20 best vegetarian recipes: portion 1

From Romy Gills chana dal to Jane Grigsons ratatouille, great vegetarian dishes chosen by Observer Food Monthly

Romy Gills chana dal with chapati

There are so many different ways of cooking chana dal. My papa run in the steel plant in Burnpur in West Bengal people came from different states to work there, so my growing-up years in India were spent feeing the most delicious food ever.

Serves 4-6
chana dal 250 g
red onions 2 medium
hot water 1 litre
ground turmeric tsp
salt to taste
rapeseed oil 4 tsp
black mustard seeds 1 tsp
garlic 2 tsp, grated
ginger 1 tsp, grated
tomato 1 large, finely chopped
fresh green chillies 2 tsp, chopped with seeds
ground coriander 1 tsp
ground cumin 1 tsp
garam masala tsp
red kashmiri chillies 2 whole

For the chapati
wholemeal or plain flour 200 g
lukewarm water 75 ml
oil 1 tsp
butter for spreading

Soak the chana dal in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinses it in cold water so that all the starch comes out.

Finely chop the red onions and keep aside. In a deep pan, on medium heat, cook the chana dal in the hot water, adding the turmeric and salt, for 30 minutes.

In another pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the chopped onions and soften slowly, taking care to make sure all of the onions get cooked. Make sure you dont caramelise them.

Add the grated garlic and ginger and cook for 6-7 minutes on medium heat.

Add the chopped tomato and green chillies and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Maintain stirring so that the paste doesnt get burnt.

Add all the spices along with whole red chillies and mix well. If the paste sticks to the base of the pan then add few drops of hot water.

Add the paste to the cooked chana dal. Cover the pan and cook on a very low heat for 3-4 minutes.

To make the chapatis, make a well in the middle of the flour in a bowl and pour in the water and oil. If the dough feels a little hard, add a few drops more water.

Mix into a dough and knead for 5-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with a tea towel and remainder for an hour.

Make 8-10 balls of the dough. Sprinkle flour onto a board and roll out a ball to make a thin flapjack about 3mm thickness.

Place the dough on a hot flapjack pan over medium heat and turn over after 30 seconds. Cook the second side for 1 minute, until small bubbles form.

Turn again and cook the first side, pressed softly with a kitchen towel. It should start to rise. Make sure it is cooked evenly.

Smear it with butter and wrap it in a kitchen towel to keep warm before serving with the chana dal.

Romy Gill is the chef-owner of Romys Kitchen, in Thornbury, Gloucestershire

Peter Gordons mozzarella, artichokes, walnut sauce and sumac lavosh

Peter
Photograph: Lisa Linder

This cooking technique for the artichokes is termed la Grecque. I like to use the smaller pointed various forms of artichoke for this but you can use the larger globe-shaped ones if thats what you have. Lavosh is a flatbread originating in the Countries of the middle east. Its easy to make and you can personalise it by adding your favourite seeds and spices here I sprinkle it with sumac. The recipe induces more than you need here as its hard to make a small quantity. If you dont have time to make it, then serve with crostini or shop-bought lavosh instead.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a starter
long-stemmed globe artichokes 8-10( 1kg)
lemon , sliced 1cm thick
cider vinegar or other white vinegar 1 tbsp
banana shallot 1, sliced into rings
carrot , peeled and sliced
bay leaf 1
fresh hard herbs 1 tbsp( eg thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage)
garlic 1 clove, sliced
olive oil 125 ml
water 400 ml, plus extra as needed
salt and black pepper
salad leaves a handful( I utilized pea shoots)
sumac lavosh as much as you like( see below)

For the walnut sauce
walnut halves 50 g, toasted
sourdough bread 40 g, sliced( crusts left on ), toasted then broken into pieces
lemon juice 75 ml
lemon zest tsp, finely grated
garlic 2 cleaves, sliced
iced water 100 ml
salt tsp
olive oil 3 tbsp

For the sumac lavosh
plain flour 170 g, sieved
wholewheat flour 1 rounded tbsp
sugar 1 tsp
fine salt tsp
extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp, plus 1 tsp extra for brushing
iced water 85 ml, plus extra if needed
sumac 2 tsp
sea salt flakes for sprinkling

First cook the artichokes. Place the sliced lemon in a large saucepan with the cider vinegar, shallot, carrot, bay leaf, herbs and garlic clove. Add the olive oil, water, tsp of coarsely ground black pepper and 1 tsp of salt. Cut the stalks off the artichokes 6-8cm from the base. Remove the lower leaves until you can feel them becoming more tender this usually entails removing the outer two or three layers, utilizing either your fingers or a small knife. Employing a small sharp knife, peel the tough scalp from the stalks, running from the cut aim towards the head, as the stalks are edible and I hate to waste good food! Cut through the heads crossways half-way up and discard the top part. Trim any hard pieces from the head itself. Cut in half lengthways. Carefully cut out the very fine choke hairs, or use a small teaspoon to do this. As each artichoke is ready, add it to the saucepan and stir to coat in the oil and vinegar to prevent it from discolouring. Once all the artichokes are prepared, add, if needed, just enough water to come to the top of the artichokes. Lay a paper cartouche on top, pressing it down, and poke a few pits in the newspaper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle boil and cook until you can easily insert a thick knife through the base and stem of the artichokes, about 12 -1 5 minutes. Leave to cool in the cooking liquid. They can be prepared up to 4 days in advance.

Make the walnut sauce. Place the walnuts, bread pieces, lemon juice and zest, garlic, iced water and salt in a small food processor( or use a stick or jug blender) and blitz to a puree. Add the oil and blitz again. Taste for seasoning.

To make the sumac lavosh, preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4. Place the flours, sugar and salt in a kitchen mixer( a stand mixer rather than a food processor) and mix together. With the motor running, add 1 tablespoon of oil and the iced water and mix together until a pliable dough is formed. If its too dry, add a little extra iced water; if too wet, add a little extra wholewheat flour.

Mix for 4 minutes on medium-low speed. Take the dough out, roll it on the run surface into a ball, then wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Pull off walnut-sized pieces and roll out on a floured run surface as thin as you can.( At my restaurants we run it through our pasta rollers on the second thinnest setting .) Lay it on a baking sheet and leave to rest for 20 minutes( this will prevent it shrinking too much when baked ). Bake until golden, turning the tray about 180 degrees after 8 minutes to colour it evenly. The lavosh is ready when it has turned dark golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the sumac and some flaky salt while still hot. Once cooled, store in an airtight container. The dough freezes well and will last for 4 weeks, so merely roll out what you need at the time.

To serve, lay the salad leaves on your plates and top with the mozzarella then the artichokes. Add some of the carrots, lemon slicings and shallots from the cooking liquor, then dollop the walnut sauce on top. Ultimately, tuck in the sumac lavosh, broken into large shards.

From Savour by Peter Gordon( Jacqui Small, 25 ). Click here to order a transcript from Guardian Bookshop for 20

Jane Grigsons ratatouille la Nicoise

Jane
Photograph: Tessa Traeger for the Observer

Ratatouille, properly made without wateriness, is an adaptable and excellent dish. The ingredients can be adjusted to availability or your own pocket and it is feasible to eat hot or cold.

Ratatouille is a Provenal word, first recorded in the 18 th century, though it is probably a good deal older than that. It is a cross between tatouiller and ratouiller which, as the dictionary tells, are expressive different forms of touller , an old verb from the Latin tudiculare , meaning to stir and crush.

Serves 8-10
aubergines 500 g
courgettes 500 g
salt
tomatoes 500 g, skinned
sweet peppers 2-3
onions 2-3 large, sliced
olive oil 4 tbsp
garlic 2 large cleaves, chopped
pepper, sugar, vinegar to taste
coriander seeds tsp, crushed
fresh basil or parsley leaves

Slice the aubergines and courgettes. Put them in a colander, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and leave for an hour to drain. Pat them dry with kitchen paper. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Remove the stalks and seeds from the peppers and cut them into strips.

Cook the onion slowly, without browning it, in the olive oil with the garlic. As it softens, add the aubergines and peppers. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Put in the tomatoes and courgettes. Season with salt, pepper, and a little sugar and vinegar if the tomatoes lack flavour as they often do. Cook steadily without encompassing the pan until all wateriness has disappeared about 50 minutes. Ten minutes before the end, add the coriander. The veggies should retain a certain identity, so do not crush them to a puree, although they should be stirred vigorously from time to time. Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with basil or parsley.

From Jane Grigsons Vegetable Book( Penguin, 12.99 ). Click here to order a transcript from Guardian Bookshop for 10.39

Florence Knights chickpea, Swiss chard and soft-poached egg

Florence
Photograph: Jason Lowe

This is wholesome eating at its best. I find it hard to resist piercing the flaxen yolk over the plump pulsations. Think of chard as two different veggies as the stalks require a bit more help than the leaves; cooking the stalks with the chickpeas softens their toughness.

Makes 6 small plates
dried chickpeas 300 g
onions 3
extra virgin olive oil
dried chilli flakes 1 tsp
coriander seeds 2 tsp
salt
celery 2 sticks
carrot 1
garlic 3 cloves
Swiss chard 1 bunch
bay leaf 1
white wine 175 ml
plum tomatoes 1 x 400 g tin
malt vinegar a splash
eggs 6 medium, at room temperature
black pepper to taste

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl, cover-up with cold water and soak overnight.

When you are ready to cook, drain and rinse the chickpeas under cold work water. Place them in a pan and add water until it covers them by about 2.5 cm. Peel and halve 1 onion and add it to the pan with a little olive oil, the chilli and the coriander seeds.

Bring the chickpeas to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until tender, checking after 30 minutes. Once the chickpeas are cooked remove them from the heat, drain them( reserving the cooking liquor) and season to taste.

Meanwhile peel, halve and dice the remaining 2 onions. Put the onions in a heavy-bottomed pan with a glug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt, cover-up with the eyelid and cook slowly over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the onions are cooking, peel, halve and dice the celery and carrot. Submerge the garlic cloves in warm water and leave for a few minutes this will help the scalp to pop off easily. Then cross-chop or use a pestle and mortar to mash the garlic with a good pinch of salt until it becomes paste-like.

Rinse the chard under cold work water and trim the ragged stubble aims. Employing a small knife, withdraw existing stalks from the leaves following their natural shape. Roughly chop the stalks into thin strips.

After the onions have been cooking for 10 minutes and are soft and tender, stir through the celery, carrot, garlic and chard stalks and add the bay leaf. Stir through and blend and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Pour over the wine and leave to reduce by half over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes and 300 ml of the chickpea cooking liquor followed by the drained chickpeas. Give the mixture a good stir through and simmer for about 20 minutes until almost all the juices have been absorbed into the chickpeas. Season well while still warm, then fold through the chard leaves and cover-up with a pan lid to help them wilt into the mixture.

Place a pan of water with a splash of malt vinegar in it over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Crack an egg into a glass or cup. Swirl the water around in a circular motion and once the water determines somewhat and there is a tornado effect in the centre, lower the cup into the middle of the swirl so that it nearly touches the water and tip-off the egg out in a quick fluid motion. Gently poach for three minutes or until the white is merely set. Remove the egg with a slotted spoonful and drain on kitchen roll before placing on a plate. Recur the poaching process with the remaining eggs. If youre confident, poach 2 at a time.

Ladle the chickpeas into bowls. Place a poached egg on top of each serving of chickpeas and conclude with a little extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and some black pepper.

From One by Florence Knight( Hodder& Stoughton, 26 ). Click here to order a transcript from Guardian Bookshop for 20.80

Alice Harts spiced turmeric broth with roast vegetables

Alice
Photograph: Tessa Traeger for the Observer

I find this very special bowl, a fragrant curry of sorts, is the vegetarian equivalent of a chicken noodle soup, both for convenience and health benefits. Add more coconut cream or milk if you would like more of a soup-y feel; the recipe here offer more of a sauce at the base of the bowl. Curry leaves can be tricky to find fresh, but are transformative: try Asian food shops, large supermarkets and the internet.

Serves 4
carrots 6 small, scrubbed and thickly sliced if on the larger side
parsnips 2, scrubbed and thickly sliced
celeriac 1 small, peeled and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
coconut oil 3 tbsp
root ginger a thumb
fresh turmeric a thumb
coriander with roots a small handful
shallots 2, finely sliced
black mustard seeds 1 tsp
garlic 1 clove, finely chopped
fresh curry leaves 1 sprig
green cardamom pods 3, softly crushed
dried red chilli 1
coconut cream 200 ml
water 200 ml
lime juice of
cooked wild rice 200 g
red amaranth or Thai basil to serve( optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 C/ gas mark 6. Spread the root vegetables out in a large roasting tin, season well and crumble 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil over them( or pour, if it is warm and liquid ). Roast for 15 minutes, then use a spatula to fling the veggies, distributing the melted oil evenly. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or so, until soft and caramelised.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the ginger and turmeric. Finely chop the coriander roots and stalks. Define the coriander leaves aside.

Put the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in a deep frying pan or medium saucepan and define it over a medium-low heat. Add the shallots with a pinch of salt and fry gently for a few minutes, stirring now and then.

Increase the heat and cook until they are beginning to catch at the edges, then add the mustard seeds and cook for another minute or two; they should pop and sizzle. Add the ginger, turmeric, coriander roots and stalks, garlic, curry leaves, cardamom and dried chilli, sauteing for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the coconut cream with the water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the lime juice to brighten the flavours.

Divide the roast veggies between serving bowls with the cooked wild rice. Ladle the broth over the top and finish with the coriander leaves and any other Asian herbs you have, such as red amaranth or Thai basil.

From The New Vegetarian by Alice Hart( Square Peg, 25 ). Click here to order a transcript from Guardian Bookshop for 20

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