DOWN TO EARTH Ginny Grant gives plants a star­ring role in el­e­gant, flavour­some dishes

GINNY GRANT CRE­ATES EX­CIT­ING, FLAVOUR-PACKED DISHES WITH­OUT MEAT.

Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

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

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