Recipe: Roast pepper and olive tapenade tart

Maybe it’s because I did a lot of cycling today (and it was so windy in London so my thighs were working extra hard) but I’ve been craving olives all day.

Olives are my popcorn. I could, and do, eat them by the handful. Black and wizened or fat, green olives, as large and acidic as unripe apples.

But eating olives out of the jar is a really unappealing habit (or so I’m told) so this Saturday evening, with some free time, I made an olive tapenade (minus anchovies!) and spread it on pastry.

It’s baking in the oven and the whole house smells delicious. Sam keeps wandering in and poking his head round the door to ask if it’s ready yet (and to check I haven’t licked the bowl I made the tapenade in clean). He’s thoughtful like that.

Update: tart was fabulous, especially with the sweet peppers and salty olive combo. It’s also so quick to make, and great with a simple side salad.

Hope you’re all having a lovely Saturday!



A cup of green or black olives, pitted

Two cloves of garlic

A squeeze of lemon juice

A glug of oil

Half a red chilli





Roll vegan pastry

Four mixed peppers

One red onion

Olive oil

Balsamic vinagar

Salt and pepper


Slice peppers and onion and put in baking tray. Cover with olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic. Season. Cook for 20 minutes or until roasted.

Roll out pastry to fit the tray. Cover tray with light layer of olive oil and blind bake for ten minutes at 180 degrees.

Spread tart with tapenade and pop in the oven for another few minutes.

Scatter the vegetables over the tart and cook for another ten minutes or until crispy.

Serve with olive oil drizzle.


California inspired salad: pink grapefruit, kale and avocado


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Disastrously, the only salad picture we got was from a distance!! Sam eating salad in Zion NP

Ok, so the combination of ingredients might not immediately jump out at you as the most delicious combinations of vegetables and fruits you’ve encountered. But trust me, once you’ve put all these together you’ll be in heaven. This salad was so good that I made it eight more times while I was in America. That’s right, EIGHT more times. This includes mixing together all the ingredients in the dark in Zion National Park after we’d just arrived in the campsite and had forgotten our camping lantern.

Another time I sliced open my thumb hacking at an underipe avocado in the Grand Canyon Mather Campground (also in the dark) in my hurry to slice all these ingredients up. The most memorable of these salad making escapades was probably in a Quality Inn motel just outside Flagstaff where my partner and I had just hiked to the top of Humphrey’s Point (12000ft+) and were just dying. I prepared the salad in a massive washing up bowl, sprawled on the bed, feet up, while watching Big Bang Theory.

Seriously, this is a salad that will carry you through any situation. Best of all, none of the ingredients need to be cooked, although a handful of oven-roasted almonds could only add to the dish.

I’ll stop droning on and give you the ingredients now, shall I? Just a hint: the wonderfulness of this dish really helps if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby and can buy the spicy peanut vinaigrette. If not, then I’ll also give you a nice little vinaigrette recipe that works wonders!

And, best of all, because my photographs of the salad itself are so lacking, and you only have Sam’s rapturous face to carry through your belief that this is in fact the best salad you’ve ever eaten, below are a range of images from Zion NP. Because it was pretty.


A handful of Kale, shredded

A head of Romaine

Finely diced red onion

Two fresh, ripe avocados

One pink grapefruit cut into chunks

(If more crunch desired, add some almonds)

Spicy peanut vinaigrette dressing (Mix a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter with a dash of soy sauce, rice-wine vinegar, chili flakes, a pinch of brown sugar and two tablespoons of whatever oil you have around. Vegetable is probably best. Beat it all together until it’s a smooth liquid with the consistency of a soy milkshake.)



Literally, just mix everything together and slather in dressing. Serve with crunchy bread if desired, but I don’t think it needs even that. Maybe some crouton would be delicious with this, but the avocado is filling enough in my opinion.


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Top veggie sunday lunch, by Scrooge



Serve from the tin. It collapses a little otherwise!

I quit Christmas dinner as soon as I could say ‘roast potatoes’. I hate it. For me, it represents not a happy, wonderful family afternoon feast, but a lesson in greed and excess. Call me scrooge, I can take it. Christmas is too commercialised, and I shy away from it as much as it is socially possible to.

I used to spend my Christmas’ volunteering at HARC (Sheffield’s Homeless and Rootless Christmas Shelter), singing as a chorister or working as a waitress. I relished having an excuse not to have to “do” Christmas. I’m sure this is will change when I have my own children, but right now, oh God no.

So, in an attempt to stimulate the Christmas feeling, I decided to bake my boyfriend and I a typical, traditional, vegetarian christmas dinner for a sunday lunch. It didn’t work. I feel less Christmassy than ever, but I had a pretty decent slab of nut roast to last me through the week.

What’s great about the nut roast recipe below is that it’s really tasty. Blandness is often the biggest and saddest problem when it comes to making a nut-roast.

Going to hope christmas dinner is off this year and we just have ice cream sundae’s to get us through the day.

Fake Christmas Dinner menu

Nut lentil loaf made with diced peppers and carrots and cumin

Potatoes tossed in flour and oil and then baked until crispy and roasty

Kale. Steamed for just a few minutes.

Nut Roast recipe:

Add a chopped up onion, carrot, pepper and garlic to a pan. Add a desertspoon of cumin, some corainder powder and dash of turmeric. If you want, add a shake of chilli powder. Add lots of salt and pepper.

Add a tsp of stock powder, some chopped up fresh tomatoes, a glug of red wine and two handfuls of green (puy or orange are fine) lentils. Add a handful of finely chopped peanuts or walnuts.

Add a drop of water to cook the lentils through, put a lid on and cook until soft (an hour). Add a handful or GF flour and stir it so it’s almost a paste. I also added an egg to make sure it binded together, but orgran or some other egg substitute I’m sure is ideal.

Tip into a greased loaf tin and pop into a pre-heated oven at around 180 degrees C. Cook for about 40 minutes.


My warming, spicy dal-stew


This isn’t a very appetising photograph, so to make up for it, I’ve also added a picture of my 11 week old kitten underneath


Neko, sleeping on the chair behind me while I was writing

This dish is a bastardisation of a variety of different cultures, I’m sure. It doesn’t promise to be authentic to either South Indian cuisine, or 1960’s vegetarian hippy cuisine, but it does hit the spot very nicely when London’s weather threatens to drop below -4 degrees Celsius. Jesus, London, won’t you brighten up a little?

I find as it gets colder, I get hungrier, and there’s nothing worse than being fat, pale and cold. So I like to make something that tastes good, but also something that fills me up so if I’m still peckish I can eat more of it and not worry too much about it. Luckily, with the lentils, a bowlful of this will usually do me just fine. Add rice or a naan bread, and you’re going to be full beyond belief. Like I said, the perfect winter warmer, just made for eating and then crawling under a thick fleece rug to hibernate somewhere. You’re welcome. 



Thumb of fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves

1 mouse-shit spicy green chilli

Whatever spices you have to hand. I use a teaspoon of cumin, garam masala, turmeric, ginger, ground corriander seeds and cinnamon

1 onion

1 big carrot

Whatever other veggies you have to hand-I find green beans and courgettes work well

1 can of tomatoes

1 can of coconut milk

A big handful of split peas and a big handful of lentils (your choice what colour. If no split peas, add more lentils)

(if you have it, a handful of fresh coriander and some pumpkin seeds crisped up with soy sauce)

Mango chutney if the feeling takes you



Heat a little oil in the bottom of a deep pan and add the chopped up ginger, garlic, chilli, onion and spice mix. Turn the heat down and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. When it dries out, add a splash of cold water to make a kind of spice paste. 

Add the chopped up carrot and other veggies. Stir and then add the can of tomatoes and can of coconut milk. Mix and then add the lentils and split peas. 

Add 200ml more of water-the lentils will absorb a lot. Bring it to the boil, then turn the heat right down and leave it to simmer. The joy of this is that it works as a slow-cooker dish, or it will be ready in just 20 minutes depending on how hungry you are. I usually leave mine for an hour, just because the flavours all mix together wonderfully.

Just before serving, fry up a handful of pumpkin seeds with a splash of soy sauce so they become crisp and sticky. Keep moving them around the pan so they don’t stick. 

Serve hot, scatter a handful of fresh coriander, a dollop of mango chutney and some pumpkin seeds and stir it all together. Bliss.