Slow Cooker Middle Eastern Stew [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 6
Prep: 30-35mins
Cooking Time: about 4 hrs (*On a high heat setting)
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, colander, large/non-stick frying pan, frying spatula, large measuring jug, slow cooker

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, K & E, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and per serving is low in added sugar, salt and saturated fats. 

Here’s one last quick recipe to take you into the weekend folks (because we just couldn’t help ourselves)! 

Slow cooking is never sexy, far from it, but the proof is definitely in the pudding (or stew in this case)! It’s perfect for producing a final product that is always flavourful, tender and ridiculously easy to prepare (although occasionally this cooking process may take a little more practice and persistence than we would like!). Whether your a student or someone who is just looking to save some time and money- a slow cooker is definitely worth the investment! 🙂

So as we’ve previously mentioned, we love Middle Eastern flavours and combining them with ‘slow cooking’ sounded like a great idea to us! We took a bit of time looking into some different combinations (to our previous M.E recipes!).The result- we came up with this delicious stew that is quickly becoming one of our favourites! Just combine a medley of Middle Eastern spices and flavourings, some traditional and perhaps less or non-traditional ingredients (creamy Charlotte potatoes anyone?!), and you are left with a delicious stew that just keeps tasting better and better as the days go on. 

A few other good things to note include:

  • Preserved lemon paste is cheapish and economical (for us); we can easily adapt it into other recipes so the jar won’t be left to collect ice crystals at the back of our fridge! We think that this lemon note is quite important; if you cannot find it or prefer not to buy it, try experimenting with a little lemon juice and a fair chunk of freshly ground lemon rind instead. 
  • To save time you can buy some harissa paste (like we have), or to save some money you can try making your own; the Kitchn‘s version looks like a great (and tasty!) place to start! 
  • We combined a few spices for our Middle Eastern spice blend, one being a mixed spice mix. Our ‘ground mixed spice mix’ contained: coriander seed, caraway seed, ginger, fennel seed, nutmeg, cloves and turmeric. There are various versions of ‘mixed spice’ but it’s not the same as ‘allspice’.
  • This stew is quite fibrous, but you can always adapt it by using less veggies! Also keep the veggies as chunky or as small as desired (but for cooking ease, try to keep them all as uniform as possible).
  • As the stew’s liquid is at a minimum/bowl, we wouldn’t recommend adding ‘grains’ to it. It does however go very nicely with a small piece of flat bread or pitta! 
  • When looking for crushed sumac berries (it’s also labelled as just ‘ground sumac’). 

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

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NB: Red pepper, mixed spice, oil, frozen ingredients and parsley are not shown here.

Ingredients

+++++++++Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

1. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Wash the bell pepper, remove its stem and core and then chop into ½-1 cm pieces. Wash and roughly chop the potatoes. Wash the aubergine, trim the top and then roughly chop it into bite-sized (or 1″) pieces. Wash the olives and then roughly slice them (if using) .

2. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. Tip: Need to reduce the fat? Use less oil or a low-fat cooking oil spray instead! Add the garlic and onion. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened. Add the bell pepper, potatoes and aubergine. Scatter over the Middle Eastern spice blend (2g of each: Ground Cinnamon, Cumin & Mixed Spice Mix & 3g Crushed Sumac berries). Season it with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to coat in the spices. Gently fry for a further 4-5 mins. Tip: If preferred, you can also cover the pan with a lid to help soften the vegetables.

3. In the meantime, boil 950ml of water in a kettle. Prepare 800ml of vegetable stock according to the packet instructions.

4. Transfer the vegetable mixture into a slow cooker. Place the pan back over the heat. Add 2-3 tbsp of water. Swirl it around to help ‘deglaze‘ the pan. Transfer this liquid into the slow cooker. Add the tin tomatoes, cooked chickpeas, 50g dried cranberries and black olives (if using), 9-14g harissa paste and 10-15g lemon paste. Pour in 800ml vegetable stock and 150ml freshly boiled water. Stir together. Cover with a lid. Cook on a high heat setting for about 4 hours, or on a low heat setting for 7-8 hrs.

5. If preferred, steam or boil the green beans and spinach and then add them to the stew once it’s finishing cooking. Alternatively, snap the green beans into halves. Defrost the beans and spinach. Roughly chop the cubes of spinach into smaller chunks. Add the defrosted beans and spinach into the slow cooker 30 mins before the end of cooking. Cover with a lid. Cook for a further 30-45 mins.

6. Serve warm. Ladle into a large bowl and garnish with a little fresh parsley. Serve with some flat bread or a small pitta (wholemeal, multi-grain or GF- we’ll you decide!)

Enjoy!

Tip: Refrigerate any leftover stew in an air-tight and resealable container; reheat and consume within 3-4 days. This stew is best served ‘warm-hot’ but never boiling. Alternatively, store and freeze; defrost, re-season (if preferred) and reheat within 1-2 months. 

 

Recipe updated: 19/02/16

Persian-Inspired (Jewelled) Rice W/ Tahini Sauce & Baked Falafels [Vegan & Gluten Free]

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Rice Serves: 4
Prep & Cooking Time: 40 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Chopping board, sharp knife, manual juicer (optional), large/non-stick frying pan (with a lid), frying spatula, large bowl, large wooden spoon, measuring jug, fork

Notes: The rice contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and (per serving) is low in salt, sugar and saturated fats! 

Middle-Eastern dishes are just fantastic! With so many great colours, flavours and aromas, how can you not want to replicate some of this magic at home?! So we hope that you’re happy to hear that our Persian-Inspired (jewelled!) rice with homemade tahini sauce ticks all of these boxes!

We paired this rice dish with something that we haven’t had in a while but is certainly worth the effort, our baked ‘green’ falafels! Sometimes store-bought varieties just don’t compare; ours are not dry or greasy, lacking flavour, nor do they comprise of a huge price tag! The only change that we made this time around was using spinach instead of kale. Trying making them a day ahead (as we did), or as part of your weekend meal prep for recipe ease.

Sometimes the more ‘authentic jewelled rice’ recipes can end up being quite pricey, especially if you have to buy all of the ingredients at once! We recommend adapting it to suit your kitchen; choose a few ingredients that you really love and combine with with a great spice blend such as a delicious ras-el hanout and a pinch of turmeric (instead of saffron) to still give your rice a gorgeous golden hue! Top this dish with our delicious homemade tahini sauce or some natural soya yoghurt and you’re good to go!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

Ingredients

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂

 

Directions

Prepare the falafels first! Check out our delicious recipe here. Alternatively you can bake or reheat your favourite store-bought brand!

 

Once the falafels are in the oven, prepare the rice. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Wash, peel, trim the ends and chop the carrot into thin match-stick pieces. Wash the orange; remove all of the zest and juice. Tip: A cheese grater works well for this!  Dice the apricots.

 

Cooking The Rice!

1. Add 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil into a large, non-stick frying pan. Heat it over a medium-low setting. Tip: Alternatively use some low-fat cooking oil spray! 
2. Add the garlic, onion and carrot. Gently fry for 3 mins or until softened.
3. Add your favourite spice blend or all of our recommended seasonings. Stir to coat. Gently fry for 20 seconds or until fragrant.
4. Add the rice and orange zest. Stir to combine.
5. Pour in the orange juice, stock, rose water and agave. Stir to combine. Cover with a lid or a sheet of aluminium foil. Bring to a boil.
6. Simmer and cook for 25 mins or until the rice has absorbed all of the water. Tip: Dependent  upon your brand/type of rice, you might have to add a couple extra tablespoons of water during the cooking process.

 

Remove from the heat. Leave covered until served.

 

In the meantime, prepare the pomegranate, mint and pistachios.

Annoyingly our pomegranate had some mould- silly ASDA!  So we did not get as much of the fruit as we would have liked!  😦

1. Make an approx. ¼ cm cut into the centre of the pomegranate (all the way around). Do not cut all the way through or you will damage the fruit.
2. Carefully grasp both sides and gently pull it apart into two halves.
3. Place one half (fruit side down) into the palm of your hand over a large bowl. Tip: Wear an apron or a dark coloured shirt as the next step can be messy!
4. Firmly hit the back of the fruit with a large wooden spoon or with the back of your other hand to release the fruit. If the pomegranate is ripe enough, a good few bashes should release all of the fruit!
5. Pick any bits of pith out of the bowl and discard them. Repeat steps three, four and five with the other half of the fruit.
6. Wash the mint, remove the leaves from its stem and roughly chop them.

Roughly chop the nuts. Dry-fry (=heat them in a dry frying pan!) and lightly toast them if preferred.

 

Prepare the tahini sauce. Wash and remove the parsley leaves from its stem and then roughly chop them. Juice the lemon. Place the yoghurt, tahini, peanut butter and lemon juice into a measuring jug. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add the parsley and stir though. Taste and season it with salt and/or pepper as necessary.

 

Spoon the cooked rice into a large serving bowl. Garnish with the apricots, pomegranate seeds, mint and pistachios.

 

Top with the falafel and a dollop or two of tahini sauce!

 

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any rice leftovers in a resealable and air-tight container (ideally within an hour after cooking); reheat and consume within 1-2 days. Alternatively you can freeze the rice and/or falafels; defrost and reheat within 1-2 months.

Refrigerate the tahini sauce in an air-tight and resealable container and use within 3-5 days.

Tip: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once. 

(Almost!) Dolma

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 3-4
Prep, Cooking & Assembly: 60 mins
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Large pot, chopping board, sharp knife, manual juicer (optional), large/non-stick frying pan, frying spatula, mixing bowl, serving tray (or dish)

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium and (per serving) is low in salt, sugar and saturated fats!

This recipe doesn’t necessarily need a huge explanation, the name really does says it all!  Traditional dolma is prepared using vine leaves, but we used some spring greens instead… and we were very happy with the end result! Spring greens are cheaper, more easily sourced (particularly because they are in season) and versatile (at least around these parts and in our kitchen!). They are also very nutritious, as we have previously mentioned here!

Traditional recipes also use white rice (sometimes with the addition of meat), currents or raisins and various other ingredients and seasoning’s (region dependent); they are then steamed and served as meze or part of a main dish!

We used wholemeal rice and figs- delicious! If you do not enjoy either, try brown long grain rice and some traditional dried fruits instead. 

We’are always up for a great recipe that uses a combination of grains and dried fruits or a just a dish with a delicious savoury rice on offer! …Check out our: Roasted Stuffed Peppers, Baked Rice , Vegan KoftesRoasted Bell peppers or Vegan Curried Rice recipes!

We went all out and made a mini Middle Eastern/Mediterranean feast (which included our homemade aubergine dip) and some houmous!

So go on, experiment and try this new kitchen challenge- it’s fantastic!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂

 

 

Ingredients

+++++++++++++++++++++++++180g    Wholegrain rice, dried
+++++++++++++++++++++++++400g   Spring Greens
+++++++++++++++++++++++++6g        Garlic clove
+++++++++++++++++++++++++120g     Banana shallots
+++++++++++++++++++++++++100g    Chestnut mushrooms
+++++++++++++++++++++++++60g      Dried figs
+++++++++++++++++++++++++30g      Pine nuts
+++++++++++++++++++++++++6g         Fresh dill
+++++++++++++++++++++++++12g        Fresh Flat leaf parsley
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1            Lemon
+++++++++++++++++++++++++             Low-fat fry spray
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1g          Cumin, and allspice
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2g         Dried mint
+++++++++++++++++++++++++             Salt & Ground black pepper

 

Directions

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Drain and allow to cool.

Ours took 10 mins.

 

 

In the meantime, separate the spring green leaves from its centre. Gently wash them and trim any thick or long ends off the leaves. Peel and finely chop the shallot and the garlic. Wash, dry and dice the mushrooms.

 

 

Dice the figs. Finely chop the nuts. Wash and then zest the lemon.

 

 

Wash and roughly chop the parsley and dill.

 

 

Juice half the lemon (save the other half for later on).

 

 

Heat some low-fat cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat.

 

 

Add the shallot and garlic. Gently fry for 1-2 mins or until softened.

 

 

Add the mushrooms. Fry for a further 2 mins or until softened.

 

 

Meanwhile, place the spring greens into a steamer pot with some water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Steam for 3 mins or until just softened. Once cooked, drain and place them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper. Gently pat dry. (*Skip this step if you are not assembling the dolma’s straight away!).

 

 

Add the cumin, allspice and mint. Stir to coat. Remove from the heat.

 

 

Transfer into a large mixing bowl.

 

 

Add the rice, figs, nuts, lemon zest, parsley, dill and lemon juice.

 

 

Stir and thoroughly mix the ingredients. Season with some salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Store in an air tight and resealable container. Reheat and use later on (if applicable).

 

 

 (Almost!) Dolma Assembly

Place some spring greens onto a flat surface. Pat dry.

 

 

Spoon approx. 3 tbsp of the rice mixture down the centre.

 

 

Fold up the ends.

 

 

Carefully roll the leaf until sealed. Warm and reheat in the a microwave before serving (if applicable/preferred).

 

Place into a large serving tray with a squeeze of lemon juice.

 

 

Serve as part of your meze line-up…

or as part of your Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean based meal!

 

Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in an air tight and resealable container (ideally within an hour after cooking); reheat and consume within 1-2 days.

Tip: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once. 

Aubergine Dip

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 8*
Prep & Cooking Time: 60-80 minutes

Recipe adapted from: All TV Chefs…or in this case, Paul Hollywood!

Notes: This recipe contains: B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and (per serving*) is low in salt, sugar and saturated fats!

Here’s another great dip for summer! Our ‘baba ganoush-style’ dip is delicious; we have referred to it as such because ours is lacking in the ‘smokey taste’ that ‘authentic baba ganoush’ is known for!

Baba ganoush is thick Middle-Eastern dip made from aubergines (a.k.a ‘eggplants’!), that can be enjoyed as part of a Middle-eastern meal and/or with flatbreads, or with wholemeal pitta, bread sticks, crudities, salads or as part of a delicious sandwich or pasta meal!

As this was our first time preparing it, we used one of many recipes available through our favourite search engine! We slightly adjusted the quantities and used puréed garlic instead of fresh, but it still turned out great! 🙂 If you want a ‘smoother/less grainy’ consistency, we’d recommend that you remove the seeds before puréeing the aubergine… although the seeds do not affect the taste!   

 

 

Ingredients:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++780g        Aubergine
+++++++++++++++++++++++++1               Lemon
+++++++++++++++++++++++++                Fresh parsley (*optional; to be used as a garnish)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 30ml      Extra virgin oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++++18g          Garlic paste
+++++++++++++++++++++++++22g          Tahini paste
+++++++++++++++++++++++++                Salt

 

 

Directions:

Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

 

Wash the aubergines. Prick each side gently with a fork. Place them onto the baking tray. When the oven has come up to temperature, place the tray into oven. Bake the aubergines for 30-60 minutes, or until they’re soft and slightly blackened; turn once. NB: If preferred, you can grill the aubergines…as suggested in the original recipe!

 

 

In the meantime, juice the lemon. If applicable, wash, dry and roughly chop some parsley.

 

 

Once, the aubergine’s skin has ‘blackened’ and the flesh is soft, remove it from the oven. Leave it on the tray and allow it to cool slightly.

We baked ours for 50 minutes. NB: Our skins ended up with more of a dark-brown hue rather than a blackened one.

 

 

Once cooled, slice it into halves…

 

 

…spoon out the flesh and discard the skin.

 

 

Place the oil, garlic paste, tahini and lemon juice into a food processor…

 

 

…followed by the aubergine.

 

 

Pulse until creamy and blended together (or until your desired consistency is achieved). Season it with some salt to taste.

 

 

Remove and transfer the dip into a large serving dish (if applicable) or portion out as required. Garnish it with some parsley (if applicable).

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

NB: Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container; stir well before serving and it’s best consumed within 3-4 days. 🙂

Baked ‘Green’ Falafels

Healthy Recipes

Serves: 5-10
Prep & Cooking Time: 70-80 mins

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K protein, fibre, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, has no added sugars and (per serving) is low in added salt, sugar and saturated fats*!

This recipe is an example of how fast/processed foods can be healthy! Authentic recipes can use undesired cooking methods, such as deep or shallow frying; these methods are not ideal to use on a regular basis. Our recipe provides you with a healthier alternative to help keep the fat content to a minimum; which is also why we opt for using a little flour and not excessive amount of tahini to help hold our falafels together. The kale provides a nice and healthy twist (and a lovely shade of green!) for this tasty and popular food.

This delectable Middle Eastern food (traditionally Arab) can be made suitable for all types of diets; traditionally they are made ‘vegan’. These little ‘patties/fritters’ are typically served in a warmed pitta or flatbread with ‘Israeli salad’ or some lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pickles with some houmous, tahini or tabbouleh; cucumber, aubergine, feta cheese, yoghurt and/or tzatziki are also sometimes used. Serving styles can vary as this is now a popular meal/snack in most countries.

NB: Our preparation technique has been seen to alter the texture and flavours slightly (*when compared to authentic cooking methods). However, we think our falafels are still delicious and full of great flavours; reduce the cooking duration slightly if a ‘softer’ falafel is desired.

 

Our kale is busy ‘steaming’ away! NB: If gluten is not of concern, use a plain flour instead. Our drained chickpeas equated to approx. 480grams.

 

Ingredients:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++100g    Kale
+++++++++++++++++++++++++160g    White onion
+++++++++++++++++++++++++8g        Garlic cloves
+++++++++++++++++++++++++40g      Fresh Coriander
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2           Tins Chickpeas (in unsalted water)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++30g      Tahini paste
+++++++++++++++++++++++++10g       Olive oil
+++++++++++++++++++++++++15ml     Water
+++++++++++++++++++++++++4g         Ground cumin
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2g         Dried parsley
+++++++++++++++++++++++++2g         Sweet Paprika
+++++++++++++++++++++++++20g       Rice flour
+++++++++++++++++++++++++              Salt & ground black pepper
+++++++++++++++++++++++++              1kcal Fry Spray (low-fat cooking oil)

 

 

Nutritional info:

NB: Serve 2-4 falafels as part of a healthy meal or have 1-2 as a healthy snack. 

 * Low in saturated fats when 2-4 pieces are consumed (**Based on 20 prepared falafels).

 

Directions:

 Wash the kale. Place it into a steamer pot with some cold water. Steam for 5-8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Rinse under cool water.

 

 

In the meantime, it’s time to start using your food processor…

1. Peel and chop the onion into halves. Peel the garlic. Place the onion into a food processor. Process until minced; add the garlic whilst the processor is still running. Transfer into a large mixing bowl.

2. Wash the coriander. Ripe it into halves. Place it into the food processor. Process until minced. Transfer it into the mixing bowl.

3. Place the cooked kale into the food processor. Process until minced. Transfer into the mixing bowl.

4. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them into the food processor. Add the tahini, oil and water. Process until almost smooth.

 

 

Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper or a silicone mat. Lightly spray it with some low-fat cooking oil.

 

 

In the meantime, assemble the falafels!

1. Transfer the chickpea mixture into the mixing bowl. Add the cumin, parsley, paprika and half the quantity of the flour. Season it with some salt and black pepper to taste.

2. Using a spatula, mix and thoroughly combine the ingredients.

3. Add the remaining flour. Mix to combine.

4. Divide the mixture up.

 

 

Roll the mixture into balls; use lightly floured hands if necessary. Place them onto the baking tray. Repeat this step until all of the mixture is used. Lightly spray them with some low-fat cooking oil.

We created 20 ‘balls’.

 

Gently press down on them to form ‘patties’ (if desired). Place into the oven. Bake for 15 mins; remove and turn once. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F.

Traditional falafels are normally round, but it can depend upon the  utensil used to shape them. 🙂

 

 

Once turned, lightly spray them with some more low-fat cooking oil (if desired). Place back into the oven. Bake for a further 8-10 mins or until lightly browned. Remove. Allow to cool slightly.

 

 

Serve your falafels with some salad and a wholemeal (or GF) pitta, couscous or rice.

We also added some nibbles, along with low-fat houmous and plain/minty soya yoghurt. :D

We also added some nibbles, along with low-fat houmous and plain/minty soya yoghurt. 😀

 

 Enjoy!

 

Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable and air-tight container; consume within 3-4 days. Alternatively, wrap them in kitchen film and freeze in a resealable container; defrost, reheat and consume within 2 months.

 

 

If preferred…

  • Use dried chickpeas; soak over night, drain and cook before preparing the falafels.
  • Try using soya or broad(fava) beans instead of chickpeas.
  • Use some steamed spinach or swiss chard instead of kale.
  • Adapt the flavours and seasoning’s to suit your personal tastes.
  • Serve these lovely falafels with veggies (of course!) and some plain/minty soya yoghurt, tahini dip, tabbouleh or houmous; check out our houmous recipe as a guide!