Garlicky mushrooms and herby greens

Here’s a simple yet wonderfully well balanced mid-weeker. Garlic, mushrooms, spinach and lentils make for such a warming bowl, but it’s the addition of tarragon that wakes up the flavour and makes this a complete dish.

garlicky mush_high res 1

Be brave with the garlic but be careful you get the right amount of tarragon. Just enough gives a hint of bittersweet, too much gives an aniseed flavour that overpowers the softer ingredients. The suggested measures below gives you leeway to add some more at the end if you want a bit more punch.

Things you might not know about tarragon…

  • Most tarragon we eat is French, the alternative being Russian tarragon which is less flavoursome.
  • Tarragon has a mild anesthetic property when used medicinally.  It also has sedative properties and can be used in tea as an aid for insomnia.
  • Herbalists sometimes use the herb as an digestive aid because of its ability to breakdown meat fats and proteins.
  • Fresh tarragon is one of the highest antioxidant value food sources among the common herbs. It is packed with vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin A as well as B complex vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, niacin and riboflavin.
  • Tarragon is an excellent source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc.

garlicky mush_high res 2

I’ve served this one with red carmargue rice. It’s got a good nutty flavour that works well with the mushrooms. It’s also adds a bit of crunch to the dish.

To make enough for a hearty bowl for one or two small portions with rice you will need:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 fat garlic cloves or 3 regular – it’s good to go BIG on garlic with mushrooms
  • 100g mushroom
  • 100g spinach
  • 100g cooked lentils
  • 150ml veg stock (if using shop bought try the low salt Bouillon such as Marigold)
  • Tablespoon tarragon – but potentially more at the end of the cooking, see below

Serve it with:

  • 25g – 40g red rice – which doesn’t sound a lot, but the dish doesn’t need anymore or the rice will become the main event
  • Generous spoonful of natural yoghurt

It’s a doddle to make, here’s how:

  1. Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water then cover with water. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat slightly for around 20 – 30 minutes till the grains are squeezable in your finger tips.
  2. While the rice is cooking, add your oil to a pan on a moderately high hob, add the onions and garlic. Give them a good five minutes to soften right down.
  3. Add the mushrooms and lentils and keep on a medium heat for around 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to soften.
  4. Add the stock and turn the heat down, allow the ingredients to cook for up to ten minutes.
  5. Put the spinach and tarragon on top and wait for it to wilt into the other ingredients, stirring gently once or twice to help the process.
  6. Make a final check on flavours and season, maybe adding some more chopped tarragon either now or to the end plate.
  7. Things should come together around the same time. Drain your rice and give yourself half with a generous measure of the mushrooms and sauce.
  8. Finish with a big spoonful of natural yoghurt.

(A serving with 25g rice and yoghurt contains approximately 220 calories)

Once made you can cover and keep this one overnight to reheat on the second day.

I hope you enjoy this simple and nourishing bowl of goodness.

If you have time, read more about clean eating or take a look at my lifestyle principles to see how clean eating can be part of your daily world.

Majestic Masala

This is a sublime curry. Defined by its subtle layering of spices, this dish is perfect for a Saturday night in. Even better when there’s enough left to develop, savoured as a heartwarming Monday supper.

Masala with lamb_4

Masala with chickpea and spinach_5

My husband first learnt this one on a cookery course with Prett Tejura back in England. (more on Prett’s cookery school). To achieve the carefully balanced layers it’s important to source good spices, measure the ingredients correctly and follow the method carefully.

We tend to make the sauce a day or so in advance. That’s not a must – but having tried both ways, I think there’s a greater depth of flavour when the curry is made in advance.

To make enough masala for 2 people (with lots of seconds for another day) or a generous meal for 4, you will need:

• 2 medium white onions finely chopped
• 4 tbsp sunflower oil (There are more notes about cooking oil at the bottom of this post)
• 5cm stick of cinnamon
• 8 cloves
• 1 tsp coriander powder
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• 2 tsp garam masala
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• ½ tsp red chilli powder
• 3 tsp crushed garlic
• 2 tsp crushed fresh ginger
• 2 tsp chopped green chillies (the smaller ones pack a better punch)
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes
• 2 tsp salt (to your taste)
• Generous handful chopped coriander
• Meat or vegetables to add to the Masala sauce (see how we do it below)

Making the masala

1. Place the oil in a cooking pan and heat, add cloves and cinnamon until they sizzle.
2. Add the onions and cook until they turn golden on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. It’s important to take your time over this stage. It should take around 10 minutes for the onions to soften and cook.
3. Add the remaining dry spices. If the pan gets sticky just add a little water. Don’t rush, this is where the spices and onions gently mellow and infuse. It’s how the layering of flavours develop for the end dish.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, ginger and green chillies. Add more green chilli if you prefer it hotter (we do add another teaspoon).
5. Simmer for 5-10 minutes with the lid on. The masala will be ready when the oil appears on the surface.

Finishing the dish

This is a classic example of how we do things two ways here. We make the curry sauce then divide in half.

Version 1 – We add (around 350g) chopped shoulder of lamb and a little water to the sauce, before slowly cooking for around an hour. Chicken would work well too, reducing cooking time also.

Masala with lamb

Version 2 (my dish) – I add chickpeas (soaked overnight and cooked in water), spinach and a little water to the other half, before heating for 20 minutes. This half is mine to enjoy with brown basmati.

Masala with chickpea and spinach

The optional (but pretty delicious) extras

Boiled brown basmati:
Make sure you wash your basmati thoroughly and cover in cold water for 30 minutes before you cook. Add boiling water and salt and cook without the rice soaking up all the water. It’s ready when you can squeeze the grains. Try adding a clove, a cinnamon stick and a wedge of lime to this rice to liven it up.

Minted yoghurt:
We just use simple natural yoghurt, then add chopped fresh mint and a squeeze of lime.

Mango chutney:
Have a look at my homemade clean eating mango chutney recipe. It’s fresh fruity flavour compliments, rather than overpowers the curry. It’s more natural than anything you can by in a jar.

mango_1

This Magestic Masala is a sumptous weekend treat.  I hope you get time to make this one soon.

Before I go, here’s a few words on cooking oils.

A mini guide to cooking oils

There is so much conflict on what oils are good/clean and what should be avoided. For every view in one direction, there’s a contradiction in the other. Here’s a little guide that might help you when choosing oils for cooking and salads.

First up, coconut oil

I use a lot of coconut oil on this blog. That isn’t a must, but it’s been highly advocated recently and I simply enjoying cooking with it.

Once coconut oil was a massive no no due to its high saturated fat content. However now there is recognition that some saturated fat is good for us. The composition of the medium fatty acids are broken down fast by our bodies and therefore rarely stored as fat, but burned off instead.

A guide to what oil and when

You need to consider what you’re making as to what oil you need. This means:

1. Consider the temperature you need it. High smoke point oils are best for cooking (olive oil is actually best used without heat or used at lower temperatures).

2. Consider the flavour. Please don’t use olive oil for Indian cooking. It’s derived from olives – not suitable for the delicate aromatic spices we lovingly add to our pan. Equally if using coconut oil, look for a mild flavour variety to avoid this overpowering your meal.

3. Source well. Typically the better the oil the less processing involved. You want to avoid any label that alludes to genetic engineering.

4. Use oil sparingly if at all. Don’t be afraid of just skipping the oil. Break the habit and try roasting vegetables on their own or having a salad without a dressing. I rarely use oil through the week – meaning a little sunflower oil on a Saturday night is no bad thing. Balance doesn’t just exist in one meal, it’s the whole 7 day week, the month, and onwards.

Specific oils

Great for cooking:
High smoke point oils – coconut oil, avocado oil and almond oil

Great for cold dishes:
Try cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, unrefined safflower oil, unrefined walnut oil and unrefined sunflower oil

Steer clear:
Avoid cooking with anything with hydrogenated in the label. This includes palm oil (highly processed) and vegetable oil. The process to make this is so unnatural and so far from vegetables as we know them.

The most important final word on oils:

MODERATION 

I hope this helps x