Greek Pork, Home-made Tzatziki and Pitta

Juicy pork shoulder steaks, marinated in oregano, lemon and garlic. Served with fresh tzatziki and delicious home made pitta.

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This is one of my favourite summer weekend meals, and it’s even better if you can cook the meat on a BBQ!

The flatbreads are really easy to make, but totally worth it, as you just can’t buy anything like it! Shop bought pitta breads or wraps are just not the same.

I use pork shoulder steaks with this recipe because they are cheap and they stay nice and juicy. You could use loin but I always find it a bit dry!

This is a great recipe to make for a larger number of people as the flatbreads and tzatziki can be made in advance, so all you have left to do is cook the pork!

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Ingredients: Serves Two 

Pork Shoulder Steaks:

  • 2 pork shoulder steaks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon – zest and juice
  • handful of fresh oregano
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • olive oil

The Flat Breads:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250ml water
  • 10g fast action yeast
  • 10g salt

The Tzatziki:

  • 300g greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 a cucumber, grated
  • 1/4 clove of garlic
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt

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To Make:

The Flat Breads:

Combine all ingredients for the dough in a bowl, mix until they come together and form a rough ball.

Turn out onto a work surface, and knead for 5-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Test the dough is ready by pressing it with your finger, it should spring back if the gluten has been worked enough.

Return to the bowl, cover with cling film, and leave to prove for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

After the dough has proved, turn it out onto a work surface and knock back, to remove any large air bubbles.

Weigh out 100g pieces of dough, and form into tight balls (allow 1-2 per person), leave to rest on the side for 30 minutes

Roll out each piece of dough until thin, and stretch into circular disks.

Fry each flatbread a large frying pan for a few minutes either side, until the edges have puffed up and the dough is cooked through.

The Pork:

Combine all ingredients except the pork in a small blender with a splash of water and blitz to a smooth paste.

Flatten the pork shoulder steaks with a meat hammer or rolling pin, then transfer to a large bowl and coat in the blended marinade. Leave to infuse for a few hours or overnight.

Place a saute pan with a lid over a high heat, and add a lug of olive oil. Once hot add the pork shoulder steaks, cover and cook on either side for 4 minutes, then for 1 more minute either side. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for five minutes.

The Tzatziki:

Grate the cucumber into a bowl, then add the garlic, cucumber, vinegar, yogurt and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine, then taste to check it doesn’t need more vinegar or salt.

Serving:

Slice to pork shoulder into thin slithers on the diagonal, and serve with a good dollop of tzatziki and a flatbread.

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Cabbage, Carrot and Coconut Curry

Light and healthy vegetable curry, made with cabbage, carrot and peas, flavoured with mild spices and creamy coconut. thumb_DSC05264_1024

This recipe is inspired by a curry from Rick Steins India cook book, it is one of my favourite recipes from the book, as it’s a great vegetarian, healthy, weekday dinner, I almost always make enough for two meals and have some for lunch the next day, delicious!

I mainly follow the recipe, but I have adapted it slightly to suit my tastes, I like this with a bit more of a sauce, which is why I use the creamed coconut. I usually just have a big bowl of this on its own, but it’s also really good with some brown rice or chapatti.

This is a great recipe for getting a lots of veg into your diet, I think it probably makes up 3 of your 5 a day, and its really tasty too!

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Ingredients: serves 2-4

  • 1tsp of mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1tsp of vegetable stock powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 spring pointed cabbage
  • 2 handfuls of frozen peas
  • 1 heaped tbsp of creamed coconut

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Finely chop the garlic, ginger and chilli, and slice the carrot into small cubes.

Heat up a few tbsp of vegetable oil in a saute pan, add the mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop, then add the finely chopped chilli, garlic and ginger. Fry for about 30 seconds, then add the carrots to the pan.

Stir in the powdered spices and stock, then add enough water to cover the carrots, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked through.

Meanwhile finely chop the cabbage. Once the carrots are cooked add the cabbage to the pan, with the frozen peas and coconut cream, add another splash of water if necessary.

Cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the cabbage is cooked and the coconut has melted into the sauce. Remove from the heat and serve.

Delicious with a mango or chilli chutney.

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Spicy Szechuan Beef Noodles

Thin slices of tender beef cooked in a spicy sauce flavoured with Sichuan peppercorns, served with fresh noodles ,beansprouts and peanuts.

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I bought some beautiful new bowls and chopsticks this weekend, so I had to make something to serve in them!

Always choose a Szechuan beef when I get a Chinese takeaway, so I thought I would try to recreate something similar at home! I was very pleased with the result, the spicy savoury sauce coated the noodles perfectly, and it made a delicious stir fry!

This recipe is really quick and easy so would make a great mid-week meal!

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Variations: You could use chicken instead of beef, which would be equally delicious, or leave out the meat, and replace it with some big chunks of mushroom, for a veggie version!

Ingredients: Serves Two

  • 200g beef
  • 200g noodles
  • handful of beansprouts
  • fresh coriander
  • 50g peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 carrot
  • 1red pepper
  • 3tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp shaoxing rice wine

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To Make:

First get all the ingredients chopped and ready:

Finely sliced the beef, against the grain into thin slithers, set aside.

Finely mince the garlic ginger and chilli, then crush the Sichuan pepper into a fine powder.

Slice the onion, pepper and carrot into thin strips.

Heat 1tbsp vegetable oil in a large wok, until smoking. Stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes until just cooked through and set aside.

Stir fry the garlic, ginger, chilli, onion and Sichuan pepper for a few seconds until fragrant, then add the peppers and carrot with the shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce and a splash of water.

Stir fry for a few minutes, until the veg is tender, then add the cornflour and a little extra water to form a thick sauce. (taste at this point to see if it needs more soy sauce or sugar!)

Transfer the cooked noodles, beansprouts and peanuts to the pan and mix thoroughly. Spoon the noodles into bowls and top with the beef, coriander and sesame seeds.

Serve while steaming hot, and enjoy!

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Spring Lamb and Mint Pie

Tender lamb, slow cooked in a minty gravy, with carrots, onions and pearl barley, topped with a hot water crust pasty lid, served with new potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli.

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Another spring recipe! ¬†I made this pie a few weeks ago, after buying some lovely lamb neck from my local farmers market. Being British, I don’t think there anything that goes better with lamb than mint, so I decided to make a delicious lamb and mint pie!

I’ve¬†made a basic lamb stew and mixed some home made mint sauce through at the end, which makes makes the sauce extra tasty. And I have used hot water crust pastry for the lid, because I find it really easy to work with, and it gives the robust finish that complements the meaty lamb stew really well.

I had my pie with some boiled new potatoes, coated in butter and some steamed purple sprouting broccoli, which was delicious, but you could serve this with whatever veg you want!

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Variations: you could do something similar with pork and apple or pork and sage, by exchanging the meat, and replacing the mint sauce with apple sauce and fresh sage.

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Ingredients: Serves 4

The Lamb

  • 800g Bone-in Lamb Neck
  • 1/2 an Onion
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 Handfuls of Pearl Barley
  • 2 Litres of Chicken Stock
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1tbsp Corn Four

The Mint Sauce:

  • 1 Bunch of Fresh Mint
  • 6tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Sugar

The Hot Water Crust Pastry:

  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 100g Lard
  • 100g Water
  • Pinch of Salt

To Serve:

  • New potatoes
  • Broccoli

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To Make:

The Lamb:

Fry the onion, garlic and carrots in a large pan with a lug of olive oil. then add the lamb, stock and pearl barley, simmer for a few minutes, and then transfer to a slow cooker, and leave for 4-6 hour, until the lamb is tender and falling off the bone.

Once cooked, spoon out the lamp, carrots and pearl barley with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a baking dish, removing the lamb bones.

Pour the remaining stock into a pan and bring to the boil. mix the cornflour with a little water and stir though the stock, continue to cook until thickened. Then pour over the lamb until just covered. Set Aside.

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The Mint Sauce

Finely chop the mint and transfer to a bowl.

Heat the sugar and vinegar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved – taste and add more vinegar/sugar as needed. Then pour over the finely chopped lamb.

Spoon half of the sauce into a serving dish, and the rest into the lamb stew mixture.

The Pastry:

Preheat the oven to 180¬įC

Weigh out the flour in a large bowl and mix with the salt.

Heat the water and lard in a small pan, until the lard has completely melted. Pour into the flour mixture and mix quickly, to form a ball of soft pliable dough.

Turn out onto a clean, floured work surface and roll out to around 1-2cm thickness (in the correct shape for your baking dish).

Place over the top of the lamp mixture and press the edges down with a fork. Make some leaf shapes with the remaining pastry for decoration.

Brush some egg wash over the pastry and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until the pasty is evenly browned.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Cut into 4 generous portions, and serve with new potatoes, greens and some extra mint sauce, delicious!

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A Westerosi Feast

Honeyed chicken, House Tully trout pies and black bread,¬†finished with¬†Sansa’s lemon cakes – a feast fit for the season 5 premier!

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I am a HUGE game of thrones fan, I have read all the books about 10 times and I love the TV series, and I cannot wait for season 5! I couldn’t resist making some Game of thrones themed foods to celebrate the premier on Monday!

As a food lover, one of the great things about reading the books is the detailed descriptions of the food, there is even a page on wiki of ice and fire, that lists all the food mentioned in the books!

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I have made a few different things, inspired by food in the books and TV series. I’ve made honeyed chicken, which is mentioned on the wiki page, I’ve used drumsticks, because I thought eating meat off the bone was probably¬†most accurate!

The House Tully trout pies were inspired by the lamprey pies they eat quite often in the books, but I’ve used trout (google a lamprey, I have no idea why anyone would want to eat one of them!!), and made them House Tully themed, seeing as a trout is their sigil.

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I made a rye bread sourdough, inspired by the ‘black bread’ that is often mentioned in the books, I wish it had turned out a bit blacker though!

And finally I couldn’t do a game of thrones post without making lemon cakes! I have tried to make them look like the lemon cakes Sansa eats on the show. There was a scene in season 4, where Lysa gives Sansa ¬†some lemon cakes, and it looks like they are individual cakes, with a lemon on top. So I have made crystallised lemons to decorate the cakes.

Everything tasted great, and was really fun to eat, so if you are having some friends round to watch the first season 5 episode, I recommend making something Game of Thrones themed to impress them!

P.S….TEAM LANNISTER!

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Variations:

The Honeyed Chicken: You could add some chilli to the marinade to spice your chicken up, or add some cinnamon, for a more Dornish feel!

The Black Bread: You could mix in some dried fruits, nuts or seeds, to make the bread more exciting

The Trout Pies: You could use any fish in the pies, or replace the mushrooms with some ham.

The Lemon Cakes: The buttercream could be replaced with lemon curd

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Ingredients: 

The Honeyed Chicken; Serves 2

  • 8 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3tbsp Honey
  • 6tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Fresh Oregano

Black Bread; Makes one large loaf:

  • 300g Sourdough Ferment
  • 200g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 350g Rye Flour
  • 15g Salt
  • 300g Water

The Trout Pies:

  • 500g Puff Pastry
  • 2 Trout Fillets
  • 8 Cup Mushrooms
  • 1/2 an Onion
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2-4 tbsp Cream Cheese flavoured with chives

Candied Lemon Slices:

  • 2 Lemons
  • 225g Granulated Sugar
  • 225g Water

The Lemon Cakes:

Sponge:

  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • Juice and Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 3 Eggs
  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 2tbsp Honey
  • 1tbsp Lemon Syrup (reserved from the candied lemons)

Buttercream:

  • 100g Butter
  • 1tbsp Lemon Syrup (reserved from the candied lemons)
  • 250g Icing Sugar
  • 2tbsp Lemon juice

To Make:

The Honeyed Chicken:

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Remove the skin from the chicken legs and make some deep diagonal cuts in the thickest part of the flesh, and place in a baking dish.

Combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic and half the oregano in a bowl, and mix to combine, pour half the mixture over the chicken legs, leave to marinade for a few hours, or overnight.

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Preheat the oven to 200¬įC

Cook the chicken in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until cooked through and the meat is tender. Once cooked, use a pastry brush to coat the chicken in the remaining marinade.

Scatter over some fresh oregano and serve.

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The Trout Pies:

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Preheat the oven to 180¬įC

Fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms over a medium heat, for around 5-10 minutes, until they begin to caramelise.

Roll out the pastry to a large rectangle around 1cm thick. mark into quarters length ways, and cut out one fish shape in each quarter. Score two of the fishes, to give them scales and tail markings.

Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly onto two of the fish shapes, then lay the salmon fillets on top, and then spoon over the cream cheese.

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Spread a little bit of water around the edges of the fish, then lay the remaining fish shapes over the top, and press the edges down firmly to seal in the filling. egg wash the pastry.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown, and the centre is piping hot.

Serve!

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The Black Bread:

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Combine all ingredients for the sourdough in a large bowl until well combined and the mixture begins to form a ball of stiff dough.

Turn out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a tight ball, and return to a well floured bowl. Cover and leave to prove for around 8 hours, until bubbles appear at the top of the dough.

Turn out the proved dough knock out the air. Form into a tight ball and return to the well floured bowl, leave to prove for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200¬įC

Slash the top of the bread and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until evenly browned, and sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Slice and serve!

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The Candied Lemon:

Cut two lemons into around 8-10 circular slices.

Combine the sugar and water in a saute pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Place the lemon into the sugar syrup and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the syrup has reduced by about 2/3 and the lemon has turned translucent.

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Use a slotted spoon to place the lemons on a greased and lined baking tray. Leave to cool before using.

Reserve the remaining lemony syrup for the lemon cakes!

The Lemon Cakes:

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Sponge:

Preheat the oven to 180¬įC and grease are rectangular baking tray.

Cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale, light and fluffy – around 5 minutes. Then add in the eggs one at a time and fold in the flour, lemon juice and honey until well combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish, and bake in the preheated oven for around 25 minutes, until cooked through.

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Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Heat half the reserved candied lemon syrup in a pan with a few tbsp of lemon juice. Spoon over the sponge until all the syrup has been absorbed.

The Buttercream:

Combine all the ingredients for the buttercream, and whisk until it forms a glossy mixture.

Assembling:

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Cut the sponge into 12 evenly sized squares and then slice each square into two horizontally, to form two layers.

Sandwich the two layers of each square together with the lemon butter cream and pipe a small spot of buttercream onto the top of each cake. Finish with a slice of candied lemon.

Serve!

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Squash and Bean Veggie Fajitas with Fresh Guacamole

Fajita wraps, filled with a spicy butternut squash and black eyed bean mix, served with fresh guacamole and lettuce.

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This is my follow up recipe to my Vegetarian Lasagne, for meat free week. Who doesn’t love a delicious spicy fajita? Well this recipe allows you to get all the flavour of normal fajitas with no meat to be seen!

I got the idea for the lettuce topping when I was eating out in Wahaca, because all the tostadas and taquitas are served with this lettuce and sour cream topping, which adds so much fresh flavour and crunchy texture, so I wanted to recreate it at home.

The guacamole and lettuce are obviously optional, and the fajitas taste great just on their own, but the added extras do make this recipe just a bit more special, and will help to win over any meat-oholics you are feeding!

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Varations: You could use any kind of bean in this recipe; Black beans would be really tasty, and you can add any other veggie of your choice, I think some sweetcorn would go really well.

Ingredients: Serves Two

The Fajitas:

  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 Chilli
  • 2 Large Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 400g Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin of Black Eyed Beans
  • 2tbsp Paprika
  • 1tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1tbsp Ground Coriander
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hand-full of fresh coriander
  • Limes, to serve
  • 4 Tortilla Wraps

The Lettuce

  • 1/2 an Iceberg Lettuce
  • 5tbsp Soured Cream
  • 150g Lancashire Cheese, crumbled

The Guacamole

  • 1/2 a Red Onion
  • 1/2 a Clove of Garlic
  • 1 Chilli
  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 handful of Fresh Coriander.

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To make

The fajitas:

Preheat the oven to 200¬įC

Peel and chop the squash into small 2cm cubes, coat in oil and 1tbsp of paprika, bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until cooked through and caramelised.

Finely spice the onions, garlic and chilli, fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes until they begin to brown. Then stir in the finely sliced red pepper and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the beans, spices, salt and pepper the the pan with a splash of water,cook until the water has all evaporated. Stir in the butternut squash and remove from the heat.

The guacamole:

In a small blender, blitz together half the onion, one avocado, the chilli, garlic, coriander and lime juice. Finely chop the rest of the onion and avocado and stir into the blended mixture in a small bowl. Top with some chilli.

The Lettuce:

Finely chop the lettuce and place in a wide, shallow bowl.

Spoon over the soured cream and scatter over the crumbled Lancashire cheese.

To serve:

Warm the tortilla wraps in the microwave, spoon a good helping of the veggie filling onto the wrap, and top with the guacamole and lettuce. Squeeze over some lime juice and wrap up. Delicious!

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Squash, Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato and Ricotta Lasagne

A creamy vegetable sauce, made up of spinach, and ricotta, studded with sweet chunks of roasted butternut squash, and sun dried tomatoes, layered between sheets of fresh lasagne.

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This week is national meat free week, where the challenge is to go a whole week (23rd-29th March) without eating any meat. The idea is to raise awareness of the fact that as a society we are eating more and more meat, with global production increasing from 78 million tonnes per year in 1963 to 308 million tonnes in 2014. However, with the growing food security crisis, we will need to change the relationship we have with meat, and vegetarian food.

Meat production currently uses up 26% of the earths ice free terrestrial surface, and requires a large amount of input, with an estimated 7lb of feed needed to produce 1lb of beef. With crop production already falling below demand, we will struggle to feed to worlds growing population if meat consumption continues to increase. Meat production is also a major contributor to climate change with 15% of greenhouse gas emissions being attributed to the meat industry.

I think a lot of people don’t even consider eating vegetarian food, and tend to focus every meal around what meat is in the fridge. But if we all had a a few vegetarian meals a week, we could be reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping to alleviate¬†the strains of global food production, with the added bonus of vegetarian meals being cheaper and healthier!

There are plenty of vegetarian recipes that taste just as good as their meaty counterparts and make lovely weekday meals. So this week I will be posting a few of my own

First up is my Squash, Spinach, Sun dried Tomato and Ricotta Lasagne. I think a lot of people are put off vegetarian lasagne, because all to often they are just a mix of random vegetables in a tomato sauce, which is a poor substitute for bolognese! My recipe uses a mixture of spinach, mushrooms, ricotta cheese, butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes, which go together really well to make a robust and delicious filling!

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Ingredients: Serves 4

  • 1/2 an Onion
  • 12 Chestnut Mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 4 Large Cloves of Garlic
  • 500g Butternut Squash
  • 125g Fresh Spinach
  • 250g Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 a Jar of Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • 1tbsp Red Pepper Pesto
  • 300ml Milk
  • 2-3tbsp Corn Flour
  • 1tbsp Butter
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 12 Fresh Lasagne Sheets

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To Make:

The Filling:

Preheat the oven to 200¬įC

Peel and chop the butternut squash into small 2cm chunks, coat in vegetable oil and salt. Bake in the preheated oven for around 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and beginning to caramelise.

Finely chop the onion, garlic and mushrooms, fry them over a medium heat for 10 minutes, until cooked through. Then stir in the pesto.

Chop up the fresh spinach and add to the pan, cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, until wilted. Then add the ricotta cheese and chopped sun dried tomatoes.

Once the butternut squash is cooked, remove from the oven and stir into the sauce. Set aside.

The Béchamel Sauce

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the cornflour, until combined, then pour in the milk.

Continue cooking the mixture over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Then add 2 handfulls of grated parmesan cheese.

Assembling:

Spoon some fillings and béchamel sauce onto the bottom of a large baking dish, then lay lasagne sheets over the top until covered.

Spoon some more filling and béchamel sauce over the top of those lasagne sheets, and then cover with another layer of lasagne sheets.

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Continue until all filling and lasagne sheets are used up, ending with a layer of lasagne sheets

Cover the top layer of lasagne sheets with the rest of the béchamel sauce, and some extra grated parmesan cheese.

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Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top has turned golden brown.

Decorate with some fresh oregano and leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Some other vegetarian recipes you might like:

Spinach and Feta Gözleme:

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Stone Baked Pizza

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Brunch Burritos

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