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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A warm and tasty dinner for me tonight...

Today I used up ALL of our weekend veggies.  I've made this meal before, but today we are going to have a vegetarian meal.  Carrots, cauli, spinach, potatoes and red pepper.  To this I added a large tin of butter beans, 100g mixed lentils, a handful of sultanas and a handful of flaked almonds.  When using my slow cooker, I like to fry the onions first, then eventually add all the ingredients to the frying pan just to warm everything through.  Here's my oversized frying pan with all the vegetables ready to go into the pot for a few hours before adding the potato, cauli and any other veg.  I'll finish it off with some spinace and a dollop of full fat plain yoghurt:

The thing about our way of eating is that it has to be satisfying. This casserole can be as spicy as you want, and is very warm and comforting. It can be eaten with or without rice, with a pitta or just some crusty bread. I can't recall the total number of calories for the base sauce, but if you add say - 100g of chicken per portion, the whole dish will contain just around 350 calories.

The dish contains quite a few spices, and I fiddle around with them sometimes, especially if I want something hotter.

2 teaspoons each TURMERIC & PAPRIKA
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
440g tin chopped tomatoes
Small or large tin butter beans (or haricot etc if you prefer)
100g red lentils (pre-boiled for a minute or two first)
Small piece of ginger
Handful of sultanas
Handful of almonds
About 3 cloves of garlic - use less if you don't like it or leave out
Couple of medium sized onions
2 WHOLE red chillies (whole dried will do)
1 stock cube - veg/chicken/lamb, whatever you have
Bag of fresh spinach (if you like)

Fry the onions in small amount of oil until softened. I use olive oil, as it is supposed to be healthier, and the only oil I have to hand anyway. Add the spices, garlic and ginger. Fry this gently for a couple of minutes. DO NOT add the whole chillies to the frying pan, as these go into the pot in one piece and they are removed at the end of cooking.

Put the fried mix into a pot. Add the stock cube which has been mixed with around 1/2 pint of water. Add the tin of tomatoes, pre-cooked lentils, butter beans and finally the sultanas and almond flakes. Then pop in the WHOLE chillies, which are there to permeate the dish and give a slow lingering gentle heat.

Add any meat at this stage - you could put in SKINNED chicken thighs (then remove bones later), or chicken breast, lean lamb or even sausages.
Bring to the boil then simmer for around an hour or so if cooking on the hob. If using a slow cooker like me, I will put this on and go off somewhere for 4 hours before looking at it again.  Add whatever vegetables you like towards the end of cooking so they keep their shape.

Oh do not forget to remove those 2 red chillies before dishing up!

As a final touch, I usually throw in a couple of handfuls of spinach. It looks lovely and tastes great.

The dish benefits from cooling down and reheating the next day. In fact I doubt you will be able to wait that long, as the smell is fantastic and you will be dipping into it way before then. I've even eaten it cold as it is just so tasty, and fits perfectly inside a warm pitta bread.

A beautiful spicy warm dish, much healthier because you have prepared it all yourself. Hope you enjoy. It certainly is one of my favourite dishes.

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