Black bean and sweet potato quesadillas

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I recently fancied something Mexican inspired for dinner but we were a little bored of the usual options of tacos, fajitas and burritos; as lovely as they all are sometimes you need a bit of a change and this is where this recipe comes in. Quesadillas are toasted tortilla stacks that can be filled with a whole host of ingredients but this is a vegetarian quesadilla recipe. Black beans are often overlooked but are really quite versatile and I find are perfect for a quick recipe like this. The sweet potato is used to balance the earthiness of the beans and the mix of spices whilst adding a lift to the overall flavours. I served this as a dinner but I think it would also be great as a hearty brunch.

In order to be able to use the bean chilli in a quesadilla it needs to be thick and a bit drier than you may usually make it if you were serving it with rice. So trust me and don’t be tempted to add too much stock otherwise it will ooze out of the quesadilla and make a right mess!

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the bean chilli
1 large sweet potato- peeled
2 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- grated or finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
250g drained black beans
200ml hot vegetable stock
Dried chilli such as ancho or cascabel- optional
Fresh coriander- chopped
Salt and pepper
8 soft tacos
Cheddar cheese- grated

For the salsa
2 ripe avocados- peeled, stone removed and cubed
1 red onion- finely sliced or chopped
Baby plum tomatoes- finely sliced or chopped
Fresh coriander- chopped
Lime

1. Start by making the chilli. Peel and cut the sweet potato into small pieces; toss with half of each spice and a good glug of olive oil. Roast in a pre- heated oven at 180c/ 160 fan for around 10-15 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. Choose a saucepan and add another splash of oil. Gently fry off the onion until softening before adding the garlic and cooking for a further few minutes. Add the remaining spices and cook for another minute. Squeeze in the tomato puree and, again, cook for another minute.

3. Add the drained black beans and sweet potato to the pan and stir well to coat the with the spice mixture. Pour in the majority of the hot stock as well as the dried chilli (if using) and fresh coriander; bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on the hob for around 15-20 minutes. Pour in the remaining stock if needed and continue to simmer until the chilli reduces down and thickens.

4. As the chilli is finishing off you can make the avocado salsa. Simply prepare the ingredients as per the instructions above and combine in a bowl. Add a squeeze of lime juice and season to taste. You can add a little chilli and some more of the fresh coriander if you like. Cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until needed.

5. When you are ready to assemble the tacos, heat a non- stick frying pan over a medium heat. Place a couple of the small tacos into it ready to dry fry. Divide the chilli and spoon some into the centre of the taco; use the spoon to spread it out a little but not all the way to the edges. Sprinkle over some of the grated cheese before placing another of the tacos on top. Use a spatula and gently press down. Dry fry until the bottom is golden; carefully slip it using the spatula and do the same for the other side. Continue until all the tacos and chilli is used. Serve immediately with the avocado salsa.

Black bean and sweet potato quesadillas- a perfect brunch or dinner to please a crowd!

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Sweet potato, spinach and chorizo hash

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Let’s face it- who doesn’t love a good breakfast to start the day?! Well if this sounds familiar then this is the breakfast for you! This hash is absolutely packed with flavour and can easily be made for one, two or even a group; it also makes the most of ingredients that a lot of people will have in their fridge. In my mind, all good breakfasts involve an egg with a golden, runny yolk. Here I have chosen to bake the egg into the hash but feel free to serve it with a poached egg perched atop the hash if you prefer.

Ingredients- serves 2
Olive oil
1 decent sized sweet potato- peeled and cubed
1/2 tbsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
100g chorizo- chopped
1 red onion- peeled and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves- finely sliced
1 small red pepper- finely sliced
Small bag of baby spinach- washed and shredded
1 red or green chilli
Fresh coriander- roughly chopped
2 eggs

1.Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Start off by deciding if you want to make individual hashes or one larger one and choose smaller pans or one big one. Heat a good glug of oil in the pan and add in the sweet potato chunks. Sprinkle over the ground spices and fry for a few minutes until the potato is softening and starting to turn golden.

2.Add in the chorizo, garlic, onion, red pepper and chilli;  continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the shredded spinach and combine to ensure that it is distributed evenly and starting to wilt.

3. Use the back of a spoon to create a well for each of the eggs to sit in. Carefully crack each egg into a hole and back for around 10 minutes until the egg white has set and the yolk remains runny. Serve immediately with a liberal sprinkling of the chopped coriander.

Sweet potato, spinach and chorizo hash- now this is the way to kick off the day!

 

Butternut squash, sweet potato and parmesan soup

Autumn days mean curling up with a roaring fire, rain beating against the window and plenty of comforting food. It also brings the squash season and this means that butternut squash soup is hard to resist. This soup combines squash with sweet potato and parmesan which brings the sweetness into balance with the umami edge that parmesan brings. The rind of parmesan is a secret weapon in cooking so I always keep them in the freezer so they are on hand to use in soups, stews, risottos and pasta dishes. My added extra is a delicate hint of spice and a hit of roasted garlic. I have also used the squash seeds to create a crunchy topping that can be sprinkled over the soup to serve so don’t delay- get cooking!

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Ingredients- serves 4-6
1 large butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
Olive oil
2 bulbs of garlic
2 white onions- chopped
1.5 litres of hot vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
1-2 rinds of parmesan

For the seed topping
Sea salt
Chilli flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Use a sturdy knife to cut the butternut squash in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and set aside for later. Use a knife to score the flesh. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into inch chunks. Place the squash on a baking tray and the sweet potatoes in another one before drizzling both with olive oil and sprinkling with salt. Roast in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until tender. The squash will start to caramelise at the edges and this adds to the flavour. Cut the tops of the garlic bulbs off and wrap in a foil parcel with some oil and roast until tender.

2. Meanwhile you can prepare the seeds. Simply wash them and pat them dry. Pop them on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil, the sea salt and chilli flakes. Roast with the vegetables until the seeds are golden and crunchy. When they are ready, set aside and allow to cool.

3. Take a large pan that will be able to hold all of the soup. Heat a glug of oil over a medium heat and cook the onions until softened but do not allow them to colour. When the vegetables are cooked add the sweet potato and roasted garlic to the pan whilst you scoop out the squash before adding the flesh to the pan too. I then used a potato mashed to slightly break the vegetables down to make blending even easier later. Add the hot stock to the pan. Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool until you are able to blend it. Blend until you reach the consistency you like. Return the pan to the heat, drop in the parmesan rinds and simmer gently. Simmer for at least an hour if you can so the parmesan has time to infuse. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning according to taste. Serve in warmed soup bowls with plenty of fresh bread to dip.

Butternut squash, sweet potato and parmesan soup- the perfect antidote to a blustery autumn day!

 

 

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup

At this time of year minds turn to soup as warming, comforting lunch or dinner. Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup hits all the right notes on the flavour front to give a satisfying meal that you will definitely want more of! If you like a hit of chilli then you can also add this to add some warmth but the flavours of the soup are just as lovely without.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Knob of unsalted butter
1 large red onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- chopped
1 large red pepper- cut into chunks
1 large sweet potato- peeled and cut into inch chunks
200g red lentils- washed and drained
600ml hot vegetable stock
30ml milk (optional)
Salt and pepper

1. Start off by making sure that all the vegetables are chopped and ready to go. Heat the knob of butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic and red pepper and cook until the onion and pepper has softened.

2. Next up goes the potato chunks and stir to make sure they get a buttery coating. Cook until the potato is catching a little colour on the outside before adding the lentils and stock. Bring the stock to a boil before lowering to a simmer; cover the pan and simmer until the potato is softened and the lentils are tender. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending with a hand blender; you can make this as chunky or as smooth as you like. At this point you can add a little milk if you would like a creamier finish but it was delicious without too! Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

Sweet potato, lentil and red pepper soup- autumn in a bowl!