Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Vegetarian Crime Scene

A couple of vegetarian friends came over for dinner last week. Usually when I have guests over to eat, I don't have to worry too much about what I am cooking as most friends I have will eat absolutely anything. With my vegetarian friends however, I find myself thinking extremely hard to ensure I am not committing the 'feed a veggie' crimes that are committed in almost every eatery the length and breast of the U.K.. These crimes include the ubiquitous risotto, goats cheese, pasta or mushroom stroganoff that are often palmed off onto our long suffering non-meat eaters.

Vegetarian cuisine can be marvellous, and I truly think that the best way to dine a la veggie is to celebrate the best of seasonal vegetables in all of their simplicity and glory. I discovered the most fantastic vegetarian dish I have ever eaten called Turlu Turlu recently, and in my opinion, when it is cooked to perfection it almost makes you want to not ever eat meat again. I said 'almost'.

Turlu Turlu originates from Turkey and in its home country is served both as a main course or as an accompaniment to roast meats. It basically entails slowly roasting off any vegetable you care to roast, ones that improve with a good caramelising such as roots. So in my Turlu Turlu went baby turnips, fennel, aubergines, courgettes, beetroot, carrots, potato, onions and whole garlic cloves. A little dusting in mixed spice and a scattering of coriander seeds along with salt and pepper is all that is required to pick up the flavour. The sweet tomato sauce could not be simpler either. Roast off a load of cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves then blitz in a food processor. Tip in a tin of chickpeas and you have yourself the complete dish. A few homemade flatbreads make the meal even more impressive.

My friends were impressed and delighted, as well as relieved to see that I had not committed any veggie food crimes. And I had discovered a firm favourite in our household, a dish that can be changed throughout the seasons and one that takes no time at all. It is also an ideal way of preparing any vegetable that you are struggling to get your child to eat. Serving this up to my daughter means happy days, as she will consume anything that is smothered in the delicious sweet tomato sauce that accompanies it. Veggies, food crime committing restaurants and frustrated parents alike - introduce a little Turlu Turlu into your life, you won't regret it.

Turlu Turlu
Feeds 4

4 baby turnips, halved
3 large potatoes, cubed
1 onion, cut into eighths
6 whole garlic cloves
1 fennel bulb, quartered
1 beetroot, cubed
1 carrots, cut into thick diagonal slices
1 aubergine, halved then cut into thick slices
2 courgettes, cut into thick slices
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
Half tsp allspice
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh coriander

For the sauce
1kg cherry tomatoes
3 whole garlic cloves
Rapeseed or olive oil
1 tin of chickpeas

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, GM6.
2 - In a large roasting tin, combine all of the vegetables except for the courgette with the allspice, coriander seeds, salt and pepper and oil.
3 - In another roasting tin, combine the cherry tomatoes with the garlic and oil.
4 - Place both in the oven. Roast the cherry tomatoes for 30 minutes, remove then blitz to a sauce. Pour into a saucepan and keep aside.
5 - For the vegetables, roast for 20 minutes then turn. Roast for a further 20 minutes then put in the courgettes for a further 10 minutes roasting.
6 - Heat up the sauce, taste for seasoning then add the chickpeas.
7 - Serve a good mixture of the roasted vegetables with a good scattering of fresh coriander and a few spoonfuls of the sauce. For authenticity, drizzle on a little yoghurt which has been salted.


Anonymous said...

You are a veggie hero. I do PR for a well-known restaurateur in America. Even though I therefore know most of the chefs in the city, as a veggie I get served the mushroom risotto or wait for it the mushroom risotto. Thank you, thank you, thank you for realizing that there is more for a vegetarian to eat.

Anonymous said...

Hi David

This looks lovely - can't wait to try it...

Joanna said...

David - you left out the biggest veggie crime of them all, the omelette ... but I think we can forgive you because this turlu turlu is fabulous, and might even persuade my family to eat chickpeas. My veg box came yesterday, so now's the perfect moment to put this together. What a great post


Magic Cochin said...

That's a fantastic recipe for a vegetable gardener (like me). Last week experimented with carrots and beetroot roast with rapeseed oil and scattered with rosemary and sage leaves - a great combo!

Will definitely add Turlu Turlu to the repetoir!


David Hall said...

Glad you all kike this. I cannot underestimate how lovely this dish is. Even if there are certain vegetables you cannot stomach, the sweet sauce and chickpeas seem to make them delicious. Personally, I will eat anything! Joanna, how could I forget the omelette?! And Celia, how are you finding roasting with rapeseed? I love the stuff but I've found a broad difference of opinions with lots of people hating the smell!


Joanna said...

I never use rapeseed oil, don't want to encourage all those very bright yellow fields dotted about the countryside!

David, I've tagged you for Bloggers for Positive Global Change ... teaching the next generation is SUCH important work


Magic Cochin said...

Hi David - I came across cold pressed rapeseed oil when a local farmer was giving away free bottles at a local garden centre. It has got a distinctive aroma - not unpleasant in my opininion. I think it goes best with root vegetables and brassicas (it is a brassica oil after all). My favourite uses so far have been: stir-fried kale or cabbage; carrots and beetroot chunks roast with rosemary and sage; and as a dressing on cooked green beans with black pepper and savoury.
For me here on the edge of Cambridgeshire, cold pressed rapeseed oil is a locally produced product from a independent grower finding ways to diversify and keep in business - that gets my full support. As far as bright yellow fields go - I find them visually thrilling - the only downside is the pollen which makes the footpaths around here out of bounds for a month for hayfeever sufferers like my husband. It's not organic or grown in cute little fields with hedges, but the farmers do now leave extra wide headlands for wildlife. And local rape flower honey is pretty good too.


David Hall said...

Joanna - thanks for voting, it means a lot, glad you recognise our efforts too.

Celia - I too suffer with hayfever, so when I use rapeseed oil I feel like I'm getting revenge! I love to just roast roots in it, I find they colour superbly in it and crisp up better.


Paula(bear) said...

David, you also forgot the fact that the goat's cheese is always in an overcooked pastry tart ;)

I still eat fish (call me a pescetarian!) but my guy is veggie and I eat mostly veggie, and we use a lot of fake meat products cos we both learned how to cook with meat. This is different, a great pure veggie recipe, and I'm really looking forward to trying it :) Cheers, Paula