Category Archives: Pulses, Beans and Nuts

Peanut Butter


Go into a supermarket, pick up a jar of peanut butter and read the ingredients on the label. Chances are it contains palm oil, and possibly corn syrup. The reason this is so, is to make the end product cheaper to produce. Now there are very good ecological reasons why one shouldn’t eat any food product containing any of these two.

This recipe is very easy and the peanut butter will be exactly as you prefer it.

Makes just over 500 gm/ just over 1 lb


500 gm/1 lb salted peanuts

Peanut oil as required

1 level teaspoon of salt

1 dessertspoon of honey



1. Take an ordinary packet of salted peanuts and roast them for 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven at 200 C/425 F/. Allow them to cool when they have reached your desired of roasted brown.



2. Pour the roasted peanuts into a food processor and using a sharp blade, process until they are reduced to the required level of crunchiness. In our family we prefer our peanut butter to be slightly crunchy not smooth.


3. Add the peanut oil and process further until you have a homogeneous mix. The mix should be a little runny.

4. At this stage you should taste and adjust the flavour for saltiness and sweetness.  I added just 1 level teaspoon of salt and 1 dessertspoon of honey.


5. When putting into pots you might want to add a little extra oil to stop the butter from drying out.



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Spiced Chick Peas and Basmati Rice

DSCN5847 This is another family favourite, for several reasons. This is student food (or harassed parent food) at its very best. It is very quick to put a nourishing and filling meal on the table. It is dead easy to put together. It is one of those forgiving recipes that you can tinker with to produce different flavours, and it always comes out just hitting the spot. This is a store cupboard special, where the hardest part is chopping up an onion and squashing a clove of garlic.

The recipe is for 4 people, but it is very easy to scale up to account for how many people you are serving.

Time to prepare and cook about 25 – 45 minutes, dependent on the time it takes to cook your rice.



per person 80/100 gm basmati rice

1 large onion, sliced

1 clove of garlic

1 -2 tablespoons olive oil

1 x 454 gm/1 lb tin of chick peas

1 x 454 gm/1 lb tin of chopped tomatoes

1 level teaspoon curry powder/paste or to taste

2 cups frozen peas (optional)

salt and pepper to taste


Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the rice.

Meanwhile slice the onion and put it in to a saucepan with the oil and saute gently for 5 minutes.

As soon as the rice water boils, add the rice, bring back up to the boil and simmer to cook (this is how much time you have left to cook the chick peas and tomatoes!). If you have ample time you can save some money by looking at my suggestions for ‘slow’ cooking here .

Meanwhile add the minced garlic to the onions and saute for another 2 minutes.


Add the chick peas, tomatoes and frozen peas.  Increase the heat to bring to a boil. reduce the heat to simmer.

Add the curry powder and season to taste.

As soon as the rice is cooked, serve everything on hot plates.


Here I have served it with Stir Fried Cabbage (the recipe here) as well as the basmati rice.






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Lentil Loaf


This is a family favourite and also quick to prepare. I have for years been making this without reference to the original recipe, that started it all off for me. I looked again in Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Cookery, as much as anything to see what I am doing differently now. Not too much it would seem. The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of cream to be stirred into the mix before baking, which I do not do.

Anyway here is my take on it, and I don’t recall too many complaints along the way.

Serves 4. Preparation 10 minutes. Cooking 1 hour


175 gm/6 oz/1 cup  red lentils

350 ml/12 fl oz  water

110 gm/4 oz/ 2/3rds cup cheddar or parmesan, grated, saving a little for the topping

1 medium/large  onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 rounded teaspoon mixed dried herbs

1 level teaspoon dried chili flakes

1 large egg beaten

Salt and pepper

1 dessertspoon lemon juice (optional)



Put the lentils (see Cooking to save Money and Time tips) and about ¾ of the water into a pan, cover and boil gently for about 10 minutes, check and add more water if needed. Boil,covered, for a further 5 minutes on a much reduced heat. You should finish with a stiff puree.

Remove from the heat and add the cheese, onion, garlic, herbs, chilli flakes and lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now add the egg and stir in to the mix.

Turn this mix into a greased and lined 450 gm/1 lb loaf tin, pressing down to fill the corners.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top.

Put into a pre-heated oven set at 190 C/375 F/Gas 5/moderate hot, middle shelf for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the mixture is firm.

Remove from the oven and allow it to stand for 10 minutes, before turning it out onto a serving plate.

Serve with a tomato based sauce (see my recipe for this) and steamed broccoli or vegetables of your choice. This is just as good eaten cold with a salad, and it freezes well.







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Mejadara – Lebanese Onions, Lentils and Rice


OK  I have entitled it Lebanese, but strictly speaking it is Middle Eastern and depending which area you happen upon, so the recipe and the name will be slightly different. Mejadara is ubiquitous and like pizza, all areas claim it as theirs, well now it can be yours.

It is very tasty and distinctly moreish. It is also very easy to produce and makes full use of the store cupboard and only needs fresh onions to put a meal on the table in about 40 minutes.

This a dish that cries out to be brought to the table on a serving dish, and you could enhance the appearance by sprinkling roughly torn coriander or parsley leaves across the top just before serving.

If you like this and start to make this on a frequent basis you could make a batch of Mejadara Spice and bottle it for future use.

Serves 4. Total time 40 minutes.


250 gm/ 8 oz/ 1 cup  green or brown lentils

2 cloves of garlic crushed

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar

200 gm/ 7 oz/ 1 scant cup  basmati rice ( NB – cooking time in this recipe is for 15 minute rice)

350 ml/11 fl oz/1  1/4 cups hot water



Start off with the lentils as they will need the longest to cook. So put 2 tablespoons of oil in a 2 litre/ 3 pint saucepan, and gently saute the garlic for about 4 minutes.

Add the spices and stir them thoroughly for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the lentils and cover well with hot water. Bring to the boil and simmer with a lid on for 12 minutes.


Meanwhile finely slice the onions. In a large frying pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the gently saute the onions for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are caramelizing and turning golden brown.  add more oil if needed. Sprinkle with enough salt to make them slightly salty to your taste.

Back to the lentils. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and taste. It should be slightly sweet to the taste. Add more if you prefer.

Add the rice and the rest of the water to the lentil mixture, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes check to ensure that there is sufficient water covering the rice. The idea is to complete the rice and reduce the water to almost nothing. Finish cooking without the lid on if necessary.

Stir half the onions into the rice and lentils. Serve onto the middle of hot plates. Serve the rest of the onions on top of the rice and lentil mixture.

You could also top it with several dessertspoons of yoghurt.



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Soy Bean Pate


I do like to spread a pate on sandwiches at teatime, but shop bought pates do seem to me to be expensive, and it is so easy to make your own. Of course making your own means that you can adjust ingredients and or quantities to suit your taste.

What follows is a basic recipe that you can tinker with, adding chili, spices, mushrooms, or vegetables such as red and yellow peppers, as it takes your fancy.


1 tin/can 454 gm/1 lb of cooked soy beans or any other beans to hand (in fact I used a tin of kidney beans as I did not have soy beans).

1 small onion sliced finely

25 gm/1 oz/ 1/4 cup butter or oil

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 tablespoons of chopped olives, green or black

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

2 or 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs for thickening.

1 dessert spoon of dried parsley

1 dessert spoon dried oregano

salt and pepper


In a small pan soften the onion in the butter or oil for 5 minutes or so.

Drain the beans and put them in a small mixing basin. add the onions, tomato puree, olives, sesame seeds and herbs and using a processor or stick blender reduce to a smooth paste.


Taste and adjust the seasoning to your requirements.

Now add 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, blending them into the mixture, adding more to reach a desired consistency.

Put into small jars pushing well down into the corners.

Keep one jar in the fridge and this should be eaten within a week. The other jars should be put into the freezer where they will keep for 6 months or so.

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Zucchini, Carrot and Nut Terrine

This is one of those recipes that never fails to please. It tastes absolutely fantastic and it looks the business when it is presented at the dinner table. It is just as good when served cold accompanied by a salad or with cheese and pickles. Also it freezes well, and I normally have one tucked away for when visitors call unexpectedly.

Serves 4 – 6, taking about 30 minutes to prepare and 1 hour to cook


450gm/1lb/  cup zucchini coarsely grated

450gm/1lb/ cup carrots peeled and chopped

1 -2 table spoons of olive oil

1 large onion finely chopped

1 clove garlic minced

100gm/3 1/2oz/ cup ground almonds

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon tomato puree

salt and pepper


  1. Put the carrots into a suacepan of salted boiling water and cook until soft.
  2. Drain and mash to a rough puree, and then stir in the coriander.
  3. In a large frying pan gently fry the onion inthe olive oil for about 5 minutes until it is soft.
  4. Add the grated zucchini stirring to ensure all the zucchini is cooked, for a further 5 minutes.

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Lentil and Corn Pie


In the dim distant past when I used to eat meat, I chanced upon this recipe while visiting an American friend, and because I showed an interest, she cooked it for me, and it did not disappoint. This is my vegetarian version, and is equally delicious. It looks pretty good when served at the table as well.

Serves 6. Preparation about 35 minutes. Cooking 45 minutes


400gm/140z/2 1/2 cups Lentils green or brown

1 medium onion finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 clove of garlic minced

450gm/16oz tinned tomatoes chopped

2 tablespoons tomato puree

150gm/  sweetcorn

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon powdered nutmeg

2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs

polenta or cornmeal

100gm/3 1/2floz/ milk

2 eggs well beaten

100gm/3 1/2oz/ cheddar cheese or parmesan grated


  1. Put the lentils into a saucepan, cover well with water and boil gently for 30 minutes or until soft.
  2. In another larger saucepan, gently fry the onion in the oil for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue frying for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, sweetcorn, tomato puree, chilli, nutmeg and herbs. Season. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Put into an ungreased baking dish approximately 22 x 22 x 7cm/10 x 10 x 3in, smooth the surface level.Image
  5. Mix the milk, polenta or cornmeal and eggs into a jug, whisk well and pour over the surface of the mix, and then sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  6. Place in a pre-heated oven set at 180C/350F/Gas 5/moderate and bake for about 45 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
  7. Serve immediately with vegetables of your choice. This pie freezes well and I like it cold with pickles or chutney.

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