berry crumble, charity, community events, cooking group, corn bread, dorset apple sponge cake, film nights, healthy eating cooking group, homemade guacamole, lentil, lentil ragu, mushroom and quinoa ragu, north london cares, Oldfield Eats, primrose hill, sheltered housing, social isolation, soda bread, sweet potato Moroccan stew, tomato coconut curry, Vegetarian recipes, veggie bean burgers, veggie bean chili, volunteering
It’s been a while since I posted a recipe (November eek!) so I thought it was time to get back in the kitchen and start thinking about what could make a tasty meal again!
This recipe was inspired by a group I’ve been involved with since October, which is known as Oldfield Eats and is a project run by North London Cares, a wonderful charity that aims to tackle isolation and loneliness in over 65’s who live in Camden and Islington. I joined North London Cares as a volunteer back in December 2015 and have loved being involved in a variety of the different projects they run from film nights, pamper afternoons and now a cooking group.
I had been wanting to set up a food pop up group for some time and wasn’t sure what my plans were last year with living situation so kept putting it off however I saw a post on the North London Cares website about being an organiser and running one of the groups and thought that sounded like a lot of fun! My initial idea that I pitched was to do a sort of pot luck event where volunteers and members of the community each cook a small dish and then bring it to share with each other however it just so happened that North London Cares were thinking about running a healthy eating cooking group once a month at Oldfield Estate, sheltered housing accommodation just next to Primrose Hill, and were looking for someone to help run that. I loved the idea so it was an easy decision to get involved with the project and since we started it has been so much fun.
Each month, Helena, who works for NLC and I come up with a recipe that we think will work well, usually a starter and a main or a main and dessert. We then meet bright and early on the first Sunday of every month and do a big shop in Morrisons before meeting the other volunteers, tenants at Oldfield and members of the community who have signed up to come along.
The session runs from 11.30 – 2.30 and everyone pretty much gets stuck in prepping food, making tea, cooking it all in the kitchen and then dishing it out and enjoying the meal together.
I’m not a vegetarian but have actually found myself cooking more vegetarian dishes since getting involved in the project as I have loved all the recipes we have made. So far we have done a Sweet Potato Moroccan Stew with Soda Bread, a Veggie Bean Chili with Homemade Guacamole and Corn Bread, Veggie Bean Burgers with a Berry Crumble and this month we made with a Tomato Coconut Curry followed by a Dorset Apple Sponge Cake (nobody could stop picking at this!).
Therefore sticking with the vegetarian theme whilst also seeing what ingredients I had left in the flat I discovered this lentil, quinoa and mushroom ragu recipe. Not only is it healthy and pretty tasty, it’s very easy to make too. Another good thing is that, like when cooking at Oldfield, you can make it in bulk meaning less cooking for the rest of the week and saving money on lunches at the same time too. A definite winner!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped and peeled
- 2 peppers (red, green or yellow), diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 200g chopped or sliced mushrooms
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 150g lentils
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tbsps tomato puree
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lemon
- In a large pot heat the olive oil for a minute or so, on medium heat, then add the onion and cook it until soft, approx. 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and pepper with a pinch of salt and stir occasionally until the pepper is tender.
3. Add the mushrooms, lentils, vegetable stock, oregano, basil and tomato puree.
4. Cover and let cook for approx 20 min. over low heat. Check every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t boil.
5. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa under cold water then place it in a medium sized saucepan and add double the amount of water and half a teaspoon of salt.
6. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil.
7. Reduce to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender and the liquid is absorbed.
8. Once absorbed fluff it up with a fork then add salt, pepper and the juice of half a lemon
9. Mix the quinoa in with the other ingredients and serve up.