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A Meat-free diet

October is generally a quiet month in the culinary world except for Halloween cooking up a few creative ideas. I was recently informed that October 1 is celebrated as World Vegetarian Day (in the USA), which kicks off a month-long vegetarian awareness campaign. My favourite of the newly acquired wisdom is that October 4 is ‘Hug a Non-meat Eater Day’. And it is to all my non-meat eating friends that I send a hug through a few new recipes to spice up your meals and to prove the versatility of the vegetarian kitchen with a salad, soup, biryani and risotto.

VEGETARIAN RISOTTO

350g fresh asparagus
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 spring onions, ends trimmed
and sliced
175g fresh peas
250g fresh broad beans, shelled
2 tbsp basil, chopped
2 tbsp chives
1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
1 lemon, finely grated zest
1 1/2 litres water
3 vegetable stock cubes
4 shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g arborio rice
25g rocket leaves

• Clean and slice the asparagus into 5cm diagonal lengths.
• Heat half of the oil in a large and non-stick frying pan.
• Tip in the asparagus and stir-fry over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until nicely browned all over.
• Stir in the spring onions and fry with the asparagus until browned.
• Remove; season with salt and pepper.
Set aside.
• Cook the peas and beans separately in a little boiling water, then drain.
• When the broad beans are cool enough to handle, pop them out of their skins. Set the peas and beans to one side.
• Mix the basil, chives, mint and lemon zest together in a small bowl and season with pepper. Set aside.
• Pour the stock into a saucepan and keep it on a very low heat.
• Pour the remaining oil into a large, wide sauté pan.
• Tip in the shallots and garlic, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes until soft.
• Stir in the rice and continue to stir for 1 to 2 minutes over a medium to high heat.
• As it starts to sizzle, stir in the hot stock a little at a time so it simmers and is absorbed after each addition. To tell when it is ready to have the next addition of liquid, drag the spoon across the bottom of the pan and it should leave a clear line. Keep stirring the whole time, to keep the risotto creamy. Continue adding the stock as above.
• After 20 minutes, the rice should be soft. If it isn’t, add more. Season it with a little salt and pepper.
• Take the pan off the heat. Pour over a small amount of remaining stock then scatter over all the vegetables, a grinding of pepper and the herb mix.
• Cover with lid, let the risotto sit for 3 to 4 minutes to rest. Gently stir, if necessary adding a drop more of the remaining stock for good consistency. Serve.

VEGETABLE BIRYANI

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 cubed sweet potatoes, peeled
1 large red onion, sliced
1 litre water
2 vegetable stock cubes
3 tbsp curry paste
pinch saffron
2 tsp mustard seeds
500g basmati rice
140g trimmed green beans, halved
2 lemons, juice only
to serve fresh coriander leaves
50g roasted pine nuts

• Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
• Pour the oil into a large ovenproof dish and put in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat through.
• Add all the vegetables, except the beans, stirring to coat them in the hot oil.
• Season it with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 15 minutes until it begins to brown.
• While the vegetables are roasting, stir together the stock, curry paste, chilli, saffron and mustard seeds.
• Mix the water with the stock cubes and stir to dissolve.
• Mix the rice and green beans with the roasted vegetables in the ovenproof dish. Then pour over the water and stock cube mixture.
• Lower the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
• Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
• Stir in the lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
• Just before serving, sprinkle over the coriander and roasted pine nuts.

VEGETABLE SOUP

70g carrots, chopped
70g celery, chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
300g baby potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp oil
700ml water
2 vegetable stock cubes
to serve crème fraîche
for garnish fresh herbs

• In a large stock pot, heat the oil and fry the carrot, onions and celery with the potatoes for a few minutes until they soften.
• Cover with the water and stock cubes and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
• Blend until smooth with an immersion blender, then season with salt and pepper.
• Serve with crème fraîche and some fresh herbs.

CAULIFLOWER AND HONEY SALAD

1 large cauliflower, broken
into florets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp acacia honey
3 tbsp white raisins
1/4 cup fresh dill
3 tbsp almond flakes, toasted
50g baby spinach

• Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
• In a large bowl toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes.
• Stir in the red onion and roast for 15 to 20 minutes.
• While the cauliflower is roasting, mix together the vinegar, honey and raisins with some salt and pepper to taste.
• When the cauliflower is done, stir in the dressing, dill, almonds and spinach and serve immediately.

 

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