Tag Archives: onion

Recipe: Five Veg Chilli

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In the summer I ate at the Grain Store near Kings Cross. When it opened it got a lot of plaudits for giving vegetables the same weight as meat on its menu. To read some reviewers, you’d think it was ushering a whole new era of vegetable-centred food. *Looks around* Yeah, that so worked! Anyway, they do have a higher than normal number of veggie options on the menu and when I was there I had the Chilli con Veggie. I was impressed because they produced a thick, satisfying chilli with no use of meat substitutes, just vegetables.

I didn’t really have a clue how to emulate this until I watched a TV series Kew on a Plate where Raymond Blanc cooked the produce of a splendid kitchen garden. He produced a chilli that was pretty much made up entirely of grated vegetables. Now I knew what to do.

This is great. It is everything I wanted it to be – hearty, satisfying and with no fake meats in sight. I suspect it will do a lot towards your five-a-day within one serving.

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Ingredients
200g dry kidney beans
1 onion
2 medium carrots
1/2 large fennel bulb
1 red pepper
3 stalks celery
1 small aubergine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp marmite
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Soak the dry kidney beans overnight.
Drain, and add to a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender.
When cooked, drain but reserve the cooking liquid.

Grate the onion, carrots, fennel, pepper, celery and aubergine.
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan.
Add the garlic and chilli and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the grated vegetables to the pan and stir.
Cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes.
Add the cooked kidney beans.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fill the empty tin with the juices from the cooked beans and add to the pan.
Add the tomato puree, marmite, mushroom ketchup, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chilli flakes and the cocoa powder.
Stir thoroughly, bring up to the simmering point and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Check for seasoning.
Serve with a sprinkle of coriander leaves over the top.
This goes well with rice or crusty bread.

Serves 4 hearty appetites

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce

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This is a lovely, warm, sweet pasta sauce. It’s fine on its own or it could be used as a base for other ingredients, garlic, chilli, balsamic vinegar, olives or all four!

Roasted Veg Pasta Sauce photo IMG_0419_zpsojhxs3fq.jpg

Ingredients
2 red peppers
4 tomatoes, halved
1 onion, quartered
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Arrange the peppers, tomatoes, onion and carrots on a lightly oiled roasting tin.
Place in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until the carrots are soft and everything is nicely browned around the edges.
Put the vegetables in a blender and blend to a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper.

This sauce needs only reheating while the pasta cooks and a sprinkling of basil as it is served.

Serves 4

Greek Salad with Marinated Tofu

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Greek salad is one of my favourite light dishes. It’s simplicity, of course, is dependent on great quality ingredients and one of the benefits of making it yourself is that you can make sure they are up to standard. Alongside the vegetable and olives, is the feta cheese, it’s salty creaminess offset the sweetness of the tomatoes and the crunch of the cucumber. Of course, if you’re keeping away from dairy you have to find a substitute.

I thought of tofu, marinaded and then griddled to take the place of the feta and it has worked well beyond my expectations. It is, I think, down to the amount of salt I use in the marinade. 1/2 tsp is a lot, but most of it stays in the marinade and feta is salty. As ever with marinades, the more time you can leave your ingredients in them, the better. For this dish I’d leave it at least a couple of hours, so if you’re making it for lunch, I’d start things straight after breakfast.

Don’t try and pretty this salad up. It should be made by Greek grandmothers, cutting the vegetables straight into the dish without benefit of chopping boards, so keep things chunky.

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Ingredients

For the tofu and marinade
200g tofu, drained and pressed
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt

For the salad
1/2 onion, sliced
wine vinegar
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/2 onion, sliced
wine vinegar
12 black olives
olive oil
dried oregano

Slice the tofu in half, widthways and put in a sealable plastic bag.
Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the tofu in the bag.
Seal or tie the bag and leave in a cool place to marinade for a couple of hours.
About half an hour before you want to prepare the salad, put the onion slices in a small bowl and pour over a splash of vinegar, set aside. This will soften the flavour of the raw onion.
When you’re ready to prepare the salad, put a griddle or frying pan on high heat and leave to get hot.
Chop the tomatoes and cucumber into bite-sized chunks.
Put in a serving bowl and scatter over the olives and drained onion slices.
When the griddle is hot, take the tofu out of the marinade and put on the griddle to sear.
Turn the heat down to medium and cook for five minutes or so, turning the tofu over so that it colours on both sides.
When cooked, remove from the pan and cut into chunks.
Scatter the tofu on the salad.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Drizzle over some olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of dried oregano.

Serves 2 as a light lunch with some crusty bread to mop up the juices

Book Review: Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

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This is the second ‘vegetables first’ cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. For those of us who have his first book, Plenty, this is more of the same. It is a lushly photographed celebration of vegetables, fruits, funghi, grains and pulses. You cannot read this book without realising that this is a man who loves vegetables and knows how to put them together to make a multi-flavoured, multi-textured dish. Ottolenghi gets accused of using a lot of ingredients, most of them difficult to get hold of. The last one isn’t that true – you can get most of the ingredients in one of the big, main supermarkets. As for a lot of ingredients, well, you can’t get layers of flavour and texture without them. This is not a book to reach for when you want to throw something together after a long day at work, but if you have the time to spare this book will give you something special to eat at the end of the process.

It does have its eccentricities, though. It is divided into sections by cooking method, so you get Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Simmered, Braised, Grilled, Roasted, Fried, Mashed, Cracked, Baked and Sweetened as chapters. Now, it might just be me, but I don’t normally wander into the kitchen when I’m hungry and think ‘Hmm, I fancy something blanched today!’ There is an index, but no glossary of ingredients. Sometimes Ottolenghi explains the more unusual ingredients at the start of the recipe or in the ingredients list, but sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he suggests alternatives, but sometimes not. If you don’t know what za’atar, shiso and freekeh are, this book isn’t going to tell you.

I think the Tossed chapter is the most successful. Yes, there are lots of ingredients, but they mostly just need putting in the salad bowl or mixing in the dressing. And there are really interesting dressings that would go well on several different dishes.

My least favourite sections are the Cracked and Baked ones. Mr Ottolenghi says in the introduction that he is not a vegetarian and does not want to be pigeon-holed as a vegetarian writer (the horror!). It really shows in this section, not just because there’s a lot of cheese in these recipes, but because there appears to be no attempt to choose vegetarian cheeses. Parmesan is used a lot, gorgonzola appears, so does roquefort. There’s no help for it, you cannot use any named cheese in this book unless you first check that it’s vegetarian. I spotted 22 recipes using non-vegetarian cheese, there may be others.

This is a bit of mixed bag of a book. It is in turns inspirational, aspirational and infuriating for this vegetarian home cook. Having said that, if more chefs took recipes from this book and put them on menus as the veggie option, I would be a much happier woman.

Title: Plenty More
Author: Yotam Ottolenghi
Publisher: Ebury Press
Year: 2014
Pages: 351
Recipes: 154 (including 49 vegan and 22 non-vegetarian)
Price: £27 (hardback)
ISBN 9780092957155

I was thinking of doing one of the Tossed salads for my recipe tryout, but then I found Ottolenghi had done a recipe for Fava, the greek version of pease pudding. That decided it for this Durham lass! Besides, as in a lot of the traditional recipes in the book, they haven’t been complicated.

fava photo DSCN1711_zps62422255.jpg

Ingredients
3 large onions
300g yellow split peas
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
100ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lemon juice
35g capers, roughly chopped
10g chives, finely chopped
salt and white pepper

Chop one of the onions into rough chunks. Add to the split peas, bay leaves and turmeric in a large saucepan.
Add enough water to cover twice the amount of peas.
Bring to the simmer, skim off any scum, cover and let simmer for 60 minutes or until the peas are soft.
Keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary, they should be loose and sloppy like thick porridge at the end.
While the peas are cooking, slice the remaining onions finely and fry in a tablespoon of the oil until they are golden brown. Set aside.
When the peas are cooked, remove the bay leaves, blend the peas with the olive oil, garlic cloves and lemon juice until you have a smooth paste. Add water if the mixture is too stiff.
Season generously with salt and pepper.
Stir in half the fried onion.
Serve in a bowl with the rest of the fried onion, capers, chives and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6

Quick Bite: Veggie Anchoiade

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As you can guess from the name, this recipe should contain anchovies. I’ve included my favourite olives a la grecque instead as I did in the recipe for puttanesca sauce. This makes a gutsy and substantial snack. They would also work as a crouton placed on the top of a bowl of (vegetarian) french onion soup as well.

Anchoiade photo DSCN1097_zps3a487a27.jpg

Ingredients
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 small tin chopped tomatoes (drain off most of the juice)
4 olives a al grecque, finely chopped
2 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp parsley or basil, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
15cm baguette, sliced into 6 rounds

Mix the onion, tomatoes, olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic, parsley and olive oil together in a bowl.
Season with salt and pepper.
Toast the bread slices on one side under a grill.
When the bread is browned, spread the tomato mixture over the non-toasted side, making sure you take the mixture right to the edge of the bread.
Put under the grill again.
When you can smell the mixture cooking, it’s ready.

Serves 1

Recipe: Singapore Noodles

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Singapore Noodles or Singapore Style Vermicelli has long been a favourite of mine from Chinese take-away menus. Wanting to make the authentic thing I asked a Singaporean friend of mine for the recipe. She’d never heard of it. It turns out it’s a Cantonese dish, so here’s my inauthentic version of something that was never really authentic in the first place! Tastes great though.

A few notes about this. I’ve used the packet cooked noodles you can find next to the salads in most supermarkets, but you can use the dried rice noodles if that’s what you have (cook them according to their packet and then let them go cold). I’ve used more oil in this than I normally would in a stir-fry, it shouldn’t be swimming in oil, but you need a fair amount for it to work. I’ve put more vegetables in this than I normally see in a take-away version, but this should remain a noodle dish rather than a stir-fry vegetable dish.

This recipe is for one. When I’ve tried to make this for two it’s ended up as a soggy mess. I think that’s because domestic woks and cookers just don’t get hot enough. If you’re cooking this for two – make one and then do another batch. It takes less than five minutes to cook anyway.

Singapore Noodles photo DSCN1090_zpsf2948d0f.jpg

Ingredients
2-3 tbsp oil
1/4 onion, finely sliced
1/4 red pepper, finely sliced
handful bean sprouts
1/2 chilli, sliced
6 mangetout or sugar snap peas, finely sliced
4 closed cup mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp curry powder
150g cooked rice noodles
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp coriander

Heat a wok and then pour in the oil.
When the oil is really hot, add the vegetables and stir for a minute.
Add the rice wine and stir for another minute.
Add the curry powder and stir until all the vegetables are coated in it.
Then add the noodles and the soy sauce.
Stir for a couple of minutes until the noodles are heated through and are coated in the curry sauce.
Serve with the coriander sprinkled over the top.

Serves 1

Recipe: Vegetarian Pea Soup

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London is famous for its fogs, but the really famous fog, the London Particular or Pea-Souper never happens now. Oh, it still gets foggy in London occasionally, but the yellow-tinged, lung-searing mix of smoke from coal fires and mist from the London basin, was ended by the clean air acts of the 1950s and 60s. It is just as well. Thick fogs sound romantic and very Sherlockian, but the last Great Smog of 1952, which lasted four days, is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of 12,000 people.

If the fogs have gone, the soup remains. This can be made with green or yellow split peas and I have stuck with yellow. The original recipe would include a ham bone, or a bacon joint. I have included a sprinkle of smoked paprika to add a smoky hit to the soup. If you have some smoked salt, that would be good added in right at the end, too.

Pea Soup photo DSCN1059_zpsd78f00f0.jpg

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
200g split peas
1l veg stock
1 bay leaf
1/2tsp fresh thyme
Smoked paprika for garnish

Soften the onion, celery and carrot in a little oil in a large saucepan.
Once the onion is translucent add the split peas, stock, bay leaf and thyme.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer for 90 minutes or until the peas will break apart when pushed against the side of the pan.
Stir vigorously to break up the peas a little.
Check the seasoning and serve with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Serves 2 with a little extra for seconds