Sunday, 28 June 2015

We've relocated!

Thanks for stopping by, Live Local Greens is no longer - you can find us over at Super Natural Veggie, where you'll find plenty of healthy, seasonal vegetarian cooking!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Spicy Thai squash soup

It's been mighty quiet around here for a while, sorry if you missed me! But I'm back and full of lots of new tasty recipes!

Now the nights are drawing in again, it seems only right to return with a lovely autumnal soup to warm us up.

So I want to share with you this recipe that's something a bit different to a standard squash soup - with an Oriental vibe! I just love this kind of food, the classic combo of spicy, salty, sweet and sour flavours are delicious. There's something so exotic and exciting about it, that kind of transports me to those far off lands....not that I've ever been there- but it's on the list!

This soup is very easy to throw together, and a great way of jazzing up whatever squash you have. The squash I used from our Local Greens veg bag was an acorn squash, a small winter squash which is similar to butternut but slightly sweeter. But pumpkin or butternut would work just as well.

I fully recommend you to invest in a hand held blender if you don't already have one. I don't know what I'd do without mine - I'd definitely make a lot less soup and that's no way to live. If, like me, you have a tiny rented kitchen and not huge amounts of money to spend on fancy kitchen gadgets, then a nifty handheld blender is the way to go. I use mine for all sorts of soups, smoothies, hummus and sauces. You can pick one up pretty cheap (mine is this Phillips model) - so go get one!

Spicy Thai squash soup
(Serves 2)

1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
2 tsp lemongrass (I used Sainsbury's pre-chopped lemongrass, as I'm lazy and it's easier to find than fresh stuff!)
pinch of chilli flakes
1 acorn squash, peeled and diced
500ml vegetable stock
75ml coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lime
a few coriander leaves to garnish (optional)

1. Cook the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilli in olive oil until softened.
2. Add the squash and stock, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender.
3. Stir through the coconut milk and lime juice, and season.
4. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
5. Garnish with coriander if using.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Squash and leek galette

I have very fond memories of my grandma's baking when I was younger. She was a very traditional cook, so used to make a lot of pies, among other things. Homemade pastry of course. My brother and I used to love that pastry so darn much that she used to make up a separate batch so we could have extra with whatever we were eating. I could pretty much just eat it on it's own like a snack.

I still love pastry to this day. It's buttery, crumbly goodness take me back to those days and I don't think anything can beat a pie as the ultimate winter comfort food.

So when I decided to stop eating gluten I did worry how I would get my pastry fix. I just don't think I could live a life without pie. Then I discovered Mrs Crimble's Pastry Mix and was relieved!

I do normally try to make everything I eat from scratch, but have to admit that the world of gluten-free baking is quite a daunting one. It seems to require a lot of different speciality flours - which ends up being quite expensive and they are often hard to find. So this mix saves you all that hassle and is sold at my local Sainsburys - easy!

I was very impressed with how the pastry turned out. It was easy to make - just add butter/margarine and water - and easy to work with, and once baked it had just the right consistency of crumbliness while holding together well. I would definitely recommend it if anyone is thinking about going gluten free.

I decided to use the mix to make a galette. Up until recently I thought a galette was a traditional French version of a crepe, made with buckwheat flour. But it turns out that a galette can also be a kind of free-form pie or tart- you basically wrap the pastry round the filling as opposed to neatly putting in a baking tin. Which sounded ideal! It's meant to be "rustic" and slightly wonky? Fine by me!

So here is my first attempt at a gluten-free galette. The leeks and squash are cooked long enough to get a lovely sweetness, which is balance out by some salty goats cheese, and the walnuts add a bit of a crunch and a nutty flavour.

Of course, you can use normal pastry for this if gluten isn't a problem for you. But either way, don't worry about it being too neat!

Squash and leek galette
(Serves 4 - with side salad)

1 leek, sliced
1/2 acorn squash (or similar), finely sliced
3 garlic cloves
50g goats cheese
10g walnuts, roughly chopped

Mrs Crimble's pastry mix
90g butter/margarine
70ml water

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbs water

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/ 190C/ 170C for fan assisted ovens.

Prepare the pastry as per the instructions and leave to rest while preparing the filling.

Saute the leeks, squash and garlic in 1 tbs of olive oil for about 20 minutes, until soft.

Roll out the pastry into a vaguely circular shape (remember- not perfect!) until it's about 5mm thick. Prick the  centre of the pastry a few times with a fork.

Add the leek, garlic and squash mixture into the centre of the pastry, leaving a border of about 5 cms. Fold the border into the centre, pleating as necessary to create folds encasing the filling. Brush the edges of the galette with the egg and water mixture.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and top with goats cheese and walnuts. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until the pastry turns golden and the cheese has started to melt.

Serve hot or cold with a crisp salad.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Thai noodle salad

Man, I needed this weekend. Without getting into too many personal details, this week has been a tough one.

We all get weeks like that. And we all make it out the other side of them with some perspective on what's important and what needs to change to make it better.

So this weekend was spent with some much-needed "me-time" and a chat with my favourite girls. I don't often go in for "girly" things but sometimes, painting your nails, getting your hair done, and eating cake with friends is just what's needed to fix the blues.

This salad is also a great pick me up. With all this horrible weather (still!) it's nice to have something fresh and colourful to brighten up your days. And so simple. I could eat this every day for lunch and not get bored.

I really love Thai food and had eaten something similar to this a while ago at Nam restaurant in Soho (which has recently shut down, boo) so wanted to give it a go myself. It's great for a gluten-free diet as it uses rice noodles, which are normally quite easy to find, and fairly cheap.

It could maybe be jazzed up with some tofu, or even prawns or chicken for you non-veggies. Once you've got all the ingredients for the sauce in your larder you're ready to knock up any kind of Asian-y sauce!

As with my recipe for Crunchy winter slaw, it would be handy to use a julienne peeler for this (It's my birthday soon, hint hint!)

Thai noodle salad
(Serves 2)

150g rice noodles
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 cucumber, julienned
1 spring onion, julienned
large handful of beansprouts
1 tbs coriander, roughly chopped
handful of unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

for the dressing:
2 tbs tamari/gluten free soy sauce
1 tbs Mirin/rice wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
juice of 1 lime
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Cook the noodles according to instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water.

To make the sauce, combine the ingredients and mix well. Leave to sit for a few minutes.

Mix the noodles with the carrot, cucumber, spring onion and beansprouts in a large serving bowl. Add the dressing and toss well. Garnish with the coriander and peanuts.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Vegan lentil shepherd's pie

I'm going to meet my cultural stereotype as a Brit and start this post by talking about the weather. Well, stereotypes exist for a reason! But really, the weather has been horrible for the last few weeks. Like, really really horrible. All that cold and wind and rain has been pretty depressing and made me wish that humans hibernated.

I don't know about you, but when the weather's like this, all I want to eat is warming, stodgy comfort food, and lots of it. Pasta and potatoes are a key food group during these winter days; and all those carbs are necessary for you to build up that layer of padding to keep you warm. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

For me, shepherd's pie is the ultimate comfort food. The hot, savoury filling, and a layer of creamy mash (with those amazing bits that go crunchy round the edge) - it is perfect for warming you up on a cold evening.

I've had a go at making a veggie shepherd's pie with Quorn before, but the challenge was to make a vegan version that was just as tasty. This recipe uses all those lovely winter root veggies (we've been getting a lot of carrots in the veg bag!), and the lentils make it more substantial. The vegan mash topping is surprisingly good; you can achieve the same texture and creaminess with vegan alternatives. Of course, if you're not feeling the vegan vibe you could use the classic combo of butter and milk.

This makes a decent amount to keep you going for a few days, and it freezes well.

Vegan lentil shepherd's pie
(Serves 4 hungry people/6 people with a more normal appetite)

1 large parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 mushrooms, roughly chopped
250ml stock
1 400g tin of tomatoes
50ml red wine
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Marmite
soy sauce
1 410g tin of green lentils, drained (or equivalent amount of dried lentils, cooked)
2 large potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
25g soy spread (or other vegan substitute)
50ml unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp mustard (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200C.

In a large pan, heat a glug of olive oil and fry the parsnip, carrot, leek and garlic until starting to soften. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further 4 minutes.

Add the stock, tomatoes, red wine, bay leaf, Marmite, a splash of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the lentils and simmer for a further 10 minutes until the carrots and parsnips are cooked, but not completely soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until soft. Add the spread and milk and mash well. Season with salt and pepper and mix through the mustard.

Place the lentil mixture in a large oven proof dish, top with the mashed potatoes and bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden.

Serve with green veg and -gasp- tomato ketchup (please don't tell me it's just me that likes this?!).

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Crunchy winter slaw with apple and golden beetroot

I can't believe we're half way through January already! So how are everyone's New Year's resolutions going? Still on track? No, me neither.

My New Year's resolutions were to do more exercise and the the stupidly vague "do more" - I want to get out and see more of London and go to more events etc. So far, I have yet to even put my trainers on, and I've been to the cinema a few times.

I do like to make New Year's resolutions as I like the idea of a fresh start and making myself do those things that I have been wanting/meaning to do for ages. I am, however, very good at coming up with excuses to not do things- it's been horrible weather, I've been working late, it's January so I have no money so I can't afford to go to a gym class (yet I can afford to go to the cinema? Great logic Meredith). And then I berate myself for not going. It's a vicious circle and I'm an idiot, I know. I just need to find a way to motivate myself to actually put those trainers on and go for a run, or to yoga.

Aside from someone physically dragging me there, do any of you have any ideas? What are your tricks for staying motivated?

Coleslaw is such a classic salad but is often done badly and covered in way too much sickly dressing. My mum makes a mean coleslaw (as well as cakes-check out her blog, Edwardian Grandma Bakes) with just the right amount of a delicious tangy yoghurt dressing. But obviously it's not vegan friendly so I thought I'd give a go at making a dairy free version.

I still had golden beetroot left over from my last recipe, plus some other great winter veg so it seemed the obvious choice. We had it with some homemade chickpea burgers and oven baked chips and it was a lovely, easy and light dinner.

Crunchy winter slaw with apple and golden beetroot
(Makes enough for 4-6 side servings)

1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 golden beetroot, peeled and julienned
2 small carrots (or 1 large), peeled and julienned
1 small eating apple (I used a cox apple, but anything sharp and tangy would work), thinly sliced
2 large handfuls of raisins/sultanas
2 large handfuls of walnuts, roughly chopped

for the dressing:
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp mustard
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar/honey
2 tbs olive oil

Combine all the dressing ingredients together and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large serving bowl, add the dressing, and mix with your hands to combine.

*Recipe note: You might want to invest in a julienne peeler for this kind of salad; cutting all that veg into teeny tiny little matchsticks was quite tedious! It's certainly on my wish list!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Roast golden beetroot pasta

Having just lamented the loss of my favourite, precious pasta after giving up wheat for health reasons, it would appear that I am now posting...a pasta recipe...?!

But I haven't fallen off the wagon that quickly, I promise- I've actually ventured into the world of wheat substitutes. So this recipe uses a spelt pasta by Biona. It isn't gluten free, but has less gluten than normal pasta and is obviously wheat free. I was slightly skeptical of anything that promised to be an alternative to wonderful pasta- surely nothing can be as good?! But I was pleasantly surprised- turns out spelt pasta is delicious! It has a slightly nutty taste, and a great texture that is substantial and keeps a bit of a bite. Plus it's lighter than normal pasta so you don't end up with that swollen, bloated "I've eaten too much pasta and now need to go and lie down for a week" feeling. I could get used to this!

The golden beetroot in our Local Greens bag this week was such a brilliant bright yellow! Golden beets have a slightly less "earthy" taste than regular red beetroot, so the addition of pomegranate seeds in this dish bring out the sweetness and the spinach and red onion balance it all out.

I would normally have slathered this meal with some lovely veggie hard cheese or maybe added some feta, but of course, none of that anymore! But it was just as good without, and don't think it really needed it. I am finding it quite difficult to get out of the habit of adding cheese to everything, but I do feel a lot healthier for it and it is good to have to work a bit harder to make tasty meals without relying on cheese to jazz it up.

What are your favourite wheat or dairy alternatives?

Golden beetroot pasta
(Serves 2)

2 golden beetroots, peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
150g spelt pasta (or other type of your choice)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
100g spinach
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
handful of toasted pine nuts or seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the beetroot in a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Shake the tray to make sure all beetroot is covered. Roast in oven for about 25-30 minutes until the beets are tender.

Cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain, making sure to keep about 2 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in a glug of olive oil until soft.

Once cooked, mix the pasta, beetroot, onion and garlic together in the pasta pan. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. (The spinach will wilt slightly from the heat but you don't want it completely cooked.)

Place in serving bowls and top with pomegranate and toasted seeds.