vegan green lentil dumplings made with rice flour #glutenfree

This recipe is sponsored by my friend who was moving out from the UK and kindly gifted me some food items. There was couple items I never tried before, so I decided to make some experiments and prepare dumplings made of rice flour with green lentil filling.

I found a recipe for rice flour dough somewhere on the internet and it worked quite good, especially for the first attempt. Lots of this kind of recipes usually needs some practice, but this one came out surprisingly well.

Rice flour dough is much different than regular and it requires different method of preparation. But actually it was quite easy to make it. More complicated was trying to stick dumplings together without breaking gentle dough. Rice dough is much less elastic than regular wheat flour dough due to gluten that makes the dough more flexible and easy to work with. So the rice dough is more prone for breaking, what you can see on the photos. But surprisingly I lost only one or two dumplings in the process of cooking. The best thing is not to roll out the dough very thin, make it a bit thicker than regular – there’s less chance that it will break during cooking.

And now the taste. The dough has quite specific texture and taste, it’s not bad at all, but I prefer regular wheat flour dumplings. But if you absolutely cannot eat gluten, definitely you should try this recipe. It may need some practice to perfect it, but it’s definitely worth trying. The filling is really tasty, good enough that my partner wants me to make more green lentil dumplings. Next time also instead of adding sesame oil I will fry some onions and use it as a garnish, because sesame seeds oil was a little bit bitter in this case.

Final opinion: this recipe will stay in my menu for longer, although with wheat flour rather than rice flour dough. The more that green lentils are great source of protein and fibre, and will be a great replacement for meat. Lentils contain more complex carbohydrates and are great source of iron, which is essential for functions such as carrying oxygen to the body, generating energy and accelerating metabolism.

Have you tried rice flour dumplings? Do you have other dumpling dough recipe ideas that I could try?

vegan green lentil dumplings made with rice flour

NOTE: my measuring cup is 250ml regular glass

INGREDIENTS for dough:

  • 1 cup of rice flour plus some for dusting
  • couple tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp natural rock salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 425ml water

INGREDIENTS for filling:

  • about 450g precooked green lentils (I used precooked So Organic lentils from Sainsbury’s)
  • 1 small brown onion
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • couple white mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp thai 7 spice (mix of: cumin, lemon pepper, chilli powder, garlic powder, ginger, mustard seed and cloves)

DIRECTIONS

Start with preparing the dough. It’s much different than regular wheat flour dough, also preparation is much different.

Boil water with salt and olive oil. When water is boiling, switch off the heat and add rice flour, stir it quickly – it will become thick in couple seconds. Sprinkle pastry board with couple tablespoons of cornflour and transfer dough on the board. Let it rest for a while, so you’re not going to burn yourself when kneading.

In the meantime prepare lentil filling. On a non stick pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Chop and fry onion until golden. Peel and chop white mushrooms also add to onion. At the end add precooked lentils (drained from water) and spices. Sprinkle with some salt if needed. Switch off the heat and let it completely cool down.

When dough cooled down start kneading. If necessary, add water or rice flour – the dough should be delicate and a bit sticky. Cover it with foil or kitchen towel and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 parts. Roll out each part previously dusting pastry board with some rice flour. Don’t roll out too thin, because dumplings may break during cooking. Rice flour dough is more delicate and much less elastic, so you have to be quite gentle. Cut out circles using a glass or cookie cutter. Place some filling on each circle and stick the sides together.

In a large pot boil some salted water, when it starts to boil gently put your dumplings, one by one. When they start floating on the top carefully cook for about 5 minutes on a low heat and gently remove using a slotted spoon.

Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. The best are freshly cooked.

homemade scottish oatcakes

Recently I decided to include to my diet some foods I used to eat and really like and see how I feel about them now. With Spring I feel less fancy to eat meat, cheese and other more “heavy” foods. Spring and Summer will be my time to experiment with lighter diet full of veggies, fruits and more healthy carbohydrates. I want to see how I will feel on this kind of “diet”. Now I’m more concious about my body and I can feel what serves me and what doesn’t. Spring and Summer will be the great time to naturally boost all vitamin levels, so my plan is to take advantage of all veggies and fruits that will be available in this season. Expect more veggie and fruit recipes, I’m very excited to make smoothies and salads I will be able to take to work.

One of the food I used to love and eat a lot was porridge oats. Oat flakes is the main Scottish food ingredient, in larger stores you will find whole shelves of various types of porridge, which is a traditional breakfast dish. For about 2 years oats was my favourite breakfast. Thick, warm porridge served with summer fruits, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or nuts and drizzled with honey was my everyday “go to” breakfast. This Spring I will give it a go and test some new porridge recipes to see how I feel about them.

Oats are also an ingredient in many desserts – oatcakes are one of them. And as with any traditional national dish, there are dozens of recipes to prepare them. Before they became sweet treat, they were treated as bread, hence many recipes completely lack sugar (only salt). Many recipes speak of pre-roasting cereal in the oven, I chose the simple and quick version that can be baked when we feel like a little healthier snack. Oatcakes are quite fulfilling, so they make a good snack at work or when you go for a trip.

In general there’s two main types of oats: oat flakes and oatmeal. Oat flakes are the uncooked and unprocessed version of the grain, oatmeal is a processed product. Apart from that you can find many different types of oats. Scottish oats – whole oat groats are stone-ground to create small broken bits of varying sizes. Rolled oats – oats become flakes by being flattened to varying thicknesses between two rollers. Oat groats are the type of oats that take the longest time to cook, they are whole grains oats, dried, cleaned and strip off inedible parts.

For this recipe the best would be more fine Scottish oats or rolled oats. If you have quite thick rolled oats and you’d like to make them more fine, simply use food processor to get smaller bits. I also used muscovado sugar to give my oatcakes more flavour, but you can use any type of sugar or sugar replacement.

Thinner you make them more crispy and light they will become, if you’d like them to be more chewy and fulfilling make them a bit thicker. They will also need couple more minutes in the oven. Oatcakes are really quick and easy to make. And this is very basic and simple version of this recipe, but you can spice them up using other ingredients like: nuts, dried fruits or different spices.

homemade scottish oatcakes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 225g oat flakes or porridge oats
  • 3 tbsp heaped plain flour
  • about 100g butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar (muscovado, brown, coconut or sugar alternative like xylitol)
  • about 60ml hot water

DIRECTIONS

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl: oats, flour, salt, soda and sugar. Add butter and knead until the butter is fully combined with oats. Don’t worry that the oat flakes are still very loose and are unlikely to be formed into cookies.

Next pour a little hot water (it must be hot) and knead again. Now the dough should take shape and it can be easily formed.

Set the oven at 190°C. Spread the baking paper on the baking tray and start forming oatcakes. You can roll the dough and cut circles with a glass or cookie cutter, or like me, form small balls (the size of a large walnut) in our hands and flatten it. You can make cookies smaller or larger, it depends on your preferences. The thickness is important. If they are thin, they will be tender and crumbly after baking. Thicker ones will need more time to bake and will not be as light and crunchy.

Place the cookies on a baking tray and bake them for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Store them in airtight container so that they do not absorb moisture from the air.

seasonal eating – vegetables & fruits – with free calendar

If you think you need expensive and exotic vegetables and fruits or extraordinary superfoods to be healthy, then you are wrong.

Seasonal vegetables and fruits bought locally are a brilliant source of not only delicious taste, but also vitamins, micro elements, freshness and health. And Spring is a perfect time to introduce more vegetables and fruits to your diet. I wanted to prepare a list for myself of vegetables and fruits according to the season, but I thought it will be a great idea for a blog post, so I prepared a vegetable and fruit calendar for you. Availability of all vegetables and fruits in supermarkets all year round made me lose track a bit when it comes to their seasonality. As I currently live in the UK, I chose this country as my fruit and vegetable base. But I encourage you to prepare your own vegetable and fruit calendar for the country you live in.

We have access to fresh vegetables and fruit all year round. Obviously, if you look at the labels lots of these veggies and fruits are grown thousands of miles away from UK. It’s because some of them do not grow in UK at all, like tropical fruits and veggies, others does grow but in different season, like tomatoes in January. But imported vegetables and fruits have one big drawback – in order to survive, they are sprayed with pesticides, which cannot be fully removed, even by washing and scrubbing the plant. This is not the case with seasonal fruit and vegetables, as they are usually grown on nearby farms, so we can be sure that they are fresh, and even if they are sprayed, to a much lesser extent.
In addition, fruit and vegetables from abroad are harvested not fully ripe (so that the banana comes to us yellow, it is picked when it is still green), so they are not fully developed with vitamins and minerals. This takes away their health benefits and makes them less valuable for our body. My friend who lives i Malawi told me once, that bananas that we eat here in UK have absolutely different taste that the one that grow until ripen in Malawi. It’s like completely different fruit. You can easily experience that eating juicy strawberry from your garden in the middle of Summer, and large and beautiful but absolutely tasteless strawberry bought in the supermarket in the middle of Winter.

It’s also worth knowing that vegetables and fruits begin to lose their nutritional value at the time of harvesting and larger amounts of bacteria responsible for spoilage begin to appear. So by eating them as quickly as possible since harvesting, we gain more benefits for our body. Also imported fruits and veggies are more expensive than seasonal ones. They need to be transported many miles before they reach to your local shop.

Transporting such fruit and vegetables leaves behind a huge carbon footprint and a multitude of other pollutants. I’m not saying that we should suddenly stop eating exotic fruits or imported vegetables if we like them. I love vegetables myself and I like to eat them all year round, and it would be difficult for me to only eat root vegetables out of season. However, if we would like to introduce more seasonality into our diet, it is a good idea to start from buying vegetables and fruits in season. A great idea in my opinion is also buying vegetables and fruits from local farmers – such vegetables will not only be much healthier but also cheaper, and their cultivation and sale more environmentally friendly (if you’d like to know more about the difference between supermarket veggies and the one from sustainable farms, take a look at my interview with one of our local farmers).

Lastly it’s worth mentioning that seasonal vegetables and fruits are simply much tastier. It’s much nicer to enjoy the taste of strawberries on a sunny Summer day, when they are juicy, full of flavour and sweet, than to spoil your experience by buying an expensive small plastic box of strawberries that taste like nothing.

Very often the simplest solutions are the best, so if you want to make a little revolution in your vegetable world this Spring, start by downloading the calendar I have prepared (you’ll find it on the bottom of this post below the photos). Keep it on your phone, for easy access when you go shopping, or print it and stick to your fridge.

homemade black pudding dumplings

Let me tell you that, despite the seemingly dull and boring work that must be put into their preparation, making dumplings gives me a lot of joy. It’s like yoga for chefs 😉 When you can let go of all your thoughts and focus only on sticking together pieces of dough, pinching a nice frill on each one. It’s even more fun to eat afterwards, because nothing tastes as delicious as freshly cooked dumplings. That’s what I love about cooking from scratch – you’ll never get the same taste even from the best, most expensive store-bought food. It’s the same with homemade pasta – when you eat it once, store-bought one will never taste the same.

And because now we rarely eat pasta, I decided (similarly to bread making) that I will try to make my own when we fancy to have some. The same with dumplings. I never found store-bought dumplings good enough to replace the homemade ones. That’s why I always make my own dumplings.

Homemade dumplings are so delicious! Sprinkled with a large amount of fried onions – tastes like heaven 🙂 I love leftover pieces of dough, cooked and drizzled with butter and crispy onion.

I decided to fill them with Scottish staple food: black pudding (which is very similar to Polish “kaszanka”), but you can use another Scottish delicacy – haggis. They both will be great and easy stuffing to make. But you can fill up your dumplings with all sorts of ingredients, depending of your liking. If you’re a fan of black pudding and dumplings – this combination will not disappoint you. If you want to make a bigger batch it’s time consuming, but for me the reward is worth time spent in the kitchen.

Dumplings are suitable for freezing, you can do so by placing them on the kitchen board and freeze, then put to a freezing bag (this way they won’t stick together and won’t break while cooking from frozen). But in my opinion they won’t taste as delicious as when fresh. But I’m a bit picky about dumplings and in this case I don’t like compromises.

I hope I encouraged you enough to go to the kitchen, grab some flour, black pudding and make your own black pudding dumplings. Maybe you’ll even enjoy the process 🙂

homemade black pudding dumplings

NOTE: my measuring cup is regular 250ml glass

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 400g black pudding
  • about 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 brown onions
  • 3 tbsp butter or lard

DIRECTIONS

Heat a frying pan adding 1 tablespoon of butter or lard and add sliced ​​black pudding. Fry stirring occasionally until black pudding is cooked, then switch off the heat and leave it to cool it down – stuffing is ready.

On a large kitchen board make a small mountain of flour with the hole on top, place the egg in the hole and slowly start mixing flour with the egg. When the dough starts to crumble add a little water and start kneading. Slowly try to knead the dough, if it is too dry add little water. After a few minutes, everything should combine. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, elastic and quite loose – so that it can be rolled freely. If necessary, either add a little water or sprinkle it with flour. I used less than 2/3 of a glass of water.

When the dough is ready, take a portion and start rolling out. Sprinkle kitchen board with a little bit of flour. Don’t use too much flour to roll the dough, because it will become dry and will not stick together and there is a chance that dumplings will fall apart during cooking. Roll it to a thickness of about 2 mm, as evenly as possible, too thin dough may also break during cooking. Cut out circles with a glass, put some filling on each circle, fold and stick edges together with your fingers – I always connect the edges, and then additionally pinch the edge into a “frill”. Place each dumpling on a clean cloth while waiting to be cooked.

Put dumplings on boiling salted water and cook for about 3-5 minutes on a low heat (high heat may break them) from the moment they flow out to the surface. Garnish with salted onion, diced and fried with butter or lard.