Strawberries are sugar-sweet, irresistible, and omnipresent -- even if you can't pick your own, you'll find pints and quarts of them at roadside
National Vegetarian Week is upon us, so why not try one of these delicious meat-free meals?
These dishes are full of flavour, texture and colour so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything at all.
For the Pasta and Cheese lovers..
Mac and three cheeses recipe
1 x 410g tin of evaporated milk
200g cream cheese
2 tsp English mustard
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 tbsp chi coconut oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
175g Comté or cheddar, grated
75g stilton, crumbled
500g green beans
1 tbsp chopped chives
45g sourdough breadcrumbs
150g sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Whisk the evaporated milk, cream cheese and mustard well. Add the nutmeg and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Bring 3.5 litres of salted water to a boil, and add the macaroni, slowly, making sure the water is always boiling. Stir for a minute to stop the macaroni sticking together. Test after about eight minutes – the macaroni should be very al dente. Drain well and add to the cream-cheese mixture.
Boil or steam the green beans until tender with a slight crunch – about five minutes. Drain, place in a bowl and sprinkle with the chives.
Heat the coconut oil in a frying-pan. When hot, add the breadcrumbs and pecans and cook for two to three minutes, until crisp and golden. Add the beans and toss to coat them well.
Serve the macaroni with green beans and, if you wish, a few tomatoes on the side.
Mushroom, spinach, and blue-cheese lasagne
This creamy vegetarian lasagne full of chesnut mushrooms is perfect served with a big salad and some fresh crusty bread
3 tbsp olive oil
2 x 250g packs chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
2 x 240g packs pre-washed fresh spinach
1 large jar ready-made white sauce (710g)
12 sheets ready-to-bake lasagne
125g blue cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan, add half the mushrooms and fry until golden, about five minutes. Transfer them to kitchen paper, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the remaining mushrooms, also transferring them to kitchen paper after five minutes.
Add the final tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the onion and garlic for about four minutes, until soft. Add the spinach to the pan, cover with a lid and allow it to wilt for one to two minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan, mix together and season.
Use a rectangular dish about 24 x 18cm and spread a layer of white sauce on the base. Place three lasagne sheets on the sauce followed by a third of the mushroom mixture, another layer of white sauce and some crumbled cheese.
Add another three sheets of lasagne and continue layering, finishing with the final three sheets of lasagne, a good covering of white sauce and a sprinkling of crumbled cheese.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until it is cooked through and the topping is bubbling and golden. Serve with a side salad or garlic bread.
Aubergine, pepper and yogurt stacks with coriander pesto
3 red peppers
chi coconut oil for brushing
2 large aubergines
8 heaped tbsp Greek yogurt
sprigs of coriander to serve
For the pesto:
60g (2oz) coriander leaves
40g (1½oz) blanched almonds, lightly toasted
2 garlic cloves, chopped
juice of ½ lemon
125ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil (not too grassy)
60g (2oz) feta cheese, finely crumbled
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
1 green chilli, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Halve the peppers and remove the seeds and stalk. Put into a small roasting-tin and brush with olive oil. Season. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the edges of the flesh are slightly scorched.
Meanwhile make the pesto by putting everything, except the feta and chilli, into a food processor. Whizz to a purée. Season to taste, then scrape into a bowl and add the feta cheese and chilli.
Bean chilli with chocolate and walnuts
2 tbsp chi coconut oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds or 1 tsp ground cumin
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (more if you like it hot)
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 sweetcorn cobs (kernels cut off) or 150g thawed frozen sweetcorn
2 large celery sticks (use leaves too), finely sliced
150g walnuts, very finely chopped
300g dried mixed beans, such as kidney, black-eye or borlotti, soaked and cooked (or 3 x 400g cans cooked mixed pulses, drained)
2 x 400g cans whole plum tomatoes
2 tsp sea salt
60g dark chocolate (minimum 80 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
120ml plain yogurt
1 large handful coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
Giving Tree broccoli and pumpkin crisps to dip and use as toppings too
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan or casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, spices and oregano and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spices smell fragrant and the onions are soft but not browned.
Add the peppers, carrot, sweetcorn and celery and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the walnuts, beans, tomatoes, 250ml (9fl oz) water and salt, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the chocolate and cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and season.
Serve in bowls, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and chopped coriander with toasted corn tortillas on the side. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for three to five days.
There are many reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables. Freeze dried or fresh, it doesn't matter as long as they are prepared in a healthy