Homemade: The Weekend (shakshuka/smoky orange soup/chocolate orange hot cross buns/pasta with spinach and feta pesto)

The weekend. Some of us are raring to go and some of us simply want to crash on the sofa. I think these recipes will satisfy the both. Shakshuka, Smoky Orange Soup and Pasta with Spinach and Feta Pesto are all simply but delicious meals which gives us plenty of energy for the weekend ahead whilst allowing us to crash on the sofa – brilliant no? The Hot Cross Buns are slightly more complicated but for any weekend baker they are a dream and it’s Easter so why not try these beauties? These are all recipes I love and make fairly regularly so these have been tried and tested countless times. Give them a go one weekend and see how much you enjoy getting all these veggies into your diet.

Shakshuka

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Shakshuka is one of those meals I can eat anytime of day. Breakfast, lunch or dinner: it doesn’t discriminate. However, it is a hearty, simple breakfast dish for any weekend when you fancy something a bit different than your usual boring weekday breakfast. It contains eggs unfortunately for vegans but you can simply omit the eggs and add some fried tofu or tempeh for a bit of protein. It will be equally as delicious.

Serves 2

1 red onion, diced
2 red peppers, diced
A large handful of kale, shredded
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
4 eggs (or tofu/tempeh for vegans)
Black pepper and salt

To serve
A large dollop of hummus of choice

1. Fry the onion and pepper in a pan for 5-10 minutes.
2. Add the cumin and paprika and fry for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the kale and cook until wilted.
4. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and cook over a medium heat until bubbling. Season to taste.
5. Crack in the eggs, cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
6. Serve with hummus and enjoy!

Smoky Orange Soup

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This soup is a thick, creamy soup like no other. It’s one of my favourite recipes I’ve ever made and it’s so versatile. I’ve cooked it one day for lunch and for the next day heated it up and used it as a pasta sauce. The bright orange hue always makes me feel happy and then combined with the flavour – it’s perfect. Definitely worth a try as a nourishing weekend lunch.

Serves 3
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (or 180 fan oven)

1 butternut squash, cubed (I leave the skin on but if your blender isn’t very powerful take the skin off)
2 red peppers, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 red chilli, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 x 400g tin coconut milk
1 tsp stock powder
1/2 tsp honey
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper and salt

1. Roast the vegetables, garlic and chilli in a tin covered with oil, paprika, salt and pepper for 20 – 30 minutes or until tender.
2. Add these to a blender alongside the rest of the ingredients. Blitz.
3. Pour into a saucepan and heat until bubbling (if the soup is too thick for your liking then add water).

Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns with Vegan Marzipan

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So, I know these are a bit late in terms of Easter but why should Hot Cross Buns be only wheeled out once a year? They are so much better than that. This recipe is more complicated and hands on than most of my recipes but it’s worth it. It’s perfect for anyone who likes to spend their weekends baking. The chocolate orange flavour really compliment these especially alongside the vegan marzipan – it’s delicious.

Makes 12 buns

500g spelt flour (I use a ratio of 60:40 of wholemeal to white but you can use just wholemeal or just white, or replace with normal wholemeal flour)
300ml plant milk (I use oatly)
1 tsp salt
75g coconut sugar, or brown sugar
50g coconut oil, or butter
7g sachet fast-action yeast
1 egg, beaten (or for vegans, use 1 flax egg)
75g dark chocolate (I use vivani), chopped
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1 tsp cinnamon
200g ground almonds
175g medjool dates (you can use other varieties of dates but I found the marzipan goes a darker colour)
1 and 1/2 tsp almond essence
1 tbsp maple syrup

1. Bring the milk to the boil, turn off the heat and add the coconut oil and allow to melt. Let this cool to hand temperature.
2. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl and mix. Create a well in the centre and pour in the milk. Add the beaten egg.
3. Throughly mix this all together until a dough is formed. Tip this out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes.
4. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel or oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour.
5. Once proved, pour the chocolate, zest, juice and cinnamon into the bowl with the dough. Knead in the bowl until everything is throughly distributed. Leave to prove for another hour.
6. Take the dough and divide into 12 equal balls. Place these balls onto lined baking trays with enough space in between each bun. Leave to prove for another hour and preheat the oven to 190 degrees (or 170 fan oven).
7. Put the almonds and dates in a food processor and blitz until crumbly.
8. Add the maple syrup and almond essence and blitz until a ball forms.
9. Stick all the marzipan together in your hands and roll out with a rolling pin. Cut into 24 strips for the crosses.
10. Place the buns in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out and carefully place on the crosses and put them back in the oven for 5 minutes.
11. Remove and allow to cool before tucking in.

Pasta with Spinach and Feta Pesto

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This meal is a simple dish to whip up in 15 to 20 minutes. I love how easy it is in all honesty. It’s a good dish to have on a weekend when you’re home alone and can’t be bothered to cook for hours on end. It’s tasty and nourishing but doesn’t break the bank or consume hours of time. It’s a good meal for any day of the week really. This is a basic pesto recipe but the great part about it is you can adapt it however you’d like. You just need leaves, nuts/seeds and an acid. Vegans, you can simply remove the feta as it still tastes great without it or add 1/2 an avocado to add some creaminess.

Serves four

200g spinach
100g almonds
100ml olive oil
100g feta (or half an avocado)
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp dried chillies (optional)
Salt and pepper
300g dried pasta of choice (I use wholemeal or chickpea or lentil)

1. Bring water to the boil in a pan and add the pasta.
2. Blitz together the spinach, oil, almonds, feta, lemon, chillies and salt and pepper.
3. Drain the pasta when cooked and pour back into the saucepan.
4. Pour over the pesto and stir through.
5. Serve with some crumbled feta.

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