High Protein Vegetable Soup with Crunchy Golden Roasted Chickpeas

I absolutely love soup.  There is just something about homemade soup …. My mom was the soup maker of all time.  In fact, she was the Queen at making her famous soup.  She had this big old black pot, which was her soup pot, and she would throw in a cup of this and a cup of that, grate veggies and stir everything with a big wooden spoon.  Then bread was buttered and cut in half in a triangle effect and soon we were enjoying this amazing miracle of mom’s soup. Fast-forward ….a few years…okay many years….I still can’t get my mom’s soup to taste as great as when my mom made it….. It must be that pot…and I don’t have the pot.

So, after many years of trying, failing and crying I decided to do my own version of an awesome hearty soup.  Pure veggies with loads of nutrition, no big surprise there.   I am not too pedantic about the actual quantities of the vegetables, but the combination of the vegetables and the chickpeas work really well together. I like this soup thick-ish, and smooth, so using the blender really helps getting it to perfection. This recipe came about from just vegetables I had in the fridge.  This happens often around here…..I am seeing a pattern…

High Protein Vegetable Soup with Crunchy Golden Roasted Chickpeas

Preparation time:  20 minutes

Cooking time:  25 minutes

Total time:  45 minutes

Makes 9 cups

Ingredients:

a little oil for saute’ing

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

6 long celery stalks and tops, chopped

approximately 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) chopped carrots

2 large zucchini’s, chopped (approximately 350 grams)

2 cups cooked chickpeas

salt and pepper to taste

dried origanum

2 cups vegetable stock

For the topping:  Dry roasted chickpeas – optional

Instructions:

In a large pot, and on medium heat, saute the onions until just translucent. Add the green pepper, celery and  celery tops.  Stir around for about a minute and then add the carrots, zucchini’s, chickpeas, origanum and stock. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally and then reduce the temperature to simmer with the lid on the pot.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.  Taste.  Season with salt and pepper. Add more origanum if you feel it is needed. Taste. Then, add the vegetables to the blender.  Blend until the vegetables reach the consistency you want.

Serve hot and with some crunchy roasted chickpeas.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*

This soup freezes well in a sealed container.

To Dry Roast Chickpeas:  Chickpeas must be cooked.  Drizzle over olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place on a baking tray in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  Remember as the roasted chickpeas cool, they will get a bit more crisp.

 

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Zucchini, Baby Spinach and Cottage Cheese Phyllo Tart

Ummmm yes please !

I have finally come to the realization that I REALLY enjoy zucchini’s !, courgettes, or marrows or whatever you guys call them. (Sorry I did not mean to shout, I really just wanted to emphasize how much I really do enjoy them) It’s not a bad thing though as they are healthy, low carbs… but seriously, look at all my posts and 90% of them have zucchini’s in them !!!! (Okay, I still am getting used to the idea of calling what I know as ‘marrow’s’, zucchini’s or courgettes….I know I am carrying on about it, but this is a major for me.

So, this little savoury tart I have done like a billion times, over the years.  I decided that it clearly is good, and it is clearly time to share.  The combination of the marrows zucchini’s and cottage cheese is just delicious.  I have made it with both phyllo and puff.  Both are good, so basically when I am in this tart mood I use whatever pastry I have on hand, so clearly anything goes! (did you notice how many times I said ‘clearly’ in this paragraph?….yip! I am losing it !!!)

Zucchini, Baby Spinach and Cottage Cheese Phyllo Tart

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  30 – 45 minutes

Total time:  40 – 55 minutes

Ingredients:

6 – 8 sheets of phyllo pastry

1/2 cup (125 ml) melted butter, plus more if necessary

250 gram plain chunky cottage cheese

2 Tablespoons basil pesto (be generous)

8 small zucchini’s, sliced with a potato peeler

a handful of baby spinach, sliced finely

4 Jumbo-sized free-range eggs

1 cup (250 ml) crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup (125 ml) dry toasted pumpkin seeds

To Serve:  Rocket and Sour Cream

Instructions:

Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease an oven proof dish approximately 23 x 28 x 5 centimeters / 9 x 11 x 2 inches in size.

Layer one sheet of your phyllo pastry into the dish and brush the pastry with some melted butter.  Continue to layer and brush with butter until all the sheets of phyllo are finished.

Then blanch the sliced zucchini’s in boiling water for a few seconds, drain and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl add the cottage cheese and pesto.  Taste and if needed season with salt and pepper.  Spoon mixture onto the phyllo pastry.

In another bowl, add the zucchini, baby spinach, eggs and feta. Mix well. Then stir in half of the dry toasted pumpkin seeds.

Spoon the zucchini mixture over the cottage cheese mixture, and top with the remainder of the pumpkin seeds.

Place in oven and bake for 30 – 45 minutes or until egg has set and phyllo is golden brown.

Serve with rocket and sour cream.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  If you find that your phyllo is browning too quickly, cover the exposed phyllo with tin foil, so that it does not burn.

 

Easy Vegetable Lasagna

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OMG !!!  I haven’t made this lasagna in awhile, and I really love it.  I was racking my brain for dinner ideas and then this old favourite came to mind, and that was it, mind set…this was happening !

Okay, I know the pics do not give this meal justice, stone me, sue me, do what you will, but just try this combination of vegetables made into a lasagna….almost to die for.

Even though this is super easy, you can even cheat with this to make it even easier if you want…the roasted butternut, roast extra the night before, the corn, cook or grill up extra the night before with your evening meal, or even with the creamy spinach. Hey, if you want to cut corners, go for it, no judgement here.

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Easy Vegetable Lasagna

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  40 minutes (roasting butternut) + 30 minutes (to cook the completed lasagna)

Total time:  1 hour 25 minutes

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

9 – 12 lasagna sheets (I used Gluten-Free, but you can use which ever lasagna sheets you prefer)

1 medium-sized butternut (approximately 500 grams)

sprinkling of either fresh or dried thyme

1 – 2 sweet corn cobs

1 fresh bunch spinach (approximately 150 – 200 grams cut, and uncooked)

For the topping:

1 cup of grated cheddar or matured cheddar cheese for the top

and / or feta cheese

Cream Cheese Sauce:

100 grams salted butter

100 grams all-purpose flour (I used Gluten Free flour)

3 1/2 cups full cream milk, plus extra if thickens too much. (I used a lactose free milk)

salt and pepper to taste

a good sprinkling or two of nutmeg

230 grams tub of plain, smooth cream cheese

Instructions:

Peel and dice up the butternut, place in an oven proof dish with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over some thyme.

Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit  and allow to cook until done.

In the meanwhile, remove the main vein from the spinach.  Chop and slice the fresh spinach. Wash and drain.

Cook spinach your preferred way, either by steaming, or a quick microwave. Do not over cook, to a wilted stage.  Once done, remove and drain once again. (I usually place mine in a tea towel and pat dry to make sure all the water content is out as best as possible.)

Cook the corn, your preferred way. (I like mine to be cooked but still crunchy.)

Remember the lasagna is still going to get a cooking burst in the oven, so you don’t want to over cook your vegetables before they have even reached the oven.

Then, prepare the white sauce.  Add the butter to a medium sized pot and allow the butter to melt.  Then take the pot off the plate and add the flour, stir with a wooden spoon or spatula and mix well until the flour and butter collect together in a smooth ball stage.

Place the pot back onto the heat, and add one cup of milk, stir continuously until the sauce becomes smooth, it will be a little thick but that is fine.  Add another cup and continue to stir until a thick-ish consistency and then finally add the third cup and stir continuously once again.  At this point add the contents of the tub of cream cheese, stir in well.

Now stir in the cooked spinach.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

At this point, if you are wanting a more refined spinach content, like I did, I suggest you use a stick blender, and blend till you are happy with the consistency of the spinach.

If the white sauce is going to stand a bit before assembling the layers, you will find that the sauce does thicken up quite a bit, I suggest then adding a bit more milk, just to get a thick-ish but workable consistency.

As always this is the fun part.  With an oven proof dish approximately  20.5 x 28 x 5 centimeters/ 8 x 11 x 2 inches  in size, spoon a couple spoons of the spinach sauce on the bottom of the dish, top with a layer of lasagna sheets, top with a couple spoons of the spinach sauce, then roasted butternut pieces and a handful or two of the sweet corn, top with a little spinach sauce and repeat this method ending in a spinach sauce layer (I also  managed to do three layers of lasagna in my dish)

Top with the grated cheese on the top and feta if using.

Place in a preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes, until the grated cheese is bubbly, and the lasagna nicely cooked through.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  I also have used baby spinach for this, and in that case I do not cook it, instead I just chop and add it to the white sauce.

Quinoa and Veggie Stir Fry

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Look at this meal guys !!! Look at those colours !!! Isn’t it totally amazing ??? This is all-health !!!

Who would have guessed … I mean, seriously …there is no better stir fry.  And, I just had to add the egg, I mean….that egg !!! that just puts the meal, just ‘over the top…amazing’ …. But, it is cool, if you are not into eggs, this stir-fry is just as good and tasty, with or without the egg!

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Another plus for this is , it also can work out really well with those bits and pieces of veggies left over from during the week.  You know, like the half green pepper, and the couple of baby marrows (zucchini) that kind of thing.  Plus, this is a super quick meal to do, whilst the veggies are cooking, so is the quinoa, so it all is a win, win.

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Quinoa and Veggie Stir Fry

Preparation:  10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:

1 large onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 yellow pepper

4 large carrots

135 grams baby corn

125 grams sugar snap peas

150 grams fine green beans

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup raw quinoa (Gluten-Free)

free range jumbo sized eggs (optional)

Instructions:

Chop all veggies (I like to try and get them chopped the same way and size, that way, all will cook a bit more evenly)

In a large wok, place a little vegetable oil and heat up.  Add all the veggies in at the same time and stir and mix frequently.  Do not over cook the veggies, they must still be cooked but crisp and not soggy.

Whilst the veggies are cooking prepare the quinoa as per packet instructions.

As soon as the veggies are done, take off the stove and set aside.  By this time the quinoa will be done. Mix the cooked quinoa into the cooked veggies.

If you are wanting to serve with an egg.  Cook egg your preferred way and put on top of the quinoa and veggies.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Vegetarian Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings

 

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Another Vegetarian Meal guys…I am just on this crazy but wonderful Vegetarian ride at the moment, and its like…I just don’t want to get off it.

Well, its Spring here in good old South Africa, but with the weather we have been experiencing lately, it is hard to believe.  We have had bouts of some miserable weather, I mean about two weeks ago it was even cold for a day to two !  It was like we all of a sudden had the winter we never had this year ! Weird…. Now, these last few days have been so windy, to the point of unpleasantness, and I do not like wind.  Wind, really is not my friend….

But its cool, because over the real Winter time, it was so hot, we were eating salads, and now for Spring we are eating curries and all those nice comfort warming meals…..hence Vegetarian Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings !

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Yum, yum and yum :-). This dish is filled with delicious vegetables, and again it is very adaptable.  I basically again, used the veggies I had in my fridge before they started to look sad and bedraggled…you know how it goes.  Usually I throw them all into a pot and make a soup, or throw them…. (that really sounds awful….I don’t really ‘throw’ them….I place them…yes…I place them….) in a pan and make a delicious healthy frittata or definitely some form of a veggie concoction.

Anyway, back to the dish of the day…..super easy, scrumptious, warming to the soul and those dumplings….to die for :-).

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I thoroughly enjoy dumplings with a casserole, I remember years ago jotting down a recipe from  a cooking show, in which Rachel Allan hosted.  It was a Chicken Casserole with Cheesy Herb dumplings.  Well, need I say the recipe was divine, and the dumplings really just added this special touch to the dish. Since then, if I am wanting something special…dumplings in all forms will be added :-).

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This Vegetarian Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings is easily adaptable and can be made into a Gluten-Free meal as well, just by using a Gluten-Free Self Raising Flour for the dumplings. You can also substitute the full cream milk with a milk of your choice, and then obviously the cheese can be changed, if you don’t want to use tinned tomatoes, you can also use fresh chopped tomatoes…. I love versatile recipes !!!

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Vegetarian Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 – 55 minutes

Total time:  1 hour 5 minutes – 10 minutes

Ingredients:

3 – 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil/olive oil/coconut oil

2 – 3 medium-sized onions, peeled and roughly chopped

1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed

3 – 4 large carrots, peeled and grated

2 medium-sized turnips, peeled and grated

3 – 4 sticks of celery, chopped thinly

800 grams of tomatoes

250 millilitres (1 cup) vegetable stock

3 -4 large baby marrows/zucchinis, sliced fairly thickly

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried origanum

200 millilitres (1/2  tin) of Coconut Cream

salt and pepper to taste

For the Dumplings:

660 millilitres self-raising wheat flour

60 grams salted butter

160 grams cheddar cheese

250 millilitres (1 cup) of full cream milk or buttermilk

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/390 degrees F.

Firstly, once all the ingredients are prepared and measured out, in a large pot, on medium to high, heat up the oil and saute’ the onions, carrots, turnips, and celery. This will take a few minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning.

Add the tomatoes and stir.

Pour in the prepared vegetable stock and baby marrows (zucchini’s).

Cover the pot with a lid and bring to the boil.  Once the mixture has reached boiling point, reduce the heat to simmer and allow the vegetables to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.

Add the coconut cream and stir.

Taste, and season well with salt and pepper.

Place the vegetables in an oven-proof casserole dish approximately 20 centimeters in width by 10 centimeters in depth (8 inches in width by 4 inches in depth – it needs to hold at least 1.5 Litres/6.5 cups) and then allow extra for the dumplings on the top.

To make the dumplings:

Place the self-raising flour in a large bowl.

Add the chopped butter, salt and grated cheese.

Make a “well” in the flour, and pour in the full cream milk or buttermilk.

Using a knife, stir and mix in the flour into the milk until this mixture forms a dough.

If you feel the dough is a bit dry, add a little more milk by the tablespoon,  This should not be a very sticky dough at all.

With your hands, form balls of dough, (approximately golf ball sizes). These don’t have to be exact, the more rough and rustic they look, the more character they will have. Pack the balls of dough onto the vegetable mixture.  Brush each ball of dough with some milk and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until  the dumplings are golden brown and cooked through.

Serve hot and from the oven.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  If you are wanting to add more to this meal, serve with cooked quinoa or rice…personally though, the dumpling mixture makes quite a few, so that serves as the carbs 🙂

NB*  This meal does keep in the refrigerator if need be, but it must be covered.

NB*  Check your carrots, they may just require washing and not peeling. Remember all the nutrients are in the skins, so if the skins look good, rather not peel :-).

NB*  The oven-proof dish I used was not the correct size, it was far too shallow.  The recipe does state the correct size (no less than 1.5 litres/6.5 cups)

Baby Marrow (Zucchini/Courgette) Noodles with Toasted Sunflower Seeds and Almonds

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Whoever invented the Spiralizer, is a genius !!!  I had been wanting one for months, and finally just took the plunge and bought one…awesome 🙂.  I have had my new toy now for about three weeks, and I love it.  I am still in the throws of experimenting with it and doing meals, so yes, my inventions will be popping up every now and then, if they are blog-worthy :-).

Zoodles! what a cool word…but we call zucchini’s, baby marrows here in good old South Africa, so now what???  Do we have to use a different word???Hmmmmm ??? Well, for now, I will stick with Baby Marrow Noodles, hope that’s okay.

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I am definitely on the vegetarian bandwagon these days, for various reasons. This meal which I concocted is very versatile for sure.  I started off with the vegetarian version which I love.  It is loaded with all the added crunch I enjoy with toasted sunflower seeds and almonds with a dash of heat in the form of a little chilli or two.

I made it to test out, and my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed it for lunch ……and dinner.  For us, it was a winner!

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Ha ha…. I just envisioned puppy dog eyes at the table when yet another vegetarian meal is served…

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So….for the meat eaters, I really can’t have you guys missing out on this healthy meal, so…. I have included an option 1, 2 or 3  (I am so kind). It’s unbelievably easy, it is just a matter of adding the cooked meat to the dish, and that way the meat eaters will be happy.

And…this way, everyone will be chuffed :-).

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Baby Marrow (Zucchini) Noodles with Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

600 grams spiralized baby marrow noodles

100 grams sunflower seeds

100 grams raw almonds

a dash of oil (coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil)

2 medium-sized fresh red chillies (Not Devil Chillies, these are incredibly hot and will overpower the meal completely)

2 large fresh garlic cloves

freshly grounded salt and pepper, to taste

Then for the meat eaters:

Option 1.  100 grams chopped cooked, left over chicken

Option 2.  100 grams chopped cooked, left over bacon

Option 3.  100 grams chopped cooked, left over chicken and bacon (50 grams each)

and for all 1,2 and 3 options, an extra 100 grams of sunflower seeds to be added when serving.

Instructions:

Dry toast the sunflower seeds by putting them in a small pan on top of the stove.  Do not add any oil as seeds contain their own oils.  Turn on the oven plate to medium.  Turn and toss the seeds around with a wooden spatula. They burn quite easily, so be careful, as burnt offerings with this dish wouldn’t be too cool.  They could even start popping, just warning you… So there could be a scattering of seeds around your stove (just eat them, I do…the perfect snack attack whilst cooking :-)).  Wait until they become a nice golden brown before removing the pan from the oven plate.  Place in a bowl and set aside.

Dry roast the whole almonds the same way as the sunflower seeds were done. Once toasted, chop, place in a bowl and set aside. (I quite like keeping some almonds whole as well, but that is purely optional)

Then once that is done, its chilli time….cut the top of the chillies off, and then with the chilli between your hands, roll the chilli, that will help remove the pips.  If the pips are being stubborn, just slice the chilli up the side and remove the pips with the knife.  Toss the pips aside and wash your hands :-). (probably not a good idea to touch your eyes…..) Then with either a very sharp knife or a pair of scissors, chop or cut the chillies up finely.

Finely chop up the garlic cloves.  I usually get the back-end of the knife and press down on the garlic clove with a little force till it squashes and flattens a bit and then I chop…just so much easier

In a large frying pan, add a little oil, just enough to lightly saute’ the garlic and chilli.  This will only take a minute before the aromas start filtering the kitchen. Add the spiralized noodles and toss very gently to avoid breaking the noodles.

Add the toasted sunflower seeds and toasted almonds.

Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.

Enjoy 🙂

For the meat eaters…

Follow the above instructions; just after the nuts and seeds have been added, add either the chicken, bacon or both and then taste before seasoning. Bacon is generally quite salty, so if having the bacon option, season after the bacon has been added.

For the added crunch with this meaty dish, add the extra 100 grams of toasted sunflower seeds on serving.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Roasted Baby Cabbages

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I thoroughly enjoy roasted baby cabbages, it could be my favorite roasted veggie at this time, and most of all, I enjoy them without any dressings or a bunch of sauces!  Often the dressings and sauces can over-shadow the actual taste of the veggie… just my opinion, maybe I haven’t found the right dressing or sauce to enhance the veggie…. oh well, for now…. I am into simple roasted veggies. This way, I am able to enjoy the real taste of the veggies.

These little guys, are to die for. Basically all I do is baste with a little olive oil on the cut wedges, and add freshly ground black peppercorns and salt, pop them in the oven for about half an hour (or until golden brown).

These make the perfect side veggie for any roast, and that slight crunch of the leaves as you bite into it…. is just amazing!!

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When I think back to when my mom used to cook cabbage, in those days it was a matter of stripping the leaves, cutting out the main veins and bombing them into a pot of salted water and from there they got boiled radically to the extent I am sure all the nutrients were boiled out, but that is how a lot of vegetables were cooked. Over time, things have changed.  I basically did the same, but on a much smaller scale, I just used a lot less boiled water. I practically would tease the leaves in the boiling water for a few minutes, then take them out, but as much as I still enjoyed the cabbage, at times I did feel that I had not done the cabbage justice.  Then roasting cabbage was experimented with and I have never looked back! 🙂  I especially love roasting the baby cabbages, and just adore the red ones (I think they look more purple though).

Cabbages are loaded with vitamin C.  So, with that fact alone, they are a standard vegetable in my household.  The red (purple) cabbages, apparently, actually have a higher vitamin C content than the green/white cabbages (that is probably why the red cabbages are more expensive here 🙂 …. but no matter what, the bottom line is, they are healthy, nutritious and unbelievably good for you.

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Roasted Baby Cabbages

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time:  25 minutes

Total time:  30 minutes

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

2 small baby cabbages

Freshly ground peppercorns

Freshly ground salt

a little olive oil for basting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F

Place the cabbage with the hard stem on counter top, and slice from the top to the stem, down.  The cabbage will be in half now.  Then cut each half again, so there are four quarters.

Repeat this for the other baby cabbage.

Baste the cut sides with a little olive oil.

Grind salt and pepper on the cabbage wedges.

Place on an oven proof dish and place in oven to cook.

Remove from oven, once the cabbage wedges are golden brown and crisp (about 25/30 minutes)

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  If you are only wanting to do half the quantity, but want both the red and the green cabbage wedges, just cut each baby cabbage in half, and then cling wrap two of the halves and refrigerate and then cut the other halves into wedges.