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Easy peas for one

SIMPLE SPRING SUPPER FOR ONE: spring vegetable quinoa 'risotto'

I'm home alone this week. DS is off being starry at a documentary festival in un-starry sounding Sheffield, leaving me to man the fort in Paris. Being left to my own devices means staying in pyjamas for most of the day and catching up on a few guilty TV pleasures (yes, series thirteen of Grey's Anatomy is DISAPPOINTING). And cooking.

I still cook for myself twice a day, even when I'm home alone. This DOES involve getting dressed to go to the market for supplies, but then I get right back into my PJ's. OK, I'm probably not going to make myself a boeuf bourgignon, but I did make a lovely cauliflower cheese yesterday, for example. Heavy on the garlic.

At moment, it's mostly about peas. The season always seems so fleeting that I try to pod and pop as many as I can while they're good. Plus I can watch said guilty TV while I pod them.

This is a variation of a quinoa 'risotto' - something I make a LOT. So easy and nutritious. See here and here for alternative recipes. You can put in pretty much any vegetables you like, with the option of adding soft cheeses and different herbs. Get creative. This particular recipe is intentionally slightly dryer than usual, which I think keeps the spring veggies in pole position. Ready in 20 minutes and just as easy to make for one person as for a crowd. Just multiply the quantities accordingly.

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Spring vegetable quinoa 'risotto' with caramelised leeks, peas and courgette

Serves 1, takes 20 minutes

spring / summer / main / gluten free / dairy free / vegetarian / vegan / nothing fancy / easy peasy / ready in a jiffy / date night / detox / baby

This is a veggie packed, simple and satisfying supper. The secret here is burning the leeks. Really. I usually forget about them for about thirty seconds too long, meaning they stick to the bottom of the pan. This is the good stuff, and what will give your quinoa a deeper flavour.

* Olive oil - a glug

* Leek - 1 small, finely sliced

* Parsley - a small handful, chopped

* Garlic - 1 clove, finely sliced

* Quinoa - 1/4 cup

* Cider vinegar - 1/2 tsp

* Lemon - juice of 1/4

* Fennel seeds (optional) - 1/4 tsp, ground

* Salt - 1/4 tsp

* Peas - 250g (unpodded weight - a couple of handfuls podded)

* Courgette - half, sliced into thin rounds

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil on quite a high heat. Add the leek with a dash of water, cover and leave for five minutes or so. Meanwhile chop the parsley, and throw the chopped stalks in with the leeks. Keep the leaves for later.

After five minutes the leeks should be nicely browned and probably sticking to the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat to medium. Add the quinoa, garlic, vinegar, lemon, fennel seeds and salt and scrape everything together. Don't worry if the leeks are still sticking. Next add 3/4 cup of water. Everything will sizzle a little, and you'll be able to scrape all the leeky goodness from the bottom of the pan.

Give everything a good stir, then tidy up the pan by scraping down the sides and pressing the quinoa down as much as you can. Cover and leave to simmer for ten minutes.

Add the peas and courgettes to the pan without stirring, so they're sitting on top of the quinoa. Season with a little salt, cover the pan again and leave for another five minutes.

By this time the peas should be cooked through and the quinoa al dente. Add a touch more water and steam for a couple more minutes if things aren't done.

Finally stir in the chopped parsley leaves and mix everything together. Add black pepper and check for salt.

Serve with a whole load of grated parmesan. You could add goat or sheep cheese if you feel so inclined.


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