Scot Mex! Veggie Haggis Tacos

Fusion food. Maybe not at it’s very pinnacle of sophistication, but a blooming tasty weekend family feast let me tell you my friend.

Vegetarian haggis is delicious. I’ve never tried the traditional meat filled version. Why would I when this one is bursting with peppery flavour and packed with mouth pleasing texture. Mmmm.

When my children were a bit younger, and didn’t have quite as gargantuan appetites, I sometimes had a bit of leftover haggis and I’d try to reinvent these morsels into a crowd pleasing meal the next day. The family favourite was, hands down, veggie haggis spaghetti bolognese…

…until now. I’m always up for a bit of foodie fun so Scot Mex tacos is right up my calejon, that’s Spanish for alley don’t you know. See I’m just full of the fun!

Other than the Scottish twist on this Mexican classic, the chilli itself is pretty standard. Heaps of flavour delivered courtesy of cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and just a smidge of oregano. Deepened gloriously by a little cocoa powder.

I serve this with a really simple guacamole, a sweetcorn and black bean salsa, grated cheese and iceberg lettuce. I dont suppose it’s particularly authentic, it just happens to be what we love. Add soured cream if that’s your want.

The one thing I wish I had thought to use for this recipe is a Scotch Bonnet chilli. Not necessarily for the flavour, just the wee nod to Bonny Scotland.

Scot-Mex Veggie Haggis Tacos

Serves 5 – 6

Ingredients

  • 1 vegetarian haggis, cook according to packet instructions
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cans of tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • A can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to your taste
  • A big handful of chopped coriander
  • A box of tacos (there are usually 12 in a box), cooked according to packet instructions
  • Accompaniments I’ll list at the end as they’re very much optional

Method

  • First cook your haggis. If you have a microwave it will ready in moments. If, like me, you don’t then it will take just over an hour in the oven so bear this in mind in your planning.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and gently fry your onions for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in your garlic, chilli and spices and cook for a minute or so.
  • Pour over the tomatoes, cocoa powder and beans and stir.
  • Simmer this aromatic pot of chilli for about half an hour on a low heat.
  • Once your haggis is perfectly cooked break it up a bit and add to the pot. Simmer a little longer to allow for a bit of Scottish / Mexican mingling.
  • Serve strewn with the chopped coriander and whatever else your heart desires.

My favourite accompaniments:

I wouldn’t consider eating this without a pile of grated cheese (cheddar or lancashire) and a mountain of iceberg lettuce. You can shred the lettuce and add to the tacos but we also like to keep some of the leaves whole and use them as healthier shells to stuff the chilli into.

Guacamole

I just smash up a couple of avocados with a good spritz of lime juice, fresh chilli, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of salt and fresh chopped coriander.

Black Bean & Sweetcorn Salsa

In a bowl mix together a can of black beans and a small can of sweetcorn with lime juice, a glug of olive oil, a pinch each of cumin and coriander, a couple of chopped spring onions, a very small crushed clove of garlic, half a chopped chilli, a handful of chopped coriander and plenty of salt and pepper.

Light & Lovely Veggie Carbonara

Monday evening means football training in my house so a carb packed meal is the norm. I’m surprised this carb fest carbonara hasn’t popped into my head before now. Carb by name and by nature.

Not only is this sensational plate of pasta vegetarian, it is also lighter than your more traditional carbonara style dishes. A couple of eggs and a small mountain of grated parmesan are the essence of the creamy sauce here. It tastes wonderfully indulgent and yet doesn’t hit you with the mega calories you’d be facing with a cheeky drizzle of double cream, thank you very much.

Quorn ham plays a starring role but if it’s just not your thing then simply add more veg (mushrooms would work a treat) or if the fancy takes you, try it with thinly sliced smoked salmon.

Light & Lovely Veggie Carbonara

Serves 4 people in need of a carb load

Ingredients

  • 500g packet of spaghetti
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g parmesan, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • A couple of handfuls of frozen peas
  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • A packet of quorn ham, chopped
  • A couple of tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested

Method

  • First of all get your pasta started. Cook according to packet instructions.
  • Whisk your eggs, half of the parmesan and a pinch of salt and pepper together. Leave to one side.
  • A couple of minutes before the end of the spaghetti’s cooking time, tip the peas into the pan and continue to simmer.
  • Once your pasta is cooked just the way you like it, reserve a mugful of the cooking water and then drain the spaghetti in a colander.
  • In your now empty pan, heat the oil and gently fry the garlic for a minute. Add the ‘ham’, thyme and lemon zest and stir around.
  • Turn out the heat then tumble the spaghetti back into the pan along with the reserved warm cooking water and the cheesey eggs.
  • Stir this pot of delights well and the heat from the pasta and the pan will cook the sauce quickly to perfection.
  • With a final flourish, stir in the lemon juice and the remaining parmesan.
  • Have a taste and add more seasoning if you think it needs it.
  • Serve with a big crunchy salad.

Quick Quorn Creamy Pasta

I’m a big fan of quorn. Especially when I need to get dinner on the table quickly. I try to have a bag of quorn pieces (basically veggie chicken substitute) tucked away in the freezer just waiting for me to pluck out to add to something quick and delicious.

One of the mighty quorn’s exemplary features is that it absorbs all of the flavours you add to the cooking pot, so every mouthful is bursting with a lively, savoury punch.

I made this yesterday when time had run away from me and before I knew it I needed dinner to be on the table in less than 30 minutes. After a quick scavenger hunt around the kitchen this is what I concocted.

So, do the same, grab what your have and please don’t feel wedded to the ingredients I suggest. This would work with any pasta shape. Most vegetables would be grand here, I simply chose peas as they are quick and effort free. I love creme fraiche as you can keep things light by opting for the half fat version, but you could make this creamy dreamy with double cream. In times of severe bare fridge moments I have made something similar with cream cheese.

You get my point. Let your fridge be your guide.

Quick Quorn Creamy Pasta

Serves 4 people with hearty appetites

Ingredients

  • 500g bag of pasta (I used tricolor farfalle, because it was in my cupboard)
  • A tablespoon of olive oil or butter
  • 2 leeks, chopped into fairly small pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bag of quorn pieces
  • 1 stock cube
  • A couple of large handfuls of frozen peas
  • A tub of half fat creme fraiche
  • A large handful of cheddar, grated
  • A couple of tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  • Cook your pasta according to packet instructions.
  • Meanwhile cook your leeks in your oil of butter over a gentle heat, until softened.
  • Add the garlic and stir for a minute, before crumbling in your stock cube and tumbling in the quorn pieces.
  • Stir, then pour over enough hot water to cover the base of your pan. Pop a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for a few minutes.
  • Pour in your peas, stir then pop the lid back on. Add a little more water if the pan is looking dry.
  • After about 5 minutes the peas and quorn should be nicely heated through, so turn off the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and then the cheddar.
  • Once your pasta is cooked to perfection, drain and return to the pan. Pour over the creamy quorn and add the Parmesan. Give it all one final big stir.
  • Serve with a good grinding of black pepper and, if you fancy, an extra sprinkling of Parmesan. Buon appetito!

Saturday Night Pasta

If I’m not quick in deciding what’s for dinner on a Saturday evening this is what the kids demand. They call it Butter Pasta, but the name doesn’t do it justice. It’s quick, it’s filling, it’s brimming with flavour. One thing is for sure this is super easy to throw together. There are no vegetables in this, which delights the kids but throws me into a health freak panic. I just serve a big salad at the table with this and everyone (especially me) is happy.

In the most basic iteration of this dish you are boiling a pan of pasta, and serving with butter and Parmesan, which melts gloriously as you stir through the hot pasta. But really there are so many little things you can add to spruce this up. In this, my most complex version, which isn’t very complicated at all, I’m suggesting garlic, dried chilli flakes and a little chicken stock along with the standard issue butter and parmesan. Oh and who wouldn’t want a generous grinding of fresh black pepper over this?

We’ve eaten this with every pasta shape imaginable (except macaroni, which I can’t help but reserve exclusively for Macaroni Cheese). I think my favourite is cavatappi (the kind of corkscrew shaped pasta you can see in the picture above) or fusilli. The kids love spaghetti, of course.

Use what ever pasta you have in the cupboard and make this as simple, or elaborate as you fancy. Here are some of the additions I’ve tried, and loved, so far: lemon zest; fresh red chilli fried with the garlic; sun dried tomatoes; fresh herbs, especially basil, oregano or thyme. As I write this I’m thinking truffle oil in place of the butter would be heavenly. Let your taste buds be your guide.

Ingredients

Serves 4 – 5

  • 500g bag of pasta
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A small splash of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (more if you fancy a spicy pasta)
  • 1/2 stock cube (chicken stock is lovely here but veg is also fine)
  • A rounded tablespoon of butter (more if you like a slicker pasta)
  • A generous grating of Parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper

Method

  • Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions, or for slightly less time than the packet suggests if, like me, you prefer al dente pasta.
  • Meanwhile gently fry your garlic in the olive oil for a minute, add the dried chilli and stir.
  • Crumble in the 1/2 stock cube and add about 100ml of hot water. Stir, simmer for a couple of minutes then turn out the heat.
  • Once your pasta is cooked to perfection, drain and return to the pan, pour and scrape in the garlicky stock and stir.
  • Now plop in the butter and stir again, add more butter if you feel this quantity isn’t enough for you, just don’t go crazy or this could very quickly account for a full day’s worth of calories!
  • Scatter in your Parmesan cheese and stir again.
  • Serve with a good grinding of black pepper and little more grated Parmesan.

Crunchy Nutty Couscous

I’ve just eaten this for lunch and I had to share it with you. On first glance this could be a run of the mill bowl of cous cous with a bit of lettuce on the side. But look again for there are delicate surprises hidden in every delicious bite. Crunchy pistachios, cool lettuce and creamy yoghurt tangled with the subtle perfume of cumin seeds and glorious fresh mint. You had me at ‘crunchy’.

I’m a huge fan of food with plenty of texture. This healthy bowl of couscous delivers this with every crunchy mouthful. The carrots are coarsely grated so add a gentle bite but the pistachios I used were so fresh and packed a punch of a crunch. Then there’s the iceberg lettuce, surely the crispest salad leaf of them all.

I added a little dollop of lemony yoghurt and a small spoonful of my brother in law’s home made chilli jam. These are both optional so don’t feel you have to run out and buy a jar of chilli jam just for this.

I reckon some grated raw beetroot would be grand here but my son was home for lunch and he’s not keen; you could use any nuts you fancy and I dare say some crumbled feta would top this whole thing off nicely. I’m watching the calories after an indulgent few weeks (I blame the home made cakes) so the nuts were enough for me today.

Crunchy Nutty Couscous

Recipe, serves 2

Ingredients

  • 150g couscous
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 small carrots, coarsely grated
  • A few mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 of an iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of a lime
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • A big handful of shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons greek yoghurt
  • Zest of 1/4 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli jam (optional)

Method

  • Pop your couscous in a pot with the cumin seeds and a pinch of salt and pour over boiling water, you want to cover the couscous by about 1/2cm. Cover the pot and leave it to one side while you get on with the rest.
  • If you’re making the lemony yoghurt, simply mix together the lemon zest and yoghurt and a small pinch of salt and black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Spritz the lime juice over the grated carrots and chopped lettuce (I just did this on the chopping board).
  • Once the couscous has fluffed up and absorbed all the water (about 7 minutes) gently stir through the mint, chickpeas and carrot.
  • To serve, spoon the couscous onto the plates and pop some lettuce on one side. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and chopped pistachios. If you’re using the yoghurt and chilli jam spoon this on any way you please.
  • Dive in and get crunching.

Kind of Ramen Noodles

Soul food, that’s what this is. This is for those days when your body craves a healthy veg filled bowl of goodness but you still want a smack of flavour and a full tummy.

The important thing for me about comfort food or soul food is that I usually want to eat it when I’m a little lower on energy and I’m definitely not in the mood to stand for ages at the stove.

This soul bowl ticks all the boxes.  There’s no need for over exuberant chopping, no frying, just huge flavours ready to spoon up in about 20 minutes.

As I say with most of my recipes you can use any veg you like (try mushrooms, grated carrot or beansprouts), whatever noodles are in your cupboard and you can definitely get creative with the flavours you add.  Go wild, your soul will thank you.

Kind of Ramen

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • A piece of ginger about 4cm, finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • A small bunch of spring onions, chopped
  • 1.5 litres of stock
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
  • 200g of peas or edamame beans
  • A couple of handfuls of green leafy veg such as spinach or kale, chopped
  • 4 nests of dried noodles
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • A packet of sushi seaweed (or any other seaweed you fancy), torn into spoonable sized pieces
  • A small packet of coriander, chopped (I use the stalks and the leaves)
  • A couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds

Method

  • Pop your ginger, garlic, onions, soy sauce, lime and stock into a large bowl. Bring to the boil.
  • Once boiling add the noodles and cook according to the packet instructions.
  • A couple of minutes before the noodles are ready, add the peas and seaweed. Simmer.
  • Once everything is perfectly cooked, use a slotted spoon to serve the noodles into 4 waiting bowls. Now ladle the broth over the top.
  • Finally, sprinkle over the chilli, coriander and sesame seeds.
  • You can add a splash more soy sauce or lime juice if you like.