Ackee, Callaloo and Pumpkin | VEGANUARY

Can you believe it’s 2018?! It’s currently 6 pm on 6th Jan, and I’m wondering how we got here already. One good thing to come out of this month though, is Veganuary, and I’ve dedicated myself to it this time round. I’m not into resolutions these days, but I do love a good challenge. If you’re not familiar with Veganuary, it’s essentially an initiative to encourage people to eat and live more consciously for just 31 days – and with that comes a vegan diet. You can get support, recipe ideas, starter kits and regular news online, so that’s half the work done for you.

As you guys know, this blog usually documents vegetarian (and the occasional plant-based) recipes, so I’m excited to take full advantage of the opportunity to blog 100% vegan! I want to show you how easy it can be; not at all restrictive, expensive or time consuming. Also, I plan to share more savoury recipes because I actually bake less often than I cook! Taking only 15 minutes to rustle up, this ackee, callaloo and pumpkin dish reflects my Jamaican heritage with a little bit of a twist and is probably one of my favourite things to eat. Usually eaten with dumplings, rice or bread, I enjoy this best with seasoned bulgar wheat (a little bit healthier, amazing texture!). This is a great one for breakfast, lunch or dinner, plus ackee is high in fibre so your digestive system will thank you for it.

Serves 2-4 | Prep: 5 mins | Cooking: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 540g tin of Jamaican ackee (in salted water)
  • 280g tin of Jamaican callaloo (in salted water)
  • 150g ripe pumpkin
  • 6 small plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 large spring onion
  • 1 small yellow sweet pepper
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • Half a veggie stock cube
  • 1 cup water
  • A thumb-sized piece of scotch bonnet pepper (or chilli flakes)
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (hot or mild)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Step one: Heat a large, deep saucepan with two tablespoon of olive oil. Chop the pumpkin into small chunks leaving the skin on. Sautée on a medium heat for five minutes until softed, adding the water little by little.

Step two: While the pumpkin cooks, prep your veggies. Finely chop the onions, tomatoes, peppers and garlic. Set aside.

Step three: Add the seasonings, crumbled stock cube, bay leaves and thyme to the pumpkin and mix well. There should be little water left by now. Add the raw veggies and simmer down for five minutes with a lid on. They will release natural juices and add a tone of flavour!

Step four: Taste test the sauce at this point for thickness, then add the ackee and callaloo. Combine gently as these are both very delicate, before simmering on a low heat for five minutes more. Turn off the heat. To serve, garnish with spring onions.

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Honey-glazed carrot & roasted red onion salad

Admittedly, I’ve had a few weeks off from blogging. It’s been a busy old month, in every sense, but a good one at that. It’s always nice to catch up with old friends, venture out of the insanity of London, try new things and spend time setting Summer goals. And, along with the improving weather comes renewed energy and inspiration for this here blog.

Since the Bank Holiday festivities are in full swing and it’s the last day of National Vegetarian Week 2015, I figured a summery salad dish would be fitting for impromptu BBQ’s and friendly gatherings. We all love a bit of al fresco dining and this dish is perfect sharing food as an accompaniment to other side dishes and mains. Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll devour this alone with some crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar! I find this is best eaten whilst the roasted veggies are still warm and fragrant as a contrast to the cold spinach leaves and crumbly feta cheese. You could also add toasted pumpkin seeds or roasted cherry tomatoes for a slightly different variation on this salad.

Serves 2 – 4 | Prep: 10 mins  Cooking: 30-35 mins

For the roasted veg:

  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 tbsp good quality runny honey
  • 1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs (e.g thyme, rosemary, basil)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 80g baby spinach leaves
  • 50g crumbly feta cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil

Step one: Pre-heat your oven at 175 degrees. Peel, half and then quarter the carrots. You should get 8 even sized pieces from each carrot. In a similar way, half and quarter the onion so you have small wedge shapes.

Step two: Line a baking tray with baking paper. Add the veg and coat evenly in olive oil, seasoning, cumin and mixed herbs. Bake for approx 25 mins.

Step three: At this stage, drizzle the honey over the veg and return to the oven for a final 10 mins. You want a deep brown caramelised colour on the carrots and onions. Take them out of the oven and set aside whilst you assemble the salad ingredients.

Step four: On a large serving plate or mixing bowl, add the spinach leaves, crumbled feta and warm veg (plus any sweet honey juices!). Dress the salad with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh lemon juice before serving.

*This will keep for two days in the fridge, but is best eaten on the same day it’s made.