Saturday mornings mean pancakes for breakfast in our house. I used to do it as and when, when there was time, but then my son caught on to the trend and now it is an absolute non negotiable part of our weekend. And I love it. It usually looks something like this; kids waking at 7 am, wanting pancakes. Delirious parent stumble out of bed and puts on a cartoon, buying an extra half hour of ‘sleeping-in’ (insert ironic emoji). Soon after, the house is filled with fresh espresso and pancakes on the way. The kids set the table and get to decorate their own pancakes, usually with berries and jam. And, of course, it is usually a total mess, accompanied by laughter, an inevitable measure of toddler drama, and the occasional pancake on the floor obviously, ha!).
What I love about this recipe is that it is healthy, simple and easy for kids to love. It doesn’t call for much sweetener, is gluten and dairy free, and super satisfying whilst rich in plant protein. It can either be whipped up by hand using a whisker, or mixed in a blender really quickly without any fuss. When I blend it I sometimes add a handful of fresh spinach or a couple of raw carrots to the batter. Not only does it add some great nutrition, but the kids also love the coloured pancakes and don’t even question the colour green when it involves pancakes. The taste is also very much the same. Since our kids love jam on their pancakes, we usually omit the sweetener in the batter. However, if you like your pancakes sweet you may want to add an extra tablespoon of honey. The addition of cardamom is a childhood favourite and a commonly used ingredient in Scandinavian pancake recipes. It is, however, completely optional and leaving it out won’t affect the end result.
Abundance.. green.. dense…. just a few synonyms for the word ‘lush’, and exactly why I chose it to describe this soup. Counter to its rather glamorous name, this soup came into existence under far more humblecircumstances – more specifically during an attempt to tidy up my fridge the night before a big grocery delivery. Also, it was cooked mostly one-handed while holding a newborn, which, more than anything, is true testament to how effortless this recipe is. It’s real life though, isn’t it? Trying to cook a healthy meal with random fridge leftovers and no a plan whatsoever… refusing to give in to kids wanting porridge for dinner. And then when it somehow comes together and actually works. Then it’s glam! Fully deserving of a LUSH name.
Full of chunky vegetables and nourishing plant protein in the form of lentils and quinoa, this soup is ridiculously delicious and perfect for these still chill early spring evenings. I am also loving curry spice and have been adding it to just about everything of late …hummus, salad dressings, and a new quinoa salad I’ll be sharing soon. Because when I’m into something I just can’t help but totally overdo it! (…like a good song on repeat for weeks, you know what I mean).
The soup calls for very simple ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your fridge & pantry… with the exception of white lentils (also known as urid daal). While you’ll easily find white lentils in asian/indian markets (or in my case amazon), they are not commonly seen on the shelves of conventional supermarkets. However, they can easily be subbed for yellow split peas or extra of whatever other lentil you’re using. I love cooking with white lentils though, as their firmer, almost rice-like, texture lends itself perfectly to soups. Everything else is very straight forward; saute the onion & garlic, add everything else but the kale and coriander and leave to simmer until soft, then add the greens and serve with a little fresh parmesan (or omit for a vegan option). And voila! It is especially delicious served with a chunk of fresh sourdough baguette.
I’m a sucker for nostalgia. And this plate takes me right back to our date week in Morocco last summer. At the time I was early pregnant and careful to only eat cooked foods. So naturally, I managed to eat my way through several vegetarian tagines. A traditional Moroccan dish, a tangine is a slow cooked savoury stew with incredible spices and lightly sweetened with dried fruits, such as dates, apricots and raisins. The best food we had on our trip was in fact in the middle of the dessert, prepared in a tent with no fancy equipment. I don’t know if it was the combination of sleeping in half open tents in the middle of the Saharan dessert in a camp consisting of a fireplace surrounded by colourful rugs and pillows in lieu of tables – but this particular tagine was so delicious, hearty and full of exotic yet humble charm. While I won’t try to pretend like I know how to cook a Moroccan style tagine (because I really don’t), I will say that the combination of spicy aubergine, sweet raisins and chickpeas are enough to remind me of that particular trip – and for me, that alone is enough to make me love this dish. And so, since its healthy and full of exotic flavours and colours on an otherwise grey english Winter day, I thought now would be the perfect time to channel my nostalgia and share my take on that Moroccan dream stew.
The creamy mint yogurt is my favourite topping for this dish. It is slightly sweet from the mint and honey and pairs so well with the spicy stew and fresh pomegranates. The other toppings mentioned in the recipe below can be chosen according to your personal preference. I like to serve it warm with a side of rice/quinoa and then for lunch the next day on a bed of kale or spinach. That said, it is super delicious on its own as well. And if you like really dig a spicy kick, a pinch of cayenne pepper is perfect!
1 medium (1 cup) sweet potato, cut into cubes (you can use carrots or butternut squash instead)
3 tbsp tomato paste
500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt + pinch black pepper
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp tumeric
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
Handful (1/4 cup) raisins
1 can chickpeas, washed and grained
1 large handful kale, roughly chopped
small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 cup Greek yogurt (I prefer full fat)
4 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1-2 tsp honey
small pinch salt + pepper to taste
Fresh coriander or mint
Melt oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until fragrant and soft.
Add spices, aubergine and sweet potato pieces and stir to combine using a wooden spoon.
Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes and vegetable stock and stir again. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes over low/medium heat, stirring occasionally.
While the stew cooks, mix up the mint yogurt. Then set aside in the fridge.
Add raisins, mint and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine before leaving for another 5 minutes.
Finally add chickpeas, kale and coriander and season with more salt/pepper and spices to taste. Once the chickpeas are heated through and the kale starts to wilt, remove from the stove and serve with toppings of your choice.