Tag Archives: tomatoes

Chickpea and tomato bake


I’m having a good few days for finding ways to flavour ingredients I normally struggle with. My solution with today’s ingredient, chickpeas, was to make the sauce by roasting rather than frying and keeping the chickpeas in it the whole way through. Normally I add them towards the end to stop them from overcooking, but this time I just bunged everything in a roasting pan and I liked the result. The aubergine almost melts into the sauce, becoming buttery. The brown rice (and I think it’s pretty important to use brown rice, but it’s your call) provides chew, complementing the softness of the chickpeas and tomatoes. All in all, this dish is comforting and warm, good for when it has literally not stopped raining all day and you haven’t slept the night before.


400g tin of chickpeas
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 aubergine
200g cherry tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tbsp olive oil
300g brown rice

Serves 4
Calories: 450
Takes 50 minutes to make

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Get out a roasting tin. Drain the chickpeas and tip them in. Add the chopped tomatoes. Thinly slice and onion and finely chop the garlic and bung them in too, along with the cherry tomatoes. Chop the aubergine into cubes of about an inch and add. Drizzle in the oil, chilli and oregano and season really well – chickpeas aren’t salty, so you’ll need to add some extra tang. Give everything a mix around, and then try not to look at it too hard. It won’t look promising. It looks like it will never come together. It looks bad. Don’t worry, it will be alright. Put it in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, giving it a mix around every 10-15 minutes so it doesn’t catch.


Stage two: Cook the brown rice according to the instructions on the packet. Brown rice usually takes ages to cook – mine took about 35 minutes. If it takes longer than you’d expect, that’s ok because the vegetables won’t suffer for an extra 5 or 10 minutes in the oven.


Stage three: Drain the rice (if necessary) and dish it out, and then serve the chickpea bake on top.


Pizza bread


Pizza, but with less effort and easier ingredients! Big, bold flavours that aren’t really traditional pizza ingredients but work anyway! No effort to make a tomato sauce! Rectangular so it’s easy to cut! And rosemary! I love rosemary! I’m using a lot of exclamation marks, but that’s because I’m happy and this pizza is delicious! You’re on board, right?

pizza bread

300g bread flour
7g sachet instant yeast
200ml warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion
300g cherry tomatoes
100g cheddar
40g sun dried tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh rosemary

Serves 4
Calories: 430
60 minutes for the base, 15-20 minutes to bake

Stage one: Base first. If you’re doing this by hand, put the flour, yeast, water, salt and olive oil in a bowl and knead for about 5 minutes, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour. If you’re doing this by bread maker, switch the bread maker to the dough setting and leave it to do its thing.

Stage two: An hour after you’ve left the dough to rise, preheat the oven to 220C/fan200C. Time to prep all the other ingredients. Cut the red onion into segments and then separate them out into slices. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Grate the cheddar. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes. Wash the rosemary and roughly chop. Get out a rectangular roasting tin to put the pizza in.

Stage three: Lightly flour a surface and your hands, then take out the dough and give it a quick knead. Roll it out into a rectangle the size of your roasting tin, then put it in the tin. Sprinkle the cheese over the base, then add the onion, rosemary and sun dried tomatoes.


Stage four: Lay the cherry tomatoes in the gaps between the onions face up and gently push them into the dough. It’s going to look very busy and like the tomatoes won’t stay on. That’s ok. It will come together. Pop it in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the base has gone golden and the cheese has baked to your satisfaction.


Cheesy filo parcels


There exists for me a very rare and special category of food: food that is so much lower in calories than it ought to be that it almost feels unfair. Portions that look huge and are full of cheese, but somehow there’s no nutritional downside. It appears that filo pastry is the key to this category. It’s thin and fragile, but bakes into solid, crunchy goodness so that you don’t notice how little there is of it. Plus it makes me feel all fancy. Filo pastry is a great way of separating out the filling for what would otherwise have been a single large pie into lots of little filo parcels, which means you get so much more crunch for your filling. Brilliant. Fair warning: these parcels are a bit fiddly. But they don’t take long, and they’re worth it. Some of the cheese leaked out of mine in the oven, and at first I panicked and was sad and assumed it was a disaster. Turns out, it wasn’t. It makes no different to the cheesiness or crunchiness of the parcels, plus I got to eat the crispy cheese. I guess a fix for this would be to double up the filo pastry for each parcel, which you are welcome to do, but I’m happy with fewer calories and crispy cheese.

You can use these parcels as a fancy low-calorie starter, or eat three of them and still have a low calorie dinner but feel like you are eating a feast. Guess which I did?

3 filo pastry sheets
250g spinach
800g plum tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
100g mature cheddar (I used low fat)
2 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

Makes 6 parcels
Calories per parcel: 160
Takes 60 minutes

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C. Quarter the tomatoes, mix in the garlic and 1 tsp of olive oil, season and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. I’d give them a mix around half way through to stop them burning. This should dehydrate the tomatoes and intensify their flavour. If they’re still plump at the end of the 30 minutes, roast them for a further 10 minutes. The drier they are, the easier they will be to work with.

Stage two: Meanwhile, put the spinach in a colander and pour a kettle full of boiling water over it to wilt. Leave to cool, then squeeze as much of the water out of it was possible. Grate the cheddar into a bowl.

Stage three: Lay out the first sheet of filo pastry, and halve it so that you have 2 filo squares. Take a sixth of the tomato mixture and put it on the centre of the bottom edge of one of the squares. Sprinkle a sixth of the cheddar and the spinach on top.


Stage four: OK, here’s the fiddly bit. Gently start to roll up the parcel into a sausage. The tomato is going to want to seep through and rip the filo, so you’ll need to support it as you roll it up. Brush both sides of the pastry roll with olive oil, and then fold the ends of the sausage over the tomato side of the roll. This will help it hold together in the oven. Repeat for the other 5 parcels.


Stage five: Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and lay the parcels on it. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.


Vegetarian chili wraps


I spent work today sitting in a sunbeam next to a window through which came a light breeze. It’s summer! Life is good! OK, ironically literally as I wrote this the sky has turned from blue to grey and it has started raining. From this I could derive some kind of life lesson about taking things for granted, or maybe something about the greatest joys being brief, but in truth I don’t really think I’m interested in that and it’s kind of trite. Plus, it doesn’t change anything! I still had a lovely day, and I still used that lovely day as an opportunity to make a lovely summery dinner. For me, this means wraps. I love wraps. I could eat a million of them, preferably with a tasty and nutritious filling, but I’m not picky. I can eat them with Marmite. I can just rip into them plain. I crave them.

Warning: you will make a mess when eating these wraps. Do not eat them in front of people you want to impress. Eat them in front of people you can laugh with. Everyone makes a mess in a different way. I catapulted vegetables over the table, my lap and the floor as I ate mine. My husband somehow managed to make all the tomato juice come out of the bottom of his. It’s a voyage of discovery. Don’t wear a white t-shirt.

1 tin of kidney beans, drained
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 large white onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tin sweetcorn, drained
200g cherry tomatoes
1 large avocado, or 2 small avocados
a handful of fresh parsley
grated cheese to serve (optional)

Makes 6 wraps
Calories: 340
Takes 20-25 minutes to make

Stage one: Finely chop the onion, crush the garlic, and cook them in a saucepan over a medium heat until the onion has gone translucent. This should take about 5 minutes. Then, add in the chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, chilli powder, coriander and cumin. Season to taste. Give everything a stir, reduce the heat to low, and leave it to do its thing while you prep the rest of the veg.

Stage two: Chop the avocado and halve the cherry tomatoes. I know you don’t need to halve the cherry tomatoes, but I find it hard enough to eat wraps as it is without spraying tomato all over the place. Combine them in a bowl with the sweetcorn and parsley and give everything a mix.


Stage three: Put the wraps together! Dollop in the centre a sixth of the bean mix, then spoon over some salad, and finally sprinkle some grated cheese on top (if you like). Accept that as you are going to make a colossal mess, and enjoy.


Rustic Italian loaf with baked haddock


This meal fits together perfectly. The crunchy crust on the loaf goes perfectly with the tasty, plump roast vegetables. The fish is, well, fish, but it just fits. Everything is exactly as it should be. Which is actually a total coincidence, because really I just wanted to break in the Italian home baking book my lovely mother-in-law bought me and I winged the rest based on what colours I thought would look nice together on a plate. To be honest, though, the bread on its own is so good that you could put basically anything next to it and still have a wonderful meal. I love a loaf with serious crust but a soft, moist inside, and this delivers in every possible way. I am so excited for the rest of this baking book.

Ingredients for the rustic bread:
225g white bread flour
100g wholemeal bread flour
1 tsp salt
a pinch of black pepper
7g dried yeast
210ml warm water
1 tsp olive oil
30g sun dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)

Serves 4
Calories: 330
Takes about 3 hours

Stage one: Either combine all the ingredients in a bread maker and switch to the dough setting, or make by hand by kneading for 10 minutes and then covering with a damp tea towel and leaving in a warm room for 90 minutes. I added sun dried tomatoes, which were pulverised in the bread machine such that you can’t really see them in the bread when it’s baked, but give the whole thing a lovely extra flavour. In the original recipe were olives, which you add in just before proving.

Stage two: Punch the dough down, knead for a couple of minutes, and then shape into an oval loaf. Place it on a baking tray and leave it in a warm room for 40 minutes to prove. I do this by placing it on top of the preheated oven.


Stage three: If you haven’t already, preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C. Brush the loaf with olive oil and bake for 35 minutes.


Ingredients for the baked haddock:
4 fillets haddock
200g cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
a handful of basil leaves

Serves 4
Calories: 200
Takes 30 minutes to make

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C. Prep the vegetables and put them on a roasting tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, season and put in the oven for 15 minutes.

Stage two: Give everything a stir, and then push the vegetables aside so there’s space for the 4 fillets in the middle of roasting tray. Lay the fillets in the middle of the tray, season, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and finally tear the basil leaves over the top. Pop back in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately.


Roast tomato soup and cheesy roll-ups


I love soup. This soup is easy and delicious. I made it with the leftover vegetables in my fridge and some tomatoes. My general idea was to take anything that looked red or orange and was about to pass its best, to roast it, and to blitz it. Roasting vegetables makes them tastier, which in my eyes counters the extra time it takes to use fresh rather than tinned tomatoes.


Ingredients for the soup:
1 large white onion
3 cloves of garlic
1.5kg tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 carrot
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar(optional)
1l vegetable stock
1/4 tsp paprika (optional)

Serves: 4 generous main courses
Calories: 200
Time taken: 10 minutes prep, 30 minutes cooking

Oh, this recipe is so easy. I love that in a recipe. Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Roughly chop all of the vegetables, although you don’t need to be precise about it because everything is getting blended at the end anyway and they’ll all get roasted through. Drizzle the olive oil over the top, then stick in the oven for 30 minutes. I like to take the veg out and give it a mix half way through because the onion can get overly crispy.


When the vegetables are done, tip them into a pan with the stock. Add the paprika and sugar if you like. The paprika I added because the soup was already red and I just went with the theme. The sugar is because the problem I tend to have with tomato soup is that it can get a bit acidic, and the sugar completely fixes it without making the soup sweet. Another substitute is lemon juice, but I prefer sugar. If you like the acidity, feel free to skip the sugar. Then blitz the soup with a hand blender. Finally, season to taste.

These rolls are mostly copied from the BBC good food May magazine. It’s a children’s recipe. I don’t care because these rolls are beautiful and delicious, and that’s what matters. I added garlic because when I think of cheese and bread, I think of garlic. To be honest, if I’m making any savoury recipe I tend to think of garlic.

Ingredients for the roll-ups:
200g self-raising flour
50g butter, left out of the fridge for 20 minutes
1 tsp paprika
100ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
50g light cheddar cheese, grated
2 cloves of garlic

Makes 12 little rolls
Calories: 110 per roll
Takes 20 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to cook

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 220C/fan200C, and put some baking paper on a tray. In a bowl, rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small crumbs. Don’t over handle it, or your hands will melt the butter and it will turn into a melty mess and it will be hard to roll. If that does happen, just put it in the fridge for 20 minutes, so don’t worry. Then pour in the milk, and mix together until the mixture forms a firm dough. If it feels too dry, which means that it might flake and fall apart instead of coming together, add a splash more milk. Just a tiny bit at a time, it’s much easier to add more milk to a dry dough than to extract excess milk from an overly wet dough, and you’re looking for a firm consistency here. I didn’t take a picture of this because I love my phone and I didn’t want to turn it into a cheesy roll-up.

Stage two: Lightly flour a surface, then roll it out into a rectangle about 0.5cm thick.

Stage three: In the bowl the dough used to be in (which should be dry unless you added too much milk), add the grated cheese and the paprika. Either crush or finely chop the garlic. I used to be in the finely chopping the garlic camp, until I caved and bought a garlic crusher. I love my garlic crusher. It feels a lot like magic. It’s fast, and you’re less likely to end up eating giant chunks of garlic that you (and by you, I mean me) were too lazy to chop finely. Anyway, put the crushed/chopped garlic into the bowl, and mix it all up. Then sprinkle it on top of the dough rectangle.

Stage four: Roll the dough rectangle up along the long side. Then slice it into 12 even rolls, and lay them on the baking tray. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes. My oven is super keen, so I actually took mine out after 17 minutes, but I don’t generalise. Technology of any sort tends to go a bit crazy around me. Anyway, take the rolls out when they are golden and the cheese is melty. Yum.