Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ratatouille, Halloumi and Couscous...with a meat-eater's alternative

I don't know about you, but I get cravings for fruit and vegetables....probably the same way that people crave chocolate or chips :) don't get me wrong, I love chips and chocolate, but every now and again I will be aching for some fresh, juicy vegetables too!

This meal is cheap, at around £4.95 for the vegetarian version and £6.15 for the meat option, is easy to make and has great Mediterranean flavours.

For the Ratatouille, I chopped up Aubergine, Peppers, Tomatoes, Courgette, garlic and onion...

And added them to a hot pan with a little oil.

(Five minutes later I added another two or three cloves of garlic, because I am a bit of a garlic fiend, if you haven't already gathered that from my other posts!)

As the vegetables were frying they were starting to get a bit dry and needed some liquid. There were no tins of tomatoes in the house, but since I already had fresh tomatoes in the pan, I mixed half a tube of tomato puree with some cold tap water and made my own, basic, tomato sauce...and added some extra puree for more tomato-flavour :D 

While the vegetables were cooking away and the sauce was reducing down, I fried some sausages for my boyfriend's half of the meal. (I chose Lincolnshire sausages, which were flavoured with thyme, sage and black pepper. My instinct was to buy sausages with garlic, red wine and black pepper - to compliment the French Ratatouille - but I was advised that this might overpower the rest of the meal.)  I also boiled a large glass of water in the large pan, and added a vegetable stock cube when it had boiled.

To the hot stock, I added the same sized glass full of dried Couscous. This is such a great carbohydrate to have with a meal, because it takes no work at all! I just left the pan, with a lid for five minutes, and before serving fluffed the couscous up with a fork. Voila! 

Once the sausages were cooked, I chopped them up, put them in the smaller pan, added half of the Ratatouille and left the pan over a little heat, to keep it hot.

In the same, cleaned, frying pan I added a whole block of chopped Halloumi and fried it over a medium-high heat, with a tiny bit of oil, until it was crispy and golden on one side.

The couscous and halloumi are strong salty flavours, they work well against the sweetness of the Ratatouille, but a few good shakes of ground pepper are really needed to balance out the meal as a whole.

My Mediterranean, vegetarian meal...

...and my boyfriend's meaty version :) 

 Bon appetit :) 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Night-In Fajitas

MMmmmMMMmmmm :) I love making fajitas! Having a little bowl of this and a little bowl of that on the table, being able to make up your wraps to your own tastes, is more fun and interactive than other standard meals...especially in a group, with your family or housemates, or for a cute night in with your other half <3

I've used Quorn Chicken pieces, and because I was cooking for two, I used the whole 500g bag. 

In a fairly big frying pan, with a glug of sunflower oil, I fried up the frozen Quorn.

When there was some colour on the Quorn, I added half an orange pepper, half a red pepper and half a long sweet red pepper, all sliced thinly for convenient fajita wrapping. Because I had a big box of cherry tomatoes, I halved a handful and added those too, for extra juiciness. 

To keep the costs low, you could add a generous few shakes of Cumin Powder, or Five Spice if you have some in the cupboard, however we went the whole hog and bought Old El Paso Smoky BBQ Fajita spices, which did smell good stirred into the mix!

By putting the lid on the pan, and cooking it over a medium heat, this keeps all of the ingredients as moist and juicy as possible.

To prepare the other bowls of ingredients, I shredded a third of an iceberg lettuce, grated a small block of cheese and - being lazy - opened a jar of Salsa. 
(If it wasn't hungry o'clock, and if the local supermarket had a lime, I would have chopped up lots of cherry tomatoes, sliced spring onions and squeezed a wedge of lime, to make my own salsa...but like I said this was a bit of a brand-blow-out meal.)

Final tip, I piled up the Tortilla wraps on a big plate and microwaved them for one minute, to make them floppy and warm, ready to be filled up and munched. If you have a bit more time, you could layer them between baking paper and put them in the oven to warm, and crisp, up instead.