Sticky aubergine bao buns with smacked cucumber

The Green Batch Cook Book: 3 delicious, quick and easy vegetarian recipes

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Are you always finding yourself running out of time, but wanting to commit to vegetarian recipes that pack a flavourful punch? Sam Gates’s latest cookbook has three ideas you’ll want to try out.

Whether you’re trialling out meat-free Monday, are a recent convert to vegetarianism or simply love the taste, veggie recipes are becoming more popular by the minute, and it’s not hard to see why. We can all agree we want these planet-friendly dishes in our life, but the question remains: how do we whip up something delicious when time isn’t on our side? The answer, of course, is batch cooking.

Food writer and author Sam Gates has us covered when it comes to this very situation. This month, she releases her fourth cookbook, The Green Batch Cook Book (£18.98, Little Brown Books), made especially with busy people in mind. The ethos of this cookbook is all about simple recipes that deliver on flavour – and crucially, don’t take too much time to create at the end of a long day. Inside you’ll find 70 innovative recipes ready for batch cooking so you’re not wasting any time. Has your interest been piqued?

The Green Batch Cook Book by Sam Gates
The Green Batch Cook Book by Sam Gates

To make things easy, we’ve selected three recipes taking you through the day – covering breakfast, lunch and dinner – that are sure to become failsafe meals you’ll return to again and again.

Firstly, for quiche fans, Gates’s hash brown breakfast quiche with spinach and tomatoes will go down a treat. Lightly spiced with paprika and sprinkled with dried herbs, this is a dish that looks as good as it tastes. Golden hour is upon us…

If you’re in the mood for something spicy and tangy at lunch, try Gates’s sticky aubergine bao buns with smacked (chilli) cucumber. A mixture of red miso, garlic, peanut butter, honey and chilli coat these slices of aubergines to bring out a chilli flavour that’ll make a real impression on your lunch hour.

Lastly, when you don’t want something too heavy, look to Gates’s light chickpea and new potato curry. A mild steamy dish that keeps well for a few days and will please even the most time-starved. 

  • Hash brown breakfast quiche with spinach and tomatoes

    Hash brown breakfast quiche with spinach and tomatoes by Sam Gates
    Hash brown breakfast quiche with spinach and tomatoes by Sam Gates

    Sam says: This is an ingenious way of serving up an excellent gluten-free cooked breakfast in a handily edible dish. The sunny, rich quiches look gorgeous and freeze well, so it’s definitely worth making a few batches in advance to stash away for busy mornings.

    Makes 2 quiches

    Ingredients

    For the potato case

    • 600g gluten-free frozen hash browns, defrosted
    • 80g strong cheddar, grated
    • 1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
    • 1 tbsp chopped chives
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • ¼ tsp paprika
    • salt and black pepper

    For the filling

    • 1 tbsp sun-dried tomato oil
    • 1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
    • 6 eggs, beaten
    • 200ml whole milk
    • 100g frozen whole-leaf spinach, defrosted, chopped and drained
    • 100g cheddar, grated
    • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and thinly sliced

    Method

    Thoroughly grease two 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins and line the bases with greaseproof paper.

    Tip the hash browns into a mixing bowl and break them up completely. Add the cheese, herbs, egg, paprika and plenty of salt and pepper.

    Press the mixture over the base and up the sides of the tins, making sure there are no gaps for the filling to leak through. Press the bottom of a glass on the potato mixture at the base of the tin and roll the glass around the sides of the tin to create an even surface.

    Place the tins in the freezer for 1 hour to allow the cases to firm up.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C fan.

    Bake the frozen bases in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C fan.

    Heat the sun-dried tomato oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion rings and fry gently for 6–8 minutes. Set aside.

    Mix the eggs, milk, spinach and cheese in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, then stir in the onion rings.

    Pour the egg filling into the cooled cases and scatter the sliced sun-dried tomatoes over the top.

    Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until lightly golden and set.

    To freeze allow to cool completely then wrap in foil, cling film or reusable (freezable) wrapping. The dish can be frozen for up to 1 month. Unwrap and cook from frozen for 30 minutes at 200°C fan.

  • Sticky aubergine bao buns with smacked cucumber

    Sticky aubergine bao buns with smacked cucumber
    Sticky aubergine bao buns with smacked cucumber

    Sam says: Bao buns and kits are readily available, and making your own fillings is quick and easy. This vegan filling is made with aubergine coated in a potent, salty-sweet sauce and it’s my absolute favourite. Pile the aubergine up high in your bao buns and top it with a heap of fiery smacked cucumber. Both can be made up to a day in advance.

    Makes 16 bao buns

    Ingredients

    For the smacked cucumber

    • 1 cucumber, trimmed and halved lengthways, seeds removed with a spoon
    • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 2 tbsp caster sugar
    • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
    • 1 tsp Maldon salt

    For the sticky aubergine bao buns

    • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
    • 4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
    • 2 tbsp runny honey or maple syrup
    • 1 tbsp red miso paste
    • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 4 aubergines, cut into 1cm cubes
    • 120ml rapeseed oil
    • 3 tbsp white sesame seeds
    • 16 ready-made bao buns
    • 2 bunches of spring onions, cut into matchsticks
    • small bunch of coriander, leaves picked

    Method

    To make the smacked cucumber, slice the cucumber halves widthways into thin halfmoon shapes. Whisk the rice vinegar, caster sugar, chilli and salt in a bowl and add the cucumber. Toss the cucumber in the dressing, cover and keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

    To make the aubergine sauce, put the soy sauce, peanut butter, honey or maple syrup, miso paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar and crushed garlic into a small food processor or bowl. Blitz or whisk to a thin sauce and set aside.

    Tip the cubed aubergine into a large bowl and add the rapeseed oil. Toss with your hands until the aubergine is evenly coated.

    Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add a third of the aubergine. Fry for 6–8 minutes, turning and pressing lightly on the chunks until they are golden all over. Tip onto a plate and repeat with the remaining aubergine.

    Return all the aubergine to the pan, add the sauce and stir gently to coat the aubergine, without squashing the chunks. Heat until piping hot and add 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds.

    To serve, place a few spoonfuls of the sticky aubergine into each bao bun. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds, spring onions and coriander over the top. Serve with the smacked cucumber salad.

    The aubergine sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Heat until piping hot before serving.

  • Light chickpea and new potato curry

    Light chickpea and new potato curry recipe
    Light chickpea and new potato curry by Sam Gates

    Sam says: This mild curry, packed with velvety chickpeas, waxy new potatoes and whole spices, makes a flavour-packed lunch or a light supper. The ingredients list looks long but it’s easy to make and keeps well in the fridge for a few days. Serve with rice, naan bread and your favourite pickles and chutneys.

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2 tsp cumin seeds
    • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
    • 2 onions, finely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 20g fresh ginger, peeled and grated
    • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp turmeric
    • 750g baby potatoes, cut into
    • 3cm chunks
    • 2 x tins chopped tomatoes
    • 300ml vegetable stock
    • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
    • 100g fresh baby spinach
    • 20g coriander, chopped
    • salt and black pepper

    Method

    Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for a few seconds until they start to pop.

    Reduce the heat, add the chopped onions and cook for 6–8 minutes until softened, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the dried spices over the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

    Add the potatoes, chopped tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. Add the chickpeas and cook until piping hot, then stir in the spinach for a few seconds until it starts to wilt.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste, scatter with chopped coriander and serve.

    Allow to cool completely and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat slowly until piping hot.

The Green Batch Cook Book: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Busy People (£18.98, Little Brown Books) by Sam Gates is out now

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