Take a food trip around the world and you will soon realize that vegetables are undeniably the most versatile ingredients on this planet. Every country, on every continent, has at least one special vegetable dish of which it is extremely proud. So let us all honour these dishes and remember that the humble vegetable is –and should be- the centre of our food pyramid!
Furthermore, vegetarian dishes allow us to combine ingredients from one country with the recipe from another, creating fusion cooking at its best. What about a very English radish in a very Moroccan tagine? Why not? I tried it and it worked out brilliantly! It is time to get out of your comfort zone and try combinations you would normally never try! Who knows, you might discover some new favourites while you’re at it!
If you know other fantastic vegetarian dishes from around the world, feel free to share them, since we’re all global citizens 😉
Moroccan date, orange and radish tagine
Putting radishes in sweet tagines may sound really disgusting, but put your prejudice aside for a moment and absorb the brilliance of this dish. The fresh and peppery taste of the radishes marries so well with the sweetness of the sticky dates and the fruitiness of the orange! Serve with a bowl of couscous or some flatbread.
• 1 bunch of red radishes, tops removed
• 1 tbsp runny honey
• 1 tsp red wine vinegar
• ½ tsp turmeric
• 2 pieces of confied ginger, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp ginger syrup
• 4 tbsp water
• 1 orange
• 6 dried dates, stones removed and cut into strips
• Pinch of ground cumin
• Fresh mint
• Toasted almond flakes
1) Heat a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan, add the radishes and honey and sauté for a couple of minutes.
2) Add the vinegar, ginger, ginger syrup, turmeric, cumin and water and let it all simmer until the radishes are al dente.
3) Peel the orange à vif and cut out the segments of the orange between each membrane. Squeeze the juice of the remaining orange on top of the radish tagine.
4) Stir in the dates and orange segments and heat through.
5) Finish by sprinkling over some chopped fresh mint and almond flakes.
Mexican sweet corn pancakes
The sweetness of the corn blends perfectly with the spicy depth of cumin and chilli! Serve with home-made guacamole or a tomato salsa.
Ingredients (serves 4) :
• 300gr canned sweet corn
• 1dl rice milk
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 120gr plain flour
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• 3 tbsp cornflour
• 1 egg
• Pinch of dried chilli flakes
• 1 tsp ground cumin
1) Mix 200gr of sweet corn in a blender with the milk, sesame oil, chilli, cumin and a pinch of salt until you get a smooth paste.
2) Add the egg and sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.
3) Finally stir through the remaining sweetcorn.
4) Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, then drop spoonfuls of the pancake mixture into the pan. Cook them for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown.
Indian Potato and Cauliflower curry
Nothing beats the aroma of a home-made curry! Moreover, it doesn’t just smell and taste delicious, the bright yellow curry specked with tomato red and minty green makes me instantly happy! Serve with naan bread.
Ingredients (serves 4)
• 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
• 5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
• 4 tbsp turmeric
• 4 large tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 3cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp tomato puree
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 3 tbsp garam massala
• 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
• 1 tsp fenugreek
• 400ml coconut milk
• Fresh mint and coriander
1) Blanche the potatoes and cauliflower in some salted water together with 2 tablespoons of turmeric. This will give the cauliflower and potato a lovely yellow colour.
2) Dice the tomatoes into small cubes. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, all the different spices and the tomato puree. Fry for a couple of minutes.
3) Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
4) Add the blanched potato and cauliflower and simmer for a couple of minutes (the cauliflower and potato should be cooked through but still al dente)
5) Finally sprinkle on some chopped mint and coriander.
Italian multicolour carrot risotto with feta and capers
This risotto is a wonderful explosion of flavours! The richness of the risotto rice, the sweetness of the carrots, the saltiness of the feta cheese and tangy taste of the capers: what a match made in heaven! Add to that the fragrant mint and sage and the beauty of the yellow and purple carrots and your meal couldn’t be better!
• 350gr risotto rice
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 400gr yellow carrot, finely chopped
• 400gr purple carrot, chopped into large chunks
• 50gr fresh sage
• 50gr fresh mint
• Pinch of chilli powder
• 250gr feta cheese, roughly chopped
• 100gr capers
• Mix of different nuts and seeds
• 40gr pecorino cheese, grated
• 1dl white wine
• Vegetable stock (approx. ½ liter)
1) Heat some olive oil in a large pan and fry a couple of sage leaves until they start to release a heavenly scent. Add the purple carrot and sauté with a pinch of chilli until they are al dente. (the reason why I cook the purple carrot separately is because the purple would otherwise completely ruin the beautiful yellow hue of the risotto)
2) For the risotto, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the yellow carrots and the rice and stir well, then add the wine and simmer until reduced completely. Add a good ladleful of the hot vegetable stock and stir continuously. When all this has been absorbed, add more stock. Continue adding more stock, stirring continuously, until the rice is cooked. Stir in some fresh sage and grated pecorino.
3) Spoon your beautiful yellow risotto on a plate, top with the sautéed purple carrots and finally sprinkle on some crumbled feta, capers, nuts and chopped mint.