Mushroom Lentil and Kale Ragu with Quinoa and Tahini Dressing
So I’ve been away for 6 months, travelling around South East Asia to be specific and A LOT has happened. Lots of seeing things, meeting people, losing things and, obviously.. eating. South East Asian food is an absolute dream – I love all the coconut curries, noodle soups, fresh spring rolls, rice (favourite carb), tofu, tempeh, the list goes on and on. Such a delicious and eclectic mix of cuisine has inspired so many recipe ideas in me and I can’t wait to try them all out / put them up on the blog. That as well as the learnings of a Balinese cooking class and info about the top restaurants I visited will all be coming up at some point 🙂
It honestly was amazing, however by nature of travelling I didn’t find myself within a kitchen at many points and ultimately, I’m glad to be home and able to cook for myself again. Not being able to cook for so long really emphasised what I already somewhat knew: cooking for me is a therapeutic and artistic aid to the soul – AKA it helps me relax whilst getting a bit creative in the kitchen. As soon as I got back I was all up in the cupboards making soups, stews, pancakes, biscuits… I had about 5 cookbooks out at any given time and was reading through them constantly, deciding which things to make and sometimes just reading them for fun (yep that’s me). After 3 weeks it’s pretty much still like this and I wonder if my cold turkey on cooking has left a permanent scarring which means I’ll forever be a crazy cooking lady. Who knows. But there are a few key trends in my antics that I’ll outline to you in the hope that you get as much from them as I do…
I’ve really been getting into her recipes recently. She has some great ones in her books which don’t include many ingredients and are super simple to make. I also just love reading through what she has to say about her own experience with diet and living a healthy lifestyle. Plus her desserts are the best. The two books I have are her first one ‘Deliciously Ella’ and also ‘Deliciously Ella with Friends’. Below I’ve outlined some of the recipes I’ve been making
• Chia Breakfast Pudding
• Sweet Potato Brownies
• Almond Butter Fudge
• Sweet Potato Wedges
Deliciously Ella with Friends:
• Honey and Lemon Breakfast Bars (I use agave nectar instead of honey)
• Blueberry Pancake Stack
• Scrambled Turmeric and Red Pepper Tofu
I’m also loving Indian food at the moment. On having arrived home I discovered this book: Fresh India by Meera Sodha… and it’s great.
It includes a mix of 130 vegetarian Indian recipes and they are just amazing. I think it’s often better when choosing a recipe from a certain cuisine to use a cookbook that’s dedicated just towards that cuisine. That’s where you find the true expertise – from people who have grown up as children around this kind of food and learnt recipes that have been passed down through generations. This book knows exactly how to use the spices and when to use them. I’m already planning a blog post including my 3 top recipes from this book so keep your eyes peeled.
The final thing I’ll mention is that since being back I’ve been using tahini for pretty much all of my meals. This wonderful little paste is so versatile and great for adding creaminess and flavour to meals. I buy my tahini from the local Turkish grocer where it’s cheap and good quality. I’m also planning another blog post at some point talking about finding the best tahini and a few of the ways in which I’ve been using it 🙂 🙂
Honestly, there’s so much more I have to say about travelling, new foods I’m eating and recipe ideas, but in fear of this blog post becoming too long I’ll leave it at this and bed you a farewell with this amazingly hearty ragu with creamy quinoa and an even creamier tahini dressing. Magic x
Ingredients (serves 3):
For the Ragu
1 tin green lentils (drained and rinsed)
1 medium red onion
5 cloves garlic
1 tin tomatoes (400g)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar (or agave nectar if you prefer natural sweeteners)
2 vegetable stock cubes
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
For the quinoa:
1 cup quinoa
2 vegetable stock cubes
1 tbsp tahini
For the tahini dressing:
2 tbsp tahini
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
To make the ragu (35 minutes):
- Start by finely chopping the onion, then place in a frying pan with a little oil or a splash of water and fry on a medium heat for 10 minutes to release all their delicious flavour. Make sure to stir every once in a while so that they don’t stick.
- As the onions cook, finely chop the garlic and the mushrooms. I like the mushrooms to mainly be in small pieces, with a few larger bits for variety.
- Once the 10 minutes are up the onions should be very soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for around 4 more minutes.
- Now add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, sugar (or agave nectar), black pepper and lentils (make sure you’ve drained and rinsed them). Fill 1 cup with boiling water and dissolve the stock cubes in it, then pour into the pan. Bring everything to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- As that cooks, get your kale ready by picking off any thick stalky bits. After 10 minutes, a lot of the liquid should have evaporated. Stir in the kale and cook the ragu for a couple more minutes so that the kale wilts.
To make the quinoa (20 minutes):
- Put the quinoa into a lidded saucepan. Dissolve the stock cubes in a cup of boiling water then add to the pan. Add one more cup of boiling water and the juice of the lemon half.
- Place the pan on a high heat, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on.
- Once the quinoa has cooked stir in the tahini.
To make the tahini dressing (2 minutes):
- Put the tahini, garlic powder, juice from the lemon and 2-3 tbsp of water in a bowl then mix everything together. If your tahini is at all claggy use a fork to get rid of any lumps.
Finally put the quinoa and ragu in a bowl and pour over that dreamily delicious tahini dressing. All three things you can save in the fridge and eat over the next few days.