Good morning to you all on this lovely spring morning.
Here are yesterday’s and today’s meat free recipes; we should have caught up with ourselves again. As we prepare the taboule, we could remember to pray for the people of Lebanon, whose situation has dropped off the front page though their needs remain stark. Will T.
Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church
This salad is supposed to originate in current Lebanon but is consumed all around the Mediterranean. This is a family variation from Provence. It can be a starter, a snack, part of a varied salad meal or a main course. Fresh flavoursome juicy tomatoes are essential. Use only medium size couscous or bulgur; large size will make it gritty; small size soggy. It can be prepared in the evening or early in the morning and served for lunch.
200g medium size couscous or bulgur
100g of cucumber
A small red or white onion
A handful of fresh mint
A handful of pitted black olives
A handful of chickpeas (optional)
Olive oil, salt, lemon juice.
1. Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into fairly small cubes in a large salad dish. Add salt and set aside for 20 minutes to extract the vegetable juices.
2. Add the small, chopped onion or ½ onion (you don’t want that taste to dominate), olives, chickpeas, and 2/3rd olive oil for 1/3rd lemon juice. To judge the amount of oil and lemon juice, consider that the vegetables need at that point to swim in the liquid. Add the couscous and stir.
3. Set aside in the fridge for at least one hour. Stir with a fork; at that point you might have to adjust slightly the amount of couscous if the dish appears too soggy. The dish now needs to rest for at least 2 hours before in can be served. Better leave it overnight in the fridge.
4. Before serving, stir again with a fork to avoid having clumps of couscous as you want a light fluffy salad. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Depending on strength of the oil you use, you might have to add lemon juice.
5. Add the fresh chopped mint (use only fresh mint and like the onion, don’t over-do-it). Some people prefer to use flat leaf parsley. Stir again and it’s ready to serve.
It keeps well for about 24 hours. After preparing it once, experiment! Different types or no olives. Spring onions, parsley, pre-cooked cubes of sweet peppers.
Dr Peter Toon – St Stephen’s Church
Pasta is originally Italian peasant food, and often they could not afford meat, so there are many recipes for pasta sauces without meat or fish. Here are a few examples:
a) mushroom sauce – whilst the pasta cooks, gently fry mushrooms, onions (and garlic if you like it) in olive oil with a little salt. (Add a little brandy or wine if you like.) When the pasta is cooked drain it, and then mix in the cooked vegetables with a little soya cream, grate some nutmeg over it and mix well.
b) sweet pepper sauce – finely chop red or yellow peppers and cook them slowly with a little salt in olive oil with onions, garlic, both or neither. When they are completely softened (which can take 20-30 minutes), add a tin of chopped tomatoes and start cooking the pasta. Cook the sauce slowly, uncovered, to reduce the tomatoes until it the thick but not dry.
c) pesto sauce – for when you are feeling lazy! Ready-made traditional green pesto and also red pesto sauces can be bought from most supermarkets and unlike many ready-made pasta sauces it takes good. Just cook the pasta, open the jar and spoon it over.
d) Quorn Bolognese – as with shepherd’s pie you can use Quorn mince in this well-known sauce
e) walnut sauce – unusual but very tasty with pasta. Basically, you grind walnuts very finely with garlic and a little salt so you end up with a paste. If you soak the walnuts beforehand it is easier to grind them. You might add a little walnut oil, soya cream to make the sauce the right consistency.
f) leek sauce – 1-2 leeks per person, according to size. You need to chop the leeks very finely for this sauce – 3-4 mm at most in each dimension. Sweat them very slowly in butter or oil, with a teaspoon of salt. After 5 minutes or so, add a glass of white wine – continue to cook slowly, covered, for about 30 minutes, adding a little water if they are getting dry to avoid browning. When they are soft, add a generous amount of cream – I use soya cream but crème fraiche would be good too. Mix with pasta and sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
You can grate some parmesan over the top of these dishes if you like, but they taste fine without.
Have a good day, God Bless