Moroccan Puy Lentil, Carrot + Mint Salad

Moroccan Puy Lentil, Carrot + Mint Salad

I doubt Heidi Swanson really needs any introduction. Her blog 101 Cookbooks is hugely popular, and not just among us plant-based foodies. A few years ago when I discovered blogs hers was one of the first I began to follow and her food style was a great inspiration for my own cooking. If you’re not familiar with her blog, it’s not exclusively vegan, but Heidi’s focus is on natural, whole foods and dairy and eggs are used very sparingly with vegetables as the stars of the show.  I’ve made many recipes from the blog in the past and during my time at university a friend and I shared a copy of her book Super Natural Every Day and would cook together from it and talk about “Heidi” as if we knew her personally! It’s funny how you can feel you know someone even when it’s only through cyberspace!

Moroccan Puy Lentil,Carrot + Mint Salad

This recipe is an adaptation of a fairly recent “Heidi” recipe. I had been intending to make it for a while and kept being reminded about it seeing variations on other blogs. It originally used chickpeas but if you look at my recipe index you’ll see I’ve already got various chickpea salads and my lentils were feeling a little neglected, so I opted for them instead.

I’ve talked about how, as a student who’s often short on time, I like to make a big hearty salad to eat over a few days, and this one fits the bill perfectly- the cumin dressing soaks into the beans and the flavours simply deepen after a sit in the fridge. It’s also one you can make any time of year as the simple ingredients are available all year round. Beans, carrots, dried fruit, nuts and herbs (you can just use what’s available to you- mint and parsley are particularly good in this though). Finally, it works well as a stand alone dish or served with a green vegetable, salad or a grain.

Moroccan Puy Lentil,Carrot + Mint Salad

Moroccan Puy Lentil, Carrot + Mint Salad:

(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

For the Salad:

1/2C Puy Lentils, dry
150g/5oz Carrots, sliced into thin coins
1/3C Prunes (or dates), roughly chopped
1/4C Fresh mint + parsley, roughly chopped

For the Dressing:

1/2T Cumin Seeds
2T Olive oil
1T Lemon juice
1/2T Agave nectar/Maple syrup
1/4t Salt
Few dashes cayenne
Lots of black pepper

To serve:

1/3C Slivered almonds, toasted
Extra fresh herbs, chopped

First cook your lentils. Follow packet instructions as they vary. I cook mine in plenty of boiling water for 25 minutes usually and drain. Leave to cool while you prepare the rest of your ingredients- chop your carrots, dried fruit and herbs.

For dressing, in a dry pan over medium heat toast the cumin seeds for a couple of minutes until they smell fragrant. Grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder (You could of course use pre-ground cumin but the flavour is far superior from whole cumin seeds and is worth it for this salad). In a small jar whisk together the remaining salad ingredients and add the now ground cumin seeds.

Combine the cooled lentils with the dressing, add the carrots, herbs, prunes and fresh herbs. Stir well and serve topped with toasted almonds and more herbs.

Serves 3 (or me for 3 meals!)

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly link party, Wellness Weekends and Healthy Vegan Fridays

Are you a Heidi fan? Any favourite recipes from 101 cookbooks?

Do you feel like you “know” some bloggers despite never having met or interacted except via commenting?

Pesto-Ricotta Tofu Omelettes with Cherry Tomatoes

Pesto-Ricotta Tofu Omelettes with Cherry Tomatoes

I wasn’t an egg eater in my omnivore days (except in baked goods of course!) but appreciate that omelettes are a practical dish to make when you don’t want to be in the kitchen too long as they are super quick. This vegan variation is almost as speedy, just a matter of whizzing a few ingredients in a blender, spreading in a pan and cooking as you would an egg omelette.  I’ve made tofu omelettes before, using the basic recipe from Vegan Brunch, mixing up the fillings- garlicky mushrooms and spinach is a favourite, as is a slightly more unconventional “leftovers” omelette, usually involving some kind of beany vegetable stew or curry.

I came across this variation on the Vegan Cookbook Aficionado recently and thought it sounded perfect for right now. The obvious result  of bountiful basil growing in the garden is pesto! I made a big batch and froze some so I can enjoy that summer taste over the winter months, as well as giving me plenty to use in different dishes now. Mix it in pasta, with new potatoes, beans, slather it on crusty bread, crackers or as a dip for crudités…and now use it as an omelette filing! I had conveniently just made my Swiss Chard Lasagna too, and planned ahead, reserving a few tablespoons of the ricotta filling for these. Pan-blistered cherry tomatoes sealed the deal.

Pesto-Ricotta Tofu Omelettes with Chery Tomatoes

I’ve mentioned I don’t really do savoury breakfasts before so I made mine for an easy dinner alongside some fresh sourdough bread and a green salad. The omelette mix made enough for 2 and I was cooking for one so I simply covered it over in the fridge and made another the following day. Knowing it keeps fine, if you are into savoury in the mornings then you could use a full packet of tofu (double the listed quantities) and make a fresh omelette for breakfast for a few days!


Pesto-Ricotta Tofu Omelettes with Cherry Tomatoes:

(Adapted from Vegan Cookbook Aficionado)

1/2 400g/12oz pkg Silken tofu
1T Nutritional Yeast
1/2T Olive oil
3T Non-dairy milk
1/8t Turmeric
1/4-1/2t Black salt (This is what really gives these the “eggy” taste but if you can’t find it just add a little more regular salt. I bought some years back at Whole Foods and it’s lasted me since then)
1/4C Chickpea Flour
1/2T Arrowroot/Cornstarch
Salt + Pepper
6-8 Cherry tomatoes, halved
A few T Lemony tofu ricotta
A few T Basil Pesto ( I used homemade but if you don’t have any to hand I recommend these UK brands: Zest and Meridian)

Blend tofu through to black salt in a food processor or blender (I use a Tribest Personal Blender) until smooth. Add chickpea flour, arrowroot and seasoning and blend again briefly, scraping down the sides to ensure everything is fully incorporated.

Warm a little olive oil over med-high in a non-stick pan and add the tomatoes. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until just beginning to collapse. Set aside in a small dish.

Wipe out pan and lightly grease with oil. Turn the heat down to medium. Pour 1/2 omelette mixture into the hot pan and spread it out into a thin layer with a spatula. Leave to cook for 3-5 minutes before flipping. Gently lift the sides with a large spatula, the underside should be matte and flecked with little brown spots if ready to flip. If not, leave a little longer. Flip omelette (I slide it onto a plate to make it easier) and spread on one half with pesto, add a couple of dollops of ricotta and finally a few halved cherry tomatoes. Gently fold the opposite half over the fillings and leave to cook for 1 more minute. Keep warm, covered, in the oven on very low heat while you make the second omelette.

Makes 2


Stay tuned for some more recipes incorporating pesto! What do you like to do with it?

Have you made tofu omelettes before? If not, that needs to change pronto!

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts

It’s five years this summer since I left school. The 5 year anniversary had me musing on school life…especially the food. I boarded and so all meals were eaten in my boarding house- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I suppose the food wasn’t terrible, but for the picky eater that I used to be, meals weren’t exactly to my taste… I did have my favourites though, especially some of the puddings, and me and friends would check the notice board with anticipation for the new weekly menu to be posted!

If there was one thing the kitchen did well though it was the lasagna. It was a fairly frequent Saturday lunch and one I actually looked forward to! It wasn’t the sloppy, cheesy mess you might expect from school food but packed with layers of roasted vegetables, spinach ricotta and pasta with crispy edges. I wasn’t vegan at the time but have found a fairly good replica in a variation on the Veganomicon “Lasagna Marinara with Spinach”. Despite loving that dish I wanted to try a new baked pasta-something lighter in flavour and more summery.

I found myself with a beautiful bunch of swiss chard in my fridge and browsed through my saved recipes to find these two: Swiss Chard with Currants and Pine Nuts from the NYTimes Recipes for Health, and this Swiss Chard Gratin with Vegan Bechamel from Chocolate & Zucchini,  which together provided the inspiration for my lasagna.

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

Lemony tofu and cashew ricotta, earthy dark greens, little sweet bursts of raisins and crunchy pine nuts, topped with caramelized onions for good measure.

This isn’t an average 30 minute dinner (like any lasagna) but maybe, every now and again, like me you enjoy lingering in the kitchen that bit longer to produce something more special .

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Raisins and Pine Nuts:

Tofu Cashew Ricotta:

1/4C Cashews, Soaked and drained
1/4C Lemon juice
1T Olive oil
1T Nutritional yeast
2 Garlic cloves
1 1/2t Salt
1 400g/1lb pkg Firm tofu
2T Brown rice flour (Optional- to help set up ricotta)


2C Vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lemon
2T Arrowroot/Cornstarch


Large Bunch (approx 400g/1lb) Swiss Chard, thick stems cut off and julienned
1/4C Golden Raisins
1/4 Pine Nuts + 2T for topping (toasted if desired)

Caramelized Onions:

1 Large onion, thinly sliced
1/2T Olive Oil
1/2t Sugar

4-6 Lasagna Sheets

Make the ricotta first- using a food processor or blender blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble lasagna.

Boil a pan of water and add julienned swiss chard. When the water comes back to the boil, drain and rinse in cold water to retain bright green colour. Stir through raisins and pine nuts. Set aside.

Whisk sauce ingredients together in a pot and then warm over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly, approx 10 minutes.

Par-boil lasagna sheets- Lay sheets in a large dish and pour boiling water over, then leave for two minutes to soften. Remove and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Lightly oil or line a large oven-proof dish with foil. Start layering up your ingredients. Start with 1/3 of the chard mixture, then 1/3 of the sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets, then 1/3 ricotta. Repeat until mixture is used up. Cover the dish with foil and place in oven to cook for approx 40minutes.

While it is cooking, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat and add onion and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low and cook gently, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Sprinkle over sugar and continue to cook for another 10-15minutes until onion is soft and caramelized.

When lasagna has finished cooking remove from oven and leave to firm up for at least 10 minutes. When ready to serve remove foil and top lasagna with caramelized onions and remaining pine nuts.

Serves 4

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

What was your school food like? Any dishes you remember fondly?!

Summer Vegetable Paella

Summer Vegetable Paella

A month ago I went on holiday with a group of 8 university friends. It was pretty much a week devoted to rest and relaxation after the hard slog leading up to finals. We did little other than lounge in the villa garden, play in the pool and eat and drink! We definitely got into a Spanish routine, definitely a change from my usual “early to be early to rise”. Meals were pushed back, with lunch usually around 4 or 5pm and dinner at 10 or 11. Even if we didn’t do anything terribly touristy we did make sure to enjoy some real Spanish food. Sangria and gazpacho were everyday occurrences and we went out for tapas a couple of evenings. My favourite meal out was at a little tucked away place which we happily stumbled across and where we had the most delicious vegetable paella.

Summer Vegetable Paella

I’d forgotten about that meal recently until I found a bag of Arborio rice in the kitchen cupboard. Not wanting to make risotto I wondered if it could be used for paella. Calasparra rice is traditionally used for paella and Arborio for risotto but they are both similarly short grain. Apparently the difference is that paella rice doesn’t create a creamy sauce and rather sticks together. The constant stirring of risotto is what helps the rice release its starch and go creamy so if you just leave it to do its own thing it ends up more like paella and it ends up with that nice crusty bottom and edges.

Summer Vegetable Paella

As usual, I went pretty heavy on the vegetables but you could add as many as and any type you like. The chickpeas are also not typical but I felt like this meal could do with a protein boost, and they add some textural variation too. Tomatoes, sweet paprika and saffron (and a little white wine if you like…) bring everything together.

Summer Vegetable Paella

Large pinch saffron threads (approx 1/4t)
1T Olive Oil
1 Small onion, diced
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Red pepper, 1/2 Yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2T Tomato paste
1/2t Sweet paprika
1 Cup Short-grain rice (Calasparra recommended but I used Arborio. Short grain brown might also work but liquid quantities and cooking times may vary)
1/2 400g/14oz Can chopped tomatoes
500m/2C Vegetable broth + 1/2C White wine (or more broth)
3/4C Chickpeas
125g/4oz Tenderstem broccoli/Green beans, chopped into short lengths.
1/2C Fresh or Frozen and thawed Peas

Crush the saffron with your fingers into a small bowl and cover with a couple of tablespoons warm water to release its flavour. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and garlic and a good pinch of salt and continue cooking, stirring for another 3 minutes and the peppers are also softening. Add the tomato paste, paprika and rice and stir for a minute until everything is coated in spice and the rice grains begin to crackle. Add the tomatoes and cook until they cook down a little, another 5 minutes. Stir in the saffron and its soaking water and season well with salt and pepper.

Add the vegetable broth, wine,  chickpeas and broccoli or green beans. Bring to the boil and stir once. Reduce the temperature to low and allow to simmer, without stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, approx 10-15 minutes. Add the peas and continue cooking until the top of the paella looks dry, another 5-10 minutes. Leave to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 3-4

What dishes have you brought back from holiday with you? I often make notes on meals and foods I’ve enjoyed when I’m away so I can do some recreating in my own kitchen!

Cherry, Pistachio Cream & Oat-Flax Crumble Parfait


On my nectarine salad post I promised another stone fruit recipe, but other things came up in the meantime so I hope you’ll forgive me for only just getting to it now. I promise this one’s worth the wait.

Place Setting- Cherry/Pistachio

This recipe actually caused me some grief, not the actual making of it but deciding what to call it! Parfait? Verrine? Crumble? Trifle? Mousse? Cream?

“What’s in a name?” was pretty much the attitude I took in the end when I came back to “parfait”. Besides, I think all of those names could apply to this yummy dessert. 3 layers- creamy, crumbly and fruity, layered up in a glass.

Cherries and pistachios are such a delicious duo that I knew I wanted to bring them together for a dessert. I’d initially wanted to make ice cream but my freezer is currently a little full (!) and will need some reshuffling to be able to fit the ice cream maker bowl in…(though stay tuned as I’m determined to make homemade ice cream happen this summer) I also didn’t want to have to wait until the following day to enjoy my creation.

Cherries & Pistachios

I’ve made a lot of raw nut creams recently and although I love them I wanted to go a little lighter with the cream layer here and so turned to my old friend silken tofu. I always keep a couple of the shelf-stable packages on hand for whipping up smooth sauces, dressings and desserts as it’s such a versatile ingredient. Its neutral base allowed the flavour of the pistachios to really shine.

Close-up Cherry Pistachio

I could have stopped there and just  layered up fresh cherries with the cream, maybe added a few chopped nuts, but I was feeling more ambitious than that and decided on a third layer. Definitely a good move. This oat-flax crumble is a very tasty topping and works equally well without the cream too, to make a raw fruit crumble of sorts. I ate the leftovers over a juicy diced peach which was wonderful.

Cherry, Pistachio Cream Oat-Flax Crumble Parfait

Cherry, Pistachio Cream + Oat-Flax Crumble Parfait

Yield: 2 parfaits (with leftover crumble)


  • For the Pistachio Cream:
  • 1/4 C Pistachios
  • 1Tbsp Agave nectar
  • 175g/6oz silken tofu ( I use Clearspring organic )
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4Tbsp Lemon zest
  • 1 tsp Lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • For the Oat-Flax Crumble
  • 1/4 C Oat groats
  • 1/4 C Flax seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Agave nectar
  • 1/16 tsp Salt
  • To Serve:
  • 1 C Halved & pitted fresh cherries
  • Chopped pistachios


  1. Make the cream first: I toasted my pistachios briefly just so I could remove the skins, but if yours are already skinned  then there’s no need.
  2. Blend all cream ingredients in a high-power blender until smooth, scraping down the sides so everything is incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to assemble parfaits.
  3. In a food processor/spice-grinder jar, process the oat groats, flax seeds and salt to a flour. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the olive oil and agave. It should form clumps as if you were making granola. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.
  4. Shortly before serving (you can prep in advance but the cherry juice may tint the pistachio cream a little) assemble the parfaits. Start with a layer of the pistachio cream, then the cherries, then another layer of the cream and finally top with as much of the crumble as you like, chopped pistachios and a cherry for good measure.

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog-hop Healthy Vegan Fridays. If you haven’t checked it out yet, click on over now. I can guarantee you’ll find something to swoon over.

Any fun foodie plans this weekend?  I’m off to Wales to stay with a friend- walking, chatting, beach and I’m sure plenty of good food!


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