Two weeks in and nary a scrap of meat has passed my lips. I don’t miss it, actually, although from time to time I am fantasising about juicy rib-eye steak. So I suppose I do miss it a little bit. This week I have cooked the following new (to me) recipes, mainly from Hugh F-W’s Veg Everyday book
Tomato and mozzarella risotto. Oh this was yummy. It’s the least complicated risotto ever as long as one has made the roasted tomato sauce beforehand and that’s easy enough. You just roast the tomatoes with some herbs, garlic and olive oil for an hour and a half and then sieve them to get rid of the skins and pips, eagerly consumed by a grateful dog. Trouble is, this recipe didn’t make enough for 4 hungry people. I’d always recommend using 300g of risotto rice. *glares at HF-W*
I then made gnocchi, which weren’t at all difficult, just a trifle too involved for a Saturday night. The rest of the frozen tomato sauce cam in handy for these. The Boywonder didn’t like that they tasted a bit of goat’s cheese, but I liked them, although I think they need to be poached for a bit more than a couple of minutes to heat them all the way through.
The following night’s fare was vegetable biryani. I quite liked it, but it required a lot of organisation and spices. We are struggling to find garlic-free recipes. I love garlic as much as the next woman but we must reek of it at the moment.
I was at a Bromley Prom Concert on Monday night but managed to cook ratatouille, an old veggie favourite of mine but this time cooked in an entirely new way: you just roast the veg except the tomatoes, which are cooked seperately on the hob for 45 minutes to make them into a pulpy sauce. Then it’s just a matter of mixing sauce into veg and cooking for a further 10 minutes. The roasting brings out all of the flavour in the veg and the different vegetables maintain the integrity of their flavours. I loved this so much that I’m always going to make ratatouille in this way in the future. It was quite a revelation.
I tried out speltoto on Tuesday. Spelt is apparently an ancient form of wheat but I have heard that it’s better for people who are normally sensitive to wheat. One needs to little of it. 150g was enough (just) for the four of us. You make the spelt in more or less the same way as risotto, by adding stock gradually and waiting for it to be absorbed. Leeks and kale from our organic box were sweated off separately and then added at the last minute. I really enjoyed this meal. I served the speltoto with Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweet potato cakes, which were very rich and need to be cooked in a much hotter pan next time I think. All of this went very well with a lovely Pouilly Fumé.
You’ll notice that a lot of these recipes contain cheese or eggs so they’re not vegan. I think the cheese makes the dishes more substantial. My husband and I are engaged in a debate about whether our food containing animal products such as these is actually vegetarian. Now I respect the vegan position, up to a point, but the vegans I have known have gone to some lengths to buy plastic shoes and polyester fleeces, made of petrochemicals, which somewhat blunts their ecological arguments. Not to mention the chemicals added to their food as substitutes for milk or butter or eggs. Hm.
Oscar the dog has not gone vegetarian, by the way. Though pet dogs in India are often fed on scraps of chapatti. I wonder if they go out hunting mousies when people aren’t looking. And, so far, I haven’t started slavering over his food.
So, nearly a third of the way through Lent now…