24 October 2014

Puy Lentil, Beet and Mozzarella Salad

Autumnal salad

I know that Summer's over, but I'm still enjoying salads. I'm eating a lot of comfort food too. Comforting bowls of soup, stew and chilli, which are great, but sometimes all I want is a salad.

On days when I'm at home and working flat out trying to get all my housework done and catching up online, I want something a bit special for lunch like this puy lentil, beet and mozzarella salad.

Some of my friends on Facebook will be laughing at that, as I admitted to having a squeezy Heinz tomato cup-a-soup for lunch yesterday. Hardly inspiring, but wonderfully quick and low in calories.

lentil and beetroot salad

My cup-a-soup may not have been inspiring, but this salad was. A mixture of salad leaves and slices of crunchy cucumber topped with roasted red pepper, tangy pickled baby beets, creamy puy lentils, fresh milky mozzarella topped with a drizzle of balsamic syrup. Just wonderful.

For convenience I used jarred red peppers and ready to eat puy lentils. My favourites are Cooks & Co Roasted Red Peppers and Merchant Gourmet Puy Lentils. In my opinion these are store cupboard essentials and are really handy for throwing together a quick meal.

Are you still enjoying salads or have you put them aside for more hearty dishes? 

print recipe
beet salad
Puy Lentil, Beet and Mozzarella Salad
A hearty and colourful salad for a satisfying lunch.
  • 50g mixed salad leaves
  • 50g ready to eat puy lentils
  • ½ roasted red pepper
  • a few slices cucumber
  • 5 pickled baby beets
  • ½ ball fresh mozzarella
  • a drizzle of balsamic glaze
1. Slice the red pepper and mozzarella.2. Layer up your salad in a bowl. First the salad leaves, then the cucumber, mozzarella and pepper. Sprinkle over the lentils, then top baby beets.3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. 4. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 1

20 October 2014

Smoked Vegetable Stew

Smoky Vegetable Stew

It tastes like a slow cooked stew, but didn't take long to cook at all.  I made it in my REDMOND Multicooker. It handily has a stew setting, which was just what I needed.

So what else does it do? 

Redmond Multicooker Review

Yes, it does have quite a range of functions. I wanted to see how easy it was to make a stew now the colder nights have set in. 

So what do I think of it?

The text in the instruction manual is teeny and my eyesight just isn't up to it. I gave up on that and just had a play with the control panel. Bigger text please REDMOND! (Since I made my stew I've discovered the manual online, which you can zoom in for bigger text. Excellent!)

There are lots of preset programs, but you can change the amount of time you want it to cook your dish. I used the stew function, which takes 40 minutes and added an extra 10 minutes. The vegetables came out tender and the gravy was tasty, but next time I think I'll add a little flour to thicken it up. Mind you Graham requested I serve the stew with mashed potato and it soaked up the gravy marvellously.

multicooker review

I thought it was a really handy and swish looking bit of kit. I also appreciated not having to fry the onions and garlic first before adding the other vegetables, I just popped all the ingredient in at the same time. I'm all for time saving, so thumb up on that score.

The Multicooker REDMOND RMC-M4502 was quiet and the outside didn't overheat. Once the stew was ready, the pot just lifts out. It didn't beep once it was ready, so I had to keep an eye on the time, but leaving it to keep warm in the cooker wouldn't have done it any harm and it also has a keep warm function if you want to leave it until you are ready.

Vegetable stew

I'm a bit set in my ways, so I can't see myself making pasta or cakes in it, but it could be useful if you have a tiny kitchen and not much in the way of cooking and baking equipment. It would actually be a really good present for a teenager heading off to university for the first time. My advice would be to try it a few times first so they know what they are doing.

smoked paprika
photo: Steenbergs
My stew featured butternut squash, carrots, aubergine and courgette in a smoky tomato gravy. A very Autumnal stew that was fabulously filling and very comforting served with mashed potato.

I gave the gravy a smokey flavour with the addition of smoked paprika. I've been using the smoked paprika from Steenbergs recently. I love their stylish, easy-stacking pots and the paprika has a wonderful flavour and a rich red colour.

fast diet recipes
A great thing about this stew is there is no fat added to it and it's pretty low calorie wise, so it's great for the 5:2 Diet and super healthy.

If you divide the stew into 6 portions it comes in at only 103 calories per portion. Divide it into a heartier 4 portions and you are still only looking at 154 calories.

  • Stew (divided into 6 portions) and 1 slice of medium wholemeal bread = 199 calories.
  • Stew (divided into 6 portions) with 1 medium potato and 38g peas = 302 calories.
  • Stew (divided into 6 portions) with Tesco Light Fresh Mash (½ pack) = 243 calories.

print recipe
vegan stew
Smoked Vegetable Stew
An Autumnal vegetable stew cooked in a multicooker.

If you don't have a multicooker saute the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft, then add the vegetables and cook a little, before adding the liquids and simmering until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are tender.
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ butternut squash, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 aubergine cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 large courgette, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200 ml vegetable stock (2 cubes)
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • a large handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • a good grinding of salt and pepper
1. Add all the ingredients to the pot of a multicooker.2. Close the lid securely and choose the stew function. Add another 10 minutes to the standard 40 minute timing.3. Leave it to cook while you go do something very useful or very fun.4. Serve with mashed potatoes and a smile.5. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4-6

Here are a few more reviews and recipes for the Redmond multicooker:

Disclosure: REDMOND sent me a multicooker to try and paid me to create a recipe for them and Steenbergs kindly sent me some spices to try. I was not required to write a positive review by either company and any opinions expressed are my own.

15 October 2014

Win a Specialist Olive Oil and Balsamic Oil Set - worth £49


Gresado have been supplying products to top chefs in London for over 40 years. Their top quality products are also used by home cooks and today in conjunction with them I am giving 1 lucky winner the chance to win a specialist oil and vinegar set.

This set, selected by Gresado chef Ben Tish, consists of a 5 litre tin of superior, authentically Italian Extra Virgin Olive oil by San Michele plus the Platinum Eagle gourmet balsamic vinegar. Both essentials for keen cooks.

De Negris – Platinum Eagle


- The classic shape of this bottle enhance the genuine qualities of the balsamic vinegar
- Platinum Eagle (65% must) Ideal for gourmet dishes, this balsamic vinegar has a high natural density. The refined and intense flavour works well with ice cream, strawberries and cheese.

San Michele – Extra Virgin

5 litre 

- The attractive tin makes a wonderful present and would offer an authentic Italian feel to any kitchen.
- Superior category olive oil obtained directly from olives and solely by mechanical means. Light fruity taste, yellow-green colour, medium sweetness and low spicy taste.

Would you like to win this fabulous set? 

To enter leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me what your favourite Italian dish is and enter using the rafflecopter box below. There are more options for extra entries. This giveaway is UK only and will close on 31 October 2014 when the winner will be chosen.
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information on Gresado and their 'Great For Cooks' range visit www.gresado.com., Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I am running this giveaway on behalf of Gresado, who sent me some of their products to try. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.