Roast Butternut Squash Soup with Crunchy Chickpeas

This dish is a real winter-warmer. There’s nothing better to warm the soul then a big comforting bowl of soup and this squash recipe is my fave.

You will need:

1 butternut squash

2 onions

1 clove of garlic

1 red chili

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground coriander

1 vegetable stock cube

For the soup:

First begin by washing and drying the whole squash.

Half it, remove the seeds and roast in the oven until browned and slightly blackened around the edges. You can score/diamond the flesh of the squash to speed up the process and ensure even cooking.

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While the squash is roasting, fry the chopped onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. Once starting to brown a little add 1/2 of the red chili; excluding the seeds if you don’t like it too hot.

Add the ground coriander and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave aside if you squash is still not ready, otherwise roughly dice the roasted squash and add to the mixture.

Dissolve 1 vegetable stock cube in 800mls of boiling water and add to the pot. Mix well and blend with a hand-blender or else you will need to transfer the mixture to a food processor (be careful if doing so and just add a little water at a time or things can get messy!)

Bring the soup to the boil then reduce to a simmer before serving.

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For the Crunchy Chickpeas:

Drain and empty the contents of one can of chickpeas onto a baking tray.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with paprika and/or cayenne pepper if you want them extra spicy.

Toss well and pop in the oven to bake at 180.C. Make sure the chickpeas are well spread out on the tray so they will cook faster.

After 5 minutes toss the chickpeas to ensure even cooking as the edges tend to cook first. Then once browned and crunchy to taste, remove from the oven (approx. 10-15 minutes depending on your oven).

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Sometimes I play around with what toppings I add to my soup, for example below I added some sautéed leeks and pomegranate pearls & if you are a meat eater, fried bacon bits on this soup is really tasty.

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Versatility of Veggies Part 2 – Roast Squash

So here is my second showcase of a humble veggie. This time ’round – Roasted Butternut Squash. A regular feature in my kitchen for its super versatility.

One of the things I love about it, is how you don’t need to use any oil when roasting. Simply slice in half, remove the seeds (you can score the skin to speed up cooking) and roast. It’s own beautifully sweet juices will caramelise as it roasts for a really sumptuous flavour.

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Once roasted here are a few delicious options for you to enjoy.

  1. Stuffed: Remove some of the flesh from the inside of one half of the squash and mix it with ingredients of your choice before re-stuffing. Below left, I mixed the flesh with black quinoa, goat’s cheese, greens and pomegranate for a fresh hot-cold combo.

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2. Looking for something a bit warmer now that winter is upon us? Then Roast Squash Soup is your man. One of my favourite wholesome, nourishing recipes. I love mine topped with oven-baked crunchy chickpeas and fresh herbs.

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3. Sticking with our lighter options. These Squash Falafels are the perfect snack on the go. I used one of my favourite foodies – Susan Jane White’s, Sweet Potato Falafel recipe.

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4. Here I have roasted chunks rather than halves for a light lunch/brunch option served with sautéed mushrooms and poached eggs.
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5. Finally for something more hearty it’s got to be one of my all-time winner winner dinners – My Caramelised Banana, Chickpea and Roast Squash Curry.

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The choice is endless my dear readers. So what ya waiting for – go grab your veggies! If anyone has any other squash recipes they’d like to share i’d love to hear about them!

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Eat Your (Sea)-Veggies!

In my previous Wrap & Roll post I told you I would be sharing other sea vegetable dishes so here we are!

 I like to use include dilisk/dulse, kelp, sea lettuce and arame in both cold and warm salad dishes. They great thing about seaweed is not only their amazing nutritional benefits – high protein, mineral, iron, fibre and iodine – but they are inexpensive to buy. I picked up a small bag of Irish company Carraig Fhada’s Dilisk (more commonly known as dulse) seaweed in my local health store for just over €2! (Thats approx, 9AED for U.A.E. readers).

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Arame, which can be found in dried thin strips, works partcularly well with root vegetable flavours and I  love it on my Roasted Sweet Potato Soup.

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 For salads kelp, dulse and sea lettuce are my favourite. Refresh dried seaweed under water and then enjoy as they are, or crisp them under the grill for 2-3 minutes for a delicious warm salad alternative.

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Comptoir 102 café here in Dubai do a beautiful cold seaweed salad with avocado, sprouts, crackers and bi-coloured sesame seeds or try out my Dilisk Seaweed (& food) Salad below.

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Warm Prawn & Dilisk Seaweed Salad

Crisp some dulse seaweed for 2-3 minutes under the grill.

While that’s happening, fry 2 cloves of garlic for 1-2 minutes in coconut oil before adding fresh un-cooked prawns with some salt, pepper and dried chilli flakes.

The prawns take between 4-8 minutes to cook depending on size so while they are sizzling away, top your now crisped seaweed with some avocado and pomegranate seeds and then spoon your garlicky prawns on top with some fresh herbs!

I love how the coconut oil cooked prawns provide their own garlic-chili-oil dressing!

Sweet Potato Soup with Roasted Aubergine

Sweet potato for me is such a comfort food. I love nothing more than after a long day retiring on the couch with just a big delicious bowl of roasted sweet potatoes. No matter how many potatoes I cook I always end up eating them all straight from the oven, but if you, unlike me, have some levels of self-restraint they make great leftovers for lunches and dinners the following day and can bulk up an otherwise boring salad.

I always add cinnamon and paprika when roasting my sweet potatoes as the cinnamon enhances the sweetness and the paprika adds a little spice. Cayenne pepper can also be used but do so sparingly.

Having been feeling pretty unwell lately my body was craving comfort and nourishment so what better than a big warm bowl of sweet potato and soothing coconut milk soup.

 IMG_7914Roast sweet potato soup with a drizzle of Arganic argan oil and Roasted Aubergine Discs

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Ingredients:

3 Sweet potatoes

2 cloves of garlic

1cm fresh ginger

1 can of coconut milk

Coconut oil

Cinnamon

Paprika

1 tsp turmeric

Dried herbs

Salt & pepper

Optional topping/side dish:

2 aubergines

Za’atar spice/salt & pepper

Olive oil

Method:

First off, get the oven on and start prepping the potatoes & aubergines if using them as a topping. Peel and cut the potatoes into even sizes and place all on a baking tray with approx 2 tbsps coconut oil, some salt and pepper and a sprinkle of dried herbs, cinnamon and paprika to coat all evenly. Cut the aubergine into even discs and coat with za’atar spice & olive oil which I find works better as they don’t dry out as much than when using coconut oil.

Roast the potatoes and aubergine for approx 45mins, tossing occasionally and in the meantime prep the other ingredients.

In a pan, fry the garlic and thinly sliced ginger in 1 tsp coconut oil until golden brown then add turmeric and fry for 1minute. Turn off the heat until ready to add the sweet potato.

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Once roasted, add the sweet potato and the coconut milk to the garlic and ginger and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and cover leaving to simmer and allowing the flavours to infuse for approx 20mins.

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Using a hand blender gently blend all ingredients into a smooth soup. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to your own liking. Serve immediately with aubergine discs and a drizzle of Arganic argan oil as I did in the first picture above.

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Purple Quinoa

Quinoa is such a versatile food that I always keep a bag in my cupbaord. It is light but super filling because it is a whole-protein rather than really a grain, making it great for those working out. Once cooked it is delicious hot or cold and will keep for about 3days in the fridge. Bonus for those short on time for cooking/preparing dinners and lunches each day.

On it’s own it can be a bit bluh – but it is a really versatile base and it doesn’t take much to jazz it up. In this recipe I have re-used the stock or water, that I lightly boiled beetroot in, before then roasting the beetroot with some coconut oil and dried herbs in the oven. By re-using this beetroot water I am retaining any nutritional value that may otherwise have been lost and adding a fantastic purple vibrancy and sweetness to my quinoa!

Measure out your desired servings of quinoa and then add stock according to this rule: for every 1 cup of quinoa add 1 1/2 cups of stock.

Bring to the boil with a pinch of salt & pepper, then cover and allow to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa has cooked. You can tell it is cooked as the quinoa will have a visible white tail now sprouting from it. Once cooked, turn off the heat and leave covered for 5minutes then fluff with a fork.

 

Enjoy your quinoa dish by re-adding the roasted beetroot or any other veg that you so please! That’s the greatest joy with quinoa – it is massively versatile so don’t be afraid to experiment. Try the foods you like – eat what suits your taste! Goat’s cheese and squash go really well with the sweetness of the beetroot.

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Above I have used tri-colour quinoa so the purple colour isn’t as vibrant as when using white quinoa but the sweet taste is still there & I added lightly boiled broad beans, pomegrante pearls, parsley and a drizzle of tahini.