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Gruntie’s tangy courgette and aubergine salad [Vegan] NEW !

Grunties Nut Roast and Nut Wellington with Mushroom Gravy [Vegetarian] NEW !

Gruntie’s Baked Potato Mash [Vegetarian] NEW !

Gruntie’s Tarka Daal [Vegan]

Gruntie’s Bengali 5 Spice Red Lentil Daal [Vegan]

Gruntie’s Bhindi Bhaji [Vegan]

Gruntie’s Chickpea and Spinach Curry [Vegan]

Gruntie’s Mushroom and Blue Cheese Risotto [Vegetarian]

Gruntie’s colourful Artichokey Pasta [Vegan] NEW !

Gruntie’s quick and easy Stuffed Pasta in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce. [Vegetarian]

Gruntie’s tangy courgette and aubergine salad 

This is the pefect summer salad to have al fresco, served with couscous and a cold glass or two of sauvignon blanc.

Ingredients: This should feed 3- 4 peepses as a side salad- One courgette, one small aubergine, one red onion, 6 or more cloves of garlic, a small handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander [you can substitute fresh basil which works really well], the juice of half a fresh lime, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and optional- a few slices of a plump red chilli.

Method: Cut the courgette into slices and then cut the slices in half, do the same to the aubergine. Cut the onion into quarters and then arrange the vegetables on a couple of baking trays with a few whole cloves of garlic [leave the skin on]. Drizzle olive oil over them and season liberally with salt and pepper. Shove in a hot oven for about 20-30 mins, after about 10-15 minutes turn the veg over on the tray and return to the oven until they are cooked and a little bit charred.

You can also do this on a barbie which is extra yum- I spear the garlic and onion onto skewers and cut the veg into long tongues to stop them falling through the grill onto the coals.

While the vegetables are cooking, make a vinegrette by combining a couple of squished cloves of garlic with a healthy slug of olive oil and the lime juice. when the vegetables are nicely charred take them out of the oven and put them in a good sized bowl, drizzle over the dressing, throw in the chilli slices and the chopped coriander and give it a good stir, season as required and then devour. Don’t forget the wine!

Gruntie’s Nut Roast

This recipe is so yummy that even meat eaters devour it on sight. It’s nearly but not quite vegan [it has one egg to bind it] but it’s possible it may bind without the egg if you squish it together hard but I have not tried it yet. Oops ! It also has some butter in it, but you can substitute oil for this if you want.

Ingredients: This should feed up to 6 peepses as part of a roast dinner – One onion, one stick of celery, one small carrot, a couple of cloves of garlic, one red pepper, 150g of mushrooms, 120gms of breadrumbs, 100gms of green continental or puy lentils, 160 gms of roughly chopped mixed nuts [I use brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts], some freshly chopped parsley, teaspoon of smoked paprika, one teaspoon of tomato puree, one eggy, 500ml of vegetable stock, salt and pepper, a healthy dash of olive oil and a knob of butter.

Method: Rinse the lentils and then cook in the stock according to the pack instructions. It will probably need to boil for around 10 minutes and then simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Then drain them and put to one side. Blend the onion, celery and the garlic for a couple of seconds until they are roughly chopped and cook it gently in the oil and butter in a fair sized saucepan for a few minutes. Roughly mince the carrot, red pepper and mushrooms and add them to the pan and give it a stir and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. This may take around 20 minutes or so, you may need to stir it on occasion to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Squirt in a small amount of tomato puree – not too much as it makes the nut roast too sweet, then stir in the breadcrumbs, the chopped nuts, plenty of pepper, some salt, the chopped parsley and the paprika. The mix should be pretty dry. You can taste it at this stage and adjust seasoning. Add the egg into the mix and stir it well to bind it all together. Pour and press the whole lot into a 1.5 litre loaf tin which you have greased and lined with baking parchment. Make sure the parchment overhangs the tin as it helps when removing it when it has been baked. You can allow it to cool if you want before baking it in the oven at 1800C for about 50 minutes – 1 hour. I tend to have it covered in tin foil for the first 20 minutes or so. You want the cooked nut roast to be nicely browned on the top. When it is cooked remove it carefully from the tin and cut it into slices. Serve with veggies of your choice and Yorkshire pud and Gruntie’s Mushroom Gravy [see recipe below]. If you have any left over it freezes very well.

Gruntie’s Nut Wellington

The Nut Roast recipe above can also be used to make a lovely Nut Wellington which is basically the cooked nut roast encased in pastry on a bed of Mushroom Duxelles and baked in the oven.

Ingredients: To feed around 6 peepses – One quantity of baked nut roast which has cooled [see recipe above]. A sheet of shop bought puff pastry to cover the nut roast. For the Duxelles– 150 gms of mushrooms, a small onion, some butter or oil, some salt and pepper. Optional – a crushed clove of garlic and some grated nutmeg. Some milk to glaze the pastry.

Method: Whizz the mushrooms and onion in a blender until it is very finely chopped. Gently cook this in a saucepan with the oil and butter until most of the liquid has evaporated. This should take around 20- 30 minutes. Stir it on accasion as it cooks. The end result should be a dark paste. Add seasoning and put to one side to cool. I don’t like the Duxelles to cover the whole roast, I like it just on the bottom. Spread the Duxelles onto the middle of the pastry sheet to match the shape and size of the baked nut roast, then carefully place the cooked nut roast on top of the Duxelles. Pull the pastry around the nut roast and use milk or water] to join the edges. Make creative patterns on the top, glaze with milk and bake it in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely browned. This may take around 30 – 40 minutes. Then cut it into sections and serve. In the picture above you can see an individual Nut Wellington- not the whole thing. If you want a gravy- see Gruntie’s Mushroom Gravy recipe below.

Gruntie’s Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients: 200 gms of finely chopped mushrooms – [I whizz them in a blender], handful of dried mushrooms, 300ml of vegetable stock, a glass [or two] of red wine, a knob of butter and some oil, a finely small onion or a couple of shallots, one garlic clove finely chopped or squished, a dash or two of soy sauce, ground pepper, some flour to thicken the gravy. Optional – a dash of Worcester Sauce,

Method: Soak the dried mushrooms in a mug of hot water for about 20 minutes. In the meantime gently sweat the onion and garlic in the oil and butter for about 10 minutes making sure it does not catch or burn. Stir in the finely chopped mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so then add the vegetable stock and the wine and gently simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Add the soaked dried mushrooms and the liquid from the dried mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes [ish]. As the liquid can be a bit gritty I strain it into the pan to remove any gritty bits. Give the gravy a taste, you can adjust seasoning at this stage and add the soy sauce. It may need more wine or a dash of Worcester sauce if you feel it has room for improvement. If you are happy with it strain the whole lot into another saucepan to remove all of the mushroom, garlic and onion as it’s nice to have a smooth gravy. Squeeze as much of the liquid through the sieve that you can. Reheat the gravy and thicken it with some flour if you want and set aside until you need it. Then reheat it when required.

Gruntie’s Baked Potato Mash

Leashia is not a huge fan of mashed taters but they go so well with certain fishy recipes and meaty stews. The mashed potato we had in Norway and Iceland was amazing but Leashia still was not smitten. I think she prefers something with more texture. So mash potato baked in the oven with a crispy top keeps her happy.

Ingrdients: To feed 2-3 peepses- 2 large white taters, one sweet potato, a knob of butter, dash of milk, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and some salt, some grated mature cheddar.

Method: Cut the taters into chunks and boil them in salted water until they are soft [but not falling apart]. I add the sweet potatoes at the same time but cut them into slightly bigger chunks as they cook quite quickly. Drain them, making sure all the water is gone and add them back to the saucepan and then mash until your arm aches. When you have achieved a nice consistency with no lumps, add the butter, the dash of milk, pepper and mash for another minute with your achey arm. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning if you think it needs anything. You could add some chopped parsley or a teaspoon of horseradish at this stage if you want. Scrape the mash into a pot that you have greased with some butter [so it does not stick]. Fluff the top with a fork and then add the grated cheddar. Cook in a moderate oven until the top is crispy which should take around half an hour. Then serve it as an accompaniment to fish or whatever you fancy.

Gruntie’s Tarka Daal

I like this delicious daal as a side dish with a main curry but you can have it as a main meal with rice if you want.

Ingredients: 300g red lentils, 1 litre of water or veggie stock [non veggies – chicken stock works very well], 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic, a couple of chopped red or green chillis, small piece of fresh ginger, 2 or 3 finely chopped large tomatoes – skin removed [or use half a tin], a dash of vegetable oil and a knob of butter, a teaspoon of ground cumin, half a teaspoon of ground coriander, a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of garam masala, handful of fresh coriander, a generous pinch or two of salt. Optional – a pinch of asafoetida, a few curry leaves, a handful of finely chopped spinach.

Method: In a large saucepan, cook the lentils with the turmeric and ground coriander in the stock until soft [around 20 mins or so]. While this is cooking whizz together the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and gently fry [in another pan] with the oil and butter for a few minutes until the onions start to brown. Stir the onion mixture into the cooked lentils along with the ground cumin and asafoetida. Throw in the tomatoes with the curry leaves and salt. Mix it all together and allow to simmer and reduce for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking. You can add more water if required at this stage. Finally throw in the fresh coriander and chopped spinach and garam masala, simmer for a few more minutes and there you have it. Adjust seasoning as you desire and serve decorated with fresh coriander sprinkles. You can allow the daal to cool and reheat it when required. The daal also freezes rather well.

Gruntie’s Bengali 5 Spice Red Lentil Daal

Another daal? YAY ! It’s quite different to a Tarka daal and just as delicious.

Ingredients: This should feed 4 peeps as a main dish- 12 fl oz of red lentils, [I pop them in a measuring jug] a couple of pints of water, a few dried birds eye chillis, teaspoon of turmeric, some oil [or ghee], a tin of chopped tomatoes [or use fresh], one large onion, an inch of fresh ginger, 3-4 gloves of garlic. You need to blend the following spices to make a seasoning called Panch Phoron– a teaspoon each of: cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, dark mustard seeds, black onion seeds and one whole star anise. Salt and pepper. Optional [to add at the very end] – extra chilli powder, garam masala.

Method: Rinse the lentils in a sieve and then bring them to a boil in the water with the turmeric and some salt. Then simmer for about half an hour partially covered. While this is cooking blend the onions with the tomatoes, ginger and garlic and then cook gently in another pan with the oil and dried chillis for about 20 minutes. You need to stir the mix to keep it from sticking, you can add water if it’s too gooey. Add this mixture to the cooked lentils and stir it thoroughly and cook on a lowish heat for another 10 minutes or so. Heat some oil in a small pan and add the Panch Phoron spice mix. Stir it well and cook for about 30 seconds and then add this to the daal. Taste the daal and add salt and pepper and chilli powder if you want. I sometimes throw in a teaspoon of garam masala at this point and simmer for another few minutes before serving. I like my daal to be fairly thick but the consistency is up to you – add more water if you like a thinner daal. Serve with basmati rice.

Gruntie’s Bhindi Bhaji

This is quick and easy. I like mine to be mild but aromatic, it accompanies a curry really well.

Ingredients: To serve 4 peeps as a side dish [or 2 – 3 as a main] – 500 g of okra, 1 small onion roughly chopped, 3 or 4 ripe tomatoes skinned and chopped, one clove of finely chopped garlic, half a teaspoon of ground cumin, half a teaspoon of ground coriander, half a teaspoon of turmeric, small stick of cinnamon, a sprinkle of chilli powder, salt and pepper, veg oil.

Method: Lightly fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes in a medium sized saucepan and then throw in the spices and seasonings. Give it a stir and allow to simmer for another minute before adding the tomatoes and let it simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring on occasion. Give the okra a rinse, top and tail them and cut them into 1 inch pieces before adding them to the pan. Stir the okra gently into the spicy tomato mixture, partially cover and simmer for a final 10 minutes or so. You can add a splash of water if the mixture is drying out too much. If the okra is a bit slimy it needs a few more minutes cooking. Serve with rice or as a side dish.

Gruntie’s Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This recipe does seem to have a lot of ingredients, but don’t let that put you off, it’s not complicatified! I like it to be aromatic so I add loads of fresh coriander. And it’s vegan innit!

Ingredients: To feed 4 peeps- 2 cans of drained tins of chick peas, [you can use dried and if you do use half the quantity, but it’s a pain in the arse- all that soaking etc], one large onion roughly chopped, a few cloves of crushed garlic, some veg oil, a stick of cinnamon, a couple of cloves, a few cardomon pods, a small piece of freshly grated ginger [yes, you can use the powder], teaspoon of cumin seeds,and a teaspoon of cumin powder [I like cumin], teaspoon of ground coriander, teaspoon of turmeric, chilli powder to taste, teaspoon of garam masala, tin of chopped tomatoes, a few handfuls of fresh spincach roughly chopped, a handful of fresh coriander finely chopped, salt and pepper.

Method: Heat up the oil, bung in the chopped onions and simmer for a few minutes and then add the garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves, the ginger and the cardamon and continue to cook on a medium heat until the onions and garlic start to brown. Add the rest of the spices- [the cumin seeds and ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper and chilli powder] give it a stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes with an extra glass of water and allow it to simmer and reduce for around 15 mins. Throw in the chick peas and make sure it is well coated with the mixture and then add the spinach and fresh coriander. Mix it all up and simmer, partially covered for another 10 minutes or so. Turn off the heat and let it sit until required. [You can shove it in the fridge to use the next day or freeze it if you want]. Reheat it and add the garam masala, adjust the seasoning and serve with basmati rice sprinkled with some chopped fresh coriander and some mango chutney. Then stuff your face!

Gruntie’s Mushroom and Blue Cheese Risotto

This a bit of a fiddle but not complicated to make. Even peeps who do not like blue cheese love this. I like my risotto to be very cheesy indeed and use a large amount of parmesan and gorgonzola, the quantities given below are more conservative. If you are vegetarian you will need to source vegetarian cheese for this recipe.

Ingredients: To feed 4 peeps- 350 g risotto rice [Arborio or Carnaroli], 40g of dried porcini mushrooms, 250g roughly chopped mushrooms, 1 litre of veg [or chicken] stock, 2 glasses of dry white wine, 1 small red onion roughly chopped, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 100g of grated parmesan [I like it cheesy], a large knob of Gorgonzola piccante cheese, a glug or two of olive oil, a knob of butter, handful of fresh parsley – chopped, a pinch or two of dried [or fresh] thyme, salt and pepper.

Method: Start by soaking the dried mushrooms in some freshly boiled water and leave for 20 minutes. Make up the stock and keep it warm on the hob in a suacepan. Add the porcini liquid to this stock through a sieve [to get rid of any bits]. Then in a heavy based saucepan gently cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes in some olive oil and the butter. I use red onion as it looks attractive in the risotto. Throw in the rice and stir to make sure it’s glistening with the oil and butter then pour in a glass of white wine and let it bubble before stirring in the porcini mushrooms. [The other glass of wine is for you while you cook the risotto!]. Ladle the warm stock into the rice one spoon at a time. Stir after each addition and simmer for about 20 minutes until the rice has softened and all of the stock has been absorbed, [you can add more stock or water if required]. In a third saucepan quickly fry the mushrooms in some oil and then gently stir this into the rice, then add the parmesan and some of the chopped parsley and plenty of ground pepper. Finally stir in the gorgonzola cheese and serve sprinkled with some chopped parsley, adjust the seasoning if needed. As you can see by the photo I like to add a few asparagus spears, a green salad works well on the side too.

Gruntie’s colourful Artichokey Pasta

My daughter Monique introduced me to a simple pasta with mashed artichokes which was yummy but we both agreed it looked rather grey. So I have adapted it and added some colour. A very easy and quick meal to prepare.

Ingredients: To feed 2 peepses- About 160g [ish] of colourful pasta of your choice, a tablespoon of pitted green olives, a tablespoon of pitted black olives, approx 100g of artichokes [I use the antipasti that comes in a jar], a few sun dried tomatoes in oil [from a jar], a tablespoon of capers, a couple of cloves of garlic, a teasppon of dried basil and dried oregano, a few cherry tomatoes, a squirt of tomato puree, fresh herbs for sprinkles [parsley or basil]. loads of greshly ground black pepper and some salt to taste.

Method: Rougly chop the olives, artichokes, capers and sundried tomatoes and set aside. Finely chop the garilc and add it to a saucepan. Tip some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes and/or artichoke jar into the pan and gently fry the garlic for a minute. Then add the ingredients that you have set to one side and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree, the herbs and season and simmer for a further few minutes. Finally throw in the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook until they start to blister. Stir this mixture into freshly cooked drained al dente pasta and serve straight away with herby sprinkles of your choice. It’s lovely served with lots of parmesan cheese on top [not vegan I know].

Gruntie’s quick and easy Stuffed Pasta in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

I used shop bought dried stuffed pasta for this recipe which is hard to get in England for some reason. You can find it in deli’s sometimes but I tend to buy mine in Greece. The vacuum packed semi cooked pasta that you can get in supermarket fridges may be cheap and filling but the texture is revolting, all spongey and slimey – yuk.

Ingredients: To feed 2-3 peeps- 250 g of dried stuffed pasta [cheese, mushroom or spinach stuffed pasta works well], handful of sliced fresh mushrooms, half a finely chopped onion, a finely chopped clove [or 2] of garlic, a couple of ounces of dried mushrooms soaked in hot water, a knob of butter and some olive oil, some chopped parsley, a couple of dollops or cream and/or creme fraiche. Plenty of freshly grated parmesan, salt and pepper.

Method: Cook the stuffed pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente. While this is bubbling, gently fry the onions and garlic in the butter and oil for a few minutes in a suacepan. Drain the dried mushrooms and roughly chop them before adding them to the pan with the fresh mushrooms and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Stir in the cream, loads of grated parmesan and the chopped parsley. I like to add lots of ground black pepper too. Drain the pasta and mix it gently into the sauce. Adjust seasoning and serve with parsley sprinkles and extra parmesan. I like it cheeeesy!

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