Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vegetarian Main Course - Cookery Class

Cooking for vegetarians can be a challenge especially if you want to impress them at a dinner party. Most people only think of vegetables as a side dish rather than a main course. And most restaurants and hotels don’t really cater for vegetarian other than the odd goats cheese tart and chargrilled vegetables and most vegetarians are tired of it. So here is your chance to impress.

The stuffed aubergine is a classic but I have added a nice walnut crumble that gives the dish a nice dimension. You can use also almonds, hazelnuts or even pine nuts. The flesh of aubergines is almost flat in taste and needs a lot of seasoning. When cooked, aubergines can get very mushy, so adding a different texture is needed to make the dish more interesting. Here I am using roasted pumpkin. As sauce you can use a pepper sauce as we did with the seafood parcels, adapted to suit the dish. I am using parmesan cheese in the crumble which is made with animal rennet – you will need to find alternatives if you are hosting a ‘real’ vegetarian

Another nice option is a couscous cake but if you cook it as part of a ‘normal’ dinner, it might not really fit into the dinner but if you go for a vegetarian only meal, it will be lovely with some wilted greens and tomato chutney.

Your imagination is the limit for vegetarian food – start thinking outside the box. A very good source of inspiration is Denis Cotter who is one of the most exciting vegetarian chefs – his restaurant Cafe Paradiso has won several awards and his first cookbook was voted best vegetarian cookbook in the world – rightfully J

So have fun experimenting and let your imagination run wild.

Stuffed Aubergine with Walnut Crumble

Stuffed Aubergine with Walnut Crumble
  • 2 aubergines
  • 100-200g pumpkin
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 -4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh herbs (sage, rosemary)
  • 100g feta, coarsely crumbled
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • Butter
  • Handful of walnuts, slightly toasted & coarsely chopped
  • Chives
  • Large handful of parmesan cheese (or alternative)

Heat oven to 180C.

Cut the aubergines in half lengthways (try to leave the stem in place). Scoop the flesh from the aubergines, leaving a shell about 1 cm thick. Chop the flesh and put into a bowl.

Peel the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and cut the flesh into small cubes. Toss in olive oil and place on a roasting tin. Roast for about 10 mins until soft.

Rub the aubergine shells with olive oil and place on an oiled roasting tray cut side down. Bake for 15-20 mins until the shells are almost cooked

In a frying pan, heat olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until softened. Add the aubergine flesh and stir-fry until soft. Season with salt & cumin. Tip into a bowl and add the pumpkin, feta and herbs. Divide the mixture between the aubergine halves.

Melt about 2 tbsp butter and mix with the breadcrumbs. Stir in chopped chives, parmesan and walnuts – mix well. Spoon breadcrumb mixture over the aubergines and return to oven for about 15 mins or until the crumble starts to brown.

Wine: A light Zinfandel

Couscous Cakes

Couscous Cake

  • 2 cups couscous
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts
  • 100g feta
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg

Tip the couscous in a heatproof bowl and just cover it with boiling water (just to cover it – don’t drown it). Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the rawness is gone from the garlic and the onion just starts to caramelise. Add the pine nuts and stir-fry until slightly browned. Tip everything into the couscous together with the parsley and feta and mix well. Cool slightly.

When ready to assemble, add the egg and mix well. Heat oil in a frying pan. Place 4 rings (low) into the frying pan or how many you can fit into the pan and divide the mixture between the rings. Press down.

Fry until the bottom is slightly browned and turn to repeat with the other side.

Serve with wilted greens and tomato chutney

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