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.
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
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.