Delicious vegetarian cottage pie

This is one my favourite winter recipes- easy to make, delicious and nutritious. And of course, completely vegetarian! It is also great for left overs. This recipe gives 4-6 portions and will fit any budget.

For the potato mash topping:

3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

a pinch of salt

a dollop of butter

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon milk

Bring water with a pinch of salt to boil on the stove. Once boiling, add the cubed potatoes and cook until soft. Decant the water, and the milk and butter to the potatoes and mash until fine. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the cottage pie:

1 cup brown or black lentils, cooked

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 table spoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tin/sachet tomato paste

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 carrot, grated

lemon zest and juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoon fruit chutney

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pan. Once heated, sauté the onion and garlic for 5-8 minutes. Add the coriander and paprika and sauté for another minute. Add the lentils, carrot and peas and fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and 1/3 cup water and mix well. Allow to simmer for another 5-10 minutes before adding the chutney, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add a bit more water if the mixture is too dry. Allow to simmer for another minute or two and add salt and pepper to taste.

Grease a large baking dish. Spread the cottage pie mixture evenly and top with mashed potato. Grate some cheese over, if you want to. Bake for 30-40 minutes and 180 degrees Celsius or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a fresh salad on the side.

Creamy chickpea and spinach curry

Autumn is slowly creeping up on us- leafs are starting to change colour and there is a bite in the air.  It is the perfect time to harvest the last of my spinach, pinch back the coriander and dig out the curry recipes.  This is a fragrant, wholesome vegetarian curry with chickpeas as the star of the dish.  Of course it is also a highly adaptable recipe and can be made more or less spicy to taste. You can also skip the yoghurt and still have a very delicious result.

I use double greek yoghurt instead of coconut milk-it contributes towards the same creamy taste but cost much less and is more versatile.  I still add desiccated coconut for that authentic indian curry taste.

This recipe gives four to six large portions. I served it with rice but it will go just as well with rootis or cous cous.

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 6-8 hours

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

1-2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon turmeric

3-5 pods cardamom, skins removed

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoon fresh, chopped coriander

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1/4 desiccated coconut

1/2 cup double greek yoghurt (bulgarian or unsweetened plain yoghurt should also work)

small bunch spinach, finely chopped

1 can whole, peeled tomatoes


Heat the olive oil and butter in a large casserole or pot.  Add the onion, garlic and chilli and sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add the cardamom, cumin, turmeric and allspice and sauté for another minute or 2. Add the chickpeas, tomato, yoghurt and coconut.  Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for approximately for 45-60 minutes or until the chickpeas are cooked.  Add the cilantro (coriander) and parsley as well as salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Simmer for another 15 minutes.  It can be served as is, or with rice or cous cous.


Delicious and spicy lentil and sweet potato curry

I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the kitchen recently because of a 1000 other things that kept me busy and distracted.  Luckily, life is back to normal now, and I can happily return to blogging, especially with the weather that has gone from fabulous summer to typical rainy Cape Town weather.  Please note, I am not complaining because I have been craving a decent curry for quite a while now!

So, this is what we had for meat-free Monday last night- a creamy, economical curry with just enough bite to heat up and loads of flavour. It really is the spices that makes the dish, and is so easy to make! This recipe is also of course, very low in carbohydrates, has a low G. I., and is more than filling enough to be served without rice or cous cous.  This recipe is enough for 4 large portions.

1 tabelspoon olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely crushed or chopped

3-4 chillies, finely chopped and depending on taste

1 tablespoon cumin, grounded

1 tablespoon coriander, grounded

2 tablespoons good quality garam masala

1 tablespoon turmeric

3-5 pods cardamom, finely grounded and skins remove

1/2 teaspoon allspice, grounded

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

3-4 cups water, divided

1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Sauté the onions, garlic and chilli for 5-8 minutes, before adding all the dried spices. Sauté for another minute or 2, then add the lentils.  Add the tomato paste, mix well, then add the 3 cups of water. Turn down the heat, and bring to boil. Once everything boils, add the sweet potato, and allow to simmer for an hour.  If it cooks dry in the meantime, add another bit of water. After simmering for an hour, add freshly chopped cilantro and parsley, and allow to simmer for another 15-30 minutes until most of the fluid has thickened into a thick sauce. Serve as is, or with rice, cous cous or indian naan bread.



Basil potato gnocchi with roasted exotic tomatoes

I got very excited last week about the Woolworths Exotic tomatoes that I found at my local Woolworths Food.  Not only were they incredibly pretty, but tasty as well.  I used them in my Mixed Tomato, basil and pea garden salad, which was very popular, and decided that they would also be perfect for #meatfreemonday. So, with little further ado, here is my recipe for potato gnocchi with roasted exotic tomatoes.

This recipe gives 3-4 portions:

Potato gnocchi:

3 medium to large potatoes, cooked and skins removed

1 scant cup flour, sifted

1 egg

Salt to taste

Once the potatoes are cooled, mash it very finely but do not use a blender. Add the egg and salt and mix well with a spoon.  Add the flour to the potato mixture and gently mix through (you do not want to over mix in order to keep the gnocchi light and fluffy). Once the flour has been incorporated, remove a handful, and gently role it into a sausage shape on a lightly floured surface.  Cut 1 cm pieces off the potato sausage (they should be shaped like little pillows), and lightly press with a fork.  Once you have made all the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and add the gnocchi to the boiling water. As soon as the gnocchi floats to the surface, they are ready and can be removed with a slotted spoon and place in a colander in order to drain any excess water.  Set aside.

Roasted tomatoes:

1 green tomato (a specific type of tomato, not an unripe red tomato), cut into wedges

2 pink tomato, cut into wedges and halved

handful vine-ripened tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsuis.  Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a roasting tray.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until done.  Remove for the oven and set aside.

Dish assembly:

2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped basil

1 tablespoon olive oil

cooked gnocchi

roasted tomatoes

Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan.  Add the gnocchi, and fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the basil and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Remove form the heat, and add the tomatoes. Toss lightly and serve. I served my gnocchi with freshly grated parmesan.

Baby swiss chard omelette

It is Friday and I am looking forward to the weekend!  Although I do not have a lot of plans, this omelette will definitely be on my menu for breakfast-it is quick, easy, packed with protein, contains no carbs, and is a great start to the day. I love the taste of fresh, raw baby spinach or Swiss chard, but it can be pre-cooked with preferred.

This recipe yields one large omelette:

1 tablespoon butter

3 eggs

15 ml milk

salt and pepper to taste

5-6 leafs baby spinach, finely chopped

1 tomato, finely diced

1/4 cup mozzarella of white cheese of your choice

Melt the butter in a large pan over moderate heat.  Whisk the eggs and milk together and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Lower the heat and add the whisked egg to the pan, and place a lid on the pan. Cooked covered for 8-10 minutes or until the egg on top is almost done. Add the Swiss chard, tomato and cheese to one half of the omelette and flip the other half over it to form a half moon shape. Cover again, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the cheese starts to melt.  Remove from the heat and serve.

Mixed tomato, basil and pea garden salad

O, Woolworths, how I love thee! I went to Woolworths Food this past weekend in search of something (I can’t even remember what!) when I discovered boxes and boxes of the most beautiful, mixed tomatoes.  I love tomatoes-they form the base of most salads and sauces and are so versatile that they can be served up from anything like a sweet jam to a savoury sauce or tart.

You can thus imagine my joy at purchasing a box of vine-ripened tomatoes, tiger-stripe tomatoes and yellow, green and pink tomatoes, each perfectly shaped and flawless. I immediately decided to continue celebrating summer with a tomato, basil and pea salad, with fresh mixed lettuce and basil from my garden. The end result was delicious- the sweetness of the tomato was complimented very well with the fresh basil (one of my favourite combinations) and off set by the acidity of the balsamic vinegar.

This recipe gives 3-4 large portions:

1 cup frozen peas, blanched and cooled

a large bunch of lettuce such as Boston, Romaine, Green and Red leaf lettuce

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced and halved

1 cup, quartered or halved Tiger stripe and vine ripened tomatoes, tossed in salt and allowed to rest for 15 minutes

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

3-4 sprigs chives, finely chopped

Parmesan shavings for garnish

Basil vinaigrette:

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

50 ml good quality balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons, fresh, finely chopped basil

Arrange the lettuce in a large bowl and add the peas and cucumber.  Poor off any water that formed after tossing the tomatoes with salt, and add to the lettuce. Add the chives and basil, and toss lightly.  Add the parmesan shavings and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Cumin lentils and honey pumpkin salad

At the last moment last night, we decided to braai.  There wasn’t a lot in the fridge or cupboard to make up a side dish (it being almost the end of the month).  That, for me, is the perfect challenge and a great opportunity to be creative. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a lot of frozen Hubbard squash in my freezer (one Hubbard and two people means at least 4X 500 grams frozen portions of squash that takes a while to work through).  Some lentils, and beautiful baby Swiss chard from my garden plus a basil vinaigrette as well as the squash does make the salad!

A perfect companion to grilled mustard pepper steak, or as a meal on its own. This salad really stole the show and can easily serve four.

3/4 cup brown lentils, cooked

1 tablespoon roughly grounded cumin

1 tablespoon roughly ground coriander

2 tablespoons olive oil

350-400 grams cubed cooked squash

2 tablespoons heated, runny honey

8-10 leafs baby spinach/ Swiss chard

Parmesan slivers and chives for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the cooked, cubed squash in a greased baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and honey.  Flavour with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove for the oven, and allow to cool.

In the meantime, heat a dash of oil over moderate heat.  Add the cumin and coriander and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and fry for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from the stove, and allow to cool.

Basil vinaigrette:

50 ml olive

50 ml balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

5 ml white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil

Mix all the ingredients together, and whisk well.

Assembly of the salad:

Rinse the baby spinach/chard and place in a salad bowl. Add the cooled pumpkin and lentils and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss lightly and serve immediately.

Cinnamon sugar pancakes

I have already posted a recipe for savoury pancakes on this website, but I thought I would share the recipe again in a sweet format. I grew up with pancakes as a treat. We used to call them bazaar pancakes, and could usually by them for a next to nothing whenever the church or school or a charity event held a bazaar to raise money. It is quite common throughout South Africa, and you are sure to find a couple of retired ladies baking pancakes in aid of something or another in every small town in South Africa. My gran used to be one of those ladies, and this is her recipe…

The recipe gives approximately 20 large pancakes

2 cups water

2 eggs

30 ml white spirit vinegar

63 ml oil

2 cups cake flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ml salt

Whisk all the wet ingredients together. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. And whisk gently together until the batter has a smooth consistancy. The batter should be very runny and thin-if not the case add more water until the batter is runny (less thick than pouring cream!).

Heat a dash of oil in a pan, or use a non-stick pan. Add the batter, swirl acros the surface of the pan, and allow to bake for 5-8 minutes. The pancake is ready to flip, once all the sides have curled inwards. Flip the pancake once, and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, place on a plate and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Repeat the process. Serve with a wedge of lemon and enjoy!  These pancakes can also be frozen once made.

Potato rösti with rocket, tomato and a dollop of basil mayonaisse

It is meat-free Monday and lunch time! I have been craving potato rösti for a while now, but I have to admit that it is the one thing that I have had very little success with. Which is quite ridiculous as it seems so easy in all the recipes I have found. My potatoes are usually to watery, or to dry, doesn’t keep shape, stays raw or turns to mush. I have tried parboiled potato, mashed potato, raw potatoes, and the good ol’ raw potato and onion mix.  My boyfriend also gave it a go last week, but with little success either. Thus I set myself the challenge of attempting the perfect, golden potato rosti again, and with lunch being on the line I really did put in the effort!

It balanced perfectly with the acidity of the tomato, pepperyness of the rocket and creaminess of the mayo. It turned out to be a really tasty and easy lunch, even if I have to say so myself!

I used one potato for 4 röstis (which should serve 2 for a very light lunch, or 1 for a more proper lunch).

Potato rösti:

1 potato grated,

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

2 teaspoons cake flour

1 sprig spring onion, finely sliced

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablspoons cooking oil for frying

Squeeze the water out of the grated potato, and mix with the spring onion in a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, salt and pepper and mix through. Lastly add the flour, mix well and form patty shapes with your hands. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat, and add the potato röstis. Fry for 5-8 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Dry on a paper kitchen towel, and serve warm with a slice of tomato, shredded rocket and a dollop of mayonnaise mixed with basil pesto.

Grilled mushroom and green pepper salad with a basil vinaigrette (perfect for a weekend braai)

Cape Town is experiencing a heat wave at the moment, and this is as good an excuse as any to hand over the braai tongs to the man (or woman) in your live, and escape the hot kitchen. I love South African summer and, after another scorching day in Cape Town, there are few things as perfect as ending the day with an ice cold glass of chenin blanc and a braai whilst watching the sun set over Falsebay.  Perfect late summer evenings like the past weekend just reminds me again of how privileged I am to live in SA with our moderate climate (minus the heat wave of course) and fantastic wine.

Currently our favourite steak cut is rib-eye. It’s soft, juicy and absolutely succulent! I rubbed the steak with a dash of olive oil and NoMu’s Coffee Rub. NoMu ( makes the best rubs I have ever tasted and is locally produced and preservative free. It also tastes fantastic, of course, and I have included their rubs in everything from steak to chicken pie! I am not going to go into detail about braaiing a steak-there are many excellent websites and blogs that cover that topic, and usually my participation in the braai goes as far as prepping the food.  What I do want to tell you about, is the salad.  In this heat (and keeping low carbs in mind), there is no other alternative except a salad. This salad recipe is also vegetarian, and filling enough to serve as a main meal with crusty bread and cheeses.

For this salad, I roasted mushrooms and green pepper over the coals, and added them to a bed of mixed lettuce ,rocket, fresh, plump tomatoes, cucumber, parmesan shavings topped with a basil and chive vinaigrette.

Salad recipe:

6-8 mushrooms, grilled over coals on a skewer and halved

half a green pepper (any colour will do), cut length wise in thick strips and across into large blocks, grilled over coals on a skewer until roasted

bunch of mixed lettuce, including rocket, shredded

1 tomato, cut into wedges

1/3 cucumber, cut into slices

1/4 cup parmesan shavings

handful olives

whatever other ingredients you would like to add to make the perfect salad

Mix or layer all your ingredients in a large salad bowl, and add your mushrooms, peppers and parmesan last. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Basil and chive vinaigrette:

50 ml red wine vinegar

25 ml olive oil

25 ml balsamic vinegar

6-7 leafs basil, finely chopped

3-4 springs chive, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients together and mix very well. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.