Eating Well with Merchant Gourmet

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merchantgourmetcollage2small.jpeg

Good morning from Cornwall! I'm up bright and breezy (ok, not that breezy), and ready to get this day underway. Like most people, when it gets to this stage in the week I'm wanting quick and easy options for lunch and dinner ... yes, I love cooking but that doesn't mean I don't love a good shortcut too! *Merchant Gourmet have long since been a brand I love so I was pretty thrilled when they asked me to come up with a few ideas using their handy pouches - mainly because I'm obsessed with them already, ha! Having things like ready-made qrains and lentils in your store cupboard is invaluable, in my opinion - especially if you're trying to undertake a new vegan lifestyle and need 'almost instant' meals that pack a nutritional punch. I tried to cover all bases when it came to the recipes I created, which means there's something for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a little sweet offering for afters ... I really think you'll love my Creamed Quinoa Pud with an Easy Blackberry Compote - not least because it take 10mins to rustle up. Now that's what I call fast food.

Another favourite is my Mixed Grain Salad with Roasted Cauliflower & Grapes. And yes, I know 'roasted grapes' sounds, well, weird but something glorious happens those little fruits when you pop 'em in the oven - it's now my favourite way to serve/eat them. The mixed grains are so nutty and satisfying too, this is a lunch that will really power you through to dinner. For the breakfast fiends amongst you I've hit a home-run (even if I do say so myself) in the form of my Choco Chai Quinoa Bowl - no word of a lie, this dish is beyond delicious and has quickly become my go-to quinoa porridge recipe. If you're sick of oats and want to keep things interesting in the morning, this is definitely the recipe for you.

In keeping with the 'handy vibe' I tried to keep the prep time to an absolute minimum, which means they all can be made in 30mins or under ... my kinda cooking! Other than soaking the cashews overnight (and quite honestly, what vegan doesn't have some soaked cashews on the go?) the Beluga Lentil Dip can be made in seconds - literally. Whether you have a high speed blender or regular food processor , this little beauty is your pre-dinner party 'drinks 'n' nibbles' saviour . Simply chop up some crudites and leave your guests to munch whilst you finish up the main - and if you're lucky enough to have any leftovers then why not spread it on some toast for a super tasty snack.

Speaking of mains though, spelt is a brilliant alternative to rice when it comes to making risotto (a personal comfort food fav) because it's super robust and really absorbs all the flavours in the pan - my advice is to go large on the garlic front and don't even think about omitting that coconut cream! I also added a little vegan parmesan because I am obsessed with the stuff and it goes so ridiculously well with the aforementioned Creamy Spelt & Mushroom Risotto ... otherwise a dusting of nooch (nutritional yeast) will do an equally good job of finishing off the dish.

Have I forgotten anything?! Oh yes. Poached peppers. Sounds odd but is actually a terrific little cooking hack that'll save you about 45 minutes in the kitchen ... aha, now you're listening! Instead of stuffing and roasting those suckers, I halved and poached them in a large pot of boiling water before stuffing them with Merchant Gourmet's epic Indian Flavoured Grains. Et voila ... Stuffed Poached Peppers a go-go. In all honesty, these grains don't really need any additional tarting up, however, I did pan fry them with some spring onion and stirred through a handful of raisins because, you know, texture. The 'coconut & mint' dressing is actually what brings the whole harmonious dish together though ... and all of that in under 15 minutes. I'll take those high fives now please.

*This is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are my own