Vegetarian Herbal Holiday Feast

The recipes on Herbology are meant to tempt you into trying herbs in new and different ways, to explore new flavours and techniques.  I have tried to be varied in cuisines and tastes but it appears I have been neglecting those among us who choose not to consume animal products.  Sure, there are some recipes that accidentally happen to be safe for vegetarians/vegans to eat but as I said, that would have been purely by chance.

So, to make up for this oversight I thought I would take up my friend Marike’s (Arun Thai Natural) suggestion for vegetarian recipes, just in time for the holidays.  I have scoured the internet and my library of cookbooks to come up with this menu. Asian inspired meals seem to lend themselves more easily to vegetarians but I wanted to give it a bit more of a European twist.  I trust it won’t disappoint.

One disclaimer though: I am never sure what grows where at different times around the world, so please forgive me if I have chosen a herb here and there that is not in season where you are. The ratio for dry vs fresh herbs I use is 3 times fresh to one dried.

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Starter
Cauliflower & Bean Soup

Main Course
Stuffed Mushrooms Provencal
Little Onions
Pumpkin & Lentil Salad
Mixed Rice with Cranberries

Dessert
Aromatic Pears

Snack
Pumpkin & Goji Fritters

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Recipes

Cauliflower & Bean soup
Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
2 400g/14oz cans of beans (Cannellini or flageolet), drained & rinsed
5 cups vegetable stock
4-6 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt & black pepper
Heat oil in large casserole. Add garlic, onions and fennel seeds and saute gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add cauliflower and half the beans. Pour over stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 109 minutes or until florets are tender. Blend soup until smooth, then stir in the remaining beans.  Season to taste. Reheat soup and serve sprinkled with remaining parsley.
Tip: Dont season the soup until the end. Adding salt too early will toughen the skin on the beans.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients
8 flat/field mushrooms
1/2 cup of rice or corn crumbs (or both)
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp thyme flowers (if available)
salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 200C/400C
Remove stalks from mushrooms. Finely chop stalks. Briefly pulse crumbs, stalks, garlic and thyme leaves in a blender. Add salt & pepper to taste and 1tbsp oil. Pulse again to mix. Stir in thyme flowers. Drizzle a little olive oil in each mushroom cap. Divide mix among mushrooms and place mushrooms on oven tray. Drizzle 2 tbsp oil over mushrooms. Cook in oven until mushrooms are soft.

Little Onions
Ingredients
7tbsp olive oil
675g/1 1/2lb small onions
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 small dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and bruised
1/2 tsp sugar
a few fresh thyme sprigs
2 tbsp currants
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp flat leave parsley, chopped
2-3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
salt & black pepper

In a large pan, add 2 tbsp oil and onions.  Cook gently for about 5 minutes until the onions take on a little colour.
Remove and set aside. Add the remaining oil as well as wine, bay leaves, garlic, chillies, coriander, sugar and thyme to the pan.
Boil for 5 minutes, then return onions to the liquid. Add currants and reduce heat. Simmer gently for approx 15 minutes.  The onions should be soft but not falling apart. Remove onions then inbcrease heat and reduce liquid by half.  Season to check taste. Pour liquid over onions and sprinkle with oregano/marjoram – cool, then chill.  Just before serving, add lemon rind and parsley and sprinkle with pine nuts. Tip: If you are using dried organo/marjoram, add it at the last stages of cooking not at the end. The flavour will develop with the heat which you wont need when using fresh.

Pumpkin & Lentil Salad
Ingredients
3/4 cup French green lentils
6 cups peeled seeded butternut pumpkin cut into 2cm cubes
3 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
300gm soft goat cheese or vegan alternative
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups baby rocket
1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 190C.
Toss the pumpkin with 2 tablespoons oil, the cumin, paprika, and salt until all the cubes are well-coated in the marinade. Arrange then in single layer on a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes. Turn each piece so that all the sides get the chance to turn nice and crispy, and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes until tender. Leave to cool. While the pumpkin is in the oven, prepare the lentils. Soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes, then drain and boil them in salted water for about 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. To assemble the salad, combine the lentils, pumpkin cubes, and oil from the baking dish with rocket, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and enough oil to just coat each ingredient. Divide among plates and sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over.

Mixed Rice with Cranberries
Ingredients
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Organic brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
3 tbsp butter
3 medium onions sliced into thin wedges
2 tsp brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp orange zest finely grated

Combine chicken broth and rice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender and the liquid absorbed. Meanwhile melt butter in a medium pan over medium high heat. Add onions and brown sugar, cook 6 minutes then turn heat to low. Slowly cook onions stirring often for 25 minutes then stir in cranberries. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes then fold cranberry mixture and zest into rice.

Aromatic Pears
Ingredients
4 ripe but firm pears
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
1 fresh red jalapeno pepper, cut in half and seeded
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick, bruised
1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
1 1/4 cups water

Peel pears leaving stems intact. Cut a thin slice from bottom of each pear allowing pears to stand. Place in a large bowl and add the lemon juice with enough water to cover the pears. Combine honey and next 7 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the honey dissolves. Drain pears and add to honey mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pears are tender. Remove from the heat, cool pears in syrup. When cool, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving syrup; place in serving dish.Return the syrup to the heat and bring to a boil. Boil 5 to 8 minutes, or until the syrup is reduced by half and thickened. Cool 5 to 10 minutes; Remove bay leaves and pour syrup over pears.
Serve warm.

Pumpkin & Goji Fritters
Ingredients
75g Organic Goji Berries
2 cups pumpkin
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs or equivalent egg substitute
Oil for frying
2 tsp cinnamon
Salt to taste

Pre-soak the Goji berries in water for 1 hour. Chop the pumpkin into small cubes then steam for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain off the water, then puree or mash. Mix the drained Goji berries with the pumpkin, sugar, flour, eggs and salt. Heat the oil in frying pan and cook the mixture in dollops for 8 – 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Drain on some paper towel. Dust with cinnamon and sugar and serve immediately.

Sources:
The Kitchen & Garden Book of Herbs: Knowing, Growing, Cooking.

Mrs Flannerys Organic Foodstores

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2 Responses to Vegetarian Herbal Holiday Feast

  1. I am in love with these recipes! You have out did yourself Anke! I see incorporated in these recipes, at least 10 different herbs, and that is without actually counting. I am so going to try each of these recipes:) I grew up just being an omnivore, like everyone else in my area. About 5 years ago I stopped eating any sort of meat, but kept dairy and eggs in my diet. Recently I have added back a limited amount of meat into my diet, trying very hard to keep with local meats or game my husband gets. Regardeless if someone where a strict vegetarian or an omnivore, these recipes are simply delightful and must have been quite a lot of work to put together! thank you so much for sharing them. Although, now I have a craving for rocket greens…. lol!

    • anke says:

      Thanks Leslie :)
      I agree that there is something for everyone in this menu. There are some great side dishes that can even be served with an amnivore dinner. Also, if you have vegetarian guests they wont be missing out or, worse, be stuck with the same limp vegies they are often served by well meaning but misguided hosts.

      For this menu I tried to be practical – using pumpkin in two recipes utilising most of a whole pumpkin. I thought it was important to incorporate beans and lentils and definitely wanted the “meaty-ness” of mushrooms. The flavour of herbs is everywhere but dont detract from the main flavours, merely enhacing them.

      Really glad you liked it :)

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