Butternut squash, sweet potato & carrot with my new spiced paste creation..an absolute taste sensation!!! 

Luckily I have friends that are happy to taste test my kitchen experiments…and this was one of my recent creations…

All I can say is, it was sooooooooooo good, it’s now become a kitchen staple! I can barely find the words to sufficiently tell you how good this tasted. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it, but I can tell you that my friend agreed :) there was none left at the end of lunch!

So, what was it?
By way of research, and out of curiosity, I was recently perusing the shelves in my local supermarket and seeing what new products are on offer nowadays; I don’t shop much in supermarkets so it’s interesting to see the array of cuisines and flavours that are now becoming standard. Whether or not people are experimenting with the more diverse offerings I don’t know, but there is a whole new world of flavours available which I think is great – even better if you have the time and inclination to play with them yourself… :)

I came across a tiny jar of tagine paste; the collection of ingredients sounded interesting and piqued my interest, so I had a good look at the label and mused on it at home, then got busy in the kitchen to see what I might produce…this was it…calling it a paste doesn’t seem very inviting but I’m stumped for what else to call it…any ideas anyone? How about a ‘pastesensation’?? Because that’s what it is..

This makes a huge bowl of chunky paste that can be used in various ways, feel free to reduce the quantities.


2 large banana shallots or 4 small round shallots, finely diced

6 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

250g tomato purée

5 tbsp rapeseed oil

5 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tbsp dried pepper flakes

1 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds

1 tsp ground roasted coriander seeds

1 tsp dried mint

1/2 tsp Turkish red chilli flakes

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp roasted ground caraway seeds

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp salt


Mix everything together and leave it in the fridge for the flavours to develop overnight and/or for a day.

This can then be used in whatever way you fancy, so far I’ve eaten it as it is, added it to a bowl of ‘foul’ and added it to pan cooked vegetables…which is what you can see in this post, but I do think there is so much more you could do with it. Add it to a casserole or tagine; thin it down and use it as a marinade; use it as a salsa, basically, have a play.  For my root vegetable dish..continuing with my theme of pan cooking vegetables..

1/2 small butternut squash, peeled

1 medium sweet potato, skin on

2 large carrots, peeled

Chop all of these root vegetables into small cubes, all the same size

In a wide based saucepan, heat a tablespoon of your chosen oil over a medium heat

Pan cook all of the cubed vegetables until they start to cook through, agitating a few times as they cook, but not too often, you’re not stir frying these vegetables

Once they’ve started to show signs of being cooked through, add half of the paste mix above and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes

Serve hot as a side dish or as a complete meal topped with cheese, or with chopped spring onions and tahini sauce over a bed of cooked grains like I did. This is quite a rich dish, so the tahini sauce was a perfect addition.

And if you’ve got leftovers, enjoy it all over again the next day, hot or cold. I had some in a wrap with goats cheese for lunch today.

I served mine with leftover spelt, freekeh and my dukkah Topped with the cooked vegetables, chopped spring onions and tahini sauce
I really cannot tell you just how good this is, you’ll just have to try it yourself! But I can tell you, I’ll be making this again and again, and already have done!

I hope you like my ideas, I’m bringing them to  this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosting this week by Kaila and Mila, and hope that they enjoy it :)

Pimp Your Veg part 3: it’s in the pan…

 Although there are lots of eggs in this post, let me clarify that it’s actually not about eggs, but about pan cooking vegetables, sometimes with the addition of eggs!! And I use the term ‘pan cooking’ as opposed to frying or stir frying for good reason..

…because this is about cooking chopped/prepared vegetables in a pan with a small amount of oil, over a longer period than stir frying; it’s what I do on a regular basis for lunch or dinner, as an alternative to roasting if I don’t want to wait for the oven to heat up, or just for something different, and this therefore creates part 4 of my Pimp Your Veg series, hopefully bringing a new idea to how you cook your vegetables.  

I think this works well for any meal time, including Sunday brunch, and definitely for a quick, fresh evening meal, especially with the addition of eggs, and it works well with most vegetables too, there’s just a couple of tricks that might be useful..


Assess the vegetables you want to cook, as some will cook faster than others, take this into account when preparing them

For example…peppers and onions will cook faster than sweet potato and butternut squash, so if you want to throw them all in the pan at once, consider that either the onions and peppers will get cooked more (which could be nice?) or leave them a bit bigger

I always chop potato, sweet potato, butternut squash and carrots into small cubes

Cut cauliflower into small florets

Cut brussel sprouts in half 

Shred cabbage 

Cut baby gems lettuces in halves or quarters 

 You get the idea :) 

In a wide based pan, heat a tablespoon of your chosen oil over a medium heat or spray a thin layer of olive oil in the pan 

Once it’s warmed, add your chosen vegetables and stir so that they get a coating of oil, then leave to cook

Stir every so often to ensure the pieces cook all the way throw, but don’t agitate too much 

You may want to use a splatter cover to protect your hob/stove 

Once the vegetables show signs of starting to cook through, add some spices, seasoning and/or sauces of your choice, whatever you fancy to add flavour. Don’t add them too early to ensure that they don’t get burnt

Add green leafy vegetables once everything else is almost cooked through so that they don’t get overcooked 

I sometimes add some of my own harissa, or seeds and chopped nuts, or some dukkah to add some crunch 

A note if you are cooking cauliflower:

Add it to the pan and cook in the oil initially then add some water to the pan and put a lid over it to cook the florets; you are basically creating some steam to cook them through, then remove the lid and continue to pan cook to get some colour and flavour into the cauliflower   

 If you’ve got various vegetables to use up, throw them all in together! 

If you want to add a egg or two, make a well in the vegetables and break the eggs into the pan and cook 

Maybe add some cooked grains and heat them through with the vegetables  

I have to be honest, I then tend to eat it all straight from the pan! Saves on washing up ;)  

  Be brave: see what vegetables you’ve got and chuck them in a pan to cook whilst you make whatever else you’re having. For me, this is my entire meal, a kind of ‘hash’ I guess, for you it might be a side dish, either way, enjoy! 

Making your recipes…Persian baked rice, Algerian spiced aubergines and spelt & rye sourdough bread..


I utilise so many of your recipes and ideas and sometimes I remember to let everyone know…like today!! 

So, firstly, I introduce to you: spelt and rye sourdough bread from Ginger and Bread..it’s a seeded loaf and I didn’t have the same seeds as Ginger so I used poppy seeds, sesame seeds and roasted hemp seeds and it was still fab! 
  The bread was so good and kept well, I ate it over several days. 

And I thoroughly enjoyed it with Linda’s Mchermla Batendjel..this spiced aubergine dish is pure joy for me, eaten hot or cold, it’s so good. I really wanted to try it cold as Linda suggests, but I really had to force myself to stop eating it whilst it was still hot to be able to do so!

  Eat it on its own, with bread, or with any cooked grains, it will be good. 

I have many special memories of eating Persian rice, I was introduced to it by a dear friend, Bahy, in Dubai nearly 30 years ago. It was Bahy that introduced me to so many of the flavours that I love and when I saw Fae’s recipe for this cabbage rice with the wonderful ‘tahdig’ crust, I knew I had to make it (I made the vegetarian option) and rekindle those memories. 

I LOVED it!! And my boys enjoyed it too which made me even happier :) 

It’s a big dish, and I made the full quantity and in the end I ate it across three days..it kept really well and it reheated well and the crust crunched up again after a few minutes in a hot oven. 

I also indulged in the tip that I always remembered from Bahy and added some butter to my warm rice, it is heavenly! Try it!!!! 


  I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of your recipes from my kitchen. I also recently made the masala sauce from Shailja’s post but I don’t have any photos, I can tell you it was tasty though :) 

Have fun in your kitchen! 

Pimp Your Veg part 3: crispy crunchy oven baked vegetables  

 Welcome to your weekend :)  I hope you are enjoying my Pimp Your Veg series so far and have maybe tried roasting some veggies or spicing some up?  

This week I have been baking very thinly cut vegetables to create some crunchy snacks..

As you may recall this series was partly inspired by a friend of mine who is on a weight loss journey, and I know very well that given the choice of snacking on a piece of fruit or grabbing a bags of crisps, he’d want the crisps every time, so I’m hoping this might provide a healthier option…

I also know that when you make changes to your diet, one of the things you miss is a ‘crunch’ in your food; if you’ve been used to eating crisps/chips, biscuits, crackers, sweets etc when you start to replace them with fruit, salad and vegetables, you sometimes miss something to get your teeth into. So how about some sweet potato or butternut squash crisps? Or potato peel snacks? Or carrot crunchies?

Sweet potato 

Butternut squash 

Potato peels 


The key to achieving all of these goodies is in creating thin slices; these then bake nicely into crispy pieces.  

I tend to leave the skin on the butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and the potatoe peel is literally the peelings from potatoes I was using for something else. 

For the carrots I used a vegetable peeler to create the thins strips. 


Preheat your oven to 180C

Line your baking sheets with foil

Spray a thin layer of oil on the foil 

Place the slices of vegetables in a single layer and spray the tops with oil

Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through

Watch them carefully so that none of the pieces get overcooked, remove thinner pieces of that are getting too done

Thicker pieces won’t necessarily crisp up as much as the thinner ones, but they will still be tasty!  

The key to getting them to crunch up is in having the willpower to leave them for a few minutes once they have come out of the oven and they will crisp up For the carrots: massage some oil into the strips and bake for around 10 minutes, again, watching them carefully and agitate halfway through, then leave to crisps up before serving.

The crunchy curly pieces that this creates are great for adorning any dish and making it look ‘chefy’ or to entice children to eat carrots.


You can really pimp these by sprinkling them with salt, and/or herbs and spices prior to baking..

These butternut squash slices are sprinkled with salt and chilli flakes. 

These potatoes peels were sprinkled with paprika prior to cooking, and these I actually grilled..

  Try this with parsnip, beetroot, basically any root vegetable. Just make sure to keep a check on the oven as they bake.

The ‘crisps’ will remain crunchy for long enough to enjoy them; if you have leftovers, they will soften up, but you can re-crisp them in the oven quite easily. 

I hope this provides some interesting ideas, maybe for some weekend snacks? And just for the fun of it, this is a photo of some of the roasted veg from our dinner last night..I’m bringing my vegetable crisps to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hope to see you there, have a great weekend x 

Rose harissa spiced nuts, butter & dukkah..

 Having had fun spicing up some nuts last week, I then took things a step further.. 

I whizzed up some of the rose harissa spiced roasted cashews into a very tasty butter… 

Look at that lovely rich butter! So tasty! And with a Nutribullet it takes literally seconds to turn into a butter. 

With the remaining roasted nuts I put together a dukkah of my rose harissa spice mix, roasted cashews, almonds, sesame seeds and hemp seeds. I’ve sprinkled this liberally over all sorts of dishes and it adds wonderful flavour and good fats and much needed protein in my vegetarian world…


I do love a good play in my kitchen!!

Spiced nuts..

 Whilst I’m on the theme of spices, I thought I’d share my recent spiced nut adventures..

This week I made roasted nuts with my rose harissa spice mix, some with the Mexican spice mix from www.spicekitchenuk.com,  some with garam masala, and finally some cashews with chilli powder.. 

To make your own spiced nuts, start with raw nuts; 

Heat the oven to 190C and spread the nuts on a baking tray in a single layer;

Roast until they start to brown;

Keep checking them and move the nuts from the outside edges into the middle and around the tray so that none of them get overdone; 

Whilst they roast, pour 1 tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil into a bowl and stir a tablespoon of your chosen spice mix into the oil – of course, this may vary depending how may nuts you’re roasting, you need to gauge it yourself; resist the temptation to use any more oil, the oil is only to help the spices stick to the nuts and too much will make the nuts greasy;

Once they start to brown, take the tray out;

Mix the nuts with the oil and spices then put them back on the baking tray and back in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes or until you feel they are sufficiently done. 

Depending on your tastes, you may wish to add a sprinkle of salt. 

* Don’t put the spices in right from the start of roasting the nuts or you could burn the spices and they will become bitter. 

Mexican spiced 

Chilli cashews 

Garam masala spiced 

Rose harissa spiced 

  I thought I was making these rose harissa spiced nuts below for me when I first made them and suddenly my boys had eaten the lot! That’s success in my book :)  


Happy Sunday x

Pimp Your Veg part 2: spices are your friend! 

 If you have ever read any of my blog then you know that I love spices; these beautifully coloured aromatic powders have the power to not only nourish and heal our bodies, but to completely change any meal. 

Just a teaspoon of the right spice can take a dish from bland to grand! 

When it comes to embracing vegetables and learning to add more of them to your meals, I think spices are your secret weapon. You can bring all the flavours you love to your plate via your vegetables and make them sing.

Likewise you can use dried herbs, but for me, it’s all about spices, that’s where I would begin…and again, I know that lots of you use spices regularly and know far more than me about them, so please pass this onto to anyone you think might find it useful :)

Please keep in mind, this is a starting point for anyone looking for ways to pimp their vegetables. And of course, spices can boost any dish, for now, it’s just all about the veg! 

So, where to start? If you stand in front of a selection of spices in any shop it can be overwhelming so this is my advice…

You don’t need to have a huge library of spices immediately; my vast collection has grown over a number of years, but to begin with, I only bought those I needed for particular recipes; as I am not talking about anything so prescriptive, I would start with spice mixes. You don’t need to make your own like I do, (not to begin with anyway, you might fancy trying that later?) for starters I’d look at what is available in your local shops. All I would say is, for me, shop bought spice mixes usually have too much salt, but that’s just me and my tastes, try some and see what you think. 

If you think of the flavours that you like, go with them:

If you like Indian flavours, buy spice mixes with names that you recognise – tandoori, korma, madras, rogan josh, tikka, garam masala (masala means mix). Think of dishes you’ve enjoyed and choose based on those flavours.

If you like Mexican or South American food, try taco/fajita mixes, or creole or cajun, or just smoked paprika. For me, a creole mix is really user friendly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. 

If you like Middle Eastern flavours, try baharat, ras el hanout, za’atar or harissa. Or try some lovely citrusy sumac. As a note…many Middle Eastern flavours include cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and/or cloves, what we might consider Christmassy spices in the UK. If you try baharat or ras el hanout you’ll find these flavours, and they can be quite strong so don’t be heavy handed with these spice mixes until you get to know them .

If you like spicy food, try some chilli powder. 

I would also pick up some cumin powder, it’s a lovely starting point, and some paprika, as it’s so useful.

Be drawn by flavours and names you recognise. 

Where to buy spices? 

You will find lots of spices mixes in supermarkets, but I would also suggest visiting an Asian or Middle Eastern supermarket if you have one nearby, their spices are good quality and they have a fast turnaround, or look online at www.spicekitchenuk.com – they have perfect sized little sachets for an ideal introduction to spices (definitely try their Mexican blend!) and their fresh spices are lovely. 

As a basic starting point for using spices, ignore the directions and recipes on the packets for now and go back to my post about roasting vegetables; once you’ve sprayed the vegetables with oil prior to roasting, sprinkle over a tablespoon of your spice mix and stir it through the vegetables then roast as before. 

Alternatively, in large bowl, add a tablespoon or two (depending on your quantity of vegetables) of olive or rapeseed oil, stir in your spices, then add the prepared vegetables and toss them in the oil and spice mixture. Then roast as before.  

I will come onto other ideas for marinating and seasoning vegetables, but for now, why not throw some spices over your vegetables this weekend and see what you think? Try it with vegetables you’ve never really liked and see how they become something wonderful – for example, try roasting brussel sprouts (outer leaves removed and each one cut in half) in one of the Indian spice mixes, they’re so good! Make sure you roast them until the edges get crispy ;) 

These pics from my kitchen might also give you some ideas…

Above are carrots roasted with cumin and Aleppo chilli flakes. If you’re not a chilli fan, just try carrots with cumin. 

Above are aubergine slices about to be roasted with chermoula spice mix over them. Alternatively try these with ras el hanout or Harissa spice. 

Above…I roasted courgettes and aubergines with a selection of spices…try any one of the Indian spice mixes and see what you think..

Above is kohlrabi, carrot, sweet potatoes and shallots roasted in my own Moroccan spice mix. Try it with cumin, paprika and a sprinkle of salt. Replace the kohlrabi with parsnip or swede (rutabaga) and see just how different they can taste.  Above is mushrooms, red onion, leeks and kale roasted with olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Try a good sprinkle of sumac as something different (for sumac I’d sprinkle over a couple of tablespoonfuls). I threw this together the other day with our dinner..mushrooms, red peppers, red onions and garlic cloves with paprika. Nice with a sprinkle of chilli powder? 

This butternut squash above it roasted with za’atar spice. Butternut squash and sweet potato are great with a Mexican spice mix, especially a creole or Cajun mix. If in doubt, just try a sprinkle of paprika or smoked paprika as a first step and see what you think. 

Basically, be brave! A little makes a lot of difference and you can build it up as you get more confident. If in doubt, just ask ;) 

I’m sharing my spiced vegetable ideas with everyone at Fiesta Friday this week – I hope they like them! Check out what everyone is cooking this weekend with co hosts Judi and Quinn.

Have fun! 

Coming next in the series: getting crunchy!