Borlotti bean pasta

Borlotti beans are a pretty speckled bean when dry, but sadly lose their colors when cooked. Taste wise, they don’t differ much from any other beans, so feel free to use whatever you have in the pantry for this recipe.

I added quorn because I wanted to have a protein laden dish. Other options would be minced seitan, tofu, or tvp. Or skip it altogether!

Borlotti bean pasta

Borlotti bean pasta

Ingredients:

  • 100 gr dry borlotti beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 150 gr minced quorn
  • 500 gr tomato pieces
  • 250 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Drain the beans, rinse them, put in a pot, cover with at least twice as much water, add two bay leaves, bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 – 45 minutes or until tender. (I cooked mine 60 minutes like the package said and I find them over cooked, so check them after 30 minutes and cook them to your taste). Drain the beans and reserve.
  2. In a biggish pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook on medium heat until it starts to turn golden. Then add the carrot and bell pepper and cook for 5ish minutes.
  3. Add the quorn, tomato pieces, water and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with pasta.

Makes 4 servings

Nutritional info (no pasta included)

Calories: 224
Protein: 14 gr
Fat: 5 gr
Carbs: 29 gr

Portobello risotto

Mushrooms. Portobello ones. These are basically the same as your tiny white button mushooms, but brown and mature. The texture is denser, more satisfying to bite into. They make great burgers (on a grill pan or the bbq), or stuffed mushrooms in the oven. Today, though, they give their taste to a risotto.

Let’s be honest, whenever someone says that risotto is hard and you have to slave for hours above the stove stirring constantly, I think they’re crazy. Yes, you do have to stir it to get that creamy al dente rice texture, but not constantly. And it doesn’t take that long either, unless thirty minutes feels like an eternity to you. So, dare make risotto. Go on, you know you wan to.

And for the purists, I know this is not 100% traditional, but then, I am not Italian either. It’s creamy rice, with lots of mushrooms, and it’s tasty.

Portobello risotto

Portobello risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or use a garlic press)
  • 1 medium onion, finelly chopped
  • 4 big portobellos (or 300 gr brown mushrooms) in 5mm slices
  • 150 gr arborio rice
  • 1cl madeira wine
  • 500 ml vegetable broth
  • salt & pepper
  • 50 gr grana padano (or parmesan), to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat up the broth in a sauce pan until simmering point, keep it simmering while you do the rest.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until it starts to turn golden, 3-4 minutes. Then add the mushrooms, season with some salt (not much, you have the broth and cheese to add salt) and cook, stirring from time to time, until more than halved in volume.
  3. Add the rice and stir through, until it’s all covered in oil and slightly transparent around the edges. Add the madeira, stir and cook most of the wine off.
  4. Working with 1-2 ladlefuls at a time, add broth to the rice. Stir for thirty seconds and then let it simmer gently until all the broth has been absorbed before adding the next two ladles.
  5. Work in this way until the rice is mostly transparent, but has a slightly harder (not uncooked!) center, about 20 minutes in total. Taste and season if needed with salt and pepper (this depends on the broth you use, really).
  6. Spoon into dishes, and sprinkle with the grana padano before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional info

Calories: 485
Protein: 21 gr
Fat: 14 gr
Carbs: 73 gr

It’s curry time, again

Once again, it’s curry. Follow the recipe. Or not.

Another curry

Another curry

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 big carrot, in half moons
  • 1 red bell pepper, in 1cm pieces
  • 1/2 courgette, in quartered slices
  • 160 gr quorn pieces
  • 1 165 ml tin coconut milk (*)
  • 50 gr Thai red curry paste (*)
  • 150 ml water
  • 320 gr (peeled) sweet potatoes, in pieces

(*) I like both from the brand Thai Heritage.

Instructions

  1. Cook the sweet potato pieces in salted water for 5-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a casserole. Add the onion and carrot and cook 3-4 minutes, until onion starts to soften. Add the bell pepper and courgette and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Add the curry paste and half the water to the vegetables, stir to dissolve the paste, and cook for 1-2 minutes before adding quorn. Cook another couple of minutes, then add the coconut milk and the rest of the water. Bring to the simmer, and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes to the curry and reheat on low if needed before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional info

Calories: 488
Protein: 19 gr
Fat: 18 gr
Carbs: 61 gr

Visiting M Leuven: Hieronymus Cock – The Renaissance in print

What to do when you’re on vacation? All the things you can’t when you’re not, of course! In this case, that means going to exhibition(s), sitting in a cafe people watching, going for a walk, and just enjoying ourselves without caring about work or university or schedules.

Thursday we headed to Leuven to see the exhibition about Hieronymus Cock, a publisher from the 16th Century that made his living making prints based on drawings from artists such as Breugel and Raphael. Remarkable too is that his wife continued with the business after his death, for 30 years, until her own death. Not something you hear often from that period.

Some prints are plain surrealistic. Like these two:

Hieronymus Cock © Joannes and Lucas Van Doetecum after Allart Duhameel, The Siege of the Elephant, c. 1563 © Royal Library of Belgium

Hieronymus Cock © Joannes and Lucas Van Doetecum after Allart Duhameel, The Siege of the Elephant, c. 1563 © Royal Library of Belgium

"Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Big Fish Eat Little Fish (17.3.859)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/17.3.859 (October 2006)

“Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Big Fish Eat Little Fish (17.3.859)”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/17.3.859 (October 2006)

These prints are a work of art. And they are also very entertaining. You can spend a lot of time looking at all the details, the crazy theme, or just the absurdity of using a giant knife to cut a big fish open.

There are also prints that were with artists in mind. They depict classic art, mostly found in Rome. Ruins, statues, landscapes… I loved this one particularly:

The Statue Court of the Palazzo Valle Capranica, 1553. Maarten van Heemskerck, (1498 - 1574). Printed by Hieronymus Cock, Flemish (Antwerp 1510 - 1570 Antwerp)

The Statue Court of the Palazzo Valle Capranica, 1553. Maarten van Heemskerck, (1498 – 1574). Printed by Hieronymus Cock, Flemish (Antwerp 1510 – 1570 Antwerp)

The exhibition itself takes four rooms from the first floor of the M Museum. There must be around 150 prints from all styles: classical art, landscapes, religious, portraits, imaginary creatures, maps. It took us about two hours to see the whole exhibition, pausing at some prints more than others (some are just too interesting and you keep finding details). The price is not bad (9€ for adults, 7€ for students older than 26, etc) considering you can visit the whole museum for that price, and then go visit the Treasure of Saint Peter’s.

All in all, a recommended visit. And you have until the 9th of June to go.

Falafel with garlic cauliflower & boiled potatoes with yoghurt sauce

Really, here the only thing that has a recipe is the cauliflower and the yoghurt sauce. The falafel comes straight from the store (Delhaize Bio Falafel, if you’re interested), and boiling potatoes is not that hard, is it?

It's yellow!

It’s yellow!

Ingredients

For the cauliflower

  • 1 cauliflower (~700 gr) clean of all leaves and in florets
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 garlic cloves. minced (next time I might put more)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the yoghurt sauce

  • 50 gr plain unsweetened yoghurt
  • 1/4 tsp sweetener of choice (I used agave syrup)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 tsp chopped chives

Instructions

  1. For the sauce: mix all ingredients. (Not that hard, is it?)
  2. Put the cauliflower florets, turmeric and salt in a big pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. (Use a lid, saves energy)
  3. Drain the cauliflower. Heat the oil in the same pot. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it starts to stick to the spoon. Add the cauliflower and stir through. You might want to add a couple tablespoons of water to get the garlic to cover the cauliflower.
  4. Serve with the heated falafel, the boiled potatoes and yoghurt sauce.

Makes 2 servings

Nutritional info (this is with this precise falafel, your mileage might vary)

Calories: 540
Protein: 20 gr
Fat: 15 gr
Carbs: 67 gr

Green beans & mushrooms in tomato sauce with quorn & potatoes

The other day I bought the wrong tetrapack of tomato pieces. I usually buy them plain, but they also have them with onion & basil, and one of the latter slipped into the former’s shelf and subsequently in the cart. And then I saw a Belgian cook making something similar to this and thought it’d be tasty. So I put this together for dinner.

Green beans & mushrooms in tomato sauce with quorn & potatoes

Green beans & mushrooms in tomato sauce with quorn & potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400 gr runner beans (the flat kind), topped & cut in 4 cm pieces
  • 250 gr white mushrooms, cut in fourths
  • 1 500 gr pack of tomato pieces with onion & basil (bio time for those in .be)
  • 170 gr quorn pieces (or fillets)
  • 300 gr peeled potatoes, in 3 cm pieces
  • salt & pepper

Instructions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the potato pieces for 10-12 minutes, until tender. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in a big saute pan, heat the oil. Add the shallot & garlic and cook on medium heat until slightly golden. Add the beans and saute for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook another couple of minutes. Add 100 ml of water, bring to a boil, cover, and let cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the quorn and the tomato to the beans and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper, bring to a simmer, cover it, and cook for 5-7 mins, until beans are al dente.
  4. Serve the bean mix over the potatoes.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional info:

Calories: 455
Protein: 28 gr
Fat: 7 gr
Carbs: 66 gr

Pumpkin spinach lasagna

I’ve been meaning to try this recipe from Vega Gerechten for a while already, and tonight was the night. But then, I am me and I cannot follow a recipe to the t, so I had to add some extra seasoning and change the proportions and such. And what we got was a delicious dinner for two.

A half serving of Spinach pumpkin lasagna

A half serving of pumpkin spinach lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 6 sheets dry lasagna (~110 gr)
  • 300 gr frozen spinach
  • 250 gr ricotta
  • 1 tbsp dry shallot
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 300 gr (frozen) pumpkin in cubes
  • salt & ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp bread crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Boil some water and soak the lasagna sheets for 5 minutes. Drain and place on a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan, add the pumpkin and cook, stirring from time to time, until soft. Season with salt & pepper and keep aside.
  4. Meanwhile, thaw the spinach in the microwave, and heat until warm. Add the ricotta and stir to combine. Season with the shallot, chives, garlic, nutmeg, salt & pepper.
  5. Lightly oil the bottom of an oven safe dish. Place two lasagna sheets on the bottom. Cover with 1/3 of the spinach mix, then place 1/2 of the pumpkin on top. Put two more lasagna sheets on top, then 1/3 of the spinach and the rest of the pumpkin. Cover with the last two lasagna sheets and the rest of the spinach on top.
  6. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 2 servings

Nutritional info

Calories: 500
Protein: 19 gr
Fat: 22 gr
Carbs: 50 gr

Spaghetti (aka veggie bolognese) sauce

When I first came to Belgium I got asked if I liked spaghetti. Like that. No other description. Coming from somewhere where spaghetti means the pasta, it was a weird question, because pasta on it’s own doesn’t have much flavor. So I asked what did they mean. And they meant spaghetti bolognese, or similar. A meaty sauce with vegetables and tomato. Skip the meat, and I’ll eat it, I said. So our veggie bolognese was born. It’s far from what an Italian would call ragú a la bolognese, so please don’t kill me. We really call it spaghetti now.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bell peppers (red, yellow & green), finely diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 500 gr tomato pieces (tin or brick)
  • 140 gr tomato concentrate / paste (2 small tins)
  • 350 gr minced quorn (or seitan or other tvp)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp hot smoked paprika (sub sweet if not found of spicy, and double it)
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt & pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a big pot. Add onion and garlic and cook on medium until golden. Add the bell pepper and cook for a few minutes, then add the carrot and stir through. 
  2. Add the tomato pieces, the tomato concentrate and the minced quorn. Stir to combine. Add enough water to barely cover. Add turmeric, paprika, oregano, basil, soy sauce, and salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring from time to time to make sure it doesn’t stick, for approximately 25 minutes.
  4. Taste, adjust seasoning, serve warm with spaghetti and grated cheese.

Makes 8 servings

Nutritional info: (only for the sauce)

Calories: 129
Protein: 9 gr
Fat: 3 gr
Carbs: 17 gr 

Red bell pepper soup

A comfort food for Jan, since it’s a recipe his mother makes often. I like it too, but I have to admit I wasn’t much of a soup person until I spent a couple of often-below-zero-temperatures winters here.

Red bell pepper soup

Red bell pepper soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 500 gr tomato pieces (tin or brick)
  • 1 l veggie broth (from cubes / powder / granules is fine)
  • 40 gr pre-cooked wheat (or bulgur)
  • 2 tbsp (50 gr) goat cheese (the kind to spread on bread)
  • 3 tbsp light cream
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped chives, for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a soup pot, put the bell peppers, the onions, the tomato pieces and the broth. Bring everything to the boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. Mix the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a jug blender) until smooth. (Sieve if desired, but I never do).
  3. Bring soup to a simmer, add the wheat and cook for 10-15 minutes (whatever it says on the package).
  4. Remove soup from heat, add goat cheese and cream and stir to combine. Season to taste (salt might not be needed at all depending on broth and cheese).
  5. Serve in bowls with chopped chives sprinkled on top.

Makes 8 servings

Nutritional info:

Calories: 78
Protein: 3 gr
Fat: 2 gr
Carbs: 14 gr

Pancakes with spinach cheese filling

Spinach - mushroom - cheese filled pancakes

Spinach – mushroom – cheese filled pancakes

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

  • 50 gr buckwheat flour
  • 50 gr white wheat flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 250 ml half skim milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 10 gr butter, for cooking

For the filling:

  • 500 gr frozen spinach
  • 1 tin (115 gr drained weight) sliced mushrooms
  • 60 gr no fat fromage frais
  • 80 gr light grated emmental cheese
  • salt, pepper
  • nutmeg

Dessert bonus:

  • 10 gr brown (muscovado) sugar

Instructions:

For the pancakes:

  1. In a bowl, whisk flours and salt together. Add beaten egg and half the milk and mix well, then add the rest of the milk and mix. Let rest 30 mins before cooking pancakes.
  2. Heat a pancake pan. Brush a small amount of butter. Spoon approximately 1/6 of the batter, spread evenly over the bottom of the pan and let cook undisturbed over medium heat until the top is completely dry. Flip and cook a couple more minutes until golden.
  3. Remove pancake to a warm dish and repeat with the rest of the butter & batter, to make a total of 6 pancakes.

For the filling:

  1. Put spinach in a lidded microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until completely thawed and heated through. Add the mushrooms, stir, and microwave a couple more minutes.
  2. Add the cheeses and mix well. Season to taste with salt, pepper & ground nutmeg. Heat in the microwave until emmental is mostly melted.

Assembly:

  1. Fill four pancakes with the spinach mushroom cheese filling and fold in half.
  2. Pancakes 5 & 6 are the bonus dessert. Brush with whatever butter is left from cooking the pancakes, sprinkle with brown / muscovado sugar, roll up and enjoy warm. 

Makes: dinner and dessert for two.

Nutritional info:

Calories: 485
Protein: 29 gr
Fat: 15 gr
Carbs: 49 gr