Category Archives: Butternut squash

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! 

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 

Pimp Your Veg part 1 : roasting vegetables 

Thank you all so much for your positive responses to my new series, it’s so lovely to know that you are all with me 🙂

So, here we go…part 1: roasting vegetables

If you recall from my introduction post, the inspiration behind this series is a friend of mine who is on a weight loss journey and who needs some ideas for making vegetables interesting. For me, vegetables are THE most interesting food, but for some people, it’s a challenge to include more of these wonderful plant foods in their meals, so I’m hoping to provide him, and maybe you, with new ideas..

Starting with the wonderful world of roasted vegetables.   

For me, this is my favourite way to enjoy vegetables. If all you ever do is steam or boil vegetables, I fear that you may not find them sufficiently interesting for long, especially if you don’t have much love for vegetables in the first place. 

Roasting them not only celebrates their flavour but also adds some colour, crunch or caramelisation, sometimes all three. How wonderful 🙂 

This is not about having your lovely vegetables swimming in oil, actually, I think that too much oil spoils the produce. That’s why I use spray olive oil. And I mean a 100% olive oil in a spray bottle, not one of these ‘1 cal per spray’ offerings that are anything but 100% oil. And I don’t use a spray because I’m limiting my intake of oil, good fats are so important in your diet, I pile on the olive oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil at will, but for roasting vegetables I think that a spray works best. A light mist of oil is all the vegetables need, like this cauliflower..


So, here’s my method…let’s start with the cauliflower, this is honestly the best way to eat cauliflower..

Heat your oven to 200C (mine is a fan assisted oven – try between 200C and 220C in a standard convection oven – experiment until you find your perfect temperature) 

Take your cauliflower and remove the outer green leaves

Chop the cauliflower (all or half of it, however much you want to cook) into florets and then cut some in half or quarters as necessary, aiming to get even sized pieces 

Spread in a single layer across a baking pan 

Spray with olive oil so that each floret has a couple of sprays on it

In the oven and roast for 45-50 minutes (depending on the size of your pieces) until you see nice browned crunchy edges

NOTE: After 20 minutes take the pan out and move the cauliflower around and spray with another light mist of oil,  then put back into the oven and leave it to roast 

And that’s it – really simple, just chuck it in and leave it basically! And it’s so good!!

And this works with all sorts of vegetables. All that might differ is the cooking time, you need to keep an eye on your pan to gauge the time required…this broccoli didn’t need as long…and the tops were so wonderfully crunchy..The spring onion below needed a lot less time, more like about 15 minutes, and again, so tasty! 

With the sweet potato and courgette you need longer, and hang it out as long as you can, vegetables really benefit from that extra 5-10 minutes to get a really nice finish. I don’t always bother to peel my sweet potato, I like the skins, so consider just giving your sweet potato a wash then chop it into even sizes to roast..

As you will see below, you really can roast everything. And yes, those are radishes in the photo below and they are brussel sprouts in the top photo..if you think you don’t like sprouts, try roasting them! Just remove any grubby outer leaves, cut them in half, spray with oil and roast, the crunchy edges it creates are so good. The radishes and sprouts probably only need 25-35 minutes roasting. 

People are often concerned with how much oil you need to cook aubergines, but with roasting, just the spray is enough..and look at the browned edges, so good! It’s all, so good!! I keep saying it because it’s true! 

   Something I typically roast is a mixture of peppers, red onion/shallots, garlic and often mushrooms too, these are favourites with my husband..and roasting shallots and red onion really brings out their natural sweetness. If you leave them long enough, the onions start to caramelise, which is just so good!!!! (And really scrape all of the baked on bits from the pan, they’re the best bits!!!) 

Peppers and onions have a high water content and are therefore less dense than some of the other vegetables above, consequently they only need 25-30 minutes in the oven. roast your vegetables, follow the guidelines above but assess the time required based on the texture of your vegetables – practice makes perfect. 

I often roast several trays of vegetables at a time, we always have a choice of several on the table. Try all of your favourites but also something new; butternut squash is wonderful roasted, again, I leave the skin on; cauliflower is a household favourite; try swede and pumpkin; and carrots work beautifully…you’ll see more roasted vegetables as this series goes on.

And if you’ve got leftovers, they are great cold the next day, or whizzed into dips…but more about that later…;)

Coming up in the next post: the wonderful world of spices – adding flavour to your vegetables. 

I hope you like my roasting ideas, please do ask me if you have any questions, or add your ideas in the comments..

Homemade rose harissa spice mix..


There’s been so much going on in my kitchen recently I literally have 6 posts in draft and more to add…it made it hard choosing a post for today so I hope you like the one I picked 😉 

You all know that I love making harissa using Kellie’s recipe, last week I decided to make a dry spice mix based on the recipe and it worked so well I could literally add it to everything. This isn’t particularly spicy, you could easily ramp up the heat by adding your favourite chilli powder or dry chillies. 

Rose harissa spice mix

2 tsp each of caraway, coriander and cumin seeds
2 whole star anise
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 ½ tsp mild paprika 
2 heaped tbsp dried red bell pepper
2 heaped tbsp dried tomato flakes
1 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes 
2 tsp lemon peel powder 
2 tbsp culinary grade dried rose petals

Dry fry the caraway, coriander and cumin seeds, whole star anise, garlic cloves and paprika over a medium heat until you start to smell the aromas. Keep an eye on it so that you don’t burn any seeds.
Allow them all to cool then mill them all up with the rest of the ingredients. 

Lovely! Just look at those colours and flavours, it’s got such a lovely flavour 🙂

I buy the dried red bell peppers and dried tomato flakes from Just Ingredients (I am not sponsored or paid to share this). 

   I am bringing my spice mix to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Judy and Petra, please do pop over and check out everyone’s posts.   


The first day I made this spice mix I roasted some butternut squash and threw some over it, which I ate with some oven baked falafels and a dressing of soft goats cheese, lemon juice and water..


Have a great weekend everyone xx

Hemp seed butter and hemp seed & parsley dressing..

Have you ever tried hemp seeds? Forget any association with the cannabis plant, these won’t affect you in any odd ways! 

I like hemp seeds (I always buy them hulled), they have a lovely nutty flavour, and adding a sprinkle to any dish adds a great extra flavour but also much needed protein for a vegetarian like me 🙂  

Having bought some recently I started to think about utilising them in new ways so decided to research some ideas for using them, hence making hemp seed butter. I literally threw some in my Nutribullet and whizzed them up to create a butter, akin to any nut butter basically. The Nutribullet makes light work of making any nut or seed butter and these took literally seconds to become a paste; I decided to add some coconut oil to mine for some extra goodness and flavour. 

The green colour really comes out when you make butter from the seeds. 

And so my brain continued whirring in the way it does…as tahini is just creamed sesame seeds, these creamed hemp seed could surely be used in a similar way to tahini? So I used it to make a dressing.. 

This is literally just some flat leaf parsley, garlic, lemon juice, water and some of the hemp seed butter. The result was really tasty! The hemp seeds respond well to being mixed with water and can be used as a non dairy addition to all sorts of things. I’ll definitely use it again in dressings and dips.  

It was perfect over some roasted butternut squash the next day.. 

I would definitely suggest giving some hemp seeds a go and check out the different things people have made with them online. If nothing else, just chuck some over your salad or roasted vegetables for some added goodness. 


Harissa spring greens & butternut squash..

 Having made and thoroughly enjoyed Whitneys saag recipe recently, I bought more spring greens, kale and spinach at the market last week to make it again, then decided to play around with them..hence my previous post’s kale recipe, and today’s greens recipe… 

 Harissa greens


1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 bag spring greens, washed and dried, stems removed and leaves cut into strips

200ml harissa sauce – I made this using Kellie’s rose Harrissa recipe again then I added and blended in a great pile of baby plum tomatoes that I’d roasted with garlic, olive oil and salt and therefore taking the harissa from a paste to more of a sauce 

Alternatively…add your own harissa, homemade or purchased, and add some passata or sunblushed tomatoes for the extra liquid and flavour 

Oil of your choice, I used olive oil

Water as needed 


Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat and cook the onions for a few minutes until they start to soften.

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the greens and start to cook them down. 

Stir the harissa sauce, or harissa & passata, through the greens.

Put a lid over the pan to aid the cooking of the greens. This is where you may need to add some water if things look dry, plus it will also assist when blending the mixture.

Once the greens are cooked and soft, remove the pan from the heat and blend with a stick blender (making sure to protect everything else in your kitchen from getting covered in splats! Yes…I made a mess!!)

Return to the heat and warm through ready for serving. 

I ate this with the other half of Sunday’s butternut squash, cubed and roasted, plus spoonfuls of my ‘creamy chermoula‘. 


See you tomorrow for this week’s ‘What would you feed me?’ guest post…x

Butternut squash, kale and ‘creamy chermoula’..

Last nights dinner was borne out of experimentation and it worked beautifully. I knew what flavours I wanted to create and so it evolved in the pan to great’s what I did…


1 red onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 very small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small chunks

1 bunch kale, stripped from spines and roughly chopped

1 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp roasted cumin

Salt & pepper to taste

Olive oil


Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onion, cook for a few minutes until it starts to soften.

Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add chunks of butternut squash and cook on over medium/low heat until it’s starts to brown and cook through.

This could take a little while depending how big you chunks of squash are. Add extra oil if necessary.

Once the squash has virtually cooked through, add the spices and salt and pepper and stir through.

Add the kale and stir well and cook until the kale is cooked/wilted to your liking.

Top with sauce below to serve. 

A creamy kind of chermoula


1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 large bunch coriander, roughly chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp ground roasted cumin

Juice of 1 lemon

150ml olive oil

200ml natural yoghurt of your choice


Whizz it up all together in blender. Store in refrigerator.

Boy it was good!!!!!

Butternut squash ‘columbo’, homemade coconut milk & my pressure cooker..

I was watching the an old Nigel Slater cookery series recently, and he said exactly what I have said many times: that recipes are not necessarily there for you to take word for word, but to provide inspiration. I think this is so true. When you first start cooking, you do follow all the instructions to the letter, I know I did, but as your confidence grows and you start to feel bolder and more experimental, you realise that you can take a recipe as a suggestion and a guideline and play with it – I literally threw together a loaf of bread this week, which worked beautifully and made me inordinately proudly!! I’ve been doing a lot of that this week, there’s been lots of dishes being made and played with in my kitchen…

However, when it comes to pressure cooking, I’m still going by the book. My confidence is growing as I understand the science more, but for now, I’ll still refer to some instructions..

As some of you may recall, I only recently ventured into the world of pressure cooking; I am definitely getting to grips with my cute little pressure cooker, and recently purchased a new cookbook to help me along. After several searches and reading reviews, I decided to buy ‘Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure‘ by Loran J. Sass.  

It’s become my pressure cooker bible, it’s filled with tips and tables as well as recipes, and has made sense of using the pressure cooker for me. The book also includes some useful incidental recipes, not necessarily using the pressure cooker, like the coconut milk one above that I followed yesterday, to support your cooking. 

This is a really useful recipe if you want to make sure your coconut milk isn’t full of nasties, or if you just can’t buy it where you are. Or if you don’t want to open a whole can – I just ratioed down the quantities for my uses, used my Nutribullet and it worked fine. 

I decided to try out the Squash Columbo recipe as it contains so many ingredients that I like: butternut squash, tomatoes, ginger, spices…what’s not to like?? And all cooked in 6 minutes!! Very cool 🙂   

I don’t think it’s fair to share Lornas entire recipe with you, you should buy her book for that really, but you get the idea above. I also added some chopped coriander when I ate the dish. 

The fear of pressure cooking is definitely lessening, and now that I know that you can always replace the lid and put the pan back over the heat if things aren’t cooked enough, I’m definitely happier! I thought that if you opened the lid and it wasn’t cooked, that was it, job done, no second chance, but no, you can replace the lid and pressure cook for more time, or just cook it on the heat minus the lid if it needs a bit of finishing.  

 I ate more of the squash dish the next day with some added roasted baby plum tomatoes and garlic over the top..a very tasty addition! 


And with the rest of it, as is my wont, I threw in some tahini and blended it to see what it would be like as a dip! Also, VERY tasty!  

    There’s always so many things you can do with one dish, push it and play with it, I say! As Salt ‘n’ Pepper sang in all those years gone ago ‘Push it, push it real good!’ 

If you’d like to know more about the author of my book, Lorna actually has two blogs on wordpress as well as a facebook page ‘Lorna Sass is My Home Girl’ and all the usual social media. When I contacted her last week about sharing her book with you all, she responded very quickly and was so very friendly 🙂 

Lorna Sass


Wild garlic flowers, tahini and yoghurt dressing & za’atar roasted butternut squash..


Can I be honest? I love this photo (above), I think it has to be one of my all time favourites, assisted by the fact that it’s a dish full of flavour! 

Having played with wild garlic leaves recently, I wanted to use the flowers as well; the flowers have a lovely flavour, a bit stronger than the leaves, but still not as strong as a bit of standard raw garlic. I chopped up some butternut squash, skin and all, sprayed it with oil and sprinkled with za’atar, and put it into the oven at 200C to roast.

I then made a dressing using the wild garlic flowers with tahini…(don’t the flowers look lovely swimming in tahini? I’d love to swim in tahini….!)…


…plus some greek yogurt, lemon juice and water, as needed…


Mine was quite thick, probably more akin to a dip, you could add more water to thin it out. Once my butternut squash was roasted and lovely…



…I drizzled and plopped it all over the dish..


Yum yum yum!!!!!!! This is literally a bowl of heavenly flavour as far as I’m concerned; it’s what I typically eat for lunch on any given day; I do love my own food 😉 

Happy Sunday from a beautiful sun shining UK – there really is little more beautiful than English countryside in the  sunshine. This is the view from my kitchen window right NOW… 


My veg box..part 3: roasted kohlrabi & root vegetables with two new dips 

Kohlrabi is a new vegetable to me, I know I’ve read recipes from some of you who have used it, but I’d never tasted it. I looked up what it tastes like and decided to do my favourite thing with new vegetables: roast it and check it out! 

So I peeled and chopped it and threw it in a bowl with peeled and chopped butternut squash plus the carrots and shallots from the veg box, then tossed it all in Mrs Middletons rapeseed oil with some of my own moroccan spice mix..

Having tried a bit of the raw kohlrabi it seemed to me to taste a bit like a mild radish, with an element of parsnip to it. It was nice 🙂 

I roasted the vegetables at 200C I until I deemed them nicely done then mixed them with yesterday’s leftover quinoa and topped it all with flaked roasted almonds. It was wonderful tasty already but I decided to add some moisture with some dips..

I made a version of ‘toum’, the Lebanese garlic sauce I mentioned in yesterday’s post; this version includes greek yoghurt and a lot less garlic that is typical – so it doesn’t burn your mouth out!! 

I blended together:

400g 0% greek yoghurt

40g olive oil

30g lemon juice

1/2 – 1tsp salt (to taste) 

2/3 cloves raw garlic

Lovely!!!! Drizzle it over everything!! 

The other dip was an experiment: I had some leftover shawarma vegetables and quinoa from yesterday, so I whizzed them up with a good couple of tablespoons of greek yogurt plus some olive oil and it was so tasty!! Definitely worth having leftovers!! 

What a lovely lunch! And what fun I’ve had with my first veg box..:) I hope you’ve been inspired x