I have been enjoying Rick Stein’s trip around the mediterranean sea from Venice to Istanbul. Although he’s famous for fish, he has also been featuring some vegetarian recipes. And this one, from Greece, was a lunch favourite for the crew, apparently.
Stuffed peppers, are nothing new for veggies, of course, but these are sunny and light-flavoured while still being substantial enough as a lunch dish on their own.
2 large red peppers
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tomato, skinned and chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
150g long-grain rice
200ml vegetable stock
pinch chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small packet of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 sprigs mint, finely chopped
lemon juice (optional)
Remove the ‘lids’ from the peppers and scoop out the seeds.
Place upright in a roasting tin. Keep the lids to one side.
Heat some oil in a saucepan, and sweat the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and softened.
Add the chopped tomato and tomato puree and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the rice, vegetable stock, chilli and herbs, season with salt and pepper stir thoroughly and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes the rice should have absorbed most of the stock, but it should still be a fairly wet mixture.
Spoon the rice mixture into the peppers and replace the ‘lids’.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour 100ml of just boiled water into the roasting tin and cover with kitchen foil.
Put in a preheated over, 180C for an hour.
After an hour, remove the foil and put back in the oven for a further 30 minutes
Serve hot, room temperature or cold with some lemon juice drizzled over the top.
Serves 2 for lunch
My brother Jon and my sister-in-law Maria are both excellent cooks. They’re not vegetarian, but I always get fed well when I go to stay. And one of my brother’s pasta recipes reminded me of summer, so let’s pretend that autumn’s not sneaking up on us rapidly.
First time around, both Jon and I put mushrooms in, as we happened to have some lurking around and outstaying their welcome. Jon adds parsley as well. I made the recipe again and replaced the mushrooms with feta cheese, and the parsley with basil. This one had a lighter, less earthy taste. But you might want to dial back on the capers and/or olives if you don’t like dishes too salty.
Clove of garlic, crushed
Couple of spring onions, finely chopped
Half a chilli, finely chopped
Handful of small tomatoes, halved
A dozen small black olives, finely chopped
1tsp of capers
While the pasta is cooking (penne or fafalle is probably best), sweat the garlic, chilli and spring onions very gently in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, olives and caper, and warm through. Drain the pasta and mix the topping through it. Add plenty of torn basil leaves and ground black pepper. If you’re veggie rather than vegan, it benefits from feta cheese crumbled on the mushroom-free version or some hard pasta cheese (Tesco’s is very good) on the original. Parsley works better than basil on the mushroom dish.
This is a simple recipe, pretty to look at and full of bright flavours from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I used a pink grapefruit, but an ordinary one would be fine. I also used a birdseye chilli, if you don’t have one I’d recommend a sprinkling of chilli flakes instead.
1 avocado, sliced
1 pink grapefruit, segmented
1 birdseye chilli, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Arrange the avocado and grapefruit slices on a plate.
Sprinkle over the chilli, the olive oil and any juice from the grapefruit.
Season with salt and pepper and scatter over the parsley.
Serves 2 as part of a selection of salads
Mushroom Stroganoff is one of those dishes that define an era, much in the same way that black forest gateau and prawn cocktail do. In the days before goats cheese, mushroom stroganoff was a perennial vegetarian option on menus. But, in common with its menu mates, when it’s done well it’s a dish worth eating.
The secret to this is the stock you use – Italian porcini mushroom stock. You can find it in some supermarkets and delicatessens. It’s worth your time seeking it out and buying it when you find it. It adds an intense mushroom flavour to stroganoff and, indeed, mushroom risotto as well. If you can’t get it, then vegetable stock will do.
1 red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp white wine
1/4 tsp english mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
few rasps of nutmeg
150ml mushroom stock
100ml coconut milk
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
Sweat the onion and garlic in a large frying pan.
When they have softened, add the mushrooms and turn up the heat a little.
When the mushrooms have taken on a little colour, add the white wine and let it bubble down.
Then stir in the mustard, paprika and nutmeg.
Cook the mushrooms in the spices for a minute and then add the stock and coconut milk.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the stock has reduced by at least half.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with the parsley sprinkled on top.
Serves 2 with rice
When I first went vegetarian and had a look on the web for things to cook, I came across the concept of ‘tofu scramble’ as a substitute for scrambled eggs. I have to say the idea filled me with horror. Tofu is not egg and I thought it would be the worst kind of fakery and substandard substitution that would fool nobody. But it’s one of those things that I kept on seeing online and some people seemed to like it. Then I found this recipe which frames the concept of tofu scramble not as a scrambled egg substitute, but as an addition to a breakfast menu. The only concession to fakery is leaving in the turmeric – it really does help with the appearance of the dish, it does look a bit grey and grim without it.
So here is my version. Not something trying to be scrambled eggs, but a tasty start to the day that stands on its own feet.
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
pinch chilli flakes, or chilli powder
150g firm tofu, cubed
8-10 mushrooms, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 tsp mushroom ketchup or vegetarian worcestershire sauce
handful chopped fresh parsley
Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, red pepper and chilli flakes until the onion is going translucent.
Add in the tofu, mushrooms, tomatoes, turmeric and mushroom ketchup.
Stir vigorously – the idea is to break up the tofu into crumbly pieces.
When the mushrooms are cooked and the mixture has lost a lot of its liquid, season with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped parsley.
Serves 2 on toast
This classic soup should be in everyone’s repertoire, I think. Easy to make, and tastes great from very simple ingredients.
The milk or cream really makes a difference to the end product. Blended potato tends to go a bit gluey in texture and the milk stops that from happening. Soy milk or other non-dairy milks will work just as well. You need to be fairly generous with the salt in this soup – potato soaks up salt, so don’t be surprised if you have to add quite a bit more than normal to get the right taste.
2 medium floury potatoes, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
500ml vegetable stock
200ml milk or 100ml single cream
1/2 small packet of flat leaf parsley
Add the potatoes and leek to a pan, cover with the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
Take off the heat, add the cream or milk and parsley.
Blend until smooth.
Season well with salt and pepper.
This is a great way of using one fresh ingredient with some from the store cupboard to create something fresh and delicious. I’ve used parsley here, but a mixture of herbs would do, or some green salad vegetable like spinach or watercress. If I can’t be bothered getting the little food processor out, I do a deconstructed version of this by just roughly chopping everything and tossing it into the pasta.
1 clove garlic
8 black olives
1 1/2 tbsp capers
1 small pack of parsley (or other herbs to equivalent amount)
3 sundried tomato halves + 2 tbsp of the oil
While the pasta of your choice is cooking, put the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and then put back in the pan.
Stir in the sauce until the pasta is properly coated.
Serve on warmed dishes.