Adaptable recipes for part-time Vegetarians and Vegans

Various contributors | Compiled by Julia Charles

The Book

Today many of us are looking to eat less dairy, meat and fish, as the host of environmental, ethical and health-related reasons for doing so stack up.  The concept of not centring every meal around an animal-based protein is well on its way to settling into mainstream
society but out there, is a whole middle-ground of home-cooks, somewhere between carnivore and vegan, who are doing their best to reduce meat and  sh consumption, but enjoying it on occasion when the urge strikes. For these so-called  flexitarians, choices are less about adopting a rigid regime, and more about an organic attempt to eat a mainly plant-based diet.
This timely 144-page cookbook is a collection of modern recipes and comfort food classics, all of which feature simple adaptations that can make them suitable for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and meat-eaters. No longer will you have to juggle between multiple cookbooks or haphazardly hash together a meaty ending to a recipe depending on your appetite or cravings!

(RECIPE) SYRIAN AUBERGINE & CHICKPEA RAGOUT WITH GARLIC YOGURT SAUCE

Roasted chunks of aubergine/eggplant and nutty chickpeas, bound together in a sweet tomato and onion sauce enriched with herbs and spices – this dish is popular in both Syria and Lebanon, where it is served with warm bread as part of a selection of mezze, or with rice as a main dish. Simply omit the traditional accompaniment of Garlic Yogurt Sauce or replace with a Garlicky Hummus dressing (see below) for a vegan option.

Ingredients (serves 6)

2 aubergines/eggplants (about 500 g)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon each ground
cinnamon and freshly
grated nutmeg
a generous bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons freshly
chopped mint
salt and freshly ground
black pepper
freshly chopped coriander/
cilantro, to garnish

GARLIC YOGURT SAUCE

250 ml/1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly
squeezed lemon juice

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Cut the aubergines/eggplants into 2-cm/3/4-inch cubes, and toss in half of the olive oil, then spread out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning the pieces over once halfway through cooking, until fairly soft. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over a gentle heat, soften the sliced onion and garlic in the remaining olive oil, adding a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary to prevent browning. This should take about 20 minutes until the onion is golden and melting.

4. Add the spices and stir around for 1–2 minutes to blend the flavours, then tip in the parsley, chopped tomatoes and aubergine/eggplant, followed by the drained chickpeas. Add about 200 ml/scant 1 cup water, bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 20–30 minutes.

5. Take off the heat, stir in the fresh mint, adjust the seasoning and set aside for 1–2 hours before serving. In fact, the dish keeps perfectly well for a good 24 hours, and may even improve, and can be easily reheated.

6. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the chopped coriander/ cilantro and serve warm with a generous dollop of Garlic Yogurt Sauce.

AUBERGINE & CHICKPEA RAGOUT WITH GARLICKY HUMMUS

Prepare the ragout as the main recipe. Omit the Garlic Yogurt Sauce and serve instead with a dressing made by blending 80 g/1/3 cup prepared hummus with 2–3 chopped garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric and 60 ml/1/4 Vegan Cream (see page 8) or any dairy-free cream. Drizzle over the dish to serve.