Five a day roasted vegetable sauce

Every now and again I get a fancy for vegetables and lots of them! This roasted vegetable sauce is perfect for ensuring your family get their five a day and is great with gnocchi and pasta or even with cous cous. I chose to use baby courgettes and baby aubergine alongside pepper and onion to give vibrant colour and a balance between sweet and savoury. Feta was made to be paired with such flavours so a liberal sprinkling of this over your finished dish really lifts the flavours. The sauce should be chunky with a light tomato coating- I used Cirio Tuscan chopped tomatoes which have the perfect ratio of sauce to tomato chunks. You can find them at http://www.cirio1856.co.uk.

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Ingredients- serves 4
4 garlic cloves- kept whole
1 large red onion- peeled and cut into small wedges
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper- chopped
Handful of baby courgettes- chopped
Handful of baby aubergine- chopped
Handful of black olives- optional
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chilli flakes
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Fresh basil

1.Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan ready for the veggies. Take a large roasting tin and place all the chopped vegetables into it including the whole garlic cloves. Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and season. I used smoked sea salt which is fabulous with roasted vegetables. Roast for around 15 minutes until everything is tender- test with a knife, if it goes into the vegetables easily then it’s ready!

2. Take a large frying pan and add a small glug of oil over a medium heat. Rescue the garlic cloves from the vegetable tray and squeeze out the tender and wonderfully fragrant garlic. I then fried off the garlic with a touch of chilli flakes (or as much as you dare!) for a minute or two before scattering the vegetables into the pan. The chilli should enhance the flavours rather than drowning them out. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and cook for around 10 minutes on a simmer so the tomato brings the sauce together and the flavours develop even more. Finish with a liberal sprinkling of freshly torn basil leaves and away you go! Serve with gnocchi or pasta and feta over the top if you like. Mozzarella would also be delicious. Any leftovers can be easily reheated or blitzed into a smooth sauce or soup for the freezer.

Chunky roasted vegetable sauce- get your five a day in the most effortless way!

Butter bean, butternut squash and chorizo crumble

Think of a crumble and most people would conjure images of a piping hot fruity creation but, oh no, not this one! This butter bean, butternut squash and chorizo crumble gives a range of textures and flavours that you will cook again and again.

I have given this a Spanish twist to enhance the flavours from the chorizo which marries beautifully with the gentle sweetness of the squash and the creamy beans. You could also add chicken if you wanted an even heartier dish or leave out the chorizo and add in some other vegetables to make it vegetarian. Supermarkets are becoming quite handy in helping out with shortcuts too so if, like me, you can’t stand having to cut a solid butternut squash you can buy ready peeled squash which is great to have when time is short.

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the filling
1 large white onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed or finely chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cayenne
1 red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
100g chorizo- chopped
Small butternut squash- cut into small cubes
1 large red pepper- chopped (or alternatively you can use the ready roasted jarred
peppers)
Tin of butter beans- drained and rinsed
Jar of passata- approx 400ml
200ml vegetable stock

For the crumble topping
100g plain flour
50g unsalted butter- softened
Seasoning
Manchego cheese- as much or as little as you like

1. To get started add a splash of oil to a large pan and gently sweat the onions and garlic. You are looking for gorgeously softened onions which are beginning to get a little colour. Pop in the spices, chilli (if using) and chorizo and cook out for a further couple of minutes so they release their flavour and the chorizo begins to colour. The chorizo enhance the smoked paprika even more!

2. I then add the cubes of butternut squash and red pepper. Stir well so they get a spicy coating and cook for a few minutes. Pop in the butter beans and, again, stir through. Next goes the passata and stock, season and bring the pan to a simmer, cover and leave for 15 minutes before then removing the lid and simmering for a further 15 minutes. If you have left your chunks of squash a little larger then 20 minutes followed by another 20 minutes may be needed but give it a check as you go.

3. Whilst that is cooking away and then sauce is starting to reduce you can make the crumble topping. I have kept this as simple as possible but you could substitute it with a breadcrumb topping if you prefer. Simply take the softened butter and add to a bowl with the flour and rub between your fingers; this will form a crumb. Season and add some grated manchego cheese if you like.

4. When the passata and stock has reduced down spoon the mixture into either one large ovenproof baking dish or individual ones if you prefer. If you are a cheese fan then you could always add small chunks of any leftover manchego cheese to the mixture so this will melt as it bakes. Sprinkle over the crumble topping and bake at 200c/ 180fan for around 20- 30 minutes until the topping is golden. Serve with crusty bread or a simple side salad.

Butter bean, squash and chorizo crumble- a vibrant dish to brighten up any day!

P.S. If, like me, you made too much the leftovers as just as delicous! I added spinach and cooked it so it wilted and served it with pan fried white fish for a variation.

Super quick chicken fajitas with homemade guacamole and salsa

There really is no excuse not to whip up a quick dinner with this fajita recipe. Long gone are the days of using a jar of stir in sauce- this takes no time at all without compromising on flavour. I serve fajitas with guacamole and salsa as well as a liberal helping of soured cream so I have also given you recipes for this. Enjoy!

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Ingredients- serves 4
4 chicken breasts- cut into chunks
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilli powder
1 lime
1 red onion- finely sliced
1 red and 1 yellow pepper- finely sliced
Handful (generous!) of jalapeno chillies
Splash of vegetable oil

1. Start by marinating the chicken chunks. The marinade works just as well if you only leave it for a few minutes or if you leave it for longer. Put the chicken in a large bowl and add the paprika, cumin, oregano and chilli powder along with the juice of a lime and you can also add a little zest if you like. Set aside until you’re ready to use it.

2. Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken for a couple of minutes just to get a bit of colour before adding the onion and peppers. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are softening. If you like your peppers a bit crunchier in your fajitas then simply add them in towards the end of cooking. When the fajita mix is nearly ready, throw in the jalapenos and cook for a further minute or so.

Serve the mix in a large bowl so everyone can dig in and help themselves. I serve with options of guacamole, soured cream, salsa, lettuce and some cheese. Actually talking of guacamole and salsa…

Guacamole
3 medium tomatoes
3 ripe avocados
Juice of a lime
1/2 a small onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- grated
Fresh coriander- chopped
2 red chillies finely chopped
Salt

1. Start off by preparing the tomatoes by making a small cross on the end of each and blanching them in hot water for 30 seconds. Remove and then peel the skin off. Of course you can leave the skin on too if you like a bit more texture. Scoop out the seeds and chop finely.

2. Next up sort out the avocados by halving, removing the stone and scooping out the flesh. Use the back of a fork and mash until it reaches a smooth consistency before adding in the lime juice.

3. Take the onion, garlic, coriander and chilli and stir through the avocado to combine before adding the tomato. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

Salsa
6 tomatoes- finely chopped
1 onion- finely chopped
1 garlic clove- crushed
4 green chillies- finely chopped
Juice of half a lime
Fresh coriander- chopped
Pinch of sugar and salt

1. Step one: combine all the ingredients and serve! It could not be easier!