Hearty vegetarian meals that are ideal for colder evenings
These three dishes provide all the crunch and texture you need to be satisfied
Cauliflower and chickpea curry
Eating less meat can be tricky at the best of times and especially in the colder months of the year. You know, those weeks when you’re dusting off the slipper socks, the supermarkets are already selling the big tubs of Christmas chocolates and our bottling machine is running at full tilt pickling and preserving every single thing we can.
I find buying meat should be more a celebration of the animal, not just the humdrum of what to eat next. While you might be dreaming of a roast leg of hogget, you could also be very well pleased with these super-hearty veggie suppers. I say hearty because they provide all the crunch and texture you need to be satisfied.
I’m all about batch cooking, and I batch cook for myself in my restaurant, for my own use, because nobody wants to eat restaurant food 24-7.
This cauliflower and chickpea curry is great. You can empty the fridge, make a wonderful meal and feed a gaggle of guests with this one-pot wonder.
If you don’t have a cauliflower you can easily use broccoli instead. Garnish the finished curry with some shop-bought poppadoms, yogurt and lime pickle. It is divine, and without sounding like a keyboard eco-warrior, you will be joining in the worldwide fight on food waste. I am from the home of Green Peace, after all.
Hasselbacks have always been completely on-trend for me, so why not mix it up and try the technique with butternut squash? And to complete our vegetarian feast, there is a lentil pilaf that can be tarted up with some tasty little chunks of Cashel Blue. Or have it for brunch, with a fried egg from Magner’s Farm on top.
CAULIFLOWER AND CHICKPEA CURRY
1tsp coriander seeds
1 medium white onion, chopped
½ thumb of ginger, finely chopped
2tsp curry powder
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
1 tin coconut milk
100ml vegetable stock
Large handful of baby spinach
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
20ml Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place a large saucepan on a medium heat.
2. Add a small bit of oil and the coriander seeds to the pan. Once fragrant, add the onions and ginger. Sweat down for eight to 10 minutes, until the onions have softened.
3. Add the spices (cumin, turmeric and curry powder).
4. Next add the cauliflower, sweet potato and chickpeas.
5. Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to prevent it from sticking.
6. Once the cauliflower and the sweet potato are cooked thoroughly, add the spinach, fresh coriander and the zest and juice of a lemon. Stir through and add the yogurt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve with flatbread or rice.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH HASSELBACKS WITH HAZELNUT CRUMB
1 butternut squash, halved lengthwise and cored
Sea salt and black pepper
1tsp red chilli flakes
2tsp soft brown sugar
50g hazelnuts, chopped
30g panko breadcrumbs
Handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2tbs butter, fridge temperature
1. Preheat fan oven to 180 degrees, or equivalent.
2. Place the squash halves skin side up on a chopping board. Carefully cut slices three-quarters of the way through the squash, so it will be sliced horizontally, but remain together.
3. Generously coat each squash half in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes and brown sugar. Rub the seasoning all over the squash.
4. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet and put them into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile to make the crumb, combine the hazelnuts, panko breadcrumbs and parsley, season well with salt and pepper. Grate the butter into the crumb mixture using a cheese grater.
6. Remove squash from the oven. Sprinkle the crumb all over both squash halves and return to the oven for a further 10-12 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and serve.
BLACK LENTIL AND KALE PILAF
30g black lentils or puy lentils
1tsp fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
50g long-grain rice
30g orzo pasta
100ml chicken or vegetable stock
50g cavolo nero kale, destemmed and finely chopped
20g toasted flaked almonds
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper
1. Firstly, put the lentils on to boil. Cover in water and place on high heat. Once boiling, cook for 15-20 minutes until tender, drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, place a large skillet on high heat. Once the pan is hot, add a bit of oil and the butter.
3. Add the fennel seeds, bay leaves, garlic, shallots and celery. Cook for about five to eight minutes until softened.
4. Next add the rice and orzo. Mix the grains thoroughly through the onions and celery.
5. Pour in half the stock. Turn the skillet down to a medium heat, stirring occasionally.
6. Once all the stock has been absorbed, about eight to 10 minutes, add the remaining stock. Cook again for a further 10 minutes. Check that the rice and orzo are cooked fully and all the liquid has been absorbed.
7. If the rice seems still undercooked, add a little more stock, about 10ml, until grains have cooked fully.
8. While the pilaf is still hot, add the kale and stir through. The kale should wilt gently from the heat of the pilaf.
9. Finish by adding the flaked almonds and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.