Rose Elliot’s Vegetarian Pasta

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.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking

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.

Spiced beetroot and tomato soup

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.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large beetroot, peeled and diced
  • 500ml water
  • butter
  • 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

METHOD:

  • 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.

Cauliflower and walnut soup

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.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bayleaves
  • a pinch of paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 450ml stock
  • 450ml skimmed milk
  • butter
  • 50g walnut pieces

METHOD:

  • 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.

Braised Fennel

I love fennel, especially with fish dishes. This method is truly delicious and very easy. I found it in Honey from a Weed by Patience Gray. I left out the tomatoes that she suggested, because I didn’t have any. She suggests a specific type of tomato that I have never seen here.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Fennel bulbs: allow one large bulb for two servings
  • Butter
  • Parmesan cheese

METHOD:

  • Slice each fennel bulb into quarters vertically, and cook for five minutes in salted boiling water.
  • Drain the fennel well, and then braise in a heavy pan in the butter for around 15 minutes.
  • During the cooking process, sprinkle the fennel with the parmesan cheese, turning the pieces so that the cheese coats the fennel. Continue to cook, so that the fennel is lightly browned.
  • If you have some pomodori appesi, (baby tomatoes stored on the vine) – you can add these to the dish at the end.

Baked beetroot

There are some great fresh beetroot in the shops at the moment, UK-grown. I’ve been trying out a few recipes, and found this one in ‘Full Throttle’ by the two Fat Ladies.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Raw beetroot
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh mint
  • Sour cream

METHOD:

  • Put the beetroot into a roasting tin, coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, much as you would do for baked potatoes.
  • Bake in a hot oven 200C for at least one hour, until they are tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Split open and serve with sour cream and chopped mint.

Vegetables with spices and coconut

I went to the co-op on the way home from work, with the express intent to see what I could buy in the reduced section before it was discarded. I bought a pack of mixed prepared vegetables, which included a cooked potato, some carrots and some broccoli. This recipe could use peas, carrots, kohl rabi, cauliflower, all sorts of lovely things. I added some more potato.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 carrot, chopped (or peas)
  • 1 small cauliflower, chopped (or broccoli or kohl rabi)
  • 3 small potatoes, chopped into quarters
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies, or green tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp grated creamed coconut
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves, if available.

METHOD:

  • Chop the potatoes into quarters. Chop the vegetables into florets, 2cm dice, all a similar size.
  • In a large pan, wok or karhai, heat the oil, and when it is hot, add the asafoetida and mustard seeds.
  • As the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the curry leaves, and then the potatoes, along with the chillies, turmeric, salt and sugar, and stir for a couple of minutes
  • Add 50ml water, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Check regularly and add more water if the mixture looks too dry.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables, stir into the mixture along with a little more water, and cook for a further five minutes.
  • Sprinkle over the grated coconut and coriander, before serving.

Green beans in a tomato sauce

I have been thinking about how I buy vegetables. I prioritise local and homegrown, but at this time of year, I buy a lot from the local shops, trying to stick to Scottish produce wherever I can.

I also like to buy the reduced vegetables, to avoid the shops having to throw these away, reducing food waste. So, here comes the first of a series of recipes inspired by ingredients rescued from the reduced section.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 packs of fresh green beans
  • 1 red onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Trim the beans and chop into 2 cm lengths
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan, and when it is hot, fry the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Add the thinly sliced onion, and lower the heat a bit, cooking the onion until it is wilting. Do not let the onion start to turn brown. This should take around three minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper, and a cup of boiling water.
  • Bring the mixture to the boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • At the end, take off the lid and boil off any liquid, so that a thick tomato sauce coats the beans. Check the seasoning.

I served this with couscous, but rice would also be a really good option.

Tomato sauce

I need to add this recipe because it is used in so many other things. I’m just about to add some recipes for meatballs and this is a prerequisite.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped, or one dried chilli, crumbled
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tins of plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 handful of basil, roughly chopped (I have made this without, when none in the shops)
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a large pan, gently fry the garlic in the olive oil.
  • Add the chilli, oregano and tomatoes. Don’t break the tomatoes up if possible, leave them whole. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, checking every 10 minutes or so. If it is looking dry, add water.
  • Add the vinegar, and break up the tomatoes, stirring well. Add basil leaves, salt and pepper. A bit of very good olive oil can be added at this stage.

This makes a good quantity of tomato sauce, enough for one meatball recipe, and enough to serve six people.

Braised red cabbage with apples and spices

The best recipe. There are many others. It is worth following this Delia Smith recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg red cabbage, chopped
  • 500g onions, finely chopped
  • 500g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 nutmeg, grated
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 15g butter
  • salt and black pepper

METHOD:

  • Put the oven to 150C
  • In a large casserole dish, arrange a layer of shredded cabbage, then salt and pepper, then a layer of onions and apples, sprinkled with garlic sugar and spice. Continue to repeat these layers until everything is in the dish.
  • Pour over the vinegar, and dot the butter over the top.
  • Cover the dish tightly and put it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Stir and check a couple of times.

This dish reheats well, and it also freezes OK. We usually only have this at Christmas, with ham.