By now, you've probably figured out what kind of food I like to eat. All food? Well, yes, basically. But as for the food I like to cook, there's definitely a bit of a theme. I really like vegetables, and I like to have as many different colours on my plate as possible. I like comfort food - foods that are warm and filling and can be served in giant batches to hungry mouths, just like something your mother would make. Anything with garlic is good, anything with oil is good, anything with lots of salt & pepper is good. Sometimes I want seriously cheesey carby deliciousness, and other times I want something lighter with lots of vegetables and antioxidants. Either way, I want it to be simple, and I want it to be as close to natural as possible, and I invariably want a very large portion.
The word "nourish" gets thrown around a lot at the moment, so it's easy to forget that, really, all foods nourish in some way or another. Chocolate & ice cream will nourish a broken heart; 4am pizza will nourish the inevitable hangover the next morning; cake simply nourishes the soul. We're so trained to be frightened of things with lots of calories or carbs or whatever, but what we forget is that our bodies are these amazingly intelligent things which can take of all that so called "bad" stuff and use it for energy, or turn it into fat to keep us warm which is such a cool thing, or just pass it merrily through our systems. We don't have to be frightened of food, as long as it's the food that we want to be eating - so when I use the word "nourishing" to describe this dish, I want to make it clear that it's not only nourishing because it's healthy and low fat and rich in antioxidants and what have you, but that it's nourishing because it's nice. And it's what I was craving, and it's what I wanted to eat, and there's nothing more healthy or nourishing than that. In this day and age it's easy to become obsessive & anxious about food, so it's worth repeating that if you're thinking about your health you have to include your mental health as well. Good health means feeding the heart & soul as well as the body, so I would like the hobbit kitchen to be a diet-free anti-calorie-counting carb-relishing zone, please. Rest assured that recipes for crumbles & brownies & scones will be back in no time!
But with that said, balance is everything in diet as in elsewhere, so if you're craving something lighter & healthier than normal without compromising on taste, this is perfect. Lots of bright, colourful vegetables grilled with oil and salt and pepper, alongside a delicious mash of cannellini beans and a squeeze of lemon juice. I first made this about a year ago & it's been one of my favourite recipes every since, because a) it's easy, b) it's cheap, and c) it tastes & feels every bit as good as it looks. Also, vegan! Hooray!
This recipe serves 3. You will need:
- Approximately 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- 1 red pepper.
- 2 courgettes.
- 1 aubergine.
- 1 red onion.
- 2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans.
- 1 clove of garlic.
- 1 lemon.
- 200ml vegetable stock.
- Salt & pepper.
1. Preheat the grill.
2. Chop the ends off your aubergines & courgettes and then chop them up into bitesize chunks. Peel the onion & roughly chop, then deseed the red pepper & chop that up as well. Chuck all your vegetables into a roasting tin.
3. Drizzle with approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and then mix it altogether with your hands. Place under the grill for about 10-15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.
4. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on a medium-high heat. Peel & roughly chop the garlic, then add it into the heated oil. Cook for about a minute or so, until just beginning to change colour.
5. Drain & rinse your cannellini beans, then add them into the pan with the vegetable stock.
6. Leave to simmer on a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
7. Once the beans are soft and tender, switch off the heat & drain them with a sieve to get rid of any excess moisture.
8. Using a potato masher, mash them up! They should be pretty easy to mash & will become very smooth and puree-like quite quickly.
9. At this point your vegetables will probably be tender, so remove them from the oven.
10. Season the mash to taste, then plate up! Serve alongside a wedge of lemon to squeeze over your mash.
You get lots of protein & fiber from your cannellini beans, all sorts of vitamins & antioxidants from your veg, the majority of your 5 a day in one delicious dinner and, most importantly, one very happy tummy.