food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian food

barley, lentils and mushrooms with fried onions

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Once again Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe imparts amazing flavours to a vegetarian meal.


In a small bowl cover 20g (¾ oz) of dried porcini with 1¾ cups of boiling water and leave to stand for an hour. After an hour, remove the mushrooms and strain the liquid through a very fine sieve to remove any grit, then return the mushrooms to their liquid. Place 120g (4¼ oz) of barley (pre-soaked) and 170g (6 oz) of brown lentils in a large saucepan. Add 4 times the volume of cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a rolling simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool down. Cut an onion into thin slices lengthways and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat oil in a medium saucepan (enough to cover the onion slices in batches) to high heat and fry the onion in batches for three to four minutes, until golden-brown. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside to cool. Slice a second onion into wider wedges. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat and fry the onion wedges for five minutes until charred and soft. Stir in 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoons of ground allspice and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Next add 4 sliced large mushrooms, the finely sliced rind of 1 lemon and ½ a teaspoon each of sugar and salt. Fry until the mushrooms start to soften then add the porcini and all their soaking liquid. Boil rapidly for five minutes, reducing the liquid to approximately ½ a cup. Reduce the heat and add the lentils and barley plus 1 tablespoon of dried mint, 1 teaspoon of dried dill leaves, ¾ of a teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a minute more then remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Serve garnished with the fried onion and chopped parsley with sour cream on the side.

mushroom barley casserole + baked peppers with walnut and feta

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Here’s a hearty vegetarian meal to satisfy eaters of all persuasions.


Finely dice 2 onions and fry them over low heat in some olive oil until wilted. Add 450g (1 lb) of chopped fresh mushrooms and 7g (¼ oz) of finely chopped dried porcini mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have wilted then add 1 cup of dry pearl barley. Allow the barley to heat and become coated in the oil and cooking juices before adding 3 cups of boiling stock. Bake in a moderate oven until the stock has been absorbed. In a small bowl combine ½ a cup of sour cream, 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of cornflour, some chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Spread this over the casserole and top with a mixture of ¼ of a cup of finely grated parmesan and 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika. Return to the oven until the topping has browned a little.


I served my casserole with these roasted peppers.


Slice 2 red and 1 yellow pepper and 3 cloves of garlic and spread them in an oven tray with ½ a cup of shelled walnut pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and top with crumbled feta. Bake until the peppers have wilted and the feta has melted.

buffalo cauliflower and butternut

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Vegetarian and spicy, this dish uses the fabulous flavours normally reserved for chicken wings.


Preheat your oven to 230ºC (450ºF). Cut half a cauliflower into florets and some butternut pumpkin (squash) into chunks. Melt some ghee (clarified butter) and toss the vegetables in the ghee, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven until soft and slightly charred. Meanwhile make a blue cheese sauce by combining ⅓ of a cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream, ¼ of a cup of buttermilk, 1 small clove of crushed garlic, ½ a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, ¼ of a teaspoon each of freshly ground black pepper, dry mustard powder, salt and sugar plus a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste. Whisk well then grate 50g (1¾ oz) of frozen blue cheese into the sauce (easier than crumbling fresh cheese) and mix it in a little at a time so that it doesn’t clump. When the vegetables are cooked put them in a bowl and toss them with 2 tablespoons each (or more to taste) of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (cayenne pepper sauce) and Sriracha Chilli Sauce. Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter, drizzle with the blue cheese sauce and garnish with some chopped spring onions.

The sauce recipe comes from Chef John at Food Wishes.

Written by michelle picker

November 16, 2015 at 5:50 am

roasted beetroot and chèvre stack with walnut crumb + roasted leek

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Fresh chèvre and beetroot are a great match. Paired with the walnut crumb and roasted leeks this dish has a wonderful combination of flavours and textures.


Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Peel and slice 2 large beetroots and lay them onto baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and roast until soft. Wash and trim a large leek and cut into rounds. Place the leek onto another baking sheet, drizzle with oil, season with salt and roast until brown around the edges. To make the walnut crumb finely dice 1 onion and fry in a generous amount of olive oil and butter until browning a little. Add ½ a cup of breadcrumbs, ½ a cup of chopped walnuts and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Continue to cook until the breadcrumbs and walnuts are toasted. Add some chopped parsley and set aside. When the beetroot is ready layer it with fresh chèvre and top with the walnut crumb. Serve with the roasted leek.

sour chick pea curry + vegetable korma

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Indian vegetarian food is so complex and satisfying.

This unusual sour chick pea curry is from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey.


Soak and cook 1½ cups of chick peas (garbanzo beans) in the usual manner or use 3 drained cans of chick peas. Finely chop 3 onions and remove 2 tablespoons of the onion into a small bowl or cup. To this add ½ a teaspoon of salt, 1 finely chopped fresh chilli, 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger and ⅓ of a cup of lemon juice. Set this mixture aside while you cook the chick peas. Heat ghee or oil in a heavy wide pot and fry the remaining onions until beginning to brown. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of ground coriander and ½ a teaspoon of ground turmeric. Stir and cook briefly then add the chick peas with 1½ cups of their cooking liquid (or water), 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of garam masala and ¼ of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding liquid if necessary. Just before serving add the onion and lemon juice mixture.

This vegetable korma is creamy and sweet.


Fry 1 finely chopped onion, 3 cloves of finely minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of finely minced ginger and 1 – 3 finely diced chillies in some ghee until wilting. Add 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of ground coriander and 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric and continue to cook until fragrant. Add 2 chopped potatoes, 2 chopped carrots and ½ a cup vegetable stock and simmer until the vegetables are just beginning to soften. Add 1 bunch of chopped spinach and 1 cup of frozen peas and, after a few minutes ½ a cup of almond meal and ½ a cup of yoghurt. If at this stage the curry is too wet, thicken with a little cornflour to the desired consistency. In a small fry-pan heat some ghee and fry 10 curry leaves and 2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds until they pop then add them to the curry.

spicy tofu with oyster mushrooms

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Oyster mushrooms have great texture and robust flavour making this a very satisfying vegetarian meal.


Heat oil in a large flat frypan or wok until smoking hot then add 2 brown shallots, 2-3 cloves of garlic and 2-4 red chillies, all finely diced. Next add large squares of tofu (classic Chinese style) and allow them to fry on both sides to add a little colour. As the tofu is frying add an equal amount or more of oyster mushrooms which have been torn into smaller pieces. When the tofu is sticking and the mushrooms wilting add 1½ tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of dark soy (caramel) sauce, some ground white pepper and a sprinkling of black rice vinegar (this is available at Asian stores or you could try apple cider vinegar). Serve with steamed rice and seasonal vegetables and make sure you scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan.

Written by michelle picker

May 25, 2015 at 6:56 am

black bean soup

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Spiced and a little spicy, this hearty soup will satisfy vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.


To make this soup first soak ⅔ of a cup of dry black beans in 3 cups of water overnight. Cook the beans until soft (this only takes 10 minutes in a pressure cooker). Dice 1 onion, 1 red bell pepper and 2 sticks of celery and sauté gently in some vegetable oil until the onion is translucent. Add 1 clove of finely diced garlic, 2 seeded and finely diced red chillies, 1 teaspoon of grated ginger, ½ a teaspoon of dried oregano, ½ a teaspoon of ground cumin, ½ a teaspoon of ground coriander (cilantro), ¼ of a teaspoon of dried thyme, ¼ of a teaspoon of ground allspice, ⅛ of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, ⅛ of a teaspoon of ground cloves and 2-4 diced tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are wilting then add the black beans with their liquid and 2 cups of vegetable stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer until all the flavours are well combined. Garnish with some fresh coriander (cilantro) and serve with sour cream.

*This recipe (slightly adapted) is from Brook the Cook on

Written by michelle picker

March 14, 2015 at 5:50 am