Great Veggie Dishes

A great side or light summer lunch, this is Lentils with Pea, Broad Beans & Mint

A great side or light summer lunch, this is Lentils with Pea, Broad Beans & Mint - Credit: Archant

Summer is the perfect time to experiment with dishes that make the vegetable the star. SUSAN CLARK picks her favourite veggie recipes from a brand new cook book

The two dressings, Hazlenut on one side and Egg & Mustard on the other bring these grilled leeks to

The two dressings, Hazlenut on one side and Egg & Mustard on the other bring these grilled leeks to life - Credit: Archant

Former head chef at the Riverford Farm field kitchen, Devon chef Jane Baxter is one of the four chefs on the Gastrobus on our cover and also the co-author of a new veggie cookbook called LEON Fast Vegetarian.

In Southern Italy, the courgettes are left out in the sun to dry before being fried for this dish

In Southern Italy, the courgettes are left out in the sun to dry before being fried for this dish - Credit: Archant

The idea is that just because you are veggie, you should’t have to slave over a hot stove any longer than the meat eaters – in other words, there will be times you just need a quick but delicious meal.

This new vegetarian cook book is a collaboration between Henry Dimbley, co-founder of the LEON chain of vegetarian restaurants and Devon-based chef Jane. Henry - who has himself recently been advising the Government on new guidlines for healthier school meals - describes Jane as “probably the greatest vegetable cook in Britain.” So I think we can safely say these two know their veg!

And in this special selection of summer veggie dishes taken from their new book, there’s not a pasta shell in sight which will be a welcome change for all vegetarians who are sick of risotto being the only meat-free meal choice when they eat out.

This is a family-friendly cook book and if you like your receipes with bags of personality, this book is a great addition to your culinary library.

Baked Spinach, Squash & Blue Cheese

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Serves 4 to 6

400g squash, peeled and

cut into 1–2cm dice

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 fresh sage leaves, shredded

300g spinach

1 egg

100ml double cream

75g blue cheese (such as

Gorgonzola), crumbled

salt and freshly ground

black pepper

40g toasted walnuts, chopped

1. Heat the oven to 200ÅãC/400ÅãF/gas mark 6.

Put the squash into a roasting tray and toss

with the oil and sage. Roast in the oven for

20–30 minutes, until tender.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water

to the boil. Add the spinach and blanch for

30 seconds, then drain and refresh under cold

water. Drain again and squeeze out any excess

moisture. Chop roughly.

3. Beat the egg with the cream in a mixing bowl

and add the spinach and the crumbled cheese.

Season well.

4. When the squash is cooked, add it to the spinach

mixture and transfer it all to a baking dish.

5. Lower the oven temperature to 140ÅãC/275ÅãF/

gas mark 1 and bake for around 20–30 minutes,

or until almost firm to the touch but still with a

slight wobble.

6. When ready, sprinkle with the walnuts and serve.


* This makes a great filling

for a pasty, or is equally

good cooked on a puff

pastry base, or baked on


* Spiced pecans are a lovely

alternative to walnuts –

toss the nuts in a little

oil and sprinkle with salt

and cayenne pepper, then

cook in a preheated oven,

180ÅãC/350ÅãF/gas mark 4

for 5 minutes. This same

method can be used to

liven up any tired nut.

Leeks Vinaigrette

Serves 4

The leeks in this recipe can either be cooked in boiling salted water or blanched and grilled.

We have suggested a couple of different dressings below, which can also be used with other

grilled vegetables.

6–8 leeks

salt and freshly ground

black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Trim the leeks and cut each one down the

middle lengthways to 2cm above the root,

but without cutting it in half. Wash them well

in cold water and drain.

2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the

leeks and cook them for 5 minutes, until just

tender. Drain well, split each leek in half, then

toss them in the oil and season well.

3. At this point the leeks can either be dressed

with one of the dressings below, or grilled on a

preheated griddle pan (or a barbecue) and then

dressed. For maximum flavour, dress the leeks

while still warm or hot.

* This can also be served with

Basil Dressing (see page 69)

or Red Pepper & Almond

Dressing (see page 224).

Hazelnut Dressing

Serves 4 to 6

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons roasted, skinned and

chopped hazelnuts

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1. Put all the ingredients into a bowl

and whisk together.

2. Drizzle over the leeks.

Egg & Mustard Dressing

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard

2 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1. Put the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey

and parsley into a bowl and mix

together. Season well.

2. Drizzle over the leeks and sprinkle

with the chopped egg.

Lentils with Peas, Broad Beans & Mint

Serves 6 ( as a side )

100g green lentils

(or Puy lentils)

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus

extra for drizzling

salt and freshly ground

black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

150g shelled broad beans

150g shelled peas

150g sugar snap peas,

trimmed and sliced

1 tablespoon chopped

fresh mint

* If your broad beans are

large it may be necessary

to remove their rubbery

outer skins after blanching.

* Cooked artichoke wedges

can be added with the

peas to make this into a

more substantial dish.

1. Put the lentils into a pan and add cold water

to cover them by about 1cm. Bring to the boil,

then reduce the heat and simmer for about

20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, then drizzle

with olive oil, season well and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium pan, then

add the onion and cook over a medium heat

for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir well and

cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and

cook the broad beans for 2–3 minutes, or until

tender. Drain well and add immediately to the

onion mixture.

4. Now stir in the lentils, peas and sugar snap peas

and cook together over a low heat for 5 minutes.

5. To finish the dish, season well, add lots of

chopped mint and drizzle with good olive oil.

This is great as a side, but equally good to eat on its own on grilled bruschetta

Fried Courgettes

Serves 4

750g courgettes

sunflower oil, for deep-frying

1 tablespoon good-quality

red wine vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, sliced and

cut into very fine spikes

2 red chillies, deseeded and

cut across into fine strips

a small bunch of fresh mint,

leaves picked and cut across

into fine strips

salt and freshly ground

black pepper

* This method can also

be used for aubergines –

remember to salt the

aubergine slices first to

remove any excess moisture.

1. Cut the courgettes across into very thin rounds,

using a mandolin.

2. Put the courgette slices into a bowl of iced water

and leave to soak for about 40 minutes, then

drain and dry well on tea towels.

3. Heat the sunflower oil to 190ÅãC in a large

heavy-based pan and cook the courgettes in

small batches, removing each batch when lightly

browned and draining them on kitchen paper.

4. Spread the cooked courgettes on a large serving

plate and sprinkle with the vinegar. Scatter over

the garlic, chillies and mint, and season well.

In southern Italy the courgettes for this dish are dried outside in the sun before frying, which

makes them very crisp as a result. In the UK that could be a problem and oven-drying does not

create the same effect, so this method, from Jane’s time at The River CafeÅL, relies on very thinly

sliced courgettes.

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