This is a great vegetable based starter or can be a side dish. Small plate meals to share are on the trend and this could be a small plate to share. It is my version of the Greek dish kounoupithi kapama.
Exciting thing about end of summer and early autumn is bountiful produce in the farmers markets. I’ve always loved the sound of jalapeno poppers but didn’t like the idea of deep frying so I created these oven baked poppers. I assure that they are so tasty and if you are a chilli lover, you’ll simply love them and want more.
125g cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
1 shallot, finely diced
50g finely grated cheese like gruyere
1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup or hot sauce
Salt to taste
Preheat your grill to 180 degrees Celsius.
Slice the jalapenos in half from the stalk to bottom tip. Scoop out most of the seeds and pith.
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, shallot, grated cheese and sauce. Season with about half a teaspoon salt.
Arrange the jalapeno halves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Use your hands or a small teaspoon to fill the jalapenos with the cheese mixture.
Place under grill for 8 – 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown. Serve warm. Serves 4-6 as a starter.
I am surprised how many people get stumped if they have to prepare a protein rich salad as a main for a vegan when the rest are having a barbecue. Very often it is just a standard green salad and if you are lucky maybe a vegan burger (store bought). There are a variety of beans and grains that offer high quality nutrition and personally think you can even make yummy vegan homemade burgers with a little planning.
This salad is colourful, fresh and absolutely delightful that eating a bowl won’t be that hard!
1 x 400g tin of brown lentils, rinsed and drained well
As far as condiments and flavourings go, I love miso. I use it rather unconventionally in salad dressings and also in sauces/ marinades. The savouriness of miso lends well to eggplant. You could use the same technique with zucchini (cut it lengthways).
2 eggplants, cut into 2cm thick slices
2 -3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (like sunflower)
I’ve seen this dish on the menu at several Indian restaurants. Ever since the potato was introduced by the Portuguese in early seventeenth century, Indians love for this vegetable has also grown. It is often added to most North Indian style vegetable dishes. What I find interesting is that the South was kind of far removed from foreign influences so much so that it took a long time for the so called “Western” vegetables to be incorporated into mainstream South Indian cooking. Sorry for my digression.
More to the point of aloo baingan – this is a lovely vegetarian dish that is not too chilli hot, yet very flavourful.
I roasted the eggplants for a bit so they retain their shape and don’t fall apart.
One of my favourite South East Asian salad is Som Tum. Traditionally it is made with green papaya but here I made with kohl rabi and carrot. It is such a classic and if you get green papaya do try, although kohl rabi works well too. The salad is slightly acidic, a little sweet from palm sugar, a little sour from tamarind contrasting the crunchy kohl rabi, green beans and peanuts.
One more recipe for sour dough discard! Even if you don’t have sour dough discard, you can still make this by adjusting the amounts of yeast used. You can use spinach instead of chard or silver beet. I used a Chinese cleaver to finely mince my silver beet but you can use a food processor for this.
I love making my own breads and feel so wonderful kneading the dough manually. I served it with a minestrone style soup – it is yummy on its own too.
For the dough
325g high grade flour
25g wholemeal flour
5g instant yeast (use 7g if no sour dough discard)
40g sour dough discard
120g silver beet finely chopped (see note above)
1 tablespoon olive oil
200ml tepid water
For the topping
3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
5-6 olives, sliced or halved
Sea salt crystals
Olive oil as needed
1 -2 tablespoons water
Place all ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients to form a dough mass.
You can use the dough hook on your stand mixer and knead for 10 minutes giving a 30 second break every 3-4 minutes of kneading. If you are like me and prefer to knead manually, tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, resting it for 30 seconds every three minutes. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave in a warm place for an hour and a half to two hours to allow it to double in size.
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and drizzle with two tablespoons of oil. Spread oil around to grease the paper. Using the palm of your hand, flatten dough to a 20cm disc and place on prepared baking tray. Using your fingertips, press dough down, leaving fingertip impressions. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.
Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius.
Stud the dough with sun dried tomato and olive pieces. Sprinkle the sea salt and make indentations with your fingertips. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle water. Bake in preheated oven for 12 -15 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush focaccia with olive oil. Place on a wire rack to cool for half an hour at least before slicing.
I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that I like to incorporate some protein element to my dishes to keep them nutritionally balanced. The logic is that if this is the only thing you are going to eat for that meal, you will feel satisfied and fuller for longer because of the fibre, protein and low glycaemic index of vegetables. Fennel is a versatile vegetable and you should try if you haven’t tried it before. You can roast it with beetroot for a roast salad or finely slice for a crisp coleslaw or is great in soup. Fennel also goes well with tomato and any white beans – you can make a soup out of tomato, fennel and cannellini beans.
My recipe uses your pantry staple lentils, leek and fennel. The trick to washing leeks well is to cut them in half longitudinal and wash the layers with running water. Fennel the vegetable is mild but it lets you know that it has been used. It is not in your face flavour but in the same token it is creamy when cooked and does take on more flavours. Do give this soup a try because every time I make it, the bowls are licked clean and it is a no fuss recipe with few ingredients!
1 leek, sliced thinly into half moons
1 large fennel or 2 medium sized (about 750g), chopped
I know this is very retro – I loved mushroom soup in the ‘90s and now too. It is a lovely soup for a cold night or served with crusty bread, makes a great starter for your dinner party.
The flavour for this soup is enhanced by mushroom powder. I make mushroom powder by blitzing dried shitake mushrooms in a small spice blender. The mushroom powder is not limited to this soup – I use it to inject flavour into pies and pasta sauces.
100g onion, finely chopped
3 garlic, finely chopped
800g white button mushrooms, any black bits brushed off
There is no typo here!! If you love mustard flavour as much as my family does, this is the ultimate taste explosion. Broccoli belongs to the mustard family (Brassica or Cruciferae) and so does cauliflower – initially thought it would not be balanced but let me reassure you that this was an instant hit and it’ll become your favourite way to serve. I used mustard oil – very distinct aroma of mustard and you can get in any Indian store. This recipe uses mustard oil, wholegrain mustard and hot English mustard plus broccoli and cauliflower.
I served this as a vegetarian first course / starter. Please do try as you will not be disappointed.