Quick & Easy Ramen

My eldest had suggested we make ramen at home a couple of times. Usually I’ll jump all over a good food suggestion but for various reasons that just hadn’t happened with this noodley dish: Not enough eggs or no noodles – pretty fundamental stuff in the realm of ramen making.

Jump to Sunday lunchtime. His brothers were at football and rugby training. Eldest decides he’s making ramen for us all. Joy!

In our usual house style this ramen contained just what we happened to have nestling in the fridge so if I made it again I might well use different veg, or add chicken etc etc.

One thing I absolute would have added is dried seaweed. I was sure we had some sushi nori sheets but alas that cupboard was bare, so for this dish we had to do without.

Despite the sad absence of seaweed this is a bowl of delicious ramen on no small scale, packing a punch of savoury flavour. If you’re an umami addict, this will dance a jolly jig on your tastebuds. Its slurping sensational.

The eggs are dreamily soft in texture and oh so delicate in flavour floating in their full flavoured broth.

Regretfully these photos of mine really do not do my son’s fantastic ramen justice. Just as he was arranging the eggs I had the bright idea to include this in my blog. By this point his brothers were back from training, my husband was freezing from spectating hours of junior sports. Everyone was frankly getting hangry! So this was the best I could manage before the bowls were snatched away with tuts and evil glares.

Ramen

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 250g noodles
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • A pinch of chilli powder
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (if you’re not a fan of chilli heat just leave this out)
  • A bunch of spring onions, chopped
  • 1 litre of hot chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of miso paste
  • A couple of large handfuls of edamame beans
  • A couple of handfuls of chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • A packet of ready to eat quorn chicken slices, chopped or use cooked chicken
  • A couple of sheets of seaweed, torn or chopped
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 4 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • Soy sauce

Method

  • Cook your noodles according to the packet directions. Once cooked drain and keep warm in the pan.
  • Meanwhile put all of the ingredients up to and including the seaweed into a large pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. You just want a nice gentle bubble.
  • To serve divide the noodles between your bowls and pour over the broth. Artfully arrange your boiled eggs and scatter over the sesame seeds.
  • I just plonked the soy sauce on the table for everyone to serve themselves. You might also opt to serve with lime wedges and / or extra chilli.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Crunch

Spiced pumpkin seed crunch, how I love to munch you. Let me count the ways…

1. As a fabulous healthy snack. Gobbled by the handful as I walk past your bowl or packaged up for lunch box treats.

2. Scattered over a warm salad. Beetroot and goats cheese anyone? How about roasted squash and chickpea?

3. Sprinkled atop an Autumnal sweet potato, lentil or carrot soup, delicately spiced with cumin, coriander and chilli.

4. Stirred quickly through a light couscous dish, with a pile of fresh coriander.

5. To add crunch to a simple pasta.

Only 5? Well frankly that’s enough to be getting on with for now. Key take out: Versatile. Delicious. Moreish.

As it’s pumpkin season you may well be making these with the seeds from a fresh pumpkin. If you are, then you will need to wash and dry the seeds before tossing with the spices. You will also need to increase the roasting time to 12-15 minutes.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Crunch

Ingredients

  • About a cup (120g) of pumpkin seeds
  • A generous pinch of sea salt
  • A good grinding of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Option to add a pinch of chilli powder or chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180 C / gas 4.
  • Mix together all of your ingredients then spread out on a baking tray.
  • Cook in your preheated oven for 6 – 8 minutes. The seeds will be turning golden.
  • Allow to cool a little before diving in.
  • If you have any left, lucky you, they will keep well in an airtight container for a few days.

Claire’s Loaded Veggie Breakfast Stack

Thank you scrumptious Claire for tickling my taste buds with this pile of savoury favourites… eggs on halloumi on avocado on chilli jam on focaccia. Be still my beating heart!

After a particularly punishing morning HIIT workout in Claire’s garden, my legs were trembling, my arms were aching, my stomach was rumbling, nay roaring! This hearty stack of deliciousness is what she treated me with.

Digging a little deeper into this plate it turns out it didn’t only bestow pleasure on my taste buds. Each of the ingredients is massively helpful to us after a workout. The protein in the eggs helps to repair and build muscle; the avocado is dense in nutrients and fibre, which is really important for our metabolic health; and of course we needed carbs to replenish all the fuel we’d just burned, hello foccacia.

When you stack these awesome ingredients high it’s quite a challenge to open your jaw wide enough to eat this so Claire helpfully served this in 2 halves, making it less exhausting to devour, especially in polite company.

The focaccia was a herby delight but any bread or toast would be welcome to join this party stack. I’m thinking sourdough, bagels or wholegrain toast.

So get veggie stacking this weekend. Workout optional.

Claire’s Loaded Veggie Breakfast Stack

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 generous slices of focaccia or bread / toast of your choice
  • 1 packet of halloumi, thickly sliced
  • Chilli jam
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 – 4 eggs (depending on how starving you are)
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  • First of all heat your oven to about 120C / gas 1 and slip in an oven tray. This is for keeping the halloumi warm once cooked.
  • Heat a frying pan and once it’s warm cook your halloumi slices. You will not need oil for this. Once the liquid has evaporated and the halloumi is golden flip over and cook the other side, the 2nd side cooks much quicker than the 1st so keep an eye on it. Transfer to the warm oven tray to keep nice and warm.
  • Now add a little oil to your pan and fry your eggs (1 or 2 each).
  • While you’re waiting for the eggs to cook you can spread your chilli jam on your toast / bread and slice your avocado.
  • Arrange the avo on the bread / toast, followed by the halloumi and eggs. Sprinkle over salt and pepper if you like.
  • If you’ve built a stack you can pop the 2nd slice of bread / toast on top or just keep it on your plate to catch the tumbling odds and ends.
  • Loosen up your jaw then sink your teeth into this heavenly manna.

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!

Light & Lemony Beetroot Soup

I’ve been feeling a little under the weather this week. So for lunch yesterday my body was calling out for a big bowl of nourishing soup. A little rummage in the fridge and a couple of moments later I was armed with a beautiful bunch of beetroot and a few other select ingredients to chuck in the soup pan.

By absolute coincidence pretty much everything in this nourishing soup is helpful if you are in need of a health boost: beetroot is packed with antioxidants and great for nurturing our immunity; garlic is well known for its antibiotic properties, which are invaluable in fighting colds and coughs; and of course lemons are bursting with Vitamin C. I could go on by mentioning the antibacterial properties of onions etc but you get the picture, this soup is really good for you. Really really good for you.

But the crucial thing here is that this lemony beetroot soup is also seriously delicious. Everyone scraped their bowls clean.

Beetroot soup is so velvety smooth, like a soft cosy blanket, that I’d usually categorise it as Winter comfort food. But adding the lemon brings a subtle citrus zing to the party, which makes this soup ideal during these warmer months.

Whether you are feeling a tad low or on top of the world one thing’s for sure, you will feel all the better for eating a bowl of this alluring deep purple soup.

Lemony Beetroot Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g raw beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 potato, roughly chopped
  • 1 litre beef stock (use veg or chicken if you prefer)
  • Juice of half a lemon

Method

  • Put all of the ingredients, except the lemon, into a large pan and bring to the boil.
  • Turn the heat down and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the veg is nice and tender.
  • Blend the soup until it is velvety smooth. Stir in the lemon juice.
  • Serve with your favourite bread or crackers, we had brioche rolls with Dijon mustard and cheddar cheese.