Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
3 tbsp olive oil (plus a little extra for the tomatoes)
1 tsp sumac
8 small tomatoes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, halved and finely sliced
200g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
salt & black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C / 180 C (fan).
Cook the moghrabieh according the pack instructions (I cooked mine in boiling water for around 15-20 minutes).
Thursday, 2 February 2012
Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that has always failed to inspire me. I'm not talking about the fractal beauty that is the romanesco cauliflower, but the common or garden white variety. In my kitchen they usually find their way into cauliflower cheese or curry (there's something about cauliflower and spices that works so well), but overrun with them as I was just before Christmas I decided to try something new.
Monday, 5 December 2011
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
The majority of the ingredients in this recipe came from my Local Greens bag a couple of weeks ago and I bought some gorgeous golden rapeseed oil from Bambuni in Nunhead so this turned out to be a thoroughly locally sourced dinner!
Monday, 24 May 2010
I have made this version using the leek and cheddar combination a few times recently after picking up some lovely farmhouse cheddar whilst on holiday in Dorset. They're perfect for lunch or a light Spring supper accompanied by some English asparagus - especially in this gloriously hot and sunny weather!
60z plain flour
2-3floz cold water
a pinch of paprika (or cayenne) (optional)
a pinch of salt
For the filling:
2 medium leeks (trimmed, washed and sliced)
5floz mixture of milk and double cream (or just milk if you prefer)
4oz mature cheddar cheese (grated)
1 - 2oz butter
1 tsp mustard
salt & pepper
To make the filling, start by heating a large knob of butter (at least 1oz) in a heavy based pan over a low heat, then add the sliced leeks. Saute the leeks for around 10 minutes until softened but take care not to let them colour. In the meantime, beat the egg and add the milk and cream (or just milk), most of the grated cheese (keep a little to sprinkle on top of the tartlets), mustard a pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to line 4 greased fluted tarlet tins. Return the tins to the fridge for 10 minutes (or longer - they can be prepared in advance). Blind bake the pastry cases for around 15 minutes at approx 190 C (depending on your oven). To do this, line the pastry case with a piece of baking parchment and fill the parchment with baking beans (or rice or dried pulses). Then remove the parchment and baking beans and bake for another 5 minutes.
Divide the leeks between the part cooked tartlet pastry cases and then pour over the egg, milk and cheese mixture, taking care to make sure the cheese is equally divided between the tarlets. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top and put back into the oven at approx 180 C (depending on your oven) for 10 - 12 minutes until set and golden.
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Jerusalem artichokes aren't the prettiest looking of vegetables and seem to be much maligned for their (to put it politely) gas inducing properties. But that's not to say that they can't be transformed from the knobbly roots that they are, into some delicious dishes.
I first came across jerusalem artichokes about 12 years ago when I was living in France but didn't get to taste them then as these topinomboux, which grow abundantly even in poor soil, were destined for animal feed. It wasn't until a few years later that I spotted them for sale in the greengrocers back in England that I bought some to make a wild rice, puy lentil and jerusalem artichoke salad. A lovely earthy salad, perfect for the winter months.
What I didn't know until recently was that the jerusalem artichoke is from the same family as the sunflower. Looking at the roots (which are cultivated as the vegetable we eat) I could be excused for not guessing, but it's easier to see the family ressemblance when you see the flowers of the plant.
Jerusalem artichokes lend themselves perfectly to a hearty winter soup and the addition of hazelnut oil and toasted hazelnuts raises this soup to something a little special and good enough for a weekend lunch with friends.
8 - 10 medium jerusalem artichokes
1 medium leek (white and pale green only)
1 medium onion
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 to 1 & 1/2 litres light vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 oz butter
dash olive oil
salt & pepper
handful blanched hazelnuts (to serve)
hazelnut oil (to serve)
Finely chop the oinion and slice and wash the leek. Add the butter, dash of olive oil, onion and leek to a large heavy bottomed pan or casserole (which has a lid). Heat gently over a low heat and then place a sheet of baking parchment over the vegetables and tuck it down to seal in the steam. Put the lid on the pan and cook very gently for abuot 10 minutes (checking and stirring regularly to ensure that the vegetables do not turn brown). Discard the baking parchment.
Whilst the oinions and leeks are cooking, peel and chop the jerusalem artichokes and then add to the pan along with the stock and bay leaves. Simmer gently until the jerusalem artichokes are cooked though.
Remove the bay leaves and then puree the soup until smooth and return to the pan with the lemon juice (add more to taste if you like) and season generously with freshly ground black pepper and salt if needed.
As the soup is warming through slowly, gently toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan and then crush slighty (I did this by putting them in a sandwich bag and bashing them with a rolling pin). Dish up the soup, drizzle with the hazelnut oil and scatter some toasted nuts in the centre of each bowl.
Serves 4 for lunch or 6 as a starter.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
By this time of the year I've usually whipped out dozens of trays of mince pies for work, neighbours, friends and of course for us at home. But for some reason this year I've not really got around to it and can only claim a couple of dozen so far... I'm planning on making up for it over the next couple of weeks though!
There are many mince pie recipes out there, but I make them the way my Mum taught me when I was growing up - super simple with lovely light, flaky pastry. Some people use sweet pastry, but for me this is sugar overload with the already sweet mincemeat, so instead this recipe uses a basic shortcrust pastry made with white flora as opposed to butter which can be a touch rich. The advantage of course being that I can easily eat 4 in one sitting!
8oz plain flour
4oz white flora
3-5floz cold water
Mincemeat (homemade if you have it or good quality vegetarian shop bought
Milk or beaten egg to glaze
Icing sugar to dust
Mix the flour and white flora together to form the consistency of breadcrumbs (this is really easy if you have a food processor, just be careful not to over mix). Then add the water a little at a time to form a soft dough. Depending on the flour you use you will need between 3floz and 5floz - I used Dove's Organic flour today and it needed about 3floz. Wrap the pastry in cling film (taking care not to handle it too much as this makes it dry and tough) and pop in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Grease your mince pie tins (just the same tins as you use for fairy cakes). If you prefer deep-filled mince pies you could use muffin tins or alternatively use some of those mini tins to make mouthful sized mince pies.
Once the pastry has chilled roll it out on a floured work surface to about 1/2cm thick. If you don't have a rolling pin you can always improvise with an empty wine bottle that you have washed and removed the labels from!
Use a 7 1/2cm or 8cm wide round fluted cutter to cut 12 discs. Gently place the discs into the mince pie tins and press down gently in the centre. Put a good heaped teaspoon of mincemeat in each one. Then use either a 6cm wide round fluted cutter to cut full tops for your mince pies or, if you have them, use Christmas shaped cutters like stars, Christmas trees and holly. If you choose the round tops, cut 2 small lines in the centre of each one to let the steam out whilst they're cooking.
Brush the tops with a drop of milk or, for a more golden topped mince pie, a beaten egg. To make your mince pies vegan use soya milk to brush the tops or if you don't have any, nothing at all (they'll still taste just as good!).
Pop the tray into an oven pre-heated to 200C for 15 - 18 minutes until the pastry is cooked and lightly golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin and then gently remove to a wire rack. If you can resist eating them there and then whilst they're still warm, leave to cool completely and then dust with a touch of icing sugar.
This recipe makes 12 normal sized mince pies.
Sunday, 4 October 2009
At the beginning of each season as the fruit and vegetables begin to appear in the shops and markets there's that delicious transitional period of rediscovery. I dig out my cookbooks, search for new and different dishes to make the most of the produce that's not been around for a while. Last week saw roasted figs with gorgonzola and a honey dressing, roasted corn pudding in acorn squash (thanks to Heidi of 101 Cookbooks), corn on the cob dripping with butter and freshly ground black pepper, leek & gruyere tartlets and plum crumble.
That's just for starters. A drop in the ocean. The post-it notes littering the pages of my favourite cookbooks forecast a lot of time in the kitchen over the next couple of months. Why is Autumn so short?!
Last week Mat Follas, winner of Masterchef, who runs the restaurant The Wild Garlic and writes a lovely blog of the same name was touting for vegetarian suggestions for his Christmas menu on twitter. I like the fact that Mat asks people what they would want. He really values people's input - asking Guardian Word of Mouth readers to comment on his first menu for example. That way he canvasses opinion, encourages debate, gets some new ideas and (hopefully) comes to a much more considered decision on any number of things.
So with Christmas menus on my mind, and armed with some fantastic homegrown potatoes freshly dug up from FoodUrchin's allotment (which, I was reliably informed, made great roasties), I set about a Sunday roast for two. Chicken for Andrew and a seasonal veggie dish for me. Now, when it comes to a roast, I do not want to be missing out on those delicious roast potatoes, crispy roasted parsnips and lashings of gravy. I hate it when I go somewhere for a Sunday roast only to find that the veggie option is pasta or risotto. What's that all about? What can be so difficult about cooking something interesting and appetising and vegetarian to serve with the same veg as the beef, chicken or lamb?
With a truck load of shallots in my Abel & Cole delivery that I wanted to use up I decided on a savoury tarte tatin. I've made them before - a Tomato Tarte Tatin earlier this year with the first crop of the Summer tomatoes and a vegan Shallot & Wild Mushroom Tatin for Christmas dinner a few years ago when my Uncle and Aunty were visiting. All the talk of Christmas had whetted my appetite for chestnuts, so a Caramelised Shallot & Chestnut Tatin with porcini gravy it was.
For the pastry:
8oz plain flour
5 or 6 sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
5 floz water
salt & pepper
For the filling:
Shallots (I'm no good at remembering to weigh food before I cook with it but I reckon I used around 20 shallots)
Mushrooms (I used up a couple of handfuls of chestnut mushrooms which where lurking in the fridge, but you could use any mushrooms you like)
1 tin of chestnuts
1 - 2 oz butter
1 tsp muscavado sugar
a few thyme leaves
salt & pepper
First make the pastry by rubbing all of the ingredients except the water together to form fine breadcrumbs, then add the water a little at a time until the pastry comes together (being careful not to overhandle it). If you have a food processor, put all the ingredients except the water and blitz for around 40 - 60 seconds and then with the blade running add the water slowly until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Peel the shallots. Heat the butter with a tiny splash of olive oil in a tarte tatin dish over a low heat (or another dish which you can use on but the hob and in the oven) and saute the whole shallots over the until they begin to brown slightly. Turn the heat up slightly and add the mushrooms, seasoning and thyme and cook until the juices which come off the mushrooms have evaporated. Add the sugar and cook for another couple of minutes and then finally add the chestnuts.
The mixture should cover the whole of the bottom of the tarte tatin dish. Roll out the pastry which has been resting in the fridge to about 1/2 inch thick and lay over the shallot mixture. The pastry should be a touch larger than the dish so fold the edges back and tuck well around the edges to form a seal and keep the moisture in.
Pop the tarte tatin in a medium oven for around 30 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and golden.
Slide a knife around the edge of the pastry to loosen. Put a plate over the dish and then carefully tip the dish with the plate held firmly on top over so that the tart is sat shallot side up on the plate. Remove the dish. Serve with roast potatoes, veg and your favourite vegetarian gravy.
N.B. To make this dish vegan, use vegan margarine (e.g. soya margarine) instead of butter in the pastry and use just oil (not butter) to saute the shallots for the filling.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
We eat a fair amount of houmous in our house. It's a super quick pre-dinner or lunchtime snack to whip up from the tins and jars lurking in the kitchen. With sticks of carrot, celery, cucumber, whatever is knocking around in the bottom the fridge really, it's a healthy snack too.
There are some days though, when I'm making a Middle Eastern inspired banquet for example (you know the sort of thing - falafel, tabbouleh, broad bean and preserved lemon salad, sumac roasted aubergines...), when I want my houmous to be a bit 'special'. On these occasions I've experimented with adding more olive oil than usual, adding a different olive oil or by sprinkling toasted pine nuts on top before serving. All with good results.
But whilst I was staying with my littlest sister in Newcastle a couple of years ago we decided to go for some food at the Flatbread Cafe. There you can choose to order a Bedou Feast of 3 dishes and a freshly made flatbread which we both did and then shared everything. Besides all the other mouthwatering dishes they have (including the Cucubita with pumpkin, chestnut and sweet potato and a fantastic Chana Dahl), we were bowled over by the houmous. There was something about it that I couldn't just put my finger on... It was smooth, light and so incredibly tasty. A delight!
As you can imagine, like every determined home cook, I scurried away to try to recreate it at home, wondering about the quality of the chickpeas, the way in which the chickpeas were cooked, the flavour of the olive oil, the balance of the other ingredients... All of these things do have a huge impact but the smooth texture continued to elude me. It wasn't until I was staying with Not Aunty Lisa a year or so later that I learnt a little trick that turns my everyday store cupboard houmous into the something special I'd been looking for, without the rigmarole planning in advance and cooking dried chickpeas or having a glorious earthy olive oil to hand.
1 tin chick peas (drained)
Pop the chick peas out of their little skins. This is quite simple to do but will take time - I find it best to do it with the distraction of the radio or TV so I don't notice the time passing. Or I delegate this part of the process to unsuspecting friends or family.
Add all the ingredients (except the water) to a food processor and blitz until smooth. You may need to add a little water to reach your desired consistency or you can add more olive oil.
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Delia's Tomato & Goat's Cheese Tart
750g tomatoes (thinly sliced)
150g soft goat's cheese
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
salt & pepper
If you have the ready rolled pastry then just unroll it onto a lightly oiled baking tray. Otherwise, roll out your pastry into a rectangle measuring approximately 15"x12". With a sharp knife, mark a line about 1/2" from the edge of the pastry all the way around without cutting right through the pastry. This allows the pastry to rise at the edge.
Mix the goat's cheese, garlic, seasoning and a good handful of chopped thyme leaves. Spread onto the pastry base. Layer the tomato slices in lines on top of the cheese mixture, overlapping as you go. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and lay some thyme on top.
200g bulgar wheat
1 small red onion
large bunch of flat leaf parsley
750g - 1kg tomatoes
salt & pepper
1 clove garlic (optional)
Cook the bulgar wheat and leave to cool. I do this by putting the bulgar in a small pan, covering with cold water, bringing it to the boil with the lid on and then I turn the heat off and let the steam do the rest.
Make the dressing in the bottom of a big serving bowl by whisking the juice of 1 lemon (this isn't set in stone - use less or more depending on your own taste), salt, pepper and crushed garlic clove together, then whisk in the olive oil. I always find those little 'wonder whisks' are perfect for making dressings as they help the ingredients emulsify which is what you want from a good dressing.
Finely chop the red onion and add it to the dressing.
Chop the tomatoes into small pieces - around 1cm square and pop them in a sieve over a bowl to drain off any excess juice. You can put them in juice and all but I find that it sometimes makes the salad too soggy. Slice the parsley as thinly as possible starting at the leafy top and going all the way down to the stalks. Slicing the parsley this way is something I learnt a few months ago and really makes a difference to the taste.
Mix all the ingredients together with the dressing and red onion and it's ready to serve. It keeps well for a day or so which means you can make it in advance if you need to.
2kg Anya potatoes
5 or 6 shallots (finely chopped)
1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard
1 dessertspoon balsamic vinegar
1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar
4 or 5 dessertspoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Cook the potatoes in salted water, drain and put to one side.
Make the dressing by mixing the salt, pepper and mustard together in the bottom of a big serving bowl. Add the balsamic and white wine vinegars and mix with a wonder whisk (or a fork if you don't have one). Then add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Put the shallots in the dressing.
Once the potatoes have cooled slightly (but are still warm) add them to the dressing and mix. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve either warm or cold. Again this can be made in advance, but the chives are best if you sprinkle them over at the last minute.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
There's little more summery than beautiful ripe tomatoes like these from The Tomato Stall on Marylebone Farmers' Market. These beauties were sweet and packed with flavour - just perfect for our Gazpacho starter for the Nom Nom Nom 2009 final.
Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato soup which originated in the southern region of Andalucía. It is a perfect refreshing summer dish, especially on a hot sunny day. I can picture myself now sat outside in the garden, the sunshine beaming down, a glass of chilled fino in my hand and a small bowl of vibrant, fresh gazpacho in front of me... (if only the summer would come back to London!).
I'd tried gazpacho in the past and never been particularly enamored with it. That was, until I spent 2 weeks in Andalucía earlier this year. If you have the best, fresh, ripe ingredients it is simply delicious. And what's more, it couldn't be simpler to make.
What better way to kick off our seasonal summer menu for the Nom final?!
1/2 cucumber (we used a lovely organic spiky one on the day
1 sweet red pepper
1 yellow or orange pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 red chilli (or more if you prefer your gazpacho to pack a punch
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp good quality sherry vinegar
100ml good fruity olive oil
1 tsp muscavado sugar (you may need more or less depending on how sweet your tomatoes are
worcestershire sauce (to taste)
salt & pepper
Roughly chop the tomatoes, peppers (seeds and stalk removed), cucumber, red onion, garlic, red chilli, olive oil, sugar and vinegar. Put it all in a blender and blend until it's as smooth as it will go. Put a seive over a bowl and seive the soup mixture to remove all the skin and pips - you will probably need to push it through with a spoon.
You should be left with a smooth soup which you can season to taste with salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, more sugar (if needed), etc.
Pop it in the fridge to chill until you are ready to serve.
If you like the sound of this recipe please vote for us in the Viewers' Choice Awards. It's really simply - you just need to go to this page on the Nom Nom Nom 2009 website and vote for More Gingers, Vicar?
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Today I guess I was fortunate to find good leftovers in the fridge which I could craft into a tasty lunchtime salad. Roasted beetroot left over from making Lebanese beetroot salad on Thursday evening, some cooked puy lentils (the rest of which went into a puy lentil tabbouleh with grilled halloumi earlier in the week) and flat leaf parsley which was beginning to wilt.
2 roasted beetroot (peeled)
1 spring onion
3 tbsp cooked puy lentils
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 dessert spoon sherry vinegar
2 dessert spoons olive oil
salt & pepper
Make the dressing by mixing the mustard with some salt and pepper in a bowl, add the vinegar and combine, then whisk in the olive oil. Finely slice the spring onion and add to the dressing with the lentils, sliced beetroot and parsley.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Whilst sorting through some of my photos yesterday I came across this one of a pasta dish which I make in various different guises once the fresh spring vegetables begin to make an appearance each year and heavy pasta sauces no longer seem quite right. It's super simple and really tasty. You can make it with any Spring or Summer vegetables you have lurking in the fridge (or freezer). The photos are from one I made during the short (but oh so sublime) English asparagus season in June this year, but you could add any bright, fresh, seasonal vegetables (peas, green beans, broad beans...).
This first one is for some very good friends of mine who have asked me (several times...) for inspiration for weeknight meat-free meals. They're not veggie, oh no, they love their meat, but they're looking to eat less of it sometimes and eat more vegetables on a daily basis.
Pasta (wholemeal if you're feeling particularly virtuous)
Selection of seasonal vegetables (here I used courgettes, frozen broad beans and asparagus)
Small tomatoes (halved)
Black olives (pitted and halved)
Spring onions (finely sliced)
Salt & Pepper
Friday, 26 June 2009
I've been a quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) convert for quite some time. Not only is it a complete protein in nutritional terms, which is great for non-meat eaters like me, but it's also actually rather tasty. It might not look it - it's a pale grain like any other and I have to admit that I wasn't completely taken with it the first time I tasted it plain (although it does have a strangely moreish nuttiness). But once I began to experiment with it, mostly in salads and pilaf, I decided it was pretty good stuff. Added to which I feel rather virtuous when I eat it because of its goodness!
Here's what I did:
150g red quinoa
1 tin black beans
1 small tin sweetcorn
1 sweet red pepper (chopped into pieces)
2 spring onions (finely sliced)
2 x cloves garlic (I used new season garlic)
1 x red chilli (finely chopped)
Juice of 1 lime
Cook the red quinoa. I do this by washing the grains in cold water, putting them in a dry pan for a couple of minutes until they start popping slightly, then covering them with water and simmering with the lid on for around 10 minutes until cooked but still with some bite.
Sunday, 31 May 2009
It's late (for me!) on Sunday night - tonight is the deadline and I have to be bright and bushy tailed ready for work in the morning so I'll make this brief.
I've been contemplating what I might make for a couple of weeks, but because I've been away for the last 2 weekends I've not had any real 'playing in the kitchen' time. So it wasn't until around 7pm this evening that I began rooting around the fridge for the ingredients to make my Stichelton & Potato Blinis with Purple Sprouting Broccoli...
The first blini was more the size of a small pancake and the flipping stage was a little hairy but the next few were much easier (with hindsight I could make them a touch smaller) and worked a treat. Rich blue cheese goodness in a super light blini topped with lightly steamed purple sprouting broccoli and slow roasted tomatoes. I'm not sure blini is the right word though... They're like a cross between a potato cake and a savoury ricotta cake - extremely light and fluffy but with the depth and substance of the starchy potato and the blue cheese kick every other mouthful.
The Stichelton was a good choice. I'd ummed and ahhed in the cheese shop on Saturday over my choice of blue cheese, but decided on this one because it had the sort of buttery texture I was after. I wanted the cheese to be firm enough to stay in little pockets in the blinis when cooked, but soft enough to melt a little into the blini mixture. I also think it's a lovely alternative to Stilton on a cheeseboard - our local deli stocks it and offered me some to try a few months ago when, as usual, I couldn't make my mind up which of the lovely cheeses I wanted to buy and I've been hooked ever since. I think a Stilton or maybe even a Blacksticks Blue would work quite well in this recipe too, although anything too soft, like a Gorgonzola would probably just melt into the blini mixture too much.
I like them. I'll be making them again!
250g (ish) potatoes
4 eggs separated
100g blue cheese (the stichelton worked brilliantly) cubed or crumbled
75g plain flour
salt & pepper
small vine tomatoes
purple sprouting broccoli
Start by putting the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish with some salt, pepper and a glug of olive oil. Roast for at least 30 minutes in a low oven (I did mine at around 130C fan assisted).
Boil the potatoes in their skins until cooked. Drain well and leave to cool. Peel the potatoes and mash. Mix in the milk and then the egg yolks and seasoning. Then beat in the flour. Whisk the egg whites until firm and then fold into the potato mixture. Stir in the blue cheese.
Heat a little butter and olive oil in a frying pan and then put a couple of large serving spoonfuls of the potato blini mixture into the pan. Fry gently until set enough to flip. You'll need to be fairly confident when flipping the blinis otherwise they'll end up in a bit of a mess. Cook until golden brown on both sides and set in the middle.
In the meantime, lightly steam the broccoli and then pop into a frying pan with some olive oil and seasoning and cook over a low heat for a minute or so.
Serve the blinis topped with the broccoli and some roasted tomatoes. I also drizzled over some of the tomato cooking liqueur I had left over from my tomato tarte tatin last night.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Sumac comes from the berries of a bush that grows wild in the Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East. The berries are dried and crushed or ground to form a rich red powder which is used as a souring agent, in the same way that some cuisines use lemon. Sumac is often used to flavour grilled meats and fish, or mixed with yogurt and served as an accompaniment to kebabs. But, before this recipe, none of the recipes which use sumac which I've come across have been vegetarian and, not ever having cooked with sumac, I wasn't quite sure how to use it so it lingered at the back of the spice cupboard until now!
This is another really good recipe from The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia (which I've blogged about before) which, most importantly, works. Basically, it's a great big super tasty aubergine steak with a crisp crumb coating and I'm a huge fan of aubergines so it's great to find a new way of cooking them. It has all the flavours of the Middle East - parsley, mint, sumac - and works perfectly with the Puy Lentil and Feta Tabbouleh (shown in my photo above) which is also in The Modern Vegetarian. Here is my version of Maria's recipe (I changed some of her quantities to suit our tastes):
120g flat leaf parsley
20g mint leaves
4 tomatoes (finely diced)
1 small red onion (finely diced)
150g puy lentils (cooked)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g feta cheese
(the original recipe also included 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon)
Slice the parsley as thinly as possible starting at the leafy top and going all the way down to the stalks. Repeat with the mint leaves. Combine the tomatoes, onion, lentils, herbs and spices and season. Dress with the lemon juice and oil. Stir in the feta just before serving.
Having never followed a recipe for tabbouleh of any sort before (just making up my own versions) what Maria says about slicing the parsley made perfect sense! "It was Anissa Helou who first showed me the art of making tabbouleh. The secret of this beautiful dish lies in the way you chop your herbs - they should be lovingly sliced, very finely, to produce thin slivers with a minimum of bruising". The taste and texture of the parsley was exactly how I've tasted it in tabbouleh which I've eaten in restaurants but I'd never realised that the way in which you chop the parsley that makes the difference. It really is worth giving that parsley some loving attention because it does add to the dish in a big way!
It is slightly different to many of the main course vegetarian recipes I generally cook as it's made up of two distinct component parts, almost like you would have meat or fish with side of salad or vegetables. But I think that's a good thing because it may well inspire me to create similar veggie dishes where the side dish would go equally well with meat for Andrew.
Update: I remembered that after friying the aubergines in the crumb coating I put them in the oven for a short time (maybe 5 minutes) to finish cooking and crisp up some more. Whilst you can't prepare the aubergines too far in advance and leave them uncooked (the bread crumbs would go soggy!), you could probably prepare them to the stage of having fried them and then reheat in the oven when you need them which makes them perfect for entertaining.