Benef­i­cent seven

Ve­gan food has a bad rap for be­ing con­vo­luted, but as blog­ger Rita Serano proves in her new book Ve­gan In 7, ex­clud­ing an­i­mal prod­ucts can be both straight­for­ward and de­li­cious. Each of these recipes has seven in­gre­di­ents or less ...

The Guardian - Cook - - Book Extract - Rita Serano is a cook, au­thor and blog­ger; ri­taser­

9 Salt-baked beets and spuds with aioli

There’s noth­ing bet­ter for a lazy chef than to put food in the oven and step back while it does all the work. This dish is a per­fect ex­am­ple, and full of flavours in­spired by Span­ish and south­ern French cui­sine. It is also full of colour – es­pe­cially if you use dif­fer­ent colours of beet­root and pota­toes. You will need to soak the cashews overnight to make the aioli.

Serves 4 1.5kg coarse sea salt

750g fresh beet­root, prefer­ably red, yel­low and Chiog­gia va­ri­eties 750g pota­toes, prefer­ably pink and pur­ple

For the aioli

1 pinch of saf­fron threads (about 20) 200g raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed 1 tbsp ap­ple cider vine­gar or the juice of ½ lemon 2 or 3 gar­lic cloves, chopped

1 Set the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Spread half of the salt over the base of a bak­ing tin. Pierce each potato and beet­root a cou­ple of times with a fork. Ar­range them on the tray and cover with the re­main­ing salt. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, or un­til ten­der.

2 While the veg­eta­bles are cook­ing, make the aioli. Put the saf­fron threads in a cup and pour over 2-3 tbsp boil­ing wa­ter. Leave it to steep for 5-7 min­utes. 3 Mean­while, drain the cashews then blitz with the vine­gar, 1 tsp salt, the saf­fron wa­ter (re­move the threads), an ad­di­tional 150ml wa­ter and the gar­lic cloves, and blitz un­til very smooth.

4 When the veg­eta­bles are cooked, shake off the ex­cess salt and slice in two, then serve with the aioli, ac­com­pa­nied, if you wish, with a fresh green salad.

10 Pis­tou with pasta

French pis­tou has the same base as pesto, but it for­goes the parme­san and pine nuts of its Ital­ian coun­ter­part. This ver­sion uses av­o­cado rather than oil to cre­ate a rich, creamy tex­ture. Pis­tou is nor­mally quite heavy on the gar­lic, which gives it a po­tent taste,

Left­over pis­tou is great on a sand­wich with some fresh tomato and av­o­cado slices ...

although you can use less if you pre­fer. Broc­coli and french beans work great here, but you could also use as­para­gus or sea­sonal beans. You can use red lentils, chick­peas, rice or tra­di­tional orec­chi­ette for the pasta. Left­over pis­tou is great on a sand­wich with some fresh tomato and av­o­cado slices.

Serves 4

400g short pasta 300g french beans, cut in half or into thirds

1 head of broc­coli, cut into small flo­rets 2 large bunches of basil (each 75g), roughly chopped

¼ av­o­cado 4–6 gar­lic cloves, chopped Juice of 1 lemon 1 tsp salt

1 Cook the pasta ac­cord­ing to the packet in­struc­tions in plenty of boil­ing wa­ter. Bring an­other pan of wa­ter to the boil and add the french beans for 7–8 min­utes, and put the lid on. Add the broc­coli af­ter 3–4 min­utes. Drain and set aside.

2 Mean­while, make the pis­tou. Put the basil, av­o­cado, gar­lic, lemon juice and 1 tsp salt in a blender or food pro­ces­sor and add about 60ml of wa­ter. Process un­til smooth. Add some more wa­ter, 1 tbsp at a time, if needed.

3 Drain the pasta and re­serve 2 tbsp of the cook­ing wa­ter. Com­bine the pasta with the veg­eta­bles, pis­tou and re­served cook­ing wa­ter (to make the pasta creamier) and mix to evenly coat. Serve im­me­di­ately.

11 Root veg­etable boulangère

Boulangère is a clas­sic French oven­baked potato dish. The name dates from when the dish would have been made at the lo­cal bak­ery (the boulan­gerie) be­cause of the lack of home ovens.

This ver­sion uses a mix­ture of win­ter root veg­eta­bles rather than just the tra­di­tional potato and, although it takes a while to cook, the taste is worth the wait!

Serves 4

1.5kg mixed win­ter root veg­eta­bles (such as parsnip, potato, car­rot) 450ml veg­etable stock

3 tbsp mixed chopped sage, rose­mary and thyme

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6. Peel and roughly chop your cho­sen veg­eta­bles and lay them in an oven­proof dish about 30x20cm in area and 5cm deep. Pour the stock over the veg­eta­bles and scat­ter the herbs on top.

2 Cook on the high­est shelf of the oven for about 1 hour, or un­til the top turns golden and crisp and the veg­eta­bles are ten­der. If the top starts to turn too dark, cover with foil. Take out of the oven and serve.

12 Smokin’ burg­ers

If you have some grains and beans al­ready cooked, then mak­ing these is re­ally easy. The key to a tasty burger is to sim­ply make it with strong umami flavours. Here, the caramelised onions and miso paste en­sure just such as a taste ex­plo­sion. Serve topped with onion rings or in a bun with av­o­cado or let­tuce and your choice of condi­ment.

Makes 6

3 red onions, chopped

300g cooked red kid­ney beans (400g tin, drained)

170g cooked (100g when dry) red rice 50g fine oat flakes

1 tbsp miso paste

1 tsp smoked pa­prika

½ tsp chilli flakes (or more to taste) Co­conut oil, for fry­ing

1 Fry the onions over a medium heat with a splash of wa­ter un­til soft, golden and caramelised. If needed, add a lit­tle more wa­ter to pre­vent burn­ing.

2 In a food-pro­ces­sor, blend the cooked onions with the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents, but leave some struc­ture.

3 Di­vide the mix­ture into six balls. Press them into round pat­ties. If you have time, put them in the re­frig­er­a­tor to chill for 30 min­utes or more.

4 Fry the pat­ties in a lit­tle co­conut oil in a fry­ing pan over a medium-high heat for about 3–4 min­utes each side, or un­til golden and crisp.

▲ Ve­gan in 7 by Rita Serano (Kyle books) is avail­able now.

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