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Three delicious veggie meals you need in your recipe arsenal, now

Yoghurt Soup.jpg

We all know by know that there's far more to veggie cooking than just substituting meat, but sometimes even the most devout vegetarians can struggle to pluck up a new recipe idea that's delicious, healthy and looks tempting on the plate.

Enter Alice Hart's latest cook book, The New Vegetarian

It's bursting with colourful, tasty veggie recipes for any time that hunger strikes – from snacks for afternoon grazing, to dinner party dishes, and those times when you're starving and need something on the table, stat.

We've picked three of our favourite recipes from the new book for you to try.

Sweet Potato Cakes with Lime and Avocado

Sweet potato cakes

“A beautiful little recipe, as suited for a sprightly lunch as for a leisurely weekend breakfast. Make it in a 23cm-diameter frying pan if you don’t have the mini versions and divide into quarters to serve. You can fold three lightly-beaten eggs into the sweet potato mixture, though those cakes will be frittata-esque in style and suit a poached egg balanced on top (with the avocado, of course, and extra hot sauce).”

Serves 4

– 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 600g), peeled and coarsely grated

– 1 small red onion, finely chopped

– 2 garlic cloves, crushed

– 1 thumb of ginger, peeled and finely grated

– 2 tbsp cornflour

– 2 tbsp brown rice flour

– 2 red chillies, 1 finely chopped and 1 finely sliced

– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

– large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

– 6 tbsp olive oil or coconut butter, melted

– 2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

– 2 limes, 1 juiced and 1 quartered

Method

Using a colander held under a cool tap, rinse the grated sweet potatoes until the water runs mostly clear. Squeeze the rinsed gratings in a clean tea towel to remove excess water, then tip them into a large mixing bowl.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, both flours, the chopped chilli, seasoning, about 1 tbsp of the coriander and 2 tbsp of the oil or melted coconut butter and mix everything well.

Divide the remaining oil or coconut butter between four 15cm-diameter cast-iron or heavy-based frying pans – or a 23cm-diameter pan to make a large cake – and place over a high heat. Add one quarter of the potato mixture to each pan, or all of it to the large pan (it should sizzle loudly) and flatten firmly with a spatula. Reduce the heat to medium.

Cook each cake for 3–5 minutes (perhaps slightly longer for the larger version), then run a palette knife or spatula around the edge, tip each cake out on to a flat plate, then slide back into its pan the other way up (don’t attempt to flip these unless you’re a black belt).

Return to the heat for about 3 minutes more until the underside is nicely browned.

Scoop the avocados out of their skins with a spoon and smash roughly with a little lime juice, the remaining coriander, sliced chilli and seasoning to taste. Serve each hot cake with the avocado mixture spooned on top and lime quarters to squeeze over.

Yogurt Soup with Lentils, Barley and Mint

yoghurt soup, Alice Hart

"I have tweaked this old, Turkish-style favourite over the years, but the original belongs to the food writer and owner of the Ginger and White cafes, Tonia George. It makes a soothing, unusual and exceptionally delicious soup. Finish it with a poached egg if you are very hungry. Pot barley has a nicer chew than the more common pearl barley, so do try to get hold of it; you will find it in health food shops."

Serves 4 generously

– 50g salted butter

– 1 brown onion, finely chopped

– 3 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced

– 2 tsp cumin seeds

– 2 green chillies, halved, deseeded if you prefer, finely chopped

– 1 tbsp plain flour

– 100g pot barley

– 1.3 litres vegetable stock

– ½ cinnamon stick

– 75g brown lentils

– 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

– 100g baby spinach

– 200g Greek yogurt (not low fat)

– juice of 1 lemon

– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

– 4 very fresh eggs (optional)

– ½ garlic clove, crushed

– ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika

– pinch of chilli flakes

– 1 tsp dried mint

Method

In a large saucepan or casserole set over a low heat, melt half the butter and add the onion, leeks, cumin seeds and chillies. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft.

Add the flour and pot barley; stirring for 1 minute to cook out the flour.

Stir in the stock and cinnamon stick and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the lentils and chickpeas and simmer for 20 minutes more, until the lentils are cooked and the barley is just tender, but still has a bite. Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and fish out the cinnamon stick.

If you will be including the poached eggs, half-fill a deep frying pan with water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently.

In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt and half the lemon juice with a ladleful of hot liquid from the soup pan. Stir this mixture back into the soup off the heat, then return it to a low flame. Stir gently for a couple of minutes; do not let it boil at any point or the soup will curdle. Taste and adjust the salt or pepper as you wish, remembering the butter added at the end will be quite salty.

Crack the eggs into the simmering water, spacing them out well. Poach very gently for 2½–3 minutes; the water should have barely a blip reaching its surface. Remove to a kitchen paper-lined plate with a slotted spoon.

Melt the remaining butter in a small pan until foaming. Add the remaining lemon juice, the garlic, paprika, chilli flakes and mint, and cook until the butter turns a pale amber and smells nutty. Remove from the heat. Spoon most of the hot butter over the soup, then divide between warmed bowls, topping each with a poached egg, if using, and the rest of the butter.

Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake with Almonds

Oil cake, Alice Hart recipe

"This is definitely a pudding cake, mousse-like and free of both dairy and gluten. Don’t be put off if you’re not a marmalade fan, for the citrus here is full-bodied rather than bitter, and also tempered by grassy olive oil. Later in the year, use regular oranges, add a tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary leaves and serve the cake with raspberries."

Serves 6–8

– 2 medium or 3 small, unwaxed blood oranges, plus more sliced blood oranges to serve

– 100ml fruity extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the tin

– 175g raw cane sugar

– 4 eggs, lightly beaten

– 175g ground almonds

– 2 tsp baking powder (gluten-free if needed)

Method

Wash the oranges and put them in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so, until completely soft. Remove the oranges from the water with a slotted spoon and leave to cool. 

Cut the oranges in half through their middles, discard any pips and put the skin and pulp in a food processor. Blitz to a purée and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly oil a 20cm springform cake tin and line it with non-stick baking parchment. Whisk the 100ml of olive oil, sugar and eggs together for 3–4 minutes, using electric beaters, until light and fluffy. Fold in the ground almonds and baking power with a large metal spoon. Fold through the puréed oranges until thoroughly mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until golden, well-risen and no longer wobbly when the tin is jiggled.

Leave to cool in the tin until completely cold. Turn out and serve slices with more blood orange slices or segments.

The New Vegetarian cook book

You can buy The New Vegetarian here.

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