Has your child ever asked you loudly in public why that man has such a big belly or why that lady has a beard? Yes? Well then you will understand how I felt when my child brought this home from school the other day.
What a start to the school holidays! Rain, rain and more rain.
I love aubergine and my favourite way to prep it is just brush with olive oil and put it under the grill. No salting it, no shallow frying it in batches, and no need to turn on the oven especially to roast it.
I chopped one big aubergine in 3 lengthways pieces and stuck it on. It took about 10 minutes on each side with the grill on a medium heat. At this point I had no idea if I was making some sort of pasta with aubergine and tomato sauce for dinner or what. But it was bucketing rain so I decided to bring the warmth, middle-eastern style. We enjoyed Baba Ganoush with Fennel, Carrot and Apple Coleslaw served with Quinoa. Catchy name eh?
Aubergine cooked, it was time to settle down with my boys while it bucketed rain outside and have a Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back viewing. That’s two hours of PEW-PEW PEW-PEW PEW-PEW, a few very mild double entendres, and a shocking paternity reveal. Y’know; in case you haven’t seen it.
I looked at about three baba ganoush recipes and decided they were all different enough for me to just chance my arm with the basic ingredients. Also, some of them involved draining the aubergine of water for ages and sure I’d no time for that with the movie-watching and creme-egg-eating.
I lashed all the below into the blender and crossed my fingers.
Flesh of 1 grilled aubergine
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup of Glenisk Natural Yogurt
1/2 tablespoon tahini (you can leave this out, but I love the taste)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 teaspoons of dried mint (I have fresh mint in the garden most of the year, but I’m reliant on the jars right now)
Baba Ganoush is just the fancy name for a smokey aubergine dip. I lacked the smoke (barbeque or naked flame) but it came out great; nicely smooth and flavoursome. Pomegranate seeds on top would really set it off visually and give a sweet crunch. (That would only happen if I managed to meal plan though.)
I cooked us up some quinoa (1 cup uncooked fed four) in Marigold stock and set about making a carrot, fennel and apple coleslaw for the side. This is a super healthy coleslaw – it’s a simplified version of a Winter Veg one that Jamie Oliver does – the dressing uses yogurt rather than any mayonnaise. My mum always made lovely fresh coleslaw when I was growing up, but somehow horrible claggy deli counter versions seem to have become the standard offering.
When I’m in charge it’s not dinner unless there’s a load of toasted seeds or nuts involved so in went the toasted sunflower seeds in with grated apple and carrot and chopped fennel.
The dressing is just these four, all mixed quickly with a fork.
A good glug of olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1/2 cup of Glenisk Natural Yogurt
I gave the boys the apple and veg with some plain yogurt as the dijon is quite hot.
You too can conjure up Arabian nights on a rainy spring evening in Dublin with a little help from Glenisk! But maybe add some gauzy veils rather than Penney’s pyjamas to really get the effect right.
See over there on the left (or down the bottom on yer mobile)? Yeah that, the Irish Parenting Blog Awards! I’ve gotten a couple of nominations, and excitement is building in the IPB community. I don’t get out much and now I’ve a glitzy awards ceremony to look forward to. Eep!
One of the awards sponsors is the fabulous Glenisk – who I’m on record as loving already in case you think I’m sucking up. I’m gonna represent on behalf of vegetarians and show how we use their products outside Go-Yo’s in the lunchbox. We use them a lot. So, me and the boys had a little think about dinner while we indulged in a breakfast smoothie…
We decided on curry. This particular one is a real treat meal, but still lacks the guilt of a takeaway. I dunno about you but I lovecurry. I have eight million herbs and spices but sometimes I want some shortcuts. I don’t like using jars so the compromise option for me is to buy a spice mix from Green Saffron (another great Irish company). As usual, the packet recipe is for a meaty curry, so I adapted it to suit us.
2.5 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped.
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 pack of paneer
1 pack Green Saffron Tantalizing Tikka Spice Mix
1 tin tomatoes
1 large carrot
1/2 a courgette
75 mls Glenisk low fat yogurt
75 mls Glenisk creme fraiche
1/2 lemon, juice & zest
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
Heat 1.5 tbsp coconut oil in a large pan. Sweat the onions, garlic & ginger with the lid on til they’re all nice and soft.
In the meantime, chop the paneer into cubes. Melt the other tablespoon of coconut oil at a medium-high heat in a non-stick pan, and toss in the paneer cubes. It takes about 6 minutes each side to crisp up a bit. A spatter guard will come in handy. You’re frying cheese here people, you’re frying cheese. Mmm, fried cheese…
Back to your oniony mix. Add half the spice mix, and stir for a minute or so. Yes! Good news, I find half of the 25g is enough to feed two adults and two kids, so you can get two full meals out of one packet.
Add your tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes.
While they simmer away, chop up your veggies nice and small. You want them to cook through in the sauce and you don’t necessarily want the kids to notice huge chunks of veg. Get your lemon zest done now too. Quick! The kids’ tv show is nearly over and you set up Netflix not to automatically play the next one in a fit of good parenting.
Move the pan off the heat and blend the tomato sauce. I really recommend a stick blender in your kitchen gadget arsenal.
Put it back on the heat, add your veggies along with the Glenisk yogurt and lemon juice.
Let this simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Add the cooked paneer, Glenisk creme fraiche and lemon zest, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Ta-da! Done.
Toast the cashew nuts on a dry pan for a few minutes. Keep a really close eye, they can burn very easily.
Now, in case you think “ah here, I’m never going to get through all this lark the kids will be all over me looking for their dinner” I like to chop up extra veggies and just leave them on the side as if they’re an ingredient, and then, just watch them disappear. They sneak in and grab them, thinking they’re hilarious. Joke’s on you kiddo, you just ate raw veggies.
Serve up your curry on a bed of brown basmati rice with a sprinkling of coriander and the crushed up toasted cashews scattered on top for a protein boost.
I made an extra serving of yogurt with some dried mint and more lemon zest mixed in. My kids are generally ok with a mild curry, but I often add yogurt to their dinner just to cool the temperature when they can’t wait to get stuck in.
During dinner prep we even managed to make a bit of dessert. Lime (veggie) jelly with raspberries and blueberries. I stuck it in the freezer so it would be ready after dinner. The colour of the fruit ran so it wasn’t as pretty after. Never fear, it was eaten, but we had run out of yogurt to serve with it.
Horizontal sleet means two things in my book. Light the fire and have comfort food. Lilly Higgins has a great ‘Give Me Five’ series in the Irish Times – recipes with just five ingredients – and because I love her attitude to food I always look it up.
It’s usually not veggie but last weeks was, and coincidentally, I had put it on the meal planner for today. I mean, I’d only filled in Monday and Wednesday so that’s not really much of a plan, but look, it’s a start.
I’m a big fan of The Happy Pear, the grocers and cafe run by a pair of handsome man-twins seen being optimistic and cheery and wearing unseasonal shorts all over the media late last year. That was shortly before my birthday and the reason they were so ubiquitous was that they released a book, so I sat on my hands to avoid purchasing it and waited. With not a hint dropped my BFF turned up with the goods and I don’t quite recall but I probably snatched it from her in a my preciousssss style.
The book hasn’t let me down. Though their food is my style – vegetarian, hearty, unpretentious – I will preface this by saying I’m not entirely on board with all their methods. I’ve pretty much halved or cut out the salt in the recipes I’ve made from it, and have been more liberal with my oil use: olive, rapeseed, sesame and coconut are my fats of choice. The guys are not fans of oil use at all as they explain in the book. However I heartily agree with the main thrust of their philosophy, which is: