By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
In recent years, it has become obviously apparent that many restaurants have started to focus less so on meat and fish, instead offering a range of cruelty-free alternatives. And instead of being solely reserved for the less omnivorous of beasts amongst us, many of these dishes are so exciting that there’s genuinely no need for any meat to be included. To tie in with National Vegetarian Week (May 16-24), we’ve compiled a selection of some of London’s best vegetable-focused recipes, suitable for just about anybody with even the slightest hint of an appetite.
Nasu Dengaku: Miso Grilled Aubergine from Scott Halsworth, Head Chef & Owner of Kurobuta
Large plump dark purple aubergine, 1
Oil, for deep frying
Den miso sauce, 50ml
Whole walnuts, 50g
White Japanese sesame seeds, a few pinches
Sansho pepper, a small pinch
For the den miso
Brown miso paste, 400g
Caster sugar, 225g
For the pickled daikon
Kombu, a small piece
To Make the nasu
Remove the skin from the aubergine and cut into approximately seven large chunks.
Deep fry until golden at 180c and drain well.
Coat each piece with a generous dollop of the Den Miso sauce.
Bake in a very hot oven until the miso sauce starts to caramelise slightly.
Remove from the oven, dab each piece on some kitchen paper before arranging on your serving plate.
Top with the roughly chopped walnuts, the sesame seeds and a light sprinkling of sansho pepper.
Serve a small mound of pickled daikon on the side and a small wedge of lemon.
To pickle the daikon
Peel and thinly slice the daikon and spread evenly over a flat based bowl.
Mix one-part rice vinegar with ¼ part sugar, a small piece of kombu, a generous pinch of salt and a pinch of yuzu zest, and heat to dissolve the sugar and salt.
Pour over the daikon and allow to cool. Refrigerate for an hour before using.
Further information on Kurobuta can be found at kurobuta-london.com.
Cauliflower Shawarma from Josh Katz, Co-Founder and Head Chef of Berber & Q
Whole cauliflower, 1
For the shawarma-spiced butter
Unsalted butter, 40g, softened to room temperature
Lemon, 1, juiced
Garlic clove, 1, minced
Coriander, 1½tbsp, finely chopped
For the shawarma spice mix
Ground cumin, 1½ tsp
Pimento (allspice), a pinch
Nutmeg, a pinch
Ground cardamom, a pinch
For the tahini
Raw tahini, 80g
Maldon salt, ½tbsp
Pomegranate seeds, 2tbsp
Pomegranate molasses, 1tbsp, (thinned down with water)
Pine nuts, 1½tbsp, toasted
Dried rose petals, 1 tsp
Parsley, 1½tbsp, finely chopped
Green chillies, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Trim the outer cauliflower leaves, but don’t be afraid to leave some on – they have great taste and add to the aesthetic of the dish when burnt and crisped on the barbecue or in the oven.
Place the cauliflower in enough salted water to cover and bring to the boil on a high heat. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down to medium so it has a gentle roll, and continue to cook for approximately 8-10 minutes. The intention is to par-cook the cauliflower before finishing it in the oven. It should be removed from the water when pierced firmly with a knife whilst retaining some resistance.
Whilst the cauliflower is in the water, prepare the tahini. Whisk the tahini in a large bowl and gradually add ice-cold water. At first the tahini will form a lumpy paste, but continue to add liquid and keep whisking until it gradually turns into a smooth and silky sauce. The amount of water is determined by the individual preference for consistency.
Make the shawarma-spiced butter by combining the softened butter, minced garlic, lemon juice and shawarma spice mix in a blender. Fold in the chopped coriander to combine.
Brush the cauliflower liberally all over with the butter, and where possible, try and get beneath the floret canopy to reach the inner sections of the cauliflower. Retain some of the butter for brushing at a later stage.
If using an oven, place the cauliflower in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
If BBQ’ing prepare it for grilling. If using charcoal, bank the coal to one side for direct grilling and leave an area for indirect cooking. When the BBQ is searing hot, grill the cauliflower on direct heat until such time that it blackens on its outer edges. Turn the cauliflower throughout so as to ensure that it gets colouration all over. The aim is to burn the cauliflower in parts. This lends not only flavour, but also is pleasing on the eye and a key aspect of the presentation. Throughout the cooking process continue to brush with any leftover butter.
Once the cauliflower has been sufficiently grilled to satisfaction and is cooked through, remove from the heat and transfer to a plate. Spoon over the tahini sauce and pomegranate molasses, and finish the dish by sprinkling the rose petals, pine nuts and chopped parsley over the top. An optional drizzle of olive oil adds a nice glossy finish.
Further information on Berber & Q can be found at berberandq.com.
Sigree Grilled Mustard Broccoli from Nirmal Save, Head Chef of Gunpowder, and Harneet Baweja (Owner of Gunpowder), inspired by their own family recipes
Greek yoghurt, 100g
Whole grain mustard, 20g
Chilli Powder, 0.4tbsp
Turmeric & chaat Masala, 1/2tbsp
Whole broccoli, 2
Coriander powder & Kasoori Methi (dried fenugreek leaves), 0.4tbsp
Mustard Oil, 15ml
Cumin Powder, 0.3tbsp
Marinade – add all the ingredients mentioned above (except the broccoli) in a bowl and mix to make the marinade.
Cut the broccoli in half and blanch for three minutes in boiling water.
Apply the marinade to each piece and put to one side for half an hour.
Take a skewer and grill the broccoli heads over coal/BBQ for an extra smoky taste.
Serve into the round deep bowl with Makhani Sauce (creamy tomato sauce) on base and sprinkle beetroot on top.
Super Tip – Cut broccoli into smaller pieces if you want to save time.
Further information on Gunpowder can be found at gunpowderlondon.com.
Salad of Grilled Runner Beans, Nectarine, Basil & Toasted Almonds from Ollie Dabbous, Owner of Barnyard
For the almonds
Almonds, 200g, skin on
Vegetable oil, 1tbsp
Salt, a pinch
For the almond praline
Almonds, 100g, toasted
Garlic clove, ½, minced
Extra virgin rapeseed oil, 100g
Salt, a pinch
For the runner beans
Runner beans, 5 per person
Extra virgin olive oil
For the confit nectarine (just use ripe ones in the height of summer)
Olive oil, 2tbsp
Chardonnay vinegar, 1tbsp
To prepare the almonds
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place the almonds in a bowl and dress with the oil and salt. Place on a baking tray and toast for 10 minutes until light golden. Leave to cool.
Roughly chop half. Save the remaining half for the almond praline.
To prepare the almond praline
Blend the almonds with the olive oil, garlic and salt on a low speed to a coarse puree.
To prepare the runner beans
Blanch the runner beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Refresh in ice water and store on absorbent paper.
Top and tail, then peel away the fibrous string that runs along both sides.
Roll in olive oil and char on a hot BBQ on both sides. Remove and keep in a single layer so they don’t keep cooking in their own steam.
Cut into lengths about 8cm, roughly 3 per bean. Season with Maldon salt.
To prepare the confit nectarine
Cut the nectarines into 1/8ths.
Heat the oil, sugar and vinegar to melt and combine, and pour half onto a tray. Cover with the nectarines, skin side down, allowing air to circulate between them (do not pack them too tight).
Spoon over the remaining mix, and place in a low oven, 120C for 20 minutes.
Turn onto their side, lower the heat to 120C and cook for another 20 minutes. Turn onto the other side and cook for another 20 minutes.
Dress the beans generously with lemon dressing and lemon zest.
Place a spoon of the almond praline on the plate, then scatter over the dressed beans.
Scatter over the nectarine pieces, 4 per person, then the basil, mint, and a few almonds.
Further information on Barnyard can be found at barnyard-london.com.
Sour Cherry Pearl Barley, Crispy Kale, Yoghurt, Chilli Butter & Sheep’s Cheese from Selin Kiazim, Co-Founder & Head Chef of Oklava
Kale, 250g, leaves picked, washed and thoroughly dried
Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp
Mint, ¼ bunch, leaves picked and shredded
Parsley, ¼ bunch, leaves picked and shredded
Hard sheep’s cheese, 60g, (like pecorino)
Thick yoghurt, 6tbsp
For the chilli butter
Unsalted butter, 250g
Extra virgin olive oil, 50ml
Pul biber (Turkish chilli flakes), 1 ½ heaped tbsp
For the pearl barley
Banana shallots, 6, finely sliced
Garlic cloves, 4, finely sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, 150ml
Dried sour cherries, 200g
Pearl barley, 250g, rinsed under cold water
Fine salt, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 110C fan.
Coat the kale leaves in 1 tsp of olive oil and a little salt. Spread out flat onto a baking tray and place into the oven. Bake for around 15 minutes or until the kale is crispy. Check the kale every 5 minutes and move it around on the tray so it bakes evenly.
On a medium heat melt the butter and then keep cooking it until it turns a nut-brown butter. Strain through a fine sieve into a large container (as it will puff up once you add the chilli) and then add the chilli flakes immediately. Finish it by adding the olive oil.
Sweat the shallots with the olive oil on a very low heat with no colour for approximately 20 minutes, or until very soft. Add in the garlic and continue to cook for 5mins.
Add in the sour cherries and pearl barley and coat in the oil and shallots.
Pour enough cold water into the pot to cover the barley by around 2cm.
Gently cook the barley on a medium heat for approximately 30 minutes or until just cooked through. Season with fine salt to taste.
Dish out onto a serving platter or individual plates, top with yoghurt (put the yoghurt in a squeezy bottle if you have one), herbs, drizzle around hot chilli butter, top with crispy kale and finely grate over the cheese.
Further information on Oklava can be found at oklava.co.uk.