Tag Archives: vegetarian

Vegetarian Antipasti Risotto with Parmesan Crisps

We know we’re probably making several Italians want to rip our heads off with the title but it does what it says on the tin! We were musing about how fab vegetarian antipasti is, and how fab risotto is and this beauty was born. Apologies for the lack of photos, Bird cooked this while Fats was at the pub and her bird-brain finds it difficult to cook and take photos at the same time…

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, very finely diced
  • 200g risotto rice (we use arborio)
  • 150-200ml white wine (we’re sad and don’t drink much white wine in the winter so buy the miniature bottles just for cooking…)
  • Around 1-1.5l stock, either vegetable or chicken
  • 5-6 sundried tomatoes, diced
  • 2 handfuls of frozen broad beans
  • Artichokes from a jar in oil, as many as you like
  • Parmesan and fresh basil to serve

Start off by heating the butter and oil in a large, shallow pan, adding the onion when hot. You want the onion to be really finely diced so that when cooked you can barely tell it’s there. Cook over a low heat for around 5 minutes, stirring almost continuously, until the onion is translucent but not coloured. Tip in the rice, stir to coat in the onions and butter and cook for around 1 minute, then pour in the white wine and let it bubble off. Now start adding the stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring regularly and don’t add more until the previous addition has completely absorbed. After about 10 minutes add in the diced sundried tomatoes – we didn’t want to add them too early as they are such a strong flavour and could take over.

While you’re doing your regular stock additions now is the time to pod the beans. This step is optional but you won’t see the stunning bright green colour if you don’t and the outer shells can be a little tough. Pour boiling water over the frozen beans in a bowl, give it a few minutes to cool down and for the beans to defrost and then get shelling! It is a bit of a time consuming process but definitely worth it in our opinion.

Antipasti risotto cooking

Taste the rice and when it’s nearly done (should take around 30-45 minutes) add the broad beans and the artichokes to heat through. We made parmesan crisps to go with ours, you can just sprinkle freshly grated parmesan on once it’s cooked but these are fun and add a completely different texture to the dish. To make these just heat a frying pan over a low-medium heat and once hot drop in some little piles of freshly grated parmesan, each one should be about 1 heaped dessert spoon of cheese, and give them plenty of room around each other in the pan. Push down with the back of the spoon to give them a fairly flat shape and then just leave them alone. After a couple of minutes they should be bubbling well and turning golden at the edges so just carefully run a knife/palette knife around the edges to make sure they come off ok and then flip them over! They’ll only take about 30 seconds to 1 minute on the other side, then pop them on some kitchen paper to drain and get even crisper. We smashed ours up and sprinkled the pieces on but you can leave them whole for a more dramatic look.

Parmesan crisps

Fats loved this dish, he’d been struggling to imagine what it would taste like but (and we’re fairly sure this wasn’t the beer talking) he said it was one of the nicest risottos he’s had! Light enough for spring and summer yet comforting enough for winter – a perfect year round dinner.

Antipasti risotto with parmesan crisps

Advertisements

Harissa Aubergine with Spiced Vegetable Stew and Maneesh

It’s no secret that we’re pretty obsessed with Moroccan flavours, we thought we were before we went to Marrakech and it’s only got worse since then! The main body of this dinner is so easy – roasted vegetables with spices and chickpeas but we jazzed it up a little with some harissa infused chargrilled aubergine, homemade maneesh (middle Eastern flatbreads with herbs) and a dip/sauce to drizzle on. If you want to find the basic recipe for the roasted vegetables and maneesh then check out our recipe here – we’ll note any variations. The end result was like a big hug on a plate (that analogy doesn’t really work), warming, filling yet with some freshness from the abundance of vegetables and the tang of the pomegranate molasses. We’re praying that this miserable weather buggers off soon but while it’s hanging around this is exactly the sort of food we love to eat.

If you want to make the maneesh it does take a few hours so best save this one for when you’ve got a bit of time. Alternatively you could make the dough (mixing and kneading) the night before, leave it to prove overnight and the next day in the fridge so you would just have to do the shaping, the second rise which is shorter and the baking after work which is definitely do-able. Find the full recipe here.

Ingredients for the vegetables

  • 1 red pepper, roughly diced
  • 1 green pepper, roughly diced
  • 1-2 courgettes, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion (red or white), sliced into wedges
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, roughly diced
  • A handful of tomatoes – we used a mix of salad and cherry as it’s what we had around but cut into roughly half-cherry-tomato size
  • 1 heaped tsp of ras el hanout
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • A large pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A splash of water
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

Veg for Moroccan stew

As we explained how we made this in an earlier recipe we’ll be brief – throw the chopped vegetables in a large roasting dish, coat with the oil, salt and spices and put in an oven at around 190 for half an hour stirring after 15 minutes. After the half hour add the chickpeas, enough water to make a light sauce and the pomegranate molasses and put back in the oven for 15-20 minutes. All done!

Moroccan stew in progress

Ingredients for the aubergine

  • 1 large aubergine, sliced into 1-2 cm strips
  • Table salt
  • 1 heaped tsp of harissa paste
  • 2 tsp olive oil

After you’ve sliced the aubergine salt it by sprinkling both sides with table salt and then standing up to let the water run off. We don’t bother doing this if we’re cubing and roasting the aubergine with other veg but it makes a real difference doing it this way if you’re chargrilling, they’ll crisp up much better. Leave them for about 10-20 minutes and then wipe with kitchen paper. Get a griddle pan really hot and then turn the heat down to fairly low, it should stay really hot! Mix together the harissa and oil and then brush one side of an aubergine slice with this mixture and lay it down in the pan. Repeat with another couple of slices (being careful not to overcrowd the pan) and then brush the tops of them as they’re cooking. They should take about 1-2 minutes per side, try not to move them too much or you won’t get the nice griddle lines on them. Once they’re cooked pop them on a plate together and keep on cooking them in batches. Once you’ve done them all you can put the plate in the oven just for a couple of minutes to warm them up.

Harissa aubergine

Ingredients for the dip

  • Natural yoghurt
  • Moroccan chutney, but you could use harissa mixed with a little pomegranate molasses instead
  • Tahini

Simply pop some yoghurt in a dish, marble through some chutney/harissa and drizzle with tahini – the quantities are up to you but for each of us we used about 2 tbsp of yoghurt, 1 tsp of chutney and half a tsp of tahini.

Tahini and chutney dip

Now put your dinner together, just whack it all on a plate and get stuck in… it can get very messy! These would all make really nice dishes in a meze style evening too, try serving smaller quantities on little plates/bowls with the maneesh sliced into strips for dipping.

Moroccan feast done!

Moroccan-style Spiced Vegetable Stew with Maneesh

We had originally planned to make this Moroccan-style roasted vegetable traybake and serve it with cous cous but Bird found herself with a bit of time on her hands. After a flick through Paul Hollywood’s “Bread” she decided to give Maneesh a go. Maneesh is a Middle Eastern flatbread topped with sesame seeds and herbs – basically a za’atar mixture which we’ve used previously with steak. Paul’s recipe can be found here.

The dough was really stretchy and sticky – very fun to work with!  We made half the amount in Paul’s book, he said his made 3 large maneesh but we managed to get 2 pretty huge breads out of half of the mixture. The vegetables were ridiculously simple – a mixture of bite-sized pieces of Mediterranean vegetables, roasted until slightly charred then smothered in chopped tomatoes, mixed with chickpeas and roasted for a further few minutes – often the simplest things are the best. This made a beautifully hearty dinner with enough vegetables left over for 2 lunches. It was lovely on it’s own but would be great with some meat, fish or cheese or could form one of many mezze courses to be enjoyed with friends!

Ingredients for 2 large maneesh

  • 250 g strong white flour
  • 5 g salt
  • 12 g caster sugar
  • 5 g instant yeast
  • 10 ml olive oil, plus extra for kneading and another 1bsp to make the za’atar paste
  • 180 ml tepid water
  • 2 heaped tbsp za’atar

You make this like a fairly standard bread dough. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (adding the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the bowl at first), then add in 10 ml of olive oil and most of the water – you don’t need to bother rubbing in the olive oil like a regular loaf. Mix all of this together until you have a soft, smooth dough, adding the rest of the water slowly as needed. We used pretty much all of the water but you may not need to. Once it has come together tip onto an oiled surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until really soft and elastic. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film to rise, it needs to at least double in size – ours took just over an hour near a warm radiator.

Maneesh with za'atar

Once it’s risen tip it out onto an oiled surface again and knock back, fold it on itself and make sure all of the air is out. Once done split the dough into two. Roll each piece into a ball and then roll out with a rolling pin to form a large roughly circular shape. Put onto a baking sheet lined with oiled greaseproof paper. Now mix together the za’atar with enough oil to form a thick paste and smear onto the maneesh, leaving a small border around the edge. Pre-heat the oven to 210°C (Paul says 230 but we found this a bit hot) and leave the maneesh to rest for 20-30 minutes while the oven comes to temperature. When the oven is ready pop the bread in, we did ours one at a time as they cook best on the middle shelf. They take about 10-15 minutes to cook, when they’re golden-brown they’re ready! Leave to cool, turn the oven down to 180°C and start chopping your vegetables…

Cooked Maneesh

Ingredients for vegetable stew

  • A selection of chopped vegetables, we used 1 aubergine, 2 peppers, 2 courgettes, 1 large carrot, 1 red onion, all cut into bite-sized pieces with the carrots chopped slightly smaller as they take longer to cook
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes – optional
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1-2 tsp pomegranate molasses – optional

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large roasting dish and coat with the ras el hanout, sea salt, oil and chilli flakes (if using). Place in a preheated oven at 180°C. The whole dish will take about 1 hour to make, check on the vegetables every 15-20 minutes to move them around. After around 50 minutes they should be getting slightly charred and very soft so tip in the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and the pomegranate molasses. Cook for a further 10 minutes and it’s ready!

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

We cut our maneesh in half, served the spicy vegetable stew on half and placed the other half on top for dipping. This was a real success and the maneesh made it feel a lot fancier than it was – give it a try!

Maneesh and vegetable stew

Thai Noodle Soup with Crispy Tofu

This was only our second ever time cooking with tofu. Bird is a big fan and often chooses it over meat options when eating Thai food out but our first attempt about two years ago fell a little flat (well, more accurately, it fell a little slimy). However we got a real craving for it and decided to try again. The tofu we bought helpfully had some cooking instructions on and told us to press the tofu for a better and firmer texture, we figured it knew best so went along with it. What a huge difference! Much firmer, much less fragile, and when cooked MUCH crispier! The extremely-helpful-packaging suggested a minimum of 10 minutes but we left ours for 30 minutes. To press tofu simply drain it of the fluid it’s packaged in and then wrap it in about 2-3 layers of kitchen paper. Place it on a chopping board with another chopping board on top and place a weight on it. This doesn’t have to be really heavy, we used 2 cookery books but a large saucepan would be perfect too. Then make yourself a cuppa and go and chill out for a while. When you come back to it simply unwrap it, use a fresh piece of kitchen paper to give it a wipe down and then get cooking!

Tofu marinading

Ingredients

  • 1 block of pressed tofu
  • 1 litre of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped into matchsticks
  • 1 red chilli, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 spring onions, white parts sliced thinly, green parts sliced thicker on the diagonal
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • Zest of 1 lime (you will use the lime juice to season later)
  • noodles, either straight-to-wok or dried ones cooked and drained
  • vegetables, we used baby corn, mange tout and pak choi but use whatever you fancy making sure you have a mix of crunchy and leafy
  • dark soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • coriander leaves

Chop your tofu into 1-2 inch cubes and place in a bowl. Drizzle over around 1-2 tsp of dark soy sauce and let the flavour soak in. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then add in the sugar, the white part of the spring onions, the garlic, the lime zest and most of the ginger and chilli – the rest will be cooked with the tofu. Let this simmer away for about 10 minutes to let the flavours mingle.

Onions, chilli, ginger

After this time grab a wok and heat the vegetable oil in it over a medium-high heat. Once hot throw in the tofu and the remaining ginger and chilli. Our tofu took about 7 minutes to become golden and crispy all over. Keep an eye on the tofu turning it over every 30 seconds or so to make sure it colours evenly. Put the noodles in with the soup and let it come back to the boil. This is the time to season it with dark soy sauce, fish sauce and lime – the amounts are completely up to you, try with 1 tsp of soy sauce and fish sauce and the juice of half a lime and then keep tasting and adding until it’s perfect for you.

Tofu fall

When the tofu is almost ready chuck the vegetables in with the soup, we reserved the leaves of the pak choi as they just need to wilt in. Let the vegetables cook for around 1 minute – you want them to retain some bite! At this stage pour the toasted sesame oil over the tofu, let it cook for a last few seconds and then tip into some kitchen paper to drain slightly. Season it with about 1 tsp of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. Put any leafy vegetables in the soup to wilt and then serve immediately.

Crispy tofu

Dish yourself up a bowl of the noodle soup, top with the crispy tofu and garnish with the green parts of the spring onions and the coriander leaves – this would also be lovely with some crushed peanuts. We had ours with a wedge of lime to add extra zing at the table and a simple infusion of lemon and ginger to drink.

Tofu with noodle soup

This has filled us with confidence to try tofu again soon, maybe with a stir fry, a curry or a salad… any suggestions?

Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and Sage Risotto

Carrying on with our autumnal meals, this really does taste like autumn on a plate to us! Squash obviously is an autumn treat, and paired with the nutty brown butter and the earthy bittersweet sage leaves it is exactly what you want after digging out your scarves and hats and kicking some autumn leaves around (or the less romantic but more accurate long-day-at-the-office that we were recovering from!). Risotto does take time and love but it’s so worth it for a plate of that oozy, sticky, delicious rice.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 butternut squash, mostly diced into roughly 1cm cubes, but with some of the round end reserved and cut into slices
  • 200g arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • About 1.5l of chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Take half the butter and add it to a wide pan over a medium heat. Let this cook until it turns a brown colour and smells nutty, then add half of the oil to stop it burning any more and the finely chopped onion. Turn the heat down to low and gently sweat the onion for around 5 minutes until it is softened and turning translucent. Shred all except 2 of the sage leaves, add to the onions and cook for another minute.

_MG_3056

Then tip in the chopped butternut squash and let it cook for around 10 minutes stirring regularly. Once the butternut squash has had around 10 minutes in the pan, throw in the arborio rice and stir around to coat in the oil, cook for 1 minute.

_MG_3067

Then chuck in the wine, let it all bubble up and absorb into the rice and then you can start adding the chicken stock. This has got to be done slowly, don’t add more than a glug/ladleful at a time and make sure that it has all absorbed before adding more. Keep stirring it as much as possible, beating up the rice encourages all of the gluten to come out which is what makes it gorgeous and oozy. Keep adding and stirring, and also sipping at your glass of white wine (you only used a glass in the dinner… it would be rude to waste it!).

_MG_3061

Meanwhile take the remaining sliced butternut squash, coat in the remaining oil and then place in a roasting tin in the hot oven. After the slices of butternut squash have had 10-15 minutes in the oven flip them over so they get golden on both sides, if they’re done long before the risotto they’ll keep warm in the oven, just turn it off and leave them in there. Our risotto normally takes at least 45 minutes of slowly adding stock and stirring, most recipes seem to suggest more like 20 minutes but we’re evidently very chilled out (it could be the wine). Anyway, keep testing it once it’s looking puffed up and close to cooked, you want the rice to still have a bit of texture and bite but no crunch! At this point take the remaining butter and brown it in a little saucepan and then add to the risotto – this may seem unnecessary seeing as you started off with brown butter but it’s such a great flavour which can get lost otherwise. Throw in as much or as little parmesan as you fancy and stir it over a low heat to melt in.

_MG_3077

The final step is to heat the remaining oil in the same pan you used for browning the butter, and once it’s shimmering throw in the 2 sage leaves you kept, letting them cook for about 10 seconds per side. Take them out and drain on a piece of kitchen paper – once they’ve drained and cooled slightly they will be very fragile sage “crisps”! So whack the risotto on a plate, top with the golden, roasted slices of butternut squash and delicately plonk the fried sage on top, and enjoy!  This dinner is like a big fluffy-jumper-cuddle on a plate, and can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock and the parmesan with a veggie-friendly cheese!

_MG_3082