We love nothing more than roaming around the local farmers’ market to look at the fresh produce on offer. Whatever the time of year you’ll find an abundance of vegetables and fruit in varying colours, sizes and textures – from earthy potatoes and crooked carrots to colourful squashes and many varieties of tomato. Add to this the many grains, beans, nuts and seeds, along with fresh and dried herbs and preserved fruits you can buy and you’ll have a well-stocked natural store cupboard. Our aim is to share our passion for fresh, seasonal food and to give you ideas, encouragement and confidence in the kitchen. We hope to provide you with the tools, confidence and inspiration to embrace vegetarianism and try something that you haven’t made before.
SWEET POTATO HUMMUS WITH BREADSTICKS
This velvety smooth sweet potato hummus dip makes an interesting change from the more familiar chickpea version. The breadsticks are simple to make and their crunchy texture makes them the perfect accompaniment here. Those on a gluten-free diet can enjoy the dip with root vegetable crisps/chips.
1 sweet potato, unpeeled 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled 1⁄2 x 400-g can of chickpeas 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped A handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil Grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1⁄2 a lime Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the breadsticks (optional) 300 g plain flour 2 teaspoons fast-action yeast 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon sugar 120–150 ml lukewarm water 4 tablespoons olive oil A pinch of mixed dried herbs, a pinch of cayenne pepper or salt and freshly ground black pepper Serves 4–6
To make the sweet potato hummus 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
Roast the sweet potato in a roasting pan for 30–40 minutes until very soft. Add the garlic cloves to the pan about 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time. 2 Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins from the sweet potato and garlic cloves. Put the chickpeas, chilli, coriander, olive oil and lime zest in a food processor and blitz until they reach the desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.
To make the breadsticks 1 Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F) Gas 4. Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the olive oil and water, and stir until well combined and the dough comes together. It should be soft but not sticky. 2 Knead the dough for about 10 minutes by hand, cover with oiled clingfilm/plastic wrap or a damp cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes – 1 hour, or until doubled in size. 3 Divide the dough in half and keep half wrapped up so that it does not dry out. Roll half the dough out into a flat rectangle about 0.5–1 cm thick, then cut it into 1-cm-wide strips. Roll the strips into pencil-width tubes. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Spread the mixed dried herbs, cayenne pepper or salt and pepper on a board, then roll the breadsticks in them and put them on a floured baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–30 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack. 4 When ready to serve, spoon the sweet potato hummus into a serving bowl and serve with the cooled breadsticks on the side for dipping.
VEGETABLE AND LENTIL MOUSSAKA
Packed with flavour, this satisfying dish makes a welcome change from lasagne. It can be made ahead of time and is always a crowd pleaser.
2 aubergines, sliced lengthways 5 tablespoons olive oil 1 red onion, finely chopped 120 ml white wine 1 carrot, finely chopped 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped 1⁄2 courgette, finely chopped A handful of dill, finely chopped 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 100 g red lentils 1 x 400g can chopped Plum tomatoes 600g potatoes, peeled and sliced 400 g plain yogurt 2 eggs Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon Freshly grated nutmeg 60g crumbled feta cheese Salt and freshly ground black pepper Serves 4
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. 2 Sprinkle the aubergine with salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, until soft and starting to brown. 3 Meanwhile, put the onion in a large saucepan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. Cover and cook over low heat for 5–10 minutes until the onion softens without taking on any colour. Take off the lid, add the wine and boil over high heat until the wine has reduced by half. Add the carrot, bell pepper, courgette, dill, oregano, and cinnamon and fry until they turn golden brown. Add the lentils and tomatoes, along with 240 ml water and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 4 Fry the potatoes in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil until they are golden on either side and the potato has started to soften. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. 5 To assemble the moussaka, lay half of the aubergine on the bottom of an ovenproof dish, cover with half of the lentil mixture and top with half of the potatoes. Repeat. 6 To make the topping, whisk the yogurt with the eggs, lemon, nutmeg and half of the feta. Pour on top of the moussaka and sprinkle the top with the remaining crumbled feta. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with a green salad.
CURRIED LENTIL SOUP WITH FRESH HERB PURÉE
The tasty herb purée adds a light, fresh touch to this comforting soup, making it a dish to curl up with all year round.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 shallots, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped 2 teaspoons turmeric 1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala 1 medium sweet potato, chopped 250 g dried red split lentils, rinsed and drained 500 ml vegetable stock 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper Chunks of crusty bread, to serve (optional)
For the fresh herb purée 1 tomato; 1 garlic clove 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled 1 fresh red chilli a handful of fresh coriander 1 tablespoon vegetable oil Serves 4–6
1 To make the soup, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan set over a low heat and add the shallots. Cover and cook gently for about 5–10 minutes until the shallots have softened but have not taken on any colour. Add the garlic, chilli and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato and lentils and stir until well incorporated. Pour in enough stock to cover the ingredients. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 45–60 minutes, until the lentils and potatoes are very soft. 2 For a smooth soup, give the mixture a good stir to break down the lentils. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir the extra virgin olive oil through the soup. 3 To make the herb purée, put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until they form a smooth paste. Ladle into serving bowls and swirl a spoonful of herb purée into each bowl. Serve hot with chunks of crusty bread
APPLE, BLACKBERRY AND ALMOND CRUMBLE
This classic combination of flavours is always a hit. The crumble topping is best cooked separately, so that it is satisfyingly crunchy all the way through.
850 g cooking apples, eating apples or a combination of the two, peeled and cubed 60 g Demerara sugar Grated zest from 2 lemons 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 cinnamon stick 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste 360 g blackberries, fresh or frozen Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste 50 g flaked, slivered almonds (optional) Plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream, to serve
For the crumble topping 200 g plain flour (or glutenfree flour such as rice flour) 80 g ground almonds 11⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon A pinch of salt 125 g butter, cubed and chilled 150 g Demerara sugar 30 g flaked almonds (optional) Serves 4–6
1 Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3. 2 For the crumble topping, put the flour, almonds, cinnamon and salt into a bowl and mix well. Add the butter and gently rub it in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs — the same result can be achieved more quickly using a food processor. (If using a food processor, pulse the mixture until the desired texture is achieved so the mixture is not overworked.) Add the sugar and flaked/slivered almonds, if using, and stir until evenly combined. Pour the topping mixture onto a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden, checking and lightly tossing the mixture halfway through. 3 To make the fruit filling, put the apple, sugar, lemon zest, ground cinnamon, cinnamon stick, vanilla, nutmeg and 4 tablespoons of water in a heavy-based saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and gently cook the apples until still holding their shape but have softened around the edges, and the sugar has melted. If the moisture evaporates and you feel the apple is catching, add a little more water. Add the blackberries to the mixture and cook gently until heated through. Remove from the heat, take out the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, if using, and discard. Add lemon juice to taste, then stir in the whole almonds, if using. 4 Divide the fruit filling between individual dishes or 1 large serving dish, sprinkle over the cooked crumble topping and serve with a spoonful of plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
Chloe grew up in a veggie household and recently started her own catering company (chloecoker.com). Jan trained at Leiths and now chefs and teaches cookery.
READ The Vegetarian Pantry (£16.99 CICO)