Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta is another recipe book that has stood the test of time on my bookshelf; I bought it in 1997. I have already got some of Rose Elliot’s other recipe books, but this one lifted vegetarian cookery to another plane, into something fresh and colourful. Several of my other recipe books at the time were a bit worthy. The book is illustrated with wonderful photographs, as well as plenty of practical and tasty recipes.
The recipes are divided into types of pasta recipe, starting with soup, moving onto salads, simple dishes, and then the classic sauces and baked pasta dishes. Most of the ingredients are readily available locally, and the methods of cooking are easy to follow.
One difficulty that I have is that the index could be better. If I have, for example, leeks and carrots, I would like to be able to find recipes that use these ingredients. The index only lists dishes by recipe title or type of pasta. But that is a minor grumble.
I recommend this book to you all.
I thought I was being brilliant and inventive and then discovered that this is a classic. There are hundreds of versions on the internet already.
- Around 250ml sweet tomato sauce
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 tbsp mystery herb mixture including dried chillies from a present from Italy
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g pasta
- Start by bringing a pan of water to the boil, and cook the pasta for the time advised on the pack, usually around 8 to 9 minutes.
- In another pan, heat the olive oil, add the mystery herbs and after a few seconds, add the tomato sauce and bring it to a simmer.
- Drain the chickpeas and add to the tomato sauce, and bring it back to a simmer.
- When the pasta is done, drain and stir in the sauce and then serve
In 1983, I was living in Edinburgh. My boyfriend at the time announced that he wanted to be a vegetarian, and after a short discussion, we renounced meat. I can no longer recall his reasons, but for myself, my concerns were around animal welfare and factory farming, especially for pigs and chickens. I also was aware of the environmental impact of feeding livestock as opposed to using land to grow plant-based food.
One of the first recipe books we acquired was Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. I think we didn’t get much past the first chapter, there were so many delicious recipes. The book includes recipes from Syria all the way through to Japan. There are chapters on Vegetables, Pulses, Rice, and Eggs, for example. The chapter on condiments, dips, chutneys and relishes is wonderful; Madhur Jaffrey explains that this allows each diner to ring the changes with combinations of different flavours.
I find that I don’t cook some of the more complex dishes. Although I love the illustrated guide to making tofu, I have never tried this myself. I’ve also struggled to find some of the ingredients listed, especially for some of the Korean, Japanese and Chinese dishes.
To compensate, this is a book full of wonderful recipes, properly indexed. The book isn’t full of glossy pictures, but there are 500 pages of advice, descriptions of ingredients and flavours, techniques and culinary tips. The food I have produced from these pages has been outstanding.
I had two more large beetroot left, so I made this soup, adapted slightly from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking, which I bought in 1983s. The link is to a subsequent edition.
- 2 large beetroot, peeled and diced
- 500ml water
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or a 2cm stick of cinnamon
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 level tsp ground black pepper
- Sour cream or double cream
- Cook the chopped beetroot in the water. Simmer for about an hour, to make sure the beetroot is really soft.
- Drain the beetroot, and make the liquid up to 450ml if necessary.
- Add the beetroot back to the liquor, along with the tin of chopped tomatoes and use the soup wand to liquidise
- In a saucepan, fry the spices in butter, and then add the beetroot and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Strain the soup through a coarse sieve to remove the whole spices, and then add the cream, and reheat.
Initially, I wasn’t sure about this soup. It looks odd, but then I caught myself having extra portions. It is even better after being frozen, it seems to enhance the walnut flavour. It is worth spending some time reducing the walnuts to a paste before adding.
- 1 cauliflower
- 1 onion
- 2 bayleaves
- a pinch of paprika
- salt and pepper
- 450ml stock
- 450ml skimmed milk
- 50g walnut pieces
- Chop the onion finely and cook slowly in butter until soft and beginning to brown.
- Chop the cauliflower into florets and boil in the stock with 2 bayleaves until tender, at least 10 minutes.
- Remove the bayleaves, add a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper, and puree the cauliflower and stock until smooth. (I used a soup wand)
- Grind the walnuts and pound to a fine paste in a pestle and mortar.
- Add the cooked onions, ground walnuts and skimmed milk to the cauliflower base, and puree again.
- Strain through a coarse sieve to remove any lumps.
- Bring the mixture back to a simmer for two minutes before serving.
We had this last night and tonight, totally delicious. The beetroot were about the size of tennis balls, fresh from a friend’s garden.
- 50g butter
- 50g mature cheddar, grated
- 50g parmesan, grated
- 6 beetroot, boiled and skinned, cut into 1cm cubes
- salt and pepper
- 6 anchovies, or some worcestershire sauce
- 250ml to 300ml double cream
- Butter a gratin dish, and spread 1/3 of the cheese across the bottom.
- Add a layer of half the beetroot, and then add the anchovies, or a good sprinkling of worcestershire sauce.
- Next layer, another 1/3 of the cheese.
- Next layer, the rest of the beetroot.
- Last layer, add the rest of the cheese, and press the ingredients into the dish. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Pour the cream over the beetroot, and then add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake in a hot oven 200C for 15 minutes or more, until bubbling and golden on the top.
I served this with bread as a light supper one evening, and then as a side-dish the next night.
This is a lovely and easy cocktail. Sorry for skipping the cocktail recipe last weekend; I was working.
- 20ml heather honey syrup (see below for directions)
- 50ml Harris Gin
- 15ml lemon juice
- 1 cocktail shaker with ice
- Melt heather honey in water – make a 50/50 mix, and slowly heat and stir until the honey is dissolved. Chill the mixture.
- Put a good deal of ice in the cocktail shaker, and put your glass in the fridge to chill.
- Measure the gin, lemon juice and honey syrup into the shaker and shake the living whatnots out of it for a couple of minutes, so that the mixture is ice cold and looks smooth and opaque.
- Serve in a cold cold glass. It is quite strong so be careful.