a little olive oil.  Nigella uses vacuum packed beetroot but if you are using fresh you need to trim the leaves (leaving a little of the stalk still attached) and boil  with the skin on until tender.  This year I have been saving energy by cooking the beetroot in my Wonderbag – I gently wash the beetroot and place it a lidded casserole dish and cover with water (it works best if the casserole is pretty full), bring to the boil for about 5 minutes and then pop it into the Wonderbag (the Wonderbag is an insulated bag which retains the heat so the food conitnues to cook without needing additional energy) for a few hours until we are ready to eat.  Once cooked, allow to cool a little and the skin can be easily peeled off by hand.  You will also have a casserole full of gloriously red beetroot water  which you can save to use in stock, soup or risotto.

Once peeled blend the beetroot with the juice of a lime and a little olive oil. Season with pepper.

Slice up a block of halloumi into about 10 slices and dry fry in a frying pan until browned.

Serve the halloumi over a bed of salad leaves (earlier in the year than now we would use rocket and land cress from the garden, along with marigold and nasturtium flowers but you can use whatever salad leaves you like).  Then drizzle the beetroot puree on top.

beetroot-and-halloumi

 

Beetroot, Potato and Chorizo Hash

Another easy recipe is this one which originally came from an Asda magazine. You can substitute other root vegetables depending what you have available, and could use leftover roast veg.

Preheat the oven to 190c.

Cut approx 300g of potatoes (you can peel them but I prefer to leave the skin on), 300g of beetroot (peeled) and one sweet potato (peeled) into cubes and boil for 5-10 mins.  Drain well.

Place the drained vegetables into a roasting tray with 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges, and 225g of diced or sliced chorizo.

Mix together 1tbsp sunflower oil, 2tsp wholegrain mustard and 2tbsp Worcestershire Sauce.  Pour the mixture into the roasting tray and stir to coat the meat and veg.

Bake for approx 40 mins, stirring after 20 mins.

Top each serving with a fried egg and season with black pepper.

 

beetroot-and-chorizo-hash

 

 

I love risotto – I could pretty much eat it every day ( and before I had a husband and son to cater for I pretty much did, adding whatever other ingredients I happened to have).  So here is a link to my  Easy Beetroot Risotto  recipe, on the blog a few years ago.

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My Beetroot and Fennel Soup recipe was from the really early days of my blog, so there is a link to the recipe but sadly no pictures as I hadn’t yet worked out how to add them!

I also made a Beetroot Cake which my son loved, mainly because he thought it was made with raspberries!  I much prefer this to the popular beetroot/chocolate cake combination. Beetroot Cake

Heat the oven to 180C.

Grease an 8 inch cake tin.

Mix together 250g self raising flour, 2tsp baking powder and 150 of soft brown sugar.

Then add 100g of sultanas and 250g of peeled, grated beetroot.

In a separate bowl beat together 150ml of sunflower oil and 2 medium eggs, then add into the dry ingredients and mix together.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1-1 1/4 hours.

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Fellow bloggers Rosie and Erin kindly shared these great beetroot recipes from their respective blogs. Follow the links to view the full recipes on the host blog.   A reminder that you can use the whole beetroot – don’t throw away those leaves.  I often freeze them to use as a spinach substitute if I don’t want to use them straight away.

What’s your favourite way to eat beetroot?

Grated Beetroot Salad:

Rosie at blog A Green and Rosie Life kindly shared her deliciously simple recipe. for Grated Beetroot Salad

grated-beetroot-salad

Beetroot Leaves:

Erin at The Rogue Ginger shares her recipe for How to Cook Beetroot Leaves

beetroot-leaves

Rhubarb Bread Crust and Butter Pudding

It was only recently when we were trying out a bokashi bin to allow us to compost cooked food waste that I truly realised how many bread crusts we were throwing away, and how much of the bread was still attached to that crust.  It is such a waste to throw it away, and feels even more so when the bread is homemade.  From time to time I would cut off the crusts to use for breadcrumbs for example but we don’t use those a great deal so I just kept hoping that my son would eventually start eating them if I left them on.

Anyhow, I have now resigned myself to the fact that it is much lest wasteful if I just cut off the crusts beforehand.  Now I have almost a whole shelf in the freezer full of breadcrusts so had to come up with something to use them for.  I have been blitzing some up with cheese to make a crispy topping for lasagne and other pasta bakes, and found a recipe for brushing the crusts with butter, sprinkling with cinammon and sugar and baking until crispy which was a great success – my son and his friend polished that lot off pretty quickly.

We also have a lot of rhubarb so I wanted to come up with a dessert to make use of some of that as well as incorporating the bread crusts.  So here it is – bread and butter pudding (although this recipe doesn’t actually include butter but is not like British bread pudding) made with bread crusts and rhubarb.

Ingredients:

  • Rhubarb ( approx 3 stalks)
  • Bread crusts (equivalent to approx 4 slices of bread – you could of course use slices of bread instead)
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Approx 500ml milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • Ginger and cinammon to taste.

Method:

  • Wash and chop the rhubarb and place it with the sugar into a glass jug or  microwaveable bowl – microwave for a minute or 2 until it starts to soften.
  • Spread out the bread crusts and cooked rhubarb in a shallow dish. Add some ginger to taste (this can be fresh, ground, crystallised or stem ginger – I used crystallised ginger which I chopped up and scattered amongst the bread and rhubarb)
  • Mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla essence.
  • Pour over the bread and rhubarb and leave for at least 10 minutes to soak in ( in my efforts to use them up I had used rather more bread crusts than I should and it all soaked in pretty quickly).
  • Sprinkle with cinammon or additional brown sugar to taste.
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Before baking
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-40 mins until set and golden.
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Fresh from the oven
  • Serve with cream, custard or ice cream.

I made enough to last us 2 days and I would say it was actually better cold on the second day served with vanilla ice cream – I guess the flavours had more time to mingle.

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Served cold with ice cream

 

I’d love to hear your ideas for using up bread.

 

Rhubarb and Apple Jam

 

 

Rhubarb is one of the few plants that reliably turns up a bumper crop in our garden every year. It grows so well in its spot next to the compost bin that we always have way more than we know what do with, even more so since my dad split it into 4 plants a couple of years ago.  Preserving it in a jam is a great way of keeping some for later in the year (although I must admit to starting eating this straight away).   Although best made with early rhubarb you can also use larger stalks just fine.  Our rhubarb plant has been passed down through the generations so I have no idea what variety it is – it originally came from a plant in my great grandfather’s garden and as a child it came with us when we moved house.  When I first got my own place we split the plant so I could plant my own and it has since moved again with me, and a plant has been returned to dad for his allotment.

The apples and the lemon rind and juice in this recipe help it to set – if you were to leave them both out you may need to use jam sugar, which contains added pectin. If you are organised enough to have planned ahead I am sure you could use frozen diced apples which would allow you to use foraged crab apples or homegrown if you are lucky enough to have an apple tree.

Rhubarb and Apple Jam:

Ingredients:

  • 1kg rhubarb stalks, washed and trimmed, then sliced into approx 1cm chunks
  • 3 eating apples or a large cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 1kg preserving sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 25g unsalted butter

Equipment needed:

  • Large bowl
  • Either a preserving pan or a heavy based large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater or lemon zester
  • Sterilised jars – you can reuse old jam jars. This recipe will probably make about 4-6  jars depending on the size but have a couple more ready just in case.
  • Jam or sugar thermometer (optional) or put several saucers in the fridge or freezer (to use later to test the jam setting point).

How to sterilise the jars:

Wash your jars thoroughly in soapy water or a dishwasher and dry in an oven at 140 degrees C for at least 10 mins – then keep them warm until ready to use.  Scald the clean lids in boiling water.  You can alternatively use a sterilising solution according to the pack instructions and warm the jars after rinsing thoroughly.

 Method:

  1. Place the sliced rhubarb into a large bowl with the sugar.
  2. Use the lemon zester or grater to grate the lemon rind into the bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice.
  3. Give it all a stir. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth such as a tea towel and leave for a few hours, stirring occasionally.  You should see some juices start to come out of the rhubarb (if not you can leave it longer – some recipes say to leave overnight but I find a few hours works fine).
  4. Meanwhile wash and sterilise your jars as above.
  5. Empty your bowl of rhubarb and sugar with all the juices into your pan. Add the chopped apple and ginger (if using).
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil slowly so that the rhubarb and apple have time to soften.
  7. Then bring the mix to a rolling boil and boil until it reaches setting point ( see below), stirring frequently to prevent sticking (and because personally I prefer the rhubarb broken up rather than in big chunks in the final jam). I found this took about 25 mins but this may vary.
  8. Once your jam has reached setting point remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool down a little. You may find it has formed a skin on cooling in which case give it a quick stir before spooning carefully into your warmed jars.  Place the lids on while still warm.

 

How to test for setting point:

Using a jam thermometer – setting point should be achieved at around 104 -105 degrees C.  However you may find it difficult to test accurately if you are making a relatively small amount of jam in a large pan – I have never managed it and prefer the saucer method.    When you think the jam is approaching setting point (it will start to thicken a little), get a cold saucer from your fridge/freezer and carefully drop a little of the jam onto it.  Give it a moment to cool and then press with your finger – if ready it should wrinkle a little. If not cook for another few minutes and test again.

 

Low Salt Cajun Spice Mix

Cajun Spice Mix
Cajun Spice Mix

When we switched to making chips with unpackaged sweet potatoes from the market  instead of buying bags of ready made potato fries ( the sweet potato cooks much quicker and produces no waste – only wish we could manage to grow them successfully here) we also discovered the child loves them covered in cajun spices.  As we got through the second jar hubby was sprinkling on liberally I read the label – do you know how much salt is in this?  ( A lot).  And actually, do you know we also have all these other spices already in the cupboard.  So now I make our own.  It’s dead simple, means one less spice jar to buy and dispose of, is cheaper, and, yes it’s also so much healthier without them realising.

So, start by finding yourself a lovely empty jar to reuse.  Then depending how large it is, fill it with the appropriate multiple of these lovely spices ( please feel free to vary the proportions to taste – we like it spicy so usually add extra chilli and smoked paprika).

  • 5tbsp ground cumin or cumin seeds
  • 5tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2tbsp oregano
  • 2tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1tbsp ground ginger
  • And if you wish a little salt – I usually just add a sprinking of Lo-Salt to taste.
  • If you happen to have dried garlic I dare say a little of that would be jolly good too.

Then give it all a good shake.

 

To use on sweet potatoes, cut them into chips, then roll in a little olive oil and in some of the spice mix.   Then roast for approx 20 mins ( 200 degrees C)

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Lo Salt

 

 

 

 

Making the most of our Easter lunch leftovers

Despite my best efforts, we had plenty left from our Easter Sunday roast.  This was partly due to the only organic chicken in the shop being a little larger than we needed, partly due to my husband thinking everyone has the same appetite as him, and partly due to him deciding to do bacon and eggs for breakfast ahead of a roast dinner.  This was not the weekend to guess that I have been trying to reduce the quantity of meat we eat. As I am also still working on getting us to all eat the same meal as often as possible to reduce the number of times a day/different things I need to cook this is something of a challenge, although we are getting there slowly.

But none of it was wasted – it was all turned into something else for the next day / for future use.

I also baked hot cross buns and a chocolate cake – funnily enough these didn’t create any leftovers.

This is what we made with our leftovers.

Curried chicken and lentil soup

chicken soup
Chicken Soup in progress (no chicken yet)
  • 1 onion ( peeled)
  • 1 carrot (peeled)
  • 1 stick celery (trimmed)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Curry powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Coconut milk ( 1 tin or equivalent made up powdered coconut milk)
  • Chicken stock (approx 500ml)
  • Leftover roast chicken, chopped into small pieces
  • Red lentils (50 to 100g)

Do feel free to adjust the ingredients and quantities here depending what you have left – the lentils will bulk the soup out so use more if you are short on chicken or less if you have plenty.  Similarly substitute other veg if that is what you have.

  1. Cover the red lentils with cold water and bring to the boil for 10 mins. Skim any scum from the surface with a slotted spoon and rinse with fresh water.

Meanwhile:

  1. Blitz the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor or chop finely.
  2. Fry the processed/chopped vegetables gently in a little oil until softened but not browned.
  3. Stir in curry powder and other spices to taste (fennel seeds would also go well) – stir for approx 1 min.
  4. Add chicken stock (see recipe below) and coconut milk, and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Add the roast chicken and lentils.
  6. Simmer for around 20 minutes, checking the lentils are tender.
  7. Season to taste.

Great served with homemade bread – we are lucky enough to have a bread machine which takes the effort out of this.

Chicken Stock:

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  • 1 chicken carcass (include any small bits of leftover skin and meat not used in the soup above)
  • 1 stick celery, halved
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut in half (peeled or unpeeled) – you can replace these with saved carrot peelings/trimmed carrot tops
  • Handful of parsley  or other herbs (we got a huge bunch from the market which I keep in the freezer and break handfuls off as needed)
  • 3 bay leaves ( we have a branch trimmed from our garden bay tree from which we take dried leaves as needed)
  • 1 handful of leek tops (thrown in for good measure as we happen to have loads of these in the freezer!)
  • A little salt and pepper to taste

You can also add/substitute any other vegetable trimmings you have on hand.  I  added our leftover gravy.

Combine ingredients in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Skim off any grey foam that rises to the surface.

Simmer gently for around 3 hours (check the water level if you are leaving it uncovered  – you may need to add more during the cooking time)

When ready the stock should be a golden colour.

Strain the stock carefully.  If you want to freeze the stock it is a good idea to boil it again for half an hour or longer to reduce it further  at this stage – you can then freeze the concentrated version in ice cube trays for later use ( just pop a few from the freezer into a jug of boiling water)

Allow to cool completely – then you can remove any fat from the surface.

If not freezing you should refrigerate and use within a few days.

Everything sieved out of the stock went into our bokashi bin ahead of composting.

 

My husband made up these patties for tea:

Roast vegetable and bacon patties:

 vegetable patties

  • Leftover roast veg ( we used potato, parsnip, carrot, celeriac).
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • A few slices of streaky bacon
  • Handful of breadcrumbs ( plus more to coat if you wish) ( we save up crusts in the freezer as they tend to get left and then whizz them in a blender to make crumbs as required)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A little grated cheese ( purely as we had some leftover)

 

Fry the bacon until cooked through and chop into small pieces.  Fry the onion and garlic until softened.

Mash the roast vegetables and mix together with the other ingredients.

Shape into small rounds, coating with additional breadcrumbs if you wish.  If they are too soggy you could stir in a little flour at this stage.

Fry in a little oil until cooked through and turning golden on the outside.

 

As we were making these up on the go we didn’t manage to shape these into patties for cooking but instead just scooped the cooked mixture into balls on serving – not the most attractive but they were tasty and even our fussy 8 year old who claims to hate most vegetables ate them  and said we could cook them again which is praise indeed.

 What’s your favourite leftovers recipe?

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Finished your sloe gin? Don’t throw away the fruit.

Ever made sloe gin?  What do you do with the sloes once they have imparted their lovely flavour?

Back before Christmas we found a great new place to forage for these tasty fruit and so made lots and lots of sloe gin ( see recipe here) .  We have now finished off a few bottles and have enjoyed the sloes with vanilla ice cream  on several occasions (do remember to watch out for the stones – they are pretty hard even after several months in alcohol).  So, about time to try something new with them – flavouring wine.

What you need:

Remaining sloes from 1 bottle of sloe gin

1 bottle red wine – suggest a screw top just to make life easy.

and that’s about it.  Easy peasy.

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Start by pouring yourself a glass of wine – large enough to make space in the wine bottle to add the sloes.  You can drink this now  – I always find it helps!

Carefully transfer the sloes from your gin bottle into the wine bottle. I found this easiest to do by pouring them into a bowl and then transferring with clean hands.

Then simply pop the screw top back on and leave the flavours to infuse for a month.

It’s a good idea to stick a label onto the bottle to identify it, and to mark on the date when it will be ready to drink – as once the sloes are in it looks like any other unopened bottle of red wine.

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Has anyone tried anything similar?  Any other ideas for using the sloes?

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Chunky Thai Parsnip Soup

image

I used up some leftovers to make this chunky soup/stew for  our lunch yesterday, mainly to use up a couple of very soft parsnips that I’d bought in anticipation of  a mothers’ day roast last week, but which had been forgotten (we still had a huge roast without them).

Amazingly, at this time of year, I did manage to get something homegrown into the mix, by way of some garlic and a very small leek – a second crop of leeks seems to have appeared by itself in the garden this year.  Unfortunately our efforts at growing parsnips didn’t produce a single one this year.

I also included some coriander which, despite being 2 weeks old, looked pretty much as fresh as the day I bought it, having been stored wrapped in a damp teatowel in the fridge.

Plus half a jar of Thai paste, some powdered coconut milk, half a pepper and some chicken stock – my first attempt at home made stock which I was really please with.  If I had noticed the ginger in the fridge I really should have used that too.

Method:

  1. Slice small leek (or you could use an onion) and fry gently.
  2. Add chopped garlic and red Thai curry paste to taste ( we used half a jar but it was a rather mild one)
  3. Fry gently for a couple of minutes until the leek or onion starts to soften and then add the coconut milk / stock.  I think I added about 500ml which as you can see makes a very thick soup so you may want to add more.
  4. Add a couple of peeled and chopped parsnips.
  5. Bring to the boil – after about 10 mins add a chopped red pepper.
  6. Continue to simmer until the parsnips are tender.  This took around another 20 mins.
  7. Add some of the coriander close to the end of cooking, saving the rest to add as a garnish.
  8. Either blend to make a smooth soup, or simply use a potato masher as I did for a chunkier texture.
  9. Serve with the remaining coriander.

Zero waste tips:

I was able to get the parsnips, coriander and pepper unpackaged from the market, keeping the coriander fresh in a damp teatowel.

The paste was in a glass jar – but you could substitute fresh ginger, lemongrass, and chilli.

The chicken stock was homemade after we had friends round for a roast a few weeks ago.  I used this chicken stock recipe  although minus the celery as I hadn’t planned the stock making so didn’t have any.  I reduced it to a concentrate and stored in the freezer.

Cooking in a Wonderbag:

To cook this in a Wonderbag extend the cooking time at step 5 to 15 mins and then transfer to the Wonderbag for an hour. For more about the Wonderbag see my earlier post: Vegetable Curry in a Wonderbag

 

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A variation on this recipe is available on an earlier post Red Thai Spicy Parsnip and Coconut Soup

 

 

 

 

Vegetable Curry in a Wonderbag

I have been lusting after a Wonderbag for ages.  This year one arrived under our Christmas tree. Hurrah!

Wonderbag

With this new piece of equipment I thought it was about time my I posted a recipe as I haven’t done one for ages, having got really engrossed in reducing our household waste and otherwise reducing our environmental impact. Which is where this fits in quite neatly. The Wonderbag, if you are not familiar with the concept, does not require electricity. You do still need a heat source to start off the cooking process, but once it is piping hot through you pop it into the Wonderbag which is so well insulated that it keeps in enough heat to continue the cooking process for around 4-5 hours ( maybe longer depending what you are cooking).
This suits us well as we have solar panels producing electricity in the middle of the day but we don’t get a chance to eat until quite late. As I work part time I am able to get the dinner going when the sun is out on those days I am home, and still have it hot when we are ready to eat .

For our first go at this I thought I would play it safe with a vegetable curry. The recipe is approximate – feel free to substitute in whatever spare veg you happen to have and vary the spices and quantities to taste, but this is (roughly) what I did. This is enough to serve 4 – as there were only 2 of us eating I just froze half and reheated in the microwave another day.

Start by getting your Wonderbag ready in the place you want to leave it cooking – the instructions suggest you place a trivet or pot stand inside to put your casserole on but you can also line with tea towels – actually I did both this time.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potato – diced ( I used half of one as that was what we had)
  • Cauliflower – broken into florets ( depending on size half to one)
  • Broccoli – broken into florets ( again I used about half)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion
  • Garlic
  • Approx 2cm cubed ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • Handful of green beans
  • 400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • A few mushrooms
  • A couple of tomatoes, chopped
  • Coconut milk ( either 1 can or the powdered sort diluted in hot water)
  • Vegetable stock ( if you like – I think I actually forgot this and just added water)

Additional spices to taste:

  • Chilli flakes or powder ( 1tsp)
  • Turmeric ( 1 tsp)
  • Cumin ( 1 tsp)
  • Ground Coriander ( 1tsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • In a tight lidded casserole safe for using on the hob, heat a little oil and fry the onion for a few mins till it is starting to soften.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and continue stirring for a minute, then add the other spices and stir in to release the flavour.
  • Next add the rest of the vegetables, coconut milk and stock – you want enough liquid to just cover all the vegetables ( not too much as the liquid doesn’t thicken/reduce in the Wonderbag).
  • Stir well and bring to the boil, cover tightly with the lid.
  • Boil for around 10 mins to make sure it is really hot.
  • Transfer carefully to the Wonderbag and seal it up tightly with the drawstring.
  • Get on with something else and come back to it up to 4 hours later ( but as it is all vegetables 1-2 may suffice).  Open it carefully – remember it will still be hot.
  • Serve with rice or Naan bread.

And sorry I forgot to take a photo of it before we ate it 

If you like it spicier you can add any additional spices you like or some curry powder. You could cook the rice in the bag too to save even more energy – you’ll need to add it at least 5 mins before you transfer to the Wonderbag and it will absorb some of the sauce.

Wonderbag 2

 

Notes on sourcing ingredients with minimal packaging:

If you are a more expert food grower that myself you may well have some of the ingredients straight from your garden or allotment – in which case I am in awe.  At this time of year we only had homegrown garlic and windowsill chilli and I had to go out to buy the rest.

I generally find the local market to be the easiest way to get unpackaged veg – so I went off with my trusty shopping trolley and filled up with most of the required veg either straight into my trolley or my own cloth bag. The ginger was unpackaged from supermarket.

The only veg I can’t find package free are the green beans – we have decided the best way to get these out of season is frozen so we can buy a larger amount ( less packaging pro rata) and my thinking is that it might also be more local than the out of season fresh ones shipped from Kenya – although I have yet to check this out ( note to self to do this soon). Sometimes we do have luck growing these so would have our own in the freezer, but sadly not this year.

Rice – I buy bulk 5 or 10kg  bags of basmati rice which last us ages – they are still in plastic but again, relatively less than buying the small bags.

Spices – I didn’t buy any especially this time but they are either in glass jars or again bought in bulk size bags.

Chick peas – I tend to buy in tins rather than dried for convenience – at least the tins are recyclable.

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