DOWN TO EARTH Ginny Grant gives plants a starring role in elegant, flavoursome dishes
GINNY GRANT CREATES EXCITING, FLAVOUR-PACKED DISHES WITHOUT MEAT.
WE ARE OFTEN EXHORTED to eat more plant-based meals and while I would struggle to give up the delights of meat or seafood entirely, since the beginning of the year I have been making a concerted effort to up my vegetable quota. That is largely due to one single thing – both my tween-aged boys deciding to become vegetarian. Some people would see this as a negative, but I’ve looked at it as a positive – it has encouraged them to eat a wider variety of vegetables, expand their choices and try new dishes. I still haven’t convinced them of the deliciousness of Puy lentils, cauliflower or mushrooms, but it is an ongoing project (and yes, I’m not above hiding those ingredients!).
WHITE BEAN PUREE WITH CARAMELISED FENNEL, ASPARAGUS & BROAD BEANS
SERVES 4 / PREPARATION 30 MINUTES PLUS OVERNIGHT SOAKING / COOKING 1½-2½ HOURS
White beans here are treated like polenta, with the addition of parmesan and mascarpone to enrich it.
FOR THE BEANS
1 cup dried white beans such as cannellini,
or use 2 x 400g cans white beans 2 bay leaves 1 onion, halved 4 cloves garlic 1 red chilli (fresh or dried) 2 tablespoons mascarpone 50g parmesan or an aged hard cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Drain, rinse then put into a saucepan, cover with water and add the bay leaves, onion, garlic and chilli. Bring to the boil, skimming off any foam, then simmer very gently for 1-2 hours or until the beans are tender. Remove and discard the bay leaves, onion and chilli (I usually remove the skin from the garlic, then puree it with the beans).
If making ahead, cool the beans in the cooking water and refrigerate. Reheat before pureeing. If using canned beans, drain and rinse, put into a saucepan, add 1½ cups water and 2 cloves peeled garlic and heat.
To puree, put the beans into a blender and blend, adding enough of the cooking water to make a smooth puree. Stir in the mascarpone and parmesan and season with salt.
FOR THE VEGETABLES
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 large fennel bulbs (or 3 small), cut into thin wedges, fronds reserved 2 onions, sliced in wedges from the root end 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, finely chopped ½ cup white wine or water 2 cups broad beans, podded 2 bunches asparagus, sliced into rounds juice of ½ lemon
Heat a wide pan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the fennel and fry for 10 minutes or until lightly caramelised, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and a little salt and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the onion and fennel are darkly coloured. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a minute then add the wine, broad beans and asparagus. Cover and steam for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. To serve, spoon the puree onto warmed plates, top with the veges and add extra grated parmesan.
WINE A smoky sauvignon blanc – go for the Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016.
Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant Photography Aaron McLean Styling Fiona Lascelles