Vegetarian Yummyness...

>> Saturday, 15 May 2010

Had a super-fun night last night cooking for and catching-up with friends, one of whom is vegetarian.

I'm always really conscious that people who are vegetarian or have food dislikes/intolerances aren't left out in the food department while everyone else scoffs away at the 'normal' food! I'm also pretty lazy and would rather cook one meal than lots of variations to accommodate everyone. So, my mission last night was cook a meal everyone would enjoy, vegetarians and non-vegetarians, that took minimal faffing on the night after a hard working week....

The answer was to prepare a menu where as much as possible was done in advance (and actually, the flavours tasted better for it) and was sufficiently robust to satisfy the carnivores too!

I made a Moroccan vegetable stew, which was rich and sweet, and served it with herby-apricot quinoa. For dessert we indulged in chocolate mousse with macaroons and we rounded everything off with an amazing cheese board (a birthday present from my lovely friend, Kaye).

The stew was really easy and the recipe allows for lots of personal variation....


  • Selection of vegetables (I used 1 fennel bulb, 1 red onion, 2 carrots, 1 aubergine, 1 red pepper)
  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • Selection of Moroccan spices (I used a mix from Schwartz but you could just use ground cumin, coriander seed and cinnamon)
  • Olive oil
  • 800g (2 tins) of chopped tomatoes (I used the ones with added garlic)
  • Handful of chopped apricots
  • Handful of raisins
  • Moroccan tagine paste (optional - I used Salisbury's paste from their Cooks Ingredients section, but you could just mix oil, tomato puree, seasoning and a spoon of your spice mix to get a similar product
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)
1. Chop all your vegetables into cube and mix with 1 tbsp of your spice mix and a good glug of oil
2. Roast these for 40 mins (suggest 180c/GM 3)
3. Whilst roasting is underway, mix your tomatoes, 1 tbsp paste, cinnamon stick, drained chickpeas, raisins and apricots in a pan and simmer on a low heat
4. When you vegetables are roasted, tip into your tomato mix and stir through

You can eat this straight away, but I think the flavours infuse more if you leave overnight.

I prepared a simple side of quinoa and apricots to serve this with. You can replace the quinoa with cous cous, bulgar wheat, orzo etc...

To make this, simply cook the appropriate amount of your chosen grain and mix with chopped apricots (use the juicy plump ones or alternatively simmer them in water to plump up first), pistachios, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped flat leaf parsley, chopped mint, olive oil and seasoning. Clearly, you can easily adapt this with whatever you've got to hand! Flaked almonds are a nice addition too.

Pudding was a pretty special chocolate mousse (recipe from Good Food magazine), served with Macaroons (still attempting to master these...definite improvements still to be made!)...

Chocolate Mousse (make 12 hours before...)
Serves 4

  • 85g dark chocolate (70% cocoa content - the good stuff!)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp coffee granules
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g full-fat greek yoghurt
1. Break chocolate into small pieces and mix in a bowl with the cocoa, coffee, vanilla and 2 tbsp cold water
2. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water (don't let it touch the water)
3. Stir until melted, then add 2 tbsp boiling water, stir and take off the heat.
4. Whisk egg whites to soft peaks and then add sugar, whisking until thick and glossy
5. Stir yoghurt into your melted chocolate and then gradually fold in your egg whites (don't overmix or you'll lose your air)
6. Spoon into 4 serving dishes (I used cappuccino cups) and chill for 12 hours before serving

You can get the recipe for the Macaroons from my previous post and I made up the chocolate filling as I went (essentially butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar all mixed together to create a thick paste).

Our final course, was a huge selection of cheese, which was delivered to me from The Cheese Society. They have great monthly selections which are such a cool present to receive and soooooooo yuummy!

I stamped the names of the cheeses out with a cute little stamp set I bought from Muji. On the assumption that you've not got one of these immediately to hand, you could use a little paint brush and squid ink/food colouring....'s very helpful when you're drunk and can't remember which is which!! The Cheese Society send you cheese tasting notes too, which is fun. My favourite was the Duddleswell, firm and creamy, mmmm....

So there you have it! The vegetarian feast for non-vegetarians too. It's actually quite an apt post, as it's National Vegetarian Week from the 24th to the 30th of May! Coincidence rather than planning!

Coming up next week, adventures in pasta, hasty pastry and the introduction of Herman the German cake of friendship...(all will be explained!).

Much love,
Helen x

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