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Cover: The Gourmet Garden

Meal for 6 people

28Jun 12

Oven Baked Falafel

Oven Baked Falafel
I’ve always loved falafel, but I’ve never really been very big on deep frying, so I decided to try baking them in the oven instead.  The result was this oven baked falafel recipe, which tastes even better than the classic fried version, if I do say so myself!

Traditionally, falafel is served wrapped in unleavened bread and garnished with lettuce, cucumber, onions, tomatoes and a littler tahini (sesame seed paste)  sauce, or arranged on a plate with the same ingredients.  Personally, I usually just eat them along with whatever salad I have at hand. For a more filling meal, eat them with rice, like this Indian-style brown rice.

 

Oven Baked Falafel
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 500g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in abundant water
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 medium onions, peeled and halved
  • 15g fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped very fine
  • 15g fresh coriander, chopped very fine
  • 2tsp salt
  • 2tbsp flour
  • ½tsp paprika
  • ½tsp baking soda
  • ½tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½tsp ground cumin
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 250ml water
Instructions
  1. Using an electric blender or food processor, blend the onion and garlic together to form a paste.
  2. Mix the chopped fresh coriander and flat-leaf parsley into the onion and garlic paste.
  3. Add the prepared chickpeas to the mixture and blend again with the food processor or blender. The final consistency should be a little bit lumpy.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the paprika, baking soda, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon and baking soda.
  5. Add the spice mixture to the chickpea mixture and stir well, making sure the spices are evenly distributed throughout the mix.
  6. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to set for at least an hour and a half.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  8. Grease a baking sheet with a little olive oil or vegetable oil.
  9. Drop tablespoonful-sized balls of the chickpea mixture onto the baking sheet, leaving a few centimetres between each ball and also between the balls and the edge of the tray.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the top sides of the falafel balls have turned golden.
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray for 5 minutes.
  12. Transfer the falafel balls to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter.
  13. Serve on a bed of your favourite salad.

 

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16Jun 12

Tomato and Cabbage Soup

Tomato and Cabbage SoupI had an awful cold the other week, and it dawned on me that one of the worst things about being a vegetarian is not being able to eat chicken noodle soup.  It may not really be a cure for the common cold, but it certainly has proven to make you feel a bit better, at least while you’re eating it.  In any case, this tomato and cabbage soup recipe is my first attempt to make a vegetarian-friendly, feel-good soup for those pesky winter colds.

The young garlic, ginger, cinnamon and chilli help to clear your sinuses, and the fennel seeds and honey help to sooth a sore throat.  To be honest, it tastes nothing like standard chicken noodle, but it definitely did make me feel a bit better, and the effect lasted for a few hours after I ate it too!

What you’re going to need:

  • 3 medium tomatoes, washed and diced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded or chopped
  • 400ml cabbage, cut into 1cm x 3cm strips
  • 1 leek, washed and chopped
  • 1 young garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 250ml rice
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 2tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1tsp honey
  • ½ a cinnamon stick
  • 1/2tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2tsp black pepper
  • 3 litres water
  • 3tbsp olive oil

What you have to do:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until it’s hot but not smoking.
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the leek and young garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cabbage, carrot and tomato and continue sautéing for 3 more minutes with the heat on full.  Stir continuously to avoid burning.
  5. Add the honey, stock cube, chilli powder, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves and fennel seeds.  Sauté for 30 seconds to bring out the aroma of the spices.
  6. Add the water and the rice to the pot and bring to the boil.
  7. Reduce heat to a fast simmer and cook for another 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  8. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Note: If you like your soups a bit cheesy, try this Cauliflower and Emmental Soup recipe.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  Easy

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11Jun 12

Tomato and Basil Pie

Tomato and Basil PiePizza is a standard classic in my home, especially spinach, fresh tomato and blue cheese pizza. This tomato and basil pie recipe is a sort of variation on the traditional pizza, using pastry rather than leavened pizza dough.  The ingredients are simple but the taste is wonderful.  Basil, cheese and tomatoes work so well together that you just don’t need anything else, as the Italians have obviously known for years.  If you’re in a rush or just too tired to make the pastry yourself, go ahead and use any store-bought variety.

What you’re going to need:

For the crust:

  • 160g sifted white flour
  • 1/4tsp fine salt
  • 110g butter, chilled and diced
  • 60ml ice water

For the filling:

  • 100g fresh mozzarella, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 175g Parmesan cheese
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 5 medium tomatoes, washed and sliced 5mm thick
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper

What you have to do:

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cut into the butter using a pastry knife and add to the bowl. Do NOT use your hands.
  4. Stir in the ice water using a spoon, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms into a ball.
  5. Wrap the ball in plastic and chill for 4 hours.
  6. Roll out the ball into a flat crust about 30 cm in diameter.
  7. Press the crust firmly into the bottom and sides of a 26 cm pie dish.
  8. Using a fork, make some holes in the bottom of the crust.
  9. Cover the crust with parchment paper and fill with dry beans.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, leaving the heat on.
  12. Remove and discard the beans and parchment paper.

To make the filling:

  1. Varnish the crust with a little olive oil or butter.
  2. Cover the bottom with the the fresh Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over with half of the fresh basil.
  3. Lay the tomato slices and Mozzarella on top of the Parmesan and sprinkle on the rest of the fresh basil.
  4. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and olive oil.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.  If the cheese exudes a lot of liquid during baking, remove from the oven and drain the excess liquid in order to keep the crust from getting soggy.

Preparation Time:  1 hour + 4 hours setting

Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  Medium

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08Jun 12

TVP Veggie Burgers

TVP Veggie BurgersBefore I became a vegetarian, one of my all-time favourite foods was hamburgers.  So when I finally converted to vegetarianism, I decided I had to learn how to make veggie burgers.  Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) seemed like the way to go for substituting the meat, and after a few slightly disastrous attempts, I eventually came up with this recipe for TVP Veggie Burgers.  The recipe was an instant success with both family and friends and has been a weekly staple of my diet ever since.

If you prefer not to use TVP, these spicy beanburgers are also rather tasty, and a good alternative for those who try to refrain from “meat substitutes” like TVP or tofu.

The hardest part of the recipe is getting the right ratio of wet and dry ingredients so that the burgers stick together when you mould them into shape.  This is achieved by varying the exact amount of breadcrumbs added to the mix. At first, try using a little bit less than the indicated amount and keep adding more until you get them to a consistency where they stick together well but not to your hands.  As always, practise makes perfect.

What you’re going to need:

  • 200 g TVP (Vegetable Protein Mince)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml soy sauce
  • 250 ml boiling water
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

What you have to do:

  1. Mix the TVP in a large mixing bowl with the soy sauce and boiling water and wait for it to puff up (about 2 minutes).
  2. In the meantime, fry the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat until it’s translucent but not brown and add to the TVP mixture.
  3. Add the paprika, curry powder, salt and pepper, and stir well.
  4. Beat in the 2 eggs and add breadcrumbs. Mix well.
  5. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Take it out and form it into tightly packed balls, about the size of tennis balls.
  7. Squeeze the balls between your hands to make patties about 1.5 cm thick.
  8. Fry the patties in a little oil over medium heat until they are dark brown on the outside (about 4 minutes per side).
  9. Leave the finished burgers on a wire cookie rack to cool, allowing the oil to run off so as to avoid greasy burgers.
  10. Serve between 2 slices of toasted whole-grain bread with your favourite toppings.

Preparation time: 45 minutes (including 30 minutes setting in fridge)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 8

Difficulty: Medium

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06Jun 12

Aubergine Purée with Cumin Pitta Bread

Aubergine Purée with Cumin Pitta Bread

This aubergine purée with cumin pitta bread is about as close as you can get to everyone’s favourite Greek restaurant aubergine purée.  It is intended to be an appetiser, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll find it hard to stop eating it and end up ruining your appetite for the rest of the meal.  So either make only half of the recipe, or make sure you’ve got plenty of guests to share it with.  Alternatively, just make a whole lot of it and eat it as your main course – you’ll only need a little salad and some black olives to complete the meal!

If you love aubergine like I do, I also recommend this baked aubergine parmesan with tofu pesto.

To make it pretty, I like garnishing it with black olives, lemon and a bit of red pepper. You can present the dip any way you´d like, or not at all. It´s all up to you.

 

Aubergine Purée with Cumin Pitta Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large aubergine, washed
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped very fine
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 6 pieces of pitta bread
  • Extra olive oil for brushing the bread
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
  2. Baste the aubergine in olive oil and roast it in the preheated oven until it is deeply golden, about 40 minutes.
  3. Leaving the skin on, blend the aubergine adding the olive oil a tablespoon at a time as you blend. The mixture will expand quite a bit.
  4. Add the garlic, onion, lemon juice and cayenne and blend again until the mixture turns light and creamy.
  5. Stir in the chopped herbs by hand.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and place in the centre of a round serving plate.
  7. Cut the pitta bread into quarters and brush both sides with olive oil.
  8. Arrange on a non-stick baking tray.
  9. Sprinkle the cumin seeds over the oiled pitta bread quarters.
  10. Bake in the oven for 5 or six minutes or until golden brown. Keep a close watch to make sure they don't burn.
  11. Serve immediately while the bread is still warm.
  12. Eat by dunking the bread into the purée.

 

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31May 12

Cream of Courgette Soup

Cream of Courgette SoupI really like eating soup, and this Cream of Courgette Soup recipe has got to be one of my all time top-five!  It has a lot more than just courgettes in it, so I guess it’s not technically a simple cream of courgette, but I find that the celery provides a nice tangy contrast while the carrots and potato give it a bit more depth.  And the nutmeg, well, that’s probably the whole secret to this incredibly tasty soup!

I strongly suggest leaving the skin on the courgettes, mostly because that’s where a lot of the nutrients are, but also because it gives a nice green colour.  I’ve also used cornflour rather than cheese or cream to thicken the mix in order to make it vegan-friendly, but if you prefer, you can go ahead and use those as you would in any other creamy broth (such as this roasted fennel and somerset cider soup).

What you’re going to need:

  • 4 medium size courgettes, washed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 2 medium potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 4 celery ribs
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp dry parsley
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1.5 tsp water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh coriander to garnish

What you have to do:

  1. Chop all the vegetables into medium sized chunks (the size isn’t very important since they’re going to be puréed anyway).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat until it’s hot but not smoking.
  3. Sauté the onion for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the courgettes, carrots, celery and potatoes and sauté for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir often so it doesn’t burn or stick.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, parsley, nutmeg, bay leaves, black pepper and salt.
  7. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
  8. Remove from heat and remove the bay leaves.
  9. Purée the soup with a hand blender or in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
  10. Mix the cornflour with the water to a make a thick paste.
  11. Add the cornflour paste to the soup and mix it in well.
  12. Garnish with a few coriander leaves and a dash of nutmeg and serve.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Difficulty: Medium


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18Apr 12

Pumpkin Ravioli

Pumpkin RavioliI made this pumpkin ravioli last weekend when I had some friends over for lunch, and the verdict was unanimously positive – everyone loved it!  Which was a good thing too, because it definitely took a bit of work to prepare.  The baked garlic and sun-dried tomatoes provide a great counterpoint to the sweet pumpkin, and the filling just melts in your mouth when you bite into it.  The recipe calls for a pasta machine, but if you don’t have one, you can roll out the dough by hand.  It takes a bit more time but won’t make any difference to the taste; just make sure you get the dough as thin as you can.  About 3mm is thin enough.

Filling your pasta is a great way to add flavour to the dish. For more variations, try this scrumptious tortelli piacentini recipe.

What you’re going to need:

For the pasta:

  • 250g flour
  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 4 garlic cloves, skin on
  • 400g pumpkin, peeled and seeded
  • 120ml cottage cheese
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

What you have to do:

For the pasta:

  1. Place the flour, eggs and salt in an electric mixer and blend into smooth dough.
  2. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
  3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it set in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll them out lightly to half a centimetre thick.
  5. Pass the pieces through a pasta machine on the thinnest setting.
  6. Let the pasta dry for 10 minutes on a clean cloth.
  7. Use a drinking glass about 7cm in diameter to cut the pasta into circles.

For the filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
  2. Bake the unpeeled garlic on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until soft.
  3. Steam the pumpkin for 6-8 minutes or until tender.
  4. Drain well.
  5. Peel the garlic and add to the pumpkin.  Mash well with a potato masher.
  6. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, cottage cheese, salt and pepper.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Place a heaping teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the centre of half the pasta circles.
  9. Wet the edges of the pasta with a little water on the tip of your finger and fold in half in a semi-circle.  Press down firmly on the edges to seal the ravioli.
  10. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the ravioli.
  11. Boil for 4 minutes.
  12. Drain well and serve plain or with your favourite pasta sauce or cheese. I personally like sprinkling a bit of Feta cheese on top.

Preparation Time:  45 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty:  Hard

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10Apr 12

Asparagus and Cheese Pudding

Asparagus and Cheese PuddingThis creamy and savoury asparagus and cheese pudding is a great way to make use of yesterday’s leftover bread and impress even the most demanding gourmands at the same time.  I usually use ciabatta, but any rustic style bread will work just as well. (Also try this Asparagus Risotto.)

What you’re going to need:

  • 450g ciabatta bread, at least a day old, cut into 1cm thick slices
  • 375ml milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp pepper
  • 450g asparagus, tough stems removed, cut into 5cm sticks
  • 250g grated Manchego cheese
  • 250g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 

What you have to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
  2. Lay the bread along the bottom of a large shallow dish and cover with the milk.
  3. Set aside and let the bread absorb the milk, about 30 minutes.
  4. Bring 3 litres of salted water to the boil in a large pot.
  5. While you wait for the water to boil, butter a 2 litre baking dish and set aside.
  6. Combine the double cream, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.
  7. Place the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it just turns tender.
  8. Drain and rinse under cold water then set aside to drain again.
  9. Combine the cheeses in a small bowl.
  10. Place a third of the milk-soaked bread on the bottom of the buttered baking dish.
  11. Lay half of the asparagus over the bread, sprinkle with a third of the cheese mixture and half of the herbs.
  12. Lay another third of the bread on top, cover with more asparagus, herbs and half of the remaining cheese.
  13. Cover with the rest of the bread and the cheese, placing the remaining asparagus on top.
  14. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the top.
  15. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.
  16. Use a knife to check if it’s done.  The egg and cream mixture should be set and the knife should come out clean when inserted into the centre of the pudding.
  17. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Preparation Time:  35 minutes

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Serves:  6-8

Difficulty: Difficult

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28Mar 12

Cheesy Chilli Sin Carne

Cheesy Chilli Sin CarneI’ve loved Chilli Con Carne ever since I was a little girl; in fact, I think it’s probably the first “exotic” dish I acquired a taste for.  It was also the first dish I learned how to make when I became a vegetarian. Initially, I just used a packaged mix from the health food store, but I soon realised it was so much better to make it yourself and really not very difficult at all.  I try new variations of Cheesy Chilli Sin Carne every year or so, and this is my most recent version of the dish.

As for the name, everyone knows the standard Chilli Con Carne, which literally means “Chilli with Meat” in Spanish.  I like to call the vegetarian version “Chilli Sin Carne”, which of course means “Chilli without Meat”.  Enjoy!

What you’re going to need:

  • 2 x 400 g tins red kidney beans
  • 1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 200 g tin sweet corn
  • 200 g strong cheddar, cut in 1cm cubes
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper (standard size), chopped
  • 250 g TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsps fresh chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

What you have to do:

  1. Prepare the TVP by rehydrating with 200 ml of boiling water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions and red peppers and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.
  4. Set aside the onions and peppers and sauté the garlic, paprika, cumin and black pepper for about a minute, taking care not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add the onions and peppers back into the pot and mix well with the spices and garlic.
  6. Add the rehydrated TVP and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly to avoid sticking or burning.
  7. Add the canned tomatoes, kidney beans, sweet corn and salt and reduce heat to low.  Mix well.
  8. Add the cheddar cheese and keep cooking and stirring for 2-4 minutes or until the cheese is about 50% melted.
  9. Remove from heat and mix in the coriander.
  10. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and you’re done.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves:  6

Difficulty: Easy

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